Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ellie's View


Ellie painted her self portrait in school this week. It just melted my heart when I saw it. I love how she sees herself, she is just so happy. My favorite part is the little headwrap she put atop her head. She is just so precious and I love her so much.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I ♥ Faces - 'Blue'

The 'I ♥ Faces' Challenge this week is BLUE. After perusing some of the entries that are up I have found that there are two directions that the photo submissions are going in. Blue the color and Blue the emotion. As I looked through my photos looking for one that showcases Ellie's beautiful blue eyes, I came across this photo. I wasn't sure if I should share it or not because of how personal it it. However, it represents the color and the emotion rather well. You can see Ellie's blue eyes and from her expression you can tell just how blue her mood is. I decided to share it because it's a part of who Ellie is now and it reminds me of just how strong my little girl is.

In this photo Ellie is undergoing her first round of chemotherapy. She was so beat down and sick that day and her expression just about killed me. We have come such a long way from when this photo was taken and even though it was one of our lowest days, we survived and emerged even stronger than before.


There are many more amazing photos over at I ♥ Faces... check them out!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Yard Sales, Friends and Halloween Goodies

This weekend we hosted my girlfriend Laurel and her husband Tony and we participated in a yard sale. The yard sale was not as much fun as the company of course but it did prompt Steve and I to organize and clean out one of our storage closets. We took a fun nostalgic trip down memory lane by sorting through the girls old clothing. There were many outfits that I couldn't bear to place in the yard sale pile. If I could recall a happy memory with that outfit on, it stayed in the trunk and it will be passed on down to the girls when they have their own children. It'll be nice to tell them about the memory I have associated with that outfit. I probably should write it down though because by the time I become a grandma, I may just forget about it. We were able to make about $100.00 and unload some stuff that would have either wound up at Goodwill or the local landfill.

Ellie was also working the yardsale crowd. We set up a St. Jude table and informed people about the St. Jude Thanks and Giving walk that is taking place locally at the end of November and asked for donations for her team. One local man was very moved by Ellie and her story. He is living with prostrate cancer and knows what it is like to have cancer in your life. He gave her a big donation and I know it made him happy to have met Ellie. It rained on and off all morning so we had to move everything into the garage so I really think that was why we weren't as successful and I was hoping to be. Oh well, there is always the spring neighborhood yard sale.

The best part of the weekend was hanging out with Laurel and Tony. Laurel and I have known each other for years. She is such a good friend and has such a funny sense of humor. Tony is fabulous with my kids. He gets down to their level and acts just like them, he's really just a big kid. Emma and Ellie always jump for joy when they know Tony is coming for a visit. Another talent he has mastered, other than kid wrangler, is gourmet chef. Tony is really wonderful at whipping up whatever it is you have a hankering for. Today he made us breakfast and it was just wonderful. They headed home today after their week long vacation in Kentucky but I am so glad they came home via way of Virginia for a visit.

While we were organizing for the yard sale, I came across my Halloween decorations. So even though I am a few days early, I have started to decorate. I usually do this the first week of October so I am not too far ahead and the girls love the spookiness of it all anyway. Here are some photos.

This pumpkin glows red and is super at night. I really love the whimsical nature of the pumpkin man too.

More Williraye
I collect Williraye folkart and these three are some of my favorite pieces. I love that they are trick or treating. There is also a jam jar full of candy corn a Halloween must have.

Little touch of Halloween in the living room. I will add glowing eyes to the window as we get closer to Halloween night.

Kitchen pumpkin
This pumpkin keeps the kitchen in the Halloween spirit

This is my first placemat that I produced!
The wide format printer has arrived and I gave Ellie the honors to pick whatever design she wanted. She chose this cute ghost. Totally fits in with my Halloween theme today.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Random bits of stuff...

Greetings on this first day of Fall. Can you believe it? Summer 2009 is nothing but a mere recollection now. It was a fantabulous summer with lots of good times and memories but like always, it seems to zip by much too quickly. Oh sure, I like that the kids are back in school and there are lots of fun holidays just around the corner but January and February are also on the horizon and these are my two least favorite months. I end up feeling like Jack Nicholson in 'The Shining' come the middle of February. The cabin fever and itching for spring weather leaves me looking for any kind of fix. Perhaps we will need to plan a Caribbean getaway this February instead of our usual spring break in late March. Maybe looking forward to a little sun in the dreary month of February will get me through on those days that are dark and cold and dare I say depressing. Doesn't it sound like I live in Chicago or Maine or some place really snowy with freezing temperatures? Virginia is actually pretty mild during the winter compared to what I grew up with so I guess I shouldn't complain. Alas, February is coming and there is nothing I can do, it's just one season away.

In the meantime, I will enjoy the pop of color that the leaves offer, the crunchy echo when I walk in the woods; the smell of a fire pit that transforms me right back to being 10 years old; the fun of picking out Halloween costumes and decorating the house in orange, brown and dark reddish hues; the crisp cool air that will fill my lungs when Steve and I go for our walk; the fun of going to local farms for apple picking, corn mazes, wagon rides and hot cider; all of these traditions of fall I am looking forward to. I guess I have to admit I am glad it is here. Goodbye Summer, I will miss you and will be eagerly awaiting your return.

In other random news, I am very busy with work. This is great since I enjoy what I do and I am happy that the new designs are being well received. Yesterday Script and Scribble released the melamine plates that I designed over the summer and today a slew of plate orders came in. I am still designing birthday invitations and new holiday designs so the fun of designing is still a happening thing.

hmmm... what else is going on...Ellie and I had an interview with Richmond magazine this afternoon. We talked about Ellie's journey and our connection and dedication to raising awareness for St. Jude and pediatric cancer. The article will be out in November and will tie in nicely with the Richmond Thanks and Giving walk for St. Jude. During the interview we gave all of the glory to God and the reporter was very moved about so many of the divine occurrences that we have experienced. I hope that she will have the courage to keep that tone in her article. I have found that the mainstream media seems to omit much of the religious glorification when they report these stories. Just something that we have to keep talking about and eventually it will be heard.

Right before our interview today, I received a call from St. Jude about doing another interview this Thursday. The interview today was not orchestrated by St. Jude. The editor heard of Ellie's story and wanted to feature a story about a local cancer survivor. The interview on Thursday has more of a St. Jude slant and is with InStyle magazine or Life and Style magazine but I forgot which one she said. The editor saw the recent piece on Access Hollywood with Jennifer Aniston and Ellie and wanted to do a story on her. I love that Ellie is still being remembered and asked to participate. During chemo last year it was a great distraction to see Ellie in magazines and on tv. It certainly helped get us through some of the tougher days. After the Access Hollywood show aired last week we heard from several people that did not know Ellie prior to this that they were very moved by her story and in a world where all you hear about is cancer deaths, she was inspiring. That makes all of this worthwhile. It's another blessing that Ellie is able to bring hope to those parents and kids that are going through their cancer journey that they too can come through it and be better for it in the end. It's all about finding the good.

I just noticed that there are a lot of words up there and sadly there are no pretty pictures. So unlike me to do that to you. are some extremely adorable little owls that I found on this cute
website. I believe I actually squealed when I saw them. I defintely have to go and buy one hundred of these.

don't you just love the colors... I so ♥ them!

look at the little heart on the big owl. sigh...

owl nerd
the bird nerd owl

owl pirate
there's even a pirate owl... arrrr....

Monday, September 21, 2009

Birthday Girl Ellie

Birthday Girl Ellie!

Ellie celebrated her 7th birthday this Saturday! We headed down to Myrtle Beach to visit with grandma and grandpa for the weekend and celebrate our sweet girl's day. Ellie's grandparents planned a very fun party for her and many of their friends were in attendance. It was wonderful to personally thank all those that prayed for her full recovery and who now send monthly donations to St. Jude in her honor. Ellie will be having a party in about 2 weeks with all her little friends here at home. She is over the moon about having two parties and today she was so excited because they were going to mention her birthday with the morning announcements at school. It's the little things that make her happy.

I have been working on a letter to Ellie about her being 7. I started the tradition last year for both Emma and Ellie and when I finish with it, I will probably post most of it here. I always want them to know how special they are and how much they are loved.

So we had a quick visit in South Carolina but lots of fun was had and today the girls are off to school and Steve off to work. Another busy week is on the horizon for us. Tomorrow Ellie will be interviewed by Richmond Magazine which is a local publication and Wednesday we are speaking on behalf of St Jude and the Thanks and Giving walk at a local restaurant. We have friends coming to stay with us this weekend and our neighborhood is having a yard sale on Saturday and we have soooo much stuff to unload that we just have to participate. I have turned over the majority of the yard sale task to Steve so I have fingers crossed that everything will be organized and good to go come the crack of dawn Saturday....because I do believe that is when the hardcore yard salers start showing up. It will also be a busy week for me workwise which I love. I am so grateful to be back home this fall and back into a routine. Just knowing that the girls are at school and that they are healthy, happy and full of God's love makes my heart sing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I ♥ Faces - 'Contemplative'

The I ♥ Faces Challenge this week is to capture a contemplative mood through photography. I have pulled an older photo from my archives to submit. It's one of my favorite photos of Steve and the girls. We were taking a break in Old Saybrook, CT near the marina. The day was perfect for a little afternoon cloud watching and daydreaming.

Cloud Dreaming

Head over to I ♥ Faces to see some more amazing photos.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Photo Weekend in Review

Another weekend is coming to an end. It was a long week last week with a wedding, funeral, holiday, the first day of school, working all week, Daisys meeting, groceries, laundry and chauffeur duty. So this weekend was pretty low key because I was wiped out. Next weekend we are going to South Carolina for Ellie's birthday so we will be doing all sorts of fun things I am sure. I am in the middle of revamping the Tickle Bellies website and for the last 10 days I have been staring at code. Yes, mostly staring since I hate working in scripts and codes but I am almost finished. Yahoo! Cannot wait for that to be done! Finishing this project today is the goal for the rest of the day. Here are some photos from this weekend.
Look how high!
There was some backyard swing time for Ellie

Black & Yellow Garden Spider
We checked out this super cool garden spider that made a web in the front yard.

Second Time Around
I weeded the front and back garden, cutting back lots of overgrown plants.
Here is the clematis that climbs our front light pole. I cut it back at the beginning of August and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it quickly grew back and bloomed again.

September Impatiens
Every year I plant Impatiens on either side of the deck stairs in the back. By this time in the summer, they are flowing over the stone wall and I love the way they look. I am grateful the deer didn't come to snack on them this year.

Another View...
After lunch Saturday, Ellie kicked backed and watched a classic, 'Daddy Daycare' I couldn't resist a photo from my chair. She melts my heart.

Neighborhood Gang
Late Saturday afternoon was a good time to get outside some more and visit with neighbors. The weather has been really beautiful.

Bowling Shoes...
Sunday we slept in then had pancakes and went bowling. Steve stayed home to do some yard work but us girls sure did have fun.

Bowling Queen
My bowling skills are rather weak...thank goodness for bumpers!

The girls loved bowling. Ellie was really good at it. We gave ourselves silly names on our score sheets

Let's get a strike
Ready for the pro bowlers circuit.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Yummy Halloween Treats

Now that the kids are back to school and the weather has turned a bit cooler, my thoughts are heading to fall time and Halloween. Today I was perusing a new favorite blog ( and I found these cute twinkies that are all dressed up for Halloween. I LOVE the mummies! I really don't think I could eat them because they are so flippin' cute.

I am head over heals in love with those deliciously decorated Twinkies but these chocolate dipped strawberry ghosts are closing in pretty quick. These are something I can actually make even though they are scarier looking them my Twinkie friends. I do think they will be a bit healthier to devour. Don't you just love Halloween!?!?

Ghouly Strawberries are courtesy of Little Ant Designs.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I ♥ Faces - 'Back to School'

The I ♥ Faces Challenge this week is 'Back the School'. How appropriate since today was the first day back to school for us. We seem to be behind most of the country with our post Labor Day start time but it is perfect timing for this challenge.
Ready to go to school
My sweet Ellie got to experience her 'first day' going to First Grade today. Last year she was in the middle of an aggressive chemotherapy treatment plan and we were living 14 hours from home in Memphis. Experiencing all that we have over the last 16 months makes today's back to school, the most anticipated and exciting day ever!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Back to school!

Ready for school

We are ready for school on Tuesday!! Today we brought in all of Ellie's school supplies and met her new first grade teacher, Mrs. Thornton. She is soooo warm fuzzy and she is so excited to have Ellie in her class. She's been keeping up with Ellie's website and I have a wonderful feeling that this will be a great school year. As we looked around the classroom we spotted several of Ellie's friends in her class. She is so thrilled about that. It makes things much easier to have friends going in. Ellie makes friends with everyone anyway but she really likes these two girls so I am so happy that they are all together. As we entered the school I was reminded that Ellie is a little celebrity. She had so many kids and adults coming up to say hi and give hugs. People I don't know. It makes me feel so good to know that this community has embraced Ellie and her journey and has supported her the way they have. Such a wonderful feeling.

Ellie's new teacher
This is Ellie's new teacher. Doesn't she just scream warm fuzzy?

Emma is all set with her school stuff too. Steve brought the girls to the middle school this morning and got everything settled into Emma's locker. No photos to share since Dad was in charge of that outing. Emma is excited about school too. She missed out on the first day fun last year since we were in Memphis so I am beyond happy that she is getting to experience it all on Tuesday. I cannot believe she is already in 7th grade and going in with mascara on her lashes to boot. She turns 13 in October and we promised she could wear some light makeup in 7th grade. Turning 40 and having a daughter that wears makeup - what is happening here??

This holiday weekend will be a busy one. Tomorrow I head up for a dear friends, father's funeral in Northern Virginia. Her dad had suffered for a few months with cancer and I know it is a blessing for the family that he is out of pain and free now. I recall the day like yesterday that my father passed and it doesn't matter how it happens, it is hard. A void that can never be filled. On Sunday we have a wedding to go to. It's the girls first wedding and they are super excited to go. Thankfully it's local so we don't have to travel too far. So two very different occasions to attend but I am grateful to be here to offer love and support on both fronts. Hopefully Monday we can have a cook-out or get one last swim in at the pool. To everyone reading - have a fun and safe end to summer.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'm a Winner!

One of my favorite blogs to visit belongs to a very crafty and talented lady from the UK. Her blog, Paper and String is adorable and I swear I catch myself saying 'aaawwww....' aloud each time I visit. She crafts with fabric and ribbons and makes the cutest cupcakes, felt bags and ornaments. My favorties of course are the cute birds (especially those owls) followed by the little cupcakes. Everything she does is just so sweet.

Last month she had a giveaway. If you left a comment on her blog, she would choose a winner at random... guess who won? ME!!! I was so excited. The package arrived in the mail last week and the girls and I had so much fun opening everything. I knew I won a cute little felt bag with a cheerful flower sewn on it but I didn't know it would be stuffed with lots of goodies. Here is what was in the bag. Don't forget to head on over to Paper and String and see for yourself how amazing everything is....while you're there buy some owls...

This is the adorable felt bag that I won!!!

Tucked inside the bag was a container of pastel buttons

A whimsical corduroy and felt pin

lots of pretty ribbon

And my favorite item of all... 3 super cute cupcake magents. Emma has already claimed one for her school locker.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month


There is so much still to be done regarding pediatric cancer. Huge strides, improvements and quality of life have been made in the last 10 years. If Ellie was diagnosed with a supratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumor in her brain just 15 years ago, she likely would not be here with us today. Heck, I don't even know if they would have had a name for the type of tumor she had back then. Lots of really positive changes have been made. I am grateful to the scientists, researchers, oncologists, & neurosurgeons that have greatly improved the length of life and the quality of that life for those suffering from cancer. Even with all these improvements, kids are still dying. If they aren't dying from cancer, they are dying from the chemotherapy treatment and its abrasive and toxic nature. I do believe cancer will be cured in my lifetime. I pray the breakthrough comes quickly and the map to turning off these mutant cancer cells is discovered.

September has been chosen as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I talked about the importance of that on Ellie's website. Please take a minute and read that entry.

I 'officially' have the month of September to do my part and spread awareness. Tonight I will leave you with a few facts and figures from Candlelighters a website that puts the spotlight on pediatric cancer. Thanks for listening and spreading the word. Our kids are counting on us.

Childhood Cancer Facts

  • Each school day, 46 children are diagnosed with cancer.
  • One in 330 children will develop cancer by age 20.
  • Each year in the U.S. over 12,600 children are diagnosed with cancer.
  • Although the 5 year survival rate is steadily increasing, one quarter of children diagnosed with cancer will die 5 years from the time of diagnosis.
  • Cancer remains the number one disease killer of America's children - more than Cystic Fibrosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Asthma and AIDS combined.
  • 80% of children have metastatic disease at time of diagnosis as compared to only 20% of adults.
  • There are currently more than 270,000 childhood cancer survivors in the U.S.
  • Late effects of childhood cancer treatment are common in survivors, and approximately one-third are moderate to severe.