Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mother's Day Tribute

Steve and I returned from our fabulous 2 day getaway at Chincoteauge Island this afternoon. It was amazingly awesome and we loved every minute of it. Pictures to come soon. In the meantime, this morning my friend Kelly Corrigan was on the Today Show. She is an wonderful author and inspirational speaker. This is her latest video tribute to Moms everywhere about how important and loved we really are by our children and what we go through as moms. It's really a great Mother's Day tribute. Also wonderful about this video is that Ellie and I make a brief appearance around the two minute mark. Woo -Hoo! Kelly has a website too, you should check it out!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On the road again....

I realized the other day that I have not been home (in my house at my home address) on Mother's Day in 3 years and this year will be no different. Let's see... on Mother's Day 2007 I was stranded overnight at the Dallas airport because of bad weather. I spent the night with girlfriends having fun so it was OK. In 2008 I spent the night in the step down intensive care unit with Ellie. My girlfriend Diana (who happened to be with me in Dallas too) was with me on this night as well. It was a crazy night and probably the worst night for Ellie throughout our journey. She had newly restictched, extremely tight stitches on her head and a lumbar drain in her back. She had been in the hospital for 3 weeks and she was beyond done. Last year for Mother's Day I was at LeBonheur hospital in Memphis. Ellie had just had her third brain surgery and we had witnessed a miracle. It was a very blessed Mother's Day. This year I will be back in Memphis at St. Jude getting ready for Ellie's 3 month check-up. I am beginning to see a trend here... As long as both my girls are healthy and happy I do not care where I am.

Yesterday afternoon Ellie came running in all excited because she had found a four leaf clover! She certainly is annointed with happiness my little girl. I love that carefree shine she has. Not to be outdone in the Irish folklore of luck arena - Emma had witnessed a beautiful rainbow over the lake on her way home from field hockey practice. Hoping this is just some good foretelling for our upcoming scans for Ellie.

Tomorrow Steve and I are sneaking off for 2 days of R&R on the outershore of Virginia. We will be in Chincoteauge Island. A place I love to visit because of the vast amount of nature. There is something amazing to see everywhere you look. It will be good to take a breather for just the two of us.

Here are more random photos... Good Luck Girl!
This is Ellie's 4 leaf clover!

A postcard from Ellie's principal that we received in the mail last week.

This publication came out around Valentine's Day and was sent to St. Jude supporters. That's Ellie and her main man, Dr. Bikhazi. Love, love, love him!

Monday, April 26, 2010

I ♥ Faces Challenge 'SMILE'

This week's I ♥ Faces challenge is 'Smile'. This is Emma's beautiful smile after 3 years of braces adorning her teeth. Love my sweet girl and her gorgeous smile.

There are many more beautiful smiles over on I Heart Faces... check them out!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The last few days in photos

It's been a busy few days... loving the spring weather and busy with work plus Ellie celebrated two years of being diagnosed with cancer. We are so proud of her. We know she will continue to beat the odds and be a survivor!! Here are some random photos that I managed to snag over the last few days.
. Butterfly Ellie
Ellie had her face painted at the annual ASK 5K which benefits pediatric cancer at MCV hospital where Ellie had her surgeries

The amazing....
We met up with Dr. Gary Tye who was the amazing neurosurgeon that took away most of Ellie's brain tumor back in April '08. It was great to see him.

Beautiful, green trees... love this view of them.

who doesn't love the ice cream man? Me, that who!! This guy comes in the neighborhood everyday blasting his ice cream music and driving 2 miles an hour. His van slightly grosses me out so we never buy from him... also... don't think he can read the NO SOLICITING sign at the beginning of our neighborhood. I sound like a crotchety old lady but this guy just bugs me.

This is our neighbor's dog, Jake. Isn't he cute? He does like to bark a little too much but he is starting to grow on me.

Jake and Ellie
Ellie and our other friend Jake. He's grown on me so much more than the canine Jake. Jake was the first person I ever knew to have brain cancer. He lives in our neighborhood and that was almost 10 years ago. He is a true inspiration to us and is now a freshman at Virginia Tech. Go Jake!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Year of Giving

I have been reading an absolutely fascinating blog called the 'Year of Giving'. It started mid December 2009 and each day a man named Reed, who lives in Washington DC, seeks out someone and gives them $10.00. This is what Reed has to say about why he does this and what he hopes to achieve...

The concept is simple. I will give $10 to a different person every day for a year. I will write about the people who I intersect with as well as the truly altruistic experience that I am sure to have! I recently lost my job at a nonprofit organization due to the economic climate so taking on this endeavor may not seem fiscally prudent. However, I think it is exactly these times that we must focus on helping others. I started the Year of Giving on December 15th in memory of my mother who lost her long battle with heart disease on this day in 2006. She was a true altruist. She always thought of others before herself.

My goal is not to change the lives of those with whom I come in contact. Let’s face it, $10 dollars is not going to change someone’s life in and of itself. I do believe, however, that the act of giving will hopefully inspire others to pursue the ideals that the French philosopher Auguste Comte envisioned when he coined the term “altruism.” Whether that comes in the form of someone who reads this blog and wants to embark on their own Year of Giving or someone who uses the $10 to help someone else out, the specific results are less important than the overall good that we can achieve together.

The stories are really inspiring, encouraging, eye opening and sometimes a little sad but mostly they are rewarding. Giving back, making a difference, helping others. All things we try to teach our kids to do as well as reminding ourselves how important it is for us to do this too. Making a difference in someone's life. Is there anything better? Reed is certainly walking the walk.

There are so many stories out there, so much love, if we just take the time to ask and learn and care. Enjoy the blog. The Year of Giving

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Party in the Attic

Ellie invited me up to the attic last night for a 'fashion show'. Our attic is basically a huge playroom. Emma has her sights on it for her future bedroom someday (a la Greg Brady from the Brady Bunch I believe). It's cozy with wall to wall carpeting and a finished full bath. There are two couches and one of those couches pulls out to a bed for sleepovers. There is a large TV and surround sound and lots and lots and lots of toys. Did I mention there were toys?!

I manage to make my way up to the attic about three times a year. I tend not to go up there because I have OCD and the mess drives me crazy and I want to put all of it away in some organized form. I have to remind myself that this is Ellie and Emma (and sometimes Steve's) spot to play, relax and not worry about the mess. Amazingly for the most part it stays relatively clean. Steve and Emma are in charge of bathroom duty and according to reports from Ellie it is clean too. So, last night Ellie came down with an invite to go up and hang out and learn about her animals and their fashion choices. Of course, I couldn't say no.

She had all her stuffed animals outfitted and ready to perform. While up there, I took photos from various places in the attic to remind me of how much fun they have up there. Emma was off at friends house for the night and doesn't go up in the attic too much anymore unless she is playing with Ellie. Ellie is up there all the time. She takes Phoebe and Kanye and turns on the tunes and will play for hours. She is so happy and content.
All of her stuffed animals, mostly Build-a-Bears, were sitting on the ottoman waiting for the show to begin.

Ellie held up each one, shared their name, their special abilities and why she loves them.

Her babies were lovingly tucked into their crib in one corner of the room.

Ellie's Toes
Couldn't resist a shot of her striped PJ bottoms and pretty pink toes.

Isn't he cute... little stuffed animals everywhere (cat hair and all)

Music is a part of who Ellie is. She loves to dance, sing and express herself. Tonight for the fashion show we listened to one of Emma's old Hillary Duff CDs.

Still loves to play with all her American Girl Dolls.

So love her... she makes me happy

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Garden Center visit

The fever has broken! Spring fever that is. Yesterday I finally made it over to one of our local (extremely overpriced) garden nurseries. I say they are overpriced because they are but they do have high quality plants and a really great variety to choose from. I know the plants I purchase from them will grow and flourish all summer long. With a place like Lowes you are limited with variety and sometimes the plant quality is compromised too... the prices though are more affordable. Anyhoo- this garden center is wonderful and there is a ton of inspiration around every corner and that is something I really appreciate and need so overpriced or not, it's one of my favorite places to go. My absolute favorite place is about 20 miles away and kind of out of the way so I have to make a special trip to go and yesterday time was not on my side. I was really just getting my feet wet yesterday and only purchased about 10 round pots of annuals for some container planting. I now have 5 container plants potted up. It's a good start. I usually have about 15 or so by the time I am finished. So love this time of year.

Yesterday, I bought my favorite lemon Lantana. The hummingbirds love these plants and they grow so big and full. I also bought some daisies, coleus, million bells, angelina, white snowstorm (or was it called snowflakes - they are trailing small white flowers), alysum, blue salvia and a few others I cannot think of.

Just look at all these trays and trays of annuals. Love all that coleus on the last few trays. Think anyone would notice if I pushed this right out the door?

I admit that I am not a big fan of Marigolds but all those rows of bright oranges and yellows was so pretty in the spring sun that I had to take a photo.

This garden center has a ton of garden art. Did I mention overpriced earlier...$55.00 for these beauties! Regardless, I love these frogs, pigs and birds that seem to be flying through the air.

One of my newly planted containers. In a few weeks it will be lush and full.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring Fever

Not too much excitement going on this week - just catching up from my few days away and getting back into the school routine with the girls. Back to work, back to school and back to reality. I love being on a schedule and it feels good to be back to it.

It seems I have come down with a bad case of Spring Fever... (I wonder if it's an infection from when I almost amputed my finger last week!) I am finding it hard to focus on work and the warm weather and birds are just begging me to come outside. They are taunting me and I am having to try my hardest to ignore them. As you can tell, I am very eager to get outside, to get in the backyard and start planting flowers. Unfortunately, there is so much to do before I can start popping plants into the ground. Trimming, weeding and planning need to get done first. Normally I will commit to doing my containter plantings first before any hardcore gardening just in case we have a spell of cold temperatures. It's much easier to move containers into the garage and covering plants outside is not fun when they cannot be moved. By this time of year I usually have about 10 pots filled but I am off to a late start this year. I just haven't had an opportunity to head to the nursery to wander the aisles and design my containers. I am hoping to do just that on Saturday afternoon. Yee! Cannot wait!

Here is a photo from my girls night out weekend and a few more photos from around the yard. Hopefully my spring fever will break and I will feel better when I can be outside this weekend.

We have eggs
Five little Blue Bird eggs adorn our new nest! Precious!

The power of ants
I have 4 Peonie Bushes that I planted about 4 years ago. The first year I noticed all these ants on the flower heads before they bloomed. I, of course, was grossed out and flicked all the ants off. They kept coming back. Little did I know that there is an old wives tale that states the ants help the peonie bloom by eating all the sweet sap on the outside of the bloom and releasing the flower. It may be true or not but either way I don't flick them off anymore. Sorry little ants.

Bumble Bees are out and buzzing about. Love them!

Glamour Girls
These two are out and buzzing around too. Here are my girls soaking up the sun over spring break.

Girls Weekend
Girls Night Out! The gang from high school. Love them!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Not quite the Hangover - but fun!

Back from a fun few days in Connecticut. I wish I had photos to share at this point but I don't. I did of course bring my camera and I do have a few photos that I took but I haven't edited them yet. I was mainly going up north to see some high school girlfriends for a girls night at the Mohegan Sun casino. Once the alcohol started to flow, the camera was not an option for me. Photos were taken by my friend Carol so once I have those and depending on what they look like, I may share them. They may have to be burned and forever destroyed - I will just have to wait and see what she captured. (wink wink)

So... the weekend was fabulous. I drove up on Thursday and stayed with my girlfriend Laurel and her husband Tony. We had a great day on Friday. We picked up our girlfriend MaryAnn and went shopping up in Massachusetts. So love New England and all its quaintness. We had a great lunch, fabulous shopping and makeovers and even fit in a movie. Two thumbs up for Date Night... Steve Carrell and Tina Fey were so funny! Saturday I made my way to the casino to see seven girlfriends that I grew up with. I hadn't seen many of them in years. We have done a relatively good job with keeping in touch via email and Facebook over the years but living out of state means I miss a lot of opportunities to get together. When they suggested this one, I didn't want to say no and two other girlfriends were coming from out of state too so I really wanted to join in. It was much much better than I thought it would be and we shared so many great memories and boy I forgot how these girls can make me laugh. I made it back home late last night instead of staying until Monday which was in my original plans. Three reasons for coming home a day early.

One, I cut my finger on my razor blade in my makeup bag on Sunday morning.. loudly can you say ouch! A rather large chunk of finger flesh was lost and it bled for a long time. I didn't need a stitch but it was close. The thought of hauling around my tripod in the woods to do some birding later that afternoon wasn't sounding too good to me at that point. I was so looking forward to that too. It was a major bummer for me.

Second, I was super tired from our wild and crazy, sleep deprived night...Going home to my own bed sounded like a really good idea even if it was 8.5 hours away.

Lastly, I have been really busy workwise and missing Thursday and Friday set me back...throw in a missed Monday too and I would have been stressed. I hate to be stressed. So I arrived home last night. Wish it was a longer trip but I had a blast! The girls had fun with Steve while I was gone and enjoyed the second half of their Spring Break.

I'll let you know about those photos... ;)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Break!

So loving the beautiful weather we have been having... Spring just bubbles up all the goodness in your soul. I have enjoyed watching the bluebirds build their nest in one of our houses, the perennials coming to life, the trees budding out and the general happy mood that settles upon everyone this time of year.

This is the first Spring Break in years that we have not gone on vacation...partly my fault. I made plans months ago with some high school friends to get together over this coming weekend, then I made other plans with some other girlfriends to go up a few days early for some shopping. I am leaving tomorrow for 5 days and that left our Spring Break week too broken up to really plan a good vacation. The girls have forgiven me...I think. It hasn't been a loss for them though. Emma has been staying busy with friends and going to the movies, plus she got some new clothes from Hollister and a new Wii game she has been loving. Ellie went shopping with me and yesterday we went to the local zoo to meet up with a brand new friend named Reese. Reese lives about 45 minutes from us and had brain cancer too. She was the first patient at MCV (local hospital where Ellie had her two brain surgeries) to go through the St. Jude protocol that Ellie had in Memphis. It is a very successful clinical but they did not offer it when we needed them to at MCV. Anyway- Reese's parents were following Ellie's story closely as Reese is about a year behind us with her treatment. They are a great family and we had a good time getting the girls together at the zoo yesterday. They have a lot in common being seven and cancer survivors. So inspirational and heart warming!

On top of all that, I have been very busy with work. Lots of orders to process and today will be very busy in order to get the majority of it done before I head out tomorrow morning. That's life... busy but wonderful.

Here's a slice of spring from my part of the world

Ready to play
Tucker is always ready with a ball in his mouth. Oh how this dog loves to play ball.
Loving all the green behind him

5 lined skink
It's definitely Spring... the 5 Lined Skinks have resurfaced from deep inside our rock wall. Not a good photo but these little buggers are quick and I had the short lens on the camera.

Pine Cones
When I return it will be time to do all my container plantings. The pinecones will fill the bottom of the planters. Cannot wait!

Lambs Ear
The Lambs Ear is spreading and growing niceley. That Yarrow next to it... I have to dig a lot of it up. It is so invasive and just spreads everywhere.

Waiting for Eggs
The Bluebirds made this nest last week. Just waiting for the eggs now.

New Life
We have 3 big River Birch in the side yard... their leaves have come out. I love how detailed, intricate and perfect the formation of the leaves are. God's creations never cease to amaze me

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Thanking Jesus this morning for all He has done and continues to do for us. So grateful and humbled to know him as our Saviour.

Here are some photos from our weekend.

On our way to the neighborhood egg hunt!

Happy Easter
Woo Hoo! Ellie scored two prize eggs! Fun!

Easter Bunny Emma
Bunny with a bad attitude. ;)

Dying Eggs
Coloring Easter Eggs with grandma
note to self... brown organic eggs not so good for coloring.

Eggs, bunnies and chocolate
Our newly dyed eggs, mr. bunny and the oh so important - chocolate.

Easter Goodies
The girls Easter stash... SO thankful to be here - happy and healthy!

Really no comment on this... ending on interesting note!