December 30, 2006

Last New Years Eve

We celebrated Derek's 10th Birthday tonight. Just a cozy family gathering, us and Tom and Elaine. Derek chose his most favorite dessert to celebrate, Fudge Brownies! As I put the candles on the pan of brownies the number of years Derek has been alive is totally freaking me out! Where has 10 years gone? He is growing into such a wonderful young man. He and Jack are currently wiggling and tossing and turning trying their best to go to sleep, tomorrow morning we leave early for the Dallas Cowboys game at noon. Derek is more excited than I have EVER seen him. He will be wearing his new Romo jersey he received from Rob's dad for his birthday, and carrying a pocketful of cash that he has received from other family members to spend at the game.
Derek said this was his favorite birthday and Christmas ever. As he was buzzing around the living room shooting Jack, who was shooting back, with his new laser guns he received for his birthday, Elaine reminded me that last year we had to cut short Derek's birthday party because Jack was sick and we had to take him to Cook's hospital in Ft. Worth. Last New Years Eve happened while we were walking through the pediatric cancer ward, pushing Jack in a wheel chair, following a nurse to his room. Jack's immune system had bottomed out due to chemo and he had something going on in his body that had caused him to have a fever. He needed to be admitted and put on iv antibiotics to help his body fight the infection. That was a scary night. As we watched the clock turn to midnight, I knew that people all around the states, back home in Abilene, were celebrating the New Year and we were looking into faces of other families that were holding onto their children's lives and just trying to make it to the next day without falling apart, physically and emotionally. I call that "hospital world," a world that co-exists with the rest of the world, but is totally different. A world where time just stops inside those walls.
I am grateful for the year we have had, we are truly blessed. A mighty God we long to serve, a family that sticks like glue to our sides, and friends that are treasured jewels.
These are the days we will remember for ever.

December 29, 2006

Night Out

Friday morning. Christmas vacation is about half over and time is flying by. Derek turns 10 on Sunday and we will celebrating his birthday at the Dallas Cowboys game. Then home to see the New Year in. 2007 is just around the corner.
Last night I went to dinner and to a movie with 2 good friends, Denise and Judy. We had a great time. We went and saw Dreamgirls which we all really liked. Denise cried like a baby several times and Judy and I weren't quite sure why, apparently there were some emotional moments that slipped by us, but Denise, she got her money's worth. It was a great movie and I am glad to have seen it.
My favorite quote from last night, as we were walking out of Johnny Carino's we had to walk through quite a crowd waiting for a table, and I commented that had we known there were people waiting that we could have left sooner to free up a table. So then Judy and Denise, say "Tammy is so nice, yea I bet we could be mean to her and she would still be nice to us." And for the record I told them that yes, I would!
We had a blast together and I am glad that I have such wonderful friends.
The kids and I have had alot of fun this week, today on the checklist is laundry, laundry and laundry.
Have a great weekend!

December 27, 2006

Goodbye Rocky

Movie Time Review
A Night At The Museum - We went and saw this movie a couple of days ago. All of us except for Sophie really enjoyed this movie, we laughed and laughed. Our favorite people were the little dudes, Jeremiah and Octavious. They did a good job with this movie, it is fast action and I would say slightly scary but none of my kids even commented on the fright factor which means to me that it was pretty kid friendly. Mickey Rooney is pretty funny.
Sophie takes it as a personal affront in a movie if there are no main roles with girls or women and they really need to have long flowing curls and wear princess gowns to really be a quality movie as far as she is concerned. The Indian Scout Sakagawea was the only redeeming factor as far as she was concerned.

Rocky Balboa - We are big Rocky fans at our house. Our boys watched the first 3 this year and when the new one was due out at the movies we were all excited to go and see it. Will this movie be the sleeper hit of the year - probably not. Will it win an award for best dialogue - probably not again. Did it steal my heart and make me fall in love with Rocky Balboa like never before - ABSOLUTELY! This was a wonderful movie about love, family, integrity, self respect and so much more. Sly Stallone said that he had a hard time writing and acting in this movie because he knew it was Rocky's goodbye, and I cried along with him at the end of the movie. Rocky is the neighbor you wish you had and the friend that if you were so lucky to have by your side you would be rich. The boys, Rob, and I loved it. Sophie with the exception of one outburst that she was bored was sucked in and by the end said she really liked it alot. As Rocky laid beautiful roses on Adriane's grave at the end of the movie and waved goodbye, it was like a beloved character was waving goodbye at us. I just wanted to scream out, don't go, make another comeback, but I think we all knew that it was best Rocky say goodbye when we were wanting more. Goodbye Rocky Balboa - may your inspiration to reach goals that are so high that they can't even be seen, keep driving us to reach higher than we ever thought we could.

I think we are going to try and see Charlotte's Web next - has anyone seen it yet? If so what did you think of it?

December 26, 2006

My Favorite Day of the Year

We had a wonderful Christmas! The kids all enjoyed opening their presents and the adults did too. We had a big surprise for Derek Christmas morning. He will turn 10 years old on New Years Eve and so as a combo present for Christmas and birthday we gave him tickets to the Dallas Vs. Detroit game next Sunday on his birthday at Texas Stadium in Arlington. At first he was stunned and couldn't talk, then he fell backwards and stayed their for a minute or two then when he finally got his words back he screamed in delight and gave us a big smile. He is all happy and I have tears streaming the whole time, to be able to give him a present that brought about such a reaction was my favorite part of the day. We had a great time with my family last night and did our annual scripture and gift exchange, the time was heartfelt and full of laughter and tears, just as family gatherings should be. It was truly a blessed day.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.

December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas

For all of those who will be away from your computers until next week! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Please keep Jack's January 17th visit to the Dallas Children's where he will have his next MRI. His last MRI showed a 2mm growth on the tumor, if the next MRI confirms that he will start a new chemo. An MRI has a margin of error of 2mm, so we could just go and find out that the tumor has stayed the same since he finished up chemo 5 months (yes! 5 months) ago. When we were at the Christmas Party for the chemo kids a couple of days ago, it hurt my heart to see the new kids that we have never met before. All the kids Jack went through chemo with are looking pretty good, all except one little girl, she looked very pale and thin, the new kids are all in the midst of it, and have a rough road ahead.
I would love for Jack to be done with all of that, but I know that we will do what we have to do. I am praying for Jack's tumor to go away, or be gone, or to never grow again, and then pray for continued strength to deal with whatever comes up.
I have learned alot of lessons this year and maybe the most important one is "Let go and let God," specifically when it comes to my children. It was a hard lesson to learn with my children, but God's will be done, and He will always be my God and I His child. And may His light shine bright from my heart for all the rest of my days.

December 20, 2006

Holiday Plans

Winter is in Abilene this week. It is cold and rainy. Isn't it amazing after a couple hours of rain how dead brown grass can turn green.
I don't normally post current events on my site, but the 2 men who are missing in the mountains of Oregan's Mt. Hood have brought me to praying for a miracle. Maybe because of the man who lost his life last week while setting out to find help for his family had me already thinking about being stranded in the snow. I pray the men are found alive. Keep praying for the men and comfort for their families, I can't even imagine their states of mind.
Jack and I have a party at the cancer center today with all of his chemo friends. It should be fun.
Every day is a gift, what a blessing!
2 more days and the kids are out of school, I am so excited and I am so looking forward to spending time with my kiddo's. I have decided that the first day we have off we will set a schedule and post it so the kids know what we are doing each day. I would love to just wake up and see what the day brings but that is not how Jack is wired, and normally by the time I am putting on coffee in the morning Jack is asking me what we are doing that day, what can he do, and that he is already bored. I am pulling down the board games, got a couple new movies and have some ideas up my sleeve to keep our holiday low key but with splatterings of fun along the way. I think that with some pre-planning we should all be happy.
Someone told me that shrinky dinks are being stocked at the stores again, I think that will be one afternoon of fun, I remember making shrinky dinks when I was little and I thought it was about the coolest thing ever.
Any big plans out there?

December 19, 2006

The Monkey Called Flax

This was the discussion in our kitchen last night. I am standing by my little vitamin shelf and shaking out my daily supplements, which consist of vitaman c, flax seed oil capsules, and a multi vitamin. Derek says to me, "You know mom, people can get addicted to dr*gs that aren't even real dr*gs, like medicines you can take for colds." and I said, you are right Derek, and then I say but these are vitamins.... and leave it there, waiting for his response which I know is coming because he pretty much knows everything. Well those vitamins are just like medicines, maybe you shouldn't take them all the time. I calmly in my most unassuming voice say, "Derek, these vitamins are to keep me healthy, there is nothing bad about them." I guess he hears the strain in my voice and doesn't say anything else, but I can see the pained look on his face, like he has a mother who has given in to the monkey called flax seed oil.

I will say this about the D.A.R.E. program, it certainly works and has turned my kids into the house police. First it was my occassional glass of wine, like once every 3 months occassional, and now it is my vitamins. I have for the most part given up the wine, one - because I don't want my kids to be thinking that their mothers 6oz of wine on a special occassion will send me to the Serenity House, and because it is now disrupting my sleep patterns, (I am getting older - 14 months till I am 40 you know), but I refuse to give up my flax seed oil, vitamin c's and my daily multi vitamin. I draw the line on the influence of the D.A.R.E. program in my house when it starts infringing on my freedom of vitamins. What is my house coming to I ask? I have the mini D.A.R.E. patrol who sleep down the hall from me, is nothing personal or sacred, least of all my vitamin intake?!

I am all for Vitamin Freedom, I am ready to wave my banner high!

December 15, 2006

Virtual Meetings and the AFLAC Duck

Have you ever been just going along with your day like normal and all of a sudden in the moment everything around you seems surreal. Well yesterday was one of those days for me. I had a great day, it just was filled with quirky little moments that were filled with pockets of entertainment and wonder.
I had a meeting with a bride and groom to go over wedding details yesterday morning at Starbuck's (my 2nd favorite place to drink coffee, my first is now Tuscany's), the meeting was purely delightful. The bride and groom are going to be alot of fun to work with and the meeting was great. After the meeting was over, my good friend Denise joined me at my table, and while we were visiting, off to the right hand side in the middle of Starbuck's is a business meeting of the virtual kind. A man in his 30's or so was sitting on a chair with his laptop computer open, a bluetooth earpiece in his ear and he was going to town talking into the isight camera on the top of his laptop. He was talking to someone about an employee who was by the sound of his voice, and frankly by the words he was using, a less than desirable employee. Hello - Mr. Man on your computer laptop, I now know the name of your employee, first and last, all the derogatory comments (which could very well have been deserved, but didn't need to be overheard), and let's just say that's a bit too much information for me to hear over my morning coffee. This man could have gone to the back of the building, several tables were open, and he wouldn't have been within 3 feet of the coffee bar and in the heart of the shop. We even found out where he worked for, because as soon as his virtual employee bashing was over a prospective employee showed up for an interview and to fill out an application which we all saw. Maybe she was being interviewed to replace said employee. That was on the right side of our table.

On the left side of the table was a less obtrusive business meeting. A nice AFLAC salesperson who was signing up a woman for a new policy. They were both projecting their words at a nice normal level, but the funny part was the AFLAC Duck was sitting on the table next to the AFLAC Employee's computer. He was dressed up in a doctor's uniform. I was waiting to hear AFLAC honking from its felt beak at any moment, I mean after all on the commercial it does say AFLAC, but I guess that was too much to hope for. Each time I looked at that duck I just couldn't help but laugh. It must be a requirement to have a stuffed duck involved in all business transactions. I am after all still thinking about someone elses business transaction about 30 hours later, that is some good advertising.

The day continued to have droplets of craziness in it, but I had that much fun before 9:30am, what a day.

December 13, 2006

How We Do Christmas

Christmas Craziness. Just as my post yesterday says I love Christmas. What is it that I love....The spirit of the season (which is not easily found in the Walmart aisles), the focus on Christ's Birth, that's actually my favorite, the excitement of my kids counting down the days to Christmas morning, 2 weeks playing with my kids while they are on break, focusing on others and trying to figure out a meaningful gift for them.

I think that it is a stressful time for many because there is not enough funds to go around. My husband and I have set some guidelines for the Christmas season and we are part of a family that is also conscience about the money issues of the holidays. Here are some of the things we have done to make the season as stress free as possible.
1. Our kids get 3 gifts plus some stocking stuffers each. They get one gift that is their main gift from us then two smaller gifts. Santa brings one of those, so we buy 3 gifts total for each child. This is not easy, mainly because I want to make sure that the 3 gifts they get are something they really like and want and will use. There is no ... well maybe I will just get them this too. 3 gifts - Jesus received three gifts for His birth, my kids get 3 gifts to celebrate that birth. There has not been very many gifts that get tossed to the side and forgotten about, each of their gifts is normally played with and appreciated. Sometimes the stocking stuffers add up, I will do some and Rob's mom is thoughtful and will pass on some stocking stuffers too. What happens when I find the most perfect gift 3 days before Christmas and I have already wrapped 3 gifts, I either unwrap a gift and return it and buy the "perfect" gift, or I put the "perfect" gift on my list for the birthdays which days or weeks after Christmas.
2. I have a large extended family, we buy for each others kids, what ever we can afford, my kids have received dollar store gifts that they have loved and played with. I make alot of those gifts, this year I am making all of those gifts. It is not about the money spent, it is more about finding something that the child will love, my daughter Sophie received a dish towel from someone a couple of years ago, each time she helps me in the kitchen she uses her dish towel with the kitty on it. That relative knew she loved kitty's and loved helping in the kitchen, voila, perfect gift that she is using 3 years later, dollar store gift!
3. Scripture Exchange, the adults in our family do something called a scripture exchange. We each bring a wrapped gift for a gift exchange. This is like the typical gift exchanges you have done, draw a number, pick a gift when it is your turn, because scripture is involved - you know when the Lord is involved it is not good to steal, so we do not steal these gifts. You pick the gift, read the scripture on it, then the person who brought the gift makes a note of who picked their gift and prays that scripture for that person all year long. These gifts can be a handwritten scripture in a frame, a coffee mug from the Christian bookstore that has a meaningful scripture on it, it doesn't matter what it is, but it must have a scripture on it.
After this exchange we go around the room with someone keeping notes and share our praises and struggles and give our family our concerns to keep in their prayers for the following year. And then the note keeper gets copies to everyone through email or hardcopy. Then we...
4. White Elephant. $10 limit and the gloves are off, we pick numbers again and we choose a gift on our turn that can be stolen up to 3 times, each year I bring a big back of peanut m and m's for this and it is always a big hit. Sometimes people do a white elephant exchange that is filled with old used stuff, but that is not the kind we do, we do real gifts just keep the limit at $10. We laugh and steal and then in the end, we have made memories that we will remember for years to come.

This system works for our family. There is meaning and love throughout. Christ is the center.

Whenever I start getting frazzled about all the demands of the holiday season I take a step back, take a deep breath, decide where that falls in the scheme of Christmas, if it is just a stressor I don't do it, unless it is a need or a service to someone who is in need. Then I will find a way, I will take the opportunity to help someone who is in need, because that is more important than anything else listed above, if the Lord has given me that opportunity then He will provide the means. My radar is always lifted a bit higher in this season because of the financial stress it puts on people. Some people can't afford one present for their child unless their food budget is cut, or they don't put gas in their car this week, those are the people I watch for. Those are the real tidbits of celebration of the season.

Since Jack got sick periphery things have simplified for me. If I was to die tomorrow, if my child was to die tomorrow, what is really important. Our relationship with the Lord is the only thing, are my actions bringing glory to Him, am I a beacon of light, or has the world covered me up so much that I just blend in and match everyone else, I strive and pray every day for the strength to be used by the Lord, all the other stuff is just that.

December 12, 2006

Potpourri of Christmas thoughts.

I love Christmas time! I started shopping a bit this week for Christmas and am trying to decide if I am going to wrap the presents as I get them and put them under the tree, or wait until Christmas eve and put them all out. Does anyone have any feelings on this. Storage is always an issue for me.

I just finished making the teacher gifts for the kids to take to school. I had seen on the Today show several months ago how to make a purse from a scarf. When I went to Sam Moon a couple of months ago with some of my girlfriends I bought some scarfs with this project in mind for teacher gifts. In each purse I would put a Starbucks card ($5), a homemade cinnamon ornament made by my kids, and some candy. I chose the cherry cordial kisses to be the sweet treat!

Jack has a port flush tomorrow, it is always fun to see the staff at the oncology office.

I need to sit down and finish addressing my Christmas Cards. I am having a hard time staying still long enough to do that. That is on my list for today.

I am grateful for all of my friends and family. This morning I was sitting next to Jack on the couch waiting for the bus to come. Every moment is sweet with him. Every moment with each of my children is sweet. These quiet moments are times to savor. At the end of the day my favorite memories are the gentle, soft, quiet moments with my children. I want to lodge those memories in a permanent bank in my head.

I always remember the words by Mary the mother of Jesus, loosely quoted, she stores up memories like treasures in her heart. I know that our lives never stay the same, and Lord willing our children will grow up and spread their wings, and start their own families...

If you haven't seen The Nativity - go see it. It is wonderfully made and was heart felt and touching. I didn't cry too much during the movie, but the next morning we were at church, we sang some Christmas songs about the birth of Jesus, and that is when the tears started to fall. Thank you Jesus for becoming flesh, being born of Mary, a sweet baby boy.

December 08, 2006

Yo-Yo Santa

Jack brought home a letter to Santa Clause yesterday. This was the first couple of sentences:
Yo-Yo Santa Clause, Jack here, how are you? How is Mrs. Clause? Did she have a baby this year?
I think he was in sentence 8 or 9 before he listed a toy he wanted.

Rob's dad is here visiting this weekend. We have alot of fun stuff ahead of us!

I am thankful for all of my good friends. Sometimes I can get a bit overwhelmed by my little view of the world, all it takes is to step out and insert some work or prayer in someone elses life and the peace of heart steps in. One of my very good friends always says that when she gets down she starts to look out to others and see where she can help. I am not down, just a bit busy, and looking out to others blesses the "looker" ten times more than it blesses the "lookee" We are made to serve others and not be so self centered, when those moments are offered for us by God to grab on to, which I am sure is more than I realize it is like the world makes sense. All is right.

This season, Reach out and Help Someone, whether it be through cleaning their house, praying with them, washing their car, fixing a meal,... take time to give of yourself. And you will be touched and your giving will never come back empty even if the givee never knows it is you, God will be touched and it will make Him smile.

December 06, 2006

My Captains

Here is my Captain Jack and his collaborator Captain D.
Enemy Ships Beware!

December 04, 2006

Make a Wish Christmas Party

Jack and our family were invited to a Make A Wish Christmas party in San Angelo on Saturday. Wells Fargo bank sponsors this event each year. The party is in the gym of a beautiful church in downtown San Angelo. The kids had a blast. Santa and Mrs. Clause showed up and gave presents to the wish kids and their siblings. There were prizes galore for games and one game that even gave $1 bills when you knocked a bowling pin down. The kids had a total blast and we did too. It was overwhelming at first being in a room with children who have had wishes, children who have been sick or still are, and maybe always will be. There was joy in all the faces of these sweet children and their parents who just take one day at a time and make the most of each moment. We even met a boy who is in Derek's class at school who is a cancer survivor, we didn't know about his health issues in his past. Isn't it funny how a child can fight for his life, with years of chemo like this little boy, and 5 years later he doesn't look or act different than any other child in his classroom. Life is always full of surpises.
Have a most wonderful day!

December 02, 2006

Check your Palm Pilot.

Wouldn't you hate it if you woke up at 5:30 am on a Saturday morning to get ready for a 7am pedicure appt., made some coffee to go, stopped by Mary's Mexican to pick up a couple of egg burrito's one for you and one to share, drove up at 7:02, still a bit dark out. See a dark shop, wait 30 minutes in your car, check your palm pilot, see the appointment is for next Saturday and drive home thinking you wished you would have checked your palm pilot earlier. I would hate that too!

December 01, 2006

The Most Fun Snow Day

Yesterday morning started with watching the scrolling words across the bottom of the tv screen. School starts at 10am. I made breakfast and to celebrate the extra couple of hours hot chocolate. Then came the call from Elaine, did you hear that school is cancelled today....SNOW DAY!
More hot chocolate, the video Santa Clause is Coming to Town. Ahh, warm and toasty.
I finished up the tile picture project you see above.
Then a trip to Walmart, one of my least favorite places, but as we were down to a half a roll of tp it became a necessity, and I needed a new printer cartidge, along with craft ingredients, and to make a bank deposit. Where else can one go when the roads are a bit snowy and icy for one stop shopping. I am not sure I have ever been so glad for Walmart.
Grocery shopping done, lunch time, then we made the cute cinnamon ornaments you saw above. The kids, Rob and I cut them out and baked them then decorated them. That was so much fun and our house smells like cinnamon.
We went and saw Santa Clause 3
Made homemade chilli and extra yummy cornbread and our day was complete.
Somewhere in there the kids played outside in the snow several times and came in with little red noses and cheeks.
We had the best day ever.