Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Make-A-Wish Fundraiser

Bridgette, Jeff and I have decided to walk with my friend Heather in the Make-A-Wish-Foundation annual fundraising event Walk for Wishes next weekend in Park City, Utah.

As children, both Heather and her brother were diagnosed with Ewings sarcoma, a type of bone cancer in the spine, and they were both recipients of a Wish. Now they're trying to give back by helping raise funds for other children's wishes.

Their fundraising goal is $1,700, and so far they have $1,625. Anything above the donation goal is sweet cream and will go to the same good cause to which the rest of it goes. If anyone would like to donate, here is her Donation Page. Her whole story is there too.

We will be walking 15 miles with Heather's family. Or rather, we'll be walking however much Bridgette can tolerate.

As long as I'm posting about good causes, here's a little heads-up that I've already decided to participate again at Festival of Trees this year, benefitting Primary Children's Medical Center where Bridgette had both her surgeries and her various subsequent treatments. The Festival last year was such a good experience.

Don't worry; it's not until November.

The theme will be "Sugar & Spice," and I plan to decorate the tree with special cookies made into ornaments as well as spice jars. Under the tree will be sugar and flour and other ingredients used to make delicious confections. Sounds yummy, no?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sunday, May 9, 2010

For Our Mommies

For Mary Jane -- A Few Memories

- I remember my mom getting up very early in the morning to make us oatmeal, eggs and other nice breakfasts. She rarely missed a morning!
- Mom loved to re-arrange her furniture and office, it was fun helping her move things around.
- Mom was very good at ping pong, I remember playing on the dinner table one Halloween.
- Mom never yelled at us and was very patient.
- Mom was very smart and got a good education, including a master's degree.
- I remember the day-care with Blake and Bo and Andrew.
- I remember raiding the snacks that were supposed to be for the day care. :)
- Mom was very supportive of all her kids' activities.
- Mom loved to stay and chat with people after church.
- What a good mom!

Love, Jeff

For Lauryl -- On the Power of Her Example

My parents were a classic case of two young kids who
dated in high school and got married right after.

They had a baby while they were still really young.
Like 19 years old, young.

After completing one year at Cleveland State University my mom dropped out to take care of her baby (my older brother) and to work as a waitress. She sacrificed her education so my dad could finish college.

After he graduated my dad landed a job that moved them away from all their family in Ohio to a small town in West Texas. That’s where I was born. Two years later so was my younger brother.

But there’s really more to the story. All throughout my life, my mom took classes at our community college. They didn’t offer her desired degree, so she took classes for fun.

On any given day I might have come home from school to hear her say, “Kel, I think I want to play the harp,” so she’d enroll in harp lessons. Or, “I’ve decided to learn Spanish,” so she’d take a couple of Spanish classes.

In 2002, my mom visited with a counselor at the college about yet another class she was interested in taking. The counselor pulled up her transcript and said, “Did you know you can graduate this year? With honors?”

Here are all the classes she took a little at a time over the years, 1978 - 2002: beginning & advanced belly dancing, drawing I, architectural drawing I & II, engineering drafting, computer graphics I & II, Spanish I & II, band (11 semesters), chorale (2 semesters), college algebra, woodwind instruction I & II, wind ensemble I & II, woodwind ensemble (4 semesters), chamber singers, voice instruction (4 semesters).

That doesn’t count the classes she took at Cleveland State University (Chorale, analytic geometry & calculus, biology, genetics, sociology, western civilization, chemistry I & II, evolution of man & culture, religion – Paul the Apostle, English, and psychology) or Odessa College or continuing education.

One month after I walked across the stage to receive my diploma so did my mom. With honors.

I returned to school full-time 5 years later to pursue a graduate degree. The choice wasn’t too hard to make because of my mom. She’s an example of active lifelong learning, adventure seeking, and community involvement. I definitely attribute my mom with a never-too-late attitude.

My mom’s love of learning continues today. I hope Bridgette is excited to try new things too as she grows up, just like her grandma. I really believe that I wouldn't have cared so much about education without my mom's example.

So this summer? I’ll be taking my own continuing education classes -- fencing lessons and learning to fly planes.

Thanks, Mom, and happy mother’s day.
Love, Kel

Thursday, May 6, 2010


According to research, one of the habits of truly happy people is to be grateful -- to count your blessings, you might say. We've been trying to do that in our home.

But this post is a bit more literal.

In the church in which Jeff and I were raised, when babies are born they typically receive a special blessing. Often the baby receives this blessing from his/her biological or adoptive father, but not always. Only a few of the words are preset, so the blessing-giver can ask God to bless the baby with whatever he feels strongly is appropriate for that child.

A father might bless the baby with special promises or instructions about life - family, friends, education, faith, hard choices, honest work, health, being or following a good example, etc.

Some blessings are long; some are quite short. The babies are dressed in white.

The blessing is usually done at church, in a public setting, but some parents choose to bless their child at home in a more private environment. Many families have a tradition of holding a luncheon or small gathering to celebrate the occasion, but this is not expected.

Last Sunday, Jeff's twin brother, Jeremy, gave such a blessing to his new daughter, Sienna. Sienna looked so precious in her little white dress, just hanging out seemingly as content as could be. Here she is pictured below with her beautiful mom, Heidi.

Heidi & Jeremy invited the family to their home at noon, an hour before their church service started. I was so glad they did because Jeff and I had to make our own choice about attending.

Of all the odds, my dear friend Ann-Marie who had identical triplets back in September decided her girls were strong & healthy enough to bring them out in public for the first time for their baby blessings... on the same day... at the same hour as Sienna's blessing!

So, when it comes to blessings, last Sunday we got to count four!

We decided, as painful as it was to choose, to attend the family gathering with Sienna at lunchtime and then for me to split off to attend the triplets' blessings. Jeff and Bridgette stayed to be a part of their niece/cousin's big day.

This photo was taken on their porch before church and shows Jeremy, Heidi, Sienna, and their first daughter, Ellie, who loves her baby sister very much.

Ann-Marie's husband Anthony blessed his daughters. It was interesting to hear the similarities but also the differences in each of the girls' blessings. We then adjourned to their home for a luncheon. It was a full and exciting day.

This is gorgeous Ann-Marie with her three stunning daughters: Ruthie, Annie, and Gracie. I have no idea which one is which. Ann-Marie could tell you though -- she's found a couple of unique features to distinguish them. But I'm telling you, they are mighty identical.

You can read more about their amazing story at Bott Family Triplets.

I was so excited to be able to hold them, though I'm not so sure they felt the same way!

Holding them for a few seconds confirmed my belief that Ann-Marie is wonder woman. Most of us can only imagine what another person is experiencing in life. When it comes to the Bott family... I can't even come close to imagining the change of pace & lifestyle associated with triplets.

I mean, seriously, I didn't have enough arms to hold them properly. One was balanced precariously on my lap. How do parents of triplets survive? Ann-Marie might say that she barely does, but secretly, I think she has super-powers.

That brings me back to gratitude, I guess. Once again, as I do so often, I thought a lot about how thankful I am for Bridgette.

Talk about a precious little life. She's been through more in 22 months than many people do in a lifetime. She's progressed a lot, especially in the last month... the first time in her life she's felt well for a month straight.

I'm so glad we have had medical and therapeutic help from professionals as well as support and love from family & friends. Most of all, I'm so grateful she simply is. I'm excited to see what she will choose to do, be, and become over the years.

Look at her! She's growing up!

And Bridgette is grateful for her cousin Ellie. They're already pretty good friends and take turns copying the other's actions or following each other around.

This is the musical marvel of Ellie singing her favorite song, ABBA's Mama Mia, accompanied in part by Bridgette.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Extreme Cuteness

No text needed, just watch the video...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Renaissance Faire

Happy May Day!

Our family visited the first annual Renaissance Faire put on by the Karl Maeser charter school at a city park just down the street from our house. It's been a drizzly, cold day, but the Faire was still well-attended.

We got to watch some "Renaissance" Celtic dance-troupes, buy "Renaissance" pizza and scones, enter a "Renaissance" raffle, purchase some very cute "Renaissance" hairclips for Bridgette, and view a lot of fun booths with the title "Ye Olde (Insert Genre Here) Shoppe."

There were quite a few people in costume. We saw some true-to-the-time-period Renaissance dresses as well as Medieval dresses and some princess and fairy costumes. One guy was walking around in full-plated armor with a chain-mail headpiece. We watched him joust, and it became evident how heavy the stuff must have weighed. There were some monks, cool hats with feathers, one viking, and a whole lot of swords: rapiers, short swords, halberds, long swords, and daggers.

They had music and monologues, ribbons blowing, balloons taunting, flags posted and someone running around making tons of bubbles. It was quite festive for a first effort. I assume it will be even bigger next year.

Bridgette liked it. She got a free balloon from a nice girl whose green balloon was taunting Bridgette to tears. Bri clapped and bounced along to the dancers. She crawled around on the grass getting far too close to the brawlers with staffs. Every time she hit a patch of shadowed, wet, cold grass she sat and cried.

But eventually the day took its toll. At the park are several long twisty slides, and maybe Bridgette's balance wasn't quite up to the challenge. She flipped over face first on one of the twists and busted her lip and nose. It may take a day or two for the swelling to go down.

But we came home, ate lunch, napped, and woke up happy. So now we're off to The Dragon's Keep for free comic book day! Just so happens that Bridgette's physical therapist owns the shop. Or should I say, the shoppe.

Motion Pictures

Funny thing about your baby learning to walk when she's almost two years old -- those doorknobs are reachable the first week she learns to stand up on her own.

26 Wheels, 3 Monster Treads

Thursday afternoon the dogs started barking like maniacs, so I looked out the window to find THIS parked in front of our house.

In case you're confused, it's a 26 wheel truck with a 3 tread Roadtec-2 "It's Millin' Time" machine on top. I didn't remember asking for one, but what more could a girl want? After all, Mother's Day is coming up.

Taking pictures seemed to make the vested-man nervous, so I made small talk.

"Hi," I began. "Any idea why you're unloading this in front of my house?"

"We're ripping up this road tomorrow morning. I'm not sure why."

I love answers like that.