I'm a full-time wife and mom of two adorable boys. When I'm not busy trying to keep up with them I enjoy photography, traveling, planning parties and a little bit of reading.

In February of 2008 I was diagnosed with an incurable terminal lung illness, though God promised me a full and complete healing. While we wait for His timing, we're taking it one day at a time, and standing in awe of how God's using all of this for His glory. The tough road we've traveled has given us a new perspective on the fragility of life. Memories are more important to us than ever before. The goal of this blog is to share some of our family life - the ups and downs, the joys and probably some of the pains as well. It's mostly meant as a personal journal of sorts, but you're welcome to share in it. We'd like to take this opportunity to say ...


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Harrison Goes "Ducky"

Harrison turned ONE this past Thursday, so we had a little party for him - it was just us, but most of Aaron's family also made it. I felt kinda badly that it was so small, because we had a pretty big party for Alex's first birthday (at least in comparison, though no one from either of our families made it to that party). But the day after Harrison's birthday (and party) this year, Aaron, Alex, and most of his family left for a week of skiing in Utah, and they were all sleeping over at our place that night. So, energy-wise I wasn't able to have a big party this time around. My, how times have changed....

Anyway. Our peanut turned one, and I chose a rubber ducky theme. It ended up being the right one (by chance) because "duck" is the first real word he said (though that happened after I chose the theme). A couple weeks ago, as he was reaching for his duckie in the bathtub, he said "duck." Alex and I both heard it and were (a little too) excited - he was startled by our sudden bursts of glee, and started to cry.

The party was basically just dinner (pot roast), with duck decorations, and cake for dessert. I don't think any of the photos show it well, but instead of streamers, I hung pastel-colored paper chains around the room. These were left-over from a Christmas project Alex and I did (even though pastels are decidedly NOT Christmas colors...).

Harrison's sick - I'm pretty sure he has RSV, basically a really bad cold with wheezing on top of it. So, unfortunately he didn't really have any fun at the party. At least he is too young to realize what a bummer it is to be sick at your own birthday party! But, even though he feels quite under the weather, we all had a wonderful time celebrating his life. He's such a precious part of our lives!

I think this centerpiece is pretty cute.
The Pennsylvania Bakery always does
an amazing job with their cakes!
Since I have no talent of my own, it's the only place I go!
"Rubber duckie, you're the one...
...you make bath time lots of fun!"
Our foursome.
It's the best photo we got that night-
it's tricky when a baby doesn't want to smile.
"Happy birthday, to you!
And many more!"
"Ewww - this is squishy!
I'm not sure I want to touch this!"
"Harrison, you've got a little something on your chin!"
The best present we received last year...
... a healthy baby boy!
There's so much tape!
I'm gonna build huge muscles
(like Uncle Field)
just trying to open this present!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The B-I-B-L-E

Gram recently gave Alex his very first Bible, as a belated 4th birthday gift. He was SO excited! It has lots of pictures inside, and a picture of Jesus hanging out with kids on the front, and MAPS (his favorite part). Before we left for church the next morning, he was really concerned that we'd forget to take it. Each week since it's been the same: "Don't forget MY Bible, Mommy!" "I need my money for Jesus, but my Bible too!" How cute that he's so excited about this. I pray he always has this same desire to use his Bible. Of course he's just looking at pictures at this age, but it's still good practice for HIM to tell US the Bible stories associated with them - or to learn if they're new stories.

It's MY OWN Bible?!?
"...and God made the bad lions not eat him...""Daddy, the map says you go left first.
But make sure you don't go in the water,
or you'll have to swim!"

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rest & Hope

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.

Psalm 62:5

Sunday, February 15, 2009

First Haircut

Harrison got his first haircut
this past Friday.
Our peanut is growing up!

Flower Delivery

The staple gift from husband to wife on Valentine's Day is either flowers or chocolate (or both). A few weeks before V-Day I accidentally found out that I was getting flowers. I was online looking at which checks had cleared at our bank, and saw a charge to a really nice local flower shop. So, I waited patiently for them to arrive - and was impressed at his forethought.

The morning of Valentine's Day brought a ring to our doorbell. I was still in my jammies, and Alex was only 1/2 dressed. But I had to chase him down the steps in an attempt to get to the door before he welcomed the delivery guy inside. I have a very hospitable son!

I looked at the flowers, and was incredibly impressed by Aaron's choice - they were simple and beautiful (with NO baby's breath)! But we were late to get the boys' birthday photos taken at Picture People, so I didn't take time to read the card until after we came home. And that's when the real surprise came.
They were flowers commemorating the fact that I survived the last year! (Valentine's Day 2008 was the day I was hospitalized for almost 3 weeks - long story.) I have such a thoughtful and amazing husband! As I walk through the house and catch a glimpse of them I smile again and again. Aaron is so pleased that he "done good!" The Chinese proverb is so accurate: "Flowers leave some of their fragrance in the hand that bestows them."

My Valentine's Day

For Valentine's Day, we took turns and swapped kids with another couple that's part of our small group. It was their idea, and what a WONDERFUL idea it was! They watched our kiddos while we went out on Friday night - to dinner at Applebee's, Pier One (per my request - where I bought some realistic looking fake fruit!), and Cold Stone Creamery (thanks to a BOGO coupon from my Entertainment Book). Then Saturday night it was their turn to go out, while we watched their girls.

Since it was Valentine's Day (and I was trying not to think about the trauma of our last V-Day while their kids were over), I decided that the kids should do some V-Day crafts! Here's the first - Valentines! I have such a BOY - the two girls had such a fun time using pretty colors and gluing hearts on theirs. Alex only wanted to "color" with a pencil, and the only gluing was stars!

Next came lollipop flowers (consistent with the holiday, each pair of petals was a heart).
After dinner we decorated sugar cookies. I'll willingly admit that I cheated here and used the refrigerated (already pre-measured, just have to break-apart) variety. Since there was practically no work involved, they actually tasted BETTER than if I made them from scratch!
Then what should have been last (but the kid's energy ran out) were crayon hearts. I melted crayon shavings, and using my iron, melted them between wax paper (I put kraft paper on both sides of the wax paper so I don't melt it onto the iron or the ironing board). Then I traced a heart and cut. I also punched holes to hang from a chandelier or window. The photo didn't turn out as well as the real deal - they're quasi-translucent when held up to the light.
Well, this is how I spent my Valentine's Day this year - how about you?

Friday, February 13, 2009

My love....

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace,
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,-I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!-and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Always and endlessly in love with you,
Your Julia

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Un-original Thoughts on Love

A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature
to stop speech when words become superfluous.
(Ingrid Bergman)

Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.

Love does not consist in gazing at each other,
but in looking outward together in the same direction.
(Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

Love is a force more formidable than any other.
It is invisible - it cannot be seen or measured -
yet it is powerful enough to transform you
in a moment, and offer you more
than any material possession ever could.
(Barbara De Angelis)

Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.
(Jean Anouilh)

There is remedy for love but to love more.
(Henry David Thoreau)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


L is for the way you look at me
O is for the only one I see
V is very, very extraordinary
E is even more than anyone that you can adore

Love is all that I can give to you
Love is more than just a game for two
Two in love can make it
Take my heart and please don't break it
Love was made for me and you

L is for the way you look at me
O is for the only one I see
V is very, very extraordinary
E is even more than anyone that you can adore

Love is all that I can give to you
Love is more than just a game for two
Two in love can make it
Take my heart and please don't break it
Love was made for me and you
Love was made for me and you
Love was made for me and you

Look, Ma - No Cavities!

Alex had his first teeth cleaning this morning. My schmuffin is growing up! He was really scared to go (I know a lot of adults who still hate the dentist!). But he did great, and didn't fuss or cry once we actually got inside (though the protestations were quite loud on the way there).
My hygienist Kris said that at his age it's hit or miss if the kid will even open their mouth. But my Alex bravely sat there, did everything he was told, and took it like a champ! He was told he's doing a good job brushing (though we're really still the ones doing the brushing - he wants to chew on the toothbrush more than actually brush). Since he didn't have any cavities (or even any plaque), he got to put his star on the board and be entered in the drawing for a toy penguin that's almost as tall as he is!

When we got in the car to leave he proudly told me that there's nothing to be scared of - it didn't even hurt! I think that part of why it was such a positive experience had to do with the cool new toothbrush and yellow plastic lizard he got. Oh, also the stamp on his hand, the cool sunglasses he wore while she was cleaning (to keep him from looking directly into the bright light), and the huge fish tank in the waiting room complete with Nemo and Dory. With all the fun, I think he forgot that he even got his teeth cleaned!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

M de C

Though my final two years of high school were spent at a fantastic boarding school in Canada, the majority of my schooling was at a local Catholic all-girl school. As a child, my parents taught me the golden rule. My church reaffirmed my parents' teachings on Christianity and morality in general. In addition to the obvious (reading, writing, arithmetic), the Mount taught me some of the most transforming lessons of my childhood and early youth.

The Mount taught me intellectual independence and instilled in me a sense of pride in the limitless possibilities available to me as a woman. It wasn't until I reached adulthood that I was able to comprehend how Catholic nuns (I had lay teachers too, of course) who had surrendered their independence to join a monastery were able to instill in their students such a strong sense of unlimited feminine capability. There was nothing that was out of our grasp - we just had to work hard enough for it. I've always found it ironic that this powerhouse of female empowerment is located in the heart of Appalachia, a region where even today (and even in Christian circles) women are frequently viewed as possessions rather than equals.
After 160 years, Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy graduated its final class in May of 2008. The upkeep of the old (and gorgeous!) buildings became cost prohibitive. It saddens me to know that when I visit her (as I did this past weekend), she stands as an edifice to the past and now only limited future. No more girls will walk her halls dreaming of their future, and what difference they'll make in the world - and not just as the housewife and mother of crying snot-nosed babies. No more doctors, surgeons, scientists, politicians, members of famous orchestras, teachers, or even stay-at-home moms (like myself at this stage of my life) will be molded by her demands of excellence.
So, M de C, here's to you, and all you've done to turn so many gangly girls into the strong and capable (yet still gentle) women they are today.

i carry your heart with me

by e.e. cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows

higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Monday, February 9, 2009


We'd like to introduce you to the newest member of our household.... Gilbert - so named by Alex.
He was Alex's birthday gift from the two of us (we thought it was a fitting present considering the party's theme). He's a beta fish, also known as Siamese Fighting Fish, and doesn't like company (which takes care of any future "I want another fish" conversations).

When I was in college I had (and killed) several beta fish. But despite my previous track record, they're actually quite fun! If they see another male (or a reflection of themselves, thinking it's another male), they'll spread their fins in display - similar to a peacock. And when they're happy ... they make bubbles! It's really cute to look in the little bowl and see bubbles floating on top - it's like a mini-bubble bath!

North Meets South

My last two years of high school were spent at a Christian boarding school in Canada - a few miles upstream from Niagara Falls. Those were two of my happiest years in school. A large percentage of the students weren't Canadian (or American). I think during the two years I attended there were students from nine countries.

There are lots of fabulous things that come from Canada - the world's best hockey (The Maple Leafs), fabulous maple syrup, the zipper, "eh?", and of course, my personal favorite - Tim Horton's. Since graduation, and my migration back south, I've missed Tim Horton's something terrible. (Dunkin' Donuts doesn't hold a candle to it!)

Well, this past weekend we visited my mother (in Wheeling, WV). I was absolutely ecstatic when we drove through town, and past ... you guessed it ... TIMMY'S! My mother was hosting a party at her house on Sunday (unfortunately it started after we had to leave to drive home), and used Timbits as her dessert. While we were at her house, each of us snuck some (shh! don't tell!) On our way out of town, we visited their drive-thru, and picked up a box of our own.
The box is now empty. Maybe we should have bought the large one instead of the mid-size. Even looking at these pictures is making my mouth water. But they were a bit of heaven on earth while they lasted. I don't know where all Tim Horton's has spread to in the US. But, if you ever drive past one. Take my advice and stop in for a sample. You won't regret it! (By the way, my personal favorite is the sour cream variety!)
In my opinion (not that you asked), Tim Horton's is Canada's most valuable export!

Miracle and Mystery

We must not allow the clock and
the calendar to blind us to the fact
that each moment of life is
a miracle and mystery.

H. G. Wells

Thursday, February 5, 2009

my shelter - my fortress

Psalm 91

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-

then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

In Case of FIRE

It's always good to have a plan of action set up in case the unexpected happens - a fire, a national disaster (like Katrina), or something else equally as dire and devastating. So, I've been thinking lately, what would our plan be?

Several years ago Aaron and I chose a "meeting place" if we ever get separated during an event like that. It's a place we both know well (and how to get to without a map), but isn't too close to our house either. It's a relative's farm that has access to well water, wood heat (if necessary), a stocked pantry, lots of blankets and candles, a generator, a garden, and lots to keep the kids occupied and happy.

But what if the crisis is a fire in our house? Besides the people, what would we try to grab on the way out (if we had that much time)? What practical things, what sentimental things, what "necessary" things?

As for necessary things, it would have to be my medicine back-up. If something goes wrong with the iv cartridge or pump it's connected to, then I only have about 5 minutes to change to the back-up we always have with us. If that doesn't get done in time, my lungs could collapse and my heart would stop. So, getting my back-up out of the fridge (and an extra set to mix) would be imperative! During the year I've been connected to this continuous iv, this has already happened once. Thank God I was protected while we were scrambling to start the back-up. My purse and cell phone would be very helpful too, though I guess if it was a matter of life and death, I could do without them.

As for practical items, I guess a coat and shoes for each of us. We have the originals or a copy of all important papers in our safety deposit box. Some things would be helpful to get from the house, like my checkbook register. But I guess could do without it. Maybe it should just be kept in my purse all the time (currently it isn't). I'll have to think about that.

As for sentimental things, this is probably the hardest category (and least likely to have time to grab on the way out the door). I have a sentimental attachment to quite a lot of our things. My biggest is our photos. Several years ago we finally got a digital camera, and most of the photos I really want to keep are already printed out and in (or ready to go in) albums. But our laptop has them all saved on it still. So, the laptop is what I'd grab. Furniture can be replaced. Well, there is no replacement for things like my Great-Great-Uncle's roll-top desk that sits in our living room. But we could buy another desk. But photos - and memories.... I'm a memory-oriented person. That's something I'd grieve if I lost. Periodically we back-up our computer onto an external hard drive. Maybe I should keep a copy of our photo files in the Safety Deposit box. That way we wouldn't lose them.

Do you have a plan of action - a place you'd meet if something tragic happened? Have you talked with your kids about how to get out of the house if there's a fire? Do they know more than one escape route in case one is blocked? No one ever WANTS that sort of thing to happen. But, you know what they say: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance (thanks, Warren!)!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Treasure Hunt

I had previously posted a picture of the fish that were being used for the treasure hunt to find Alex's birthday cake. When I read the first clue, and the boys just stared back at me, I was scared that the concept was too advanced for their age. But after they ran to the front door and found the next one, it quickly turned into a TOTAL HIT!

After the treasure hunt was done, and we were all eating cake, all three boys begged me to take the fish decorations off the walls and use them as more clues and to hide all the gifts. They wanted another treasure hunt! I think I'll keep this idea in mind for future kid parties. It's always good to have a few good games up your sleeve!

Aunt Shelley reading a clue.
"I don't see it ... do you?""I found one!""Help, Behret. It's too high for us to reach!""Huh? Where did she say the next clue is?"
Bumping back down the steps
to find the cake waiting on the dining room table.The treasure...
a yummy cake with little fishies swimming all over it!

Millions of bubbles - bubbles for me

Also taken at Alex's birthday party...