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 ...


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Just Because"

Yesterday Aaron received a special surprise at work. Aren't they beautiful (even if they weren't exactly what was ordered)!
A certain family member (not me) sent them to him "just because".

Just because:
- he's a great guy.
- he's kind, generous, talented, and simply amazing.
- he's started a new job.
- that job was a promotion.
- his new cubicle isn't decorated yet.
- he's alone in a new town.
- he misses his family and probably secretly wonders if anyone misses him.
- he feels torn between being productive at work and the relocating process.
- just because.

What a kind "unexpected act of kindness"! Thank you, person, for bringing a smile to my husband's face!

Let's Talk

Our church has just finished a series called "Let's Talk." It's been a series of sermons about what God would probably say if you and He sat down and had a talk over coffee. It's been an amazing series. The four sermons were entitled: "Take Care" (about being healthy: physically, relationally and spiritually), "Trust Me," "Represent," and "Live Different."

At the beginning of each sermon was a video with the following quips. I thought they were fabulous, and wanted to share them with all of you, but waited till the series was finished so I could do one big list, rather than four small ones. As you read down the list, think about them.

Let's meet at my house
Sunday before the game.
- God.

C'mon over and bring the kids.
- God.

What part of
"Thou shall not..."
didn't you understand?
- God.

Keep taking my name in vain,
I'll make rush hour longer.
- God.

Loved the wedding.
Invite me to the marriage.
- God.

That "love thy neighbor" thing ...
I meant it.
- God.

Will the road you're on
get you to my place?
- God.

Big bang theory,
You've got to be kidding.
- God.

My way
is the highway.
- God.

You think it's hot here?
- God.

Have you read my #1
There will be a test.
- God.

Don't make me come down there.
- God.

As my apprentice
you're never fired.
- God.

One nation under me.
- God.

All I know...
is everything.
- God.

If you must curse,
use your own name!
- God.

The real Supreme Court
meets up here.
- God.

Life is short.
Eternity isn't.
- God.

Let's Talk.
- God.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Glass Bead Magnets

First of all, it is important that everyone realizes that I AM NOT CRAFTY! I am 150% right-brained, so I learned at a young age not even to attempt crafty-things because (as my art-major college roommates can attest to) I over analyze everything that I try to make.

However, that being said, I'm in the process of creating some gift baskets. And decided it'd be a nice touch to add something I actually spent some time/effort on. When I started this project I thought that I must be the only person in America who's never made glass bead magnets. But after posting that on Facebook, I found that there are a few others out there who also haven't had the pleasure. Hence - this tutorial.

STEP ONE: My gift baskets have an autumn theme, so I found autumny photos online and shrunk them down to a size that would fit completely under a glass bead (you know - the kind you put around candles, or in a flower vase). They ended up being a little smaller than 1 inch in diameter. I'm making nine baskets, and wanted to use 8 different images for each, so I did the math and printed out enough.

STEP TWO: It would have been easiest if I punched them out using a 1" craft punch, but moving's expensive, and our budget's tight, so I found a stencil I had instead. I held the paper up to a window and traced the 72 circles on the back of the paper.

STEP THREE: After all the circles were cut out, I used Sobo glue (which claimed it dried clear) and a foam brush and started gluing.

STEP FOUR: After getting a couple glued, I decided to look at them and make sure it looked like I was doing it right. This is when I freaked out - I could barely see the image. So I re-read the back of the bottle and tracked down the blog post from several months ago that I was using as my inspiration. She also used Sobo glue, so I decided to keep going and just wished for the best.

STEP FIVE: I let the glue dry overnight, and the next morning when I turned them back over to take a look at my fabulous handiwork, I freaked out again! They looked horrible! So, next came lots of muttering under my breath about how this is why I never try to craft, and what a horrible waste of time this whole project was (considering I've got a to do list stretching from here to Timbuktu). After a cup of coffee and feeding the kiddos breakfast I decided I had calmed down enough that I was willing to try to figure out what went wrong. I decided that the problem was probably that I didn't use enough glue. It looked like the middle section of each bead had adhered, but the edges hadn't. So, after more muttering I decided to try again. (After all the whole Facebook world knew I was attempting this project, and I don't handle public failure too well.)

STEP SIX: I had deleted the document I created with all the little images, so I ran to Michael's and bought scrapbook paper for the first time in years. I also bought more glass beads (which of course weren't on sale this time).

STEP SEVEN: I repeated steps 2-4. This time I decided to use a slightly larger circle on the stencil. And this time I put on what I was convinced was way too much glue. I let it dry overnight again, and the next morning fixed my coffee before I looked at them, just in case I was about to be discouraged again. But, to my delight they were perfect! I guess the trick is gobs and gobs of glue.

STEP EIGHT: I pulled out the magnets (bought at Michael's - $5.99 for 50) and glue (the only one I had on hand that didn't specifically say on the back not to use it on paper). I was fully prepared to mess up again, so this time I only glued magnets on two of the beads, so if I had to start all over again, I wouldn't pull out all my hair. I let them dry for an hour before dared to look at them, and they were perfect!

STEP NINE: I let my husband take the camera with him to Pittsburgh for the week (so he could get a picture of his car's odometer turn to 100,000 - in just 3 years). I didn't realize till after he was gone that I forgot to get a picture of the finished product on the fridge proudly displaying some of Alex's art work. So, please imagine that photo here:

STEP TEN: I decided not to wait till said husband gets home the end of the week to post about the magnets. So, I put the magnets in each of the gift baskets, blogged about them and crossed that item off the massive to do list.

31 days and counting

In the last 5.5 days I've been exhaustingly productive again. This week most of the things that were accomplished took much longer to do than the items the previous week. So, here's the running tally.

On Wednesday, September 23rd, I had 99 items to go.
Since then, 21 items were crossed off.
2 additional items were just deleted from the list.
This brought the running total down to 76.

But .... 9 more things were added to the list.
And 3 things I thought were done apparently weren't.
So, I'm back up to 88.

How depressing. After all the only real "sit-down" time I had (not counting my fabulous evening out with the ladies!) was last evening, when Aaron took the boys to Small Group while I stayed home. I sat down for the last 20 minutes before they got home. But, progress is progress.

My goal for this week (this morning through Saturday) is 29 items. After all, there are 4.5 weeks till we pack the truck (thank you to those who've already let us know you're free to help with that ginormous task). So, to stay totally on top of it I should do 20 things each week. BUT - I'm going out-of-town for 3 days between now and then, and my big sister's coming to town for a week. So, I've got to factor that in as well.

I'm also hoping to finish packing one more room and get all the art off the walls and wrapped. This will probably get done this evening. (Thank you to the two ladies who have been helping me with packing!)

Here's what the list(s) look like on the side of our fridge. I have two more lists ready to print and hang up (just haven't gotten it done yet). So, when I walk past I can easily see what's done (I absolutely LOVE seeing things crossed off!), and decide what gets tackled next.

Aaron's now working in Pittsburgh 5 days a week, and will be working right up to the day we're packing the truck. ... For those of you who think that sounds "cruel and unusual," we came to that decision together. I know people in this area who I can ask to help. I don't know people in Pittsburgh. So, it's more important to me that Aaron take several days off once we get there.

Since I'm so pushed to get these things done I'm sure my immune system's getting run down. (I did buy a bag of clementines last night, for some added vitamin c.) With all the sickness that's floating around these days, I've decided not to take the kids anywhere this week. I don't think I could handle even a cold right now (since my lungs are already compromised). So, sorry ladies - I'm not gonna be there on Tuesday or on Thursday. It's not personal. *smile*

Thank you to everyone who's been cheering me on. I feel like I'm training for a marathon or something! Only 31 more days till we pack the truck(s)! Four more weeks - I can do anything for four weeks!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fall Fun Fort

On Tuesday afternoon while the inspector was looking over our current house, we went to Paulus Farm Market's Fall Fun Fort. It was lots of fun - just wish it wasn't 80 in the shade. Except for drinking tons and tons, the boys didn't seem to mind.
Alex couldn't figure out why Harrison was so s-l-o-w going through the corn maize. Poor little guy kept tripping in all the little ruts. But he was undeterred and no matter how many times he fell, he kept giggling because he was allowed to roam free. Usually we force him to hold our hand (teaching him not to run off), but since he didn't venture off the path we just let him roam. He loved the independence!
The kids were too excited about the maize to want to stop for a picture. Of course the only one where they're both looking at the camera Aaron wasn't. Oh well, it's a good pic anyway.
Harrison loved the slide! Of course he was happy going down again - and again - and again!
But, I guess he's still a little too young to like the added speed the sack provided!
Here's a perfect snapshot of the boys' personalities. While Alex attempts to steer the direction (of everything), Harrison is headed in the direct opposite direction!
Before we left Alex begged to go visit with the animals. So, we said a quick "hi".

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Last Friday I posted that we had 41 days till the move, and 164 things on the massive to do list. Well, I'm proud to announce that we've had a VERY productive last several days. I didn't take the time to cross things off the list as they were accomplished, so I felt overwhelmed and stressed and ... just plain tired.

So I last night I went on a "stress" grocery shopping trip: chips, oreos, frozen pizza, chocolate, ice cream, pasta, soda..... I even stopped in at Blockbuster for an "escape from life for a little while" movie. Taking the evening off really helped, my motivation returned this morning.

Today a girlfriend showed up (with coffee!) and we packed 15 boxes! Another friend stopped by and brought a gigantic bag of newspaper (I had given away most of my huge stack.) We have what should be enough boxes for everything. One room is now officially totally packed. Two more are 3/4 done. We've applied for the mortgage. Inspections are completed - which means that my house can officially stay in disarray until it's emptied next month. So, this afternoon I took inventory and started crossing things off "The Mother-Load List".

Currently there are 37 days remaining.
65 things have been crossed off since last Friday!
Only 99 remain on the list.
Several of them have been begun (just not finished yet).

There's not light at the end of the tunnel, yet. But at least I'm making tons of progress! I guess I earned my tiredness last night!

I do think that this would be an easier way to move, though...
...especially since I'm not allowed to do the lifting!
Maybe next time.

Sunday, September 20, 2009



I didn't even ask him to run the vacuum! (huge grin!)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Getting Busy

Two mornings ago I woke up with lists running through my head - even before my eyes opened. Rather than go certifiably nuts, I decided it was time to write out my to do list. Better to hyperventilate while looking at it in black and white than put lotion on my toothbrush and toothpaste on my face because I'm too distracted thinking about what needs done.

So. I sat down with my laptop and had a heart-to-heart, bare-your-soul kind of experience. We worked through a lot of our issues (mainly my STRESS), and laid it all out in the open. There are 164 things on my to do list - all before October 29th - and "pack" only takes up one line! This is in addition to normal things like laundry, grocery shopping, feeding and bathing the kids.... I have 41 days to get it all done, and Aaron will be in Pittsburgh for 23 of them. Yikes.

I can't even begin to imagine how much work I'd have to do if I hadn't been so incredibly productive the past 11 months. The list has officially been started - yesterday four things were crossed off. But at least there's an end in sight - and at least since our house is sold I don't have to keep it looking "presentable" anymore during the process!

So, I'm taking this opportunity right now, on the 18th of September to apologize. I'm sorry for all the emails I'm not going to respond to right away. I'm sorry for the un-returned phone calls. I'm sorry for missed birthdays and anniversaries. I'm sorry for the times I miss a social gathering. I'm sorry for not seeing you at the grocery store and returning your wave. I'm sorry for getting right to the point when we talk rather than kindly skirting around a difficult issue. I'm sorry for the wreck my house will be - if you come over please don't judge me! I'm sorry for begging and pleading with you for help to get a task done or to watch my kiddos while I tackle a project. I'm sorry for all the blogging (including reading yours) and FaceBooking I'm not going to get done. I'm sorry for being totally and completely self-absorbed during the next six weeks.

Please remember that I love you, I mean well, and this will end. Sane Julia will return ... one day!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Our "YES" !!!

As long as everything goes smoothly (inspections, etc.)...
we will be moving in on
It will have been one year TO THE DAY since Aaron and I had our first "should we move to Pittsburgh" conversation. You remember me mentioning it? It was when he finally said "just pray about it!" We had no idea it would have taken so long - good thing or we would have been so much more discouraged and so much less proactive during the whole process!
Thanks for all the prayers, encouragement, and offers of help!
I promise I'll accept all the help that's been offered! (smile)
October 30th isn't really that far off.
So, let's hope these next six weeks go smoothly!

Friday, September 11, 2009


I just want to let you know
You mean the world to me
Only a heart as dear as yours
Would give so unselfishly.

The many things you've done
All the times you were there
Help me know deep down inside
How much you really care.

Even though I might not say
I appreciate all you do
Richly blessed is how I feel
Having a Grandmother just like you.

Happy Grandparents Day, Gram!
Alex and Harrison!

Grandpa & Grandma


Few can bring the warmth
We can find in their embrace,
And little more is needed to bring love.
Than the smile on their face.

They've a supply of precious stories,
Yet they've time to wipe a tear,
Or give us reasons to make us laugh,
They grow more precious through the years.

I believe that God sent us Grandparents
As our legacy from above,
To share the moments of our life,
As extra measures of His love.

Happy Grandparents Day, Grandpa & Grandma!
Alex and Harrison

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Today at church the pastor talked about Biblical principles of healthy living as regards physical, emotional, relational and spiritual health. At one point he made the comment that bacon is yummy, but eating it all the time can cause health problems (like high cholesterol). (The point was that God's dietary restrictions for the Israelites as outlined in Leviticus 11 was to help them live long healthy lives, not because He wanted to deny them something yummy.) So anyway, the Pastor mentioned that too much of anything (like yummy bacon) can be a bad thing. I chuckled as I thought of the pound of bacon thawing in my fridge.......

My mother's family does a pretty good job of making get-togethers and reunions a priority. Her siblings and their families have two main reunions a year, and if there's a special event (like a high school graduation) everyone shows up. It's just what you do. Every year on Labor Day (tomorrow!) my grandfather's siblings (there were lots of them! but only a couple are still alive) and their decedents have a picnic near the ol' homestead (in Washington Boro, PA).

This afternoon I started making my food for the picnic - BLT Bites (hence the bacon) that a girlfriend made for a recent party and Apple Crumb Pie (I confess - it's from the freezer). I was about 2/3 done scooping the guts out of 2 pints of cherry tomatoes, when Aaron and I had a tough conversation...

I've been doing less well lately (energy-wise). The doctor thinks it might because my liver is being adversely affected by one of the drugs I take for my PH. I've been swelling again, and getting short-of-breath again with activity. While the doctor watches me another month or two (by blood work and symptoms), I'm going to increase the strength of my iv a little. So I'm doing an increase tonight. These increases put me "out-of-commission" for the better part of a day, so tonight makes sense since Aaron will be around tomorrow to take main responsibility of the boys.

But this means that I'm not going to be feeling up to going to the family picnic tomorrow. Sigh - no family picnic for us. Well, rather than waste the yummy BLT Bites ... WE ATE THEM ...


Normally we really try to take sermons to heart - and today's was a good one. Moderation is a very important aspect of any healthy lifestyle (it's like setting up healthy boundaries). But I guess when it comes to bacon we've got some more growing to do. (smile!) I'm already starting to swell from the insane amount of salt I ingested this afternoon. But - oh my - it was so yummy!

So, sorry family - we're not going to be there tomorrow. Hope y'all have a great time. I'm sure you will. It looks like it's gonna be fabulous weather! But since we've already eaten half of what I was planning to bring, I'd feel kinda bad showing up empty-handed. No food and no smiles ('cause I won't feel like socializing) means no going.

Moderation ... I guess we gotta work on that one some more!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Friendship Park



First trip down - totally on his own!

Second trip down - got a little help.

Oooh - Shiny!

That's all folks!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Nothing But PRIDE

It's a wonderful thing when a woman can be proud of her husband. I don't mean proud that she has a husband, or proud that he can bench-press 250 pounds. I mean proud of who he is. Unfortunately so many people present themselves one way in public, and another when they're at home. So many women love the husband that "they know is in there somewhere," but wish he'd show his loving side more frequently. I'm blessed with a fantastic guy inside and out!

I never casually dated. If I didn't see long-term potential, then the guy didn't get a second date. My philosophy was why bother wasting my time (or his). Well, Aaron automatically got that second date! But what made him stand out to me? We talked and talked and talked the first time we met, and also on our first "official date" (dinner and a movie) a month later. But, it was more than that - even our silence was comfortable.

A year later, after he proposed, my mother asked me what it was about him that I loved the most. From the perspective of the woman in his life, two of Aaron's best qualities are (1) he puts 150% into everything he does. Sometimes he struggles with which part of his life (work, family, extended family, play, etc.) should get the chief focus at any given time (as we all do). But I can never fault him for not trying. He gives everything his all. And when someone comments to the contrary (because they feel like they're getting the short end of the stick), he's wounded. (2) Aaron is always striving for self-improvement. This is a rare quality. Deep down, Aaron is still the same person he was when we met - his "majors" haven't changed, but his "minors" keep constantly improving. Since I've met him, Aaron's made a conscious decision to improve probably everything about himself (from his glasses to being less critical of others) - well, everything except his penmanship (which is simply a lost cause).

A year and a half ago, when I was deathly ill in Pittsburgh, Aaron realized that (if I survived), we would keep driving the 3.5 hours to Pittsburgh for my specialists. The big local hospital where we currently live is fabulous - just not for Pulmonary Hypertension. So he began to try to figure out how he could get us closer to the docs who are keeping me going (and happen to be some of the best PH docs in the country). Well, God has provided, and TODAY Aaron officially begins his first day working for Verizon Wireless in Pittsburgh! He managed not only to get us closer to my docs, but to get a promotion in the process! We're moving away from our friends (and his family) so that I can get better medical care. That's true love!

Our house in Mechanicsburg hasn't sold ... yet. So, he'll work out there several days a week, while I'm here with the boys. Then the rest of the week he'll work from home. He's been blessed with an understanding boss (so far anyway) and co-workers! Friends here are stepping up and helping me out while he's gone.

I've got nothing but PRIDE and ADMIRATION for this guy that God brought into my life! He's a hard-worker (but also knows when it's time to kick-back and just have fun), a great provider, a fantastic role-model for our boys, and better than the best husband I could ever imagine!

So, darling ... I wish you all the best in this next chapter of your professional life. I pray for success and satisfaction at work, for you to be surrounded by godly men who will become dear friends, and for you to keep transforming into the man you were created to be. I love you so much, and I'm SO PROUD OF YOU!

Hello Autumn!!!

Autumn is my favorite season - by far!!! That is, unless you count Christmas as a season ... not winter - Christmas. But since most calendars don't recognize Christmas as a legitimate season, autumn wins! (Part of why I like it so much is that the weather begins to cool, and I can breathe so much easier than in the heat of summer or cold of winter.)

I'm trilled out of my gourd that it's September 1st - this means that I can pull out my pumpkins and nuts and pine cones and sweaters. Sigh. Apple cider, beautiful vibrant trees, mums, and cool evenings. Dew and morning fog, browns and muted oranges.

I'm so excited to see what fun we'll have this autumn. As I dream of corn mazes and hayrides, I thought I'd take a look through my photos from last year.