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 ...


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bye-bye tomatoes

After checking the weather for the coming week, and realizing that I really don't have the energy these days to cover our tomato plants each night (and uncover them each morning) ... we came to a decision.

Bye-bye tomato plants.

So, last evening the four of us went out and picked all the green tomatoes.  As we were looking through the 5 plants, I came across this ...

... a tomato horn worm. EEEEWWWWWW.  Now we know what was eating the leaves, and nibbling at the fruit. 

After about an hour's work, the plants were emptied and disposed of, and we were left with this ...

274 final little bundles of Vitamin C and Lycopene.  This puts the grand total of our 5 tomato plants well over 1000 tomatoes!  Not bad for our first year! *grin*  The "tricks" to getting this bountiful harvest were taught to me by my girlfriend, Jess.  Make sure it's a raised bed, and mix mushroom compost (that I purchased at Home Depot) in with the topsoil.

I've diced and frozen tons of tomatoes, and canned a bunch too!  We ate sandwiches and salads to our hearts content this summer.  Made soup and bruschetta.  Yummy!  I'm looking forward to our first chili of the season, and adding fresh (frozen) tomatoes to our spaghetti sauce all winter! 

(Next week we're digging up the leeks, and making potato leek soup to eat and freeze with my sister - her recipe is KILLER!)

We'll see how long it takes me to use what we've stored, but I think that next year I'm gonna put in double the plants.  I want to learn how to make canned salsa (which is much more particular than fresh salsa) and spaghetti sauce next summer.

So, now it's time to ripen these green beauties.  I took off the stems - and separated out the ones that have "bug nibbles".  They went into boxes (in a single layer) on newspaper.

They'll get covered with another layer of newspaper, and I'll put in an apple or banana (which will release gasses that will help to ripen them).  Then I'll shut the boxes and put them in the garage.  Every day or two I'll check on them, and take out any "yucky" ones, and any ripe ones too!  I'm looking forward to canning / freezing / eating these final summer beauties!

Bye-bye tomatoes ... and hello PUMPKINS!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

raspberry picking

Last Saturday we went raspberry picking as a family.  It was just about the end of the season for fall raspberries, but we still got 2 pints-worth in under an hour!  We went to Reilly's Summer Seat Farm - a place recommended to me by a sweet friend - and it was WONDERFUL!

Aaron loves raspberries, probably more than any other fruit/berry.  So, he was excited by the idea of eating fresh ones, and I was hoping to get just enough to make some jam, or at least put over vanilla ice cream.

... The boys, on the other hand, thought it was "cruel and unusual" punishment, and that they were way too young to be subjected to such tortuous practices. (I distinctly remember being 4 and spending all morning in the fields at my grandparent's farm with the other grandkids picking raspberries and strawberries and the like - so at 5 1/2, Alex is definitely NOT too young to help for 5 minutes. - MUCH discussion was held on the topic while were were there.)  In Harrison's defense, the prickly thorns were just at his eye level, so I can at least understand some of his displeasure.

Alex "occupied" himself with tickling everyone ...

... and everyTHING in sight.

Eventually Harrison led the mutiny.  He ran down the row, and "disappeared" into the parking lot.  Alex wasn't too far behind, and Aaron went to "check on them."

Apparently "stone picking" really makes one thirsty.

And at least they could SEE where I was.... (You can see that since it's the end of the season, they stopped mowing in between rows, and the weeds were beginning to creep back in...)  Alex and daddy had a nice conversation about camaflouge while they were in the parking lot.

Eventually, I put my foot down, and told Alex that we weren't leaving until he picked some.  Begrudgingly (and quite vocally) he started helping.  I think he picked five.

Daddy and Harrison (who were sooooo ready for dinner) finally got in the action so we could finish off the two pints.  

Ahhh. These are the REALISTIC memories we all have of family outings.  Next summer when we go back to pick more raspberries (and blueberries, blackberries and strawberries), hopefully it will be a more congenial trip. ... Or maybe I'll get a babysitter and leave the kids at home.  We'll see. *grin*

Let's go fly a kite...

When we woke up on Friday morning it was still summer (with a high in the 90s) here on Dogwood.  By Saturday it was autumn (high of 63).  So, per Alex's request, we took advantage of the "winds of change" on Friday evening and flew kites!  We live on top of a mountain (at 1200 feet, it's a mountain, not a hill), and up behind our neighbor's house is an empty field (which is also known as the sledding hill). It was a perfect spot - got the wind at the top of the mountain, no nearby trees to tangle the string, and lots of running room!  Our kids (and the neighbor kids) had a blast! (And I enjoyed sitting in a chair puffing away on oxygen, and taking lots of pictures.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

weekend plans

Last weekend Aaron and Alex checked out ROBOTS at the Carnegie Science Center.  We also flew kites, and went raspberry picking.  And then there was a luncheon at my mom's house - that turned into dinner also (I absolutely love when that happens!)  I've got lots of pics, but haven't cropped any yet.

This coming weekend we have two main things on the agenda.

Tackling the boys' bathroom! (which will get rid of the FINAL hideous murals)

And thanks to Ana White from Knock-Off Wood, building this (with a couple modifications) to use in the breakfast nook.
Planted herbs on top, cookbooks below.

Next week my sister and nephew fly in from Tahoe to spend 2 weeks with us.  I'm getting more and more excited, and am scrambling to tackle all our "work" before she gets here!  We're all looking forward to a couple weeks of FAMILY FUN!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lunchbox Notes

... here's a little background ...

I have a girlfriend (Beth) who has a really popular decorating blog - The Stories of A2Z.  Before we relocated last year, Beth and I were at the same MOPS table, & attended the same ladies' Bible study.  Beth (and her blog) are simply amazing!  You really should check it out!

Beth has a younger sister (Christianne) who also has a fabulous blog - Little Page Turners (all about amazing kids' books and related crafts / activities).  Several days ago she posted about cute little lunch notes she was putting in her daughter's kindergarten lunches.  You can read her FABULOUS post HERE.

Christianne originally found the idea on the blog Cap Creations.  You can read her original post HERE.  She's the one who created the notes Christianne used - as well as "notes" and "Bible verse cards" to include in lunch boxes.  Make sure you check her out!!!

... So ... now that I'm not plagiarizing ...

Alex began Kindergarten earlier this month, and TODAY was the first day of "extended day" where he stays till 3 pm!  He's going to a Montessori school, so 2 days a week he'll be there just in the mornings, and 3 days a week he'll be staying all day with seven other 5 year olds for more "directed" learning.

... So, TODAY was his first time packing a lunch for school.  He was thrilled that I finally caved and let him get a Thomas lunchbox (I'm not sure he'll EVER grow out of trains!), and excitedly held his lunchbox on his lap with BOTH hands the whole way to school this morning!

When he opened his lunch today, he was surprised to find a note from me tucked inside!  The next couple weeks, I'll put a joke inside each day! (I might change up the "theme" of the notes in the future, we'll see.)  Cap Creations has ones on her blog that you can print and cut apart, but I decided to just copy her idea and make my own.  I googled "kids jokes" and went from there.  (I can't figure out how to turn the document into a .jpeg - so I printed and took a picture. Sigh.) I created a document with the jokes, printed it on card stock, and cut them apart!  Here's page one... (If you're having trouble reading it, click on the image to make it larger.)

I think he's gonna be thrilled!

... brothers ...

Alex at 2 yrs and 7 months...

Harrison at 2 yrs and 6 months ...

The main difference in those faces (other than hair cut)
is that Alex was about 10 pounds heavier!
(which gave him bigger cheeks!)


(And got ALL their "appearance" genes from their dad's side!)

Falling in love with FALL!

Hello, Gorgeous!

Well, today it's officially AUTUMN!

Yeah, baby!

Today begins my most enjoyable couple months!

... sweaters, warm apple pie with cold ice cream, hot cocoa with whipped cream, pumpkin carving, leaf collecting and pressing in otherwise dusty dictionaries, apple picking, hay rides, blooming mums ...


Be still my happy heart!

Welcome back, Autumn!

(And PLEASE give Summer a kick in the rear!
Temps in the 90s on the first day of your arrival
is really just a slap in the face!)

Saturday, September 11, 2010


A girlfriend and her 3 kids came out for a week-long visit last month.  Her daughter ("the girlfriend") impressed Alex with her 4 year-old sculpted arm muscles!

... He has been forever changed.

Fast forward to a few minutes ago.  I think the conversation went something like this...

Alex: Daddy, my arm muscles are now getting bigger, but my leg muscles aren't yet.
Aaron: What do you want to do?
Alex: Make them bigger.
Aaron: Okay.  Hang on a second.  Now pull both of us instead of just Harrison.
Alex: Will that make my leg muscles bigger?
Aaron: Definitely.
Alex: Hehehe.  Okay!
(my cell phone rings)
Aaron: Julia - grab the camera and get out here!

Ava ... sweetie ... if my Alex turns into THIS 


one day because of you ... well, I'm letting you know right now that I'm holding you personally responsible. *grin*

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

first day of school

We're now the proud parents of a


(he begged for a picture with his newest toy -
a "bubble gum blaster")

We pray you have an amazing first year at school - make lots of good friends - explore your growing independence a bit more each day - learn more about this amazing world God created - increase your self-confidence - and learn HOW to learn!  We love you so much, Alex, and love who you're becoming!

Mum and Dad

"The object of education is to prepare the young
to educate themselves throughout their lives."
~ Robert Maynard Hutchins

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

one year

It was one year ago - today - that Aaron started his new job in Pittsburgh.

It was one year ago - today - that I began the 2 months of being a single mom during the week - with health problems - while trying to sell our house - and then buy a house - and then packing our house to relocate.

It was one year ago - today - that God reminded me how special friends are - and how necessary - and how loving they can be when they step up and offer to be my support network and remind me that I'm never really alone.

It was one year ago - today - that God taught me that HE needed to be my main support - and that though my husband loves me with his whole being, he won't always be there - and that I'll still be okay.

It was one year ago - today - that our lives changed yet again - for the better (though they were undoubtably very stressful for a couple months).

Happy one year anniversary, darling!

the beginnings of autumn

Today's September 1st ... 

It's officially OK to have those glorious autumn decorations out!

(Even if it IS in the 90s today!)

... aaaaand I'm out of autumn decorations ......

Can't wait for those end-of-season sales to start!