Thursday, March 5, 2015

Happy Happy Birthday Jared!

Yesterday Jared turned 17 years old.




This year we didn’t have any fun clowns at his party like we did when he turned 5 years old.


Now that was a fun party!

(Except for Logan….he hated that clown. Seeing this picture brings back bad memories for the poor boy! lol)

And Jared had to blow out his candles by himself this year…..


And he didn’t get as much “loot”…..


But I think he had a really special day! <3


I know I had a really fun and special day just hanging out with him.

We went to Red Robin for lunch and I had an AMAZING gluten free burger! Ummmm!


And then we went a did some shopping for the boy.  He needed some new clothes.  Goodness!  There were size large in his closet.  Except it was kid size large shirts!?!?  So he needed some upgrades!


Then we just enjoyed a wonderful supper at home. Together.


He is still loving doing anything related to computer programming.  So he was wanting a mini computer called a Raspberry Pi 2.

(And no it wasn’t a pie.)

I had NO IDEA what this thing was….but I went online and figured it out.  And I got him the newest model before it went on backorder!!

So I scored huge Mom points there! Winking smile


And Grandma, he loves the camera to go with it!! Good job getting it, you are so tech savvy too.Winking smile


In light of the heavy news we had this past week it was nice to just do some fun celebrating and love on Jared.


My three grown men!

He still loves his job at Masonic and is looking at starting at Millersville University in the fall of 2016 to get a computer science degree.

That will be here before we know it!


But for now I’m just really enjoying every minute these boys are living here becuz I know that in a blink of an eye, 3 sweet girls will come along and they will be off and married.

His little sisters are sooo glad he will commute back and forth to college and be around here for a few more years!


They love being the apple of his eye at this moment in time. <3

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Becoming at Peace

I stand amazed at how God has opened up my schedule so that I could be by Marcia’s side this past week.

He literally went ahead of both our schedules and just opened up schedules and things just feel into place.


And I’m also amazed at how He just prepared even my quiet times to be just what this season in my life needs.

See, just 2 weeks ago I was at Costco (like I am every week! lol) But I just happened to go down the book isle.  I RARELY go down that aisle as I can usually get books cheaper from Amazon on my kindle.

But I was feeling like I needed a new devotional.  And one just “jumped” out at me.

And this morning it totally hit me WHY God sent me down the book isle 2 weeks ago….before I knew my friend has stage 3a rectal cancer.

The title is: Becoming a Woman at Peace

(and for record it is cheaper at Costco then Amazon!)

So that is the journey I am on now.

To be (more of) a woman at peace.

**To be at peace….no matter if she needs radiation and chemo before surgery…..and she loses her hair.  And then I lose my hair.  ‘Cuz I won’t let her walk that baldness journey alone!

**To be at peace if she “just” needs surgery to remove the mass. (and we won’t know that until after the PET scan next week.)

No matter where this journey takes her…to try and trust the One who made her and to be at peace.

“Like life itself, the journey toward peace rarely proceeds along a predictable path.  Sometimes it may even seem as though you have taken on step forward and two steps back.

What do you do then??

One thing you can do is begin to think about where you want to go and how you are going to get there. Just as you wouldn’t start driving from New York to Florida by heading north to Canada, (even though I would LOVE to see my friend, Carla on the way!!) it would be foolish to set the wrong course on your journey to peace.

Progress can only be made if you continue heading in the right direction, which means, of course that you are heading in God’s direction.” –taken from A Woman at Peace

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Some days I think are going to be easier then others to find that peace.  But if I can continue to point my thoughts and mind to God and not let the fear take over that will be a step in the right direction.

And hopefully I won’t end up in Canada!

Florida is soooo much better! Smile

There are palm trees and warm weather there!


To not let the “what if’s” control my thoughts. 

To just take one day at a time and live in the moment. 

Today is a gift. 

That is why it is called the present.

Love you Marsh. <3

Monday, March 2, 2015

The tears won’t stop.

I’m not a “cry-ee” person by nature.  Very rarely do I get choked up.

But today.

Today the tears just won’t stop brimming over.

There are so many unknowns with this cancer journey.

So many.

And today reality started to sink for both myself and my friend.

This is (most likely) going to be a marathon, not a sprint race.

I was honored and privileged to be able to take her for her MRI today. It was good to just be present and be with her.

Supporting her and loving on her.

We can be laughing one minute and crying the next.

But I would think that is “normal” with such a huge life changer like having rectal cancer is.

We are feeling but at the same time trusting.

It was way “too real” hearing the MRI tech asking why she was there today and her answering, “I have rectal cancer.”

No. No.No.  That just doesn’t sound right!

Those 4 words should never be in the same sentence together!

The next few days are going to be a bit overwhelming and lots to process…..but I have to believe that God’s got this covered and His grace will be overflowing and present.

That He will give her the strength to endure whatever treatment plan they come up with tomorrow.

But I’m just scared.

I do know that chocolate “special” milkshakes sound (and taste!) awfully good tonight….and I don’t even like ice-cream usually!?!?!?


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Rocked my world

There are few things that really rock my world anymore.

I’ve pretty much been able to roll with the punches that life dishes out. I have learned (most of the time!) to trust that God will work everything out or give me the grace and strength to endure whatever it is I am walking through.

So even though my dear Mother is laying in a hospital bed with an obstruction in her small intestine and may need surgery in the next couple of days I was doing fine and handling the extra responsibilities this weekend just fine thank you. (Of course, thanks to wonderful teenage boys who help hold down the fort nicely!)

But when I got the call last night that my (very) good friend has been diagnosed with rectal cancer.

That rocked my world.

In ways I was not expecting.

We knew there was a chance “the mass” could be cancer when they found it during the colonoscopy last week. But I just honestly wouldn’t let myself even believe or think that it could be that. That being cancer with a  capital C.

It just couldn’t be That. 

She is 41 years old.

She has been my BFF for 20+ years now.

It all seems so surreal.

Suddenly my reading The Hardest Peace has taken on a whole different spin.

Kara, Lynnea, tomorrow we get to wake up and be faithful. Whatever each step brings, and whatever hard comes, people will always disappoint us. But tomorrow, tomorrow we get to be faithful in that moment.”

“But because I believe God’s plans for me are better than what I could plan for myself, rather than run away from the path he has set before me, I want to run toward it. I don’t want to try to change God’s mind-his thoughts are perfect. I want to think his thoughts.

I don’t want to change God’s timing-his timing is perfect.

I want the grace to accept his timing. I want to embrace his plan and see how he is glorified through it.

I want to submit.”-Kara

Words that are easier to type and read then to fully embrace for sure!

And I am honestly not ready to talk about “it”-the C word and all that entails-in depth yet.

But when I do just know that the words I write and the things I share are all MY thoughts and feelings from having a friend with rectal cancer.

I will never try and put thoughts and feelings that my friend may be going through. Those are her feelings and hers alone. And only she can share them adequately.

She goes to the surgeon on Tuesday to find out what “the plan of attack” will be. So we will know more then.

But I know she will rock it.  She is a fighter and she will beat this!

I have to believe that.

And I have to believe God is totally in control and He can heal her instantly.

Or she may have to walk through a lot of treatments and a lot of discomfort.

I have to believe that God will heal her this side of heaven….becuz I’m not done being her friend yet.

But whichever road this journey takes I will be by her side supporting her and loving her and encouraging her.

Nothing else matters right now to me then to be by her side and being available to help her in any way possible.

I will be sharing more as I can but right now I just appreciate prayers for my (as of now my unnamed) friend.

Pray that this cancer will BE GONE.


“We simply asked for our daily bread, to get through each moment, for Jesus to carry us and meet us in our daily mess.” Kara-The Hardest Peace

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Even the Florida sky was sad that I had to leave yesterday….


But I had such a restful and relaxing time during the couple days I got to sneak away and enjoy some friend time in Jacksonville, Florida.

On Saturday morning I was up before the sun (shocking I know!) and was headed to the airport by 5:00am.


And I got out just in time….it started snowing here around 10:00 and home got 5” of snow plus a layer of ice till it stopped late Saturday night.


By 11:00am on Saturday I was enjoying the blue sky and palm trees!  God really smiled down on us as it was chilly all last week in Florida but on Sat, Sunday and Monday we had temps in the high 70’s.

And then today they were back down into the 50’s.  What a blessing!


Basically we ate and slept.  And then ate some more. I could eat soooo good there!  To have such a great selection of gluten free restaurants within walking distance of where we stayed was a.m.a.z.i.n.g.

I felt totally spoiled.

We went to a Mexican restaurant called Cantina Laredo. They make this AMAZING homemade guacamole right at your table.


But not only was my belly well fed… spirit and soul were too.  To just get away from the every day stressors of life for 72 hours and just be with someone who really “gets” you is an incredible blessing.


I got to sit by the pool and just “be” for awhile Sunday afternoon. 

Just me and the ducks.


Oh and I got to enjoy a Starbucks of course!


And a delicious gluten free cupcake to top off a perfect, lovely, WARM afternoon…..and was reminded to just take one cupcake/one crisis/one day at a time.


We loved that Mexican restaurant so much we went back for another round before I had to get back on the airplane and fly home yesterday afternoon…..


I was afraid today would be hard to get back into “life.” But it wasn’t too bad….it was FREEZING cold again, which I detest of course, but I think just getting away helped me feel more at peace. 

I came home rested and renewed and was able to just have some complete thoughts this past weekend.

Everyone missed me… was sweet to be welcomed home by teenage boy bear hugs.

They survived on pizza. Literally. They tell me it has all the major food groups so they are good to go.

(I did leave them 5 DIFFERENT meals to make and eat….)

But I think my Boomer missed me the most……he followed my EVERY step this morning.


It got to be a bit ridiculous.  Especially after he tried to climb up into my lap!

Thanks for holding down the fort honey……it really was a truly perfect weekend. <3

I am so thankful I could go and that the weather was so beautiful… was just what the doctor ordered!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

3 years ago…..

We were in Guiyang adopting Josie.


Her gotcha day was “officially” on Feb. 19th, 2012.  But since we just “happened” to run into her foster family the day before, and they just “happened” to be our friends, we may just have “happened” to have her spend the night with us the night before gotcha day. Winking smile

Yesterday I wasn’t planning on celebrating her gotcha day but the day just kinda evolved and since I was making “Chinese” and since I had her gift ready and since all her brothers were home we decided to celebrate her gotcha day last night.

Which I guess was technically her “real” gotcha day anyhow! lol


She enjoyed the special meal and the special veggie tale movie.


Then today I had to take her to her yearly CP clinic appointment.

I was secretly dreading it becuz had a feeling I knew what the Dr. was going to suggest we do next for Josie.

And I didn’t want to hear about it.

But I really like and trust this doctor and we had a good talk and I had a good cry and I think we have a good plan now.

We have realized that Josie’s walking ability is getting less and less as she is getting heavier and heavier.  Her right foot is really turning out and it is causing structural damage to her foot. Her heel cords just aren’t strong enough to hold up her body weight.

She is getting a bunion and her DAFO’s can only handle so much.  They are basically working like a band-aid.

So Dr. Fortuna wants to do a foot surgery to hopefully give Josie (maybe) 5 more years of walking ability yet.

(In her medical opinion she thinks Josie will only have about 3 years until her knees will give out and then she won’t be able to walk anymore.  So if we do the surgery she may gain another 2 years or so.)

So not really “great” outcome either way.

She is going to end up being wheelchair bound.

But if we can give her the ability to walk until she is 18 (in 6 years!)  then she can leave the house and go into an assisted living facility.  That would be the “goal” anyhow.

We don’t have room for a wheelchair fulltime in the house.

She shares a room with our school room so she can’t just hang out in her room.  There just is not enough room. Period.

This surgery will require her to be in a NON WEIGHT bearing cast for 10 WEEKS.  Then another 4 weeks in another cast. 

Then LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of physical therapy.

This is when I started crying.

I was honest with Dr. Fortuna.  I told her I can’t do another big surgery here.  It is just too much.

She will need WAY more help and care then we can give her.

She is 100 lbs now vs. the 45lbs she was when we did her hip surgeries.

And then I can’t drive her to therapy 5x’s a week.


The plan is that she will have the surgery in July and then when she is discharged from the hospital she will transfer to a rehab care facility close by (it is about 30 minutes from our house) and they will care for her and then do the intense therapy there.

But that will be 4-6 MONTHS of her not living here and living at this rehab center.


That was so not on my radar this morning.

And then what will “re-entry” look like?!!? We will have gone back to our “normal” life again.  And then to start over again with nursing and caring for a child with moderate disabilities…that is going to take a lot to get used to again.

But we have Ava’s “big” bone graft surgery this summer.  So it probably is a blessing in disguise.

It is just going to take awhile for it all to sink in.

Will insurance balk at this?

Of course.

But Dr. Fortuna has worked with this rehab place before and she thinks it will be approved considering it is so totally medically necessary.

If they don’t….then we won’t be able to do the surgery.




Unfortunately 3 years ago we got Josie at her “peak.” 

Knowing what I know now….would I say have said “yes” to her file?!?!

That question I can’t honestly answer today.

But then when I question things God speaks to me through a song…….

Glorious Unfolding:

Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true

There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold.

Trying to believe.  Trying to just trust.

That there is much left to unfold.

So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding

Saturday, February 14, 2015

I <3 today

Four years ago the way we celebrate Valentine’s Day changed.

Four years ago today we were in COLD Taiyuan, China picking up a very scared and very upset 3 year old.



This little one started out her new life with us on her Baba’s lap…..


it is where she felt most safe.


Even though she still wasn’t too sure about him yet.


(I should get extra credit for having us all wear red for Ava’s Gotcha Day, on Feb. 14th, 2011…just sayin’!)


Even after we got back to our hotel she wanted to just sit on her Daddy’s lap……


She couldn’t suck out of the sippy cup due to her cleft palate but she was a pro at a regular cup.


Finally after awhile she started to warm up and she figured out that this strange looking guy isn’t too bad after all.

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And even today Ava’s first choice is her Daddy’s lap. <3


Now he may have made her special pink pancakes for a Valentine’s breakfast!


But even without that special treat, she would still chose her Daddy’s lap anytime of the day!


She is growing like a weed!!!  And her speech is really improving!  I hear real progress.  She isn’t looking forward to her “big” surgery this summer…..but she wants the hole fixed in her gum line.  She is trying to break her thumb sucking habit.  And during the day she has pretty much given it up.  But she still sucks it at night.

After her bone graft surgery Dr. Samson would like her totally broken of that habit since after that we will be tackling orthodontic work shortly after the surgery.  And that means NO more thumb sucking! Sad smile

She asked for pizza and dumplings for lunch!

What a combination!


Tonight I was so blessed to have all the feet under the table and I could make a “special” steak supper for my boys.

They say that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach….and that is so true.

The boys love food and the way they feel loved is when I cook “good” for them.

So I made steak, homemade potato salad and salad.



And a good way into a Mama’s heart is to give her a gift certificate to her favorite restaurant with a promise of a date night together! Thanks T! <3


And sweet Lena made her Mommy and Daddy a special card.  She has such a sweet spirit.


I cherish the memories we make around the table.  Tonight we had fun reminiscing about Ava’s China trip.  We talked about the families we got to hang out with those 2 weeks and also how Ava would get so angry and kick her shoes off.

No matter where we were.

She had the gift of a temper tantrum for sure!

We are thankful that the rages are gone and she is just a funny and sweet little girl now.

She does crack us up. Every single day.

Steve is sending me away for my Valentine’s gift.

And it is the bestest gift he could give me.


Next weekend I get to fly down to Jacksonville, FL and soak in some sunshine and catch up with a special friend.

I need this time away so much.

Josie has been very draining.

We have been to so many appointments.  She had to have a 48 hour ambulatory EEG on this week. We still don’t have a plan concerning the seizure like events.  Her dafo’s are giving her blisters since she isn’t walking as much or “correctly” anymore.

It is just one thing after another.

If I wanted to be a nurse I would have gone to nursing school!

I need some time to just step away from the demands of caring for a SN child and get my mo-jo back.

This is the forecast for PA this weekend:

Today: Light to moderate snow showers. Snow squalls this afternoon bringing briefly heavy snow and low visibility. 1-3" of snow expected. Winds increasing late, then turning gusty. High: 30. Winds: S to NW 10-20, increasing to 20-30 late with gusts near 40 mph.

Tonight: Very blustery & dangerously cold. Blowing snow likely. Low: 7. Winds: NW 25-35 gusting to 50+mph. Wind chills: Near -20.

Sunday: Blustery. Chills near -20 around sunrise. Chills near 0 at best. High: 14. Winds: NW 15-25 mph (gusting to 50+mph early).

Monday: Mostly sunny. Windy & very cold. High: 18. Winds: NW 10-20. Wind chills: Near 0 at best.


-20 with the wind chill!??!?!

I’m staying put by the fire for sure tomorrow!

This is the forecast for Jacksonville next weekend:

Jacksonville weather!

I’m SO there.

Thank you honey for encouraging me to go and for holding down the fort while I’m gone.

And for working so hard so I can go.

(And thankful for the airline miles that I could get a ticket for “free!”)


But I try and live in the moment as it is a present. Yesterday is past and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

So today I so enjoyed just hanging out at home with all my kids. <3