Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Countdown to Gray!

It's hard to believe it's almost May! Winter weather dragged out here for so long, that it's difficult to accept that May is already upon us. It felt like it's only been spring for a couple weeks! As most of you probably know (wink, wink) May is Brain Cancer Awareness Month. My personal way of raising awareness is to wear gray (or silver, totally counts!) every day and post a pic to this blog. Gray is the color for Matters! is one of the catchphrases. David and I always found that hilarious! I actually named my Brain Cancer Awareness board on Pinterest "Gray Matters." So right now I am enjoying the last couple days of wearing bright colors and the finally spring like temperatures! It's heavenly!

This past weekend the kids and I volunteered with Rebuilding Together, a nationwide organization that helps low income home owners with repairs, upkeep and other projects. There was a townwide effort, hundreds of people volunteering! Our church, Church of the Living God, participates every year, but this was the first time we were able to be involved. David had to work, so I wound up bringing Buddy along too. I was a little worried, but he did awesome! Our group was mainly doing yard work for an elderly lady, but also some painting and gardening. We had about 20 people from our church, and a group of high-schoolers joined us at the house. I did a ton of raking...Buddy helped me out...until he found a swing ;) Red Three enjoyed the flower planting. The older girls decided their calling was painting...ugh! They predictably ended up covered in paint! It was funny, the neighbor wasn't too pleased with all the hubbub, and then we wound up raking his lawn as well. Hopefully that changed his our group leader said, "We're gonna kill him with kindness!" Then since we still had a little bit of time, we moved on to the other neighbor's yard as well. They seemed really grateful! 

Here's a link to the organization's website

Once the morning was over, we headed to the park for the picnic provided by the town and many local businesses. Kim and her family had also participated through a volunteer group at the school, so we met up with them at the park. There was a ton of really good food...Chipotle had even donated some burritos! I snagged one of them ASAP! lol...It was still a bit chilly, especially since we weren't working anymore, but the kids gorged themselves on tons of ice cream treats! hahaha Then they got to play at the park for a bit before we headed home...we were all exhausted. I wound up taking a big nap once we got home! I was scared I was gonna be so sore the next day, but it was pretty mild, so that was a relief!

On Sunday we had a guest speaker at church, who also had a couple of evening services. I had totally forgotten it was this weekend. I almost didn't go to the evening service, I was feeling terrible and was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. But I really felt the need, so I made myself go. I had had a crappy day...just feeling super emotional and drained, unappreciated...basically having a pity party moment, if you know what I mean. :) We've all been there, right? Anyways, worship was fantastic...the youth were leading it and they were on fire! And guess what, I felt totally fine, stomach no longer hurt, not tired! Then Pastor Robbie Evans preached on the gift of prophecy. For as many years as I've been involved in the Pentecostal style of worship, I had never been at a prophetic service. It was amazing! We were all praying where we were, and as he was led he would stop at one person or another and speak over their lives for everyone to hear. So I was praying, crying...blubbering really, lol...I was a mess...basically crying out to God that I needed him. All my loneliness and stress and exhaustion boiled down to just "Father, I need you, I need you." I don't typically pray to the Father either, more Jesus, if that makes sense. So as I'm praying I notice that he gives the microphone to his wife and she starts making her way down the aisle. I was sitting towards the back on the aisle...and I just had a feeling that she was coming to me...but I didn't want to get my hopes up. So she stops by me and starts speaking...bear in mind, I've never seen these people before, they had never been to our church, I was praying silently...and she says "I see you and I hear you. Surrender (or maybe submit...I have an awful memory, so I can't remember all the words) to my love, Jesus who died on the cross for you." 

Just, wow! I was so happy! I didn't even care that everyone was paying attention, I had no embarrassment...I was thrilled! What an answer to prayer, so direct, such as I've never gotten in my life! I was always so hungry for God to speak to me, to touch me...for so many years it would break my heart that I felt no tangible touch from God. I never had the gift of tongues, never felt God's Presence, etc...I used to cry about it all the time. But I always clung to the verse that says "Blessed are they who have not seen and still believe" like, that's me!!! My faith was never shaken by the lack, I didn't doubt, but I hungered for it! It's only in the last couple of years that I've even started to feel God's Presence at times, mostly during worship. So to have him answer my prayer so clearly was the biggest gift! He truly is awesome! I was praying that he would burn the memory in my heart and mind so I never forget!

Yesterday was the Spring Tea at my MOPS group. It's always the best meeting! We have breakfast catered, we (at least some of us) dress up if we want to. Some of the moms speak about their lives and walk with God. Yesterday's was as good as always! The speakers were so real, and so inspiring in their honesty and vulnerability, it was such a blessing! We also had some fun props at a "Selfie Station" to take was so fun!

Buddy wanted in on the fun!
Then I got a trim last night! Love my stylist!

So yesterday I wake up and my arm is so itchy and killing it's even worse! I must have come into contact with something on Saturday...Poison Ivy??? I dunno, but it's awful! Hopefully it clears up quickly, the itching is getting intolerable!

Warning...Gross pic alert! lol

That's the biggest patch...but I have several little ones all over my arm :(

Welp, can't wait for May...I've got lots of gray to show off!
And remember, if you want to be featured, send me a pic with you in gray, I'd love to share it!!!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Playing Catch Up - Part Two

Jumping back into February...David was supposed to have his next check up MRI and appointment in January, but a mandatory work thing came up, so we had to reschedule. We wound up going down to Sloan-Kettering towards the end of February instead. I was trying to figure out what to do with the kids and school, etc...but when I heard my dad was gonna be in town and wanted to meet up, we just took them all with us. The MRI was crazy early, 7:45, so we had to leave home by the morning! Just ugh! I have a hard enough time getting up at not a morning person. I used to be a total night I find I'm more of a late afternoon/early evening sort of gal ;) Too old to stay up so late all the time...hahaha!

Anyways, we actually got out the door pretty much on time with all five about a miracle! I think we managed to make it to the MRI by 8, so only a tiny bit late. Of course, I had gray on...but it was so darn cold I kept my jacket on most of the

That's gotta be like one of the worst selfies fuzzy, looks like I have frostbite on my lip! but the gray is visible!

My dad got there while David and I were in the office talking to the doctor, so he hung out with the kids until we were done. We were very thankful to hear that there have been no changes on the scans. This is definitely a case of no news is good news! The doctor did ask if David wanted to participate in their Tumor Genomic Profiling clinical research determine whether there are any abnormal genes in the won't be for any type of immediate use, but perhaps years from now it might turn out to be helpful. So they entered David's tumor tissue samples to be evaluated. We won't know anything from it anytime soon, if ever...but it is hopeful that they are continuing to research the disease, and specifically, David's. With all the ever changing information, this could be really good! We were happy about that...and also really happy about the results of the MRI. His doctor also did a much more in depth physical exam...still haven't gotten to the bottom of the constant body pain. He did seem to think that a visit to a pain management center was a good idea...but David's GP doesn't seem to think so...and you can't get an appointment without a still need to figure that out. But overall, was a positive appointment.

We were actually out of the office by like 10:30! We headed to Starbucks to visit for a bit before hitting up a pizza joint my dad knew about. Here's something funny, it took about a year of going to appointments in NYC for me to realize that my dad's old apartment where he lived when he was a kid was literally right across the street! I mean, as a kid we had visited a few times, but it just never dawned on me. Anyways, we had some delicious pizza and were able to visit for a few hours before we had to head home. The kids were all so happy to see him...Sparkle included...he's her grandpa too ;)

Getting ready to head home.

Kim and Sarah and I managed to have a GNO (girls' night out) at a nice restaurant, Bonefish Grill, thanks to a gift card my mom gave me for Christmas. It was SO good...I love that place! Especially the Bang Bang Shrimp! I actually have a recipe for bang bang shrimp angel hair that I really want to try out! Anyways, back to my story ;) we had a great time...we are always so happy to hang out, visit, encourage each other...and get a break! I got the coolest drink was some sort of blackberry something or other, but the awesome part was that it was actually served in a cup made of ice! how cool is that???

I had to have my mandatory Ashy selfie :P and look, I've got gray on!

I forgot to take pics of the kids though

Red One and Sparkle went on a church retreat at an overnight camp, so they were gone for a weekend. David was hankering to play paintball, but everything was covered with multiple feet of what did we do? Why, we took a road trip to Providence, RI to play at an indoor field...ummm, super fun! wasn't the greatest experience, they didn't have both fields clean, and a team was on one field, so we were waiting forever! But Red Three decided she wanted to try to play...don't worry, it was just David and the kids...she did great...even got hit and only teared up a tiny bit...haha...poor Red Two got popped on the hand, so guess what we immediately bought? Gloves! But seriously, it is so painful to get hit somewhere bony! And then Red Three (who isn't used to all the safety rules) shot her sister at close range because she forgot to put the barrel sock on the gun...haha! Poor Buddy isn't old enough, but he's ready! lol...Even with all the snafus, it was still a funnish day ;)

Reenacting the hit! lol
Red Three rocking the paintball look

In February, the kids get a couple days of school for winter break. We didn't do too much...mainly relaxed...but when things got too silly at home, I did take them to the Science Center. :)

silly girl!
Buddy stole my Loki socks! that totally match my Loki "Chillin' like a villain" shirt! lol
Buddy tried to fix his own hair...think you might have a little too much product there...

So off we went, braved the cold, to see what new exhibits they, Sparkle hadn't been.

The kids were simultaneously grossed out and amused by the Grossology body exhibit!
hurricane tunnel

Speaking of science...both Red One and Red Three entered the Science Fair/Invention Conventions at their schools. And they both decided to make some sort of new, those are my kids!

Red Three made chocolate covered peanut butter and bacon treats...named them Flying Hearts, because they make people happy...seriously, could she be any sweeter?!?!?!?
Red One made Chummy Gummies, a healthier version of fruit gummies with Chia seeds in them. They were surprisingly, quite tasty ;)

As we eased into March, guess who turned 5? Yes, my baby!!! I am getting sadder every time I think about's funny, as the girls got older, I was fine with it. When Red One went to Kindergarten for the first time, no tears were was awesome. But with Buddy, I really don't want him to go to school...I'll have no more babies at home with me...I'm pretty sad about that! lol...he doesn't want to go to school either...haha...he doesn't think it will be fun. That's because he has 4 older siblings/cousins who whine about how horrible school is girls!

So all the kids have really gotten into Minecraft lately...yeah yeah, I know, it's been out for years...but they love it. Buddy was super duper into he asked for a Minecraft party. At first he wanted RescueBots, but then he changed his mind. It was SO much fun to plan!!! Pretty easy too, basically if it has a square shape, or is green, it's probably gonna work. I found some really cute ideas on Pinterest (where else?) and even some free printable labels. It came out so good. This was also his first time to have a friend party, but not until the weekend. So we celebrated on his birthday with just the family. We went out for burgers (he's his daddy's boy!) and then home for cake and presents.

Endermen and Creeper balloons
 Creeper selfie
Burger Fi is delicious!
Ready for presents!
He was genuinely so happy!
The girls had fun with his presents too!
We convinced Buddy to have a Tres Leches cake for his family birthday...he loved it!
Sometimes I just can't take the cuteness!
Gotta love silly selfies!

So his real birthday was on Thursday, but his friend party was on Saturday. Buddy's best friend is my friend Dacia's they all came over to celebrate with him. I loved how everything came out...and Buddy was thrilled, especially about his cake...he kept telling me thank you over and over! So precious!

Grass cube cake
Waiting for the party to begin!
This is how he smiles for cameras
Boys and their video games! 
Creeper Buddy and Creeper Friend

They had the best time together! I was so happy they all had a good time!

Auntie Sarah dropped off the best birthday present for Buddy...Starlord! 
I had to try it on too! lol

March is also the month David and I got married...this year made it 15 years ago! and still no honeymoon...just throwing that out hint! Anyways, we didn't really do anything on the day, as it was during the week...but we thought we'd celebrate by going to a comedy club instead of our usual dinner and a movie. It was so much fun! A little dirty of course, but not nearly as bad as some comedians out there. It was at the City Steam Brewery Restaurant in Hartford...they have a comedy club in the basement called Brew we got to have a delicious meal...David enjoyed the house brewed beers, and I had a fantastic bourbon cranberry honey cocktail! It was really cool to do something different! We had a great time!

Ain't he cute?

Around this time we got a call from Dad letting us know that he was gonna get married! Wow, was that some news. Honestly, it's a weird call to get...but as long as he was happy, we would be happy. She was actually his girlfriend back in high school! and they reconnected via cool is that?!? That was several weeks back...he was actually heading to Michigan for some long-term work, but she lived in New Orleans. Dad even stopped by for the night on his way there, which was great! He told us they were thinking about May for the wedding, and that they were going to get married in Gatlinburg, TN. I asked why there? Apparently it's a big tourist/wedding destination for the South, right near Dollywood (which I had heard of). lol..and I had never heard of it! Then a few weeks later, we find out that instead of waiting till May like they were originally planning, they were gonna go ahead and get hitched the next week. David was not happy that no one was gonna be there with them! He did not think that was right. So he volunteered me to go down that I wasn't happy about it, just thought it was funny. He couldn't go because he was running an it made sense. Only problem, it was on Easter weekend...and I still hadn't even told the kids yet that Papa was getting married in May. I was a little worried how to bring it up, and besides, I figured I had a little time to ease them into it. Haha, nope. That conversation went way better than I was worried it would...they were all super excited for him...and really wanted to meet Miss Lissy. Dad had actually asked me to send me his dress shoes, so the kids all made a bunch of sweet cards and stuff for them. Of course, that was before I knew I was gonna go down...I could have just carried it with me, lol...oh well!

The plan was that I would fly down Friday and come back Sunday. I totally forgot that since it was Good Friday the kids would be off school...I could have gotten an earlier flight! Oh well, so I was supposed to arrive at 9 pm, but both flights were delayed because of stormy weather, so I didn't get in till after 11...I was just hoping the rental counter was still open! Thankfully Dad and Lissy called them for me and they were still there. I had booked a rental through Hotwire...since it was just me, I didn't care what kind of car I got, so I had chosen the mystery car, which was the 10 bucks a day! The agent asks me, "how are you with a truck?" I was like, "Heck yeah!!!" I wound up with a beautiful Dodge Ram extended cab was amazing!

Less amazing was the fact that Gatlinburg was about an hour away from Knoxville (where I flew in) and it was raining buckets! By the time I got on the road and then had to drive less than speedy because of the weather, it was after 1 am by the time I got to the hotel...which had a total of zero parking spots left! I wound up parking on the was too late to meet up, so I figured I'd see them in the morning. I could use a good night's sleep anyway! So of course, I tossed and turned all night, couldn't sleep, finally gave up at 6 in the morning...for some reason I was just so nervous about meeting Lissy. And I normally have zero trouble Oh well, I needed to move the truck anyways. Let me tell you, Gatlinburg is beautiful!!! The view out my window was gorgeous! It's right on the edge of the Smoky Mountain National Park.

Just wow
and look at this! it's the view up from the lobby...the hotel is circular, all the rooms are around the edge of the cool!

It also had an amazing indoor pool...with a waterfall and water slides...I was so mad I forgot my bathing suit! lol, I knew I would! Anyways, we finally met up at breakfast...I was still in my pjs...with my f*ck cancer shirt on (I wasn't thinking...cut me a break!'s totally my lounge about shirt, I wear all the freaking time!) and Lissy comes down all gorgeous, dressed and made! No but seriously, she was so sweet! I think she's great! And I've never seen Dad so happy.

They needed to get the marriage license, so I got ready while they were gone. They were scheduled with the preacher at 5:00, so when they got back we ran some errands and just hung out. It was nice getting to know Lissy, and being with Dad. Then we all got ready...I wasn't sure what to wear, so I had brought a couple one of the dresses I had was perfect!

Ready to go!

We headed to the preacher's house. It was such a pretty place...he had a gazebo in his back yard, by a little brook that streamed down, almost a mini pretty!

I love this one!
Isn't it just the sweetest setting?

I was so happy to be able to share their big day with them! Not to mention they wouldn't have had any pictures! We went to dinner later on and had a toast with mimosas...and some blackberry moonshine ;) It was lovely! Unfortunately, I had to leave around 9:30 Sunday morning to make the drive back to catch my flight. We were hoping to eat breakfast before I left, but it didn't work out. I was sad not to be able to say goodbye, but hopefully we'll see each other again before terribly long. Thankfully I made it back perfectly on time for my flight...which then promptly developed mechanical issues, so we sat on the tarmac for a while...which made me miss my connection. So of the 4 flights I had, 3 were delayed, but the last was on time, which meant I missed it and had to get rebooked! Ugh!!! it was awful! lol...but I finally made it was so good to see everyone...but not my house! It was disgusting! They were all telling me how they kept it clean for two days, all the way until today...oh course. lol...that's what I get for leaving!

I had promised the kids that since I was missing Easter, I would make the Easter dinner on Monday. Of course, I was exhausted and regretted that I got it done! Brown sugar ham, baked beans, potato salad, asparagus, honey rolls with honey butter...followed with lemon blackberry brownies (which I was really hoping would be awesome, but I didn't like at all!) and Easter Dirt Cake. So the kids were all happy...even if we did have to wait to have the Easter Egg hunt till was raining all week, plus David had to work late most nights.

Red Three found the Golden Egg!
and then of course I had to make deviled eggs...which promptly disappeared! lol

David recently got a bee in his bonnet about the girls taking music lessons. For some reason that's really what he wanted them to do...and they were more than happy. Red Two wanted to learn guitar, and Red One has been wanting voice lessons for a while. So they started up...Red 2's teacher came out saying, "she sure is a lefty!" with a right handed guitar...after trying to decide the best thing to do, whether to learn right handed or restring it for a lefty...finally David just got her a new helped that it turns out the other one was kinda broken, because he wanted to get her a new one the whole time. I was like, wait till she can actually play! But who listens to me?

It's a beautiful guitar...her teacher was jealous...I just told her, now you absolutely have to learn!
the younger ones made a spaceship out of the guitar boxes

Mid-April was the kids spring break...they were so happy to finally get a break! We planned a few little fun things...Monday we hiked Case Mountain, which has a nice easy trail with lots of benches for the kids. It's so funny, every time there was a bench, they just had to sit down. While on the way up, we passed by a pond with just the loudest noise...we couldn't figure out what on earth was making it. The kids were guessing woodchucks, recording, etc...turns out it was frogs! They spent about 45 minutes catching frogs...

Gray alert! plus, aren't my new glasses awesome?!?
Sparkle was the master at catching frogs!

We finally made it to the top, which looks out over the whole Hartford valley. It's really pretty!

Back at the bottom, the kids climbed all over by the waterfall. They were soaked by the time we left!

Tuesday was a bit cooler and rainy, so we went to see Cinderella, the new live action version. It was so good! I was really impressed with the way they fleshed out her character...really well done! Not to mention emotional, several of us were definitely shedding tears. Afterwards we headed to Sonic for some happy hour discounted drinks! The kids love the slushies...and I like almost everything there! Oh my, it was the worst ordering experience I've ever had was so bad...I literally repeated myself probably 10 least! Finally got it through...the poor girl was probably on her first day or something, she just didn't know what she was doing at all! But the drinks were delicious, so that's good. I was trying to be nice, set a good example, but the kids thought it was hilarious and awful. Sparkle was saying her rage levels were just rising and she was just listening to the exchange...hahaha!

Wednesday we made a trip to Michael's for some crafting supplies...the girls were feeling creative! Buddy picked out a foam finger...which he then promptly left at Sweet Frog...but that yogurt sure is good! Then we even got to finally go the the park! Buddy has been begging to go for ages, I kept telling him, as soon as it's nicer outside...thankfully last week was beautiful!

Buddy painted the hat for his craft ;)

The kids had a Camp Kesem reunion on Saturday. Remember, that's the camp that offers a free week of overnight camping for children of parents who have had or have cancer. I cannot say enough good things about this organization. What makes it so special are the volunteers. They are all college students, in this case at Yale (there are camps all over the country run by college student volunteers). Not only do they run the camp, but they work throughout the whole year to raise money through various fundraisers so they can offer an awesome camping experience to kids who have had their worlds torn apart by cancer. I am in awe of all the hard work and absolute joy and passion that they have...and so incredibly grateful! This was the third reunion that they held over the school year...the kids love going, not only to see their friends again, but also so they can see their counselors. They have such a meaningful connection with them! The girls cannot wait to go back this summer!

Please check out their website and learn more about how wonderful they are!
Camp Kesem - Yale

When we got home, we found that Sparkle and her friend had found a little lost pup and brought him home. I'm not normally a fan of little dogs...I like em big, or at least medium...but he was so adorable. Of course Freckles was freaking him out...she was so excited, she couldn't calm down...poor little puppy. We kept him overnight, but the kids did find his owner the next day. They were all sorry to see him go...they wanted to keep him if we couldn't find the

And that is just about that...couple random pics...I just had to share ;)

my first iced coffee of the year...delicious! 
I found Buddy asleep like this! so adorable!

Lastly, look what I came home to yesterday! It was such a surprise to see a beautiful arrangement sitting by my door. I couldn't think who it could be from...I didn't think it was David (I was ;) Dad and Lissy sent them to me as a thank you for coming to the wedding and helping man, right in the feels! Seriously, it was a chilly, yucky day yesterday, but as soon as I saw those gorgeous blooms, all was right with the world! Thank you!!! I am enjoying them SO, so much!!!

I like the picture on the left better, but the color is more accurate on the right ;)

It's a wrap! :) I'm looking forward to all the gray in May, and hope that you do too! As always, if you wear gray, send me a pic and I will be super happy to post it on my blog as well...the more the merrier!