Thursday, December 26, 2013

Year End Review 2013

I am such a bad bad blogger this year. Maybe with Paul leaving for Egypt in a week I'll pick back up some. I know the late nights will kick in & maybe that is when the blogging will happen. I accomplished so much this year & the family time was amazing. I traveled more then I had ever planned to Las Vegas twice, Tennessee, Colorado, & Washington D.C.. I ran not one but two half-marathons and now hope to run my one & only full marathon in 2014. I can train while Paul is gone to help fill the time.

Anyway since I don't make near as many photo albums as I use to for the kids. I have done a quick little video on the computer & uploaded it to YouTube. I love the song & each picture holds a special place in my heart. We were blessed to have Paul home for almost 19 months now, Jeremy is out of the hospital feeling well, & Balto is almost ready for us to travel back to TN to pick him. Life is good my friends. Here's to a great 2014 Happy & Merry!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I woke up at 1:50AM and rolled over to stare at the clock. I was not sure why I was awake so I laid in bed for a few minutes then gave up the fight to go back to sleep. I decided to come lay on our super comfy couch thinking I could fall back asleep with a change. Now it's 3:42AM and I am still awake, yawning wishing I was asleep but realizing it's going to be a super long day ahead. I've traced it back to the source though of my restlessness. 64 days, tic-tock is the clock going through  my head all the sudden. Life has settled down and my brain has finally caught up with what I have tucked away for the past 6 months in hopes to have a somewhat normal family life.

64 days until sleepless nights are normal again. Until waiting by the computer and never leaving my cell phone more then an arms length away is normal again. I think the knowledge that time was drawing near pushed itself to the front of my mind on Saturday evening. I listened as Paul said goodbye to a friend after our annual Halloween party. His words jolted me out of my false sense of normalcy. He said " we have to get busy, we have to get this done. I'm short on time dude and I want to make this happen before I leave.". That right there, those simple two sentences knocked me right back into pre-deployment mode.

I can't complain we've had a nice ride of having Paul home this time. We will have had 17 months and 2 weeks this time with our family together as a whole unit. That is the longest stretch of time together since 2006. I also can't complain because I have packed a lot into these 17 months. Paul and I went on our first vacation alone with out children in 16 years. We did small family trips to the beach to enjoy time together. Paul & Matthew spent a week in Colorado with his family camping. I made my first trip to Las Vegas, the Sturge-Weber conference, & completed two half-marathons. Paul was able to partcipate in several Project Healing Waters trips that he loved. The kids enjoyed having their dad home for consecutive birthdays and holidays. So no I can't complain about losing sleep or the fact he is leaving again for twelve months. But I can see that my mind & body have started the prep me for the sleepless nights. How it creeped up on me almost makes me feel like a rookie at this deployment thing. But the calm, the family time, the alone time with my husband those memories will be in my memory now to help on these up coming crazy sleepless nights. Now I am off to lay on the couch and hope that my brain shuts off & my eye lids get heavy. That the thoughts of what we need to do before he leaves evaporates and I can just enjoy the next 64 days before a new countdown begins.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hello Fall

Oh my goodness summer came to an end & I realized I have been the worst blogger for awhile now. I have just been so busy with life that blogging took a back seat. I decided I would try to do a once a week post until after the husband deploys. That way I can stay focused on our family time before he goes. Then once he is gone & sleepless night prevail I can be a better blogger I promise.
We welcomed the first day of Fall with our second annual walk for The Chelsea Hutchison Foundation. Jeremy along with his team mates Holly & Alaska over at Holly-Through the Eyes of a Service Dog worked tirelessly for about 5 months towards their goal of raising $3500.00 to help others. Not only did we make our goal we surpassed it by $100.00!! Thank you to all of our supporters who donated to a great cause! Now other families can get a grant to help train their own service dogs. We also helped spread the word about Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy. It was windy & rainy for our walk in WA, but the boys had fun anyway.

We then came home to make some yummy Fall caramel apples to eat.

Now we are about to head out to a fellow friends & BEARS fan house to eat chili to watch the big game. I just love love love FALL! I hope you all are enjoying your Sunday & I promise to try to be a better blogger again soon.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Everybody Wants to Be Loved

I am not exactly sure how to start this post about the time Jeremy & I spent in Denver over the past weekend for the Sturge-Weber Conference. We were so excited to attend & the excitement just mounted as we arrived in Colorado last Thursday. Jeremy kept asking if I was sure other kids would be there with birthmarks like his? I assured him that there would be a lot of children attend who had similar birthmarks & who all had Sturge-Weber Syndrome (SWS). As we got onto the shuttle for the hotel we met another family from all places Seattle, WA! They had their nine year old daughter with them attending their first SWS conference as well. Both the kids were excited and were chattering away when we arrived at the hotel with anyone who would listen. Once we arrived it was time to check in but before we could Jeremy saw two or three others with birthmarks. All I heard was "WOW mom they look like me!". I tried very hard at this point not to cry but my eyes were very misty as I could only nod in agreement.

I knew Jeremy was at the age that people asking or staring all the time was starting to bother him. Some days he would answer the questions of on lookers other days he would ignore them. But always I see the regret in his eyes that he has a birthmark & no one else he knows does. Now as we stepped into the hotel he had the biggest smile on his face. No more did he feel different he felt included , the same as his peers. This was a huge moment for us both.I will never forget it as long as I live.

The first stop after checking into our room was the dinner & registration portion of the conference. Once again everyone was so welcoming , children were laughing together. Teenagers were huddled together talking & parents were all smiles. Our kids finally felt like everybody else & the love in ballroom D was palpable. We sat with some lovely ladies who had come from Canada that night during dinner. Jeremy laughed & giggled with the table behind ours as the dad made silly faces through the boring parent parts as Jeremy kept saying. After all the formalities were over it was time to hit the pool!
Here is were I met Josephine & Jeremy met her daughter Julianna.
 They became fast friends while the moms chatted in the hot tub. We learned we had a lot of similar medical things with the kids & a lot different. That is the crazy that is SWS, no two cases are the same ever. The kids swam until they were ready to head to bed. We had an early morning ahead so sleep was needed.

 The next morning Jeremy was so excited for the kids camp I barely got him to take this picture with me. Off he went to spend the day making new friends. Off I went to listen to the most fabulous speaker I have ever heard Kathie Snow who wrote Disability Is Natural. She made us parents laugh, cry, & feel like we are normal in this crazy medical mess we deal with daily. I am telling you folks go check her out if you have the chance, it will change the way you think about your children who have disabilities. I met more wonderful parents during the day with our break sessions about parenting. I discussed options for childcare, parenting, & in-laws- yes folks we went there! HAHA!

The hotel kept us stocked up on tables of any kind of snack you could possibly want. Jeremy had so much chocolate milk I thought he might float away. When I picked him from camp he was tired but happy. He was also ready to swim again!

So we went to the pool dressed as a cowboy of course. I mean we are in Denver after all. My heart just exploded as we entered the pool area and all the kids start yelling " Jeremy. HI!! You made it come swim with us!". Some were kids from camp some were sibilings, all were brand new friends he just met that day. Kids who looked similar to him, who didn't notice he can't see well & who didn't care. I almost cried again for the hundredth time that day. It confirmed in my heart what I already knew. That everything we had put into getting Jeremy to this conference was worth my energy. He was blossoming right before my eyes. After swimming it was time to meet in the lobby for the SWS Miracle Mile Walk to downtown Stapleton. We also finally got to met Julie & Doug Hutchison . They are some amazing folks who braved Denver traffic for over an hour to come meet us & walk.

The Chelsea Hutchison Foundation helps families receive grants for service dogs like Balto. They will in fact help give us the money we need to pay for Balto's training when he passes his final tests. We have been chatting with Julie for over a year now & were so glad to meet them during our time in Colorado.

They braved the heat and walked the mile to spread awareness about SWS & a route to a cure.

The next day brought more kids camp for Jeremy were he played with new friends Jesse & Madisynn . I got to listen to the doctors explain how they found the gene that causes SWS. I tried to understand it all but some was over my head. What I did understand is that it's nothing I as a mother did while pregnant, it's not genetic, it's just something that happens like a lighting strike! They still don't have a cure but with this amazing discovery we hope one day we will have a cure to SWS.After all the medical talk it was time to meet up with Aunt Stephanie who had recently moved back to Denver. We were lucky enough to get a few hours to visit.

Then it was time for the best part , wait I already said other parts wer the best. That is because the whole conference was amazing! It was time to dress up a little, kick up our heals and celebrate the new friendships we had made. It was dinner & dancing time!

This is were another first for Jeremy happened. After dinner a mom came up to me that I had met earlier in the day. We had no idea while we were chatting away that our children were also playing at camp together. What's more we had no idea that they really liked eachother. Once we made the connection we exchanged address's so the kids could become pen-pals, as she lives in Utah. That's right folks SHE, a girl!! Her name is Madisynn and she is very lovely. Jeremy was excited to ask her to dance. Something he has never done before. I & her mom were almost in tears as he went up offered her his hand and they went to the dance floor. I have some video but have no clue how to post it here. I have a few pictures but the photographer Rick who was running around got some amazing shots & I can't wait to see them.

They never stopped smiling the whole time they were twirling away. I never stopped tearing up! It was just an amazing time that is so hard to capture on a blog . Words will never describe the range of emotions that went on last weekend. We made new friends across the country . Jeremy feels so great about himself. His self esteem is through the roof! I know we will try to make another conference happen in his future. The sacrifice is worth it all to see his smile & know he feels the same as all his peers. Even if it only lasts a brief moment in time. I say "a brief moment" because as soon as we were back at the airport a lady stopped and starred for what felt like minutes. Jeremy turns to me with his first small smile of the weekend and says " back to normal, huh mom?". I smiled back and told him we are always normal dude & offered some gum.

I will leave you all with these parting words from this wonderful experience. Never think oh, poor Jeremy, if he only looked like everyone else. If he didn't have so many medical issues. We don't need pity we need acceptance that Jeremy can do all the same things you can it may just take him a different route to get the same results.

  I heard this song over the weekend then again when Julie put it in a slideshow. It really does hit the nail on the head with these amazing children,teens, & adults who go through life with a grace, happiness, & love that only the rest of us could dream of having. I am blessed to have Jeremy & I am blessed to have been lucky enough to meet other amazing SWS families.

I don't want to leave out Rick from Positive Exposure he made Jeremy laugh & gigggle so much! He is an amazing person who decided beauty comes in all shapes & sizes. He has made it his mission to show the world that everyone is beautiful, not just who the fashion magazines say are beautiful. He took some amazing photos & I can't wait for him to post them all. I'll do a whole blog when he does of those pictures. Jeremy has his own series by Rick called "Hats"........

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer Snapshot

I've been so busy lately so that has made me a bad blogger, so sorry folks. Here are a few pictures to give you a small idea of our busy summer. The husband is on leave & my parents are in town. One child is in a summer college prep class & the service dog is back. Yep, busy, busy. Have a good week everyone.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Running with the Sole Sisters

I could hardly believe it when this past Friday finally arrived. It was time to grab our bags and head to Seattle to pick up our BIBS for the Seattle Rock n Roll 2013 Half-Marathon. Excited doesn't even begin to cover all the emotions that went on that day. As Ashley, Dana, & Bekah piled into my van and we zoomed off to the fitness expo laughter was the theme for the whole day. Here are a few fun pictures that can't be explained except by the huge smiles on all our faces.

We proceeded to get all checked into our hotel & were pleasantly surprised when they up-graded our room. We ended up with a king suite that had a lot of room to stretch out & cause complete fits of uncontrolled giggling around mid-night. From dinner that evening into early morning the laughter was non-stop. Not sure it was at all appropriate at times, but hard to stop once we started.  When it was time to prep & run we were all serious.....well sometimes serious about running our first half.

We were running in blue again to honor the service & sacrifice of our military men / women. It was already a super emotional day but throw that into the mix and tears at time were wiped away. But for the most part it was a lot of fun sharing this special moment with my Sole Sisters as well as other members of the wear blue community. It was a true sea of blue in corral 17 yesterday.

Once we got moving it was my game face on for the first five miles. Then I came running around a turn to spot Ashley just ahead. I sprinted ahead for about a minute and had a good laugh when I snuck up behind her to pull her ponytail. My favorite part was when a lady gasped " she pulled that girl's hair!" in a horrified voice-hehe  After months of training together it was fun to chat for a few minutes during this huge life event for us both. Then we threw back on our game faces & kept logging the miles. 
In my head I kept saying just get to the wear blue mile. Once you see those flags, the blue shirts, the smiling faces, you will remember why you can't stop. It was no joke as I hit the first poster of the fallen they had lining the mile my legs kicked it into over drive. I jumped over the yellow tape separating the half from the full to high five SFC David Cooper's poster as well as pose for a quick picture with SFC Clifford Beattie's Poster. I have no idea who the nice lady was that snapped that picture on her cell phone but I hope it pops up soon on the facebook page. I hugged retired Veterans who held the flags. I waved like a rockstar when really it was those we were honoring who are the true heroes. All those volunteers holding flags, cheering GO BLUE, Run Strong may never know the little umph they gave me to keep going at that point in my race.

There is Ashley & I as we hit the start of the wear blue mile. See that yellow tape? That was the last time I was on that side for awhile during that mile.
After that mile came the crazy hill that I had to walk super fast, I still managed to pass a few people on that climb around mile 8 of the run. Then more running until I saw the 15k sign. Once we hit that point I was tired and ready to take a break. Thankfully out of nowhere ahead I see a blue shirt and the "teddy bear" as I call him aka James running. He has been a constant source of encouragement over the past few weeks of long run trainings on Saturday mornings. We ran/walked a little bit as he was having some cramps & I was so thankful for his company. I needed to see a friendly face for sure at that point in my run. We took off again only to separate around mile 10. I keep chugging along happy to hear shouts of Go Blue from other blue runners as they passed. I was not in it for time today just to finish especially around mile 11 as sweat rolled down my face and the stomach growling started. I found James again and we stayed together for about a 1/2 mile before losing each other in the run.

For those of you that have run 13.1 miles before I'm sure you can relate to seeing the 12 mile marker. I smiled and just kept telling myself one foot in front of the other. My legs were tired, I was hungry and I saw a hill. I stopped literally in the road & shook my head. I decided to walk half the hill & run half the hill. I knew at that point conserving my legs & energy was the only way to cross the finish line looking happy. Once I heard the shouts of " only a quarter mile to go, you CAN DO IT" from complete strangers my legs propelled me forward with a huge smile plastered on my face! I crossed that finish line strong and almost in tears. Then the amazing guy handed me my ice cold chocolate milk and all I could think was please more food!
I located three of the ladies for cheers, smiles and guessing at our finish times.

We replenished our tired bodies in the sun while we waited for Dana to come across the finish. We high-fived other wear blue runners as they came past and in general couldn't stop talking about each mile of our races. Finally Dana arrived and we snapped the finish picture.

 Words fail me at times when I look back at this day. From the sweet facebook message Karen left me that was the last thing I read before handing my phone to be put away. It literally made me tear up when it reminded me that no matter what the out come I put in the time, the work, the tears, enjoy my day I earned every single second. Thank You Karen for that encouragement.
The moments of weariness that consumed mile 11 & 12 were the only reason I got through them was James as well as a few other special blue runners cheering me along the road. This is a moment in time that I won't ever forget. It was a day shared with the best friends honoring the loss of good friends as well as a triumph of all our hard work. Thank you to all those that helped me along the way. With out every persons encouragement right down to Paul my husband who put up with cranky training me, those are the reasons I made it 13.1 miles in Seattle 2013. The help of all my running partners and my family is the reason I finished 8 minutes under my goal time of 2:30- my official finish time posted at 2:22:31- I was SHOCKED but extremely happy girl.

P.S. Next half is set for September 14th on JBLM-lol I'm Hooked!
Perfect song for all our wear blue families .