Monthly Archives: April 2009

Crash of the Hard Drive

FYI to my faithful reader(s)…the hard drive for our main computer crashed about two weeks ago.  It’s the computer I use to download all of our pictures and videos for blog posts.  Thankfully we backup everything to an external hard drive so we’re pretty sure we haven’t lost anything.  Anywho, it’s in the shop and maybe we’ll have it back soon!  So for now we’ve got one lonely computer monitor and mouse anxiously awaiting the return of their precious tower with a working hard drive.  Until then no pics and videos of our precious Ben.  (sniff sniff)  By the way…he turned 14 months old yesterday (4/26)!!

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Filed under Ben, Hobbies, Orlando

Mom’s Prognosis

I believe that nothing is a surprise to God.  Nothing.  When we were told that my mom’s diagnosis was pancreatic cancer I don’t think God said, “Oh, wow, didn’t see that one coming.”  I believe He’s always known we’d be exactly where we are right now in this situation with my mom’s health.  I also believe that He has the perfect plan for our lives…that He loves us…that He cares for us…and that He works all things together for good to those who love Him.  My mom has said to me a number of times that she isn’t afraid to die…she knows exactly where she’s going (a much better place than here) and she doesn’t ask “why me, why now, why this way.”  She’s expressed that her biggest concern is for those she will leave behind…her family and friends.  She doesn’t want us to suffer and be sad.  She does talk about things she’ll miss out on…like being an “ole granny” as she puts it…attending the grandkids’ weddings, watching them grow up and hosting “camp” at her house for them.  Isn’t it just like a mama to think of others even in her most desperate time.  Here’s something else I find amazing, that God continues to be faithful and provide His amazing grace to see us through this tough time. 

Mom’s appointment with the oncologist was yesterday.  Here’s what we’ve learned.

  • The “cancer marker” test results have increased from 239 to approximately 500.
  • The doctor has given her a life expectancy of one year.
  • The cancer is in Stage III.
  • She’s been put on some new medications, one of which is a fast acting morphine.  So we are hoping that it in conjunction with the fentanyl patch will control her pain at all times.
  • The treatments of radiation and chemotherapy were discussed.  She’s opted not to have the radiation.  While the doctor did say that it could prolong her life an additional one to two months the treatment itself can be extremely tough on a person (to put it mildly) and it will not cure the cancer.  Chemotherapy is another option she is considering now knowing that it would only be used for pain management and will not change the outcome of her prognosis.

So things are tough right now.  Deep down I think I was holding out hope that we’d hear that treatment options were still available to stop the disease process and it turns out there’s not.  So that’s tough.  I mentioned all of the things in the first paragraph because they are truths that I believe, but it doesn’t change the fact that we are hurting and we are going through such a painful time as a family.  I am so sorry to those of you that know my mom and are hurting with us.  Thank you for being such an encouragement to us and we appreciate your prayers very much.

On a much lighter note, Ben and I are flying back to spend time with my mom May 29 through June 7.  Depending on how she’s feeling we’ve talked about taking Ben to the park together!  We cannot wait to see her!!


Filed under Arkansas, Family, Health


Jake has been calling me the “mamarazzi” for quite some time now since I typically don’t travel anywhere without my camera and am constantly taking photos of Ben!  I came across this post on Carrissa’s blog and loved it!  This is for all of the other mamarazzi out there!!

Photos You Should Take of Your Kids

Read this on and wanted to share…

Page through a typical family photo album and you’ll notice the kids in a few repeating themes—special-occasion shots, vacation photos, and staged portraits. All cherished moments, no doubt. But why not add a little creativity into your picture taking? Here are some memories that could be just as photo-worthy.

1. The first time they dress themselves. Pajama pants, one fuzzy slipper, no shirt, and earmuffs. Sure, you’re not going to let them leave the house like that, but you have to appreciate their unique ability to accessorize. If you take a snapshot now, the “fashions” of their teens won’t look so bad.

2. A big mess. Your little van Gogh has painted your white walls with chocolate pudding. Before you lose it, take a picture. After the mess and tears are scrubbed, you’ll have evidence that those innocent eyes really didn’t know any better. And you can break out the photo when your child becomes a parent—to remind your child that no child (or parent) is perfect.

3. Your favorite feature. The head-to-toe shot can wait for prom or graduation. Instead, zoom in and capture the one or two details you love most about your kid. Snap that swirl of hair atop your newborn, your toddler’s chunky feet, or your 7-year-old’s two missing front teeth—they won’t stay that way forever.

4. Their favorite meals. Keep a separate album filled with pictures of your child’s favorite foods—everything from mac ’n’ cheese to chocolate-raspberry brownies to your famous breaded pork chops. That way, when you’re finally ready to ship them off to college, you can write the recipe beside each photo and give them the book. Whenever they need a taste of home cooking, you’ll be there for them.

5. How they see the world. Go ahead, hand your child the camera for a while (under appropriate supervision, of course). You’ll be amazed at what they’ll shoot without consideration for traditional rules. Fortunately, with the beauty of digital, you can instantly delete all the bad shots and save the good ones.

6. Photos with you. If you’re always the one with the camera, you won’t be in many of the photos. Put your spouse or a friend on point-and-shoot duty and tell them to start clicking. Tell them to catch you and the kids when no one is looking at the camera or during moments that capture you as a Mom—cleaning up from dinner, reading a bedtime story, or helping with homework.A moment of worry. Your child doesn’t even have to be in this photo for it to act as a powerful memory-jogger.

7. Take a picture of their first travel-bag packed for a big weekend away or the next-morning remains after a fun slumber party. You’ll have a record of when you were anxious about them—and how everything turned out okay. Now that’s a nice memory.

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Filed under Hobbies, Orlando

13 Months










Ben and I were checking out at Target last week when he decided to show the cashier two of his most favorite tricks…shaking his head and twisting!  One of his favorite Baby Einstein DVDs is called  Baby’s First Moves…he loves to join in with the other kids when they shake and twist too.  Lately I’ve seen him “practicing” at random times throughout the day.  Anyway, the cashier loved it and started calling other cashiers over to watch.  Ben loved the attention and kept it up.  Honesty, I was a little worried that the other customers would get upset having to wait to check-out, but as luck would have it they were pretty amused too!  As we were leaving, the cashier said, “Oh, he must be such a joy at home!”  She couldn’t have described it any better.  When life throws us crazy curve balls, Ben has this incredible way of bringing us such joy!  Here’s what our little joy has been up to over the past month.

He loves to go for rides in his wagon around the neighborhood while pointing out the grass, sky, trees and airplanes we see along the way.  Click here to go for a ride.









He enjoys spending countless hours outside with “Boubly” the bubble machine.  I’m pretty sure this is the coolest bubble invention EVER!  Ben not only tries to catch the bubbles, he tries to lick them off the back porch!!  Click here to see the bubbles!









He’s discovered not only how to open the cabinet doors, but how to crawl inside the cabinets now too.  Who knew that toilet paper and Kleenex could be this exciting!









He’s learning to brush his teeth…all seven of them!!  At this point he just likes to suck on the Thomas & Friends training toothpaste (in tooty fruity flavor) and once he’s sucked it all off, he flings the toothbrush into the bathwater. 










He’s not walking on his own yet, but he spends a whole lot of time cruising around.  He loves to walk in the grass using the back wall of the house as support!









He can show how old he is by holding up one little finger and he can sound out what a sheep, horse and cow say as demonstrated in the video below.  Other animal noises he can make:  cat, chicken, dog, bear and lion.  At dinner one night Jake asked him if he wanted more chicken and Ben said, “Bach!”  We took that as a yes!!

He makes car and truck noises anytime he’s playing with them, looking at his book called Trucks or riding in the car.

One day last week we spent just about every waking moment outside.  I didn’t realize it until I began downloading everything onto the computer that I captured pretty much the entire time on video.  Here are some clips from our day!

One of Ben’s favorite places to play in the yard is underneath the trees.  You can usually see him pointing to them and saying “tee!”

Here he is showing off his two favorite tricks I mentioned above…shaking and twisting!

Another favorite past time…taking things out of the basket, putting them into the back of his truck, unloading the truck and putting everything back into the basket.


I was trying to show Ben how to bounce the ball off the side of the house and watch it bounce back.  As you can see in the video, when it was his turn to try he got right up next to the house so that the ball kept bouncing back and hitting him in the face. 

Some other cute stuff he’s doing right now: 

One day at lunch while I was feeding Ben, a piece of food was hot so I picked it up and said, “Oh, hot!” and then blew on it.  Later that day Ben and I were running errands and as we got back into the car I said, “It sure is hot outside!” and Ben started blowing!!  I turned to the back seat and said, “Ben, is it hot?” just to see if I’d heard correctly and sure enough he started blowing over and over again!

We’ve been working on learning parts of the body.  He can point to his eyes and nose, stick out his tongue, try and find his belly button and show you his “handy hands.” 

Words he’s saying right now:  dada, mama, tree, ball, bath, bye, bean, duck, dog, “dong” a.k.a. balloon, and “d” a.k.a. dakota.


Filed under Ben, Orlando

A New Diagnosis

My mom has cancer.  I know what you must be thinking…the same thing I was…what do you mean, cancer?  We’ve already been through this.  They thought it was cancer, but then diagnosed her with pancreatitis.  There are no take backs, they can’t change their minds, can they?  Well, unfortunately, even in the medical community they sometimes get it wrong.  These doctors are human after all.  It turns out that when a needle biopsy is performed in the pancreas and cancer is present there’s a very big chance that they can completely miss the cancer cells altogether which provides a false negative result.  With that in mind, here’s what we’ve learned from the tests performed in St. Louis last week:

The CT Scan revealed a mass the size of a golf ball in her pancreas. 

The final results of the endoscopic ultrasound and biopsy confirmed that cancer cells are present.

Initially we thought my mom could undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments to try and shrink the mass so that it can be removed surgically.  However, then we were told that the mass has formed around the superior mesenteric artery and that it is inoperable.

My mom will go in tomorrow (4/14) to have the “cancer marker” test repeated to try and determine how quickly the mass is growing.

On Thursday (4/23) she’ll go in to meet with a physician at the oncology group (where she was treated for breast cancer) to discuss treatment options, medications, etc.

Please continue to pray for wisdom for the doctors as they make decisions about my mom’s care and treatment options, that my mom will not be in pain and that it will be controlled properly, for our family as we try to grasp this news…that we’d remain strong and supportive, and ultimately that God will perform a miracle and heal my mom.  We know he is quite capable of such a miracle!


Filed under Arkansas, Family, Health

Happy Easter!!









It was a beautiful 83 degrees here today…just perfect for a fun afternoon outside to celebrate Easter.  After church and a nice big lunch we took some family photos in our backyard (thanks to our trusty camera tripod)!  Next up was an amazing…just what we needed…l-o-n-g two hour nap for Ben and me while Jake watched the last round of The Masters (no, Tiger didn’t win). 

Here are some of my favorite pics we took of Ben today!    



























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Filed under Ben, Dakota, Family, Holiday, Orlando

The Easter Bunny and 1st Egg Hunt


This picture pretty much sums it up…Ben DID NOT like the Easter Bunny and WAS NOT interested in getting his picture taken with him whatsoever.  In fact, the only reason we were able to get this close was because of Ben’s sheer LOVE of balloons!  So after several attempts of trying to convince Ben that it was a “friendly bunny” (Ben wasn’t buying it at all), we gave up on trying to get him to sit on the bunny’s lap for a picture.  Next up…the Easter egg hunt!! 

We put Ben down in the grass and he was off! 


He crawled over to a group of four eggs, picked them up one by one and put them in his basket.  


Then instead of crawling on to find more, he began to empty the basket.  Here he is showing off his treasured eggs to his fellow egg hunters.


One very happy egg hunter!


Easter eggs are also good for throwing.  Another little boy hunting close by came trotting over and started picking up the eggs that Ben was throwing back into the grass.  Just when Ben was about to panic, the little boy’s daddy came over and very politely returned the eggs to their rightful owner.  Whew, crisis averted!


Ben’s first Easter egg hunt was egg-cellent!


Right before we left, Ben and the Easter Bunny even shared a special moment…Ben patted the bunny’s fuzzy fur feet (for like half a second and then he was ready to go)!


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Filed under Ben, Holiday, Orlando

Out Like a Lion

Ahh, springtime in Arkansas…I’d forgotten just how unpredictable it is!  Before I started packing our suitcases for our trip there at the end of March I checked the 10-day forecast.  If I recall correctly, the highs were predicted somewhere between the upper 60’s and low 70’s.  So I packed mostly shorts and t-shirts for Ben, along with just a couple pairs of pants and long sleeve shirts “just in case” and at the last moment I threw in a light weight jacket for him…thank goodness!  (Truth be told, I even packed swimsuits…what was I thinking???)  Maybe my blood is just super thin from having lived in Florida for the past three years, but it sure seemed blizzard-like to me!!  Brr!!!  So despite the rainy, cold and snowy (yes, it even snowed) weather, we had a most excellent trip!!

We celebrated my mom’s birthday!  img_6488







We treated our little piggies to some pampering!









My college roommate, Tonya, just so happened to plan a trip back to Arkansas from Montevideo, Uruguay, to surprise her family for the exact same time period that Ben and I were there (we didn’t even plan our trips together…how cool is that)!  So one afternoon we got to meet up for a couple of hours in Fayetteville for a chat.  It was sooo much fun to see her!  Unfortunately we didn’t get to meet Isabel, but Ton did get to meet Ben and Laci for the very first time!!  Tonya’s sister, Tammy, along with her two adorable girls, Addison and Stella, were there too.  The girls wanted to eat at Chick-fil-a so we were able to find a nice long table at the back of the restaurant.  Ben was quite the trooper considering he didn’t take a morning nap (we had a babysitter watch him and Laci while we got pedicures) and he was incredibly tired.  Thankfully a nice worker there brought Ben a balloon…it seemed to keep him occupied for most of the time.  However, trying to snap a picture proved to be a bit more challenging.

First attempt:









Several attempts later:








And on the sixth attempt…we got it!!  (Notice no balloon…one of the girls is holding it for Ben to look at…as you can see he wasn’t very pleased)!









Ben got to spend a fun afternoon with his cousins Courtney, Leah and Jenna at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  img_6490







Ben LOVES toast and after he finished his piece, he crawled up into Grandma’s lap and ate hers too!









Ben couldn’t wait for Grandpa to get home from work each day so they could play together.










One morning while in Greenwood, Candice, Sonya and I got to go out for brunch sans the babies.  It was so much fun to have an actual conversation with the girls without any interruptions, not to mention we ate at IHOP (I haven’t eaten there in forever).  My breakfast included chocolate chip pancakes…yummy!  I used to always order the chocolate chip pancakes as a kid and loved them!!  I also remember feeling like I was going to yak after polishing off an entire plate of them back then.  Now that I am older and wiser (although I’m not so sure eating a pile of chocolate chip pancakes with whip cream is all that wise), I pair them with an egg and some sausage and the salt helps to tone down the sugar.  Voila!!








We grilled out for Tim’s birthday.  Okay, actually, I guess Tim grilled out for us on his birthday, in the freezing cold, battling a pretty bad cold himself.  Gosh, now that I think about it that doesn’t sound like a “happy” birthday at all.  Sorry about that Tim, I hope you’ll considering “celebrating” another birthday with us again sometime.  Thanks for being such a sport and for cooking some yummy kabobs!






















The day before we left, the weather warmed up a little bit so that we could enjoy the great outdoors at my dad and Linda’s new house.  The house really turned out beautiful!  I wish I had gotten more pictures of it (inside and out) for you all to see, but I forgot my camera battery charger and it died before I had a chance to take any more.  Here’s David, Landon and Dad using the telescope to search for birds.  I think they spotted an eagle perched on a tree in the lake below!! 










Jill and Khloee playing their own unique version of chess!









This was taken on our journey back up the mountain side after taking a walk down to the lake.  You can see part of their AMAZING view in the background.









Ben got to celebrate his birthday again!img_6556







 He got to play with more of his cousins…Kayla, Landon, Khloee…









…and Laci!  How cute is she with this doll…that she LOVES!!









Ben spent a whole lot of time playing in the entryway at their new place.  He absolutely LOVED it and the stairs!!!  It appears that Ben wasn’t the only one having lots of fun in the entryway…click here!  Thanks so much to everyone that made our trip so wonderful!  We love you and look forward to seeing many of you in St. Augustine in just a few short weeks!



Filed under Arkansas, Ben, Birthdays, Family, Food, Friends, Travel, Weather

St. Louis – Additional Testing

My mom and step-dad are driving into St. Louis, MO, this morning for two appointments this afternoon.  One is for another CT scan at 1:00 pm and the second is for another endoscopic ultrasound at 3:00 pm.  She has been referred to a specialist at the GI Center that is located at the Center for Advanced Medicine and is affiliated with Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.  Since she has continued to suffer from excruciating pain after her diagnosis of pancreatitis almost a month ago, her local physician referred her to yet another specialist so that they can continue to try and determine how best to treat her symptoms and ultimately make her well again.  We should know the results from these two procedures by tomorrow.  They have asked her to stay through the 9th so that they can perform additional tests or procedures if necessary on that day.  Thank you all so much for your prayers and notes of encouragement to my mom.  She was commenting to me just yesterday about how much you all have comforted her.  Please continue to pray for her, specifically that the procedures would go well today, that we would receive good news about treatment options and for continued healing and complete recovery.


Filed under Family, Health

Calling All Linguists and Translators

Recently Ben added a couple of new words to his expanding vocabulary.  The words are “bye” and “tree” (okay, so tree usually sounds like “tee”…but at least we know what he is trying to say).  Then there’s his FAVORITE word of the moment…drum roll please…”dong.”  It is seriously the funniest thing.  It all started around the time he received balloons for his birthday.  When we’d ask Ben what they were or ask him to say balloon he would respond with “dong.”  So we are pretty sure this is his very own and very creative translation of the word balloon.  We are still considering the possibility that he’s learned a second language without telling us and that the joke is on us.  Here’s Ben hamming it up for the camera after dinner one night this week.  Feel free to send us your translation!!


Filed under Ben, Orlando