Friday, February 25, 2011

I've got the fever...

Moments away from experiencing the Biebs

Hot mess
Being a girl is fun!

It's so much fun, I journeyed back in time. Waaaaaaaaaaay back in time and for two hours I became a teenybopper again.

A few weeks ago I truly had the time of my life going to see Never Say Never. My OS thought I was crazy, in fact they were incredulous. "Mom, are you seriously going to see the Justin Bieber movie?"

"Yep." Nose high in the air, my foot stomped firmly on the ground, with hands on my waist, the reply was certain without a scintilla of shame.

I then rummaged around the house and found appropriate Never Say Never attire. A borrowed flat hat from Nate, a "gold" chain purchased at the Dollar Tree on loan from Aaron, West Point hoodie, oh yeah. I tied the bright pink laces on my new sneaks and hopped into my SUV. 

A good time with some of the wackiest JB fans in town! Woo hoo!
The best way to see "Never Say Never" is with friends and I was blessed to have two ladies from my Bible Study and one of their daughters join me. We squealed with girlish glee and found our seats among the Bieber fans. Just down the row, an adorable four year old girl sat with her parents. Actually she didn't sit. She jumped throughout the movie. The lights of her shoes blinked while she danced. Obviously, the Lord divinely placed us in the right row, we were kindred spirits ranging in age from 4 to nearly 50.  When does that ever happen??

I'm totally serious, I think he was talking to ME!!!!! 
And while this little girl jumped, my friends and I bounced in our theatre chairs. We took pics on our cell phones, giggled and smiled with shameless abandon. Yes, our hands were in the air when the Biebs sang "Baby" and our untuned voices joined in the chorus. You got a problem with that? I utterly enjoyed myself. I was having fun with my friends. Silly and carefree. All was right in my little world. In every way, I left the movie satisfied and joyful.

We will never say never ever!
Say whatever you want but in my opinion, Justin Bieber is a very talented guy. I liked the movie. He has great hair and amazing potential. Don't burst my bubble. My OS can tease me all they want, I don't care. 
I am also willing to purchase one of these shirts if you take me to the movies!

I would do it all over again. If you're looking for someone to go see the movie, invite me!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cupid goes to West Point

Many important people have come to West Point.

Chuck Norris hanging with the cadets

Miss USA although not on the same day...

Miss USA - not too shabby
Geraldo Rivera has stopped by WP and so has
"Hi! I'm the Prince of Orange!"

Of course Presidents have traveled to WP and 

so has Aunt Em all the way from Ohio! 
Even Nate's Great Aunt Em stopped by WP!

Yet, I think that if you asked my oldest OS who was the sweetest person to recently stop by USMA, he'd say

Cupid brought greetings from El Salvador!
When's that guy gonna get some pants?

February 14, 2011 was Nate's first Valentine's Day as an official "boyfriend" or as they say in Spanish "novio."

Nate and Lu began their official dating relationship about seven months ago. If you haven't read any of the background story and you like modern-day fairy tales, click here and here and here.

I respect their relationship because it is based on the right things and they are trusting in the Lord as far as their future together is concerned. Long distance relationships are difficult but Nate and Lu seem to make it worth.

Can you say, "awww"
From the moment I met this young lady (and I remind my OS that I met her first so he owes me BIG time), I knew she was special. You know your son has a great gf when she asks YOU for Valentine's Day ideas. We conspired and came up with a plan. Since it is hard to celebrate this day with thousands of miles separating a couple, we enlisted the help of friends at West Point.
The look of love? EW!
During the day, Nate got a message that he had a package to pick up. He arrived at Central Guard Room and here's what he received.
Happy Valentine's Day 2011
As we all know, nothing says "Te amo" more than a flashy Spanish Valentine's Day card.  Interestingly, our WP Cupid connection doesn't speak a word of Spanish but according to Lu, the sentiments were just perfect. 

In addition, my oldest OS from the world's great parents got a gift certificate to Sushi King, a sushi restaurant that also serves deli sandwiches located in bucolic Highland Falls. ;)

The Hubs and me with our good friends who are also Cupids in disguise

If love alone could have flown Lu to West Point, I know she would have delivered her gifts personally. We pray my OS's gf's visa is approved in the near future. Nonetheless, we are thankful for good friends who believe in nurturing relationships between two awesome people. 

Last year for Nate's 20th birthday, he also went to Central Guard Room. After hearing his name blasted over the loud speakers announcing he had a special package. We sent him this...

Last year Nate celebrated his 20th b-day with Miley - HA!
He traipsed back to his room with this cheerful bouquet.

I don't know, which is better, teenybopper balloons of Miley Cyrus or the sweet love and friendship of a beautiful Salvadorena? 

What makes tulips more beautiful? A beautiful girl from El Salvador, DUH!
Speaking to my OS and hearing joy in his voice is cause for year-round celebration. Check out the pretty tulips Nate sent Lu! Incidentally the Hubs gave me tulips on Valentine's Day when we were dating. Good thing Cupid is a world traveler! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spirit Week 2011 begins

Nate as Noah during Spirit Week 2008
Oh how I love Spirit Week! I love it so much, if it were up to me, every school would have an additional Spirit Week just for parents. 

There was no Spirit Week when I was in middle school or high school so I live through the SW of my OS. Yes, according them, I'm kind of like a stage mom when it comes to Spirit Week. 

onesie pj example
With Aaron's medical struggles, there was less parental involvement in Ike's SW this year. This resulted in my orange hair, freckle face OS wearing a pair of store-bought pajamas on Pajama Day. We had even picked out special material six months ago for me to make just for him. Alas, Ike decided he wanted to show off these pajamas. He won a gift certificate because of his footed sleepwear. 
Check out this video to see the pajamas in action. 

But now that my middle OS is feeling so much better, nearly all of my parental energy pours into Spirit Week 2011.

sea turtle pajamas on a smart guy!

Monday morning, Aaron pranced into school wearing his designer-made sea turtle pajama pants. I wanted to create a sea turtle applique for the t-shirt but he sternly spurned my suggestion.

a beautiful moment of brother and pupa
Pooh and pupa
Tuesday was Animal Kingdom Day. Last year my middle OS was a pupa. We twirled yards of brown toile around Aaron to encase him. It was truly hilarious to see the perplexed looks of students and teachers. They asked Aaron what he was and he confidently stated "a chrysalis in a cocoon." 

let the changes begin! 
Then in the middle of Mrs. Davis' Spanish Class, Aaron asked if he could go to the restroom. 

Interesting fact about butterflies...they are easily irritated when you take too many pictures of them. It's true!
When Aaron returned he had metamorphosed into a beautiful, extremely large butterfly~ He wore his grandpa's really yellow golf pants and custom-made wings. Truly breathtaking! We thought this was an apt description of adolescence and doesn't every teenager want to be reminded of puberty on Animal Kingdom Day? I thought so!

So how do you top being a pupa?

personally, I think my carpenter ant is much cuter
Well, we're not sure but staying in the insect world, this year Aaron was a carpenter ant. My middle OS donned a hard hat with antennae, an electric drill and drill bit along with a tool belt. He also "grew" an extra pair of legs which I sewed last night. 

proof that I am a great mother - making carpenter ant legs just before bedtime
Aaron's friend shaking his tail feathers!
Those two spindly legs are proof that I'm the best mom in the world! 

There were many creative animal costumes. For example, Zack,  Aaron's best friend was a swan complete with a feathery behind that wiggled back and forth as he walked. 

some awesome members of the animal kingdom
Aaron will be a senior in high school next year. I'm already thinking of ideas. Just wait, the rest of the week is quite creative and unique also! 

I'm not just the mama of three oliveshoots, I'm the mama of a carpenter ant! 
PS. I just learned that Aaron and the science teacher were the only invertebrates in the school today! Wow, I'm even prouder now! 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


My husband didn't really know what he wanted to be when he grew up. As a young boy, aside from aspiring to be like Jacques Cousteau, he didn't have a dream profession. 

One of my all-time fave pics of the Hubs
But the one thing the Hubs says he always wanted was to be a dad. 

On April 12, 1990, I assisted him in achieving this dream, thank you very much, when Nate was born. Our baby had a cone-head but to us, he was gorgeous. Four years later, the Hubs' prayers were answered again this time with Aaron. Our middle OS was a juicy butterball, we were smitten. Lastly, in 1996, the Hubs became the father of a ginger. Ike is our orange hair, freckle face child who routinely makes life interesting. The Hubs is the youngest of three sons. He knows what it's like to live with brothers and now he can speak with authority about raising sons. That's pretty cool if you ask me. 
Look at that snappy dresser rockin' the red tie!

I surveyed the long list of prospective suitors and husbands fancying me nearly 25 years ago. :) Trust me when I say that the field of eligible men was miles long.  Seriously! ;% I considered each man's potential spousal and parental qualifications and compiled graphs and charts or at least that's how I'm choosing to remember things! Finally out of a field of many (ahem), I picked the Hubs. God has reminded me that I chose well. 

There ain't nothing wimpy about needing your dad
Observation of the Hubs' impressive skills as a father have come to light during our recent health concerns with Aaron. Per Aaron's request, the Hubs was often upstairs by his side. Our 16 year old OS wanted his daddy to rub his head. When teenage guy is reduced to saying, "Daddy," you know he's in pain.  

I can attest to Mark's talents. When the Hubs and I were first married, he would rub my head and gently tug on my hair when my head felt like it was going to burst due to migraines. 

Our bedroom was clothed in darkness, the Hubs sat next to his sweet boy and rubbed his head with just the right amount of pressure. Then on Saturday night, we sat by Aaron's bedside at the hospital. Aaron could barely utter a word. The pain was so great. With it being the third hospital visit in days, the Hubs and I were worried and exhausted. As desperate and tired parents, we felt helpless but I heard Mark when he said aloud by the bed rail, "give this to me." 

Three year old Nate with a fractured skull, don't recommend it
Without a second thought, the Hubs would have traded brains with our son. If he could have assumed Aaron's excruciating pain, he would have done it. I felt that way when Nate was three years old and he fell out of our second-story bedroom window. Our oldest OS suffered a fractured skull and as we waited for the test results in the waiting room, I told the doctor that if Nate needed any body part, any part at all, the doctor could take it from me and I would die, no questions asked. I gave him permission without hesitation. My hope is that everyone who reads this post has no idea what I'm writing about but if you're a parent, you probably get it. 

Through all of this I too, have cried out for my Father. My Heavenly Father listened to my pleas and sustained me. I have sensed His presence and leaned on Him for strength. 

The Hubs wasn't saying "give this to me" to anyone but the Lord. Such is the father's love for his son. As I hear the sweet sounds of my middle OS strumming on his guitar, this Wednesday night is especially lovely. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Results are in and the diagnosis is status migrainosus. I'm not clapping for joy but I'm praising the Lord we aren't dealing with a brain tumor. My father died of brain cancer and I'd be lying if I said that a pervasive fear of those words hadn't swept over me the last week.

Aaron was not thrilled to learn that he might be out of school for another 2-3 more weeks. As we begin this new medicine protocol, I pray he can return to school sooner. My middle OS has started a course of steroids and although we have been getting along famously, I suspect that prednisone is going to jeopardize that a bit. 

what a beautiful sight seeing Aaron upright and being goofy!
Today we ventured out for sushi. My OS has lost weight since falling ill and if that boy wanted sushi and our new budget could handle it, for goodness' sake, he was going to get sushi. 

We, well, at least me, I take so much for granted. Lord, forgive me for the times when I just assume my kids are going to remain healthy. I overlook that my OSs will rebound from an illness and don't always recognize that as a true blessing from you. Father, I'm sorry for all the times when I don't give you praise for my own body functioning as it should.

We have gone from this....
wow, i hate this picture
to this...
Aaron + food = optimism
Confucious say contemplation over a fortune cookie is better than contemplation over a sick child

He still is gaunt and not 100% but I see glimpses of my boy returning. When he is back to his "normal" self, here is how we're going to celebrate.

feel free to borrow this recipe for your next celebration
Nothing says fiesta more than Party Lentil Soup, right?

Thank you gentle readers for your support and prayers!

aaron's mom

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The soul of MY soup

"To possess a cook who makes perfect soups is to possess a jewel of great price. 
A woman who cannot make soup 
should not be allowed to marry."

P. Mortan Shand, A Book of Food, 1928

Um, that seems a little harsh but when the going gets tough, I do what most women do...

I make vegetable broth. 
This is some serious broth action

As a foodie and mama of three OS, it's my attempt, I guess, to put things together and make something good. Into the kettle, I put celery, scallions, garlic, half a red onion, a tomato and two cooked potatoes that were lounging in the refrigerator doing nothing. I then threw in some radish leaves, carrots, a stalk of frozen corn I bought in the summer at the farmers' market. Half a red pepper, a handful of frozen leeks, kosher salt, bay leaf and spices bubble and mix with the other ingredients. The amber broth is flavorful. I have a sick child upstairs, I feel so confused. But this homemade broth imbues a sense of peace and accomplishment within me.
Dramatic, slightly forced vegetable broth smile

In some ways, I think this is like the Scripture found in
Romans 8:28 (English Standard Version)

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Aaron is eating next to nothing. He needs nutrition and hydration. I picture my OS sipping on this broth. Not sure that's going to happen but wow, if it did, that would be the best. I'd feel like I did something significant. 

better than the boxed stuff, fo' shur!
God is going to use this trial in our lives. He is more resourceful than I'll ever be. My simple efforts at gathering things together to make a hearty broth pale to what Jesus does with our lives. He uses ALL things together for good for those who believe in Him. I believe, Lord. Aaron believes too. Let it be. 


When Aaron woke up from another nap this evening, his headache was terrible. We have tried many things and the remedies available to us at home aren't working. The doctors do not believe he has meningitis because if it were bacterial, he wouldn't be alive.
droplet precaution - not a good look on me but it's ok
I have been hesitant for him to have a spinal tap because he doesn't have a fever, can move his neck up and down and back and forth. If he has viral meningitis, they can't treat it with antibiotics and if he doesn't need to endure any painful medical procedure, I do not wish to make him feel even worse. If you think this is stupid, please keep that to yourself. You might have chosen differently and that's ok but you're not the mama of this OS. 

Right now we are in the ER. I called the ambulance, so thankful that the Hubs and I didn't have a fight over this. He trusted me. 

So as my middle OS winced in pain and we awaited a doctor to prescribe stronger meds or do something, I prayed. Scripture verses came to me and I couldn't tell you where to find them in the Bible but they are there. Sometimes Aaron would fill in the pauses. When I goofed up a verse, he corrected me. We both kinda laughed. 

As hours passed, as they are apt to do in an Emergency Room, we rubbed Aaron's head, covered his eyes and assured him it was going to be ok.

Friends from church came by and prayed in the waiting room. Facebook messages flooded my phone. In this time of feeling so powerless, I noticed that Aaron, true to his nature, seemed to calm down a bit when I claimed who the Lord is in alphabetical order...

B...Bright Morning Star
C...Chief Cornerstone
I...(ok, I forgot an "I" attribute at the time but nonetheless He is Immanuel)
O...Omnipotent, Omnipresent
etc., etc., 

Then the pain meds arrived. He is sleeping. How could he not? Dilaudid, Toradol, Ativan pumped into his IV. We are resting not only because Aaron is not in agony but because of whom we are trusting. No one should do this without Jesus. Not a 16 year old child. Not a 40 something :) mama or daddy. Not a 14 year old brother or a 20 year brother/Soldier. It's just too hard to do this alone and although it is far from easy right now, I'm choosing to give this burden to the One who can carry it. 

Perhaps the reason I had such an epic birthday was because God knew I was going to need the boost for this week. 

Thanks for checking in, caring and praying...

Aaron's mama

Friday, February 4, 2011

Still sick

Aaron, my sweet boy
Look familiar? Same child, same symptoms, different medical facility...

Aaron awoke this morning with the same pounding headache accompanied by a new symptom, vomiting. For your information, retching, dry-heaving teenage boys with persistent headache are a rather pathetic sight. Last night he played his guitar a few times. It was good to hear his familiar singing and strumming. I got so hopeful, I allowed myself to think that life might be getting back to normal. I thought too soon. 

But as has been the case for several days now, the Hubs and I were awakened in the early hours to our middle OS begging for help. 

We are at the doctor's office trying some anti-nausea meds along with migraine medication to stave off this pain. The only upside to any of this is that Aaron needs me. He puts his head on my lap and lets me rub his back. I bet if I asked him right now if he was going to go far away for college, he might actually say no. Why? Because he needs me (at least for the moment.) And since I want to live in this fantasy land, I'm not going to ask him that question. I'll just intuit that is currently his dutiful answer.

I know there are (click the underlined links) many families enduring serious medical crises. For them, the possibility of relief is distant. You know many of those people too and might even be one of them. During my years as a mother, as a general practice, I have prayed for children that possess my OS's names. At the end of the night, as I am tucking in my guys, occasionally we have prayed for a child whom we don't know who might be suffering. Usually the Hubs prays for them and tucks them in. But when it's my turn, for example, we might pray for an Aaron who is in the hospital, or an Isaac who is going to bed hungry or a Nate who has nowhere to live. 

I guess I'm hoping that at this very moment, some mom is doing the same thing. For an Aaron she will never meet. And that prayer is lovingly received, dear mama out there. Right now, I am thankful for those of you who are praying for my Aaron. The child I adore who is sick and in pain. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

HOPE for my sick boy :(

Official picture of misery
There is this hopeless, free-falling feeling when you have a sick child. Usually you fear the worst. One extreme to the other. This is no big deal. This is a HUGE deal. You don't know if you're over-reacting by running to the doctor or you're negligent because you've decided to take your time. You watch and assess. You google and search. You feel so little and you need to be big. 

I'm at the emergency room with my middle OS. A pounding, almost unrelenting headache has required two visits to the urgent care and two visits to the hospital all in the span of 24 hours or less. As someone prone to anxiety issues, it's hard to keep perspective and trust in the Lord in these moments. 
I love this kid

We've gone from the small measures to relieve Aaron's pain to moving up the intervention. Soon he'll be rolled down the hallway to get a CT scan. They're running more blood tests. Please Lord, not a spinal tap! 

It's like an elevator that has no bottom. You just want to do something. Is it a coincidence that just Monday we discussed hope in Teen CBS?  I was sitting around a table of teenage girls admonishing them to hope. I waxed eloquently as some of them are going through difficulties. Not because I said so but because God did. You should have seen me.  Oh the words of wisdom I bestowed upon these young ladies. And I believed every word. Still do. Even though I'm here in the Emergency Room with my precious Aaron. 

Romans 8:24-26 

24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

(patiently waiting in a room in the emergency department. patiently waiting as they roll my middle OS down the hall for tests. patiently waiting for results and relief. patiently waiting for a warm bed and restored health.)

 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

Empty rooms stink
(tired, hungry, scared, Lord, I'm groaning. people are praying. You are here with me though I'm physically alone in this room at this very moment. And my boy, God, you are with him too in the places where I cannot go.)


Snuggies and snow

Thank you Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you that I no longer have to live with this!
Everyone is talking about the Blizzard of 2011. Pictures abound of the frozen tundra in the nation's heartland. I see my family and friends' facebook statuses and offer a sympathetic shiver your way. It's rather fun living vicariously with my windows open and a pleasant breeze wafting through my home. Just sayin.' So in honor of the blizzard, may this post warm your heart wherever you are. 

Here are a few pics taken during Christmas. My sister Lorri visited from Chicago and when several inches of snow landed in our area, she and I set out to be silly. 

I just realized this is a heart-shaped snowball! Awww
Ok, so I might have forgotten how to make a proper snowball, big wup. 
Snow much fun

My dad isn't in this picture but I bet he was in a line like this! 
Because of this much heralded storm, I also discovered something. I celebrated my fifth birthday during the Storm of '67! I can still picture my father trudging out in the freezing snow on my birthday. He trekked through that blizzard to  the grocery store to buy me a birthday cake. It was strawberry and I couldn't recall how old I was until everyone started talking about this wintry blast. How cool is that? Positively serendipitous. 

When Lorri and I were finished with our snowpeople, we went on a lark. Playing in the snow wasn't simply fun enough. One night prior to her departure, my younger sister and I decided to strut our stuff on the "catwalk." Btw, I made the items Lorri and I are wearing. We did not pick them up in New York City or Paris. In fact, if you'd like to duplicate my efforts, here's the link

Here's Nate posing at home with his new snuggie. 
Dramatic re-enactment of a sleeping cadet
Did you know that snuggies are the rage at West Point too! Nate and I have matching snuggies. That is a sign that we have a very wonderful relationship. We like to wear matching stuff. Kinda creepy but not really. 

Gotta a snuggie story?