Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Impossible Christmas gifts

"Poinsettia" 6"x6" watercolor on clayboard

I am siting here thinking about Christmas gifts. My kids never want normal easy-to-find Christmas gifts. One of them always asks for something weird or impossible to find. Some of the Christmas gifts my have kids wanted: laundry baskets and tin foil (he wanted to make a space ship), a potty trained talking pony (This was the year after he "found out" about Santa and I think he just wanted to see Santa say no), A million dollars (we told him that even Santa's elves would get thrown into jail for forgery) An actual real-life Pokemon character, (his cousin told him they existed).

This year My 16 year old wants a laptop, Yeah right, like we have that kind of money. My 11 year old wants an actual, real life sword, Santa told him NO. My 14 year old can't think of anything he wants, so we'll just surprise him. My 7 year old wanted a world war II army medic set, army medic bag and a medic helmet (they have to be camouflage with a white circle and red cross on it), I don't think they sell these at Toys-R-us. Good thing I can make these.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What do you need for Christmas

We were asking the kids the other night what they wanted for Christmas and my middle 2 sons could not think of one thing they wanted for Christmas (I usually only let them ask for one thing). My 15 year old said "Mom , but I don't need anything. It's kinda cool that I have everything I need and can't think of anything I really want right now." Actually I'm sure there are lots of things he wants, but I am glad he appreciates what he has.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

believeing in Santa

Jimmy has had a crisis of belief, he came home and told me that a girl at school told him there no Santa Claus, that mom and dad got up in the middle of the night and left presents for their kids.

He thought that was pretty ludicrous: Mom and Dad intentionally missing sleep? ha ha!

he told me he set her straight; he said to her "oh yeah, then where do they get the presents? If I wanted an I-pod touch my mom and dad could not make that, but elves can."

Monday, December 8, 2008

What is a Man?

Big as Mothers Love 12x16" Acrylic on canvas

I was talking to my 7 year old telling him we are going to get new family portraits done. My son said "good, I don't like the picture we had done last year because I had a wiggly tooth"
I replied "You can't tell the tooth is wiggly in the picture"
"Mom! it made me look like a little kid and I am a big man now"
"You are?"
"Yes, I even put on deodorant this morning"

I guess he thinks stinky armpits define a man.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

more brain tumors.

I have close friend who very courageously battled breast cancer last year. I was amazed how she went through surgeries, many rounds of chemo and hair loss without a whimper, just like it was a minor bump in the road. They found a brain tumor last week when she started having seizures. She is having brain surgery today. I know what a craniotomy is like, I watched my son go through 4 of them. It breaks my heart to see someone else I love go through it.
All I can say is: brain tumors SUCK!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

recovering from a siblings brain tumor

"No Smoking" 8x10" watercolor

Grades just came out for last quarter. I was so happy! My 16 year olds GPA is 3.75, which is remarkable because he is taking some very difficult classes; half of the classes he is taking he is getting college credit for, and my 14 year old got a perfect 4.0! I knew they were capable of getting good grades but they have been struggling. The last few years my 14 year old was just barely passing his classes. He would easily get "A"s on all the tests but, he was not doing any of the classwork or homework, it was like he was not even trying. My 16 year old went through that same thing but he got his act together last year. Their grades became a problem 3 years ago when Jimmy, their little brother , got diagnosed with a brain tumor. That year my boys went from near perfect grades to barely passing grades. My 16 year old told me at the time he felt like his school work did not matter, good grades were not going to make Jimmy better, nothing he could do would make Jimmy better. So, on top of the fact that my kids are getting good grades *yippee!* I am also celebrating another sign that my children are recovering from their brothers brain tumor.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We are in trouble...

This was sent to me by a friend

We are in trouble...
The population of this country is 300 million, 160 million are retired. That leaves 140 million to do the work.
There are 85 million in school. Which leaves 55 million to do the work.
Of this there are 35 million employed by the federal government. Leaving 15 million to do the work.
2.8 million are in the armed forces preoccupied with killing Osama Bin-Laden. Which leaves 12.2 million to do the work.
Take from that total the 10.8 million people who work for state and city Governments. And that leaves 1.4 million to do the work.
At any given time there are 188,000 people in hospitals. Leaving 1,212,000 to do the work. Now, there are 1,211,998 people in prisons.

That leaves just two people to do the work.
You and me.
And there you are,
Sitting on your butt,
At your computer,
reading jokes.

Nice. Real nice.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My husband in jail?

Crabby ACEO 2.5x3.5" mini watercolor

The other morning as I was making a shopping list and my hubby was in the bathroom getting ready for the day, he noticed that he was out of hair gel, so he hollered to me "I'm out of gel"

"OK" I said making a note of it

My seven year old ran into the room with a very concerned look on his face asking "What did Dad do? How come he was in Jail?"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

First job

My oldest boy just got his first job. He wanted to do tech support for Geek Squad or Fire Dog. He lives for computers, he is a computer genius, When he was 2 he would sneak out of bed at nap time and go turn his dad's PC so he could play, He wanted a modem for Christmas when he was 5, he wrote his first computer program when he was 7and he built his first PC when he was 10. However, he has no prior job history and 1.5 more years of high school left to do, so he could not get those jobs. He settled for working at Circuit City in sales. He hopes to work his way into Fire Dog. He was very excited when they called and told him his first day of work would be Saturday. The next morning on the news they announced they will be closing a number of Circuit City stores. He may get to experience his fist job and his first layoff.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Stitches again

We had to take our 11 year old son get stitches Sunday night. He is a very creative thinker and my little inventor. Apparently he decided to make combination exercise equipment and Halloween candy storage gadget made from 2 large eye bolts screwed into the wall and a rope strung back and forth across the room. The eye bolts were screwed into the wall studs or so he thought. As he was doing "chin-ups" from the rope the eye bolt came out of the wall and hit him just above his right eyebrow. This is the second time he has had stitches, the last time it was in the other eyebrow. He had to get 6 stitches amongst much protest of "I'm fine", "it doesn't even hurt" and "I DO NOT need to go to the emergency room"

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Costumes

For Halloween Jimmy (age 7) wanted to be a soldier, this is no surprise considering he is constantly pretending to be a soldier and fighting bad guys. (blog entry 2/25/08) He insists upon wearing camouflage everyday. I knew he would wear a soldier costume very often. I looked for a sturdy costume that could take a lot of wear and tear, be affordable and it had to be authentic looking, Jimmy is very detail oriented. I could not find one anywhere. So I made one: I found sturdy camouflage fabric at Wal-Mart for only $3 a yard and looked up photos of soldiers online and made this costume, I even made the hat! It took forever, I didn't use a pattern, I never have been good at following directions, If I had used a pattern it probably would have been easier and faster. It turned out cute and Jimmy loved it! Very good considering I haven't really ever made clothes before.

My 11 year old wanted to the Tooth fairy only with his own personal twist, He wore a tutu and wings and and carried a wand that was duct taped together. he had torn, dirty jeans and wore a stained pillow stuffed T- shirt that read "I'm the tooth fairy -'ya got a problem with that? this costume was all his idea, he enjoys being funny. It was easy, all I had to make was the tutu.

My 14 year old was a monk, He wore the robe I made for a "death" costume a few years ago with a big silver crucifix, a rope around his waist and sandals. He looked good.

My 16 year old went as a hippie: he had a long wig, a tie dye shirt, peace sign necklaces, and a fringed leather jacket.

My 14 year old decided he still wanted to do some trick-or-treating, but he did not think he should eat the candy, so he gave all the candy to his older brother who was at a party all night, I was proud of him, he has been dieting and this was all his idea to give the candy away.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

pumpkin seeds recipe

2.5x3.5" ACEO watercolor

We carved pumpkins last night. Yeah, I know it is a little early for pumpkin carving, but it was the only evening the family was all home together to do it. We carved the pumpkins and saved the seeds for the kids favorite Halloween treat: Pumpkin seeds. I have had people ask how I cook Pumpkin Seeds so here is my recipe:

Separate pumpkin seeds from pumpkin. the easiest way to do this is to scoop the seeds out with your hand, before you remove the pulp from the inside of pumpkin. rinse all pumpkin pulp from seeds, you may have to rinse 2 times. Cover seeds with water, add Worcestershire sauce (if desired) and salt: abt. 2 tsp. of salt to one pumpkin's seeds. and mix well. Let seeds soak in brine overnight. Drain seeds, scatter seeds on buttered cookie sheet, let dry. cook seeds at a 350 oven stirring every 10 min. until seeds are toasted to a golden color.

Try different seasonings. Try adding garlic powder or butter flavor.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thoughts on being alone

ACEO watercolor miniature 2.5"x3.5"

My brother-in-law posted in his blog about going to a movie by himself. It made me think. I have never gone to a movie by myself, I just don't have time, I usually don't like movies unless they are really good, I just sit and think I about how I could be better spending my time. However, I wouldn't mind going to a movie alone. I don't mind eating alone in restaurants either. When I go on business trips or conventions with my husband he always frets that I will have to be alone most of the time. I always have to convince him that I enjoy spending time alone. I do like being around people, but I am just as content to be with myself. Does that make me weird?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

life is so unfair

Portrait of my oldest son 12"x16" Acrylic

The other day, just after parent-teacher conferences we were talking, my second oldest son had just had an exceptional parent teacher conference, after getting poor grades all year last year, he was now getting almost perfect grades. Last year when we had a similar report at parent teacher conference with our oldest son we stopped and bought him a T-shirt from his school as a spur of the moment reward. When all of my second sons teachers praised him so abundantly (one even cried) I thought I'd better buy him a T-shirt too, just to be fair, but they were not selling any shirts that night. I told my second son that I wanted to get him a shirt, but instead of a shirt I would spend an extra $10 on the scriptures that I was getting him anyway and make it a nicer book. My older son overheard this and started whining, about how unfair I was being, he had already been complaining about how we wouldn't buy him a laptop and how we expect him to do chores on his day off from school. It made me so angry. When my oldest was that age I got him new scriptures and a t-shirt, the t-shirt cost more than the extra $10 I was going to spend on his brother.

When I calmed down some I firmly told my oldest that if he goes around comparing what he has to what other people have he is always going to be unhappy. There will always be someone who is better looking, richer, has nicer parents, is more talented than him and if he looks for life to be fair he will be forever disappointed, bitter and angry. The trick is to be grateful for what you do have that is what really makes you happy.

I sat there fuming and suddenly I wondered if God ever feels that way toward me when I am asking for more or complaining about what I don't have. Do I ever make him that angry at my selfishness and ingratitude?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

painting on watercolor canvas

Temple Square Tulip 9"x11" watercolor on gallery wrapped canvas

I did this painting for the Utah State Fair art show. I try to do a painting for the fair every year. I usually hurriedly paint something the day before or the day of the deadline. This year was no exception. I frantically painted this the day it was due. This watercolor was done on watercolor canvas, the first painting I have ever done on watercolor canvas, it was a learning experience. It is nearly impossible to do any glazing on watercolor canvas, the canvas stays wet for quite a while and the colors seem to lighten quite a bit when it dries. Had I known that I may have used another technique to paint it . The watercolor canvas did come with a little "tips and techniques for watercolor canvas" flier, but I did not read it until I was finished with the painting. One tip I wish I would have known is that if you want to glaze on watercolor canvas spray a fixative between layers. I'll have to try watercolor canvas again and use this tip. The cool thing about watercolor canvas is you don't have to frame it under glass. If you fix it you can just frame it and hang it like an oil on canvas painting. I painted this on gallery wrapped canvas so I did not frame it at all. I did have someone from the fair call me to make sure that this was really a watercolor.

Overall it is not a bad little painting but it probably would have been better if I read taken more time on it and read the directions.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Guitar Hero 3 competition

At the Utah state fair they had a Guitar Hero 3 competition, my oldest boy seems to be pretty good at GH3 so we encouraged him to try out for the competition. the preliminaries were held at a local video game store, my 2 oldest sons and my husband made it to the final round at the State Fair. Well ... my oldest boy won second place and won $50.00 he was very excited about it, he was younger than the other winners and the man who took 1st place is a "professional" GH3 player. After the competition my son said all those viola lessons we gave him for all those years finally paid off.
Yeah, Right, that's what the lessons were for...

Monday, September 22, 2008

A national shame, our children are dying

I read this article, (see link at bottom) It made me realize that I need to speak up and say something. As a parent of a brain tumor survivor. I saw treatments that were available to adults, but were not available to my son because he was a child. These treatments were not available to children because they have not been tested on children and there weren't even any trials even being done. I know what it is like to decide to treat my child for his brain tumor with treatments that I knew would reduce his IQ by more than 10%, destroy his Thyroid, damage his pituitary gland, cause possible deafness, and blindness and leave him permanently bald. I chose that treatment because it was the only one available.

The number one killer of children is cancer. Cancer claims the lives of more kids than the next 5 on the list combined.

Half of the children diagnosed with brain tumors will die within 5 years. Overall one in five children diagnosed with cancer will die within 5 years. The 5 year survival rates for breast cancer is 88%. So why was breast cancer funding in 2006 $ 584 million, while childhood cancer received $ 26 million.

For some, the battle with cancer ends quickly because there are no good treatments. There has only been 1 new chemotherapy medication approved for children's cancer over the past 20 years. Mostly because there are so few clinical trials for pediatric cancer. The funding for pediatric cancer clinical trials has gone down every year since 2003.

The treatments known to destroy these rapidly growing cells can also destroy just about every system that is rapidly growing. As our kids grow so quickly, all of their cells and systems are targeted and this leads to multiple disabilities - if they are fortunate enough to survive. The course of treatment for cancer can last upwards of 3 years. During these times they go through irreversible trauma. When they are finished and try to fit into the "normal" world again, they are faced with many physical, intellectual, and emotional challenges in trying to adjust to a new world. The impact is devastating to each member of the family - emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, and financially.

Children can't advocate for themselves and their parents are usually too devastated financially and emotionally to petition congress and promote childhood cancer awareness. I do need to say something, perhaps it is too late for any research that may help my child, but I never want another mother to have to make the choices I had to make. We need better treatments for our children with cancer.
read this

Thursday, September 4, 2008

MRIs cause brain damage

I have decided that pediatric MRIs cause brain damage, not in the child receiving the MRI, but in the parent of the child receiving the MRI. It is that time again, and I thought I was going crazy, I couldn't concentrate, I didn't seem to be able to string two words together coherently.

I am so glad that his MRI is over now: Jimmy had a "stable" Mri-*WOO-HOO*. The most amazing thing happened: my 7 year old boy held absolutely still for over 40 min. and did this MRI without sedation! I was so impressed by that! especially when he still had to have an IV for contrast. He hates IVs and thought that if he went without sedation he might not have to have an IV. The whole without sedation thing was his idea and it really made things so much quicker and easier. I am so proud of him.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ride for kids

We went to the Ride for Kids, fundraiser for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation recently, we had lots of fun, all the kids got to ride on motorcycles all the way up the canyon. They loved it. Utah had a record amount of donations. we have only been doing Ride for Kids in Utah for a 4 years in Utah and we out fund raised places where they have been running much longer. http://pbtfus.org/rideforkids/calendar/2008/utah08.html
Our family had enough donations for the drawing for the motorcycle, but of course we did not win.
They fed us very good lunch, after lunch they interviewed the brain tumor patients on the stage. Little Jimmy was the youngest Brain tumor patient there, but he spoke as if he were much older. Among other things he said "I am grateful that so many people cared about kids with brain tumors that they were willing to come out". It sounded like a speech that an adult had written for him. I guess he is a good public speaker.
My husband drove his motor scooter the entire way and kept up with all the bikers on their big Harley's just fine.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

First day at "regular" school

Jimmy's first day of "regular" school was a tough one, not tough for him but it was for me. It was really hard for me to leave him there where he did not know anyone and no one knew about the extent of his disabilities. He hides his blindness very well and he is very independent, he won't ask for help. I know lots of people think I am crazy when I worry about him. But, after all, he is only seven and I am a mom. Here are a couple of things that happened his first day of school.

I drove by his school during recess and saw him in the corner of the playground alone sitting against the fence. All the other kids were running around the field and playing on the playground. I pulled the car over so I could walk over and talk to him when he suddenly got up and ran to the school building, seconds after he started for the building the bell rang and all the other kids ran to the school with him. When he got home that night I told him I saw him and asked him what he was doing. He told me he could not see any other kids on the playground and did not know what to do so he was saying a prayer. When he was done praying he said he knew he should go to the school building.

I asked Jimmy if he introduced himself to his class. He said the teacher asked each child to tell the class their name and something interesting or unusual about themselves. He said he told them his name was Jimmy and that he had a wii game system. I asked why he told about the game system. He replied that it was all he could think of. Hmmm... the kid has had a brain tumor, is blind, half bald & wears a hairpiece, has has 4 brain surgeries and the only thing he can think of that is unusual or interesting about himself is that he has a wii game system?

Good for him.

Monday, August 25, 2008

End of Summer, First Day of School

My little boys walking to school this morning

Well it is finally here, the first day of school, the day I have been dreading with some anticipation for months. I think I am the only mom that cries the day she sends her kids back to school. Sure, I will enjoy being able to get things done around the house and I will enjoy the quiet but, I will miss the kids and the noise and I'll miss the hugs whenever I need one. When I send them to school it just seems like they age an entire year in one day. I now have kids in 11th, 9th, 6th, and 2nd grades: where did all the precious summers with them go?

It was especially hard to send Jimmy this year, he is being mainstreamed and I can't help but worry about him. I worry about him getting lost, making friends, fitting in with the other kids. I worry about both my youngest boys, with their learning challenges, falling through the cracks.

I worry about my 6th grader, he does not seem to have any friends at school, I watched the other children run to their buddies on the playground, but my boy just stood there alone by the school door and watched the other kids. He really hated school last year I hope this year will be better.

I worry about my two teen age sons: are they making good friends and making good decisions? Is my oldest ever get his eagle so he can drive? Will they be able to understand the importance of getting good grades?

I look back at their summer, did my boys have good experiences? did we build good memories together as a family? did we have enough fun to last until next summer?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Dreaded "School shopping"

It is that time again, time to go school shopping. School starts next Monday and I can't put it off any longer. I hate school shopping, I really don't like spending money but that's not all, the money isn't the worst part, the worst part is shopping with my boys. Have you ever taken four boys to buy CLOTHES? It is like pulling teeth, only not as pleasant; when you go to the dentist at least you get Novocaine. Last year I tried to get it all done at once, all four boys in the store together trying to get them to try on clothes and not play games, fight or escape. It didn't work very well, I had boys shopping in the children's dept, men's dept, shoes, and electronics dept. (I had to keep chasing them out of the electronics dept.) I think my headache lasted for a month.

So this year I plan to take a day for each child. I can see us having an enjoyable day together, I'll stop and buy them lunch and spend quality time with each boy and they would enjoy shopping for clothes with me.

yeah, right.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Full of hot air

My husband wanted to go to the "Sandy Balloon Festival" Friday. We got there early so we could see the balloons inflate. We took your youngest boy, Jimmy, the only one who wanted to wake up that early. We got to the park to watch the balloons inflate. Where Marty quickly found a balloon pilot who needed help. He had fun helping, unfortunately the winds kicked up just as the balloons were getting inflated so they never got off the ground. However Marty had by this time volunteered to help with the balloons on Saturday morning as well. It was lots of fun.
So when we got there Saturday morning (this time with all 4 boys) and helped set up the balloon again. Only this time the pilot asked Marty to be a passenger in the balloon and me and the boys got recruited for the "chase team"
We also went and helped out Saturday night at the "glow" but unfortunately the weather was not co-operating again. Now Marty is saying he wants to buy a balloon . Friday when My husband asked it I wanted to go to to a balloon festival I never imagined that I would be part of a balloon chase team and discussing buying a balloon... I 'm still deciding if it was a good decision to go.
My boys did learn that good things can happen when you volunteer to help someone.
We are going to another balloon festival this weekend.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Etsy- anything you want

Bracelets I am selling on etsy
Let me tell you about one of my new favorite sites: Etsy.com: It is a website for buying and selling handmade items. There is some fabulous stuff made by very talented people for great prices. It is like the most fabulous boutique you have ever visited, only better, and online. I have begun to sell my jewlery for Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and I have already sold 3 bracelets in the past week. My Etsy ID is ArtistMelody

One of my favorite parts of etsy is Alchemy where buyers can post requests for custom handmade items, and then sellers bid on the opportunity to make the goods. Have you ever wanted a handmade book, dress, art, or jewelry custom made just for you? here is your chance, if you can dream it someone there can make it. Just describe what you want with what price you are willing to pay and all kinds of artists and artisans send you bids. You can look at their work and decide to get what you want. This is just so cool!

Friday, August 1, 2008

the price of gas

"Marty '82" 8x10 oil
My dear husband has wanted a motorcycle for a looooong time. I just love him too much to want him to have one: I have seen and heard of too many accidents involving motorcycles. I don't want to risk it. I tell him to please wait until he older and we no longer have a family to raise before he gets a motorcycle. And he loves me enough to not get a motorcycle
Well with gas prices the way they are now my man has come up with a new argument: It will save money. He wanted to get a motor scooter to ride to work, he won't ride it on the interstate so it is safer than a motorbike and it'll get lots better gas mileage. I'm not convinced we will actually save very much money by spending $1,500 on a scooter but he really wanted one and he said he won't get one without my "blessing." I'm not that motivated by money I value my husband much more than MPG. I do feel bad asking him not to do something he really wants to do, actually he knows he can talk me into anything.
So we went out and got a shiny new motor scooter for his birthday. Along with 2 helmets so he can take a passenger.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Just for kicks, I am copying my little sister Angel with this post idea. Pretty please ( with sugar on top), read below, and leave a comment -- even you lurkers out there who read and never say a word.

Directions1. As a comment on this post, leave one memory about me. It doesn't matter if you know me really well or if we don't know each other very well at all (like my new blogging friends). The memory can be anything you remember...something recent or something from when we were kids or from when we first met (and even if you only know me through blogging...you can tell me your favorite blog post and why or something). If we know each other really well and we have a lot of memories together just choose your favorite memory, the funniest memory or the first one that comes to your mind.

2. Next, post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. It's actually pretty cool (and funny) to see the responses. If you leave a memory, I'll assume you're playing the game and I'll come to your blog and leave a memory for you if you put this same game on your blog!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Free art lessons, tips, tutorials and demonstrations

Here are some links to free art lessons, tips, tutorials and demonstrations

ArtGraphica Free Art Lessons: Learn how to draw portraits, landscapes, still life... http://www.artgraphica.net/free-art-lessons/free-art-tutorials.htm

Utrecht: Art & Ed

Free art lessons:

Drawing lessons:

Watercolor Tutorials:

Learn to Paint Wildlife and Animalsby Jason Morgan Professional Wildlife Artist:


Monday, July 21, 2008

The hospital bag....

I am at the hospital all day today, Jimmy is having his Neuropsychological assessment done, it usually lasts all day long. I am supposed to stick around in the hospital, it is going to be a long boring day. There is surprisingly little to do around here, I am prepared: I brought my "hospital bag" It is a bag full of stuff I may need at the hospital: snacks, a book or two, activities for me and Jimmy to do . I used to have a change of clothes in there just in case they kept Jimmy unexpectedly overnight. I don't have the clothes in there anymore, Jimmy is not "in treatment" so there is little chance of him being kept overnight. I pretty much keep my "hospital bag" packed all the time. I guess it is a remnant of the uncertain times when I never knew what the future would bring. It is just one more reminder that in the back of my mind things will never quite be "normal" for me again.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

vacation photos

My boys sleeping after a looong day at 6 flags, Actually, we were waiting for my husband when the boys decided to pose this way. I heard my oldest yell "photo op" and turned around to see this. They did get some odd looks from passers by.

San diego: My oldest boy posing in front of front of our ship. Yes, he did have fun with the camera on this trip.

Son #1 posing in a store in San diego. I think I'll save this photo to blackmail him with later.....

Son#2 in the cruse ship dining room

Our second day on the cruise was in Catalina Island. The three oldest boys and their dad went snorkeling and I stayed with our youngest and played on the beach.

They had a climbing wall on the ship, sons #1 and #3 got to the top on the first try. This is son#3 almost to the top.

My youngest also climbed the wall but he never made it to the top.

Son #3 eating escargot on the ship, my boys decided they wanted to try a different new food everyday.

Day 3 on the cruise was Ensenada, where we bartered and shopped here is my oldest eating a taco from a street vendor there.

The last night in the dining room we are clapping for the singing and dancing waiters.

Son #4 as an "adventure pirate" part of the kids club on board the ship.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

how we spent our summer vacations...

We went on a family summer vacation this year... It has been a few years since we had a summer vacation. Last year (2007) our summer was so busy that we never had the whole family together for a few days that we could go somewhere. The summer before that (2006) we were spending every spare minute making trips trying to clear up my father-in-laws estate and my son's brain tumor stuff. The summer three years ago (2005) my son was diagnosed the day we were supposed to leave on our vacation, we spent our summer vacation having brain surgeries.

We did do things together as a family, just never an official "all-go-somewhere-together-in-the-summer" vacation. So we finally did it. We took our government stimulus package check and our savings and blew it on a 4 day cruise. we took off, drove 14 hours in our gas-guzzling-minivan, spent 4 days with it with my sister in California, we were 4 days on the cruse and spent another looooong day driving back home. Then I took another 4 days at home to recover.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hobé: Kids oncology camp

My youngest 2 boys at camp

My kids are at camp. I had 3 boys gone last week and 2 gone this week. They are at Camp Hobé, a camp for children with cancer and their siblings. It is kind of sad that this will probably be the last year that they will be able to go: Jimmy is done with his cancer treatments. I'm not sad he is done with the cancer, just sad that my kids will not be able to go to Camp Hobé It has been the highlight of their year. Camp Hobé is kind of a magical camp. Where else is a mom going to be comfortable leaving her blind 7 year old brain tumor patient for a week? My boys are not new to going to camp, they have been going to scout camps with their friends for years, but they really love Camp Hobé. The first year that they went I was worried, they did not know anyone there, but they came home having made lots of friends with kids because they have one huge thing in common: Cancer.
I am so grateful that this camp includes the siblings of the children with cancer. Cancer has a profound effect on the patient but, the effect on the siblings is often just as bad and so often overlooked. When you are of sibling of cancer you are ignored while your parents kind of fall apart, you usually have more responsibility instantly, you have to become the one in charge because you parents are always gone, you have to watch your sibling suffer and not understand why, you watch your sibling be showered with gifts and attention while you are ignored, and you can't say anything because you are healthy and your brother is sick. At Camp Hobé my boys are surrounded by kids who understand. These kids have been through it also, and they learn that they are not the only ones.
This camp is so great that my oldest boy passed up a chance to get paid to be a Jr. counselor at scout camp and volunteered to be an unpaid Jr. counselor at Camp Hobé.
I just want to thank Camp Hobé for what they have done for my kids.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

the marshmallow incident....

By the Sea 5x7 watercolor

My kids were roasting marshmallows for an after dinner treat the other night and offered me some. I told them I don't like marshmallows, I never have.

It reminded me of an incident from my childhood. I was probably 8 years old or so and I got a huge sliver in my foot from trying to climb a wooden fence barefoot. My mom was trying to get me to hold still so she could remove the sliver when she tried to bribe me with marshmallows. "If you'll hold still so I can get the sliver out I'll give you some marshmallows" I didn't like marshmallows, but my brothers did! So the idea of tormenting my brothers with "I get marshmallows and you don't nananana naaanah" became my motivation for holding still. Of course I never said anything about that, If my mom knew it would never work. My mother removed the sliver and then proceeded to hand out marshmallows to me and my brothers saying it was a celebration of my bravery. Boy was I mad! My brothers did not have to have a sliver removed and they still got marshmallows! how unfair! My mom said she never said my brothers would not get marshmallows I should be happy that everyone was benefiting instead of just me.

I was really really mad, but over the years as I thought about it, mom was right. My desire to make my brothers unhappy was ultimately what backfired and made me unhappy. If I had wanted to make those around me happy instead of upset then the whole incident would have turned out different for me.

Again it all comes down to attitude.

Monday, June 9, 2008

breakfast in bed for the boys

"Cats in the Kitchen" commissioned watercolor 18"x24"
My 10 year old had an idea that he wanted to cook his brothers breakfast in bed in celebration of the first day of summer. He did not get up quite as early as he planned so he went around ordering all his brothers to stay in bed because he had a surprise for them. He made them pancakes, scrambled eggs, french fries, and orange juice. Yes, I did suggest hash-browns but, he likes french fries better. Of course I "helped" him with everything. When the boys were served breakfast in their beds my oldest asked if he could eat his breakfast in the kitchen because he did not want to risk spilling syrup in his bed. Then my youngest boy asked if he could eat his breakfast in my bed because he did not want to get syrup in his bed. Later my youngest came in the kitchen for more orange juice he told me what he really needed was someone to stand there while he ate his breakfast in bed and go get him everything he needed. Yeah, right, the service here ain't that good honey. It was a HUGE mess to clean up, there was syrup on the carpet where one son ate sitting on his floor and syrup in the bedding of one boy, not to mention my 10 year old is a very messy cook, and my dishwasher broke, but it was worth it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Introduction to a new school

"Andy" 16"x12" acrylic on canvas

Jimmy is getting "mainstreamed" next year for school. He currently goes to USDB (Utah School for the Deaf and Blind) He is on the bus for an hour each way to school he has 4 kids and 2 teachers in his classroom, only 2 kids in his grade. We have decided to send him to the neighborhood school just down the street, it is a five min. walk away with 30 kids and one teacher in the classroom, naturally he is nervous about the change, so am I.

I took Jimmy to the school he will be going to next year, I thought it would be good for the teacher and the principal to meet Jim and it would make Jim a little more at ease if he met his teacher. When we got to the his new school the principal and teacher were waiting for us. The principal said to him "Hello, Jim, I'm the Principal" Jimmy reached out and took her hand and said very formally "I'm very pleased to meet you" and then turned and shook the hand of the teacher. The principal and teacher both looked very surprised to see such manners from a 6 year old. Believe me I was even more surprised. I do try to teach my children good manners but I don't think I ever taught him this.

Monday, May 19, 2008

What did we ever do without cell phones?

What did we ever do without cell phones?

My 10 year old wanted to ride his bike to the school and around the block and I almost didn't let him go because he wanted to ride alone and his brother was elsewhere with the cell phone that the boys share. *panic* How could I check on him? what if he needed me? I started thinking about what I did as a child. My mom used to let me ride my bike around and I just had to be home in time for dinner. Am I such a neurotic parent that I freak out when I know my kid will be out of contact for 30 minutes? YES! I decided that I needed to calm down, and give the poor kid a little freedom, so I told him to go ride his bike, just be home in time for dinner.

Oh, and I had him take him MY cell phone so I could call him....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

An angry 7 year old

"Willy" 2.5x3.5" Mini Watercolor and prismacolor pencil

I had my littlest son, 7 year old Jimmy, get mad at me the other day. He got mad at me for doing something I never expected anyone to get mad at me for.

Jimmy and his 10 year old brother, Randy were both quarreling and it was bedtime anyway so I sent them both to bed. I went in to tuck Jimmy in and kiss him goodnight when he said "I'm mad at you!" I thought he was angry at me for sending him to bed but, when I asked him why he was angry he replied "This is all your fault. Why did you have to have Randy?" Yes, that is right he was mad at me for giving birth to his older brother! I have done many wrong things that people could be angry about but, I have never had someone get mad at me for giving birth before. I did try to explain that I had to have son#3 before I could have son#4 it did not seem to placate him. I did get to go to bed with a good laugh though.

Monday, April 28, 2008

How to teach kids about money

I was in the car on the way to the store listening to my 7 year old and my 10 year old talking to their 8 year old cousin. They were talking about money, they were busy explaining to their cousin why he should not spend his money in the store, he should put it in the bank. "The bank will actually pay you money if you put your money in the bank but you can take your money out anytime you want." My 10 year old then said that "If I had a million dollars I would put it in the bank and they would pay me $.10 a minute to keep it there even when I am sleeping." I'm not sure here he got his information but, he was not too far off: a million dollars at 10% interest is closer to 9.5 cents a minute. That may not sound like a lot but, it adds up to about $49,800.00 a year. I'm not sure where my kids got their information from, I don't think they learned it in school! I they learned it from their financial genius father. He makes sure to explain the workings of money to the our older boys all the time. It has probably been overheard by their brothers.

It got me thinking about how we teach our kids about money. I can think of a couple of instances that have helped us to teach our boys.

I remember when I was about 16 or 17 when my dad out of the blue said to me "How would you like to have 15% to 20% more money without working any harder or doing anymore work?" of course I was interested, He went on to explain that if I wanted to buy something I should save up for it instead of charging it. I would be earning interest in the money I was saving instead of paying interest on the money I had borrowed. ( %5 interest earned plus 15% interest saved) And I could sleep well knowing I was not in debt to anyone. I always remembered that lesson, and I strive to never be in debt. Of course I have passed that story along to my kids.

Another success came when we were going on a vacation. We were tired of the kids asking for goodies at every gift shop and store we went into. Before we left for our vacation we gave each of the kids a ten dollar bill and told them that this was their money to spend, when we went to anyplace and they wanted to buy something they would have pay for it themselves and any money that was left over they could keep. The kids were quite young they were thrilled at having so much money. On that trip when the kids would ask for something all we would do is ask "do you have enough money for it?" It worked wonders! No whining or begging! The kids stopped bugging us for things, they learned about money and how to make good choices, the kids came home with money in their pockets, and it saved mom and dad some money also.

Don't let society's messages "things give you happiness" and "you should have instant gratification for the things you want", be the only source of learning about money that your children receive. Don't be afraid to talk to children about money.

Monday, April 21, 2008

How to be happy

"Don't Be Such a Crab" mini watercolor ACEO 2.5"x3.5"
Do I want to be happy or not? Being happy is all in how I look at it:

I could go around angry that my little boy had a brain tumor and is blind and half bald. or I could be grateful that he is still alive.

I could be bitter that we have to spend at least $3,000 every year on medical bills for his MRIs and treatments for the next 11 years, or I could be grateful for the insurance to cover the rest of his medical bills.

I could be upset that I have to deal with the hassle of putting a hairpiece on my 7 year old everyday or I could be happy that he has a hairpiece to put on.

I could be frustrated by the mess that my kids leave all the time or I could be happy to have kids to leave a mess and a nice home for them to mess up.

I could be bitter or I can be happy It is MY choice. I have decided to be happy. Sometimes I just need a reminder.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Breaking braces and rules

My 10 year olds teeth looked nice and straight so I was surprised when he told me that his lover teeth were making sores on the roof of his mouth. He was very excited when the dentist told him he would need braces. (He was also very excited when he had to get stitches.)

His two older brothers haven't needed braces and I have never had them so the experience is new to me. When we got the braces his orthodontist gave him a long lecture on what he could not eat. My son was given a long "no, no, list" of things he can't eat to put on the fridge as a reminder: no suckers, no jolly ranchers, no gum, no popcorn, etc. He was being very good about what he was eating and following the list.

One week later my boy came up to my and said he had broken a bracket on his braces. I asked him what had happened. He said "I was eating a jawbreaker....."

*Arrgh* "you are not supposed to be eating jawbreakers" I grumbled

He brought me over to the list on the fridge and said "look it does NOT say no jaw breakers."

Well he was right.

We had a nice talk about following the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Beauty through the eyes of a child

"Self Portrait" Mini Watercolor ACEO 2.5"x3.5"

Jimmy, was watching me put on makeup when he picked up my mascara and asked “How come you put this on?”
I replied “so I can be beautiful”
He looked at the mascara and asked “can I put some on?”
I said “You are a beautiful little child so you do not need any makeup”
He told me “Mom, everyone is a children, we are all Heavenly Father’s children”
I looked down at his sweet little face and asked “Well then, do you think Heavenly Father thinks I’m beautiful?”
Jimmy looked up at me with his big blue eyes and said “Not yet” as he handed me the mascara.

Monday, April 14, 2008

sports for the visually impared: Skiing Blind

Jimmy's last ski day with the School for the Blind was last week. The School for the Blind takes the kids skiing 5 times a year. Jimmy loves it. It is one of the highlights of his school year. It is amazing how well Jimmy does on the slopes, he went skiing this time without the his "Ski Guide" assisting him much at all. His guide just skied close to him and yelled directions. Jimmy was so proud of himself and he kept saying that he only fell down once. The National Ability Center in Park City where they teach these handicapped children to ski. Not only do the kids learn to ski it is a reminder to parents that just because our kids have special challenges we have to not set limits on what they can do. It is a reminder that I need, sometimes it is hard for me to let him do "regular" kid things.

Monday, April 7, 2008

I think I may be raising a deep thinking teen

Tropical Fish 2.5"x 3.5" mini ACEO watercolor

My 16 year old came home the other day complaining that he had planned to invite his friend, Joseph, over for a computer battle but Joseph couldn't come over because he had a date.

My son has a dating quandary, he has always has lots of girls he likes and he has gone on a few dates since he turned 16 (Mom's rule: no dating until you are 16!) when the girl has asked. But, he does not want to ask any girls out, because he does not want all the girls to think he has a "favorite" (his words).

I asked if the girl that Joseph was going out with was cute. His reply was an unenthusiastic "yeah, she's really cute".

I said "too bad you didn't ask her out first"

What he said next surprised me. "mom, I don't want to go out with her, she is pretty, but that's all she cares about, what she looks like and how much fun she is having"

I'm glad that at this young of an age my boy is not shallow, I wonder how much of his attitude has to do with what he has been through with his little brothers brain tumor, watching his brother suffer, at the brink of death, and realizing at a young age what the important things really are, or maybe that is just how he is.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sometimes you have to tell your kid he's not so special

Fish Food 2.5" x 3.5" mini ACEO Watercolor

We had a talk with Jimmy the other day. We were worried that he was getting a little spoiled. It went something like this:

Dad said "Jimmy, you aren't more important than other children"
"Yes I am, I had a Brain Tumor" Replied Jimmy.
"But, that does not mean you're special"
Jimmy said "Barney says everyone is special"
I explained "Being important comes from what you do, not from what happens to you."

What we are trying to tell Jimmy is that simply because he had a brain tumor and is "visually impaired" he can't expect that he should be treated any different than anyone else. He should not expect to work any less at life, actually he will probably have to work harder. I remember right after we were first told that Jimmy was legally blind I received a letter from my little brother who is deaf. He wrote "Don't ever treat him like he has a handicap, don't let anyone treat him differently, don't let him use it as a crutch."

The problem is actually Jimmy is special, he has been through some really hard stuff, he is incredible brave, strong and tough. And yet he is always cheerful and happy, we just want to keep him that way.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Last auction site competition bracelet

This is an update on my "Jewelery for charity auction site competition". That I blogged about previously. (Is Ebay the best, Ebay wins, I think... & auction competition update ) I have started 2 more auctions benefiting the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. I am trying to see which auction site is best, ebay or ArtAndCraftAuctions.com. I am selling 2 very pretty cultured pearl & garnet chip bracelets. this is the last "competition" auction I an planning to do.so I should have the final results in a week or so.
These are the auctions

Monday, March 31, 2008

Sports for the blind and visually impaired: Goal Ball

Jimmy playes "right wing"

Jimmy throws the ball

Jimmy had a goal ball tournament today, Goal ball is a sport created for blind and visually impaired with 3 players on a team wearing blindfolds, using a ball with a small bell inside. Players try to block the ball by listening for it. It actually looks quite fun. Jimmy's team lost two games and won one, pretty good considering the teams they played against were quite a bit older than Jimmy's team of 6 and 7 year olds. One team they lost to was 14 year olds. Jimmy said "I did my very best and I had fun" and he was thrilled with his participation ribbon.