Friday, February 27, 2009

favorite thing friday

Ever since they were small toddlers, our children have loved to play with paint. When they were only two-years-old, I would let them fingerpaint on our kitchen table. I would strap them in to their booster seats and cover the table with butcher paper, before squeezing a big dollop of brightly colored paint before them.

This activity was always guaranteed to keep the children busy for a solid seven or eight minutes and generate the largest mess imaginable. But for those seven or eight minutes, they were blissfully happy. Until they realized that they had PAINT ALL OVER THEIR HANDS and they'd fall in to a screaming fit, while grabbing at their hair, faces and anything within reach.

Although we own a PBK Carolina Craft Table, with a built in roll of paper, the children all seem to prefer the Melissa & Doug easel that Santa brought this past Christmas, for painting.

On one side of the easel is a dry erase board, on the other side is a chalk board. Through the middle of the easel, one can pull up a roll of paper that is affixed in the center, transforming one or both sides to a paint center.

Because we have multiple budding artists in our home - I will typically clip paper to both sides of the easel - and at least two children can express their inner artist.

The ability to create two separate paint centers works very well because although only one child may have expressed an interest in painting, whenever the easel is set up and paint cups are filled, everyone wants to be Renoir.

We use our easel every day. When we aren't using it for painting, we are using the chalkboard and dry erase board to practice letter writing and spelling. It is one of my top 10 favorite toys and something that everyone enjoys.

Do you have small children?

Or do you know any one that has small children?

For a $5.00 donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society via either Margaret or Charlie and a comment left on THIS post, you will be entered in to a raffle to win a Melissa & Doug easel AND the Melissa & Doug easel companion set.

(The estimated value including tax and shipping is ~$125.00).


Your donation is 100% tax deductible.

Your donation is fueling research for a cure.

And your donation will enter you in to a raffle to win one of these easels, which will keep your child happily and constructively entertained for hours tens of minutes each and every day.

Personally? I can't think of a better way to invest $5.00.

When I met with my fellow Team-In-Trainers this past weekend, it came to my attention that there are all kinds of accolades and glory bestowed upon those individuals who are capable of raising the most funds since our season has begun.

What?

You mean to tell me that I've been intentionally sending everyone over to Margaret and Charlie's fundraising pages when I should have been telling them to donate to me, me, ME so that I could have won a new purple jacket?!

When the top three fundraisers from my team proudly stood up to be recognized for raising $2,000.00, $1,500.00 and $1,000.00 over the past few weeks, I couldn't help but smile at how awesome it is that we've raised more than twice as much.

To me, it really doesn't matter that one person raises more than another. What matters is that all of us reach our minimum fundraising goals and that all of that money goes to cancer research.

Thanks in large part to so many of you, earlier this week, I reached my minimum fundraising requirement of $1,750.00. My cousin Candy's $250.00 donation put me over. And my eight-year-old nephew, Michael's $5.00 donation (from his very first allowance) was the cherry on top.

Although my goal is to raise as much as we can, at this juncture, my priority is insuring that my fellow "Cancer Crusaders" have reached their minimum fundraising goals, as well. So to enter this contest, please make your donation to either Margaret or Charlie's fundraising page and don't forget to leave a comment on THIS post.

If you donate $10.00, you will be entered 2 times; if you donate $20.00 you will be entered 4 times. And so on. All of the entries will be placed in to an excel spreadsheet and the winner will be selected using a random integer generator on Wednesday March 11.

Is anyone having as much fun as me? Seriously, if I didn't need to actually work to make money to fund these giveaways, I could honestly see doing this for a living.

*******

Do you visit BabySteps? Carolyn's Board? Triplet Connection? Mothering.com? Please let people know to head over and enter for a chance to win. In doing so, they will be expediting the cure of a disease that takes one life every 10 minutes and is the number one cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 14.

OK, ready ... set ... GO!

Be Amazing

Most of the people that read this blog already know who I am.

But if you're new here ... Hi.

My name is Jen. This is my blog. (This is the only decent picture I could find of myself where I wasn't wearing a wedding gown.)


The man with his arms raised is my husband, Charlie. (We need to have pictures taken of ourselves more often.)


These are our four-year-old triplets, William, Carolyn and Elizabeth.


This is our one-year-old toddler, Hurricane Henry.


We are on a mission to cure cancer.

Oh, it's a lofty goal, we know. And we realize that there are a lot of different forms of cancer. But we're doing what we can to raise money for research because we believe that the cure for one form may lead to the cure for others. And cancer is one of those things that must be stopped.

My cousin Raymond died from cancer in 1976.

My Aunt Dorothy died from cancer in 1976.

My Aunt Carolyn died from cancer in 1986.

My mother-in-law Jeanne died from cancer in 1992.

My cousin Andrea died from cancer in 1996.

My college buddy Tom died from cancer in 1998.

My Aunt Barbara died from cancer in 2001.

My dear friend Julie died from cancer in 2005.

My cousin Paul died from cancer in 2006.

My neighbor Anne died from cancer in 2009.

My sister Mary was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2008.

My Uncle Bill, a man who has never smoked a cigarette, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and given three months to live in 2005. He is still fighting his cancer battle due in large part to the tremendous strides that have been made in cancer research and treatment.

Six months ago, my friend Deana - a mother to two young sons - was diagnosed with stage 4 Burkitt's lymphoma. Just when everyone thought the cancer was gone and Deana was in remission, the cancer came back with vengeance. Recently doctors told Deana that chemotherapy isn't working and she needs to contact Hospice. This week, Deana flew from California to Texas with the hope that the treatment she receives at MD Anderson will save her life.

These are just a few of the people in our life that have been affected by cancer.

We are frustrated hearing the stories. We are frustrated when another loved one is struck down by this horrific disease. We are frustrated feeling like there is nothing we can do except bake lasagna, pray and send cards. We are frustrated with feeling afraid.

Who is next?

Me?

Charlie?

God forbid, one of our precious children?


It happens. All too often.

We are frustrated with feeling helpless.


And we are not alone.

Along with my cousin Margaret, Charlie and I are running the San Diego Rock N' Roll marathon, to benefit the The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on Sunday, May 31, 2009.

Up until very recently, none of us could run more than a mile. (I still barely can.) But all of us are dedicated to raising money that will fuel the research for a cure. All of us are dedicated that once this race is over, we will not stop. We are going to keep raising money for a cure for as long as we are physically able, or a cure is found, which ever comes first.

Three weeks ago, we began fundraising for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Twenty-two days later, we have raised over $5,000.00. Never in our wildest dreams did we think that we would raise so much money so quickly, especially during a recession. Never once did we imagine that people, especially those we've never met, would donate so generously to this cause.

But it seems everyone has been touched by cancer. Today while at the dentist office, I told the receptionist about our involvement with The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and she told me that she had never known anyone that had cancer. Just then, her coworker leaned over and confided that she was currently battling uterine cancer.

It's everywhere.


We are committed to exceeding our minimum fundraising goals. To that end, every week until Charlie tells me that I have to stop hosting giveaways, I am planning to hold a new contest with a prize that will be raffled off in return for a 100% tax deductible donation to fund cancer research. The details for any contests that are currently underway can be found in the top left hand corner of the blog under the title, "Go Deana GO!"

We know we are going after Moby Dick.

But we're bringing along the tartar sauce.

So we hope that you will help us.

We hope that you realize cancer does not discriminate based on age, gender, religious viewpoints, political viewpoints, financial status, highest-level of education received, or national origin.

We hope that you will challenge yourself to become physically strong because if you are able, there is nothing stopping you. We hope that you will become inspired to use your physical strength to do things for those who cannot and in doing so, we hope that you will discover you have the ability to be amazing.

We hope that you will grab this button and help spread the word. It is free to a good home. Lisa: all you need to do is open layouts > page elements > add a gadget > link list > then paste the HTML code in to the content section of the HTML/JavaScript box and select a name for the button which you'll type in under Title. Once you save the changes, the button will show up in the sidebar of your blog. (And once it does, I'll send you a box of Joe-Joe's.)


<a href="http://amazingtrips.blogspot.com/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3314/3293290919_9f233e0e03_o.png"/></a>

We hope that you will join us on this amazing trip to help end cancer.

(Coming soon: t-shirts and wristbands. OK. Soon might be Christmas 2010. Unless I can find more time in the day or at least, convince the children that a three-hour nap is a GOOD idea.)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

what's in you wednesday

I took the names of all the people who left me a comment on the iPod post that made a donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and plugged their names in to an excel spreadsheet.

Since the minimum donation to participate in this giveaway was $5.00, if someone made a $25.00 donation, they were entered five times. I then used a random integer generator program to select a winner based on the total number of cells.

And the winner of the iPod shuffle is DENISE.

Congratulations, Denise!!


Please send me an e-mail at TheAmazingTrips (at) gmail.com with your mailing address and I will have the iPod shipped out post haste.

(Unlike the scarf for Karen that is sitting in a package waiting to be mailed ... and the scarf for Stephanie that I had made, but upon learning that she is in NORTH DAKOTA, decided to make over again using a warmer wool.)

Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed thus far. In just under four weeks, between the three of us, we have raised almost $4,000.00 for cancer research. At the rate we are going, I am really hopeful that we will not only meet our goals but exceed them.

Margaret has been concerned that since she was flying in to San Diego, some people might think that she was fundraising for a vacation. But in regards to why her fundraising goals are higher than ours, we reached out to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and this is the response we received:

"We maintain a ratio of 25% expenses and 75% towards the mission for our fundraising goals. Therefore, for every dollar expense we incur for you, we ask that you raise $4 to make up for it. This is a good ratio that other nonprofits and we are proud of. Every fundraiser (balls, walks, mail campaigns) have some expenses, but we make sure ours are always less than 25%. So adding a $500 flight to your expenses will add $2000 to your fundraising goal. (San Diego Team doesn't have to buy that flight). They still have all of our other expenses. (Probably a hotel, dinners in San Diego, race entry, coaches fees, powerade, shirts, etc)."

I hope to have the next contest up by this Friday.

Now. On to other important matters.

This past Saturday I ran seven (7) miles.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

OK. So I didn't run all of the seven miles. But as Charlie said, I successfully propelled myself in one direction for a total of seven miles without stopping. I don't know what surprised me more. The fact that I was able to propel myself in one direction for seven miles without stopping, or seeing the look of disbelief when I told my husband that I had successfully completed the seven-mile course.

He was stunned. He thought that I'd only make it three or four miles, at most.

And I in turn was stunned that he was stunned.

Why wouldn't I make it seven miles?

Did I not give birth to triplets? Did I not breastfeed triplets? Did I not get triplets to sleep through the night when they were three-months-old? Did I not successfully potty train triplets?

Yes, so maybe that last one took me a year longer than it should have, but if there is one thing I possess it's stamina. I'm sure this marathon will be the same way. I very well may be among the last to finish, but I will get there.

Sunday, while Charlie went for his seven-mile run pushing the boys in a stroller, I stretched my legs out by going for a five-mile walk while pushing the girls in a stroller. And after taking off a day on Monday, yesterday, I ran on a treadmill at the YMCA.

I like running on a treadmill because I like knowing the exact distance I cover. But I don't like running on a treadmill because it is terribly boring and my feet fall asleep even faster then when I'm on the road. Still, it was getting late by the time I was able to run yesterday and I felt safer running inside than outdoors in the dark.

I had only run on a treadmill two times, previously. The first time, I stumbled and inadvertently disconnected the magnetic safety piece that shuts the treadmill off. In doing so, the track came to an almost instant stop and I pitched forward and landed on my knees. The second time, I disconnected the magnetic safety piece five times and had to restart my run, losing all record of the total time, distance covered and calories burned.

Yesterday when I was running, I decided to not affix the leash for the magnetic safety piece to my body and instead, left it dangling over the back of the treadmill. Surely I wouldn't fall on the treadmill. And besides, I didn't want to run the risk of losing all my data should it become accidentally disconnected.

At some point around three miles, I could feel my feet start to go completely numb. And it seems that when your feet go numb on a treadmill you become a little unstable. I was about to slow my pace from 5.5 to 2.5 and step on to the side rails, when suddenly my numb feet which weren't being picked up high enough to take a step, snagged on the track.

If my magnetic safety piece had been intact, I would have just tripped and stopped.

But because the track was still moving at 5.5, I pitched forward before falling backwards and then was whipped off the treadmill. The rest is kind of a blur although I do remember seeing my feet at eye level as I flew through the air.

I landed on the ground with a THUD a solid seven feet behind the treadmill I had been on and the woman who was on the treadmill next to me, looked back with her mouth wide open and asked, "OH MY GOD! ARE YOU OK?!" The gym staff who were working in the glass enclosed office came running out and tried to help me up.

But I jumped up off the ground and feeling only slightly embarrassed quickly shot out, "OH YES! I'm sure I'm fine! I ... I ... I have a little problem with my feet. They like to take a nap whenever I run. But oh yeah, I'm totally good! I'm actually training for a marathon. And look at that, I made it three whole miles before getting hurled in to space!! WOO-HOO!!"

Now that I've almost broken body parts twice while running on a treadmill, I've decided to stick with running on surface streets. I much prefer running outside while pushing the children in their stroller. Especially if my run involves a stop at Target where I can pick up a fun-pack of M&Ms.

As you can see, I am so hard core. (And just as I wrote that sentence, I suddenly understand why my husband was amazed that I was able to complete seven miles.) What?! Eating candy isn't something you should do while you run? But why not?!

So what's in you and how are you doing with your goals?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

i'm at a loss

We live in an area of the country where we can take our children swimming, in an outdoor pool, any day of the year. Except for those days the pool requires shock treatment because someone *forgot* to put their baby in a swim diaper.

No, it was not me.

Or Charlie.

Or any of our children for that matter.

For the past four days, we have spent the majority of our time floating in the pool on boogie boards. This is winter in Southern California. This is February.

Recently, we were approached with an opportunity to move. It would happen in a few months, after our marathon. But it would take us out of California and put us elsewhere in the country. Somewhere it is unlikely we could float on boogie boards in the middle of February. Or enjoy an average annual temperature of 65 degrees.

I really don't know what is more difficult.

Making a decision over what the best thing is for our family and where our future will be ... or, watching this video, while sipping a cup of Earl Grey, and not having hot tea shoot out my nose.

Ooga. Chakka. Hooga. Hooga. Ooga. Chakka.



What's with the dogs? And the angels?

I am so confused.

(edited to add: The sound of moving, much like the song in this video, sounds really nice to me. But when I try to envision moving and leaving our home for the past 12 years ... when I try to imagine what our lives would be like outside of California ... I feel queasy, like I'm standing on the seat of a moving motorcycle. Maybe I just need to throw on my bear suit and take a bite out of the fish that is life?)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the global community

I think that one of the most amazing things about the internet is that you have the ability to meet so many people that you might never actually meet. Every time you sit down and fire up that plastic computer, you enter in to worlds that are similar - or vastly different - from your own.

You might meet people that live on the other side of the world, or you might meet people that live just down the street. You might meet people who are leading lives that you could never imagine. Or perhaps they are in a similar place in their lives, to your own. Or perhaps they are making their way through places you've already been and you can only offer words of support and encouragement.

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a fellow blogger that happens to live in San Diego. He is the father of three-year-old girl-boy twins, and although we've never met, I know that he lives within my neighborhood.

Along with 3,000,000 other people.

The point of his note was to ask for help.

Matthew is the Director of a local YMCA and February is the month that they have their annual fundraising drive. Normally, he would be ahead of the curve with his fundraising efforts, but in mid-January, his wife suffered a psychotic breakdown due to severe depression.

During her breakdown, she purchased plane tickets for herself and the twins to fly away, without her husband's knowledge. But for whatever reason, at the very last minute, she didn't go through with her plans and instead, abandoned her children at the airport and drove home. She called 911 to tell them that her three-year-olds were at the airport and while one police car went to pick up the children - another went to pick her up.

The father was notified shortly after the police picked up the twins and he was reunited with them within hours. Luckily they were safe and while clearly traumatized, they have been doing better and better each day. His wife, meanwhile, is now in a psychiatric hospital and they have no idea if and when she will be well enough to leave.

This story absolutely rocked me.

I immediately felt such compassion for the mother. Having read their family blog, I know how much this mother loves her children. But having raised three-year-old multiples myself, I also know the kind of emotional and mental toll three-year-old multiples can take on your psyche. Charlie joked that my plan to drop our three-year-olds in Mexico was because I wanted to immerse them in a second language.

But really?

I just wanted quiet and the absolute cessation of responsibility. I very clearly remember feeling like I cannot take this anymore and if someone doesn't step in, I am seriously going to lose my mind. Thankfully, THANK YOU GOD, we had ice cream in the house that day. And thankfully, things are so much easier for me now. Sure, there are crazy moments, but by and large, four-years-old is a whole lot better than three-years-old. Not once in the past 96-hours have I even once considered auctioning our kids off on eBay.

See, I joke. But this parenting gig is damn tough work.

Suffice to say, the life of this family has been completely turned upside down. The father has transitioned to a single parent role overnight and while he did have some help from family for the first week and a half, he is now on his own with the two children. And in the midst of trying to care for his two small children and run the house and stay connected with his recovering wife, he has a YMCA to run.

A YMCA that is located a stone's throw from the Mexican/U.S border.

The YMCA that he directs is situated in a low-income community that is comprised of many families struggling to achieve the American dream. It provides childcare to hundreds of families, much of it at a free or reduced-cost. This year in particular has been an especially challenging one because requests for financial assistance have risen almost 200% over last year and they are struggling to keep up their pledge of never turning anyone away due to an inability to pay.

When Matthew sent out a plea for help, people that he has never met, immediately stepped up. Bloggers from all over the country offered various services that he could offer on an auction that is being hosted to benefit the Border View YMCA.

Here's a link to the auction page, if you are interested in checking it out and perhaps helping this worthwhile cause.

I had considered making one of my scarves for the auction, but seeing as it took me begging for people to bid $1.00 on one of my handknit creations, I decided that my best contribution would be a donation directly to the program.

Anyway. This global community warms my heart. If not for this global community, I never would have met Deana. Who tomorrow, will be boarding a plane with her husband, Jack and flying to MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas.

From Jack's update earlier this evening, "We're extremely hopeful these doctors see something new, and Wednesday's visit is much more than an initial consultation -- I have no intention of leaving that hospital without Deana being admitted to the Lymphoma unit. Deana's treatment --whatever the experts deem--needs to resume immediately her doctor advised us this afternoon. We have no time to waste."

As I was reading through the various comments that were left for Deana on her CaringBridge website, I noticed that a Facebook Support Group that was founded for Deana on Friday, has recruited almost 800 members, a mere three days later. That is over 700 people, from around the world, that are praying for a woman that many of those people have never met. And that doesn't even include the people that are praying for her that aren't on Facebook. The scores of people that are holding this family in their hearts and wishing for a miracle.

There is a lot of pain and sadness in this world.

But it truly makes my heart jump with joy when I see firsthand, the potential that people have for good. Don't doubt it for a moment. Life really is beautiful.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

my little sweet tooth

I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies this past week. In the process of doing so, I pulled out all of the various ingredients that I would need.

Noticing that I was running low on chocolate chips, I ran to our outside refrigerator to get a new 72-oz Costco-sized bag. As I was walking back to the kitchen, I could hear one of our small children's chairs being pushed across the tile floor. I was thinking to myself that one of the children saw that I was about to begin baking and wanted to pull up a chair to help.

But then I rounded the corner and was quite surprised to see that my baby had pushed the chair up to the counter and was standing on it.

High on his tippy toes, he was peering in to the almost empty bag of chocolate chips.


This baby. This little angel in my life, woke the entire house up with his cries last night at 11:30. He was up again at 1:30 and 3:15 and when I didn't pick him up, but instead gave him a sip of water - his pacifier - and told him "HUSH! GO BACK TO SLEEP!" he woke everyone up again at 4:00 AM screaming, "Mama! MAMA!! MAMAAMAMAMA!!! APPWLES!!!"

Charlie and I were completely exhausted today. As we were exhausted yesterday. And Friday. And every day last week, last month and last year.

Just as we will be exhausted tomorrow.

Our exhaustion doesn't have to do with training for a marathon. Or raising triplets. Or even working. While laying in bed at 4:30 this morning, we were animatedly discussing how and when we will ever get this child to sleep through the night in our small and almost completely doorless house. We discussed moving Henry's crib in to William's room (with a door) and moving William in with the girls. And then, we'll just close the door and give everyone a set of earplugs.

But I spoke with my sister-in-law today who has a little boy a few weeks older than Henry. A baby that she is also still nursing, in a house that is even smaller than ours. She told me that she just moved my nephew in to her bedroom so that when he wakes, she can scoop him up before he disturbs my brother and three-year-old twin nephews.

I really cannot stand to hear my baby cry, especially since I know that I have the ability to make him perfectly content. I have exactly what it is that he wants and needs and I know that it really won't be that much longer, relatively speaking, that he will need me in the capacity that he needs me, right now.

So ... I've decided that I am either going to move him in to our room, or put a bag of chocolate chips in to his crib. Thus far, it's the only thing that quiets him down like appwles.

Friday, February 20, 2009

favorite thing friday

Last November, Charlie and I dropped off a few meals for Deana and her family. Because they live an hour north of us, we stayed for a little while and let our children play with Jack and Deana's two little boys, Zachary and Zane.

While we were there, I noticed that Zach and Zane each had a monogrammed Pottery Barn Kids anywhere chair. I had been eying those very same chairs in every issue of the PBK catalogue since our triplets were babies. And last year, I had finally made up my mind that I was going to make the big purchase and buy one for each of our four children at Christmas.

But when I asked Deana what she thought of the chairs, she said she didn't care for them too much and was very disappointed in the quality. Apparently, the chairs are comprised of foam pieces that are velcroed together and they don't "stick" very well. The pieces would detach from one another and the chair would quickly lose it's form.

I was so glad to have that nugget of information before I dropped $500.00 on four chairs and non-returnable personalized slip covers.

Still, I wanted some kind of soft chair that each child could call their own. So I did a little more research and ultimately settled upon the PBK anywhere bean bag chair.

What I like about these beanbag chairs is that the durable covers come in a variety of different colors. When the covers are closed, there is small lock that holds the zipper shut. A locking feature is very necessary on something like a chair that is filled with 10,000,000,000 beads. Especially when you have children that sometimes act like goats and pull anything they can get their hands on apart.

The covers are machine washable and the bags can be stashed in a corner when they are not in use. And because they are so durable, I suspect that these bags will last the children for several, several years. (Optimistically hoping that until they are at least teenagers?)

They can be monogrammed with up to eight (8) characters in one of four different fonts. Of course I didn't even think about how many letters our children had in their names until the week before Christmas when I was completing my online shopping. And it was then that I assigned the nickname of Liz to our second born because I figured that was a better option than intentionally misspelling her name "Elizbeth" on a chair that she'll have through her entire childhood and adolescence.

Our children love their bean bag chairs and I love them, too. They will tote them around from one room to the next and use them as chairs, launching pads, nests, beds and walls to their forts.

Do you like them? Do you want one?

For a $5.00 donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society via either Margaret, Charlie or yours truly and a comment left on THIS post, you will be entered in to a raffle to win one, regular sized - solid cover bean bag chair with a personalized cover, from Pottery Barn Kids. (Estimated value including tax and shipping is ~$125.00).

Your donation is 100% tax deductible.

Your donation is fueling research for a cure.

Your donation will help people like Deana who at 39-years old, with two little boys, should be thinking of worms and snails and puppy dog tails and not praying that this next round of chemotherapy will save her life.

Winner will be announced in on Wednesday, March Fourth.

So please MARCH FORTH and spread the word on this contest. Since ideally, I'd like to have the total of donations exceed the cost of the bean bag chair. Makes sense. Right?

Ready, set, GO!

(ps: I haven't yet had an opportunity to look in to adding a Paypal donation button to the blog, but I hope to do that, soon. If and when I get that squared away, any donation that comes to me via Paypal, I will forward to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. And if you provide me your e-mail address, they will send you a receipt for tax purposes.)

do you pray?

I just received this update from Deana's husband, Jack.

If you believe in the power of prayer, please keep this beautiful family in your hearts. I know my heart is breaking for what they are going through. And yet, I've never felt so motivated.

************

Dearest family and friends,

Deana and I met with her doctor today and received some disturbing news. Apparently Deana's cancer is not responding at all to the chemotherapy treatment she's been receiving these last several weeks. It has started to appear on the right side of her face causing a numbing sensation that Deana describes as 5 Novocaine shots after a dentist visit.

Deana has tried two different chemotherapy protocols and is now going to start a third (possibly final) no later than Monday. We will know in as little as two weeks if it is successful. To our shock and utter dismay, the doctor is not optimistic about this round of chemotherapy, but given the odds are greater than zero, we charge forward. We will not give in.

Tomorrow, Deana's oncologist and I will each be contacting medical oncologists at M. D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, TX. Apparently their lymphoma treatment is the most progressive and if there are applicable clinical trials with experimental drugs -- should it come to that -- that hospital will be leading those efforts.

Deana wanted me to let everyone know that while we are hopeful, and are trying to remain positive, that the doctor did tell us that given the aggressive nature of Deana's cancer, we are dealing with just a matter of weeks for Deana if not addressed. He has encouraged us to contact Hospice.

I apologize for the impersonal nature of this update, but wanted to make sure to keep you all informed. Please keep Deana and our boys Zane and Zachary in your prayers. It means so much to us. We need them now more than ever.

On a much happier note, when asked last week by his teacher how Zane's parents met (apparently a Valentine's Day exercise at school), he responded: "They ate chocolate donuts, brown donuts and chocolate donuts and just fell in love."

Priceless. This hangs on our refrigerator now.

Please, please take the extra moment to hug your spouse and kids today and often.

Either I or Deana will post an update just as soon as we know more.

God bless you all,

Jack

Thursday, February 19, 2009

much like a can of sardines

We've reached that point where we either need to split the children up ...





Or get a larger tub.

what's in YOU wednesday

Last week, I received an e-mail from my boss, Dave.

Dave has been my boss for the past five years. He became my boss when he transferred from his assignment in Melbourne Australia to southern California. Dave is married and has two grown boys. In his lifetime, Dave has completed over 100 triathlons. Every single day, he does something active. One day he'll run six miles before he starts work. Another day he'll swim two miles during lunch. On the weekends, he'll ride his bike 50 miles or more, up and down the Pacific Coast Highway.

Dave doesn't "train" for triathlons.

He's just always ready.


At 52-years-old, Dave is a bona fide stud. He ran a half marathon a couple weeks ago, with his Labrador Retriever Zoey, in just over an hour and a half. But to talk with him, you'd never ever guess that he was an accomplished athlete. He is one of the most unassuming and humble people I've ever met. And I'm not writing this to earn brownie points because Dave doesn't read my blog.

Dave's job consists of managing an annual budget that exceeds $40 million. I can't say exactly how many people Dave manages directly because in addition to the ten people in my group, Dave just recently picked up the supervision of a few more personnel in South America. But I would estimate that all told, more than 200 people ultimately report to Dave.

Dave travels constantly.

Every week he is going somewhere new. Virginia. Oregon. Texas. Florida. New York. Brazil.

Today he was in Los Angeles.

Tomorrow, he'll be in San Diego meeting with me.

What I really appreciate about Dave, other than the fact that he is a great boss who pushes his employees to strive for continuous improvement, is that Dave is as inspiring in his personal life as he is in his professional life. It's the way that he lives. The way that he balances everything. The way that he makes taking care of his body a top priority.

Dave makes me realize that it doesn't matter how busy you are, you can always make the time to take care of you. And when you take care of you, it's likely that everything else in your life will operate that much better.

Soon after Dave started working with our group, he sent out inivitations to join him in various athletic events. We rode our bikes with him in the Los Angeles City marathon in 2004. Then, when the triplets were a year old, Dave asked for Charlie to form a relay team with two of my co-workers in the Los Angeles triathlon. Since then, Dave has inspired almost every single person within my group and their spouses ... and several of our consultants ... to participate in his "challenges".

Last week, Dave sent out an e-mail titled, "What's in YOU?"

(What's in YOU will forever more be the title of these Wednesday posts. I like that a lot better than weigh-in, because these posts really had nothing to do with weight. At least not mine!)


From one of his worldly business trips, Dave informed all of my co-workers that the San Diego International Triathlon is coming up in June. And although he will be participating in the entire event as an individual, he wants for his employees to pull together teams to challenge our consultants. Before I even had an opportunity to digest his e-mail, Dave established two relay teams comprised of me and Charlie (and my coworkers and their spouses) and then, sent an invitation to all of our consultants, encouraging them to set up teams so that we could have a face-off.

It now seems that less than a month after we complete our marathon, Charlie and I are scheduled to participate in the San Diego International Triathlon.

On the one hand: Considering I fell OFF the treadmill this week while I was running at the YMCA, I'm a tad bit concerned over my ability to do all of these events. But on the other hand: I really need these types of goals to inspire me.

Additional inspiration comes from an e-mail that I read which was written by one of the passengers on US Air Flight 1549. The passenger had summarized his experience of surviving a plane crash and coming so close to death, he determined that there are four important lessons to live by.

1. Cherish your families as never before and go to great lengths to keep your promises.

2. Be thankful and grateful for everything you have and don't worry about the things you don't have.

3. When you fly, wear practical clothing. You never know when you'll end up in an emergency or on an icy wing in flip flops and pajamas and of absolutely no use to yourself or anyone else.

4. Keep in shape. You never know when you'll be called upon to save your own life, or help someone else save theirs.

All of these lessons are important.

But that last lesson about keeping in shape is something that I hope to always strive towards. Not just because it makes me feel good to be in shape, but because as the passenger noted, you never know when your life - or someone else's - might depend upon your physical abilities.

Now Charlie and I have been talking a lot over the past few weeks about this marathon that we are training for and we are both excited. Charlie is excited to run. I am excited to fund raise. And quite honestly, I am beyond thrilled that over the past two weeks, between the three of us, we have raised more than $2,000.00 to fuel research that ultimately will find a cure to cancer. Considering we still haven't sent our letters out (but they are stuffed and awaiting postage) I am really thankful to all of you who have made a donation to this important cause.

In case anyone is interested, Margaret received an e-mail from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society yesterday, wherein they stated that as of July 2008, no human embryonic stem cell research is currently funded by the organization. This is a huge relief for me and my predominantly Catholic family.

After my mother's beloved neighbor and very close friend of our family lost her battle to breast cancer this past weekend, Charlie and I have both decided that whatever races we participate in from this point on, we are going to do while fundraising for some type of cancer research. I can't think of any better way for us to remain inspired to continue working out, than to know that for each race we participate in, we are raising money for a cure. I plan to post at least one new contest each and every week until all three of us reach our fundraising goals. The next contest will be up this coming Friday.

Let's see. What else to discuss?

Oh yes!

The winners for the two handknit scarves, as determined by a random generation program, are Karen Moden and Stephanie A.

Congratulations and thank you so much for participating!!

I knit one scarf in black and grey and one in pink. So the first person to send me an e-mail specifying the color that they would like will get it.

And if anyone is really heartbroken that they didn't win a scarf, I'll make you one - in whatever color you would like - for a $50.00 donation to the cause. If you would like a handknit scarf > please send an e-mail to TheAmazingTrips at gmail.com and specify the colors that you would like. While keeping in mind that although I will happily make a scarf in return for a donation, I cannot guarantee that I will get you that a scarf before our marathon. Between training for a marathon and now also a triathlon, it seems I'm a little delusional busy these days.

But as time permits, I will be making some substantial changes to this blog in the near future. Or hopefully by Christmas 2012. For now, at the top of my blog - in the sidebar - you will notice that the most awesome Hilary from ScrapBlogDesignsbyHilary made us our very own button. (Thank you again Hilary!!) If you are so inclined, you can grab the HTML code at the bottom of that button and add it to your own blog or website.

(In fact, I would love you a lot if you did.)

Be Amazing. Join the amazing trip to help cure cancer. You can contribute to the fund. Or, you can get yourself out there and raise money for a cure to something that is near and dear to your heart.

Why not?

What's stopping you?


What's in YOU and how are you doing with your goals?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

fur real

When I wrote about hairy feet a few weeks ago, what I meant to say is that I cannot imagine waxing my toes, from the sheer pain factor. I must have received at least 20 e-mails from people "confessing" that they waxed their feet and really, it's the most simple solution to foot hair removal. Granted, my experience with waxing is rather limited, but from what I can remember before blacking out, waxing hurts. And, it seems my body doesn't "respond" very well to have hair ripped out of it by the root.

Several years ago, shortly after Charlie and I began fertility treatments, my mother came to visit. And during her visit she commented on what she thought was dirt on my face.

I remember she held my chin in her hands and with her eyes squinting at my upper lip she said, "It looks like your face is dirty. Are you sure you're washing your face? Are you using soap? Are you scrubbing? Maybe you need to use a Buf-Puf? Do you want me to send you some?"

(Since my mom had retired as a nurse from 3M, she has a seemingly endless supply of Buf-Pufs.)

I exasperatedly replied, "Mom. My face is NOT dirty. Yes, I'm sure I wash with SOAP. And yes, I'm sure that I am SCRUBBING. I don't know what you are talking about. Maybe it's YOUR eyes?" Then, sensing an unfortunate fall out to my remark, I quickly added, "Or, maybe the light in here isn't very good...?"

We turned on another light and after more scrutiny, mom was convinced that there was something on my face that shouldn't be there and she gently suggested I have my lip waxed.

The day after I went through this brutal waxing process, the entire area surrounding my mouth broke out in a rash. Or, what I thought was a rash. Over the next two weeks, the rash turned in to large red pustules before finally fading away. But for two solid weeks, it looked like I had been blowing bubbles in hydrofluoric acid.

When I received a phone call from the "beautician" that I was due for another waxing, I told her what had happened and she was certain that my reaction was a one time ordeal. My body couldn't be allergic to wax. She'd never heard of such a thing! So, I went back and had it done again. And that second procedure hurt worse than the first and for the next month, the whole lower half of my face was covered in zits.

I had a zit goatee.

Then to add insult to injury, I had to have my driver's license picture renewed.

When I went to visit my dermatologist the year after our triplets were born and I pointed out what my mother believed was dirt on my face, she told me that the discoloration was frequently called a "mask of pregnancy" and was due to the increase in hormones from fertility treatment, and incubating another life (or three) in one's own body.

It had nothing to do with dirt. Or hair. So I just cannot imagine waxing my sensitive toes and inflicting that kind of pain on myself. My lesson learned from that experience is that I'll take a hairy face or hairy feet any day of the week and thrice on Sunday.

Or, I'll just wear clogs and a TurtleFur.

Now, speaking of fur.

A few weeks ago, it became obvious that some kind of animal had died in our garage. Within a matter of days, what started out as a slight odor grew to a stench that would knock the wind out of me. It got so bad that I couldn't even go out to the garage. Instead, if things needed to be put out there, I would just open the door and with my faced turned the opposite way, randomly throw them in to the stinky space, with the mental note, "I'll deal with that once the rotting carcass is removed."

Charlie ripped the entire garage apart trying to find the deceased critter, to no avail. Ultimately, he determined that a mouse or some kind of rodent, had climbed inside of our refrigerator and died. And to get the animal out, he would need to empty the refrigerator of it's contents, flip it upside down, and take it apart.

And since he had no idea how to do that, he didn't.

So the stench continued.

One afternoon, when the children were anxious to go on a bike ride, I gave everyone strict instructions before we entered the stink zone. I told them, "HOLD YOUR BREATH. Do not breathe through your nose or you will likely throw up. I will open the garage door and once I do, you need to RUN through the garage and stand in the driveway. I will bring out your bicycles and helmets. OK. ARE YOU READY?"

The plan was executed well. The kids ran through the garage, holding their noses, and they stood in the driveway waiting for me to grab their bikes and helmets. But as I was going to fetch their bikes, I spotted on the floor ... a dead rat.

Just laying there. Right next to the bikes.


How it was that Charlie missed that rat when he was pulling the entire garage apart remains a mystery. But there it was. In the middle of the floor. The kids all came running back in to the garage and were so interested in seeing the rat that they didn't even want to go for their bike ride. They just wanted to stare at the dead rat.


And through all of this, I screamed. And I'm not even sure why I was unable to stop screaming, seeing as it was a dead rat. Within a day or two of that unfortunate incident, I was in the process of making the girls bed.


And when I pull the quilt up, out pops a snake.


A fake snake, mind you. But a snake, nonetheless.


A toy snake that Carolyn had picked out when her father took her to the Science Center the day before. A toy snake that I didn't even know had been brought in to our house and added to our toy supply. And the screaming in the garage with the REAL dead rat was nothing like the screaming in the girls room when faced with a PLASTIC toy snake.

I can handle comments that elude to me loving one of my children more than another (I was seriously not offended by that). I can handle my husband telling me that the anonymous donor to his fundraising efforts was probably my mother because she favors him over me. I can even handle taking care of five people who were all struck with the stomach flu and vomiting at the same exact time.

But I can't handle waxing.

And I can't handle rodents.

And I can't handle toy snakes that are hidden within my daughters bedding.

And I think that this video might be one of the funniest things I've ever seen.



And now you know almost everything there is to know about me.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

the crush

Did you happen to catch the controversy brewing on my last post?

It all started out harmless enough, with an anonymous commenter suggesting that I write similar "month in review" posts for each of the triplets individually. Because as the children get older, I wouldn't want for any one of my children to feel that I loved them more (or less) than any other of my children.

I responded to the anonymous commenter that the effort that would be required for me to write similar month in review posts for each of my children would be rather extensive. Infact, part of the reason I have skipped a month here and there with Henry is because those posts take me a long time to write. And since we are transitioning out of naps during the day for the kids, the only time that I have an opportunity to update my blog is at night once every one has gone to bed and I've spent an hour or more cleaning up from the day.

And you know what??

Sometimes at the end of a long day, I don't want to gush about how much I love each one of my kids, individually. Sometimes I am so tired that it's a miracle I am able to update this blog at all. More times than once, I have dozed off only to wake up with my head collapsed on my keyboard and there are a few hundred rows of dgjhfkhjklldfgjk.

I do love each of my children. But I don't want to write about them all the time.

I've got other things to write about.


Like weekly weigh-ins. And favorite thing Fridays. And with what little time I have during the week, I'd like to eventually squeeze in a post here and there about closet organization; O'Henry bar preparation; the next steps in knitting; the snake I found in the girls bed last week; home school activities; what Charlie and I are going to do with the rest of our lives seeing as I need to return to work full-time in three months; and last but not least ... facial and toe hair removal.

Tonight I had intended to write about facial and toe hair removal.

But now, I am going to respond to the comments generated from my last post.

And not just the comments generated from my last post, but the TELEPHONE CALL from my mother this afternoon where she pointed out that during a conversation she had with my Aunt Grace earlier in the morning, they had both noticed that I no longer discuss the triplets very much on this blog and everything is about Henry. Henry. Henry.

So clearly he must be my favorite.

If I'm being perfectly honest, sometimes I do favor one child more than another. And this might trouble me, if I didn't notice that every day, my favor generally falls to some one new. From the time they were tiny infants, I have had a crush on any one of my children on any given day.

In so far as Henry ... he is still a baby in my eyes and he very rarely annoys me. He is just cute and cuddly and loves to be held. So my crush on him is rather constant.

As for the triplets, I'm currently crushing on all three of them. They are so unbelievably adorable right now with all of the observations and questions that they have about the world around them. They typically have me smiling all the time, except for when I am FREAKING OUT because they aren't listening to me and they are running about, trashing the house.

There's William who thinks he is Peter Pan and his sisters are Tinkerbell.

He'll stomp around calling for them, "Tink! Tink! Where are you?"

Much to my chagrin, for Valentine's Day, his father bought him an electric megaphone that has not been out of his grasp since Saturday morning. Yesterday he was up at 5 AM tapping on my sleeping head and looking for the megaphone that I had successfully (Thank God) hid the night before. Despite talking with him - for several minutes - he couldn't understand why I wouldn't give him his MEGAPHONE at 5 in the morning so he could go wake up his Tinkerbells.

William has the most vivid imagination, stocked with an imaginary friend named "Tresiam" that he talks about ad nauseam. Tresiam was swallowed by a whale. Tresiam was knocked off the chair by his sister and had to have stitches on his eye. Tresiam is going to be an astronaut. Then as if the most brilliant idea suddenly dawned on him, he'll yell out, "I AM GOING TO BE A ASTWONUT!"

After a long moment he'll ask, "You want to know what I want to be for Halloween?" When I enthusiastically reply, "An astronaut!" he'll shake his head and say, " NO! NO! I'm going to be Peter Pan!"

And then five minutes later.

"Do you want to know what I'm going to be for Halloween?"

"Um. Peter Pan?"

"NO! A SKELETON!"

And then five minutes later.


"Do you want to know what I'm going to be for Halloween?"

"Um. A skeleton?"

"NO! A FIREMAN!"

And then five minutes later.


"Do you want to know what I'm going to be for Halloween?"

"Um. A Fireman?"

"NO MOM! A ASTWONUT!"

And so it goes. On and on.

There's Carolyn who is a pint-sized version of me.

Not only does she look just like me, she loves sweets. Many a night I have been woken from a sound sleep to find her perusing the cupboards for a snack. After we discovered that she had eaten an entire bag of miniature marshmallows one morning while everyone was still in bed, we have had to hide various foods on top of the refrigerator. It cracks me up how she will innocently ask, "Why you put the chocolate chips up there? Why you not put those down here?" and then she'll point at the lowest drawer in the kitchen.

When she asked me that question tonight in regards to some oatmeal cookies we had bought at Costco baked earlier in the day that I was placing up high, I told her, "Because there is a little mouse in this house that likes to eat sweets. This little mouse will come out of it's hiding place at night when everyone is sleeping and it will nibble this and nibble that."

She looked at me with wide-eyes and asked, "A MOUSE? IN THE HOUSE?"

I nodded and continued, "YES! And it will tip toe around very quietly nibbling, nibbling." Then I asked, "Do you know what that little mouse's name is?"

She silently shook her head no, but when I reached my hand to touch her arm and whispered "GRACIE!" she screamed and jumped two feet in the air while giggling uncontrollably.

There's Elizabeth who is our sweetest child, except for when she's not. She is the most loving, gentle soul I've ever come across. All she wants to do is help. All she wants to do is smother her siblings with love and kindness.

But when she is over tired and feeling punchy, she is absolute hell on wheels, matched by none.

Tonight when Charlie and I went to the YMCA to squeeze in a run on the treadmill, I dropped the children off in the nursery and as I was signing them in, I overheard Elizabeth talking to one of the grandmother-aged nursery volunteers in a very soft voice. When I turned my attention to their conversation, I could hear Elizabeth telling her teacher that her friend was sick.

"My fwiend, Deana. She is sick. She has a bug in her tummy named canswah and she is in the hopital." She nodded her head before adding very matter-of-factly, "But I pway for her. And I pway for the people in the ambuwance. And I pway for the wittle babies in the hopital. Did you know I was a wittle tiny baby in the hopital? But I gwew up. I am gwowing and gwowing." As the teacher smiled at my little girl, I could see the tears brimming in her eyes.

Elizabeth just has that kind of effect on people. Whenever I ask her where she came from, she will smile and say, "Daddy says I am a gift stwaight from God."

She sure is.

They all are.

Monday, February 16, 2009

month eighteen and nineteen: in review

I had been intending to write this post for the past month. And just as I was about to sit and recapture some of the moments from your 18th month ... you go and turn 19 months. Time, come she will.


I try not to blink and still, time flies.


One day my newborn baby is lulled to sleep in his sister's doll cradle.


The very next day he is hoisting himself in to that same cradle and rocking it until he squeals with glee.


You are such a baby to me. My baby. But you are growing so fast. Too fast.


Per toddler standard operating procedure, you are in to everything.


One of your favorite past times involves pulling random things off the counter. Why just last week, in the span of 10 seconds, you grabbed a telephone and called our neighbor on speed dial, before scattering an entire bag of granola cereal across the floor.


You watch and absorb everything your siblings do. And sometimes it shocks me just how much you emulate them.


Although I probably shouldn't, I actually trust your capabilities. I know that you won't put small things in to your mouth and 7 out of 10 times, you listen to me better than your older siblings do.


You have mastered climbing our play fort and are almost too fast for me to catch.


You know how to sit and go down the slide.

And you know how to hold on to the rope on the climbing wall, until I realize that you are dangling holding the rope on the climbing wall, and run to rescue you.

With three tutors, you are mastering the English language. You have a repertoire of words that include various foods, body parts and the entire cast of Toy Story.


You love Toy Story. Not so much the movie, as the characters. Currently, your favorite character is Buzz Lightyear. Not surprisingly, it is your brother's favorite character as well. And I am just tickled that the Halloween costumes that I bought five months ago are getting so much use.

At the moment, we only have one hard plastic Buzz Lightyear, which happens to be the most coveted toy in the entire house. Coveted by you. And your brother. Unfortunately, during a recent trip to Target, we learned that the hard plastic Buzz Lightyear is no longer being produced. So until we find another one, we must share, which brings all parties involved much consternation.

Several times throughout the day, you will disappear in to your brother's room, where you will sit and quietly play with Buzz Lightyear and Woody for a half hour or more. Quite often, your older brother tends to get a little crazy when you are playing with these toys - which tends to make me a little crazy - because not only is he hyper-possessive over the one hard plastic Buzz Lightyear, he is going through a phase where he likes to stash any toy that he is not playing with in various hiding places so that you can't find them.

(But rest assured, I always help you out.)


Even though they aren't always the best with sharing, you adore your siblings.

And they continue to adore you.

Your siblings have helped to teach you so much. You know where your nose, eyes, ears, fingers, toes, legs, arms and tummy are and you have mastered eating cereal with a spoon and spaghetti with a fork.

You will work alongside your siblings whenever they do home school activities, contentedly stacking blocks or reading books.


But because you are so determined to keep up with them, you do not like to miss any of the action and will resist naps until you pass out cold.

How it is that your siblings on any given day and if provided the opportunity, will take up to a three hour nap and still sleep a solid 11 hours at night, while you nap no more than 45 minutes during the day and sleep no more than 8 hours at night, is beyond me.

Even though you have robbed, and continue to rob, me of a good night's sleep, I cannot imagine loving you any more than I do. The two of us have such a strong bond that your father will hold one of his hands up high and say, "There is Mommy..." then holding his hand down low to the ground add, "...and then there is everything else."

It often happens when I hold you, that I will think, "This is the best moment of my entire life. This one, right now, this is as good as it gets." So thank you for making my heart so full that it warms my soul. Thank you for making me feel so blessed, that my vision often blurs with tears.

Thank you for coming in to our world and for taking my breath away, on a daily basis.