Sunday, October 4, 2015


I never miss it, well not in the last four years that is.  The impending date of October 4th always sends me back.  It's a combination of remembering the carefree simplicity of life on October 3, 2010 that I can't get out of my mind, thinking if I'd only know what would transpire in the 24 hours to come.
I will always remember the moments of October 4, 2010, how I never saw it coming, how I told Brian we'd be home before he could meet us at Children's Hospital for the quick x-ray that changed everything.  I remember not being able to get cell reception in the Emergency Department, missing a call from Georgia's pediatrician who'd been called by the hospital, my parents turning around when they'd just arrived in Montana to come home, the swarms of people in and out of our room, it was chaos in my mind.
Today, it is a beautiful day in Gig Harbor, fall is in the air but it's still warm, the leaves are beautiful and although I am grateful everyday, October 4th always makes me look around and take inventory of all the simple things I used to take for granted.
I couldn't be more grateful that we are here, a complete family of four.  We went to a nearby park to take in the day and feel the freedom that some may never realize they have.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Today marked Leo's first day of preschool, I'm not sure if he or Georgia was more excited.  We'd been to meet the teacher and made a placemat last week and since then Leo's smiles were growing bigger and bigger each time school was brought up.

Today before Georgia headed off for the bus I asked her if she had any advice for Leo on his first day of school.  She knelt down and looked him right in the eyes and said, "Buddy, remember, don't bite anyone and don't hit anyone... and have fun."  Good advice considering he's in a room full of two year olds.

We took a few pictures then headed for school.  Since it's a co-op preschool I will stay some days and luckily I got to stay today to see his first experience in school.  He found his cubby, hung up his coat, washed his hands and got to work, or rather play.

I was happy to see my sometimes shy guy venture out and explore areas of the classroom without me.  There was the sensory table filled with rice, playdoh, painting but first he headed straight to the play kitchen and began whipping up a meal.  I love how much Leo uses his imagination in playing and pretending.

After circle time, songs, playing outside and having snack it was time for one last song, Leo got up from the snack table and threw away his garbage and went and sat right next to his teacher.  He stayed there (and not by me) for the rest of class happily participating in the last few activities.  Just before leaving for the day, I said, let's go say goodbye to teacher Becky, Leo ran over to her and threw his arms around her.

I'm so happy he had a great day, only 15 more years of school before you'll head off to college Leo, may you always enjoy school as much as you did today.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Beginning

I knew Georgia starting kindergarten would stir some emotion, I think that's true for every parent.  You wonder how this moment could be here already.. didn't we just stop swaddling you and using a highchair?  For me, memories were swirling around and I was feeling so grateful as we counted down the days.

The night before the first day of kindergarten I put the kids to bed early, packed a snack, a lunch and made sure Georgia had everything she needed for the first day.  I picked up the house then crawled into bed and started to cry.  All I could think about was the countless times Georgia had been sedated for procedures and biopsies and bone marrow aspirates.  I would be with her until the Propofal took effect, then be shown the door to leave.  Every time more agonizing than the last.

I kept thinking I needed to snap out of it, what was wrong with me, we're here, she's starting kindergarten, she's healthy!  I settled on something that I've known was true for a while now.  For the time being, Georgia having cancer is my thing, in some ways it's had more of an impact on my heart than her body.  She's a happy girl who just wants to live life, she literally wakes up singing and smiling.  I want to keep that going for as long as humanly possible.  So, I sucked it up and cheered her on all the way to the bus.

She had a fantastic first day.  She was up at 6:45am ready to go.  She asked about 10 times if it was time to walk to the bus stop and when it was she obliged me with a few more pictures.  I had asked if she wanted me to meet her at the school to make sure she found her classroom, she politely declined.  I knew she was ready for this day.  She barely turned around to say goodbye when the bus arrived, she took the seat behind the bus driver and was all smiles.  As the bus drove away I smiled, with a giant lump in my throat, I couldn't be more proud.

When I got home my phone popped up with a picture from Time Hop, an app that shows you posts you've made on this date in the past.  Four years ago on September 8th, Georgia had a visit from her cousins, they came over wearing their Team Georgia shirts, Georgia had just had an MRI and her first ever NG tube placed, this was the picture.
September 8, 2011

Like most parents, I posted my child's first day of school picture on Facebook and smiled at the amazing comments that poured in, my favorite was from Mr. Germany, congratulating her and reminding me that Kindergarten is a German word, I told him I thought Georgia should get extra credit for that!
September 8, 2015

When it was time to pick up Georgia from the bus, Leo was happy to retrieve his sister, he missed her!  Georgia came bounding off the bus and went straight to her brother and gave him a giant hug.  She was just as she'd been when we saw her last, all smiles.

I did my best not to pester her too much about her day but when we sat down for dinner she shared a few details from the day.

She played on the monkey bars and swings during recess with two other girls.
She made a new friend on the bus named Lucy.
She had TWO recesses.
If she could be the teacher one day she'd teach math.. "you know mom, like, 3+3=6 and 5+5=10"
She sits at square shaped table with three other girls.

After explaining what rating was, she said that she would rate her day as a nine, because it was so great, but she knew tomorrow would be even better.

Day two proved to actually top day one for Georgia, she seems to be smitten with a boy. She was very giggly when she got off the bus this afternoon and didn't want to walk with me, she wanted to walk with our neighbor, Jaden.  Before parting ways, they both asked if they could have a play date, his mom and I are working out the details.  Later, when I asked what her least favorite thing about the day was, she thought a minute then said, "nothing, it was all good."  When I asked her what her most favorite thing was, she replied with a goofy smile, "playing with Jaden at recess."  I smiled, tried to be very nonchalant saying, "oh, that's great."  Inside my head I was freaking out a little, knowing this is just the beginning.  But for us, the beginning is a great place to be.

Two days before starting Kindergarten, showing her "I'm five and full of sass" look. 

 Sparkly G tennis shoes... I couldn't resist!
 Little brother is very excited for Georgia

 It's the big day!

 Coming off the bus like a pro
 Running to give Leo a giant hug.
First day success!!

Friday, September 4, 2015

To My (Almost) Kindergartner

The past few nights I've snuck into your room, just for a minute I watch you sleep and am overcome with the feeling of pride and gratitude.  I'm so proud of who you are Georgia and I'm so grateful I got to keep you.  In a matter of days you will be embarking on a giant new adventure, kindergarten.  It's hard not think of those times when this seemed nearly unattainable and certainly light years away, yet, it's here.  You're ready.

You are a kind little girl, you make friends easily and love being social.  We've talked about making friends in a new school.  I told you that you don't have to be best friends with everyone but you must be kind to everyone.  We've also talked about standing up for yourself if others are not being kind to you.  It's a delicate balance that you'll practice for years to come.

You have this incredible skill that many people lack, delayed gratification.  I'm always impressed when I hand you a dish full of vitamins, you take the ones you don't like first.  You're willing to wait, often saying your brother can have a treat first.  You see the reward at the end of a task and are willing to work for it.  Last is best, you say, I think trait this will take you far.

You're strong, physically you are gaining speed and strength and were thrilled when you recently made it all the way across the monkey bars without help.

You're excited about learning.  This summer we've been working on sight words and reading, you're thrilled when you get things right but get frustrated really quickly if you don't.  I'm hoping that you can learn to be patient with yourself, take a deep breath and try again.  I'm still learning too.

This summer after we figured out which school you'd be attending, I signed you up for Jump Start. Being new to Gig Harbor and that we are a first time kindergarten family, I think it was good for all of us.  You were able to see your new school, find out where the bathrooms and cafeteria (you called it the cafe) are and most importantly you met some friends and a few of the teachers.

Last week we had a conference with your teacher, Mrs. Boetner, she's very nice and is enthusiastic about teaching kindergarten.  She came back from her honeymoon the night before "meet the teacher" night saying this was her favorite time of year and that she just couldn't miss it.   I think the fact that Mrs. B. was just a bride makes her a little bit magical, perhaps a little like a princess.

We've talked a lot about the first day of school, you're so excited to get started.  I asked if you'd like me to drive you on the first day, you politely declined and told me that you'd rather take the bus.

I couldn't be more proud of you, my advice as you begin this new chapter...

Be brave.
Be kind.
Have fun.

I love you Georgia.

 First day of Jump Start

 Meet the Teacher night
Lunchbox and thermos - check!
 Mrs. B.
 Having a library in your school is very exciting!
 You're an Orca!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Note

On Friday I was beat, it had been a long week and I wasn't up for cooking so I asked the kids if they wanted to go out to dinner, no surprise, the answer was a resounding "Yes!"  I let Georgia choose, she wanted sushi so we packed up and headed to a restaurant near our new house.

The hostess seated us at a table in the middle of the restautant.  After we sat down I told the kids they needed to use their manners and that they needed to stay in their seats during dinner.  Our waiter brought soup and I quickly tried to decide on what to order, knowing the kids could only sit for so long.  We talked and laughed and ate, no major catatrophies.  We were almost done with our dinner when our waiter came by and said, you have dessert coming.  I gave him a confused look and said, why, everything's been great?  He said he'd explain later.

The kids were thrilled at the idea of dessert and estatic when it actually arrived.  After the waiter set the giant dessert plate down he handed me a note, he said it was from a woman who'd been sitting at the sushi bar.  I read the note and wished I could thank her, the dessert was a lovely gesture but the note means so much more.

Dessert was delicious!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Camp Montana 2015

Despite having moved into our new house just three days earlier, all four of us hit the road for Montana in early August.  We were excited to get away, see Grammy & Grandpa and experience it all with the Pittmans.  This year didn't disappoint, there were treasure hunts, swimming, great food, boat rides, alpine sliding and a whole lot more.  We packed it all in and are so happy we did!

When we arrived all four of us went on a treasure hunt to find the new bunk room Grammy & Grandpa had put together for the kids, it was in a word, phenomenal.  Kudos to Grammy and her impeccable eye for design, every detail was thought of and executed so well.
The kids were all thrilled to have such a fun room where all of them could sleep!  Since Leo isn't known for his sleeping skills, so he got a room to himself  to sleep but played right along with the big kids during the day.

Thank you Grammy & Grandpa for another great vacation at Camp Montana!

The Bunk Room, Montana Style:

 Every last detail was thought of, even the pulls on the drawers.

Leo hopped right on the horse for a ride

Boating on Flathead Lake

The grown up kids even got a night out!

 We loved every second of it! 

 My two favorite girls
 Being goofy as usual
Heading up to the mountain to do some alpine sliding 

All four kids did lots of pool time, but these two were unstoppable!

 Leo took, "say cheese" very literally

The whole gang!