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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

He's Here!

I am all out of excuses for neglecting my blog, projects, volunteering and other responsibilities that I have felt "too pregnant" to manage. Griffin Michael arrived without a hitch at 7:56 AM on Thursday, November 30th. He weighed 8 lb. 11.65 oz-weighing in just .35 ounces less than his big brother Landry did. We like them big at our house! He is a cutie and has a very sweet and mild temperament so far. He has a raspy voice, also like big brother Landry which makes his nighttime waking more humorous than annoying. The kid loves to eat which is no big surprise from the size of him. We are all enjoying having him home with us and Mike has been a great Mr. Mom for 2 weeks. I think we will both be sad when he goes back to work next week. I have lots of new photos in Griffin's own new gallery at our Smugmug site so feel free to take a peek. We update every few days.

As for the rest of my life-I have much to catch up on but that will have to wait! I plan on enjoying every minute of this little squirt! Thank you so much for all of your well wishes and happy thoughts!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fall Photos and another Wedding Invitation "Put to Bed"

I spent a few hours this week taking photos of the boys and we had so much fun. The Fall is so beautiful here and lake Erie is such a beautiful backdrop for photos that I can't stand to waste it. Here are some of the best shots of the boys. They seem like such sweet brothers in photos! The camera doesn't always capture the moments of punching and pushing in between loving cherubic smiles! I'm so happy that we took the time to do this.

We are also cheering because the election is over and Mike survived! It is a great feeling and now we can actually enjoy the last few weeks before baby arrives. We just scheduled our delivery for the 30th so assuming Griffin cooperates, we'll be having some excitement early that morning-yahoo! Can't wait!

Just put one more wedding invitation job "to bed" so to speak. The bride and groom to be are very happy and we've all been getting compliments. This is starting to get really fun for me but I can see that I am only going to be able to take clients that are really willing to pay the price for my time. It consumed my life for a lot more time than I anticipated. I had to babysit the printers because I was so concerned about the quality of everything. The photos don't really do the actual pieces much justice but in the end they really did turn out beautiful. The paper is a pearly silver with a blush tone to it. We used vellum envelopes for the outer envelopes so the initials of the B & G showed through underneath the area to be addressed. The bride is adorable and was happy to pay whatever I asked and even brought me a thank you gift because she was so thrilled! Now if only I can count on all of my jobs being so delightful! I'm working on a family Christmas card now so things are moving along! My goal is to start making enough money to justify hiring a housekeeper-isn't that pathetic? A girl has to have goals!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Good Mail, a haven amidst a very busy week!

This week was unbelievably busy for me. I'm sure you are all nodding your heads in agreement as I know you must all spend your days running around in much the same way. A few days ago I was thrilled to see a "Good Mail from Jill" label on a package in my mail box! I love these little surprises and was so excited to open it. Unfortunately I didn't have the time to savor it like I really wanted to at that moment so it had to wait until the day of classroom volunteering, basketball practice, babysitting a neighbors child for a few hours and a doctor's appointment began to wind down before I could sit and soak it in. The goodies included some fun sticky notes (which I use endless supplies of), some Pink Ribbon Tic-Tacs which have already appeased my children on a few occasions while being drug around running errands with mom this week, some really cute stripey ribbon that will be used on a project right away, and a book by Anita Shreve, an author I enjoy reading very much and a title I haven't read yet. How does she do it? It was perfect of course! My mom started her chemo this wee and is not doing well at all with it so on top of the busy days I have been weepy and worried about her in between attempts at concentration on the tasks at hand. Thank you for the kind distraction, Jill. You have intuition beyond comprehension!

After all of the Halloween classroom parties, room volunteering, special hot dog fun lunches at school, errand running, finishing projects for my grandpa's 80th birthday celebration (in Utah and sadly I couldn't attend because of the impending birth of my child), neighbor helping, spelling test studying, lunch making and emergency dry cleaning pick up for my husband who has been in court and local and national TV interviews all week (this might sound like a glamorous brag of sorts but trust me it is NOT), I got two phone calls on Thursday reminding me of 1) a fun rubber stamping class I had signed up for at our brand new Archivers store (yahoo!), and another Dr. appointment scheduled long ago that I had forgotten about that both happen on Friday which I thought was going to be my "take a breath" day. No luck with that. I almost cancelled on the class but I squeezed it in knowing that it might be awhile before I have any down time sans children and I'm so glad I went. It was tons of fun and recharged my battery considerably. The doctor's appointment was not so thrilling but they were on schedule and kind so I can't complain.

The boys in their scary gear with pals at a fun annual party thrown be our neighbors. I'm sad that I didn't take a photo of their yard to show you-it is awesome. They go nuts!

My kids had a great time on Halloween in spite of the fact that mom was hoping an electric wheelchair might appear by the time we got to TOT. I had already spent the day at classroom parties and was tempted to let the kids just go out with a few of the other dads from the street that kindly offered to take the boys but I just couldn't miss out. So I left our treat bucket on the porch with the light on and we set out. The family that owns the original "Ghostbusters" mobile from the movie lives in our neighborhood and brings it out on Halloween to tour the streets and make stops so the kids (and dads!) can take turns witting inside. It is a really fun tradition and something that we just love seeing. They have a full crew dress in jumpsuits and everything-it really is fun to see. I remember seeing that movie in the theater with one of my best girlfriends and her grandma, who recently passed away, so it made me very reminiscent. Strange, but a nice memory.

Since I am on a woe is me roll I have also been crushed about the recent news that our Ward (the group of people that we attend our weekly church meetings with) has been split and dispersed into one new ward (mine as it happens) and two existing wards. It was announced at Stake Conference two weeks ago and everyone is still reeling and adjusting mentally. A lot of my friends and many of the young families are going to the two other wards. I'm sure it will all be fine and we will all enjoy meeting our new Ward this week but it is hard change right before the baby arrives. I loved our Ward and felt so surrounding by friends after being here for such a short time. They say change is good and this does represent a lot of growth in our area so I am working on my positive attitude about it.

So...I feel better now that I have vented and I am going to do absolutely nothing this weekend to recover from the week and get ready for the next one! I am thrilled to announce that we are on the serious baby countdown. Next week we should be scheduling the C-Section delivery of little Griffin Michael Vu so I will keep you all posted.

One more THANK YOU for Jill and this blogland community of friends!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Officially Fall

Today we woke up to a real chill in the air and found that we had a dusting of snow on our roof. Its a little early for my taste but our limited seasonal history in Ohio has taught us that usually we have an early cold snap and then we get just a little Indian Summer right before Halloween allowing for a comfortable evening of jacket-less Trick-or-Treating. We have a little time so we're crossing our fingers and toes!

It is hard to feel the cold since we have really had a beautiful fall so far. Here are some of the great things we've been doing in our amazing weather:

1) Soccer, soccer, and more soccer.

2) Picking apples and pumpkins at Mapleside Farms-a completely enchanting experience I have to say.

3) Halloween partying! In this picture you can see some of the fun Halloween pillowcases we made for some of our favorite friends in Utah. My mom came up with a great little poem set to the basic lyrics of "5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed." Email me for our pumpkins version.

4) Oh...and growing a pumpkin of our own! (Sorry-the evening was dying and I'm wearing black so miraculously you can't fully appreciate my HUGE belly!)

And then when it snowed we decided to "Race for the Cure" at a walking and Burley-riding pace of course. Yes-we had a nice polar blast for our walk but nobody complained. They even had the nerve to serve free "Pink Ribbon Chip" ice cream from our favorite neighborhood ice cream shop, Mitchell's Homemade Icecream .

Thank you once again to all of you who support our race for Cookie! She is doing well and begins her chemo treatments on November 2nd. We expect her hair to start falling out after about 2 weeks of treatments and she has decided to go "hat" rather than "wig" so please send me any ideas you have about cute hat sources!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Race for the Cure Day!

Our family sends a huge thank you to all of you who continue to offer your love, support, prayers, monetary contributions and happy thoughts on behalf of my mom Gwen Drechsler. Tomorrow is race for the Cure day in Cleveland and we are excited to get up bright and early in the chilly weather to walk for our "Cookie"!

Gwen had surgery last week and found that the cancer has travelled to her lypmhnodes so it looks like there will be chemotherapy in her future. That is a bit discouraging but we are all doing our best to remain positive and be hopeful for her cure.

Last year we ached for our young friend Teague May as he battled (and so far has conquered!) cancer in Washington State. His family adopted a motto from the Book of Mormon, "Be of good cheer...". We share this sentiment as we are ever grateful for our blessings and ever hopeful for peace and comfort for our mom, grandma, daughter, sister and friend Gwen. Many kind acts have been sent our way and I am personally so appreciative of friends that have shown love and support in the sweetest ways.

To highlight a few that have taken place:

Kristi C. auctioned one of her adorable handmade Pockets and Posies bags on eBay as part of our fundraising efforts to support our family goal to raise $500 for our Race for the Cure fund.

Another friend, Emily G. made a last minute bid to win the bag and her contribution of $63 will go into the fund.

Amie A. (whom I have never met) sent me a very kind "Good Pink Mail" package full of pink goodies including cozy pink ribbon flannel pajamas, pink ribbon Race Day socks (which I will of course be donning tomorrow!) some fun pink ribbon sticky notes and of course chocolate. Amie's enclosed note shared a personal survival story from her family that instantly brought me "good cheer" and tears to my eyes to realize that we have many supporters all around us who care deeply even for virtual strangers.

Many friends and family members have made financial contributions to our Race effort online to support the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Foundations like these need our support to continue the fight against many cancers affect our friends and family members. It is hard to feel like one in a sea of many but when we look around there are a whole lot of fish swimming right with us.

Evan T. my starving artist little brother in CA has made it a personal project to contribute the proceeds from the sales of his work to support our effort. As a point of interest and to let you know how much this means to me, Evan and I share a biological father. He is doing this for MY mom not his (even though his is wonderful as well!). That is how sweet his involvement is to me.

I can't even name all of you who have promised prayers on our family's behalf but those are perhaps the most needed. We won't understand the why but we trust that there is a reason to draw on our faith and our friendships. Thank you all from my heart of hearts.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sign Language

A message from my brother Evan, the starving and yet generous artist!

Check it out kids. My mom got a call from my sister in Ohio saying that her mom (my sister and I are from the same dad) has some nasty form of Breast Cancer. My sister is asking for people to help her raise funds for her walk in "Race for a Cure". It's an annual event held all over the country by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and helps fund treatment and science in to cancer prevention and an eventual cure.

Since I can barely keep the lights on my house, I really can't give much. But I have made a run of "Sign Language" prints for sale. If you buy one of these prints, a portion of your payment will go towards my sisters donation to "Race For A Cure". Plus you get a sweet signed and numbered print of one my paintings. It's pretty much a win win situation.

Check out to see what the painting looks like.

"Sign Language"
8x10" (printed on 8.5x11" glossy stock)
$10.00 (includes your donation to the "Race For A Cure")

Thanks for helping me help out my sister! if you know anyone that might be interested please forward this to them!


Monday, September 25, 2006

Our Family's Race for the Cure

As many of you know, our family recently received news that our Mom and Grandma, Gwen Drechsler, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She has been given positive news by her doctors that her prognosis is good since it has been caught at an early stage. Her cancer is at stage 2 and it doesn't appear to have spread to the lyphnodes although, further surgery and testing will have to confirm that. She is currently scheduled for surgery next week and once she has recoved from the surgery she will begin radiation treatments. For now they do not feel that chemotherapy will be necessary so we consider that great news.

Our family has decided to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Cleveland, Ohio on October 14th to show our support for our "Cookie". If you would like to support our fundraising efforts please visit our family's fundraising page at:

Mom seems to be hanging in there but of course has moments of feeling anxious and sad. We are doing our best to keep her upbeat and as distracted as possible. I appreciate the notes and calls of support we have already received. Please keep Gwen in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Hints and Tips

Some helpful hints I found in my inbox this AM:

Bed Sheets

After drying my\n sheets, I put both sheets and one pillowcase in the other pillow case. Fold neatly in a square. Next time you change sheets, you just take the one pillow case and all the sheets and pillow case are inside. No need to look for matches. Takes up less storage room too.

Kids Bike ID

If you purchase a new bike for your child, place their picture with name and address on the back in a small ziplok bag and put it inside the handle bar before placing the grips on. If the bike is stolen and later recovered, remove the grip and there is your proof who owns the bike.

Clean your glass shower

To clean the glass in your shower easily, apply lemon juice to the glass with a sponge. Then, take newspaper and wipe the lemon juice off the glass. It will be clean and sparkle with no scrubbing!

Reheat Pizza

Heat up leftover p! izza in a non-stick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy microwave pizza. I saw this on the cooking channel and it really works.

Easy Deviled Eggs

Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up. Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done easy clean up.

Expanding Frosting

When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar/calories per serving.

To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.

Newspaper Weeds-Away

Start putting in your plants, work the nutrients in your soil. Wet newspapers, put layers around the plants overlapping as you go, cover with mulch and forget about weeds. Weeds will get through some gardening plastic, they will not get through wet newspapers.

Broken Glass

Use a dry cotton ball to pick up little broken pieces of glass - the fibers catch ones you can't see!

No More Mosquitoes

Place a dryer sheet in your pocket. It will keep the mosquitoes away.

Squirrel Away!

To keep squirrels from eating your plants sprinkle\n your plants with cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn\'t hurt the\n plant and the squirrels won't come near it.

Easier thank you's

When you throw a bridal baby shower, buy a pack of thank you cards for the guest of honor. During the party, pass out the envelopes and have everyone put their address on one. When the bride or new mother sends the thank you's, they're all addressed!

Flexible vacuum

To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings.

Reducing Static Cling

Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose. Place pin in seam of slacks and -- voila -- static is gone.

Measuring Cups

Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill it with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don't dry the cup. Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.

Foggy Windshield

Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car. When the windows fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth!

Reopening envelope

If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside, just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. Voila! It unseals easily.


Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It's a lot cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth. It's also a great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn't like when you tried it in your hair...

Good-bye Fruit Flies

To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass fill it 1/2" with Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dishwashing liquid, mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!

Get Rid of Ants

Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it "home," & can't digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, esp. if it rains, but it works & you don't have the worry about pets or small children being harmed! Take baby powder to the beach Keep a small bottle of baby powder in your beach bag. When you're ready to leave the beach sprinkle yourself and kids with the powder and the sand will slide right off your skin.

***Any tips to add?***

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Loving the little things...

Yesterday I watched Landry (age 5) for several minutes in the morning while he was eating his breakfast. He was using a fork and knife to cut his Eggo waffles with his signature toppings: syrup and cinnamon. Usually I do the cutting for him, mainly to speed things along during busy mornings but also because his dexterity is that of a five-year-old's. This particular morning he insisted on doing it himself and was doing quite a fine, albeit painstakingly slow, job of it. I finally had to get up and grab my camera because the looks of concentration and success were priceless. Well, of course I got all these great shots only to find that my memory stick was in my computer so I can't show them to all of you. What these few tiny moments brought to my consciousness was a flood of love for the tiny things that we get to experience in the lives of our children. This was probably a one time moment as now each time he picks up a knife and fork to cut his waffles it is going to be easier and easier and one day while sitting at the table with his wife and kids he will likely do it without a crinkled nose and probably won't let out a hoop and holler over getting an actual bite to his mouth on his own. It is a little sad and a mighty triumph all at once. Now, if we can only get him to tie his shoes...

On a sad and serious note, I have to share this news with my community of friends here in blog-land. Our family just found out that my mom has
breast cancer. We are all very sad, anxious, and concerned. My mom is the literal Queen of our immediate and extended family. She is the coordinator of all fun, work, support, love, baby care, teenage tolerance and mission preparation. She is a cheerleader, honest critic, counselor, banker, root of all creativity, and lover of her family. I can't begin to think of our lives without her so I am focused on her cure. I have been regularily hounded by a group of friends to join a gang of friends walking in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in October and I'm hoping this might encourage some of you to join your local events. Find a race in your community and please feel free to share your stories with me. I plan to start a blog for my mom to update her progress for our friends and family so when I get that going I will post the info. Thank you to those of you who I have already spoken with and have sent your love.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Gifts that we want to keep for ourselves

Do you ever find yourself spending a lot of time making or finding a perfect gift for a beloved friend or family member and then wishing you were the one getting it? Well, as much as I love my friend Sommer, I have made a gift for her family that I seriously want to keep. I have made a committment to actually follow through and deliver it to her for her pure thrill and joy tomorrow but now I will have to make another one for our house. This growth chart was a solution to aproblem I have of being heartsick at moving away from a home that has a little space on the inside of a closet door where we marked precious inches and dates as our boys have grown taller. Sommer just had a new baby, Blake and she has another boy Carson that is 2 1/2 so I figured she might like to have this rather than another pack of onesies (although the value of those little items should not be discounted one bit!). I took some photos because I will need to remember the details one day when I get around to making another one.

What are some of your less than eager to give up gifts stories?

Cool New Tool

Check out this really cool tool I just learned about from Microsoft. It is a personal desktop search engine that allows you to search all of your computer's files by keyword. This is great for finding photos on the fly and for those of you who love to embroider this works like a charm if your files are stacked deep like mine are! I am so excited about using this. Here's the link to the details and free download:

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The groovy artist in my family

My brother Evan lives in California and is a really talented artist. In the past few years he has really developed his professional art and has had some gallery showings and people are starting to buy his work! He has a very funky style and often makes a statement with his work. One of my favorite things that he has done was a great comic book of a trip that he and my stepmom Terri made out to SLC, Utah a few years back when I lived there. It was a humorous tale of the time we spent together doing stuff like skiing and snowboarding-his first attempt which ended badly. One of his more recent projects is a line of t-shirts featuring a few of his pieces that can be seen and purchased at Here is my favorite!If the image is too small to see well here is a description: It is a fish with a thought bubble of her consideration of why on Earth she might have use for a get the Gloria Steinem reference! I love the fact that this comes from a male artist. He is such a cool kid. I'm going to post a few other links to his work-some of it might be a little objectionable to some of my audience so I need to select items to feature rather than pointing you to his entire shock-value collection. He can be rather expressive!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Where did the summer go?

It is amazing how fast the summer always seems to fly by. We spend so much of it traveling (which I can't complain about at all) that sometimes I feel a little cheated at the great lazy days at home part. The boys went back to school last week and our posts have been so infrequent that here we are once again doing a huge catch up entry showing where our summer went.

Well, if you know me at all you know that it went to the beach and the pool...

And it went to the park and the zoo...

Some of us learned how to ride a bike and inline skate!

We made cookies and treats...

We had brother sleepovers--not quite ready for sleep overs away from home so we improvise!

We had a great time at Cookie and Poppie's in California... (Paddleboating at Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey)

And then last Wednesday, our summer went to Kindergarten and Third Grade...does this kid look excited or what? I think "or what" would be his answer. Landry said his teacher was "sort of nice but didn't have a really good smile." When I asked him what he meant by a really good smile his adorable son-of-the-year response, "You know mom, like yours." Ahhh...I guess that made up for McCall's endless comments as we took him to school about how few other mothers were actually present. Do parents really stop taking their kids to the first day of school in 3rd grade? I think my mom came with me to every year of grade school. After refusing to kiss me goodbye and barely tolerating this one photo, McCall said, "Okay Mom, you can go now and for sure in 4th grade you are not coming inside with me." Wow! I was speechless and cried all the way home. I can laugh about it now but do any of you feel my pain this time of year? Should they really be allowed to grow up? I told Landry when we got in the car that I would give him $100 if he would stop growing and he considered it for a second and then said, "No way! I wanna be big!"

Sunday, August 06, 2006

At Last I am a Member!

I am thrilled to announce that I have become a full-fledged member of the Good Mail club! I love having friends that are so thoughtful already, only to be reminded by a sweet note or gift in the mail. Today I must make a list of the several items of good mail I received this week-one even quite shocking!

1. A sweet card from Kristi with a notes of congrats on our baby boy news.

2. A funny card from my parents with a note about sending good and happy thoughts to our monkey boy. (we have been calling Baby Vu-Monkey Baby since the get-go because we expect that he will have Mike's fuzzy black head of hair that I love so much) The inside of the card reads: "I think my monkey likes your monkey."

3. A wedding invitation and gorgeous photo of some dear friends. Note: This is the first of my very own designs made professionally and not just for my own pleasure and use that is out in the world!

4. A package with a bundle of cuddly flannel baby boy receiving blankets from Jill to celebrate our baby boy news. They are so soft and make me hungry for the little warm body to fill them with!

5. A very unexpected letter from a dear elderly friend of my husband Mike sent days before his death (cancer). We knew he was about to pass and had been thinking and talking about him when a friend of his called Mike to get our address a few weeks ago. This kind and generous gentleman sent us a significant monetary gift that we were stunned by. In his honor we decided that we will only use the money for things for the baby since they will be "passing in the night" so to speak. We were so touched by his kindness and I am warmed by the knowledge that Mike was considered such a close friend to a dear man.

It is so wonderful to have such thoughtful and inspiring friends in our lives. Thank you all for thinking of us!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The boys win again!

Apparently I am meant to wash dirty socks and sports uniforms for the rest of my living days because the boys team takes another win in our family! I know that I have always said and firmly believed that I was somehow meant to be a mother to a daughter but we found out this morning that get to have another go with a boy. Its a good thing I love having these rough and tumble creatures in my life! Actually, in many ways I am relieved to be getting one more of a great thing. I know what to do with boys and they seem to love their mama. This pregnancy has been tough and because I was so sick this time and not with the first two I was pretty convinced that this would be a girl. I even allowed myself to think mostly girl and bought a few things that will either have to go back and be exchanged for something a little less pink or will be gifts for future ballerinas! It was fun while it lasted but this also means I have a lot more of what we will need already on hand. Last night we actually watched the video recording of McCall's and Landry's ultrasounds to get us all really excited for today. We brought the boys with us for the appointment and they loved watching the screen and guessing what baby body part we were looking at. They had seen their big "reveal" on the video last night so when the doc got to that point they raised up their hands and cheered for a new addition to the team! It was so fun to see how excited they were. Mike and I were surprised but of course we are so happy that the baby is healthy and looks strong. We are thinking of the name "Elliot" but I'd love to hear any of your great suggestions of favorites. My favorite thing about knowing that I will have another boy is that I still get to keep my title of "Princess Mommy". I do have to say I adore the special treatment of being the only girl in the house!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

They're Back!

At last my little critters are home with us again! They had a great trip full of swimming pools and beaches and fireworks and golfing. McCall says that his favorite thing was Boogey-boarding with his Poppie in Santa Cruz. Landry loved playing his favorite sport with his dad and brother-- golf. They went to the driving range one day and he hit a ball 90 yards! It was almost 5 full weeks of major playtime for these boys. I am so glad that they are so loved by our various families but of course we missed them terribly and couldn't wait to see their little faces coming off the plane-by themselves! Eeek! Yes-their dad made the decision to send them alone on the plane, very much against my wishes, but they did okay and felt very grown up. It is a long flight-3 hours and 40 minutes but they were entertained by dvds and backpacks stuffed with art supplies. It is amazing how brave they can be when given the chance. I still don't love the idea considering all the many factors that could change a flight plan while in the air and I think I have heard rumors of changes to the laws for unaccompanied minors in the upcoming year so we'll see what will happen in the future. For all we know we could be moving back west (my secret wish and hope) at any point so maybe someday soon these flights won't be such a normal part of our routine. It is just great to have the boys home. We moved them into one bedroom while they were gone to make room for the nursery and it seems to have sparked some nice changes to their cooperative relationship-at least for now. Last night they decided to set up a tent in their room and have a movie night and "sleep over". In the end Landry opted for the comfort of his top bunk and I spent much of the night getting McCall to calm down enough to sleep. It has been pretty emotional for the boys to hear about Jackson when they got home and landry seemed to get out his tears on the first day but McCall's have kind of taken time to develop. Last night they watched "Beethoven" and it triggered some sad feelings for McCall. We talked a lot about what Jackson might be doing in "doggy heaven" and we decided that it made us feel better to imagine him chasing bunnies and ducks and swimming in a pool and going down a slide into the water. We also thought he probably would be eating hamburgers from a dinner table. That must be heaven for a dog! In the end we all felt a little better but we also agreed that it was okay for us to all feel sad for a while since we all miss Jackson. This is tough stuff! Mostly we are just happy to be home together again. Give your kids an extra squeeze today!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Saddest Day

I hate to even write about this but yesterday we had a very sad day for our family. Thankfully the boys are with their dad in Utah and didn't have to witness this but our sweet dog Jackson had to be put down yesterday. Before I give the gruesome details (even though I will spare you most of them) I should say that he was almost 11 years old and has been with us since he was 8 weeks old and has had a very happy, climate-controlled life. He is a most loving and most-loved animal. It all started on monday morning at 7:15 when one of our famous Cleveland summer storms blew in. The storms are very loud and since we live very close to Lake Erie the thunder sounds like it is right on top of our house. Jackson is terribly frightened of loud noises like fireworks and thunderstorms and he goes into anxiety mode long before we hear the first crack of thunder. A vet even prescribed Xanax and Valium for him to treat his symptoms when this happens. As soon as I heard the thunder start and Jackson started whimpering and pacing I gave him his usual dose of meds. I went back to what I was doing in the kitchen and continued to talk to him to try to soothe him which is our normal course of action for our big furry baby. After about 10 minutes I noticed he was quiet and had gone down into the basement which would be way to soon for the medication to help at all. When I found him he was a mess. Apparently he had a seizure which made him collapse and do other things I don't need to describe for you. I panicked and called for Mike to come down (thank goodness he was home!). Mike immediately called the vet and we took him right in. He had never had a seizure before and I had no idea what was wrong with him. He was completely lifeless and seemed very disoriented and I didn't realize it right away but he had become temporarily blind as well. The vet was really concerned when he saw him and tried to take his temperature and couldn't get his temp to register on his digital thermometer because it was so high. They took him right away and put him in a bath of cold water to bring his temp down. At this point they sent us home because hearing our voices but not being able to see seemed to be agitating Jack further. They gave him more valium to calm him down so he could rest and they promised to keep me posted at home. After a few hours they called me at home and said there hadn't been any improvement and that he could possibly be blind and paralyzed so I needed to prepare myself for the worst and consider putting him down. I was so upset but knew that his life would be miserable if he couldn't even stand. They wanted to keep watching him and see if there was any improvement. I got the next call at 4:00 and the vet sounded so positive and upbeat when he let me know that Jack's vison had come back and he was standing but still weak. He also said that we needed to take Jack to and internal medicine vet because Jackson's organs were experiencing shock as a result of the temp spike and drop and that there was a problem with his blood platelets causing internal bleeding. So we went to see the specialist and his prognosis was not so positive. He gave me a long list of procedures that they could try to manage the bleeding but added that the DIC (the name for the condition) was a secondary condition and his guess was that Jackson may have a brain tumor or some other mass that may have triggered the seizure to begin with. He looked me straight in the eye and said, "We can go ahead with exhaustive measures to try and save Jackson but it would not be wrong of you to let him go now." I know that vets can't really recommend euthanasia to you other than as an option but I really got the feeling that this man was telling me what he would do if this were his pet. So I called Mike and he came to the vets office to help me make this horrible decision. I sat with Jackson while we wated for Mike and he was hooked up to IVs and a heart monitor and it was the saddest thing I have seen. I was bawling and everytime Jack heard me sniffle he would try to lift up his head or put his paw on my leg almost as if to comfort me. He is such a little protector. I was crushed but I could also see that this was really bad and not going to get better. So Mike arrived and he was shocked at how bad Jack looked. We sat together with Jackson for at least another hour because I just hated to say the words that needed to be said. I just couldn't bear the thought of putting him though any more procedures and risking him dying alone in the middle of the night in a strange place. His breathing got worse and finally we made the decision to let him die peacefully. We sat with him as the vet gave him the medicine and he just went to sleep. It was so sad but I felt really calm and knew that we were doing the kindest thing for Jack. We have so many happy memories of Jackson that we get to keep with us and that pup had a pretty sweet life for a dog! It will be really hard to tell the boys when they come home but this is an important part of life and they will make it through. I think this experience will make it difficult for me to have another pet for a long time because it was so traumatic but maybe one day we wil be ready to do this again. I do love having a dog in our family and this one will be greatly missed. Any happier pet stories than this one today? I could use a laugh!

PS-This is a picture of Jack alive and just sleeping-I'm not completely morbid!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Travel Log

I'm sorry to have to tell all of you this but, I have the best husband ever! It has long been in the plans and has become an annual tradition that McCall and Landry spend most of June and July with my parents in California and their dad and other family in Utah. Last year Mike and I got married on june 18th so we spent our honeymoon in Italy while the children had a blast playing with Cookie and Poppie and their dad. It is a nice way to travel guilt-free knowing they are having so much fun. This year Mike and I had talked casually about taking an eastcoast driving trip which sounded nice. We were planning to fly into NYC spend a few days and rent a fun car and drive up the coast stopping in Boston and a few spots in Maine. Well, as plans sometimes do they changed when we started to cost our the trip and realize how much it was going to cost with gas prices and the cost of hotels in Manhattan. So when Mike said to me, " Jen this is going to cost so much to do this trip. Do we really want to do this?" my heart sank a little, but only for a moment because then he followed up that question with, " Why don't we just go to Hawaii instead?" Well, of course there was no hesitation on my part since I have a secret belief that I must have some South Pacific blood in me because of the way I love summer and the beach and especially Hawaii. It turned out that we had enough frequent flyer miles to get there for free and we found a good deal on a hotel package that just turned out to be a wonderful and very relaxing vacation for us. It is hard not to love Hawaii but this trip was a very welcome one especially for Mike as work has been so stressful for him and since it will be our last chance for this kind of a trip for awhile since we have a little one joining us this Fall. While we were there we were talking with a man about how much we loved to travel together and I realized that for us, travel has always been a vital part of our relationship and such a time for us to renew and revive our relationship away from the day to day stuff. I feel very blessed that we have the opportunity to do this. It couldn't be done without my wonderful parents and their love for my children and of course Mike's hard work that provides a comfortable lifestyle for us. I can't possible forget to thank another really important person in our lives, our Kerrie, whom I have grown very dependent on. Kerrie is our amazing "Mary Poppins" helping us maintian our fairly regular date nights by entertaining the boys and cares for our home and our beloved Jackson, whenever we are away. She is fabulous and we just love her! Before meeting up with Mike in Hawaii, I spent a week with the boys and my parents in California and we had a great time. We were able to celebrate my dad's birthday and Father's Day together which was really nice. My dad is going through some stressful changes with his chiropractic practice which is hard to watch, feeling useless to help, but I was glad to be there to offer my support if nothing else. Our family went in together to help buy him a new banjo-his new love. He has always been interested in music and plays acoustic and electric guitar. It is so fun to see him visibly relax when the music starts to flow. Can't wait to hear our banjo-playing Poppie! Here are a few picks from the trip but you can always see the full albums at my Sumgmug site. The rest of our summer will be full of swimming lessons and t-ball so we plan to be close to home. I will be updating more often (I know, I know, I have said that before!) and I should have exciting news about the gender of our mystery baby on July 24th! Can't wait to share the news and start taking suggestions for names!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Last Day of last!

Last year we started the tradition with McCall and continued a long-standing tradition in my family of the daily lunch napkin note. Today was one of my favorite notes to write-the Last Day of School note. I think I look forward to the end of the school year as much as the kids. Our pool is open and Landry and I have already spent several days in the sun and chlorine. McCall has waited with envy for his day which will come tomorrow, barring some impending rain.

At our year end party today we made the second grade teacher, Miss Sperli into a "Queen for a Day". Now some of you may remember that I have not had the fondest regard for our second grade experience so this was one of those moments where I tried to be appreciative of the good things that happened this year and put aside my angst over the rotten things that went down. Of course I was asked at the last minute to co-host this party and come up with a wonderful class gift that was queenly in nature. I made a fun apron and embroidered "Queen Miss Sperli" on the front and had the kids sign it. It turned out really cute and the teacher was so touched by the gesture. I had to repent for my bad private attitude a bit (even though I have done my best to disguise it) especially when I opened McCall's year end portfolio. His teacher had compiled a wonderful collection of his work and photos of McCall at every big event and field trip throughout the year. Each child received a packet and I know Miss Sperli had gone to great lengths to prepare the packets for each child. I know that in spite of our differences in ideas for helping my son academically, she had a genuine care for his progress and his second grade experience. I am glad that I did make the effort to show her our appreciation. I also feel somewhat humbled.

On a lighter topic...I live for summer. I don't mind Fall and Winter so much but I really do love the hot hot weather and the fun to be had in the sun. I like our lazy days and I love our summer trips. I love eating outside on the deck and grilling almost every night. I love giant Cherry Cokes with tons of ice and Lemon sorbet at Mitchell's. I love tan feet and my kids' hair turning toehead. I love the smell of sunblock and my favorite summer skin indulgence, Body Shop Satsuma Body Butter. I even love washing an entire load of swimming suits and pool towels nearly every day. There are endless more things I love about summer but most of all I love lazy mornings when the kids crawl into bed with us and we plan out our entertainment and even yes, our chores for the day.

What are your favorite things about the season de Sol?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Aloha Landry!

So the day that Landry had waited 6 months for finally arrived.
Landry's birthday is the day after Christmas when we are usually travelling and it is way too cold to try and have a birthday party for a dozen screaming 5 year olds. So we held off this year and celebrated in the sun (barely) Landry's Hawaiian beach party.

The days leading up to the party had been full of gray skies and rain. We all held our breath up until literally moments before children started arriving and alas the clouds open up and the sun shone and we had a beach party right in our sunny, albeit soggy backyard.

We all had a great time and we all agreed it was well worth the 6 month wait. I think we may just stick with this plan and do it again this way next year. We'll probably have to pick a new theme since almost all of his gifts were water toys! He loved it to say the least.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Viva Niagara!

Well, I find myself doing a catching up post once again but this will seem like so much new news for all of you that it should be fun. So over Memorial Day weekend we decided to take a driving trip to Ontario, Canada and see the Niagara Falls. It was definitely an amazing site but let me just say that for all the city could be it was that times way too much! It is basically Vegas with a really big waterfall. We did enjoy taking a boat ride down at the base of the Falls and we explored the botanical gardens and a butterfly conservatory which was pretty incredible. I think the kids liked the hotel swimming pool the best which always seems to be the case. All in all it was so nice to get away and have a few days of just enjoying our family away from the hectic pace of our lives of late.

Landry has finished up with preschool and has a big announcement: "NO MORE TRAINING WHEELS!" Mike helped him for a few hours and he took off! Now he is way too independent for my taste and he is travelling all around the cul de sac. Three of his neighborhood buddies have learned to ride sans training wheels as well and they are like the JR Hell's Angels. There is even a biker babe in the bunch. He is so proud of his new skill and daily suggests that he is ready to ride around the corner now. We still have limits!

McCall has 4 days left of school and he couldn't be more ready. Yesterday our Goldwood Games (school field day) got rained out halfway through and we had flash flooding in areas close to our town. Disappointing but at least the morning was beautiful.

McCall cracks me up with his sense of humor and all day I hear, "Mom, do you get it?" after his many jokes. Can any of you relate to this famous line? He has surprised me lately with how sensitive he is becoming as long as nobody notices. He prays for his brother's swimmer's ear to go away and he prays for Jackson, our Golden Retriever to calm down when he is upset by our many summer thunderstorms. He has stood outside the bathroom door lately asking, "Mom are you okay? " when all of my meals of the day seem to be reacting to my pregnant body. He can cause so much angst and strife in our family and then just as easily he brings tears to my eyes when I tuck him into bed. I know you all know what I mean.

Speaking of pregnant bodies-we got to hear Baby Vu's heartbeat at our last appointment. our doc says it sounds like a girl heartbeat. Of course we still don't know for sure but we keep thinking girl this time. It is hard for me to picture anything else in my mind and for Mike it is impossible so hopefully our ultrasound in July will be revealing. I already know what to do with boys so I would be totally fine either way but I also think Heavenly Father knows that this body probably won't be giving birth to any more children so maybe we'll get to have a little pink in our house-oh Kristi, the envy!

Landry's long awaited summer birthday party is happening on Saturday. He turned 5 in December but since Cleveland is the Ice Planet Hoth in December we decided to wait for some warm weather this year to celebrate. It is a hawaiian beach party theme and we are having a blast getting ready for it. We are set for games and decor and music but if any of you have any great ideas for hawaiian themed kids food for lunch I would love it. So far we are doing fruit kabobs and punch in plastic coconut cups and we are making the sandcastle cake tomorrow night. I think we are just going to do a sub sandwich cut up in kids size slices for the lunch but if you have any great suggestions feel free to send them our way. I'll post photos after the big event!

That should catch you all up to date on our latest. I hope to be more current once school is out. The boys will be spending some time with Cookie and Poppie in California and then with their dad in Salt Lake City so they will be gone for almost 4 weeks! I miss them so much when they do this each summer but it is also nice to have some time away so I really appreciate having them home. Mike and I will work on the nursery and take an East Coast driving trip which should be wonderful.

By the way-I received my first issue of the new Martha Stewart publication, Blueprint. Love it-tons of cool ideas and product reviews. Definitely check it out. Also-we had our first haircut at a new kids hair salon that opened in our area called Snip-Its. It is a really fun franchise type hair salon that caters just to kids and has comupter games and cartoons to keep the kids busy while they get their hair cut. At the end of the cut they get to stick their "Adventure Pass" and a snip of their hair into a prize machine and out pops a little prize. Landry loved it and since he got his summer buzz cut it was only $9.95 which is a great deal in our area. We give it a thumbs up!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Catching Up!

At last, we are all systems go on our computer so now I have to catch you all up on what has been happening in my life. So the highlights:

Backing way up to nearly a full month ago, McCall was baptized by his "Poppie" on April 15th in Logan, Utah. Many of our family members live in Utah and grandparents flew in from California and New Mexico to be there. It was a really great day for McCall and our family.

We spent spring break in Utah and enjoyed seeing friends (loved seeing Michelle and Jill!) and family. Mike wasn't able to come with us because of the recent primary election (now past, thankfully) so in spite of the fun of our trip, I was anxious to get home to him. However, I did find once home that we weren't going to be seeing much of Mike anyway. He was working crazy hours and sadly still seems to be.

The conversion to electronic voting has been a challenge for Ohio to say the least. Have any of you voted with new electronic voting equipment yet? Here is what our machines look like. It is very cool and we hear that people love using them. The challenge is in the technical responsibilities of operating and troubleshooting the machines-which is typically managed by volunteer poll workers with a wide range of technical skill. So Mike is dealing with big changes and ruthless fault-finding media and politicos. He needs a vacation!

Baby news is good. The pukey feeling is subsiding-yeah! Not completely gone but food is seeming a little more interesting to me at points throughout the day which is a good thing. It is such a huge blessing that my boys are fairly independent and can do a lot for themselves because I have been very slow-moving. I feel for any of you that have had pregnancies with small children. I have respect! I definitely feel like I am rounding the first trimester corner though so this is good. I'll keep you posted as things move on but for now the only real news is that nothing fits! I didn't even need stretchy waitbands when I was pregnant with McCall until I was almost 6 months along. This body is not quite the same one it was back then!

Drechsler family news is about missionaries. Emily is now in Erfort, Germany and has gotten off to a great start. She spoke in her ward, in German, on her first Sunday in the country. The town is small-more like a village and is picture perfect Europe. I understand that it is amazing at Christmas. I'm sure anywhere in Germany is wonderful at Christmas but apparently this village goes all out. Can't wait to see photos. Here is a stranger's photo I found on the web-sorry I can't credit the photographer. Looks wonderful. Reminds me of our Italy trip. My parents will hear from Em on Sunday for Mother's Day and we can't wait for the real time update!

Scotty is in Germantown, Tennessee (coincidentally!). He is working hard and has a great new
companion that he really likes. It turns out that this guy is the grandson of some of my parents' old friends from southern CA so they were excited to make the connection. Scotty will also call our family this weekend so we are all looking forward to hearing his voice. My boys really miss him. He is such a great example for them. They bless our missionaries in every single prayer!

Spring news is the best! We couldn't be happier for the beautiful Spring that has sprung at last! The yard is coming alive and I have to really drive slow down the driveway to the garage so that I don't squish any of the wildlife. Here are a few shots of our signs of spring-even though it shows up a bit later in Ohio. I am definitely in my prime in the springtime. I am a much happier person when I have dirt under my fingernails.