Monday, December 28, 2009

Our Merry Christmas Card

Our Merry Christmas wishes to friends and family.

By the way, this is the coolest new tool! I used to make my slide shows using DVD SlideShow from Arcsoft but Animoto is fabulous! Check it out!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Will the Cat Weigh More than Beth?

Apparently it is NOT possible to crest 30 pounds. In fact, Beth hasn't even reached 29 pounds. When we weighed her for her flu shot, Beth stomped onto the scale and posted an not-so-impressive 28.4 pounds (clothes, shoes and all)!

My real fear is that our cat, Charlotte, is going to end up weighing more than Beth. You laugh...this darn cat is a MONSTER and gaining weight like you can't believe!

The redheaded boy is one of Beth's admirers from preschool. He turned 4 recently and towed Beth around his entire birthday party.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Celebration of Miracles Success!

Our event was Saturday night and it was...pure magic! We had a packed house and the mood was amazing. So far we have counted $30,000 in donations and proceeds from the silent auction, live auction and donations. I don't think I'll ever forget the experience.

Link to slide show and Celebration of Miracles

This is a link to a slide show that was created by one of the committee members. As you would expect, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Mike and I were particularly moved not only for seeing Beth's photos on a huge screen with beautiful music, but we remembered Julianne. Only a few people in the room knew about our loss. While we did happily celebrate the beauty of Beth's life and the other babies who have made it, we can never forget that tiny Julianne never had a chance.

I have been passionately committed to seeing this be a successful event. Others asked why I spent so much time on the effort. I didn't always give them the full answer because I don't like to talk about our loss. I was driven not only because I wanted to help other families deal with the NICU experience, but because I wanted to validate Julianne's existence. In putting more of my life into something worthwhile, I give her

This was for you my sweet...

Monday, November 02, 2009

Buried in Yellow Fabric

It has taken weeks to dig out from under the yards of Yellow fabric that littered my dining room. For some reason, I insist on making costumes. I do love making them but at some point during the middle of each project, I curse myself. In the end, the effort was worth it!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Meet Chloe

She was too cute to pass up!

This little kitten weighed just 15 ounces when we got her. She had taken residence in someone's yard with 4 other kittens and a wild mom. She seemed too small to take from her mommy but the women who had her was clearly ready to get them out the door. I couldn't risk losing her (and besides, I know how to bottle-feed kittens now).
Charlotte is a little too aggressive with her (Charlotte is going to be the world's biggest cat...just wait and see) so we can't let them stay together without supervision.

We have named her Chloe. Now both kids have a kitten to play with and they do seem to mimic each kid: Charlotte is a Tasmanian devil (Elliott's buddy) and Chloe is sweet and tiny but we sense a mischievous streak (just like Beth)!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

2010 Simpler Times Calendar Benefits Friends of NICU

My friend Robert David Bretz is donating proceeds from his 2010 calendar to the Friends of NICU. I know all I do is write about the NICU event and foundation these days but I can't help it.

If you have need of a calendar, please consider buying one of these. I will be buying them as year-end thank-you gifts for my clients. Perhaps your company would like to do so as well??

See the calendar and more of Bob's fabulous fine art at

Monday, October 12, 2009

Entertainment Books for Sale

If you are looking to buy an Entertainment Book for 2010, please consider doing so at this site. This is a fund-raiser for Beth's preschool.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Elliott Turns 8!

Elliott is a big kid now! I notice that the shape of his face is changing, becoming more angular, more knowing, more grown-up. Yes, I am melancholy thinking that my children will grown up and one day not need Mike and me. In the meantime, we are going to enjoy every minute!

Elliott's birthday was a lot of well-deserved fun. The week before was filled with professional and personal... set-backs... but none of them compared to the call we received a scant 5 days before the party...AdventureLand closed its doors and we had to find a new party venue!

All told, I am grateful that AdventureLand had the courtesy to call me ahead of time to not only refund our deposit but to let us know their doors would be locked on Friday. Can you imagine 20 kids showing up on a Friday afternoon with the doors locked and a giant OUT OF BUSINESS! sign in the window? I spent the entire five days scrambling to find a new location (Sunrise Fun Center) and contact his schoolmates and best buddies.

Sunrise Fun Center came through with flying colors! We had the party corral in the middle of the park, set the kids up with miniature golf, car races and the water-balloon wars. It was a beautiful afternoon and even I managed to relax and chat with friends (thanks to my mom, Mike's mom, Grandpa Ron and my brother, Mark for all their help).

Mike had the "exhausting" task of being co-pilot to the kids under 52 inches. I'm not sure who had more fun, Mike or Elliott? Notice how Mike intentionally tried to look cool in this photo? Was he trying to impress his bride or try to keep from crashing the car?

Happy Birthday, Elliott! I hope you had a day as magical as you are!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Celebration of Miracles

I am helping promote an event that will raise money for families who have babies in the NICU. It is called Celebration of Miracles and it takes place on Saturday, November 14 in Historic Folsom at the Lake Natoma Inn. We will have a nice dinner and be entertained with dancing and wine tasting. We will also have a silent auction with some amazing gifts!

Our title sponsor is Mike's employer, ECO:LOGIC Engineering. We have many other sponsors including nearly $6,000 in advertising space in Gold Country Media newspapers (six ads in The Folsom Telegraph, El Dorado Hills Telegraph, Granite Bay View and the Roseville-Press Tribune). This is giving us prime space to promote our sponsors so please let me know if you'd like to be a part of this as a donor.

Tickets are $45 per person or $80 per couple if purchased in advance (buy them now because they are selling at a brisk pace!). You may purchase tickets from me or at the Celebration of Miracles website where you can also see our sponsors and donors to the silent auction.

This event raises money for Friends of NICU which operates under the auspices of the Mercy Foundation. That means that 100 percent of our contributions go directly to the families in the form of meal vouchers, hotel stays, gas cards and other necessities for the babies and their families. There is such a critical need for this. I remember seeing families who had to drive 2, 3 even 4 hours or more just to visit their babies in the Mercy San Juan NICU. Many families had little extra money to pay for hotel stays. It broke my heart to see siblings waiting outside the locked NICU doors while mom and dad tag-teamed just so they could have some time with their babies.

The social worker tells us that there is government assistance to help families but what is missing is the helping hand--the reaching out by someone who says "Here, take this. It came from a family who loves babies, too." The look in their eyes is pure gratitude. They have one less thing to worry about that night when you hand them a gas card and a voucher to buy dinner in the cafeteria.

If you can dig into your pockets to sponsor or join us on November 14, please email me here: jennifer(at) (no link to protect myself from web-crawlers) or make a donation and ticket purchase at the website. God Bless!

a few thank you's:
Thank you Bob Bretz ( for designing the logo, providing help with graphics and for donating proceeds of your calendar sale.

Thank you Gold Country Media and our ad person, Nina for such enthusisam and generous sponsorship!

Thank you ECO:LOGIC and Dave and all the other folks for helping with this event and all that happened in that terrible winter.

Thank you Elanie and Tim for starting this foundation so that people like me could give back.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Beth Singing at Family Camp

Elliott Singing at Family Camp

Family Camp at Calvin Crest

We spent Labor Day Weekend at a family camp with our church. We are very tired (still). Beth didn't have a single potty accident all weekend! Elliott climbed a very big climbing wall and swung down on the ropes course. I launched myself off the 90 foot Flume slide into a somewhat green lake. Mike and Elliott hiked to Fresno Dome to watch the moonlight and stars. Beth sang an adorable song with her 3-year-old friends.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Settling Into Preschool

The first day of preschool didn't go so well if you count potty accidents--two of them! On the second day of preschool she had one accident. Over the weekend, Beth took a giant step backwards in the potty world and I promptly called Miss Elaine to say "I have to stop taking her to preschool!" Well, Miss Elaine called me on Monday to calm me down and promised that the teachers would give Beth a few extra trips to the bathroom during the day.

Now, I have to admit that I am actually looking for a reason to give in and keep her home. To deny my unwillingness to let her grow up would be remiss. I have been a goofy wreck all off last week. Can you guess how Beth did on her third day at preschool? Yep. Not one accident the entire day! Today is day four and we'll see how she does.

One thing is sure. She loves preschool. I have been taking her to school in the bike trailer. The entire time she is back there asking when we will get to the "the heart house." (The school has little hearts cut into the shutters). In fact, while I struggled to get Beth out of the trailer fast enough, other moms were carrying crying children into school. Beth walked up the walkway waving "Bye, mom!" and a grin that stretched from ear to ear. Other kids clung to mommy's legs. Beth opened the door and darn near shut it in my face!

Guess who is and who isn't growing up...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Friend Bob

I just can't resist it any longer...I had the good fortune to meet a talented artist many years ago while I consulted for a Austin, Texas based book publisher. Bob Bretz was the head of graphic design for the company. Over the years, I got to know him very well because as the PR person, I had constantly ask him and his team to produce images or send them to magazines when a story was hitting.

In this time period, I learned that he is also a Fine Artist -- and I say that with all reverence...A trained fine artist with excellent educational credentials to boot. Through the last 7 years, I have watched his work blossom and he recently left the corporate world so that he (and his equally talented wife) could paint full time.

This image is from his Simpler Times series and I am thoroughly in love with the optimism and colors in the entire series. I purchase a few of the images as notecards so that I can share them with friends. I also purchased two paintings (one from Bob and one from Marie) that are now proudly displayed in my home. As you would expect knowing our history with Beth, many of his paintings move me to tears. When I have enough strength one day, there is one in particular I would like to purchase...

But back to the fun stuff...
Bob is also donating his time in creating the graphics for an upcoming NICU fundraising event (more on that later). Anyway, I want to help promote Bob's work in anyway I can thus my reason for showing one of his works and his URL here. Bob's site links directly to a nifty art site called ETSY where artists promote and sell their works. It is a great way to support artists and have the chance to see wonderful talent.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

First Day at Preschool

Okay! I admit it. I am NOT okay with Beth going to preschool! There is so much wrapped up in this that I would rather avoid. Sure, she is cute in her blue backpack. Sure, she is ready--begging for more interaction with friends. Sure, she needs someone to challenge her and get her on the road to an early education. But what about me??

I'm not ready to see my baby go off to school! I'm not ready to give up my precious two days per week of time with her. I'm not sure I can handle that someday she will be driving a car!

It isn't really this normal things that are hardest. Seeing Beth at preschool, especially this preschool is too much for me. These are the wonderful folks who kept it all together for Elliott when all hell broke loose three years ago. He kept going to this same school while I and then Beth, fought our ways through nearly six months of hospitalization. The teachers comforted Mike and my mother who valiantly kept stability in place for our young, lovable son.

Elliott sat on that very seat and cried with me when I was finally strong enough to take him to school. He was so afraid I would leave him again that he couldn't let go once I finally had returned home from the hospital. The teachers cried with me on the first day they saw Beth, healthy and happily snuggled in my arms.

So many memories, such wonderful people. One of the school teachers, Ms. Alicia, called me yesterday to say she cried when she saw Beth in class with all the kids. In her Texas twang, she told me, "We'll be EXTRA careful with your little girl!" I told her it isn't Beth who needs the extra's me. Our little girl is going to be just fine.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Elliott's Girlfriends

This is a photo of Elliott lined up for his first day of second grade. Imagine how happy he was to see his two favorite girls in the same class! One of this young ladies has already told her father that she is going to date Elliott when he is 16.

We have to wish his teacher good luck because she has a doozy of a class. There are just 22 students but that group contains six crazy boys! In fact, there was a general understanding with Elliott's first grade teacher that Elliott should not be sharing second grade with one of his best friends. Well, budget cuts made it impossible to avoid placing Elliott and his buddy together. Perhaps now that his two girlfriends are in class, he might exhibit better behavior? ...probably not.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We did it!

Beth has finally crossed the barrier into being potty trained! I was reluctant to say it before now fearing that I would jinx the process. In addition, she is sleeping in her big girl bed! I know these are pedestrian tidbits but it is fun to report such normal rites of passage. This also happens to be the week I fill out paperwork for her preschool. This part has suddenly taken on much more meaning than I thought it would. Now that the day is here when she is taking a step from baby-dom to kid-dom, I'm getting cold feet.

This photo shows the two of them sharing a hide-a-bed while on our vacation (Beth is naked, of course). The trip pushed her over the edge into reliable potty use. It happened sometime after my 20th sprint across SeaWorld to get her to a bathroom. After missing the opportunity for the 19th time, Beth finally got the picture that we needed a little more notice between saying "Potty!!" and actually releasing.

Moving the big girl bed happened because we just simply removed the crib from her room on the day we got home from vacation. Then I made her stay up all day so that she would be to tired to complain when being put to bed that night. She gave us some grief and said she didn't LIKE her big-girl bed but in the end she succumbed and slept soundly.


On a more meaningful note, I am providing some help the Friends of the NICU. We are planning a fund-raising dinner on Saturday, November 14 at the Lake Natoma Inn in Folsom. Mark you calendar! More information to follow.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Meet Charlotte

This is Charlotte. Charlotte found us on Thursday morning while Elliott, Beth and I were on a walk. I was pushing Beth in the stroller while trying to keep Elliott from crashing into a bike on the trail when I heard a distinct MEOW. Suddenly, she came bounding out of the rocks and through the poison oak as if we were the saviors she had been waiting for. Apparently, we were.

I scooped her up and looked about for any other kittens or mama. It seemed as if she was the only one so rather than leave her there for the coyotes or hawks, I tucked her in my shirt, fleas and all, and maneuvered the stroller with one hand nearly 1 mile back home.

As you can see, her face is a little scuffed up. My guess is since we were along part of the bike trail where the road goes alongside, someone tossed her out rather than do their obligation to take care of her or find her a home. Turns out she is about 4 weeks old. She weighs about 1 pound and is as cute as the day is long.

The vet checked her out, killed the fleas (marvelous stuff the meds they have these days) and checked out her split lip. In a day, she has migrated from being bottle fed to lapping up kitten formula and kitten kibble. She has also maneuvered herself safely into our hearts.

Being that Thursday -- the day she came bounding out of the bushes towards us -- would have been my brother Barry's 51st birthday, she has a little special meaning for us. ...Gosh, there are a lot of things that have special meaning for us.

Welcome home, Charlotte. We love you already!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rounding the Corner -- Potty-wise

Oh, thank Heavens! We are finally getting somewhere! It all started like this (which the parenting experts will most certainly admonish me for)...

On Thursday afternoon, I put Beth in underwear after her nap and spent the next 1 hour diligently asking her to sit on the potty. In fact, I put her on the potty three times. On the third time, she complained and said "no potty" with such vigor that I let her get up. She walked 10 feet over to the sliding glass door, turned and looked at me (right in the middle of my hands being dug into hamburger meat) and started to pee on the floor.

My first inclination was to throw raw hamburger meat at her but instead I ranted and stomped my feet while I washed the goo from my hands, then I ran over and grabbed her while the 2 cups of urine spilled onto a 10 foot swath between the door and the potty. Then I got mad.

Now, I know they tell you not to get mad a kid learning to potty but this was IT. Not only was she peeing on the floor but she was laughing about it. I went over to her potty jar (which is collecting coins for successful pottys so she can buy an adorable Elmo toy) and snatched a quarter out of it. "This is mine!" I said and dropped it into my pocket with great flourish. Then I took her out to the deck and hosed her off with the water from the faucet (which if it were me would have ticked me off but she thought that part was pretty fun).

I must have made an impression because she has asked to use the potty nearly every time since that little incident. Whew! At first I thought I had damaged her forever but now I think she got the point. And, if you know the women in my family...well, subtlety doesn't always cut it.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Potty Training In My Dreams...

You know you are obsessing over something when it pops up in your dreams. Let me set the scene...

We have two prolific cherry trees and I have been trying (now the third time) to get sweet cherry jam to jell so that I can preserve some of nature's bounty. Elliott, Mike and I have picked probably 3 lugs of cherries off our two trees. Well, that might be an exaggeration but they really are loaded!

With my third batch last night, I boiled the darn thing for 30 minutes, got it to the 220 degree stage, added more pectin, sterilized more jars (like I have time for THIS!). The darn stuff hasn't "set" yet again.

Anyway, somehow that combined with potty training "stewed" its way into my dreams last night. I can't recall all of it but somehow I was helping out in Elliott's first grade class by filing little vials with...can you guess what? PEE! The problem was that I had wet my pants and I couldn't fine enough of it so I think I was in the basement wringing out my shorts and trying to fill little tiny vials with...

Boy, am I messed up or what?

Friday, May 15, 2009

No, Five Things!

While getting into the car the other day, both kids were nit picking at me and at each other about Heaven-knows-what. Beth was asking for a toy while I was trying to buckle her in without pinching her skin. Elliott was poking her and rattling on about something. In general, it was a nicely chaotic moment trying to get somewhere by some specific time.

Beth kept saying, "Mommy, Mommy, get my toy!" I replied something like "Hold your horses, my hands can only do ONE thing right now!" Wonder what her reply was?

"No Mommy. FIVE things!"

arrggg! ...can you see the little exasperation mark above my comic-character face...Good thing she is cute and comes with a get-out-of-jail-FREE-for-the-rest-of-your-life card!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Spring Photos: Easter, Bubbles, more

Yes, they really do get along this well. I cannot imagine it is possible to have a better big brother than Elliott. His patience is herculean(he often chides me for my IMpatience). He shares everything and is adept at helping Beth put on shoes, sit on the potty and wash her hands.

Speaking of potty...This has been the longest potty training program I've ever encountered! Beth seems to be doing well for a few days and then, wham! A day like today hits. It is 9:00 at night and I am washing 4 sets of underpants and various clothes that have been soaked with more urine that one would expect a 26 pound child could produce!

My mother keeps reminding me that she won't go to Kindergarten in diapers so just take it easy. Elliott eventually figured it out in his third year but I don't recall such a long time between "awareness" and successfully staying dry. Beth still has yet to ask to use the potty. Only the power of suggestion (sitting her on the potty) gets the intended results.

No matter...We'll get there sometime in 2009 (please??)

Happy Mother's day to all our special family and friends. I just received a call from a young lady who used to babysit for us. She wanted to wish me Happy Mother's day. It reminded me that Motherhood comes in many forms and there are wonderful ways to nurther a child. What an honor to contribute to the happiness and development of the little ones around us.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Beth Playing in the Sun

Just a cute photo of Beth playing with Elliott's cars and one of Elliott...

Baseball season has started right as the weather has turned glorious. Beth is no closer to being potty trained but it is tough to be put-out by this. We are having too much fun learning about her assertive nature (although she looks angelic here). Trust me, she has the attitude of a badger.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Not Much Progress -- Potty-wise

I realize it has been a while since I last posted something. Truth is that I love this little video so much that I have been reluctant to post something ahead of it. And, there has been little progress on the potty front.

We get sporadic cooperation when it comes to the potty but mostly we encounter real objection. Given Beth's contrarian nature, we aren't pushing it. Daddy managed to get a "number 2" from her last weekend (to my complete amazement).

Her argument against the big-girl, small-girl thing has gotten more sophisticated. It tends to go something like this:

MOM: "Don't you want to be a BIG girl and use the potty?"
BETH: "No, I'm small. Elliott is BIG "(her emphasis)
MOM: "Don't you want a dry diaper. Wet diapers are icky."
BETH: "No, I like wet diaper. It's warm..."

Okay experts. How do I deal with that logic?

Friday, February 20, 2009

I'm Smaaall!!

If you can't see this 54 second video below, click on the link above to go directly to YouTube.

I swear I don't know where she got this excuse! When she said this to me the first time, I couldn't believe my ears. I ran to grab the video camera before the moment was lost....mannerisms, tone of voice, the way she held her hands just so to indicate how tiny she is. What a crack up.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Snow Day

We took last Monday off since there was new snow on the ground and Elliott was home from school. Here are a few photos of Beth and Elliott.

A funny little comment from Elliott a few days ago...I was driving him to school since it had been raining. The two of them were wound up and Elliott had Beth screaming and laughing in hysterics in the back seat. I tried vainly to get them to quiet down. "Elliott," I pleaded, "are you trying to be troublesome?" "No," he replied, matter of factly. "I'm trying to be E-vil!"

I had to ask...
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Friday, February 06, 2009

Beth Turned Three!

Beth turned Three on Saturday! We had a fun little birthday party with 3 of her friends. For some reason I decided that decorating cookies would be a good idea for a group of 2-3 year olds. It was a nice low-key party and the kids enjoyed themselves immensely. I would venture to say that the parents enjoyed themselves, too.

As you can see, Beth nearly busted her buttons with delight when it was time to sing Happy Birthday and unveil the Elmo cupcakes. Mike and I were so proud of her and of Elliott who was a sweet older brother. He helped the little ones decorate cookies and generally dotted upon Beth then entire time.

Elliott also earned a special honor last week by losing his first tooth. We seem to be a slow family when it comes to getting and losing teeth. He is now well over 7 years of age and the last of his friends to flash a fleshy grin. I wasn't there when the tooth popped out because he was in class. However, hearing him tell the story was almost as good as being there. This kid is becoming a good story-teller...a sure bet to being the life of dorm parties and the office water cooler.

Some stats about Beth: She reached the magic 24 pound spot at her check up on Tuesday. In fact, she weighed in at 24 pounds and 8 ounces and 34.5 inches tall. She is not anywhere close to the bottom of the growth curve but she has instead chosen her own route (for those who know her well, we suspect this is indicative of her future path through life...). She is healthy and happy.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ear Infection. Boy am I glad to be home!

Beth has an ear infection. This is such a minor blip in the road that it amazes me. Our doctor took one look on Tuesday and confirmed that the bulging eardrum needed extra care.

What stuck me as ironic is that he had to flip way back through Beth's chart to find out when she had the last one. We had to go back to last summer to find her last dose of antibiotics. A wry knowing smile crossed both our faces. Elliott had ear infections every 4-6 weeks and he was a robust full-termer! Seems Miss Beth got an extra dose of good antibodies from the numerous transfusions she received...(not really but a nice thought).

I'm back from my business trip to Florida. More migraines on the trip and a crummy hotel room. Thank goodness I am home. Now I am preparing to have 5 three-year-olds in the house on Saturday for Beth's third birthday party. In the midst of this, the floors are being replaced and don't look to be finished today as promised.

...I feel another migraine coming on...

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Christmas photos

There were many happy moments this Christmas but there are a few notable snapshots here we would like to share.

First off, it is interesting that of all the presents Beth and Elliott received, this box filled with pink popcorn provided the most entertainment and caused the biggest mess.

Second, we never noticed how much Beth looked like Cindy Lu Who until we watched the Grinch Who Stole Christmas on our entirely too large television (just so you know, I bought this against my better judgement. We've decided to try keeping the economy going). Notice how she is naked lying on the play table. She strips down every evening just when it reaches the coldest part of the day.
Third, we are very grateful that Elliott has not outgrown his ski helmet because he has outgrown everything else meaning that getting him equipped to go skiing will further support our economy.
Fourth, Elliott has taken on a new shape to his face giving testament to the fact that he has grown an awful lot in the past year. Beth, thankfully, has decided she likes eating and for the past month has packed on a few pounds. My guess is she will hit 26 pounds by the time of her three-year check up. When I picked her up yesterday, I could honestly say that she felt like a substantial child in my arms. Still not he size of a typical three-year-old but actually feeling like she wouldn't blow away with the next gust of wind.
Fifth and most important, we feel like the luckiest people in the world. We will make no predictions about the economy or world peace or health for 2009. We will just be happy and thankful to God for each good moment we have.