Thursday, April 28, 2016

This guy

A few weeks ago, they did a vision screening at school and William came home with a paper saying he had failed a portion of it and we needed to follow up with an eye doctor.  I couldn't believe it! They had their vision checked last year in January and didn't have any issues and he certainly hadn't been complaining of not being able to see.  That weekend, we happened to run into their eye doctor (who is also the dad of a classmate) at a restaurant and kind of mentioned it to him.  If I am being honest, I was hoping for him to say, "oh, those tests are often wrong--he is probably fine".  Instead, he said, you should probably bring him in.  So, we made an appointment and headed in last week.

As we sat in the room and they started showing him rows of letters to say, which he clearly could not see or identify, he casually mentions, "yeah, this is exactly like it is at school when I can't see the board!"  Apparently, he forgot to mention that to dear old mom.

We got his prescription and went off in search of some eyeglasses for him.  This is not an easy task, I will say.  He was fairly confident of what he wanted and did not want and I was fairly confident of what his dad would and would not want.

In the end, we went with the ones that he loved the most and I have to say that he looks pretty stinkin' cute in them! I think you will be able to tell which picture is the 'show me how much you love your glasses' pic.

Monday, April 25, 2016

April 25: Chocolate Cake Day

I remember it just like it was yesterday.  Sitting in my in-laws' house on a Tuesday night trying to pass the time by watching television and seeing someone eat cake.  Mmmmm...that looks good, Micah and I said to one another.  So, we got up to check my mother in law's pantry to see if she happened to have any ingredients to whip up a cake.  She had a box of Hershey's Cocoa with a recipe for Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake on the label.  Sure enough, she had all the ingredients and we worked together to make that cake.  After it baked, we couldn't quite wait for it to cool and so we made the icing and spread (or maybe poured) it on the still warm cake eager to indulge ourselves.

The next day, mid-morning and the boys are sleeping.  We are back to sitting and watching a Project Runway Marathon, still waiting.  I guess we could have a piece of cake?  Why not, we are just waiting.  The phone rings about 11:30 and I go out on the patio to answer it in quiet.  I hear the words, "Unfortunately, yesterday's biopsy came back positive...."  I hang up the phone and go back in and talk to Micah. We both make some additional phone calls and the boys are up from their nap and needing some lunch.  We feed them and then for the first time, pull the proverbial cancer card...we should probably go ahead and have a piece of that cake.  Then, again after dinner, I guess it's not going to take care of itself, we should probably eat another piece.

That day was nine years ago--which feels like an absolute lifetime ago.  I can guarantee that back then we could hardly think about nine days in the future.  This morning, during my quiet time I was reflecting on that morning and how we could never have dreamed where these nine years would take us--the heartaches and joys, the highs and lows.  There are definitely days when I long for what seemed like the 'simple' days of life--you know, living in a foreign country trying to figure out life in a different language, with newborns.  When I am honest, I remember vividly that those days also had heartaches and joys, highs and lows.  And while I spent so much of my early adult life preparing for those days, I find myself still trying to figure out this new life.  Although, I think that is maybe part of adulthood and moving through the ever-changing 'seasons' of your kids' lives and your family life.

We have faced a lot of transition in these last nine years and are getting ready to face another which is maybe why this day seems to stick out to me this year.  We always make the chocolate cake--partly because we really like chocolate cake--but also because it is good to remember.  While I remember (and still grieve) how much life has changed, I can't help but remember how faithful He has been, how good He was in the moments right after that phone call and in all the days since.

I can hardly believe that it has been nine years since we had chocolate cake three times in one day and while I don't advocate eating chocolate three times a day every day, I look forward to making that chocolate cake for many more years.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wednesday's Words

Our Wednesday after school routine usually consists of running into our local Sprouts  (because of double ad Wednesday) and then stopping by QT for a fountain drink.  We started the QT for a drink a couple of years ago when I was trying to make an effort to develop some traditions in our weeks. It is a small thing, but the boys always look forward to it.  One day not long ago, Xavier says to me "there is just nothing better than getting home on Wednesday, curling up in the recliner with a good book and sipping on my Coke"--which totally cracked me up.

Today, we had a friend from school/church with us and he remarked that there were a lot of students hanging out at the QT (which happens to be right across from our town's high school).  There are always students hanging out there, but there did seem to be quite a few more today.  So, we talked a little about the proximity to school, etc.  And William says, "Man, they must be really good workers!........because they already have their homework done, since they are all hanging out at QT, they must have worked really hard at school." I love the perspective of a child and I hope that they all DID work really hard at school and get their homework done!

I sent the following text to Melissa today: I had grand plans of starting taking pictures and blogging again in March--you can see how well that is going. 

After spending 10 years almost obsessively documenting my boys' days, I am feeling like I am totally slacking, but since we live in a mostly clean house, they have clean clothes, and they have food, I am refusing to let myself feel like a loser mom.  I will get back to the documenting because they do love to read my blog books and look at our Project Life albums, but it just may take a few more months.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

old friends

Weekend before last, Micah and I left the boys with his mom and headed out to Phoenix, AZ to visit some very dear friends.  While I was trying to explain to a co-worker who we were going to see and why we were such great friends, I began to realize that we had been friends for close to 16 years--which takes us back to before they had any kiddos (now they have 4), before Micah and I were married or even dating, back to when we were still in college.  We moved overseas together (and back again), lived an incredible amount of life together, experienced some really great highs along with some pretty devastating lows.   We often say that our friendships on our team on the field somewhat ruined us for regular friendships because we know now how great and how precious close friendships can be.  For a while we were lulled into thinking that type of friendship was the norm and easily accomplished. Hindsight, which you know, is 20/20.  Looking back now, I know that we poured a lot of time and effort into building those friendships and relationships and while things weren't always rosy and easy, the lasting effect on our lives has been huge.

We had the best time seeing their 'new' city (not quite two years new to them), enjoying the luxury of catching up over the course of a few days instead of a few hours, laughing and reminiscing, working through some of life's issues, dreaming about the future, maybe shedding a tear or two, and making some memories with their kids.  It was a sweet time together and we are already making plans for the next time we go back.

We arrived late Thursday night and Friday morning, we headed out to a great little breakfast place with Keifer their youngest while the older girls were gone to school.

One of my favorite things that we did was drive up South mountain which is kind of in the middle of Phoenix.  It was beautiful--more mountains in the distance, a cool view of the city, the airport with planes and landing and taking off.  We made them promise to take us hiking there the next time we visit.

Yes, their on shadows on our faces, but the view behind us is beautiful and I am so thankful for this dear friend in my life--she laughs with me, cries with me, prays with me and speaks truth and encouragement.  I hope that everyone has a Jill in their life.

I think this guy is pretty special too.

Keifer and Micah were fast friends. He turned three back in December and he lives life to the fullest!
I can't believe how grown up their kids are. I remember being at the hospital when Sophia was born.  Now, she is old enough to  babysit so that the adults could go out for dinner.  We even got to play a fun game of Bonanza with their whole family which was a fun time since we have been playing that game with Sean and Jill since we lived in France.


We feel so thankful that not only do Jill and I and Micah and Sean share close friendships, but that as couples we have such a great time as well.  What a gift their friendship is and we definitely treasure our time together.



And we really loved the mountains as evidenced by the number of selfies we managed to take :

And I just love this one of Micah because he looks like he is leaning over the side of the mountain.


I have read this post so many times and tried to re-write it because it doesn't seem like it does justice to our time there.  t was the perfect get-away for Micah and me.  It was precious time with friends who knew us pre-cancer, pre-med school, pre-kids, even pre-married.  We are so thankful for such sweet friends and the time to get away and visit them.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wednesday's Words

We have a friend who always asks the boys what they learned at school that day--which I like to ask as well, but for some reason, I rarely seem to get a thought out answer.  But, one day in December, he was at our house chatting with Micah when the boys and I got home and he asked and they promptly responded with "the number for the poison control center".  This was not exactly what I was expecting to hear from them, but their science teacher had taught them (and they learned it because they were able to rattle it off for us) in case they ever needed it.  It just cracked me up later because William then wrote in his Christmas card to his teacher "thank you for teaching us that number--I may need it some day!!"

Since that day, I have tried to be a little more deliberate about asking and persisting for answers about school days.   At dinner, we were talking about their day and discovered that William had been moved to the back of the classroom.  (as a teacher, I know that most students like to sit in the back, but thought I would feel them out to see if they viewed that as a good or bad thing)  They couldn't really think of any pros about sitting in the back row, but they had quite a few negatives--how far you have to walk to get to your seat (this was a big one), being the last one to get your papers, and being further away from the board.

My nephew Quentin who is a year older than the boys is in the midst of his science fair project (don't even ask me how I am feeling about the next two years of school when I have to supervise two science projects at the same time, two years in a row).  He made a particular type of cheese, one recipe made three different ways--I am going to be honest...none of them were very good.  My sister-in-law told me later that Xavier was practicing his Spanish on his comment sheet, declaring the cheese was "asi-asi" or 'so-so'.  Totally cracked me up.


We have our Wednesday routine.  After school, they come to my classroom, help me put away my books and things and we head to Sprouts for a weekly shopping trip (double ad Wednesday!) and then normally we will stop by QT for a little soda treat for them.  This week we were at Sprouts and in their clearance aisle, they had some candy cane cotton candy that William wanted to know if he could have.  I told him that he could trade that treat for his soda treat.  To which, he pondered and accepted.  His brother, on the other hand, declared that there was nothing better than sitting down and reading his Hardy boys book while drinking his soda.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

An observation on blogging

I have been continuing to slowly work on getting my blog posts moved over into the website so that I can have them printed into books.  While the website has a program that is very helpful in the process of creating the book, there is still a lot of adjusting, placing the photos in the correct places, changing the layouts a bit to make it just right, etc.  I have finished formatting for the years 2009 and 2010 and am partially through 2011.  After 2012, I think that everything can probably all be put it in one book--I maybe blogged 10-15 times throughout 2015.  I have been amazed at how much I have forgotten and am thankful that I blogged through those years.  Today, I have been working on creating a book from 2007-2008 from a Word document that I had copied and pasted the entries from a blog that we maintained through Apple's old blogging service.  I am a little sad because for some reason, my blog entries start mid-July 2007 and I think that the rest of those entries are just lost because of the way that their service worked.

What I am discovering is that since the beginning of my blogging, I have consistently not blogged consistently--did you follow that? And, in addition, I have apologized profusely for my lack of consistency and then proceeded to continue the same pattern.

This is what I have discovered:  this ol' blog was originally designed to keep in touch with people through treatment.  There were so many people who followed our story and prayed so faithfully for us and it was a way for me to communicate with them and to 'process' somewhat through writing all the emotions and difficulty of the transitions that we were going through.  In that Word document from my blog entries from treatment time, I actually have the comments copied in.  I decided to go ahead and include them in my printed book because they are precious reminders to me of the incredible number of people who prayed us through such a difficult time.

I kept blogging because I started taking photos and I had some incredibly cute little boys and I wanted a place to share photos and tell stories.

I stopped (for the most part) blogging because life got incredibly busy and because I didn't quite know how to 'process' out loud anymore. Looking back now, I can see how I was and have been struggling to know how to keep it all (whatever all is) together and write fun happy blog posts or even work through the 'non-fun' and 'not quite happy' when all of my emotional energy was just spent.  Looking back, I am seeing the toll that the last several years have taken....please don't read anything into that, it is just to say when life is tough, there is never not a 'cost'.  In some ways, it is just that we have been learning how to navigate life--a task that has sometimes asked more from me that I ever imagined.

I think that I am going to continue blogging because it is a good and fairly easy way to document our life, because I like to have a place to write occasionally, because I like to read about my sister's blog and see her pictures and read her stories and I assume my family would like to do the same, and because the boys love to go back and read about what they did or said (and let's face it, I am probably not going to remember).  I want a place where I can tell the funny and silly stories, share the cute pictures (if 10 year olds can still take cute pictures), and also record the good things that God continues to satisfy my years with.  He is faithful and He is good and I don't ever want to not remember.

Goodness, look at these little boys:

They sure have changed a bit, haven't they?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wednesday's Words

Today, I was chatting with another teacher who shared a conversation that he had had with another teacher's daughter who also happens to be in class with our boys--did you follow that?

Anyway, she had gotten an iPad for Christmas and she was telling him about it and somehow that led to how sorry she felt for the Derby boys because they weren't going to get phones until they were 15 and then they were only going to be flip phones.  I totally cracked up, because when they have asked we have normally replied that it will probably be when they can drive and Micah's has always followed that up with them only needing phones to make phone calls, so there wouldn't be a need for a smartphone.  I guess they were paying attention.

Last weekend, we made a quick trip to Phoenix to visit some friends (which I plan to detail another day), but as we were hugging the boys goodbye at the airport. Xavier grabs me and just starts saying "May the Lord bless you and keep you...." and he says the blessing that I say over him every night right back to me.  It was the perfect way to say goodbye to them.  We had a great visit with our friends, but I sure was happy to get home and get the hugs from my boys!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Golden Birthday

I did not know that there was a special term for having a birthday where you turn the age of the day of your birthday.  For example, the boys were born on the 10th and since they turn 10 this year, this is their golden birthday.

For the last few months, we have been talking about their birthday and what we could do.  Micah really wanted to have a marathon of watching Lord of the Rings with them since they are his favorite movies and he has been waiting for the boys to be a bit older before letting them watch the movies.  But, having a dad that is working long hours including nights the weekend of your birthday and having your birthday on a Sunday kind of hampers that plan a bit.  So, they got an early start and have been working on the movies since January 1.  The boys (all three of them) are loving it.  In fact, as I type this, they are finishing up the last movie in the other room--which I can hear quite loudly since these movies are evidently made to be watched in surround sound.
I can hardly believe that these two little stinkers are double digits today:

Last night as they were going to bed, I was telling them the story of what I was doing 10 years ago last night (having tacos at the Warrens and then spending a miserable night without sleep).  They asked me if I would give them a piggy back to bed since it had been a while and of course, I obliged, since it would be the last time that I could give my 9 year old boys a piggy back ride and who knows if they will have outgrown me by their next birthday and I will be totally unable to.

Xavier takes great pride in being the 'oldest' by 30 seconds....he loves to read, sings with all his heart, has a need to dance if he hears a beat, loves to please, melts my heart with his quick winks and is oh so quick to give a comforting hug at any moment he thinks I am in need of it.

William is his own person, he loves to read, to draw and to create, has a heart tender toward God and can bring out a spiritual application to almost every situation, he is hilarious and does most things with a willing heart and an encouraging spirit.  

These two love each other so much (although I do foresee some brotherly discord in our future) and immediately take this pose when asked for a picture.  It's their "classic" pose, they say.  I am so incredibly thankful for an entire decade of being their mama.  I can't hardly even imagine where the next decade is going to take us.  I can tell you this prayer for these two is that they continue to hold God close to their hearts, to follow hard after His will, to hide His Word in their hearts and to trust His plan for their good.  

My sweet babies are ten--I know they aren't really babies anymore, but I think I will always call them that.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Wednesday's Words

Over the last year, we--along with the rest of the world--have discovered the HGTV show Fixer Upper.  I love the houses that they re-do and it totally makes me consider (for a moment) whether we should have Micah looking for a job in Waco.

Recently, the boys have really been enjoying the show with me and they have made some pretty funny comments.

From William, towards the end of the show as Joanna is coming in to work her decorating magic: "hmmm....she really doesn't do that much on this show..."

From Xavier, as we are watching the bloopers and clips show: "Oh man, I love this guy, he is just hilarious, I tell you."

From both of them: "the shiplap!!! the shiplap!!"

Monday, January 4, 2016

Snapshot #4

Outside my window:  Some beautiful sunshine after a fairly dreary day. It is pretty, but definitely a cold day outside.  Of course, when I arrived to pick up the boys from school, I found them standing holding their winter coats instead of wearing them....

I am thinking: about the sermon from our church yesterday by Tommy Swindoll from our Nashville church on John 3:30 ( He must increase, but I must decrease).  I wrote this quote down: "When Jesus becomes more and I become less, my purpose and my joy increase."  That idea seems to be coming at me in several ways recently and it is resonating with me and calling me to work that out in my daily life.

I am thankful for: this medium (blogging) for remembering.  It is a relatively easy and reading through past entries has been good perspective (wow, I sure did talk a lot about how tiring parenting small children was and how regularly or not i was blogging) but it also has been good reminders of God's faithfulness and our family's story.

I am wondering:  how long I can keep it up this time :)

Last 3 purchases:  a new pair of tennis shoes, Q & A a day for Moms, a purse--thanks to some Christmas cash

Dinner plans:  the boys are on their own with leftovers, I have a meeting at a local restaurant

Future plans I'm looking forward to: visiting some dear friends in Arizona next weekend

Kid funny: Some friends had tickets to the Monster Jam show in Tulsa on Saturday night and offered their tickets to us when they were going to be out of town.  We didn't really know what to expect, but it was pleasantly a very fun experience and very family friendly.  When we got home, I asked the boys if they liked it.  Xavier very exuberantly says, "I didn't like it......I LOVED it!!"  They were quite enthusiastic.

I am reading:  Trinity Six by Charles Cummings, although only being a few pages into it may not really be considered reading. I have struggled of late concentrating long enough to read.

In the kitchen:  still trying to finish up the last of the Christmas cookies and homemade chex mix....I am probably going to have a little snack in a bit.

Watching: Thunder Basketball and looking forward to American Idol and Downton Abbey

On my frequent playlist: We listened to Needtobreathe Holiday and Pentatonix Holiday stations on Pandora through the month of December. I don't have a favorite song or CD I have been listening to lately, but more podcasts...getting caught up on Serial Season 2, the Slate Serial Spoiler Podcast, The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, and the BigBoo Cast.

Snacking on: Chex Mix and Christmas cookies

Rest-of-the-day-plans: the first Monday of the month is our local cancer support group and I have been trying to get back in the habit of going.  We have been having over 20 women each month and it is a lot to take in sometimes, but I love seeing women take comfort in seeing and hearing that they are not alone.

And a picture--I had a hard time getting both boys in focus...but I got cracked up when I walked in to see the boys reading like this: