Just For Fun~My creative blog for scrapbooking and digital freebies!
If you are in need of a good book you can find one at http://amysbookcollection.blogspot.com/!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Branson & Audrey

So Audrey came over to play...

And Branson had a great idea...

called "stick your tongue and face on the sliding glass window"...

Audrey thought it looked awfully fun...

So she decided to join Branson at the window...

And she showed him up big time in the silly face department...

Well Branson just couldn't have a girl beat him so he played with her little hair thingy...

And then tackled Audrey and tried to eat her...

Audrey Creativity W Muscle L Cuteness Tie
Branson Creativity L Muscle W Cuteness Tie

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Friday, October 24, 2008

Why I am Jay Buhner's #1 Fan

I know there are three different video clips here, but trust me that you gotta watch them all. In the spring of 2001 Anderson was 5, our time at RMH was coming to a close and he was invited to be the first person to run the bases for the Mariners 2001 season. The weekend before he was due to make his special appearance we were able to go home for two days. Anderson jumped off his bunk bed and broke his heel. The Mariners Public Relations people said that they would have to find someone else to circle the bases since the ball players are highly superstitious and wouldn't want someone using a wheelchair on their prized field. When the team heard that they were giving Anderson the boot they wouldn't stand for it...they didn't care if he was in a wheelchair. So opening night we were down on the field to see Ichiro make his first ever appearance. Anderson had two favorite players, Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner. He loved that Jay had a bald head, just like him...well, just watch and see why Jay Buhner totally rocks in my book.

Sorry about the poor quality...we put this on the Internet using the white trash method. But a HUGE thank you to my professional video recorder...Alicia! I had been wanting to post this for some time and I couldn't do it until she helped me out.

If you missed it, Jay Buhner actually used his own jersey to wipe Anderson's drippy nose! He was amazing. He gave Anderson a wrist band and a pair of his used batters gloves. Why did Anderson think the gloves were so cool? They had Jay Buhners gum smeared on them!

I Wanna WIN!

The two lucky winners are......

Rachel Haertling
Jeff and Heidi
You gotta Iguana...book!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What Sydney Learns at Activity Days...

Last week at Activity Days Jan Barron sent the girls on a Nature hunt. As the girls came filing out to their moms each of the girls had little snack sized baggies full of leaves, twigs, and rocks. Not Sydney...out she comes with a dead branch that is taller than I am! So for over a week it has sat propped in her bedroom. She won't let me throw it out even after I found Branson trying to eat it. My kids walk home from school. Yesterday Cayden walked in alone.

Me: Cayden where is your sister? You know you are supposed to wait for her.
Cayden: I did mom, but she found some nature stuff on the side of the street and she's taking forever because she is carrying it.

When Sydney walks around the corner she is pulling half a tree through my house! OK maybe it wasn't really half a tree, but almost. It is dead and pine needles and twigs are covering the floor in her wake. Besides that, she has more treasures in her hands that look less dead, but pretty sappy. When I tell her to take them out to the trash can she looks like I just ran over her cat.

I let her keep ONE. The less sappy, not so big, living piece of nature.
Thanks Jan.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Wanna Iguana

I Wanna Iguana
By Karen Kaufman Orloff
This is one of my favorite picture books!
A little boy begs his mother to let him get a pet Iguana. The mother and son correspond back and forth in letter form as they each plead their case both for and against owning an Iguana. (Obviously the mom is the protagonist in this story) It's whimsical illustrations and catchy letters make this book an instant classic. This book giveaway is for TWO lucky winners!
Post a comment before 8:00 AM on Friday morning to be entered to win.
(For those who may be new to my book giveaways-they are gently used and may have names written on the inside cover. But I am very picky and guarantee that each of my books has plenty of life left in them.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Anderson at 13

After being diagnosed with Leukemia in May of 2000 it took less than 24 hours on Chemo for him to go into remission. This was very good news since it meant he would not have to have radiation treatments. Because Leukemia is in the blood stream, those who have it go through a prolonged treatment program. Anderson was on chemotherapy until the spring of 2004. Due to his "high risk" category Anderson has a greater chance of Leukemia coming back one day but those are just statistics and he is doing great. He gets a thorough blood check about twice a year and he is a polite, happy, ornery teenager.

Before he got sick Anderson loved sports and outside was his favorite place to be. The biggest change I saw in Anderson as a result of his sickness is his lack of interest in athletics and his desire to play outside. I am sure this is a direct result of being "trapped" inside the Ronald McDonald house for months at a time with severely low blood counts. Video games became his passion...his only passion but I have been noticing some changes. This past week Anderson took his birthday money and bought himself a skateboard. He has opted to go out on the sport court (his Make-a-Wish donation) and ride his skateboard instead of playing X-box. This is HUGE! We had some kids move into the house next door that Anderson has known for some time. Our street has always been a quiet, older street but Saturday night filled me with that "happy mom feeling." Anderson and Cayden were across the street in the dark playing hide and go seek with the neighbor kids. I could hear screams and laughter...that is what being a kid is all about.

Uh...Anderson, I think you are supposed to stand on the skateboard.
Anderson went fishing with John yesterday and I received an excited telephone call from the boat announcing to me that he had caught his first Salmon. I see a new life in Anderson. It took many years for him to begin to run faster and grow taller. He was 20 pounds at three months and is now on the shorter side, but his body is hanging in there.
He loves choir and anything that has to do with singing. Besides being in the McLoughlin 7th grade choir he is participating in the Three Rivers Children Chorus. His hobbies and interests have not turned out to be what we had thought they would...but I wouldn't change him for anything.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Book Reviews and a Winner!

Sydney picked 4starmom as the lucky winner of the Find the Duck books! Keep peeking in for the next book giveaway coming soon!
by Jerry Spinelli
Recommended by Anderson (13 year old boy)Anderson and I were both in agreement on this one. It was a really good book but a bit lacking in the ending. (The ending is what eared this book 4 stars instead of the "outstanding" 5 stars) This is a great historical fiction for those wanting to find out what it was like inside a Jewish camp ran by Nazi's. Milkweed does a good job at sharing details without being gross or too depressing for young teens. There is humor and adventure in what could normally be a very dark topic.
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life
by Wendy Mass

Recommended by Elizabeth (13 year old girl)

The great thing about this book is that there is both a boy and a girl main character. Jeremy shares his spotlight with his best friend Lizzy. A creative book filled with mysteries and small adventures, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life is the ultimate coming of age book. You know I never like to give too much away, and I never read the back of a book before I have finished the whole thing...they always give way too much information. So all I will say is that this is a very good read, with great characters and much more to it than a search for some missing keys.



by Jacqueline Woodson

JJ This book did not grasp me. It had so much potential but it just seemed to skirt on the edges of the story without really getting to the meat of it. For example...it wasn't until the second or third chapter that I realized the main character was a girl! Told in the perspective of a young black girl in 1971 a white boy comes to her all black school and supposedly changes everybody. I just didn't get into it that much. I didn't feel any pull to the characters or the plot.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Good, Better, Best!

Over a year and a half ago our hallway wall was ripped down to fit the new bathtub into the kids bathroom. In February of 2007 the wall was put back up, textured and primed. This week I actually painted that wall!


Branson Really liked the color I chose.


Branson can't wait to get into the bath to wash all the paint off.


At Goodwill yesterday I found a Baby Jogger stroller!


The price tag said $38.50 but for the first time ever I asked if they could be flexible on their price and I only paid $28.50 for a very nice stroller!


Branson and I ran 1 mile today after we sent the kids off to school!


I am always finding good deals at Goodwill, especially on books. Most of them are practically brand new. I bring them home, wipe them down and then my family gets to enjoy them.


I mentioned that when my boys were little they really liked the Carl books. Another one of their favorites when they were toddlers was the Find the Duck series. These books by Stephen Cartwright have cute, simple illustrations. On every page the duck is slightly hidden so that a toddler can easily spot and point to the duck. They are a family favorite.

There are 6 books in the series:

Find the Teddy

Find the Kitten

Find the Bird

Find the Puppy

Find the Duck

Find the Piglet

Yesterday I found three books from the series!


I already own these!

So I am giving away these three as a set to one lucky winner.

Simply leave a comment on this post!

I just love books so much and when I see a favorite at a thrift store that is in perfect shape I can't pass it up even when I already own it! I have a real problem. I am thinking about having more book give aways so we can all benefit. I get to buy books that are cool and pass them on to you. What do you think? Does getting used books gross you out or is it a super cool idea?

Good Luck!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Home Away From Home in 2000: The RMH

Keeping in mind that I was pregnant...I hated the Ronald McDonald House from May to August of 2000. The first time I walked into our room (Anderson was still in the hospital) I got in the shower, fell against the wall and cried for over an hour. Our room consisted of a bathroom, two double beds, a closet, and if you were lucky, a TV.
At that time everyone staying in Seattle's RMH had a cancer patient being treated at Children's Hospital. So besides sharing a family room, kitchen and eating area everyone expected you to share your child's diagnosis and treatment information...I didn't want to. I still remember when one woman came up to me and asked what Anderson had been diagnosed with. When I told her Leukemia she asked which kind. After telling her it was A.L.L she replied, "Oh wheeew, the good kind." I was so angry I couldn't speak. The GOOD kind. I wanted to punch her in the face. Please tell me on this great green earth what is possibly GOOD about my son having Leukemia! Later I did come to realize that she was right, Anderson did have the good kind of Leukemia. But no mother wants to hear those words only days after her world has been ripped out from under her. OK...so the RMH. We were sleeping in a hotel size room. We pushed the beds together to make one big King size bed. If you look at the above photo you will see a cupboard circled in red. That, my friends, was our kitchen space...one small cupboard to store food for a family of four. Our fridge space was one metal basket about the size of the fruit drawer in your refrigerator. Our freezer basket was even smaller. If you did cook a meal in the kitchen you were then forced to eat in the common area...never a private family meal...ever.

Our first idea for a solution was to buy a small fridge and put it into the room...but then there were the RMH rules. Absolutely NO food in the rooms...ever. While I was pregnant we ate out twice a day, seven days a week. I still remember when one of our rooms was on the first floor we would smuggle in pizzas through the window.

Some other house rules were:

~No bare feet outside of the bedrooms
~If you are coughing or sick you must wear a face mask
~If you get to go home for a day or two you must report back into the RMH by 10:00PM on the final day. (We always got into trouble for breaking this one.
~No "stay over" guests. (We always broke this rule too)
~Do your assigned chore every day and sign it off on the paper
~Don't leave your laundry in the dryer for more than 15 minutes after it is completed
It was very hard to be an adult and suddenly have to report to other adults.

But then I had Sydney and I returned to the RMH with less hormones and a lot better attitude. The lady who I wanted to punch in the face became a dear friend and another lady, Mickey, had this to say shortly after we returned, "Wow Amy, we didn't really like you over the summer, but you have totally changed!" She was right. We started hanging out around the House more often and we became attached to those we lived with.

The RMH became an amazing, loving home away from home for us. We spent every moment of every day together as a family. We wrestled and played games on our big bed.

We all read a ton! (See our Christmas Stockings hanging on the wall) John swore our family would never have video games, but when your child's counts are low you are stuck inside and can't go anywhere. (Basically that means that Anderson's blood Counts were extremely low due to his chemotherapy and his immunity was non existent.) Our family played A LOT of video games. John and I would stay up all hours of the night playing Mario kart and Mario Tennis on the Nintendo 64.Since Anderson was missing Preschool we had him and Cayden do "book work" every day.
Each week there would be a Therapy Dog that would come in to play with the kids. One day I came into the family room and there was a huge Rottweiler. I leaned over to my boys and said, "Hey guys! That looks just like Carl!"
Carl is the name of a dog in several books by Alexandra Day. In each book the dog babysits a little girl and they have all kinds of adventures together. My boys loved those books. The lady who was with the dog looked up at me and said very matter-of-factly, "This is Carl." She was Alexandra Day! Of course I immediately ran up to our room to get all of our Carl books and she signed them all. We saw Carl a lot while we were at the RMH. He was one of the kindest dogs I had ever met.

Anderson with Carl.

While we were there they asked my boys to participate in a photo shoot with Ronald. They were getting shots that they could use to promote Ronald McDonald House Charities. Keep in mind that this all took place from May 2000 until April 2001. On Thursday March 11, 2004 John was in Tacoma for the State Basketball tournament. Someone had left their Seattle Times on the bench in front of him so John snatched it up. When John opened it to the sports section this is what he saw... A HUGE 1/2 page add for the RMH with Cayden as their poster boy! The rest of that year I had several people come back from Mariners games and tell me that they saw Cayden's picture plastered on the big screen at the game.

That year was the worst and best year of my life. It was amazing how complete strangers became united through the sicknesses of their children. We had many heartaches that year. A teenage boy from Alaska was being sent home. There was nothing more that could be done for him so he was going home to die. He didn't want to go home. All his friends were at the RMH. Everyone in Seattle knew what he was going through, they were just like him. I still remember the day John took the RMH van and that young man to his last Seattle Mariners game. He died a month later in Alaska.

Many other children that we came to know and love lost their fight that year. As a mother I have often wondered why my child made it through. I see things differently now. I never pass up the opportunity to drop some change in those clear RMH Charity boxes. Each night spent at the RMH was $12. You were sent a bill at the end of your stay that simply stated that if you had the funds great...if not, no worries. I don't fret about some of the little things in life like I used to. I try to let my kids live. If they aren't hurting anything or anyone...it's probably OK.

They have since remodeled the RMH and it is no longer only for Cancer Patients. This makes me a little sad to think my home away from home has changed. I truly came to love my stay there and I will forever be in debt to the staff who worked there and the families who lived there.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Anderson's Diagnosis

In May of 2000 Anderson was 4 1/2 years old and I was 5 months pregnant with Sydney. Anderson became very emotional and started to complain that his legs hurt and he didn't want to run and play. Being my first, I assumed this was normal for a strong willed, little boy at that age. I'll admit I was pretty hard on him, telling him to "stop complaining and go outside and play." The symptoms got worse and I noticed redish, purple dots all over his stomach. At first I thought he had taken a magic marker to his tummy but that wasn't the case. A trip to the doctor sent us home with allergy medication. That was helpful. I still remember having to pin Anderson to the floor to get him to swallow that medicine. A day later and Anderson had a fever. I still didn't think much but my mom was really worried. On Monday May 22 I took him in again to the doctor. His fever wouldn't go down and his breath smelled like something had died! Both me and the nurse figured he had a sinus infection so when the doctor ordered blood tests I thought they were a waste of time. And boy was that first blood draw fun...if only I had know how many more were to come.

Later that day I was mowing the lawn and Anderson wanted to ride with me. Being pregnant it had been a long time since I had let him hop on during mowing but something caused me to tell him that he could. Together we mowed the lawn.

After John got home from work he and the boys went for a walk to the canal (where the new high school is being built.) A favorite father-son activity, I got to stay behind and catch up on the laundry. I remember looking out the window of my laundry room and watching the boys head down the street. I watched as John bent over and picked up Anderson and put him on his shoulders. My first thought was that Anderson must have complained about his legs again. Normally I would have returned to my dirty clothes but something made me stand there and enjoy the moment until they were out of sight.

I now know that Heavenly Father was giving me several moments of peace that I would be able to look back on and appreciate.

That evening we received a call from our doctor saying that Anderson's test had come back (they weren't due for another day) and that Anderson was anemic. He needed to come into the hospital for some more tests.

I still felt that nothing was too wrong. Grandpa Cazier and Daddy gave him a blessing, we dropped Cayden off at Grandma Mathews' house and we headed to the hospital.

As soon as we got into a room our doctor came in and told us they suspected Leukemia. I listened to him spout off numbers and statistics but it wasn't until he told us that the top Cancer Doctor in the Tri-Cities was going to come in that it hit me. I leaned up against the wall as I realized that we were talking about cancer. Not the breast cancer that torments both sides of my family, not me having cancer, but my baby boy. My oldest son who was not even in school yet. How could that even be possible.

We were set to drive Anderson to Children's hospital in a day or two, but after the Cancer specialist took a look at his blood results we were scheduled to head out in an ambulance first thing in the morning. They took another blood sample and as soon as those results were in we were scheduled for an immediate emergency air lift to Seattle. Later we found that had we stayed in the Tri-Cities Anderson would not have made it through the night.

The next several hours were a nightmarish blur of tears, phone calls, nurses and family. At first they told us that John could come with me and Anderson on the plane but then they said that there wouldn't be room for him. Anderson clung to Grandma Mathews in the hospital room as she rocked him and sang to him. Family members waited outside in the hall...Alicia and Bill took their minds off everything by reading an I Spy book as they sat on the floor outside the nurses station.

Anderson didn't want to leave Daddy and Grandma until he realized that he got to ride in the back of an ambulance to the airport. Once we were on the plane and in the air my heart sank. I just knew my sweet little boy was going to die. I prayed over and over again that our plane would hit a mountain and that I could die with him. I even thought that maybe that is why John couldn't come with us, then Cayden would still have a dad after I was gone. These thoughts left and were replaced by a hymn that I repeated over and over again in my mind. To this day I can not remember what that hymn was, but if I did I am sure it would now be my favorite.When we landed at Boeing Field in Seattle Anderson was talking up a storm. The Air flight Nurses thought he was the cutest thing. He was so excited that right next to our plane was a parked helicopter. Another trip in an ambulance and we were safe at Children's hospital.

Anderson was placed in a high risk category because of the amount of "blasts" or Leukemia cells in his blood stream. From the time they took his blood at the doctors office to the time they took it at Kadlec, the cancer cells had almost doubled. By the time we reached Children's it had nearly doubled again. Thank goodness for Chemotherapy. We were told that the redish/purple dots were petichei. Anderson was basically bleeding internally. His bad breath...he was dying inside.

Anderson has been poked and prodded more than any child should. In the beginning, at 4 1/2, he would get mad, cry and (to my horror) call the nurses stupid. My wonderful, amazing mom simply held Anderson and said, "Honey, the nurses aren't stupid. They are actually very smart. But what they have to do to you sure feels stupid doesn't it." After he received his port, he became a pro at getting blood draws and being "accessed" was just a part of life.

He was on so many different medications that he was happy and silly one minute and angry and in tears the next. The huge amounts of Prednisone caused him to puff up and to eat like there was no tomorrow. He had weekly treatments were they would sedate him and then give him a spinal tap of chemo so that it could attack the Leukemia that was in the brain. We were in Seattle, staying at the Ronald McDonald House, for a year. Two times we were able to come home for a two month period, and lucky for me one of those stays was when Sydney was born. We had a lot of family time that year. We learned to love the RMH and the people who stayed there. We had some fun times and I will be sharing those throughout this week.

The first week we were at the RMH my dad brought Anderson a Chicken Soup for The Little Soul CD. When my mom and I played the second song we couldn't believe what we heard. It is sung by a little girl and a boy, and as the words came out through the CD player this is what we heard"

Tell ya what I'm thinking, honestly and true,
How come I came to life as me and not to life as you?
Oh I know the feeling of when I'm by myself,
I wonder why I'm who I am and not somebody else.
Way down underneath it all where no one gets to see.
I'll bet it feels no different being you or being me.
Why was I born when I was born?
Who was I born to be?
Why was I given, the body I'm livin' in?
(girl) Why am I Gabriel?
(boy) Why am I Anderson?
Why am I me? Why am I me? Why am I me?
Why am I here? Why am I now?
Why am I who you see?
Why was I handed the person I've landed in?
(girl) Why am I Gabriel?
(boy) Why am I Anderson?
Why am I me? Why am I me? Why am I me?
If I was born, somebody else,
betcha I still would be me.
So many beings I know I could be me in.
Why must I be in this being you see me in?
(girl) Why am I Gabriel?
(boy) Why am I Anderson?
Why am I me? Why am I me? Why am I me?
Why am I me? Why am I me? Why am I me?

Friday, October 10, 2008

You Talked me Into It


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why I Love This Age!

The Joy of Flying.
(John and Branson on the Buddy Walk)


You're friends with everyone...even if you just met them.

(Audrey and Branson after Sydney's Baptism)


No one questions your sudden melt downs.


Diets are unheard of...in fact you are constantly encouraged to try new and exciting foods.


There is no such thing as "playing with your food" it is simply how you eat.


When you're tired...you sleep. Heck, tack 3 naps a day if ya want!


The world is yours for the taking. No worries about Stock Markets, gas prices or who to vote for... Which Hot Wheels to chew on is your biggest decision of the day.

You love yourself...


In fact, you get pretty excited every time you see yourself in a mirror.


And not only do you think you are pretty neat stuff...everyone else wants to be around you and give you loves and tell you how cute you are! No one cares if you droll or have buggers in your nose.


You have your whole life ahead of you.


And of course...clothes are always optional.


"Look Mom I ate it all gone. See, the middle of my tray is completely clean."

"Oops...maybe a few got away from me."