Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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On Freud and Fingers

If you go through all of our pictures, you will notice a pattern: In MOST of them, Darcy has her hands in her mouth and is biting her fingers. I'm not sure why this has developed, but I guess she's never broken out of what Freud called the "oral stage." I have recently tried different techniques to help her fingers (which are now raw and red) to heal. However, with Darcy, you never know what's going to work. One time in an effort to administer some creative correction, I put pepper on her tongue after she was using it to be snide. She looked up at me with excited, wide eyes and exclaimed, "I love that...what is it?" The next day she asked me for some more pepper.

My most recent attempt at healing her fingers was found in the cosmetics aisle at Wal-Mart: exfoliating gloves. When I catch her with her fingers in her mouth, chewing away, I make her put them on.

It seems as though little sister has picked up on her big sister's habits. Gracie, as of late, has found much entertainment in putting her little fingers down her throat and gagging herself. It is not a pretty sight as she loses, what appears to be, half her bottle in the process. Gracie faces a similar punishment when I find her resorting to these bulemic habits...winter gloves. So, here is a picture so I can always remember my girls at this strange stage of development.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Good Report

Room two was the place to be yesterday on the Cardiac Transition Unit as Gracie charmed the nurses with coos, laughs, and smiles.  At 6:00 that morning when she woke up screaming, I thought it would be the longest 4 hours of my life as she had to fast before the procedure.  She really surprised me by calming down and enduring without her bottle (singing some Andrew Peterson to her seemed to help).

Everything went great;  looking at her today you would never know what she went through yesterday.  The next open heart surgery will be sometime in early January.  Thank you to everyone who prayed;  we really feel like we aren't in this alone.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Trooper

It's 10:00 Am and Gracie is getting ready to go back for an exploratory catheterization. She hasn't eaten since last night, but was amazingly cute and smiley during the prep time. She should be in the cath lab for about two hours, followed by a four hour recovery. Hopefully we will be out of the hospital by this evening.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Lately, I've been goal setting.  This is one of my favorite past times.  Every year I set goals in each domain of health:  emotional, mental, social, physical, and spiritual.

I realize this is a little extreme, but nonetheless...

So, I'm going to just go ahead and share the different things I want to focus on in 2011 as a way to make myself accountable to the blogging world (There couldn't be a better accountability partner, really).

1.  To take out time each week to write more and see where it leads (I'm thinking about changing to a better blog layout but need to talk to my digital media specialist friends about know who you are....I need help and advice).
3.  Improve at photography (insert SHOUT OUT to Kristen Marks here for the photography lesson this week).
4.  Train and see how fast I can run a 5k (not sure which distance I should train for)
5.  Learn to play the guitar
6.  Complete digital scrapbooks from the past 2 years
7.  Have 12 piano lessons with Haley

This is not a complete list.....this is just a brainstorming session that precedes the actual New Years Resolution list.  Does anyone else do this..?


Gracie has a heart Catheterization tomorrow in Charlottesville. After this procedure, they will be able to tell when open heart surgery #2 will be. Please pray for our family's peace and strength, Gracie's recovery, and our marriage as there will be a lot of added stressors to add to the equation. Please also pray for me (Annie) to be able to sleep through the night again.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Secrets of a Telecommuter

Colby has been working from his home office a lot lately.  I love having him around for breakfast and an occasional lunch break.  It was especially fun to see how he dressed for a skype appointment last week...

Friday, December 10, 2010

New Gracie Tricks!

Gracie is learning to sit-up....
...........kind of.....I thought it would be mean to post the picture of the face plant.
She's not sure what to think, but I'm trying to get her used to sitting at the table with us!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Haley's First Mile and the Story of Mine

Haley ran her first race! The Turkey Trot Kid's One Mile was the perfect distance for Haley to run.  After she was done, she asked me if she could run another race the next day.  Addicted already?  At least it's a healthy addiction!  During the race, one child stopped at a port-a-potty for a quick break.  It reminded me of my first race--The Sixth Grade Mile....allow me to tell the story:

You weren't allowed to join the track team at Logan Middle School until you were in 7th grade, but once a year the 6th graders were invited to have a fun run on the track.  I remember showing up with my white Keds and my street clothes, ready to take on the world.  The gun went off, and for the first 200 meters, I was in first place--sprinting ahead of all the boys.  Reality set in after 300 meters, and I soon drifted back in the pack.

Now, as you well know, one mile is 4 laps around the track.  If you can imagine with me, at one end of the track there was the starting line (which is--of course--also the finish line) and at the clear other end of the track there was a bathroom.  Halfway through my 3rd lap, I started to feel thirsty.  I had sprinted so hard in the beginning and was pushing a good pace, but now was starting to feel it.  Not knowing any better, I exited the track and got myself a nice, long drink and even took a bathroom break.  After taking a couple of minutes to catch my breath and recover, I joined the mass of others--who were now VERY spread out and even lapping each other--in finishing my 3rd lap.

Now, what happened next changed the rest of my life.  I turned the corner and started running down the "home stretch" to finish lap #3.  The coaches must have lost track of who was on which lap because--next thing I know--I hear the coaches shouting and yelling my name. "ANNIE HALEY!!!!!  BRING IT HOME STRONG!!!!"  I started to pick up the pace, not completely sure what was happening.  Others started to line the track and cheer for me, "ANNIE!  You're almost done!!" (Huh?  I am?! ) FINISH STRONG!!!" I started to sprint towards the finish line, trying to convince myself that I had run 4 laps.

I crossed the finish line and immediately my 6th grade P.E. teacher came up to me with his stopwatch and eyebrows raised in excitement.  I had won.  I had made an AMAZING time....possibly even broke the 6th Grade Mile Record (can't remember for sure).  The high school cross country coach came over, introduced himself and started recruiting me for the team.  The other coaches surrounded me, talking of my talent and my potential.  I stood in the spotlight beaming, completely ignoring the voice that was telling me I was a deceitful, conniving cheat.

It wasn't until after placing in the Division 1 Wisconsin High School State Cross-Country Championships that I confessed to my coach what I had done years earlier.  I've often wondered how different my life would have been if I hadn't stopped for that drink on lap #3.  Here is a picture of Haley finishing her mile on the track...Oh, and Yes....she ran the entire thing.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

Do you ever...

Do you ever lay on the ground and look up at the pale, white moon in the afternoon sky and think about how you are sitting on a speck of cosmic dust suspended in space at the mercy of its Creator?

Just wondering...

Do you ever sit on the driveway with your four-year old after breakfast and talk about the miracle of skin cell reproduction?

Do you ever hide your to-do list for a day so you can spend more time looking at your husband in the eyes and being there to listen when he decides to talk?

Do you ever sit at a lake with waves lapping and sea gulls laughing and listen to nothing but your thoughts?

Do you ever paint ceramic tea cups with your six year old and have as much fun as she is blending the colors?

Do you ever sit down and do nothing else except watch your children play as the autumn shadows dance on the wall?

Do you ever look at your baby and marvel at how she used to be the size of a poppy seed?

Do you ever look at everyone around you and marvel at how they used to be the size of a poppy seed?

Do you ever look AT YOURSELF and marvel at how YOU used to be the size of a poppy seed?

Do you ever look deeply at your reflection and ponder how one day God will draw your last breathe and you will cease to exist on this earth?

Do you ever put down the broom and have a tickle party in the middle of the day because the dirty floors will always be there...but your kids will not.

Do you ever say no to something so that your family can take a walk together in the last rays of the day?

Do you ever watch the sunset and linger as long as the colors?

Don't book your weekends.

November in Virginia

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Blogging Binge

Blogging Binge:  When you have neglected your blogging duties for over three weeks and finally sit down to chronicle the memories of the last month.  Hope you enjoy!


Colby can't just enjoy something himself. If he finds something he really likes, he wants EVERYONE he knows to experience the bliss as well. Last year he read a thought-provoking book and purchased copies for thirty people. You probably were one of them! The latest joy has been his Nike Plus running watch. For months he told me that I needed to get one.
I refused. Haley's princess watch that I bought her for Christmas two years ago will suffice.
He BEGGED me to let him buy me one. I told him that if he bought me one....I would return it.
Last month he bought me my own Nike Plus watch and hid the receipt.

I love it.

I know, I me a laggard on the innovation bell curve, but I am not quick to try new things. I need a Colby in my life to force me into putting off the old and trying the new. If you don't have a Nike Plus watch, you should. I'm not going to buy one for everyone, but just take my advice. Because I know my pace and how far I'm running now, I can set goals and work my way up. I'm already at 5 miles and am training for a 10K next week.

In this picture, Colby is showing his Dad some of the exercises we've been doing with Jillian Michaels and her new SHRED workout. I gained a lot of weight with this last pregnancy and Jillian has been whipping me back into shape. Not only have we done the workouts, but we have really gotten into watching THE BIGGEST LOSER on Addicted actually. It has actually motivated me seeing how 400+ pound people can lose weight. If they can, I can too, right?

More Grandparents!

Nonny and Poppy drove their new car "Desmond" over 1,000 miles to come see us (Grandkids have a way of making you do absurd things). The weekend included bike rides with my Dad on Rt. 234, a trip to Old Mine Ranch to ride horses and feed animals, eating out, going to the 3rd annual Pelt Catanament, and listening to Gracie coo. The highlight of their trip was when Colby and I discovered a green sticker my mother had put on the back of her cell phone. It read "PLEASE...IF YOU FIND THIS PHONE, PLEASE CALL ME AT (###) ###-####." Colby and I looked at it, looked at each other and said, "Isn't this YOUR CELL PHONE NUMBER that you're asking them to CALL?" True Story. We love you Nonny! Don't lose your cell'll never get it back!

Reformation Day

We like to celebrate Reformation Day by getting free candy. Some of Haley's friends at church must have explained proper Halloween etiquette to them, because they came up to me Sunday after church saying, "Wow! All you have to do in America is knock on the door and say 'Trick or Treat'! That is SO EASY!" Last year in Iceland, the kids had to go up to complete strangers and sing a song for them in order to earn candy (Darcy made up a rap and that seemed to pass.) This year was easier and we racked in a lot of chocolate to make up for the black licorice and other foreign candy from last year.

P.S. Haley's Mulan costume: $1.00.  Gotta love Northern Virginia yard sales!

Great Grammy and Great Grandchild #11

Fall Fun Activity

There are few things nicer than returning home after a run on a cold, windy morning to the scene of your kids making homemade applesauce with their grandparents and the house smelling better than a Yankee Candle.


Haley Jane is 6. It's happening...everyone says it, but now we're experiencing it. Colby and I were both emotional as we recounted how quickly the years have flown and how unbelievable it is that our baby is a first grader. To celebrate the big day, we went to church and brought back eight girls with us. Haley had made out an itinerary that we executed quite well...right down to the princess pinata. After a princess lunch, princess pedicures, pin the jewel on the crown, a princess treasure hunt, and a princess cake we were ready for presents. In this picture, Haley is opening the Jasmine Barbie she had been asking for all year long (that I found at a yard sale for $1.50). Score.

A Celebration of Haley Jane

To celebrate the life God has given to Haley Jane, I made a slideshow that documents the last six years.


Darcy ADORES her little sister. Sometimes a little too much. If you have been around our family for more than 90 seconds, you've most likely witnessed Darcy diving into Gracie's carseat, smothering her with kisses, and gritting her teeth and shaking because of how cute she is. It's a scene straight out of Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck ("We know you love them, but don't hurt the rabbits, Lennie..."). Gracie just blinks and tries to suck on Darcy's chin.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Gold Rain

Today I decided to step out of the tornado and sit outside to write.  It’s been a while since I’ve aired out my head.  I’m learning that it is not selfish for me to take out time for myself but rather NECESSARY in order to be who I need to be for my kids and my husband.

Right now I am sitting outside watching red, orange, and gold rain down all around me.  The evening light catches the leaves at a perfect angle and illuminates the tree like one grand, stain-glassed window in this outdoor sanctuary.     

We moved again.  This is the 8th house we’ve lived in during the past two years…the adventure continues.  Today finds me in the suburbs of Washington D.C  in a subdivision named Montclair.  Our friends, Tim and Amanda Long, are graciously letting us stay at their vacant home while they are in Florida for the next six months.  It is a perfect place for this stage of the journey.  “Our” new house has 3 levels, 4 bedrooms, a perfect adventure playland for the kids in the backyard, and even a fireplace.  We are beyond blessed. 

In some ways, I feel like God brought us out of America to bring us back here with new eyes.  After spending 15 months in Iceland, I am now enamored with the most mundane, simple things.  All summer long I couldn’t stop staring at the trees  and vegetation here…each  leaf a different shape, ivy climbing and decorating, making a mosaic of worshipful green.

I really feel God’s eye upon us.  I’m not worried about the future because I know God has something up His sleeve.  Too many things have happened.  It’s so obvious that God has a plan and I’m learning to just kick up my feet in the passenger seat and trust that the Driver knows where He’s going.  The more I travel through life, the more I’m realizing that God determines our steps.  Even our choices somehow fit into His mastermind puzzle that we can’t even begin to figure out.   So, we don’t.  We just submit, trust….and then REST.  

Monday, September 27, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Upstate New York

We just got back from a little roadtrip to Albany,  New York.  The kids did a really great job on the 9 hour drive and even helped feed Gracie so we didn't have to stop so much.  We broke the trip up into 2 driving days and had an enjoyable time talking about each state we drove through.  On Saturday, we were able to go to a local apple orchard there and pick apples, ride ponies, and enjoy a hay ride.  On Sunday, Colby preached at a church where his old roommate is a pastor and we sang for the service.  Good times had by all.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


The night before Gracie was discharged from the hospital,  Haley asked a very practical question.
"Do I say 'Welcome Home' when Gracie comes to this house tomorrow?  Or should I wait until we go back to the Locust Grove house?"

Hmmmm...For a moment it made me sad that our kids don't really know where they live, but it allowed Haley and I to have a good conversation.  After the talk,  I was reminded about a chapter in Tim Keller's book, Prodigal God (if you've not read this New York Times Bestseller author, now's the time!).  He explores the idea of evasive it is and yet how we all long for it.  
On Saturday we packed up everything from the mission house in Crozet and drove back to the other house we've been using in Locust Grove.  As Colby hunts for jobs, the reality is we will be moving again some time in the next year.  Among other things, riding the rollercoaster that is called our life these past two years has truly bonded our nuclear family.   I decided to make a welcome home sign for Gracie that would make sense to her and to us...
Riverside Park has changed in the last 10 years just as much as Colby and I have!  There is now a "Sprayground" in the middle of the park making it kid friendly.  It was the perfect day there.  

  When it's still 100 degrees in Virginia in September, you NEED a
"sprayground" in the park!
This guy was having too much fun;  I had to capture it.