Friday, March 29, 2013

Little Anniversaries and Thanksgivings

One year ago yesterday, Rick had knee surgery. As I would have expected, he recovered like a champ, took no narcotic pain medicine afterward and was back to his usual activity much sooner than the surgeon predicted.  But it was soon after the surgery that we started to notice little neurological changes- confusion with driving directions, trouble remembering names, trouble finding the word he was trying to say.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, that whatever it was about the anesthesia- fluid shifts, changes in blood flow, over hydration- caused Rick's tumor to announce itself much earlier than it may have otherwise.  My hope is that catching it earlier rather than later has contributed to how well he has responded to surgery, radiation and now chemotherapy.  That and the fact that You have blessed him with extraordinary strength and courage.  Please, Heavenly Father, continue to bless Rick with strength and courage for the battle ahead.  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pinewood Derby

Whew! All caught up!  I guess it's a good thing that not much happens in February and I had plenty of time to catch up before the next bloggable event:
Pinewood Derby!

So it all started with two blocks of wood

Soren's was from a kit and was already more or less the shape of the BatMobile.  Rick did a little research and he and Will decided on a super streamlined design.  
Rick had to work the scroll saw, of course

Then the boys got busy sanding

Rick spray painted a really pretty base coat.  
I airbrushed the flames (really!).  Then Rick finished them off with a clear coat.  Shamrock stickers for luck was Will's idea since the race was on St. Patrick's Day.

The Big Day 
(Yes, that's me being a line judge- a huge responsibility and more stressful than you would think)

The boys loved it and were thrilled to race their cars and win medals

Hooray Team Smiley! 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Disney Moments

End of 2012/Beginning of 2013 Catch Up!

We waved goodbye to our friends, shoved our coats into the bottom of the suitcases and headed to Florida for a Mickey Mouse fix and to check item #1 off the Bucket List: Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Some of our more memorable Disney Moments:

1. A Moment of Thanksgiving

I made the reservations for this trip right after Rick's MRI appointment in December, still high on the good news that cancer was behaving itself.  The Disney travel agent asked if we were celebrating anything special on this trip and I started blubbering like a baby telling this perfect stranger about Rick's scan.  
When we got to the registration desk at the hotel, Rick was presented with a button declaring that he was celebrating Life!  I said many little prayers of thanksgiving during this trip for my wonderful husband and the blessings we have been given as a family.

2. A Super Mom Moment

I didn't realize until we got back to our hotel room after the first day at WDW that Soren had walked like a trooper all over the park... 
with his shoes on the wrong feet

3. A Random Act of Kindness Moment

Because our Disney trip was tacked on to the end of our Asheville trip, by the time we got the Florida we were already going on a good, solid week of irregular bedtimes and calling cotton candy a meal.  So it wasn't too surprising that on Day 2 of WDW, everyone's behavior started to deteriorate.  Soren was throwing a particularly stellar temper tantrum right in the middle of Tomorrow Land- screaming, crying, going limp, the whole nine yards.  I'm sure most people in the immediate vicinity (including myself) wanted to turn and walk quickly in the other direction.  
A young woman came over, held out three trading pins and told Soren that these were her favorite pins, but she could tell he was having hard time and he could pick one to have if he wanted.  Tantrum instantly forgotten, he picked a Mickey Mouse pin.  We put it on his shirt and for the rest of the day I couldn't get him to look at the camera for any pictures because he was gazing at his special pin.

4. Celebrity Moment

For the first day at Universal Studios, we donned full Harry Potter regalia.  
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was amazing.  
In every way.  
I'm sure we were walking around with our mouths hanging open.  And every so often we were stopped by fellow visitors who asked if they could be photographed with Soren Potter and Will Malfoy.  It felt a smidge like a bad idea to let my children be photographed by strangers, but I really couldn't think of reason not to, so in another Super Mom Moment, I let them.

5. Magical Moment

One of the must-do's was visiting Olivander's Wand Shop where Olivander himself recommended a birch or holly wand for Soren Potter and an elder wand for Will Malfoy.  In the end, though, we know that the wand chooses the wizard.

6. Malaprop Moment

 It turns out there are other exciting thing to see at Universal Studios.  One of them was a really fun ride based on the Despicable Me movie.  Soren became really fascinated with Gru's minions.  Hysterically, he kept calling them his cousins.  I shushed WIll every time he started to correct Soren and now we all call them cousins!

7. Whew! Glad To Be Home Moment

A Blue Ridge New Year

End of 2012/Beginning of 2013 Catch Up

My darling friend, Jean, was inspired to organize a fun family trip to Asheville, NC over New Year.  
We spent the last hours of 2012 and the first hours of the new year exploring The Biltmore and it's grounds with the O'Banions and discovering that, it turns out, we have a lot in common with the Venderbilts.  For instance, the Vanderbilts and the Smileys both have architectural taste which favors stylized dolphins and stone lions

 Huh. Who woulda guessed?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Christmas in (slightly more than) 35 Words

End of 2012/Beginning of 2013 Catch Up

For Christmas, Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Ed came to visit.

We made Christmas cookies with Uncle Ed.

We all opened gifts on Christmas morn after church
(We discovered a couple of years ago the best kept secret of all Catholocism: hardly anyone goes to Christmas Morning Mass. 
 The Christmas Eve Children's Mass: a nightmare of crowd control and insufficient parking.  
Midnight Mass: a well known fact that you can't arrive any later than 10:30.  
But Christmas morning: about as many people there as a random Wednesday morning daily Mass.  And no one cares if your kids are being bad in church- it's Christmas for heaven's sake!)

Peace, Love and Legos!

 Will sewed with Grandpa.