Monday, November 24, 2008

Blogs can change lives!

You all know how a few posts ago I entered "C" (Coleman Larson) into the Blogs Can Change Lives contest to win a PSP for ill or frequently hospitalized children. Well guess what .... my blog entry was one of the 10 selected and Coleman is going to be the recipient of a PSP bundle!! YAY!!!! I am so excited!
Now, I said if I won the contest I would raise enough money to buy Coleman's twin brother Caden a PSP also ... so they can play each other during those long hospital visits, plane rides and trips to the doctors that I'm sure are a part of "everyday" life for them. Please let me know if you'd consider a donation ... I'm so excited I won the game for Coleman, I'd love to just go out and buy the PSP right now to send for Caden but.....I'm going to have to raise the money (or at least some of it)......since we do have 5 kids of our own. (Smile!!)
Here's the latest update on Coleman, from his CarePage today:
I do have some sad news to report…and it breaks my heart to type this, but Coleman can no longer walk...not even across the room. We have been carrying him to the bathroom, to the tub, to the table, etc. He’s not a bit happy about it, and with the steroids he lets us know it! I try to make him hold my hands and get around, but he’s not having ANY of that, and says if I make him, then “NO HUGS FOR YOU MOMMY!” He’s just afraid to fall, and his balance just isn’t there. It’s tough to watch, especially when I know it makes him angry and I’m sure scared. With the steroids he goes from giggles to tears to anger all within a couple of minutes sometimes, but I think about how I’d feel if all of the sudden I couldn’t get around and I can’t say I wouldn’t have all the same feelings.
She also posted this about Caden: Then there’s the other half…Caden… who’s been worried about Coleman. He wants us to pray over him…as he says, “don’t touch him, juss put your hann over him and wepeat after me… “PWEEZE GOD… PWEEZE MAKE MY BRUVER ALL BETTER! Ann fank you for wuvin EV-wee-body in the world. Amen.”I’m so proud of Caden and my heart breaks for him at the same time. He’s been extra bouncy, if you can imagine that, but I think a lot of it has to do with nerves.
Anyway, I wanted to share the news on the contest. Thanks to www.5minutesformom.com for having this awesome contest, and huge thanks to Sony for doing such a generous thing!!


Love,
xoxoxo

Monday, November 17, 2008

Experimentation with ..........

PhotoShop!

So I got PhotoShop awhile ago, and I tried it out, but it's pretty overwhelming to the novice hobby photographer, layers and gradients and histograms .... and even after I bought "PhotoShop for Dummies" ... I still kind of just have been ignoring the little icon.

Here's my first attempt at "editing" some of my photos. Just the tones, sharpening a little bit, filters .... I definitely don't get the whole layering concept yet and I'm a hands on learner - so just trial and error (it took me hours to get these, lol!) However, the different looks you can create with PhotoShop and how much more...professional they come out looking after a bit of retouching are amazing! Next on my agenda will be to learn how to chop the head off one body and paste it on another, so I can quit bugging my neighbor to put this smiling face in this picture ... (heehee!) Oh and if someone can easily explain to me how to add color to a certain area of the photo, for example, changing someones eye color or bringing the color out in a specific area (say, the leaves, or an area on the shirt, etc.) I'd greatly appreciate it. (Smile, say cheese!)

Before......


After.....

Before.......


After......

Have a great night everyone!

Love,
xoxoxo





Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday morning at the Tramontanas ...

This is a typical Sunday morning at our house .... the girls playing together and Zach and Daddy playing their new favorite game......Batman Lego on the Playstation. I think it's so funny that Zach plays the PS3 ... he is actually GOOD - and they get into "character" a lot of the time which cracks me up - Zach will call Daddy "Batman" ... Daddy will give "Robin" instructions on where to go next ... very funny.

Love,
xoxoxo

Enjoy the videos ... or as the girls say .... bideos!



video

Notice, Zach is so into the "Game" that the kitty brushing up against him (pet me, pet me) doesn't even bother him!

And here was what the girls played with all day - we had to keep making them "cool forts and tents".

video

Sunday, November 9, 2008

How long did it take YOU to vote???

Sam took these pictures out of the car window as he was trying to find a place to park on Election Day. He waited in line for about 3 hours .... and he said there were at least 1000 people in front of him. This line was at least half mile long - if not more. Unreal!!!









This street takes a turn to the right, and then another turn up the church driveway/parking lot, and another turn up the church walkway, and then they wound you around inside (like an amusement park) I think because of the rain.



You can see this line goes on and on and on and on......................
This was unreal!!!!!! I waited about 2 hours and it wasn't even close to this long!!!!

Love,
xoxoxo




Saturday, November 8, 2008

Prayers needed urgently! Please!!!

You guys all know that I somehow started following the Larson Family through another blog I read ... and their little boy, Coleman, has Medulloblastoma. I started reading the Caringbridge Carepages every once in awhile, but now I find myself checking throughout the day - is there an update, how's Coleman...how are the family holding up??

They arrived back in New York this week for another round of scans on his brain ... and I'm just going to take the liberty of cutting and pasting her whole update here for those who haven't signed up to get the updates. You will see what an AMAZING family they are. If you are interested or can spare it, there is a site that is accepting donations that go 100% to the family. The family appreciates cards/gifts for the kids as it lifts them up each week when they get the packages. The kids love getting pictures of other families and kids .... so if you can spare some time......

____________________________________________________________________

Sorry for the Delay...
Posted 8 hours ago
Hi Everyone,






I’m sorry for no update last night…we had another long day. Truthfully, I started to type one several times and just never seemed to get it finished. I felt bad when I went to bed that I hadn’t updated, but I knew you’d all understand. I know a lot of you were wondering about our scan results.

We were at the hospital by 9:30 for Coleman’s MRI. We didn’t have much of a wait, but it was a long MRI- it took well over an hour. Coleman usually falls asleep, so this isn’t a problem, but he wasn’t feeling too sleepy yesterday morning. I went back with him this time, and when it was over, they brought him out of the machine and he had tears running down the sides of his face. The tech said he was going to make her cry…I asked him what was wrong and he said, “I fink I moved a witta bit!” “I fought I was in twubble.”





Broke my heart. He has no idea how completely amazing he is for being able to lay in that machine, and that still, for that amount of time, at his age. He’s done it so many times without anesthesia, we just take it for granted how amazing it truly is. The techs are always in awe over him…and so are we…he moved a little bit- ha!…….there is NO way I could have laid still for that long.



This picture, breaks my heart. This is one I would keep next to my bed forever.




After the scan, they told us they had paged the doctor to come talk to us, so we could have a seat and wait. That didn’t sound promising, and of course we were worried- but after over an hour of sitting and waiting, they called us back to the doctor’s office with the boys. I didn’t think it could be TOO bad, because they surely wouldn’t let the boys come back with us, if it was bad news.

*sigh* I was wrong. The news was not what we were hoping for…the cancer has spread quite a bit in the last month again. The doctor was surprised Coleman hadn’t been complaining more. I couldn’t believe they were telling us all of this right in front of the boys! For one, I wanted to ask a whole lot more questions, but I wasn’t going to do it in front of them, AND we needed to put a smile on for them, which was so hard to do when our hearts were breaking.

Since chemo is no longer an option, and neither is the 3f8, They gave us an option of starting an oral pill- it’s a study that just opened last week and one other patient is starting it right now. It’s not chemo, and right now I can’t even remember what she called it- I was in too much of a daze, but Coleman will need to keep his platelets above 100,000 to be on the study. They were at 37,000 yesterday. Soooo, we were shuffled out of the meeting with the dr. over to the infusion room where we waited for an hour to get platelets…which by the way took a half hour to infuse!(our bright spot of the day!!!)


I shouldn’t say that, we had a lot of bright spots as usual with these two boys. They are hilarious…and between Coleman’s story of an “odoe-wess sunk” (odorless skunk) and Caden telling us his jokes, we had many laughs. I told someone I kind of felt like we were on the deck of the Titanic, the band was playing, and we were smiling and dancing while we’re desperately searching and hoping for a life boat.


We couldn’t break down with the boys there...so we danced. And continue to THANK GOD for every single moment we have together. We truly ARE so blessed. It was a tough day to sit through and we didn’t get back to the RMD house until 6:00 last night.

We also met with two neurologists yesterday who ordered an E.E.G. for Monday. This will measure the waves of the brain and possibly tell us about the shakiness we’re seeing, and the slurred speech he’s had a couple of times. They don’t want to put him on any anti-seizure meds until they see the E.E.G. The symptoms could be seizure related, or disease related, but this test should tell us more.

So Monday will be a full day- we’re going to have a friend watch the boys in the toy room at the hospital while we visit with the doctor and go over our options. I have a list of questions all ready…so we should have more to report after that. We were not able to look at scans, since they were still writing up the reports, and with the boys there, I didn’t want to push it. I will be getting a copy of them on Monday.

We just got back from going out for lunch and got SOAKING wet! All of us except Coleman who was in his stroller with the rain guard covering him. We only walked about 5 blocks, but it looks like we just stepped out of the shower with our clothes on! Caden LOVED the rain and was holding his mouth open the entire way. He can’t wait to catch snowflakes on his tongue when we get back to Iowa! :)


After Monday we should have a better idea of when that will be, I think they want us to stay out here to be on the study. I’m going to try to negotiate it so we can go home and maybe find a dr in Des Moines who would be willing to work with Sloan? (something we're praying for) Coleman keeps asking when we get to go home...

For right now, things are up in the air…but our feet are firmly planted in our faith. We’re still praying our hearts out, and trusting that God hears, and is carrying us every step, as He always has.

Thank you for the messages of support, for your prayers, and kindness. It truly means so much to us. Please know how VERY much we appreciate our carepage family!

Blessings to you all,
A dancing Team Larson

p.s. a BIG thanks to Aaron Horn, Eli's dad (cp: EliRHorn) who offered to take Caden to the bubble show we were signed up for last night. He thought that way Caden wouldn't have to sit through the platelet transfusion. I asked Caden if he wanted to go, his eyes sparkled and he said YES! Then he looked over at Coleman and said, "no... I fink I will stay here and pway my v-smile." What a brother.

Thanks for the offer though Aaron. Hope you and Eli had safe travels back to Iowa this morning! Say hi to the snowflakes for us.

____________________________________________________________________

If you want to send Coleman or his family a card, or small gift ...Here's his address in NY City at the Ronald McDonald House. On your return address label (since they don't forward mail) put the families address in Iowa, and when the package gets rejected in NY, it will be automatically returned to "sender" which will be: Team Larson Box 251 Callender, Iowa 50523 (Tricky!) Please, cards, pictures of other kids and families, pets----anything cheer him up.

You can also make a monetary donation through http://www.dmarkette.com/donate-to-colemans-prayer/ .... Darryl has written a song for Coleman (beautiful) and there is a spot to make a donation to the family. All proceeds (100%) go to Peggy and Scott Larson.

This sweet Coleman needs more prayers than ever now. If you have a blog or a website or a way to get the word out.....please ...pass this link along so the message gets out. I don't know this little boy personally, yet, I feel like it could be my kid at any minute that something like this happens to - and that scares the crap out of me. This is the strongest family I've ever come across and I hope that someday I get to meet them.

In my prayers tonight, Larsons .... 'specially you Cman!


Love,
xoxoxo



Friday, November 7, 2008

Zach soccer update....


As Zach is approaching the end of his second season in soccer, thought I'd post some pictures from a recent game. He's really doing so much better this season (paying attention more, going after the ball, etc.) He's scored lots of goals this year (not that we're counting or anything!!) <-- Smile! He cracks me up ... you can see the determination in his face...and his mouth is always open when he gets the ball ... too funny!!! He doesn't like when I bring the camera, so most of these shots I got on the sly --- before he found out I was even there! He also doesn't like when anyone cheers for him - if anyone (another parent, etc.) says Go Zach, or that was GREAT Zach, he covers his ears. Wonder what that's about? The twins are pretty good when they go to his game, and now they're a little older, we don't have to worry about them "as much" .... they like to hang around in the foresty part of the field and make piles of pine cones and sticks and pine needles, and look for bugs. (Yes, look for bugs...seriously!) Nana has been here for the past month so she's got to see 3 of his games (I think 3) and that's been a real joy for her to have been here to see Zach play.


Zach really likes his teammates this year, and we're fortunate to have a great bunch of parents who really help out with the kids (getting them on and off the field, etc.) That really makes Sam's job of trying to keep 5 (4) year olds focused on the game a little easier ....lol!!!


Here's my favorite shot of the group....he just kicked the ball in for a goal! Look at this form, lol!


Here's the rest of the pictures ....just click play - or you can scroll through them.

http://www.kodakgallery.com/tramontana/main/zach_soccer







Well have a great night and a happy weekend!!




Love,
xoxoxo


Happy to live in southern VA!

.... came across this article today .....

BISMARCK, N.D. (Associated Press) -- Major North Dakota roads closed by a blizzard that tore through the region began reopening Friday, but freezing rain left thousands without power to the east, authorities said. In South Dakota, stranded vehicles continued to clog a major highway.
No fatalities were reported in the early season blizzard that pounded the northern Plains on Wednesday and Thursday. But the high wind and snowfall of up to 3 feet disrupted travel, closed schools and cut off electricity to thousands in Nebraska and the Dakotas.



And thought how happy I was to live in southern VA! It it sunny and 71 degrees here today!!! (Oh and by the way, our gas prices are still under $2.00/gallon!!!)



Love,
xoxoxo


Monday, November 3, 2008

Don't forget to vote!!!

You have no idea how happy I am that we're coming to the end of a LONG election campaign! I have to say I've received about 100 pieces of mail between BOTH parties in the last month ... it's crazy!! I'm voting tomorrow for Barack Obama and I want to tell you why.


I think America is a great country and I want to see better health care, better education, roads that are fixed and bridges that don't collapse, more responsible actions overseas and less dependence on foreign oil. All the typical Democrat "rhetoric" if you will.



Barack Obama has sparked the interest of so many people this election and many "naysayers" will say it's a lot of "first time" African American voters voting because he's a black candidate. I say.....he did a great job of spreading his message. At least he inspired them to get up and register, and hopefully they will vote and become more aware. That's the first step! It is every Americans right and responsibility to vote ... and if he can make them do it ...more power to him! It just shows that he has the capacity to bring people of all races together in my opinion.


Do I think Barack has all the answers? No, I don't. I don't think anyone going into that office COULD POSSIBLY have all the answers, regardless of how many years they've been in the government or how many times they've served our country. There are way too many variables and that is why our Presidents have panels of advisers with various realms of experience who help him make appropriate and wise decisions. Do I agree with all of his positions on every issue? No, definitely not.


Are there Black/African American tomorrow that will vote for Obama just because he's African American? Yep, for sure....they're predicting the largest turnout of Black voters, ever. Are there Republicans who will vote for McCain SOLELY because he's Republican. DEFINITELY. Democrats that vote for Obama just BECAUSE he's a Democrat? MmmHmm. I know people personally who always vote for the candidate who's party they "believe in". However, I believe that overall we are an intelligent informed nation (definitely more so after this election!) and I HOPE there are many, many more Americans who will vote for who they think is the better candidate, based on the issues that are important to them, rather than voting along party lines or who the candidate is because of their race or gender (look how far Hillary got.)



If I had to make a list of the things that I like/don't like about either candidate, I'd have a lot more in favor of Obama. Fundamentally, I don't agree that the wealthy should "pay more" because likely they've worked harder, and earned their money so they deserve to keep it. It makes sense. But I do think that everyone should help our society become better educated, more informed and healthy so that the less fortunate (not necessarily the lazy people) CAN get out there and live the American Dream. I want to see ALL children have a chance at a better future and the kids that benefit from those tax dollars are the people who will be the presidents and politicians of MY future, and my KIDS future. That's important to me. I don't know what else you can do but have the people who make more money pay a little more. I know that sucks, I agree that sucks. And I know there are thousands (millions?) of people who abuse welfare and find every possible loophole. However, I also know that there are just as many people who are on welfare who would MUCH rather be working and earning a paycheck rather than using food-stamps at the checkout line or living in government housing, which typically is in less than desirable areas. I know that people in less than fortunate situations often have trouble getting OUT of those situations and they lead a very tough life. I don't think ALL of these people have slacked off or worked less on purpose ... I think many have been part of a broken "system" that this presidency can hopefully be part of fixing - if not for them, at least for giving the kids of today (our future) a better chance.




Obama wants to improve our relations around the world and get our troops home safely. I read this awhile ago and I think it's very true: The sad use of unilateralism as a foreign policy will be one of history’s harshest condemnations of President Bush. It will be very important that Barack Obama as President build credibility with our allies, and open lines of discussion with those who oppose us, as a way to again show that we are not an arrogant country, but mindful that we are a part of the global family. Iran is but one nation that we need to open up lines of communications with. Obama understands that Syria must also be brought into the larger Middle East discussions. It is only through a complete new beginning of international understanding and bridge building that the slippage our nation has experienced on the world stage can be stopped, and then reversed.a way to again show that we are not an arrogant country, but mindful that we are a part of the global family. SINCE the capture of Saddam Hussein there have been more than three thousand men and women who have lost their lives. We helped remove the dictator and saw that he was brought to justice. We've helped them create a democratic government and a police force. They don't want us there anymore. They have more money than we do. I cannot for the life of me understand why we don't have a more responsible "plan" by our current Administration to withdraw our troops. I feel with Obama as President he will seek the counsel of his advisers and together they come up with the most responsible plan to make this happen. He does not seem like a person who will make snap judgements or hot tempered comments and he will help re-establish us as more of a "peace-keeping" nation. That's important to me. I think there are threats in the middle east that need to be addressed. I'm not "anti-war". I'm pro making the RIGHT decisions at the RIGHT time and having well thought out plans for putting and end to killing our brave soldiers when we should be focusing on the other things threatening our nation.




My right to choose, freedom for everyone and gun control are also important issues for me. Do you know that McCain opposes restrictions on assault weapons and ammunition types - including those that are armor piercing? He voted against the Brady Bill. I realize we all have the right to keep and bear arms, but when the constitution was written, I'm pretty sure there were no semi-automatic machine guns around. Who needs armor piercing ammo, anyway? Why would anyone NOT want to take those products OFF the general market? I don't get that one, and I don't think "banning" the sale of those type of weapons is breaking the constitution. You can still keep and bear arms. Just not the type of arms that can take out 15 students in one fell swoop if you're a psycho disgruntled college student, or with the kind of ammo that protects our police officers in raids of drug infested neighborhoods, etc.




I could go on and on about the reasons I think Obama will make a better President and it probably doesn't matter to you at this point. Overall ... I think he has the ability to bring people together and I think he will lead this country in a better direction than it's going. I think he has that ability to do this, and I don't have confidence that McCain does. Both candidates have "flip-flopped" on certain issues and I think that will ALWAYS happen. People act so surprised when that happens, but it's nothing new. Just because you have an opinion on something today, or this year ... doesn't mean you will feel the same tomorrow - or next year - maybe your opinion or mindset will change after you have all the facts or have had time to really reflect on all the implications your action will have. Don't you think it's the same for the people running our government?





PS: If you have a few minutes - read this speech if you didn't see it (I didn't.) I think this, from someone who is Christian, but not HIGHLY religious in any way, is inspiring and well written. This is the kind of speech you would envision coming from someone leading the most powerful country in the world.






Above everything else this I have been more interested in this election than ever before. Perhaps it's because I have kids now and I worry for their future. I know that certain things EITHER candidate will put into effect will have an impact on us in some ways. No one knows what the future holds, but I have HOPE that with Obama as a president things will improve, and people will step up to the plate like never before, to change and undo the past 8 years.


Good luck, for whoever you're voting for ... and may the best man win! :) Just make sure to get out there and vote. This election is critical and every voice counts!




Love,
xoxoxo


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Great day in Williamsburg!!

SEE PICTURES IN NEXT POST....HAVING TECHNICAL DIFFICULTY GETTING THE HTML CODE TO WORK ON THIS PAGE! (arrgh!)


While we lack a professional sports team of any kind, one of the wonderful benefits of living where we do is that we're so close to so many things. We can be at VA Beach in 20 minutes, in the OBX within an hour ... a few hours drive will put us in the Blue Ridge Mountains .... 2 1/2 hours we can be at the White House for dinner (when Michelle and Obama invite us, that is....not that Sam would be coming with me!!) Smile!!

Fall is my favorite time of year to visit Colonial Williamsburg. We went today and it was PERFECT. 70 degrees, sunny, not a cloud in the sky. Zach had a soccer game so we went right after that and the kids were good during the ride there ... singing to each other, dancing to songs Daddy was playing on his iPod ... we had lunch at a great place, got the kids some treats and ice cream ... and headed back. We weren't in the car for 5 minutes before the girls were sound asleep!

Here's some pictures from our day....enjoy!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Zach's first school parade...

Zach had his first school parade...I unfortunately couldn't be there because I was already at the doctor's office getting the twins their shots (Zach came right after school). Here's some pictures Daddy took. If you're wondering why Sam is the "only" parent in the parade, apparently Zachary had it in his mind that his Dad was going to be with him the WHOLE time....so after Sam helped Zach with his costume and Mrs. Sharon asked the parents to leave the room ... Zachary freaked out (like why is my Daddy leaving)....so Sam had to march in the little parade too. (Our neighbor Jen, who's kids also go to the same school caught the action since Sam couldn't. :)











The boys stick together!




Well, I was going to post a couple from the actual "parade" but there are no shots where he's not frowning or crying. So ... this is his class.....three boys and eleven girls (not all are in the picture) LOL.


Love,
xoxoxo






GAS IN VIRGINIA!!!

We took a drive out to Williamsburg today and walked around (blog post on that to follow) but I wanted to share the price of gas as we were driving home.


$1.96

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT???? I filled up my tank earlier in the day at $2.29 and it only cost $36.00 to fill up! Not quite understanding what's going ON with the price of gas or the oil market, but I'M LOVIN' IT!


Love,
xoxoxo