Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

We celebrated Thanksgiving with Ed's parents and youngest brother and his family today. We ate a bunch and played some games. I haven't been feeling well on and off the past couple of weeks so Ed made some stuffing which was actually REALLY good! The recipe was on the back of the stuffing box and had cheese, broccoli and sausage in it. It was a good day.

Thanksgiving with it's tradition of counting your blessings and being grateful for what we have has really hit home with me this year. It is amazing what we take for granted when we don't seem to be going through any big trials. Last year at this time, we had a scare with Ollie and looking back on the situation that happened, proved to be a symptom of his growing brain tumor.

Ed's sister and her family were visiting from Texas for Thanksgiving. The younger kids were sitting at the smaller 'kids table' in the kitchen and the rest of us were close by in the dining room. Oliver started to choke on some turkey and Ed rushed over to him to help. After the whole fiasco that seemed to last forever, Ollie just laughed it off. I could tell he was a bit embarrassed. Decreased ability to swallow is one of the symptoms that we didn't recognize until after he was diagnosed just a month later.

This is a difficult time filled with mixed emotions as we think about the year mark coming up on his diagnosis. The holidays are supposed to be filled with happiness and joy and right now I'm filled with anxiety and sadness for what is to come. Trying to find the joy for my kiddos.

Once you join the world of cancer... you remember 'dates'.
December 23, 2009 - Oliver's MRI and diagnosis -- worst day of my life thus far
December 31, 2009 - Oliver begins his 6 weeks of radiation therapy -- "Happy New Year" with a headache and vomiting.
February 11, 2010 - Ollie's final radiation treatment
???,??? - Find out the tumor has increased in size
???,??? - Begin 2nd round of radiation
???,??? - Final radiation treatment
???,??? - Oliver's passing and subsequent funeral date.

It's very difficult to try and remain unaffected during the days and months that go by. We need to enjoy him while he is still here. WE ALL need to enjoy our kids and make memories with them, even if they are healthy and strong, because they will remember the things you did with them and the feelings they felt when you were around. This is making me a better parent. We have the ability to look within ourselves and see what needs to be changed and then change what we can. What a blessing it is to be given insights on how we can better ourselves for ourselves as well as our families.

Please keep several families of children that have recently passed around the holidays in your heart and in your prayers. Prayer does help... it gives us energy and the will to keep going when you don't think that you can take one more step or say one more thing.

Davenport Thanksgiving Parade & Visiting friends

November 2010


We've been wanting to go to the parade in Davenport for the last couple of years, but never made it down there. This year we decided that we had to go and see the BIG balloons they had! We went down with my mom and brother, Chad and were able to stay at the Radisson, right on the parade route. Something was messed up with our reservation and they changed our room, upgraded us to a suite so that we could watch the parade from our window and keep the kids in from the cold. What a great treat! It was a lot of fun.

Oliver and Jaren being goofy right after we got there.

Finny admiring himself in the mirror.

Our room and the window we watched the parade out of.

The other room and window where we could also see the parade. It really was a great room!

The boys getting comfy.

The bridge to nowhere where Ed, Eden and I walked to at night when it was dark and the lights were on. It was pretty cool to see the lights reflecting off the river and the lights inside the walkway.

Eden overlooking the Mississippi River on the bridge to nowhere.

Santa and his reindeer! My cousin and her kids, who live in the Quad City area, are actually in this picture and I didn't even know it!! How crazy is that!?

Grandma and Jaren

Raggedy Ann looking a bit too raggedy. I think her and the traffic light got into it and the traffic light ripped her a new hole... literally. They had to deflate the rest of her right outside our window on an off street.

'A room with a view'

Ollie yells, "It's Barack Obama!!!"

Finny and Ollie

I love these bikes. It makes me think of the TV show, "American Pickers" which is based out of Le Claire, Iowa. We actually drive through Le Claire to go to our friend's house in DeKalb. One of these days we'll have to stop by and see if we can find Mike & Frank! Le Claire also has a tug of war, TUG FEST, with the town across the Mississippi River each August. I went once when I was a kid and would love to go back again. Complete tangent... anywho... this guy must have some crazy abs!

It's Willie! My mom has a dalmatian at home.


This visit we had the chance to meet the newest Gillespie, little Ayla, who was about a month old. Oliver just LOVES babies!

Eden and her baby 'sister' Ayla! Eden so wishes for a baby sister so since she doesn't have one, she gets all the 'sister' time when we visit good friends!

I don't know if Oliver could handle another sister. Little Briea is sitting on his head at this point! Cullan and the kids love to wrestle with Oliver and he lovingly obliges!

Cullan, Briea, Kael and Eden. I love how Eden's arm is around Kael.

Jaren misses his friend, Kael, so much. You can just see the fun they have together.

Fruit snacks and friends. What more could a boy ask for? Nice face here, Oliver!

Close up of Oliver's 'heming' job... ahem... scotch tape! I think I have a little MacGuyver on my hands!

Finny sitting on Garran's lap just chillin'

Kael, Briea and Finny. I could just squeeze Finny's chubby legs all day long!

Oliver and Briea. I think she likes older men! Watch out, Ollie!

Ollie and Ayla

I love this picture of these two! Too sweet!

Who would think that the end of November, we'd hear the tornado sirens going off?! Only in the midwest! We were going to leave, but didn't want to leave when the clouds were looking so ominous so we stayed and then the sirens were going off. We got the kids together in the bathroom, but luckily the only thing we saw was a rainbow. Yeah... we stayed an extra night.


Whenever we travel to see our friends in Illinois, we always try to stop in Clinton to see my grandparents, which is the halfway point of our trip. This time I got a picture of Oliver next to the height door at my grandparents house. I remember always getting out the ruler and sharpie to mark how tall we were and the date. It's fun to look back and see that even the cats and dogs were measured and added to the door!

Pretty sunset on the drive home

Sweet Viola

October 2010

We were privileged to finally meet Viola, a 94 year old woman that had met Oliver when he was just a little Kindergartener. The kids were paired up with the residents in a local nursing home as pen pals and then met up on a field trip. I never knew that Oliver had made her a necklace which she is wearing in the picture and cherishes.

When her and 'Grandma Dorothy', another resident that came to the school often, found out about Oliver, they were moved to action! They held a bake sale fundraiser for Oliver at their nursing home. I am still so moved by their kindness and sweetness.

This was our first meeting with Viola, at the beginning of October. It was so sweet to see how much she adored Oliver! It was also funny to see how loving Jaren was toward her. He was hugging her and climbing up on her lap, which she loved as she doesn't have any children or grandchildren. What a special night and a sweet and funny lady!!!


Ollie pulling his Yoda mask up so Viola can see who it was!

Oliver 'trick or treating' around the circle the residents were sitting in!

Jaren as Batman

Eden, Jaren, Viola, Oliver, Ed and Phineas, as a pirate.



Halloween is my favorite holiday and I have so much fun helping the kids with their costumes each year. Oliver has been wanting to be YODA for the longest time and I could never find the costume in the store so we ordered it online several weeks before Halloween to ensure that it was here in time. We also ordered a green light up light saber online, but at the school Halloween party at Grandma's school, a kid busted it. He held it together and didn't cry which was a difficult thing for him with his emotions being easier to trigger nowadays. I ended up finding the other green one that he's had for a while, although it didn't light up, he was okay with it. We seriously have like 10 light sabers in this house!!!

I found a darling Garden Gnome outfit for Jaren at Target and thought it was hysterical so I bought it for him. Well, I got home and tried to wedge him into it and boy it did not give at all! Plus, it was like 3 inches too short, but I think that added to the overall hilarity of the outfit. He wore it to the church trunk-or-treat and then Finny puked all over it which I couldn't wash because it would either... A) shrink into nothingness or B) fall apart. He ended up being Batman for the rest of the Halloween festivities!

Phineas was going to be either a NINJA, which Jaren was a few years ago, or a PIRATE. Turns out he was a little of both. He wore the Ninja costume to 'Trunk or Treat' at church and the pirate costume to the nursing home. My mom kept him for us while we went trick-or-treating since it was pretty cold out. I figure he's too young to remember it now anyways! He got in on all the candy action when we got home anyways!

This year Eden wanted to be the evil vampire, VICTORIA, from the 'Twilight' series of books turned into movies. Although I am a fan of "Twilight" she came up with this ALL on her own. I just helped to make her costume come to life! We ended up with two wigs because the one I bought online wasn't here in time and so I bought another one at the store only to come home the same day and see it on our front porch. Oh well... we get use out of wigs and dress up in this house! The reddish wig looked more like The Little Mermaid and the darker auburn colored wig was curly, but too dark. Most people thought that she was Wilma from the Flintstones.

This is the Victoria from "Twilight" and "New Moon" and is the photo that I based Eden's costume off of. Notice the necklace in a few photos and the studded black leather bracelet with feathers. Obviously a long sleeved black shirt instead of a tank top.

Victoria from "Eclipse" & Victoria from "Twilight" and "New Moon"

The hair would seriously be good for an Ariel costume!

Eden getting all VAMPED out!
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Originally the 4th and 5th graders couldn't dress up or participate in the parade, so Ollie went to school with Grandma so that he could have fun and participate in the festivities at her school. I went to school and found out that he could have dressed up for the party at his school, but I didn't know in time. I wish he could have spent some time with his friends at school, but I know that he had fun with Grandma making memories there with her and her students! (I'm waiting for pictures from my mom to post!)

These cute girls are Sayde, Eden and McKenzie. They have been best friends since preschool!


Oliver laughing about something!

Grandma and Bryan came over to help! Whoa... take it easy Eden!!!

Phineas and Uncle Bryan's howling wolf turned out pretty awesome!

Jaren and his ghost pumpkin that Grandma helped cut out! He didn't like touching the guts of the pumpkin!

Eden and her pumpkin she carved all by herself! It's a sad pumpkin. Why are you wearing a Superman costume?! Getting in the Halloween spirit, I guess! ;o)

Oliver and his angry pumpkin that he also carved for the first time by himself! I love that smile!

Our jack-o-lanterns all aglow!

So proud of their creations!

Mummy pizzas, monster toes, yellow goblin teeth. Oliver couldn't eat it. He said it was too gross!


Finny as a ninja!

Oliver - Yoda, Uncle Chad - Obi Wan Kenobi, Jaren - Garden Gnome, Eden - Victoria

Eden and Haylie

Ninja boy bustin' up the joint!

Have you ever seen two vampires doing the tango?

"Mom... we're drinking blood!" - Eden. Well... that's what vampires drink I suppose!


These are the kids trick or treating bags that I finally got around to making this year!

Jaren like going to each door and getting candy! He loves all the suckers he gets! We went to my dad's neighborhood this year and did a lot of walking! It was so funny because Chad would go hide somewhere when Ed would take Jaren up to the door and then Chad would jump out and scare the crap out of Jaren and he LOVED it! I can't believe how much he loved getting scared. He would ask him to hide over and over again!

We took the stroller because we figured Jaren would get pooped walking so far and didn't even think about bringing the wheelchair for Oliver because he's been doing so well lately. He ended up sitting in the stroller the majority of the time. I keep forgetting that when we walk more than just around the house, he gets winded and wiped out a lot easier. We cut it short, but had a lot of fun together.

Oliver and Jaren