December 1, 2008

Giving Thanks

Generally, we have Thanksgiving dinner at Aunt Colleen's house. This year, since my mom can't be around crowds, we had our own little family dinner at her house. My sister, Stephanie, has set some goals for herself. One of those goals is to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner. She has been stuck in the "non-cook" food assignment category... veggie trays, mashed potatoes, etc. She wanted to prove that she can bring big kid food next time. So, I went and helped her prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner from scratch.

It started Wednesday night with making pies (and pie crust) from scratch, rolls, and brining the turkey. She watched Rachel Ray, and learned all about brining a turkey. Sometimes I think that watching Food Network is a dangerous thing for my sister. Anyway, she had learned to brine from Rachel, and I learned from Alton Brown. I won. Our theme for the meal prep became "What would Alton Brown do?"

First, Alton would wash the turkey. Stephanie is a germophobe, so this was rather amusing to watch.

But, she got through it, and the finished product was amazing.

Brad was assigned to carve, his firt time, while Stephanie makes gravy in the background. It was a Thanksgiving of firsts for everyone.

Mom walked us through making the stuffing (which was NOT stuffed in the actual bird... this is a valid germaphobe fear, according to Alton Brown). It tasted just like Aunt Lynn's.

Our homemade rolls were beautiful (and just a little dry).

And Stephanie set a beautiful table in the living room for us to enjoy our dinner together.

And after dinner, while the boys cleaned up, Stephanie and I both took a well-deserved nap. Although, she got to cuddle with Lottie and the teddy bear, while I was cuddled up with the after Thanksgiving shopping ads.

November 21, 2008

Oh Happy Day!

This morning a great and wonderful thing happened. I was getting dressed and thought I'd try an experiment...

So as I sit typing this, I sit in my pre-pregnancy jeans!

Life is good.

October 24, 2008

Lottie at Grandma's

Some babies see a camera and start posing/smiling/laughing; some babies will see a camera (or even my iPhone, which I thought would be at least a little more sneaky) and go from smiley mode to straight face right away. Lottie is in the latter category. However, I was able to catch my daughter in rare form the other night as we were in Grandma Glo's hospital room. Here are a couple snapshots.

The first one is my favorite, because she looks like me when I was in high school and just wanted to pose by pointing at the camera all the time. Copycat...
But I also like the last one just because it shows what she really looks like when she's laughing and giggling, which is rather difficult to capture with a camera.

October 21, 2008


On Sunday night, my family had our Family Hair Evening. Since my mom is going to lose all of her hair with the chemo, she didn't want to wait for it to all fall out in clumps while laying in her hospital bed. Since she was shaving her head, we all decided to support her by shaving ours too! Here are some of the pictures of the night. My sister-in-law Katie was taking pictures of the whole thing, and took over 300 that night.

Here's the whole family before:

Mom was first. We all took a swipe at her with cutters at one point. But Dad's first cut was a little sad for her:

She cheered up a lot once Steph and I spiked her hair into a purple mohawk. She's all punk now!

Dad let mom shave off the middle of his moustache. Then we gave him a little pony tail on top and shaved the rest.

Everett shaved spikes all over his head. He tried to do lightning bolts in his beard, but that didn't work.

Stephanie did what she likes to call "the Joe Biden" but it really turned out more like a monk:

Barry was going for the Captain Picard look, but he was not nearly as good looking. In fact, right after this picture was taken, Ainsleigh just cried. I guess she doesn't like her daddy bald:

Stephanie wanted to do a Cyndi Lauper look on me, but it was getting late and dark, so we didn't have time for the waffle cut:

Although, when we finished the job she did give me a little splotchy Brittney Spears look going on:

And finally, Patrick already had such short hair - so I shaved the words "Cancer Sucks" into his head:

My sister's best friend has been around our family so much that she's practically family herself. She has long enough hair that she is going to cut it off and donate to locks of love. Her husband Hutch joined us in the shaving party on Sunday:

And here's the family after. I may be a little biased, but I think that we're kind of an attractive group of bald people:

Poor Brad was really concerned about how bad I'd look with a shaved head. Luckily for him, it's not so bad. In fact, I told him that I liked it so much I'm going to keep it this way. His response was "No you're not." But I really am glad of his support of me and my family.

October 14, 2008

The Harvest

Today began the harvest of my mom's stem cells. Actually, the process started on Friday with shots she has to give herself to build the count of stem cells in her blood. All weekend she was giving herself seven shots a day. The side effects of the shots were not pleasant. They cause bone pain, and general flu-like symptoms.

Friday night we spent the night at my parents' house, as we were participating the next morning in a Cancer Walk. Our team raised $1900 for cancer research! Unfortunately, mom was not up to participating with us. I've always been told that listening to your child cry, being unable to help them, is the worst feeling in the world. I don't think that anyone who says that can have had to endure sitting with their mother and hearing her cry because she is in so much pain, and not be able to do anything about it. I have never hurt so bad as when I knew how much my mom is hurting. I think it's because she's always been so strong. Mom is the one that is always there, always the one who fixes things. I just want to fix it for her, but I know I can't.

Yesterday they installed a central line in her chest. This way with all the blood they will have to take, and all that they need to give her, she won't have to be more of a pincushion than she already has been. That went well. She did develop a fever later in the evening, and they took her back to the hospital. She was given a high dose of antibiotic, and will hopefully be fine.

Today they started actually harvesting cells from her blood to use in her transplant. Her counts are good, so they think that with any luck they could have enough from this week of harvesting. That means that she would go into the hospital to start the chemo on the 21st. And she wouldn't have to go through another round of the painful shots.

Most of my information is coming from texts from my sister, or from reading her blog. It's a lot of phone calls to make every day to keep everyone up to date. So, I'll try updating here, but if you're curious for more information, check out Steph's blog. She's a wealth of knowledge, as she attends most of my mom's doctor appointments with her.

One thing I know is that my mom will require several blood transfusions. It used to be that they asked family to donate directly to use for the patient. While that isn't the case any more, and they use the blood from the American Red Cross, they do ask that as family and friends we make a conscious effort to go donate blood if we are able to. So please, if you want to support my family right now, find out if you are able to donate, and go donate blood.

September 30, 2008


Every baby has lots of firsts. First smile. First laugh. First step. First word.

Well, last week, Lottie had her first car accident. Yup, we got rear-ended. I was taking Lottie in to her Grandma Molen's house for the day, and a very nice lady that was stopped behind us decided to go before the light turned green. She blamed it on the sun glaring in her eyes. I think it had more to do with the cell phone in front of her face that she was obviously texting on.

Anyway, the car just has a little scratch. Lottie and I are just fine. But, it did require us to buy a new car seat. The cool thing is we got the kind that converts to a front-facing car seat, and then a booster. The Evenflo Symphony, which has a cool new SURElatch system that is so easy to install and practically impossible to mess up. Well, I struggled with my mom and my old neighbor trying to get it in my car on Friday night. I was so upset that it wouldn't even reach the hooks in my car! I was ready to take it back to Babies 'r Us and get all upset at the guy for telling me it was the best car seat, when I couldn't even get it in my car! I went home and did a little more research online to read other people's reviews of the seat. Turns out, I had the straps in the front-facing position, and needed to switch it to the rear-facing. So great! It's made so you can't install it incorrectly, try as hard as you might. We will never need another seat for Lottie.

The best part was that after the accident, Lottie screamed for all of about 1 minute. Then she was happy and smiling. She calmed down so fast. It sure took me a lot longer to calm down. I was just so concerned about her. But the paramedics came and said she seemed fine. I took her in to her doctor, and she came through unscathed. Hooray for resilient babies. She giggled with the paramedic and everything. She is such a great little girl.

September 4, 2008

August 26, 2008

She has a PhD

In horribleness...

Oh how I love my sister. She dyed her hair yesterday. Black. And she's making the most of it before we shave it all off.

August 24, 2008

She is so advanced!

Last week, Lottie was laying on Aunt Stephanie's lap, and she rolled over. Yup, that's right, she rolled all the way over from her back to her front. Now, being that she was on someone's lap, I had to ask myself how much was Lottie, and how much was the fact that she was maybe slightly on a slant. Stephanie said that Lottie did it all by herself, but I still wasn't quite sure.

Well, yesterday I laid Lottie on a blanket while I went to take a shower. When I got out, I could hear her fussing. Not really crying, but not happy. I came out to check on her, and this is how I found her:

Indeed, she really had rolled all by herself! And what's more, she did it every time I put her on her back and walked away. After a while, she even started enjoying being on her tummy more.

Now we just have to work on getting her to roll back over to her back when she's done with tummy time. Which, according to the development books, she should have done before rolling from back to front.

August 22, 2008

New Directions

The last half of September could potentially be a life-changer for me. I really hope it will be.

As I approach the 3-year anniversary of working for Cingular/AT&T, I find myself progressively more and more disinterested in my current profession. I've felt this way for quite some time, frankly, but the longer I stick with it the more disgusted I become.

The hours are terrible and not conducive to family life; I miss out on a LOT of beautiful Saturdays where I could be getting stuff done around the house or something fun. I miss time with Lottie. Not to mention I'm frustrated at customers who think yelling at me is the solution to all of life's problems (spoiler alert -- it's not!). The list goes on and on.

Problem is, it still pays well enough to get us through each month, insurance is awesome and I haven't found something else of interest that pays more. And this is something that concerns me every day because I don't want to be stuck in retail forever, though that's what it feels like I'm destined for. And I certainly would like to give Colleen the opportunity to stay at home with Lottie and future children.

The hard thing for me is that, being a part of my daily life for the last 3 years, cell phones are all I really know well. I have little expertise in any other area. I'm a jack of all trades, I guess.

This is why I've picked up blogging. I'm exploring my options in that area to see if I can start a business of my own and start working on the internet. This would be great because I can work at home, with my own flexible hours, doing something I would rather do.

Which brings me to the last half of September. In the span of about 5 days I will be doing 2 things that could potentially help me determine the direction I want to go from here. I have registered at the BlogWorld Expo 2008 in Vegas on Sept. 20-21, where some of the most successful and well-known bloggers in the world will come together and teach on different methods and strategies to use.

A few days later I will be teaching realtors how to increase productivity with their iPhones or Blackberrys. Two hours of public speaking, not a bad experience builder at all.

If they don't go well, at least I have two more possibilities scratched off the list. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one. I really want to succeed at this!

I don't mean to make this a depressing post -- I just needed to get it off my chest.

August 5, 2008

The Big C

So, most people that read this already know that my mom has cancer. She was diagnosed recently with Multiple Myeloma. This is a cancer of the blood that is incurable, but treatable. Last week she had an appointment with a transplant doctor who told her that she is a good candidate for an autologous stem cell transplant. They will take her own stem cells from her blood, giver her a massive amount of chemotherapy to kill everything in her body, and replace her stem cells. She will spend about three weeks in the hospital in October, then another month at home staying away from everyone who has cooties. This treatment should give her 3-5 years where she does not have to do anything else to control this disease. When they harvest her stem cells, they will take enough to do about three transplants. That way in 3-5 years they can do another transplant to give her 3-5 more years.

She had a lot of questions answered for her at that appointment. While she cannot have visits from anyone who is sick, as this treatment will completely destroy her immune system, as long as we're healthy, we can all visit her. Including the babies. I'm sure that spending some long boring days in the hospital will be cheered greatly by seeing her grandchildren. About six days after the transplant, she will lose all her hair. She has decided to shave her head, so that her hair isn't falling out in clumps. All of her children have also decided to shave our heads with her. And her husband. Solidarity, sister! We'll have fun picking out some scarves and a few kicky berets to wear until it grows back. She's decided against spending all the money for a wig to wear for such a short amount of time.

So, the doctors have a great outlook on her case. She was diagnosed early and is responding very well to the chemo cycles she's done so far. All her numbers they track are going in the right directions.

It's been probably the toughest thing I've had to deal with in my life. While her prognosis is good, it's really hard for me to think about the possibility of losing her. I never thought about the possibility that my children wouldn't have the chance of knowing her. She's always been so strong for me. Most days I can focus on how well she's doing, but there's still just this underlying fear in the back of my head. It's just that word - cancer. I can say "My mom is having a transplant" with no problems. It's just when that one word comes out - cancer - that I choke up. The Big C is scary.

August 1, 2008

New Job = Hooray!

New hours, however, = boo. I have given in to family peer pressure, and now work with my three brothers and my sister-in-law. It's really a good move for me, attitude-wise. I realized how much I didn't like my old job of being yelled at all day long. Here, I will be yelled at occaisionally, but nothing like it was at Whitewater. Mean contractors, with their construction site language. I can handle any kind of yelling after that.

Here's the drawback. My old job's hours were whenever I wanted to whenever I wanted. I now work 8:30 - 5:30 M-F. Which means I get custody of Lottie on weekends. That's nice since I only spend a few hours a day with her when she's awake now. I'm so thankful for parents who are willing to take care of her for us, since Brad and I both have to work. If we didn't have family to take her to, we would sell our house and live in a crappy apartment so I could stay home. I don't think I could send her to a daycare. It's hard enough today, when I left her with my fabulous neighbor for the day, since both sets of grandparents are out of town. I couldn't leave her with strangers.

I'm so grateful that Brad is so motivated to find something to provide for his family so that I can eventually stay home with our children. I'm somewhat of a feminist - but I still think it's in a child's best interest to have a mother stay home and raise them. For now, Grandma is the next best thing.

July 26, 2008

Public Speaking and the Human Response

I've never really been afraid of public speaking. I've done my share of talks in church (esp. on the mish) and have done plenty of singing in front of large groups, so I'm not scared to get up in front of people.

But this month I've committed to do 2 hours' worth of public speaking in one specific day. What am I doing to myself? It's one thing to sing a few songs with other people on stage, or give a 10 minute talk you've meticulously prepared; but another to commit to teaching 2 different hourlong classes at a tech fair, where you're supposed to be the expert and be interactive during this whole time.

This is going to be interesting; certainly a unique challenge for me. And I had better prepare the heck out of this thing so I don't go looking like more of an idiot than I may currently look like.

I'm teaching a class on the iPhone, and a class on Blackberrys (Not spelled blackberries in this case, since it is a brand name and not an actual berry). I'm comfortable with both types of phones, but I guess my nightmare is that I will have some jerk ask a dumb question that I can't answer, thus throwing me off my whole expert groove.

However, if I pull this off, maybe I will look like a total Tony Robbins and be asked by other attendees to go teach other classes. Maybe I can start getting paid to speak in front of crowds.

Yeah right. But it's neat to think about. It is interesting to look back at the last few months and see how I've really expanded my roots in attempt to find a direction for my life. The whole blogging thing is a recent development that will help me develop teaching and writing skills, and who knows--maybe I'll find a niche I like in public speaking. I love that I'm finding other avenues to pursue and experiment with. So yeah, I'm a little nervous. But I by no means will go into this unprepared.

Anything to get me out of this whole retail energy drain I am currently in.

July 25, 2008

I did not escape

Alas, unlike my sister, I did not escape geekdom from growing up with my brothers. I was just thinking how Lottie kind of looks like a ferengi with her hair all worn away on the top and sides, but that ring of red around the back. And then I had to see the geek quiz that Steph took. She is only 11% geek. I, unfortunately, am a lot more geek than that.

53% Geek

Created by OnePlusYou

July 23, 2008


The other day, Brad told me I was beautiful. "What does this have to do with brussel sprouts?" you ask. I will tell you. My response to being called beautiful was to cry and say I felt fat, not beautiful. Wow, having a baby will change a girl!

So, my new fitness goal, since I'm not so much with the working out, is to plan meals for a week, healthy meals, and stick to it. This way I can shop for what we need, and not let things go to waste. This started last night.

On Monday, I found a bunch of healthy recipes I thought sounded good and easy. I printed them all out with the intention of going shopping on the way home from work. That didn't happen. But I did go shopping last night on the way home - but had left my recipes at home. So, I improvised. I thought about what sounded good. And brussel sprouts sounded sooo good!

Well, it turns out that last night was the first time Brad had ever had brussel sprouts. I know, I'm unlike any other person out there... as a kid, I loved them. And I still do. I eagerly watched his face as he took his first bite. His response? "They're not my favorite. But they're not terrible." However, the look on his face was that he leaned a little more towards the terrible side than the good. Maybe if I make them enough, I can convince him of how yummy they are!

July 17, 2008

Must see:

Anybody who is a fan of Joss Whedon needs to see this. In the same vein as the musical episode of Buffy, Dr. Horrible is a musical joy to watch. They are releasing an act every other day. Today marks the release of Act II. And with Neil Patrick Harris taking the lead as "a low-rent super-villain" it can't be bad at all. In fact, it's quite good. Go check it out before the free viewing period ends on July 20th. Then download it on iTunes as so many people already have, making it first place in both the ‘Top TV Episodes’ AND the ‘Top TV Seasons’.

July 1, 2008

Frowny Face Contest

On Sunday, Brad took a picture of Lottie, and told me it was the saddest face ever. I had to disagree, since I had seen the picture that Stephanie took on Saturday. After seeing Steph's, brad conceded the frowny face contest.

Brad's entry...

And the winner is...

June 29, 2008

Lottie Rae

Well, if the purpose of this blog is to brag up our daughter - maybe we should include a picture of her. Because she is adorable.

And it's not just for bragging up our kid. It's so we can be slackers in keeping everyone updated on what's going on in our lives. Because it's a lot easier to type things once than multiple times - and who ever has time for phone calls nowadays? Ah the internet - making us lazy slobs. Gotta love it!

June 28, 2008

You asked for it, Jeremy

By popular demand -- and by popular I mean Jeremy thought it would be a good idea to hop on the Molen blog bandwagon -- Colleen and I have decided to start typing random musings by way of a blog.

We figured, we're already behind Matt, Lane and Melanie and certainly don't want to be the last of the Molens to come up with a blog. Because hey, we would just be copycats who can't come up with an idea on our own. And that's just silly.

Besides, I am already a blogger so it's not like it's uber-difficult to come out with one to brag up our beautiful new daughter and introduce her to the world. Google image search anyone?

Hmm....on second thought....

Welcome to our blog!