Archive for the ‘Mama’s Diaries’ Category

Land of the Free

August 30, 2014



I finally did a session for my own babies this year!  I thought a summer patriotic theme would be sweet and I wanted to shoot it in the desert.  The AZ desert has been so picturesque post monsoons!  Desert shoots can have their challenges but also a very unique beauty.   Mosquitoes have been out in full force (and we are lucky that us desert dwellers don’t typically have to fight with bugs very much) so that was a bit of a nuisance but other than that…pretty smooth sailin’.


My four precious ones.  Tanner age 13, Ty age 10, Tori age 6 and Troy age 3.
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Two great things about this spot.  It’s walking distance from Papa and Sweetie’s house and our home is in the foothills of those mountains.


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He’s growing up before my eyes.  So beautiful and so sad for mama.
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Always gigglin’.


Good view of a six year old smile.  :)
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I did the above session at sunset but decided to get the kids up really early the next day and do a couple more at sunrise in a different spot.  We had to walk up a hill for the view I wanted.  By the time we got to the top, we were so swarmed with mosquitoes that we were miserable.  The kids were doing a frenetic mosquito dance as was I making pictures impossible.  I took this first shot:


And then seconds later…

I don’t like to be bested by much but the mosquitoes won and I called it quits.  I giggle every time I look at above shot though because that is a great representation of my daughter’s pout.  Perfect.

And my nephew reciting the Pledge seems a good way to end this post.  :)   I love this!


Summer Recap 2014

August 20, 2014



It is the end of August and I am terribly disappointed with myself for the incredible lack of personal pictures this year.  I have never had a year so bad with my own family photography.  I would like to hope that I can pick up the pace in the last four months but that is doubtful.  I do have a summer session planned at least.



Tori has lost several teeth this summer and got her ears pierced (as of two days ago).  She is looking very SIX.  She will be starting the first grade in September and I expect to have a busy year because 1st grade brings more to the table.  I find teaching K-3 to be the most challenging actually because you are teaching all the fundamentals.



Tori lost her top two teeth on the same day when the dentist pulled them.  He was so good with her that she didn’t realize until she got in the car that she had two teeth missing.  As you can see, the adult tooth was coming in behind.  Sometimes dentists do not extract for that reason but in her case, she was at risk of an under bite if they weren’t extracted asap.  She didn’t have that toothless look for more than a minute though since that adult tooth was already descended.

We have had some interesting tooth fairy conversations this summer because Tanner and Ty were both losing teeth as well.  One night I overheard this:

Ty:  The tooth fairy isn’t real.  It’s mom.  She sneaks money under your pillow when you are asleep.

Tori:  Are you sure about that?  MOM!  Is that true?

Me:  I can’t tell you.

Ty:  Tori.  When she calls the tooth fairy, mom doesn’t even let the tooth fairy talk!

Tori:  Well!  She did last night!  She talked for awhile!

So that is what it came down too?  How much phone air time I allow the tooth fairy?  Only Ty.   Later, when he lost a tooth, he spent a whole day being baffled because he KNOWS he saw me fall asleep in bed BEFORE he got tooth fairy money, so how on earth did that money get there when I was asleep?   Oh the mystery.


The kids all had their well checks.  Tori stats came in at 45.8 inches and 37% and 42 pounds 21%.


Ty and Tori both learned how to swim this summer!  Major accomplishment!


On me buying a Yoga book…

“We should probably skip some parts we can’t do.  It’s gonna be bad!”


Tori to Jamie when cousin Katelynn was visiting and Jamie was taking her out to dinner…

“Jamie!  Have Katelynn back by 9:00 PM!”


“Keep your eyes on the road Mom!” (Talking to Sweetie in the car while driving)


Kids reading a movie rating…

Ty:  What is suggestive themes?

Me:  Sexually inappropriate things usually.

Tori:  Ya.  Like cousin crushes.

Not exactly what I was referring to but….LOL


“It’s too strong for me!” (Meaning it is too heavy)


For the first time, I decided to TRY taking a few more cell phone pictures this year.  I hate cell phone pictures.  Hate them.   BUT…I am learning to appreciate the convenience so here are some from 2014:



Technically, this was 2013.  The only pictures I took at Disney at all.  I was busy being in the moment.  As you can see, Troy has not got over his animal suspicions.



This was Troy after his eye surgery back in January.


Family days at the lake.




A recent family day up north.


Here we have, Troy and cousin Quinn and Troy and cousin Lucy.  As you can see, Troy is the size of a 2 year old and not a 3 year old.  He and Quinn are 6 weeks (3.5 months actual) apart.  He and Lucy are 1 year apart ALTHOUGH, Lucy is in the 95%+ so she isn’t really a fair comparison.  He loves these two girls and both are pretty decent at ordering him around.  LOL.   Images on right are of Ty hitting a solid bulls eye at archery and Tanner doing a helium experiment at home for school.


Tanner will be in the 8th grade this year.  He turned 13 in May so I now have a teenager in the house!  For teen privacy sake, I won’t post his well check stats but he came back pretty average.  He is looking forward to starting soccer again in a month.  His summer love has been fishing.  Watches fishing shows, bought a fishing Xbox game, begs anyone to take him and then he is a die hard that one more cast might bring in the big daddy.  He has been slowly taking on some more babysitting responsibilities for me and that has been a huge help.  I actually got to have lunch with a friend yesterday and Jim and I went to a late movie one night – all with kids safely home with Tanner.   Awesome!  I had to laugh one day though because Troy takes advantage of the situation and talks Tanner into several more songs and books at nap and bed time than I agree too.  He even got Tanner to write and sing him a car song.  ”Drive drive drive your car gently down the lane, merrily merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream.”  Unfortunately, Troy is the only one privileged enough to actually hear Tanner sing.  Tanner and I got to playing with DuoLingo this year and I discovered that Tanner has an interest in foreign language.  I ended up buying the Rosetta Stone Spanish which we will begin this year.  I want all my kids to know Spanish.  We are both a little scared of the immersion approach but hopefully we will pick it up.  I took a year of spanish but wasn’t a fan of my spanish teacher and can’t say I got much out of that experience.


Ty will be in 5th grade this year.  My tiniest baby will, no doubt, be my biggest kid.  He is 59.5 inches 92% (wonder what his percentage would be if his actual age was accounted for?) and 78 pounds 58%.  He is so skinny I was surprised to see his weight percentile.  The kid has so little fat on his body.    Looks like Ty might be having surgery this year too.  Last summer, a developmental ped suggested I have his tonsils and adenoids removed.  Now days that is avoided but Ty’s past (and possible present) apnea issues make this a different conversation.  He snores terribly, has huge tonsils, and I strongly suspect he still has some amount of night apnea.  I would feel better, in Ty’s case, if that wasn’t a concern.  I have him scheduled to see an ENT this week and then will get him scheduled for a sleep study.   The Dr. also tested his thyroid, liver and kidney function (thyroid needed to be tested before sleep study) and since I didn’t get a call on it, I am assuming all checked out on that front.


Talking to Papa…

“Papa aren’t you so glad you have a daughter like my mom?!”   LOL.  Loved that.


My boy makes friends everywhere he goes.  He attracts people.  He knows several Circle K clerks by name and there are always bright smiles when Ty walks in.  Circle K by our house has a customer service rating system via monitor set up by the cashiers and Ty has taken to rating the employees a five the second he gets in line (sometimes multiple times).  I am sure they love that too.   I took the kids to the mall one day and had to giggle at how many times Ty got into conversations with various store clerks and then reached out to shake their hand when he left.  Baffled, Tori kept asking me if Ty was supposed to do that.  LOL.  I enjoy watching people interact with Ty.  Neither of us ever know what to expect but it sure is an adventure. Recently, in the grocery store, he struck up conversation with another shopper and they were fully engaged in dinner and recipe discussions.  Too cute.


I got a call from Papa this summer.  He wanted to know why he received a random picture from Ty via email of a teenage girl.  My investigation revealed Ty’s first crush.  Bree Davenport from Disney’s Lab Rats.



I thought this would be a flash in the pan discussion but no…it has lasted the entire summer.  He even asked Uncle Darin to be his best man at his wedding and John Fletcher to be a groomsmen (much to their delight I am sure).

This is old news but since I found the picture on my phone, I wanted to preserve it for future amusement:



For Ty’s 10 birthday this year, he wanted an all boy slumber party.  I decided to do an all girl slumber party simultaneously for Tori’s birthday so I took girls to Sweetie’s and left Jim in charge of all the boys.   Before I left, Jim posted above sign of his planned agenda.  He also created parent permission slips.  (This was a cousin party so it was siblings that had to waive their rights).   My husband had a devilish grin and I laughed.

When I got to my mom’s the phone calls started coming in.   Two things struck me as hilariously funny.  1.  My siblings believed he was for real (on some level).  2.  They ALL signed the waiver anyhow.

This serves as incredible evidence as to the amount of faith they each put in James Paul huh?

I was telling all of them over and over…he is joking!!!!  He isn’t planning any of those things.   But they kept returning, “Doni!  There are piles of soda, and cinnamon, and toilet paper set out!”

I knew this of course.  Jim was taking his gag over the top just to see who would sign the waiver.  Right?   Rigggggghhhhhht????

Joke was on me.   Jim did far more of this list than I suspected.  LOL.  The boys had an epic party.


NO knife throwing contest

YES to soda guzzling

NO blindfolded pin the clippers on cousins head

NO to night hide and seek

YES to toilet papering –  he let them do our home.

YES to ding dong ditch but they actually did NOT have permission for that one.  I think a couple of rascals made up retrieving soccer ball excuses for that one.

YES to cinnamon dragon challenge (though he monitored that and only gave them 1 tsp)

YES/NO to sugar shots.  Jim says “no”.  Some cousins said “yes”.

A party they will not soon forget I am sure.   Only Jim.  I love that no one batted an eye when they left 9 boys with Jim.  (Having said that, I do suspect some will say “Doni, have you met your brothers?!”  Touche.)



Oh has my baby been a rapscallion this summer.  Three really is harder than two.  Anyone watching my facebook posts would have seen that Troy was adding to my greys.   He has done artwork on nearly every door in the house.  Flushed who knows what down our toilet.  Between him and Ty, we keep replacing our silverware over and over and over.  He destroyed my makeup (and my bathroom in the process), blue toothpaste on the carpet, so many spill and mixing disasters I couldn’t even count.  One day, I caught him squirting hand sanitizer into his drink.   Freaking out about that, I took a sip to see what the dilution was.   HORRIBLE!!!   He had no ill effects so I have to assume that unlike his sister (recall the famous Scope saga), he was not prone to take a second drink.


One fine day, he inserted several kitchen utensils including a nail file into my 128 oz oil container.  That was a mess but I was grateful only about a cup got spilled.  That could have been epic had he spilled the entire thing to boot.   I later found him in a timeout corner and nearly panicked.  He put himself there and I knew that couldn’t be good.  I never did discover what mischief prompted that attempt at self discipline.

His little voice is the cutest ever and I really hope that I capture more on video soon.  I love the way he says:

I wuv you mommy.

Dopper – for diaper

He says “t” for “c”

Cake, cookie, can, are all take, tookie, tan.  He calls Quinny “Tinny” and “How tome mom?”

He says D for Th as in Dat instead of That.  (Tori still does this some too actually).

“Dat’s not too toot mom!” – That’s not too cute mom!

Sometimes P is CK as in “I wait uck mom!”  I waked up.

He is finally speaking in short sentences and maturing his communication.  He is talking about his emotions more too.  The other day he couldn’t find his pacy and he said “I sad mom.”   When he found it, I asked him how he felt and he said “I feel better!”  At 3, still behind for sure but DEFINITE progress.  Tanner and I were playing a hidden object game on my kindle this week and he was trying everything to get it into his hot little hands.  Finally he says to Tanner, “Let me try Tanner!  I good at puzzles!”   He is good at puzzles too.  We bought him a Kindle Fire for his birthday with Kindle Free Time Unlimited.  He loves it!  He loves the puzzles and the alphabet games the most.  He has a super long attention span.  All the learning games may give us a head start on K-garten too.  That is a plus for mom.

Speaking of his birthday, we celebrated his third birthday at Aunt Jodi’s house this year with several other June birthday kids.  I made him cupcake Lorax trees for fun.


On his birthday, I was able to make use of the neighborhood Swip Swap and found Legos and Tinker Toys at an awesome price.   I loved it when Troy came carrying in his tin of Tinker Toys to Jim saying “Wook Dad!  I got my hoppy burt tay!”


I am a little bummed that the baby calls me “Mom” instead of “Mommy” most of the time.  When you have older siblings who say “mom”…it is a natural end result I guess.  On the other hand, he uses the word “mom” in most sentences.  That is cute.

“Mom com here!  I show you somefing.”

As I am typing this, I heard him call out to Jim (who was leaving for work after lunch) “Dad!  Bye.  Love you.  Love you too!”   Darling.



As you can see, we haven’t addressed the pacy yet.  He won’t go to college with it. I promise.


Troy’s Well Check went as expected.  He is 35.3 inches and in the 5th percentile for height and 26 pounds (fully dressed) and under 3rd percentile for weight.   I asked the Dr. why the palms of his hands look so wrinkly and he told me that is a common problem with excema babies.  Troy’s excema is significant in the percentage of overall skin that it effects but July and August are good skin months for him.  Spring seems to be the worst but winter is no walk in the park either.

I had the Dr. test his hearing in the office. His hearing seems fine (and I think it is) but he is still so difficult to understand that it makes me at least wonder if he is hearing things differently than he should.  He failed the hearing test but that was no surprise because we were depending on a 3 year old to tell us when he heard a beep.   The Dr. wanted to schedule a Baer exam (electrodes on the head to read brain activity) but when I found out that he would be put under a general anesthesia for that, I slowed that down.  I don’t think I want to go that far at this stage.  We do have an audiology appointment at PCH tomorrow where they may be able to find a happy medium to test him.

I also had an A1C blood panel to test him for potential diabetes.  It need to come back under 5.6 to be in a safe zone and it came back at 5.3.  The range is very narrow so I think 5.3 is a decent number.  I was worried because of the issues I listed in the last post…a lot of sickness this summer, his small size, that 6 week mystery virus that kept prompting acetone or sweet smelling breath, tired baby….etc.    He seems to be okay for now so mama has laid down this concern.  Don’t borrow trouble right?

I think his eyes are looking pretty good and am starting to hope that we can avoid a second surgery.   He wears his glasses around his neck more than they are on but I am trying to get at least 2 hours a day out of him.


Troy shares his Dad’s passion for donuts.  He LOVES donuts.  I have even found him squirreling them away in the bookshelf for later recovery.   The kids were mad recently because he sniped the last piece of chocolate cake.  With his accusers gathered around, he happily stated to mom, “I did it!  I ate it ALL in my tummy!”


One day he put on his dinosaur costume from last Halloween and was trying to scare me.  Playing along, I pretended to be afraid.  This concerned him.   “I am not scared! (meaning “I am not scary”)  I help you!”  He is still my very sensitive little guy.   He is so truly loving and cuddly.  I lucked out in this regard and the baby is truly my baby.  Darin recently was asking me how I could possibly handle that much cuteness in one day.  Hee hee.  He melts every heart because he is just so genuine and loves people.   As Darin said, “When he hugs you, it feels completely genuine.”


When Jim asked about a particular shot in the Dr.s office…

“Dr. hurt me and I cwy wike a baby!”


I don’t love it when I hear this…

“Uh oh!  I makin a mess!”


Due to summer monsoons, my children have been trying to relocate to our bedroom at night.  Tori is driving me crazy with this.  She sneaks in and gets kicked out multiple times at night lately.  Clearly, I haven’t tried hard to truly solve this problem.   Last night, in trying to avoid her (she pulled out a sleeping bag and cot and planted it in the middle of my bedroom during the night), I tripped over the laundry basket and fell into my hope chest.  The morning pain from that event ignited my temper to work harder to ensure proper boundaries tonight.   Troy, does not visit my room at night however.  He crawls in bed with Ty or Tori.  The last couple of nights I have found him in Ty’s bed reading a book.  Ty propped on pillows reading a book on one end and Troy with his tractor pillow, blankets, and a book on the other.   He is insisting I leave his door open at night and I am thinking that it isn’t really about being scared with the door closed so much as wanting a quieter escape.  I giggle every time I see his blonde head dashing down the hall hoping I won’t see him in my peripheral vision.   He is still a napper but lately I have been hearing “I not seepy Mom!”  too often.  I really need him to nap.  Badly.


A couple of weeks ago a cousin of mine came to town.  His name is Troy and coincidentally, his wife (my cousin) is named Lorene (and this is coincidental because my grandparents names are Troy and Lorene).   Anyhow, when he introduced himself to the baby, my Troy was clearly confused and said, “You Troy?  I Troy!”   After it was established that both of them have the name Troy, with wonder my little guy looks up and says, “Are you Poppy?????”

I was shocked!  My Poppy died when Tanner was 18 months old.  Troy was named after him.   I had no idea that my 3 year old son had digested that information until he said that to my cousin.  That was so precious to me.



Not much else to say about our summer really.  The kids and I were sick so many weeks that it made summer fly by too fast.  We did get to have some fun going up north and going to the lake a few times and lots of swimming and family parties but no vacation to speak of.  We are preparing to go up North again for 4 days in a couple of weeks and we are really looking forward to that.   I have been busy this month trying to cram in all my before busy season and school start lists.   Next up is summer kids session and all the prep work necessary to start a new school year.  Last year I had everything planned out week by week and we stayed on target all year so it was well worth the investment on the front end.   The monsoons have been quite destructive this summer.  We went up to the Yarnell area this weekend and when we returned home our neighborhood had a lot of downed trees.  Thankfully we were spared.  Yesterday we got the average year rain fall in less than an hour!  This was significant because we have been in a drought and we really needed the rain BUT getting it all at once presents its own set of issues.   The flash floods were terrible.  In fact, Nate and Ali’s  parents may have lost their home in New River (two feet of standing water on the ground floor).  Some of the worst of it happened within a mile of us.  I was reading facebook and noticed a picture someone posted of a flash flood on I-17 that was like a small river flowing south bound.  I recognized the foot bridge near our home.   I haven’t seen water like that in two decades.  Phoenix does not handle flooding well.

This first shot shows that the southbound side of the freeway was under water near Dixiletta.   Apparently, Skunk Creek and the Aqua Fria both flooded over.

Dix2 Dix3


What a big mess BUT all of us valley photographer’s (I know, I know, photographers in this sentence is plural – not possesive!  When blogging, I type fast and don’t take much time to proof read.  Someday I will read back through all of this and be really horrified) photographers are humming a happy tune because this means green days are on the way.  Yay for that!


Off to go scout my location for my own kids summer session!  Wish me luck.











We have had a lovely fourth of July week.  We went to lake Bartlett and swam and fished with the kids, went to Lake Pleasant and got caught in a wicked monsoon on July 3rd and then a BBQ at Aunt Beck’s on Friday night.   GOOD TIMES.  On Friday night, Jim and I were in the pool with the littles and Tori was practicing swimming.  She is slowly but surely gaining confidence.  At one point, she came up from underwater gasping and choking having aspirated some pool water.

“I just swallowed water into my lungs but I am fine!” she says.

We giggled at her practical, no-nonsense, typical Tori behavior.

As the evening progressed, Jim and I both noticed she was struggling to get remnants of the water out of her lungs.  She was quickly developing a strange and persistent cough – almost had a croupish sound to it.  She also claimed her tummy was hurting from all the water she claimed to have swallowed.   During the night the cough worsened.  Jim and I discussed it and both of us wondered if she was going to be at risk for aspiration induced pneumonia.  We are no strangers to that one because Ty and Troy both had such aspiration issues that this was always a concern (in fact, Troy was almost put on a G tube as a baby because his aspiration issues with bottle feeding were so bad and he did develop pneumonia).  Tori was hospitalized as a baby for pneumonia (with RSV) so I knew what it looked like on her and wasn’t in a hurry to see that again.   I told Jim that it could escalate to pneumonia quickly and a high fever would be the give away.  Yesterday (Saturday) she seemed fairly okay but when she went to bed the coughing was even worse than the night before.  I got up and checked for signs of fever a couple of times but she was good.  At 3:45 AM she got up and tried to drink some water and then ended up vomiting it up.   She was burning up at that point and because I had been checking, I knew it had come on FAST.  I knew she had pneumonia.

I put her in the car and took her to the ER and Phoenix Children’s.  When we arrived her fever was at 104.4 with a very fast heart rate (obviously).   The good news was, she was satting well (98ish).  The scan revealed “atypical pneumonia” and I was questioned about her preemie lungs because the Dr. said her lungs looked foggy.  She did not have respiratory distress as an infant so I found that curious.   The Dr. said that her pneumonia didn’t present the way submersion pneumonia normally does (the high fever and something about the right lobe of the lung didn’t look like she would expect).   Jim and I both feel confident though that this WAS aspiration induced.   We saw it happen, saw her immediate and persistent response to what happened and then just waited for the fever to hit so no surprise to us.   With all the times that Troy and Ty have aspirated, I have been surprised that they weren’t plagued by more bouts of pneumonia.  Both boys seemed to always clear it though and didn’t have persistent coughing after the trigger event.   I would never have suspected a problem from what happened in the pool had she not been observably struggling to clear it for so long.

For arguments sake, cough and fevers are going around and Tori and Troy both have been recovered for about 2 weeks from a really strange mystery virus.  They were both sick for 5+ weeks with a strange diarrhea and random vomiting virus.  I was suspecting bacterial issue but stool samples didn’t show it (though they often don’t).  Troy got so sick that his breath was smelling like ammonia and had a waking blood sugar level of  134 (they say over 125 is diabetic) BUT Jim had given him a little bit of apple juice before we tested and that would have skewed it.  I think he was in ketosis from losing so much of his daily nutrients.   All this to say, I do know Tori’s immune system has been compromised so maybe it was the perfect storm.  Also had to wonder how much dirt she inhaled on Thursday night when we were caught at the lake in the Haboob.   Who ever knows with these things?  As I said though, all things considered, Occam’s Razor applies –  the simple answer is typically correct and I am confident that the persistent coughing is directly related to the aspiration incident.

She just told me a little bit a go that her chest is starting to hurt.  That concerns me a bit but her breathing is still okay.  I have her on motrin and tylenol and the Dr. prescribed azythromiacin and we started that at about 11:00 AM so hopefully we will get her turned around really quickly before this can escalate into a respiratory distress issue.  She seems to be going downhill in terms of her energy and fever despite the motrin/tylenol this afternoon so I am hoping the antibiotics will kick in soon.

Someday I would love to see Phoenix Children’s Hospital out my rear view window for the VERY LAST TIME.  (But also so glad that I live in close enough proximity that I can get my children to one of the finest children’s hospital in the whole wide world when the situation calls for it – just wish circumstances would QUIT calling).


I am always on cloud nine when clients place 9 pound plus babies in my hands.  You know how I love them.  They are so beautifully filled out.  Little Easton was as calm and sleepy as any newborn photographer could hope for and I really wanted to keep him all for myself.  :)  I even got caught got sneaking a kiss in.  I really make an effort to NOT kiss clients babies but sometimes the compulsion is frankly, overwhelming.  Look at this beautiful boy?  Could YOU resist kissing the top of that sweet head?


I raided Sweetie’s toy room for the red bed.  She has never asked for it back so…still mine.  Possession is 90% right?
These two are going to have too much fun together.


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May 27, 2014

Wow!  I am not sure I have ever gone this long in between Mama’s Diaries posts.  I hate to space them out too much too because then I get overwhelmed with the sheer number of things to blog on and I also forget stuff (not to mention this will be a doozy to actually read).   I also have been terrible about portraits of my kids this year.  Must fix (and now it is starting to get hot)!

Starting from the bottom today…



Things I am loving…

Troy copying his big brother and telling me “I happy”.  (Ty is a GREAT influence on his siblings).

“Love you too!”

“I stuck” (says exactly like Tanner did at two)

“Help me!”  (we hear this a lot)

“Toe-wee I need hug.  I wove you Toe-wee”

“Bye T” (copying Braxtyn who likes to call Tori “T”)

…when he kisses my eyes, nose, cheeks, forehead, then lips (copying what mom does to him)

“Hey!  Get back here Toe-wee!”

…when he calls me “Mommy Bro” or Jim “Daddy Bro” – (copying use of “bro” from brothers)

“I hurt.  Give me hug.”

“det’s go my woom!  det’s pway!” (He says this ALL the time).

“I doe wan new.” (I don’t want to)

“Otay” – okay (Reminds me of Little Rascals)

“sing me” – sing to me

I adore the way he talks with such pitch variation.  The end of nearly every sentence goes up several pitches.

Things I don’t love…

“I want dat! Dat’s mine!”

“Poop and pig” (This is what he calls Winnie the the Pooh and Piglet)

He is still a major climber.  He has fallen head first over the back of the couch several times and regularly climbs to the top of the dresser to get his pacy down.  He even climbed to the top of our entertainment center one day trying to get a game.

I caught him using a Christmas ornament hanger to try to pick the lock on Tori’s door.  Nice.  (Our Christmas decorations were put away before March 1st :) .

Things Troy loves…

He loves to play farm with Tanner.  Unlike the way Tanner and I used to play farm, with an actual toy barn and plastic animals, Tanner and Troy build a minecraft farm.  LOL.  Troy loves it!

He has a thing for classic cartoons.  He loves Mickey Mouse, Curious George, Winnie the Pooh, Peppa Pig, and Caillou.  It’s funny to me how he gravitates toward so many simple, flat, cartoons.  He also likes Paw Patrol, Bubble Guppies, Sherriff Callie and Octonauts.

He loves nap time and is a great sleeper.  He will often tell me “Let’s go take a nap now!”  I heard Tori tell him it was nap time last week and he replied with “Yay!  I love naps!”  I think that is at least in part because he has to wait until sleep time for his pacifier and he is still a big pacy fan.  Jim and I are not ready to address that yet.  I was just commenting that I have never had a child with a blankie or stuffed animal attachment BUT recently I realized that Troy DOES have a strong attachment to his John Deere Tractor Pillow.  He has even been trying to lug the big thing with us when we go out the door.  He loves to sit in his little brown recliner with his tractor pillow, 2 blankets, his wubbanub, and a sippie cup.  As a fourth child, it will be a long time before he gets the remote though hee hee.

He loves to sing.  I often hear him singing the Mickey Mouse Club theme song and “Hot dog”.  He was even singing along with Adam Levine  (Maroon 5) on the way to church Sunday.  When I tuck him in at night he says “Sing me” and wants me to sing “I love you.  You love me.  We’re a happy family with a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won’t you say you love me too.” (Otherwise known as the Barney Theme Song).  In fact, this morning he wanted to be greeted this way as well.  First thing he said when he woke up is “Sing me.  Sing I love you.”   I agree with my baby boy – that is a wonderful song to go to sleep to and wake up too – for both of us.

He loves grandparents!  When we go to my mom’s, he starts yelling “Yay!  I am home!!!  I am home!!!” from the carseat the minute we pull into her driveway.  He loves his Grandma to stay the day too and cries when she leaves.

Puzzles!  He is good at puzzles and loves to play with them for the longest time.  I bought him a wooden alphabet puzzle and he will do that puzzle over and over.  He also is still loving his trains and blocks.


Recent Troy quotes of note…

Me:  Troy?  Where are you?

Troy:  I in Ty’s room!

Me:  Thank you!

Troy:  Your welcome!


Me:  Troy you are my salt and Tori is my Pepper.

Troy:  No.  I PEPPER!

We go round and round on this one.


Me:  I love you sweet baby.

Troy:  I love you sweet mom.


On a windy day outside…

Troy:  My hair blow away!!!!


Me:  Troy did you wake up Tori this morning?

Troy:  No!  Toe-wee wake up baby!

For the record, Troy wakes up Tori or Troy almost every morning so they will put on cartoons for him and keep him company.  That is the awesome thing about the baby having older siblings.  He wakes up them instead of me!  Love that.


Me:  Do you want chicky nuggies (what he calls chicken nuggets) for lunch Troy?

Troy:  No.

Me:  Do you want a hot dog?

Troy:  No.

Me:  A sandwich?

Troy:  No.

Me:  Troy you have to eat something!  What do you want?

Troy:  I said NO!


Tori doing her math flashcards.

Troy:  Yay!  You did it!  Good job Toewee!”


Many of the above wouldn’t be so funny for an almost 3 year old but his speech is so delayed that whatever he says makes us giggle.  He has a large vocabulary but you still need proper context to understand him a lot.  The other day he wanted watermelon and I would have never figured it out in a million years had the kids not told me that a character on his show just ate watermelon and then I could “hear” it.   Sometimes he drops the first letters of the word, sometimes the end, and sometimes both.  Sometimes we call him Scooby Doo because he says things like “Go rit ray!” (go this way).  I am hoping that he will grow out of this without intervention.  We’ll see.  I CAN say, however, that his verbal communication is continually developing and that is a very good thing.

Jury is still out on a second eye surgery.  He is down to patching 45 minutes a day and we are trying to get him to wear his glasses.  He isn’t hiding them at this point but he does continually wear them around his neck and will push the lenses out (so aggravating to find missing lenses).  My concern is that he is getting exotropic.  His left eye tends to wander out now instead of in.  The Dr. feels like he is coming along and is keeping it straight most of the time but I am bothered because even though it might look fairly straight, it doesn’t look focused.  I am not feeling great about it right now but maybe he just needs more time.  He has a slight astigmatism and he is a little far sighted but over all his vision is not that bad.  In fact, the Dr said that under normal circumstanced he likely wouldn’t have put glasses on him yet.  However, he thinks that the extra bit of help from the glasses may help him straighten his eye out so we are giving it a go again.

He is still VERY little.  His cousin Quinn is a good head taller now (they are six weeks actual/3.5 months corrected apart).  He has become a picky eater and that has been aggravating.  Not nearly as bad as Ty but still difficult.   His excema has been pretty bad. I am hoping that summer will help.  He has spots on his arms that look like a burn victim sometimes.  I treat the bad spots with triamcinolone (steroid) still but found that the new Neosporin Daily Excema cream is AWESOME for daily maintenance.  In fact, his skin has never felt better when I am using that daily.

And one last Troy funny…

Recently I posted the following video on facebook of Troy’s head stuck in the gate.  I am writing this down so that hopefully, I will not forget this tip again in my future as he is prone to getting himself stuck.  No matter how it looks, the child likely entered the situation from the side the head is on!  I always tend to try to back the head out of these jams.  It LOOKS LIKE kid stuck his head through something so he just needs to pull it back out.  It is very confusing when said head is way too big to back out because you ask yourself over and over how it got through in the first place.  More often than not, it didn’t, it just looks like that.   In this instance (as with the incident with the chair), Troy put his tiny little body through and then could not get his head through.  To fix it, all he had to do was put his body back through.  This took him a minute to figure out though and good thing because Tanner and I were meanwhile doing everything in our power to muscle the bars apart.  I wonder how many fire fighters have cut through rails, banisters, and fences when the kiddo could have just stepped through to the other side.  LOL.  PUSH don’t pull. :)    The second thing I would add on my blogspace is this…I sounded calm in the video because I WAS.  Several people later asked me how I was so calm when Troy was stuck with his head between the fence rails.  Simple.  That did not constitute an emergency for me.  He was breathing.  He was awake.  No blood.  No injury.  No big deal.  I have had the paramedics at my house for true emergencies three time (2 for Ty and 1 for Tori) not to mention several paramedic transports from ER to hospital for various reasons.   It’s all about perspective isn’t it?


 Tori Savannah


She played her first season of soccer this spring and we found it pretty hysterical.  Some days she would show up in uniform with a purse filled with lip gloss.  Denim and diamonds.  She was not particularly competitive.  She clearly played for the social aspect.  She scored quite a few goals but also asked to be sidelined quite often.  Too much work?  LOL.  She told us that it was too much running and made her kidneys hurt.  I suspect she will want to play in the fall again though because she loved being with her friends and she loved weekly soccer practice and just being on the field with her dad and brothers.  She sure was fun to watch.  I think these pictures will serve as pretty good evidence as to what I just said.

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She finally had her VERY FIRST haircut on 3/18/14 at six years of age.  Kristin took 4 inches off.  We were worried about her hair being on the toilet seat.  It’s now just to the top of her bottom.  I love my girl’s hair.  As I said this was her first parent endorsed haircut but she did cut her bangs herself with my craft wire cutters recently.  I am still not finished lecturing about that.  I am trying to give it a rest but I am not quite over that yet.  It isn’t super noticeable but it never fails to escape my attention.  Grrrr…  What was she thinking?  Will I ever be able to trust this child with scissors?  I am starting to doubt it.  Come on already!

Tori’s excema has been awful this week.  She is looking like a burn victim too so I started Troy’s regime on her yesterday.  Something outside must be getting to my kids.  It has been a really bad allergy season for all of us.

Tori and I have been having fun reading Mary Poppins together lately.  We watched Saving Mr. Banks and it inspired us.  (What a sweet movie).

My helpful little girl surprised me and got Troy ready for church all by herself.  Diaper change, clothes, shoes, and even hair!  So nice having a girl.   She has been helping me tuck Troy into bed lately too.  Troy likes for her to sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and then I have to follow it up with aforementioned “I Love You” song.  I need to get her singing to him on video because she sings so sweetly and gets really close to his face and often just strokes his head and cheeks like a mother hen while singing.  I love it.

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Noteable Tori Quotes

On trying on a pair of sweat pants…

Tori:  Are these pants for sweating in?


When I was using a dye brush to touch up my greys…

Tori:  Uh….I am going to need some of that.  I am getting some whites.


Tori:  I pray before bed and ask Jesus to help me to have good dreams.  Then when I am done I pray it all over gain.

Me:  Why?

Tori:  In case he forgets.


All. Single. Day.  (This is what she says when she means “all day long”)


I had brain freeze not long ago and my little mama said, “Just bite your tongue.  If it happens again, just let me know.”  My little care giver who says she wants to be a Dr.  I don’t recommend biting your tongue for brain freeze.  I am quite confident that would exasperate the issue.


While shopping in Toys R Us for her birthday…

Tori:  Whatever it is you are going to show me, I am going to be so not interested.

This was her SIXTH birthday, not SIXTEENTH.


Tori:  I can’t stop hearing to it.

(When she can’t stop listening to a favorite song)


Tori:  Will you plause it?  (pause)


She still says “and den” instead of and then.  I love it.



“Bare neck sesames the simple bare neck sesames….aaaahhhhhh!  I can’t get that song out of my head!”

(Bare necessities – Jungle Book)


Tori and Ty love to watch the weather channel together and sometimes ask for popcorn while watching.  Recently they both pointed out that the US has some weird cities like a Wash in DC and Sox Falls.   :)  The wash in DC really stood out to them because they know mama loves her washes for photography.


Me:  How did you know I was going to say that?

Tori:  Because I love you very much and I can read your mind.

(I had said exactly that to her the week before.  She stored it away for future reference).


Ty:  Can I call you “sis” Tori?

Tori:  I am your sister so yes Ty you can.


Ty:  Are you happy Tori?

Tori:  Yes but if you ask me that one more time I am not going to be!”


Tanner:  MOM!!!!!!!   Tori just called Ty a D*!ck!

Me:  What!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Tori Savannah, did you just call your brother that??????

Tori:  Ya!  It’s short for Ridiculous!

ROFL!  I am still laughing about that one.  Our household has gotten a lot of mileage out of that word ever since (“ridiculous” – not the Tori shortened version hee hee).


This past week she asked me if she could make some Tang.  I told her she could.  A while later I saw her trying to head out the front door with a sign.

Me:  Hey!  Where are you going?  You aren’t allowed out there!

Tori:  I am going outside to sell my Tang.

I then notice that her brother Ty told her how to spell everything for her sign and she had about 12 cups of Tang made and ready on the kitchen counter.  Nice.  I poured all but one out and told her she could save one of them to drink.  Needless to say, she was very upset that her grand corporate plans got squashed.   Later I noticed she didn’t drink the Tang on the counter.

Me:  You didn’t drink any of the Tang you made.

Tori:  It tasted terrible!

LOL.  Glad the neighbors didn’t have the opportunity to invest.


Recently I shared some private, personal information with Tori when she asked me a question.

Tori:  Don’t worry.  I won’t tell anyone that.  It will just be our little secret.

All said in a sweet and affirming whisper.  OH how I love her.


School is going along fine for Tori.  She is a K-gartner and I plan a rather laid back Kindergarten year.  Her reading progression has been slower than I hoped but we are making progress.  She finished the How To Teach Your Child to READ in 100 Easy Lessons and is now working on the 160 word Dolce sight word list and is about half way finished memorizing that.  She is still far from fluent though.  Reading isn’t coming easy so far.  Her favorite subject is having me read the Bible to her every day – she loves mom time.  She also INSISTED on learning to type so I finally relented and let her start practicing and she is doing a lot better than I predicted for a six year old.

As I type, she is doing one of her favorite things, listening to Disney music videos.

I was giggling the other day when I heard Ty calling her Sophie.  When we brought Tori home, Ty REALLY wanted her name to be Sophie and so he chose to call her that for quite some time.  To this day, most of her accounts are created under the name Sophie (Ty probably is the one creating them).  He sometimes calls her Sophie Soaps too.  I noticed this was one of her game names.  Not sure if that is because Ty was calling her that or if he started calling her that after that username was created but either way it makes me laugh.  Her?  Not so much.


She has been SO sick.  Our household caught a nasty flu virus that really packed a punch.  I was down for six days.  Tori though has been throwing up for FORTY EIGHT HOURS.  I finally called her pediatrician and he prescribed zofran for her.  Gave that to her and she seems to be feeling a little better for now.  Yucky.




Ty has a new tic that has been making us giggle.  We affectionately term it the “smoker’s” tic.  It looks like he is blowing smoke out of the side of his mouth.  Good one.  :)


School is going decently for Ty this year.  He is in the fourth grade this year and seems to be pretty well on target.  He is struggling with math more than anything.  He is doing Grade 5 Teaching Textbooks and I think I will have him repeat it next year since he is a year ahead anyhow.  For the most part, he can do long subtraction, long addition, long multiplication, and long division but it hasn’t been an easy process.  He gets the big picture but the details get him hung up sometimes.  Since he can’t write, he uses a math pad program (imagine excel but tailored to math).  This helps with lining things up but nothing is fool proof.  Majority of his daily errors are simple, silly things (but add enough of those up and you will get a less than decent score).  We are working on reducing fractions now and that is going to be a challenge.  I am teaching him how to create (what I call) prime trees so that he can cross out his primes.  That method worked well for Tanner and it helps them know for certain that they ARE fully reduced.   His reading is great but I question his comprehension.  It’s hard to say though because I think he doesn’t retain what he isn’t interested in and that is more of a lazy reading issue than a true comprehension issue.  He has started reading more fictional books on his own at night (like Diary of a Wimpy Kid series) and that has pleased his mom greatly.  ONE other activity he is finding pleasure in.   He and Tori are using our spa as a pool (we don’t heat during the warm months) so that is something else that occupies his afternoon times lately.  I always love it when he finds non electronic things to do (and that is TOUGH for this kid).   I signed him up for an “angelfish” class through parks and recs.  These swimming lessons are for kids with disabilities.  Hoping to make more progress with swim lessons for him this year.   He has been involved with archery all year and this has been great for him.  Not sure he loves it but he does loves the social interaction and he is with a great team of kids.  He can nock his arrow really quickly now.  I am so proud of his progress in that regard this year.  I want to start using the IEW program with him next year because I think Ty will do well with writing.  Spelling and grammar are not nearly the challenge for him that math is (in fact, I would say he excels in that regard).

I contacted the Southwest Autism Research Center recently to see what programs they offer and was pleased to find out that they offer job training for kids with Autism and Asperger’s.  Obviously, we are a ways out from that but I am glad to know this program is available.  They have a PEERS program that I am interested in this summer as it concentrates on social interaction (appropriate social interaction – I need to differentiate because Ty is plenty “social” hee hee).

I got a bit nervous last month because I feared another potential hospitalization but thankfully, problem resolved.   Remember last year when Ty spent several days at Phoenix Children’s for those terrible migraines?   He hasn’t complained of headaches too much lately so it hasn’t been a big concern.  He rarely mentions Alice In Wonderland symptoms either.

A couple of weeks ago, after being out at soccer practice with his siblings, he complained of a headache.  He mentioned it a couple of times.  He also asked me to feel his head.  I think he wanted to know if I could feel his pain.   I was distracted and never did a single thing about his complaint.  I later kicked myself for that.  If any of the other kids complained, I am certain I would have treated them.  They would have wined and cried and made sure they had my attention.  Not Ty.  He briefly mentions things and doesn’t draw a ton of attention.  He is perseverant about everything so when he repeats a complaint I forget to pay extra attention to that.  I should know better by now though.

Anyhow, at about 1:00 AM he woke me up and told me that is head hurt so bad he was going to throw up.  Uh oh.  I knew I had blown it at that point.  I gave him motrin but he threw it right up.  I gave him another small dose and he threw that up to.  I was so worried I had missed my window and that the whole thing would escalate again but thankfully he must have absorbed enough of the medicine to calm it down.  Once he slept it off, he was okay.  The next day, Tori says “Mommy I know why Ty had such a headache!  He was spinning in circles out on the soccer field with another kid!”

Ah ha!!!!  Tori called it.  Last year, I really though the trigger event for the migraine from the hot place was the platform swinging that his OT had put him on.  The headache started immediately after that.  Because we didn’t understand the severity of a migraine it would advance into, we didn’t treat it for two days and then he was TOO sick for motrin to be a recoverable option.  It took 3 days of headache cocktails at PCH to stop that train.  After Tori pointed the spinning incident out, I knew she was correct.   Ty cannot spin!!!!!   He is very motion sensitive.  Jim is like this as well and the same thing happens to Jim.  If Jim gets motion sick, it triggers a terrible migraine cycle that he can only get past by sleeping it off too.   I really need to treat Ty the minute he tells me has an affliction but I am not a “medicate it” person and that is always my last resort so it just doesn’t occur to me.   You’d think I would learn my lesson with Ty though.

Noteworthy Ty Quotes:

I purchased animal crackers for the kids.

Ty:  Ahhhhhh…this brings me back….to when I was 7.


I heard Ty walking down the hallway with Tori one day saying “It’s okay.  He is with us.”  (They are scared of the dark).   We love this song:



So raising a child with Asperger’s is quite a challenge sometimes.  I look ahead to our future and giggle even imagining all the predicaments we will find ourselves in.  Never a dull moment around here.  Recently, Ty and I got into a discussion about kissing girls.  When it is appropriate, when it isn’t, what is a long and short kiss (to which he pointed out that what happened between Daddy and I on New Year’s Eve was a LONG kiss LOL)…etc.

Ty:  So when I am a teenager and I see a pretty girl I can kiss her?

Me:  Uh…no.  (I explain about relationships and mutual decisions.)

Ty:  So when I am a teenager I just go up to a girl and say “do you want to be in a relationship” and then I kiss her?

Oh my.  I asked if we could please hold off on this conversation for several years and in the meantime the only girl he could kiss is ME.   Sheeesh.


Dusty and Kristina have pointed out that he ALWAYS has one sock on right and one inside out.  I never think to notice unless D and K are around.  They are right.  Batting 100% so far.  What is up with that?  How could it be 50% wrong every single time?


Aunt Beck and Uncle Dave have determined Best Day of My Life by American Authors to be Ty’s theme song.  Love it.


Sweetest thing.  On Mother’s Day Eve Ty asks me if he can go email someone.  I ask him who he is going to email and he looks all giddy and nervous and giggly.  He finally says Sweetie.  I say that is fine.  Then he says “Mom I am actually not going to email Sweetie, I am going to email you but don’t look at it until tomorrow okay?”   Then I realized what he was up to.  Brought me to tears.   Earlier in the day I had teased him and asked him if he had made my card for Mother’s Day yet and he gave me a sad look and said “I can’t write mom”.  It was several hours later when it occurred to him that he could just send an email.   It never fails to amaze me that it is my little Aspie who so often is the most tender towards my feelings.  He seeks to understand and give love in such observable ways.  I love my boy so much.  (And, Tanner followed suit and send mom an email too – both detailing how I am the very best mom in the whole world – aaaahhhhhh – the happiest of days).




Tanner is bummed today because his very last soccer practice of the season was just canceled.  Mr. Diligent is not happy that there will be no practice before the last game of the season.  His team did really well this year.  I am so proud of Tanner for how hard he will work for what he loves.  Such a good quality.  He has been watching a ton of soccer on tv too.  Good thing dad works for Cox and gets all those soccer channels free!  Jim is getting to be a soccer fan too.  They follow Barcelona and Madrid probably the most but Tanner still likes Manchester United too.  (I really have no idea what I am talking about – I just love to name drop hee hee).   At the end of year soccer party, they held a cross bar challenge.  That is where you have to kick the soccer ball precisely enough that it hits the top rail of the goal net.  Determined to win this competition, Tanner was dragging his goal net down to the community park in the middle of the afternoon in 100 degree weather.  He would come back so red from the heat, I would make him jump in the cold spa.  I asked him to go in the evening when it was cooler but he refused because he didn’t want to run into the after school crowd.  He said they would want to play soccer with him and keep him from practicing.  Such a disciplined sports lover.   He put hard work and a lot of heart into his efforts.  Guess what?  HE WON!!!!!!   I was so moved by his performance.  When it comes down to it, mama doesn’t care if he wins or loses.  I just want him to have fun.  BUT, he cared so very much and he worked so hard that I just felt such admiration for him and that win.  He won a big 2 pound box of taffy.

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I was SUPER proud of his progress with IEW this year.  We’ll be continuing the program together next year.  He is typing about 50 words per minute now (which was my year end goal) and he is loving Pre-Algebra.  Last year, he wasn’t such a fan of math but this year, he is really enjoying it.  I haven’t helped him at all so I am way behind on algebra.  No worries.  I will catch up when it is Ty’s turn.  I can pretty much guarantee he will NOT like pre-algebra.

Tanner started babysitting a bit for me last year.  I needed him to watch Troy and Tori when I took Ty to archery.  It went wonderfully well (in part because Tori is the true sitter and Tanner is the figurehead).  She calls me like every 15 minutes too so I feel quite in the loop.  :)

Recently, I had to take Ty to an appointment so Tanner was responsible for putting Troy down for a nap for the first time.  Troy, talked his brother and sister into tucking him in, reading him FIVE stories, Tori had to sing to him, and then they both had to say “snug as a bug in a rug” (the daily mantra that both Troy and Tori require.  I mean REQUIRE).  Pretty adorable.

Tanner has been reading more fiction this year too.  He has really enjoyed the Hunger Game Series and also Gregor the Overlander series.  He has read Rush Limbaughs historical fiction and really liked that and now is reading all the Rick Riordin books (Percy Jackson and also The Olympian series).  I tell him I pay his allowance in book money.  :)

Tanner and I have been reading the book of Acts together this month and it has been such a neat experience to get to talk through stuff with him each day.  My favorite story in the bible is the story of Stephen.  Can you even imagine taking such a stand, against all opposition, WHILE BEING STONED, and to be allowed a glimpse into heaven at that very moment and see JESUS stand up at the right hand of God.  The most incredible moment of validation and affirmation…ever.  And who was meanwhile holding the coats of those doing the stoning?  None other than the author of nearly half the NT, Paul.  Such an absolutely, incredibly story.  Having the opportunity to share the details of this history with my firstborn child was precious to me.  I love the gift of those teaching moments with my children.

We are introducing spanish to the curriculum next year so Tanner and I were playing around with different programs deciding on our curriculum (I chose Rosetta Stone).  We got to playing with and turns out, Tanner loves it.  Who would have thought?






Nothing huge to report on.  I have been feeling super organized lately thanks to my friend Tom Simpson who introduced me to the Total Workday Control book.  Organization is a hobby of mine.  I like to organize much better than to actually “do”.  LOL.  This system has worked out awesome for me though!

1. I have an empty inbox every single day.  Woot!  Woot!

2. I have a comprehensive task list that does not overwhelm me or tell me I am overdue as it works off “start dates” and not “completed dates”.  It also allows me to schedule reoccuring tasks and future events.  I have never felt more organized.  LOVE IT!

As I said, the last few months, portraits of my kids have been sorely neglected.  When watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a line jumped out at me.  “When I am in a moment that I love, personally, I don’t want the distraction of my camera, I just want to stay in it.”    Yes…that is exactly how I feel and why I have put my camera down a lot lately.   I do need to get some more pictures taken of the kids though because I am going to be kicking myself come the end of the year if I don’t get on the ball.

My children remind me daily what a good life I have.  One of my siblings commented this week on the super happy disposition of Tori and Troy and I told him that I think they have learned it from Ty.  He really sets the mood for all of us.  We celebrate the simplicity of our life together and he affirms it for us all day long.  We believe him.  Life is great.  We are happy.  We love one another.  ALL GOOD.



Still sporting a manly beard, still working as a software engineer at Cox, still performing excellently as head of my IT department, still making my heart pitter patter.  :)  What else can I say?



And a funny to leave you with….

When Quinn came to visit…

Quinn:  Aunt Sissy.  I am not going to hit Troy tonight.  Not right now.