Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

R.I.P. Russ Gibson

I just found out that Russ Gibson died. Mark told me when he saw it online on a sports news alert. He died Sunday and I hadn't heard. "What?!" I said. I was on the phone with my Mom so I told her and she replied, "Oh yeah, Sunday. Sorry!" She hadn't told me so this was the first I'd heard. "Awwwww" is what I said when I read it myself.

Russ Gibson is a heckuva nice guy and I think anyone who knows him would say so. And even though he was a celebrity Boston Red Sox player, to me, he was a super nice and thoughtful guy who lived in my hometown. I didn't ever think to get his autograph because it was more of an interesting fact to me that he was a Red Sox player (and later a SF Giants player) than it was the main thing in my mind. It's super cool to know an actual Red Sox player who is your friend, don't get me wrong. But Russ stands out more in my mind as a heckuva nice guy than a celebrity. That's how he acted. That's simply the kind of guy he's always been.

One of my fondest memories of Russ Gibson is of getting envelopes in the mail from him when I was in high school--he would read the local paper, cut out articles about me (whether it was because of getting a good GPA or participating in some school organization or honor, he would cut it out), and mail it to me with a little note saying that he's proud of me. How neat is that?! I think many of the newspaper articles that I have in my childhood high school scrapbook are from Russ in the mail to me.

The other fond memory that comes to mind is simply how he'd make you feel like such a special and important person. He had a friendly and easy manner and made you feel like you were his buddy and he was always so happy to see you.

I know I used to thank him but I really do hope that Russ knows how special he'd make me feel to take the time to send me those packages and to smile when he'd see me. Mostly, I'm grateful for his friendship and kindness to my Dad and I'm hopeful that they can get together now and then and play some cards and maybe even get in some tennis.

Thanks a lot, Russ. You really are a heckuva nice guy. Rest in peace, friend.

One Good Reason to Spend the Money . . .

I was cleaning out some things in the office--paying bills, organizing patient files, etc.--and I came across a comic someone gave me. I think it was a patient, but it could have been a family member. Don't I have a wonderful memory? Anyway, I thought it was a good reason to spend the money and let a professional handle things.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Various and Sundry

I haven't picture posted in a while, so here's a bunch of stuff, both various and sundry. (Has anyone else seen the very awesome Word Girl episode of Lady Redundant Woman?)

1. Mark's Google job got unexpectedly cut short by 5 months. Apparently this has happened to other people as well. It really stinks. He has been working so hard putting in 30 hours of work a week into that on top of everything else we're doing (I'm married to Superman) to help us save up and also pay down debt. So this really sucks financially. But we're grateful to have had it. And we're grateful that business continues to pick up. The Google gig has been a perfect safety net of income for us while we grow our business this first year (Can you believe we're coming up on our 1st anniversary of our business?!). Yet (dare I admit it?), it's a bit of relief to not have the gig in some ways because we are that busy! And I firmly believe that Superman has to have down time, too, so this helps. He is hardworking and very good at having fun, too. So, it's nice to have fun without the guilt of the work we could be doing (at least on that gig . . . there are always things we can be doing.).

2. We bought sweet corn at a local farm stand today. We're so excited for dinner. Our corn is also coming in and we can pick it soon! YUM!

3. Flowers are blooming. Mom, check out the Azores flowers! Our garden is thriving (well, except something is going on with the pumpkins--I could cry. We use a lot of pumpkins! We decorate with them, cook in them (both dinner and soup in a pumpkin), ugh. Everything is looking beautiful and I feel like summer is flying by WAY fast. *Sniff* My official favorite plant in our garden is the grape tomato plant. We're getting at least 100 tomatoes from it and they all ripen at various times, so it's fantastic--every day we go out and pick daily tomatoes for our salads.

Click to enlarge (and look closely--we have a compost pile!)

4. Since we're doing mini stay-cations this summer (rather than a big trip someplace--we are so doing the beach in September for a few days) to help save money, one of our mini summer treats is homemade ice cream! We got ourselves an ice cream maker on clearance and, OHMYGOSH, it is so delicious! I had no idea what was involved, though. I thought it was like a bread machine (put in ingredients and it'll do everything). Not so! But so worth it. YUM!

Here we are making our ice cream!



5. We all got sick earlier this summer. Our very cool friends came over to sing us a "Get Well Song" they'd written for us. Now who can boast that?

Here are the very cool lyrics.

And here we are being serenaded--very awesome song. We love it!


video

6. Thing 2 has a very cool friend. He loves to play with him and they both love Legos and Star Wars and can play for hours without a single squabble. Until it's time for his very cool friend to leave. That's when he and his friend put their plans into action and hide and connive and try to trick us! Once his very cool friend starts getting dragged out by his mother, there are generally award-winning performances with lines like, "Save me! Please save me! I don't want to go!" and "I love you!!" and "We've crossed the Rubicon! There's no going back!" (I'm not kidding). LOVE how these two play! (And totally love the mom, which makes it that much better--she. is. awesome.)



7. We had a very nice, if rainy, 4th of July. Check out our beautiful dining room table--so nice to have the space to accommodate so many when you move your outdoor BBQ indoors! (This house has an insane number of doors, I know). Fireworks in the backyard. Great friends and good food. A nice, relaxing day. :)



(Edited to add this picture--not sure how it didn't get in the collage!):



8. Fun summer activities like attending the open-air children's theater to see "The Emperor's New Clothes" one time and "Rumpelstiltskin" another . . .

How good looking is my husband! And how cute are our kids!

and the new Pixar film . . .




Hanging out at a local radio station, seeing the studio, getting free stuff. And eating breakfast at the Cracker Barrel and playing checkers there, too! (I have pictures of this but am not posting them since it identifies the station) . . .



Waking up, reading, and falling back asleep on your books . . .




Studying the fire of London and reenacting it with your own mini-project (we pretty much school year round) . . .



Working on the cool, local reading program that gives you free tickets to HersheyPark . . .

She's getting so grown up! Such a beautiful girl.

Best friends and total goofballs.

Also getting so grown up. Such a cutie!



Enjoying a lovely outdoor picnic that, in one rainstorm, went from this . . .



to this . . .



I was feeling stressed and upset since we'd just bought that canopy for our business (we participate in the local street fairs) and we'd only used it once and it TOTALLY got busted in that storm (it was nuts!). We called the store the next day to ask about replacing it and found out it had been recalled and they were refunding our money! WooHOO!

9. Bug Catching!



Cicadas! We even get to attend a local cicada festival and enjoy a night of the symphony and a night of celebrating the Beatles (the musical group, not a misspelling of the bugs).



I don't have pictures of it on this post but we also catch lots of fireflies!

10. Water (and shaving cream?) fun!



Thing 2 also enjoyed some sprinkler and Lego fun with another friend during that hot, hot day!

11. These pictures don't begin to illustrate our VERY FUN weekly day-long playdates at the park with our most awesome, awesome, awesome homeschool group. A dozen families or so get together and play, play, play ALL DAY LONG. It's glorious.




12. Enjoying the County Fair!



13. More super cool backyard bugs!




14. Summer Library Reading Programs - Book Bingo . . . where you come home with 6 brand new books each plus 2 prizes each.




15. Plain, old, wonderful hanging out at home . . .

shucking corn "because we're farmers"


and working on research for your blogs!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I'm tagged!

My awesome sister-in-law Jessica tagged me on this one and I happily oblige! :) And forgive me, Jess, but I've stolen many of yours because they're the same for me!

10 years ago:
I was 24 and Mark and I had just graduated from college. We hadn't gotten into medical school the first try so we were both job hunting and volunteering--all of which helped us significantly with getting into both med school and grad school. We enjoyed a trip to NYC in the summer of '98 and got to see Les Miserables as well as The Letterman Show. Good times.


5 years ago:
Our family of 4 had just moved to Pennsylvania -- Thing 1 was 3 and Thing 2 was 5 months old. We had bought a townhouse sight unseen and were starting residency. I was going through serious depression amidst all these changes. Crazy to think on all that now and see what and how we're doing. We're so grateful.


1 year ago:
Also crazy to think about . . . a year ago yesterday, we closed on our farmhouse and got going on owning our own business! It was a stressful and exciting time. Leading up to that, we were taking leaps of faith all over the place. Mark had finished his acupuncture training in May and we knew we wanted a home business combination. We're absolutely THRILLED with how things are going and, again, very grateful.


5 months ago:
I turned 34 and we were getting settled into our farmhouse and routine and building our business. And we were also dealing with a major plumbing problem that thankfully wasn't as bad as it could've been.


Yesterday:
We held an Open House for our business and it was very successful. We also had our friends over for a very informal BBQ afterward.

5 things on my to-do list?
* Install ceiling fans and A/C window units in 2 guest rooms
* Take van in to mechanic to find out why it keeps overheating
* Fix hot water heater
* Write up my client session notes
* Work on stuff for our homeschool group--we're doing some AWESOME things as usual!

5 snacks?
* Cheese and crackers
* Blueberries
* Cashews
* Cereal with lots of raw oats sprinkled on top
* Scrambled eggs or dutch babies

5 billionaire things?
* Pay off all debt.
* Travel all over Europe. Okay, and the world. It does say billionaire.
* Treat extended family and friends to special just because things.
* Help people: seriously who needs that much money?
* I know it says 5 things but questions like this make me very uncomfortable for some reason.

5 places I have lived?
* Swansea, MA
* Provo, UT
* Lisbon, Portugal
* Fogo, Cape Verde, West Africa
* Phoenix, AZ

5 Favorite Books?
* Rebecca
* Jane Eyre
* To Kill a Mockingbird
* The Thirteenth Tale
* Harry Potter Series

5 Bad Habits?
* Nervous Talking (actively working on this one)
* Being passive-aggressive (actively working on this one)
* Saying "like" (Sigh.)
* Tending to instantly like everyone (poor judgment at times)
* Going to bed insanely late (I'd like to say I'm working on this, but truth is, I like staying up late, so it feels rather futile at times)

5 Places I would like to run away to?
Honestly, nowhere since we love where we are, but for the sake of fun places to visit . . .
*
The beach, the beach, the beach.
* The cute, fun coffeehouse in town for a Parents' Night Out (our homeschool group)
* MA to visit my Dad's grave
* USA road trip to visit extended family and friends
* Europe (particularly Portugal)

5 Things I would never wear?
* Something strapless (Poor shirt! It wouldn't stay up!)
* Leopard Print
* Stretch pants
* A sweatsuit
* Socks in the summer

5 Pet peeves?
* Holier than thou attitudes
* Letter of the Law People
* People who think they're better than other people (sensing a theme?)
* Flaky people who try to pretend that they're not flaky (However, I don't mind when flaky people openly admit that they're flaky). Embrace your inner flake.
* People telling me what to do as if it's any of their business

5 Favorite shows?
* Freaks and Geeks
* Friends
* Frasier
* Amazing Race
* American Idol

5 Famous People?
(I'm not sure what this is really asking for but I will oblige...)
* John Cusack
* Jennifer Aniston
* Dr. Wayne Dyer
* Mother Teresa
* Elliott Yamin

5 people I tag:
* Emily
* Nicole
* D'Arcy
* Lena
* Rachelle

Friday, July 25, 2008

Continued

I love summer. Here's more . . .

* LOVING cool weather in the low 80s with no humidity! Sandals, sandals, sandals!
* Trying lunch at the new Japanese place in town because they have Bento boxes! Mmmmmm.
* Playing "Sentence Says" in between my sessions.
* Making brownies just because we're craving them
* Enjoying a family bike ride on the trails at the local university:
Seeing Canadian Geese, finches, bunnies, ducks, ducklings, and cool leaf bugs there.
Smelling grass and flowers.
Hearing various bird calls and such phrases as "I am the master! I can feel the wind!" while riding down big hills as well as "I love this bike the best in the whole world!" (which is especially nice to hear after a barage of "It's too big. It's not going to work. I'm not going to like it. I'm not going to be able to ride. I want my old bike. I don't want that bike.").
Saying (ahem) such phrases as "Eat my dust!" as we pass each other.
Touching M's fat lip and seeing how he cut it up when he banged into a tree and said, "I hurt my brain."
A real sensory experience.
* Getting home and playing in the backyard catching moths, crickets, and fireflies (SO fun)!

Ahhhhhhh.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Nice Day

Nothing huge. Nothing earth shattering. Nothing spectacular. Simply a nice day. For simple reasons. Isn't that the best?

* We've been enjoying rain and thunderstorms today. And cooler weather. I love summer thunderstorms!
* We're totally enjoying eating food from our beautiful and bounteous garden.
* We so enjoy doing school as a family--lots of learning, lots of fun.
* We got our state rebate in the mail (about time!).
* We made our own homemade, made-up pizza tonight--"Cheeseburger Pizza" with ground turkey, cheeses, onions, and tomatoes from our garden. Top with Ketchup and Mustard. Yum!
* We played Pictionary (totally worked!) and Sorry tonight and enjoyed it so much. Thing 1 said, "This is one of my favorite things to do as a family--play long games!" Thing 2 loves that he won 2 games tonight. And got a piggyback ride to bed.
* I got caught up on lots of email/homeschool stuff.
* Mark's making a late-night run to get some surprises for the kids. 5-cent notebooks. Their favorites.
* The Friend came in the mail and Thing 1 loves that.
* Thing 2 has discovered that he really likes math and he's pretty proud of himself.
* We have an Open House sign out front for our business. One of our elderly patients panicked thinking that we were selling the house since she LOVES Mark and is so grateful for how much he's helping her. Very rewarding. Her daughter explained that it's an Open House for our business, not our house.
* Thing 2 has discovered (re-discovered? His tastes change a lot that way) that he does indeed love tomatoes, especially when they taste so yummy from our garden.

Simple pleasures. My favorite kind.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Memory Meme

I've seen this post on many friends' blogs and have been commenting on them. I'm supposed to be posting this on our blog as well as part of participating in this! I'm very excited to see what people post!

1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I have had together. It doesn't matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember!


2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. It's actually pretty funny to see the responses. If you leave a memory about me, I'll assume you're playing the game and I'll come to your blog and leave one about you. I think it's fun to take a trip down memory lane, and it's always good to have a laugh or smile about the past. So leave a comment and I'll do the same for you!

Thanks! :)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Majorly Random Things

Dinner Conversations

So, Thursday at dinner, we're talking baptism plans and Thing 1 is naming who she wants in the circle. She lists several people and I say, "Sounds good, honey." And then the water works start. I couldn't talk for a full minute or so. The kids kept asking what was wrong and Mark told them, "She's sad because Vavo won't be there." My Dad has so been looking forward to this. I could barely speak, but I said, "I miss him" and continued to cry. Thing 1 reached over and held my hand with tears in her eyes. I asked why she was crying and she could barely speak. She said, "Vavo." And I said, "You miss him?" And she nodded. Mark gets teary eyed. We're all crying and Thing 2 says, "Well, he still sort of can be in the circle." We look at him confused. I said, "How?" And he gets his typical goofy grin and stinker look on his face, puts his pontificating finger in the air, and says loudly, "Trust in God!" So, we're simultaneously laughing and crying. I ask, "Where did you learn that." And he says matter-of-factly, "Veggie Tales." Apparently our children learn great spiritual lessons from vegetables. Good to know.


Mortgage Fun


We've made the leap from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage, saving us about $199,000. Our payments go up a bit, but it lowered our rate by almost a full percent. And it only cost us $129. And it's legit. Sweet!


Butter vs. Margarine


I'm on a mailing list for these once-in-a-while health emails (from this site-- http://www.Eat-Well-To-Be-Well.com). They have little tidbits of information and good reminders--like did you know that wild rice is a whole grain? We're into healthy eating and years ago, switched from doing everything "low fat" (as in the kind of stuff that is loaded with sodium, sugars, fake crud, etc. in order to be low fat) to simply eating healthy, natural foods as close to their natural state as possible (again, not to an extreme--we do eat junk sometimes, too). One of our favorite natural switches has been to natural peanut butter. Mmmmm, SO much better than the regular trans-fat, unnaturally spreadable kind (blech). We also much prefer butter to margarine.

Anyway, I got one on butter vs. margarine a while back and have saved it to post on our blog because I thought it was interesting, if a bit disturbing.

The closer a food item is to its natural state, the better it would be
for you. Case in point today is, butter is better for you than
margarine.

Let's look at the reasons why:

Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it
killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the
research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to
figure out what to do with this product. It was a white substance
with no food appeal - so they added the yellow coloring and sold
it to us to use in place of butter.

Hmm... Doesn't sound right, does it?

DO YOU KNOW the difference between margarine and butter?

* Both have the same amount of calories.
* Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams compared
to 5 grams.
* Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53%
over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent
Harvard Medical Study.
* Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients
in other foods.
* Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few
and only because they are added!
* Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance
the flavors of other foods.
* Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has
been around for less than 100 years.

And now, for Margarine:

* Very high in trans fatty acids.
* Triples the risk of coronary heart disease.
* Increases total cholesterol and LDL (the bad cholesterol)
and lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol)
* Increases the risk of cancers up to five fold.
* Lowers quality of breast milk.
* Decreases immune response.
* Decreases insulin response.

And here's the most disturbing fact....

Margarine is ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC.

This fact alone was enough to make me avoid margarine for
life and anything else that is hydrogenated (this means hydrogen
is added, changing the molecular structure of the substance).

Don't believe what I'm saying about margarine? Try this yourself:

Purchase a tub of margarine and leave it in your garage or
shaded area. Within a couple of days you will note a couple
of things:

No flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that
should tell you something).

It does not spoil or smell differently because it has no nutritional
value; nothing will grow on it! Even those tiny microorganisms
will not find a home to grow.

Why? Because it is nearly plastic.

Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?

Remember, the closer something is to its natural state, the
healthier it will be. However, completely natural is best, of course!
Isn't that disgusting?


Chicken Cordon Bleu Recipe

Mark's Mom makes delicious chicken cordon bleu and we used to make it fairly regularly as newlyweds. Over the years, I've developed an aversion to touching raw meat so we don't eat as much of it (meat, that is) or at least not if I have to touch it a lot. :P Anyway, we've recently found a recipe that is called "10-minute chicken cordon bleu" and it's not half bad. It's here if you want to try it (and I found this through one of my SIL's friend's blogs and don't remember which or who). It's not bad and it does the trick, though it's not as good as Vivian's.


Weird Dreams

I sometimes dream that I find out I didn't finish some class in college that I thought I had (like I signed up for it and didn't ever complete it, somehow it got lost in the shuffle, they let me graduate, but now it's back and I've got to do it) and it feels very real and scary. I also sometimes dream that they're sending me back on a mission and I totally don't want to go again. It's been a while since I've had any of them, but something one of my brothers-in-law wrote reminded me of this.


Little Dude's Made Up Games

Thing 2 loves to make up games. They're very complicated, the rules are all over the place, and he always wins. Earlier this week, he made up one such game. It involved Star Wars characters, a bit of memorization and pictionary-type steps, as well as many other random things. One of the steps involved reading for a full minute. He later tells me, "Mommy? You know why I choosed reading as part of the game?"

"Why?"

"Well, I looked inside myself and felt it in my tummy and felt like reading was a good thing to do."

I verified that he meant what he said he meant and yes, he means he's understanding and practicing how to follow his heart and I'm thrilled about that. It's something we talk about a lot and it's so thrilling to see it sticking. I asked where he learned that and he says, "You teached me!"

I'm so proud of him. Thing 1 and Thing 2 really are great kids.

I'm totally behind on blogging, email, reading your blogs, and so forth. I'm getting to it. We've been swamped with business stuff, home stuff, and mostly regular old play-outside-and-have-fun stuff. We've been spending entire days at the park, swimming at the pool, enjoying kids' summer theater, free movies, reading programs, berry picking, cooking, games, school, activities, you name it. So, I'm very behind, but I'm getting to it! I haven't forgotten any of you!

And I've got more to write and pictures to post, but for now, I'm going to get ready, make blueberry muffins with the kids (Thing 1's own recipe!), and get ready to see "Rumpelstiltskin" at the local open-air playhouse! So far, we've seen "The Emperor's New Clothes" and it was very cute. We're excited! :) More later . . .

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's Monday

Just a reminder that The Magic Violinist has posted her Monday post! :)

This past Thursday's Lunch (with picture!)

. . . because it's taken me that long to upload pictures :P


YUM!

From our garden:
Lettuce
Spinach
Cucumbers
Green Onions
Garden Tomatoes
Grape Tomatoes
Snap Peas

We've added (from our local Farmers and Amish Markets):
Walnuts

Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas)

Celery

Baby Carrots

Cheese

Newman's All Natural Caeser Dressing (we LOVE his stuff--no HFCS or MSG!)
(and we usually add Avocado--DELICIOUS!)

And I took the picture too soon, because after I snapped the picture, I also added:
Sunflower Seeds
Milled Flax Seeds
Oregano


That other plate has sliced cucumbers in vinegar and salt. YUM! Reminds me of what my Vavo (grandfather) used to make for me from his garden when I was a little girl. Mmmmmm. Tastes like summer!

Friday, July 11, 2008

BILs and SILs - Part 2 or Oprah, are you there?

Mark and I got married in Manti, UT. His next youngest brother (Doug) was on his mission and wrote me the sweetest "Welcome to the Family" letter that I continue to treasure. David entered the MTC 2 days before our wedding. Greg and the twins (Michael and Scott) stayed in California and attended our reception there about a week later. I remember specifically that at the reception, Greg was being very sweet to me and, if I recall correctly, had given up some sort of sports thing to be at our reception (playing high school sports has always been pretty big on that side of the family) and when I said thank you, he said, "Well, you're my sister now." And I think I melted a little.

So, I'm the oldest daughter-in-law and the first to marry into this great family. I love my in-laws. Growing up, I was always nervous about marrying in to a family and being accepted and loved (I know how hard, stereotypically, it can be for girls to marry in. Boys? They seem so instantly well received. I don't know why that all is. My parents adore and practically worship Mark. The running joke on my side of the family is that everyone wants to marry Mark. Hands off, Uncle Joe! He's MINE!). My worries were just that--worries. Mark's parents have welcomed this Portuguese Boston girl into the family and have always treated me as one of the family--besides the general manner in which they treat me, a couple of examples come to mind:

Mark and I had been married just over a year when we went to CA to attend Doug's (he's the second oldest) wedding (the only of the brother's weddings to date that has had all siblings in attendance). At one point during the picture taking, the photographer was getting everyone positioned after having called out "Family only for this one" and from her arm signals, I wasn't sure I was supposed to be in the picture. I sort of hung back, not sure what to do. I still wasn't sure how I fit in since I was a "married in." My father-in-law spotted what was going on and immediately, without any hesitation at all, motioned me in and said, "She's family." I could've cried. I felt loved and a part.
Doesn't Jenny look fabulous in her dress?

Years later when I graduated with my Master's Degree, my in-laws did something that, to me, was totally unexpected but to them was the natural thing to do. They came to show their support! I was floored. I was so very humbled by that. I'm an in-law, right? A "married in." I'm not one of their own kids, yet they came to support me because to them, I most certainly am part of the family. Again, I felt so loved and very much a part of the family. It was especially nice, because my parents weren't able to come as my Dad had just had multiple heart attacks and open heart surgery. I was so upset to not have them there. And yet Mark's parents went out of their way to attend, tell me how proud of me they are (my dear mother-in-law even pointed out that I'm the first Foley to receive a graduate degree and that, to me, was one more instance of feeling very much a part of the family--she didn't lump me in only with my side of the family, she included me as an actual Foley! I was so touched by that), and take the three of us out for a celebratory dinner. It was especially fun since I got to tell in person them that weekend that I was expecting our next baby.

(Do you hear Barbara Streisand crooning yet?)

My in-laws also did a super cool thing and surprised us in Arizona in 2001 with a visit when I threw Mark a surprise Board Exams Party halfway through medical school (it was such a fun party). We had friends over, good medical-themed food (hippocratic loaf, tennis elbow macaroni salad, cracked ribs, etc.), and latex glove balloons! As we're all sitting around the front room of our super pimped-out trailer (thanks for the description, Terah!) talking and laughing, a car pulls up. It stops. We're all watching trying to figure out who it is and why someone is there and was it someone from our ward or something? I freaked out--it was Mark's parents!! They drove like 12 hours from California and totally surprised us and I thought it was AWESOME. I seriously think they launched themselves even higher in the "cool" stratosphere with that move. We love that they did that. (I kind of like surprises like that).

We surprised them with a visit as well that same year and that was a lot of fun. We had visited before that in 1998 and it was fun to visit again:


Mark has since these pictures grown a goatee and I love it. I think I really like facial hair on the Foley boys.

Anyway, I love and am grateful for my in-laws, all of them. I think especially being the oldest ones and the first to get married, first to have kids, etc., we sometimes get the impression that we must seem so old and distant, but we're really not. And less and less all the time as everyone else gets older, too. ;) :P

Okay, so there's us. In a nutshell . . . Mark--awesome husband, dad, and doctor. Me--wife, mom, and counselor. Thing 1 is the oldest grandchild and also the first (and has been, until recently, the only) granddaughter on Mark's side of the story. She's the first Foley girl by blood. Even Grandma and I can't tout that! I don't think I'll ever forget the look on Mark's mom's face when she first saw Kate--her smile spread across her face and I don't know if I'd ever seen her face shine so brightly with sheer joy. Thing 2 is the first (and only to date) grandson on my side of the family. Pretty fun. And my dear mother-in-law, mother to SIX boys, came out to help us and stay with Kate while I was in labor. She cooked for us and generally took care of things so I could rest leading up to labor and it was awesome to feel so looked out for. Okay, so you know us. And by now you know that I am the queen of tangents.

Next oldest is Doug. He's married to Jenny. They have two boys and they have a girl on the way. Not that long ago, he graduated from Law School and they moved from UT to CA where they live close to both sets of parents. When they first got married, we got to hang out with them now and then (they were in SLC and we were in Provo) and we'd get together, eat out, stuff like that. I also got to go wedding dress shopping with Jenny which I thought was A LOT of fun! And she looked really beautiful in her dress. And the dress she picked was one of 2 dresses I had narrowed my own choices down to when I chose my wedding dress over a year earlier--neat, eh? When we went up to UT from AZ for out-of-state rotations for two years in a row (both to take a break from AZ and to visit extended family and friends), we'd get together with them again. We travelled up north and got together with them and David the first year:

And we also got together the second year (they were awesome to come down to see us--we weren't able to get up to Provo as much that year as the year before with some drama on my side of the family with my brother and his family (who lived in Richfield, UT) and with me having really bad morning sickness. A dislocated knee also prevented me from fitting in the car (I dislocated it while we were up there). How cute are these two?!:




My favorite memory from that is of a pregnant me and a pregnant Jenny mini-golfing with our husbands and kids. Kate (yeah, yeah, Thing 1 has a real name) and Patrick had SO MUCH FUN running around playing their own version of "golf" and chasing each other around the townhouse in their jammies, laughing hysterically, and generally goofing around. It was awesome. We haven't yet met Andrew and he's turning 6 in a few months. (Gosh, this is awful. I mean I know it's been a while, but typing it out makes it feel even worse. Our readers are going to feel compelled to take up a fund or something. Maybe Oprah will see this post and reunite us all. Oprah, dear, if you're still reading, bless your heart. And if you're feeling extra generous, there's this little thing about student loans . . . ). Anyway, we've probably been able to spend the most time of everyone in this way with Doug and Jenny so far due to proximity during school. (Do you guys remember Cafe Rio? Yum.). And it was fun while it lasted. They do a lot of fun things as a family and every picture of their boys always shows very big grins, very happy boys! Jenny's known the family for a long time since she grew up in the same town, same school, same ward. A fond memory I have of them is when Doug and I would write letters while he was on his mission and soon to be home and he'd talk about Jenny. It became pretty obvious pretty quickly that he was smitten. And I was very excited at the prospect of getting a SIL on that side of the family.

David and Emily came to visit us in Arizona in 2001 after they got engaged. It was nice to meet Emily and visit with them. She is so totally cute and easy to talk to. They got married later that summer and we were so excited to be able to be there (we thought they were going to get married in Utah and we were doing out-of-state rotations in middle-of-nowhere town, Utah, so perfect!) except that they got married in New Mexico. And we couldn't finagle a way being 3 hours each way from the airport and with Mark's rotation schedule and with the medical school being really strict about that rotation to make it work, so we were stuck. (This is probably about the time that resentment for the medical professional system began to creep in for us. And it got worse as time went on, especially in residency). We've seen Emily 1 time since they married (on our move out here--see picture in previous post). Dave is a super nice guy and we got to enjoy his being close by at BYU for a while before we moved to AZ. He helped us move our digital piano when we got that.
And we'd have him over to our newlywed apartment to hang out. It was nice and comfortable and easy. And as you can tell as you keep reading this and seeing pictures, we've actually seen David quite a bit over the years in CA, UT, and AZ (as I've blogged, I've noticed that he's visited us quite a bit in AZ). Emily and I have bonded over stuff via email and phone. I remember one time seeing something she'd posted someplace and literally running to the phone to say, "Omigosh, ME, TOO!" and we talked and laughed for a while. It was fun. I hung up saying, "I like Emily!" Mostly, after we set up the family blog, Emily caught the blogging bug in a MAJOR way and started several blogs including the popular Emily's Something as well as a Recipe offshoot blog! She is a lot of fun and I'm really enjoying getting to know her better through not only her blog but also the fun comments she puts on our blog. I can't say enough what a wonderful tool blogging has been for all of us! Check out her blog--she always has something fun and there's always lively discussion in her comments. She even has daily features and fun sidebar stuff (recipes, jokes, etc.). Dave and Emily are the awesome parents of 2 very cute boys, Isaac and Noah, neither of whom we've met yet. (OPRAH, are you still reading?!) And they are super thoughtful with staying on top of things like birthdays and cards in the mail--they may actually win the award for "best at keeping in touch" with things like that. Though everyone's making a concerted effort to do more of that, they're among the pioneers. Dave and Emily are NICE people and always make you feel like they care. Anyway, check out her blog--it's really something! :) (Groan).

(I might note that as newlyweds, we diligently wrote Doug and David almost weekly while they were on their missions. We fared worse with Greg and even worse with the twins (sorry, guys!), but we did at least write to all of them even if it was an overall decline in performance. Ugh.)

Greg and Jessica are next! Greg and I have always gotten along well. Maybe it was his sweet comment to me at our reception in Cali, I don't know. But I've always really liked Greg a lot. And when he came down to visit us in Arizona and introduce the girl he was dating who, to that point, I'd heard a lot about on the phone from Greg, I could've fallen over. She's beautiful!


I knew from hearing about her on the phone that I was probably going to like her and Greg knew that I would like her and he was absolutely spot on. Though she towers over me in height (I'm a very short 5'2 and she's, well, c'mon it doesn't take much to be taller than I am, but I think she's 6 feet tall--of course everyone taller than me seems 6 feet tall . . . ). I digress. And she's sporty (which I so am not--I may well win the prize for "least athletic by far" in the family. I wear it proudly. I hated P.E.) and plays volleyball (there's a whole world out there for people who are tall!). I digress again. So, we don't have those things in common, but oh my holy she's a nerd, too! (In our house, that's a total compliment). She likes books! And her favorite book is Jane Eyre! There are other things, too, that Greg had already pointed out to me that we'd share in common, but the nerdy stuff stuck out right away and has continued to do so. We both actually like grammar and reading and writing and teaching and learning. I don't feel like a dork around her if I get excited about a comma or an apostrophe or a well-written piece. It's great! And Kate adores her and took to her instantly. They got married that December (2002) and I was not allowed to travel by my O.B.'s orders since I was 9 months pregnant. They felt badly that we would miss out and we did, too, but we were SO excited for them to get married! And what a good-looking couple they are. Greg and Jessica came down to visit us for Maxim's (yep, Thing 2 has a real name, too) baby blessing and Kate's birthday (her birthday is a day after Uncle Greg's, so we celebrated together). (Dave came down, too, and we can't remember why Emily didn't join him--she was away some place or something? Do you remember, Em?)





We also share a love of not only great literature but also using literary names for our kids (both of our kids' names come from literature--and I don't mean The Cat in the Hat). They have a gorgeous baby girl named Emerson (Emmy) and I know they know this, but I *love* her name. I love Emerson--he's one of my favorite philosophers and writers and it's a name that's been on our list of favorites, too, and we think it's great. And it totally suits her--oh, she is such a cutie! Kate is so thrilled to have a baby girl cousin on the Foley side (and more on the way!) and we all love to see pictures of her. We haven't yet met Emmy either (Oprah, do you hear me?!!), but we love her. Anyway, we are loving keeping in better touch with their awesome family by blogs, email, etc. and we love to hear from them by comments or email or whatever! They have also recently started a fun blog and you can find that here! (In case anyone has gotten sidetracked by my utter verbosity, this is a spotlight post for links on the right, remember?)

Scott and Lindsay just got married this past December (see previous post). Scott is the BIL that I've always described as looking like a "Calvin Klein Model." He and his twin brother Michael are the ones farthest from us in age (though it's still not that much). That becomes less and less of a factor as you get older, too, but when Mark and I were dating, the twins threw toy cars at me from the doorway to their living room in Benicia and apparently that meant they liked me. I'm so glad they've outgrown that. :P I've talked with Scott and Michael mostly at weddings and holiday visits. The thing that cracks me up about them is that they seem so quiet but they're really not as you get to know them (a Foley trait, I think) and what I've observed and heard about how they are when they're simply hanging out with their friends is laugh out loud funny. We haven't yet met Lindsay. She is another tall, brunette beauty (so for those keeping track at home, there are 3 SILs of the shorter variety--me, Jenny, and Emily and 2 SILs of the taller variety--Jessica and Lindsay). (Em and Jenny, I sometimes wonder if they fully appreciate what we go through to reach things in our kitchens). My father-in-law has always talked about getting his Breck Girls (I'm dating myself again, aren't I? Just like I dated myself when I said I've always had a crush on John Cusack--though I am NOT his stalker, that's some crazy lady) Anyway (focus, Stacy), Breck Girls. (I'm a brunette, Jenny's a redhead, so he thought a blonde would naturally follow just to make his dream come true. As his luck would have it (he proudly calls it the Foley curse though I secretly think he's the only one who has it), 3 more brunette daughters-in-law have followed. Ah well, he can hold out hope with Michael. Though if he does that, Michael might just marry someone with radically violet hair. That'd be fun.). Anyway, Lindsay and I have instant messaged, at times almost daily, since they got married and we've found we have quirky things in common and can talk about just about anything! We have not seen Scott (though we've talked with him on the phone) since before his mission in November 2001 when we got together for Thanksgiving (I'm throwing in an older picture, too). Scott's the one we haven't seen the longest by far.
Thanksgiving 1999
Thanksgiving 2001

(By now Oprah's writing that check. I just hope she's not planning to make this an Oprah show since the boys aren't big on that kind of attention. Something simple like a week at the beach would suffice. Or maybe Europe). Anyway, they have also started a blog and it's a lot of fun to see that and get comments from them as well. Though we were initially bummed about them not coming to Philly for law school, we're very excited about their move to FL this month!

This was actually a really fun post to write and a fun stroll down memory lane. I love, love, love that blogging is helping us all keep in touch and share stories and joys and struggles and pictures and love. I'm very grateful for that. We live the farthest from everyone and we don't get to see everyone as often so the blogs are a lifeline of sorts. We're really excited for Grandma and Papa to visit as it's been over a year and the kids are so excited--we all are, especially since in that time, we've moved, started our own business, etc., so we're super excited for them to see it all! Also, I think with the stress and sadness of my Dad's passing, with our new house and clinic--I don't think a day goes by that we don't look at one another, our garden, our home, and think of how badly we want them here to share it with them. They're so easy to host and it's so fun to sit around and talk and talk and talk. Oh and the eating! Musn't forget that. It's always fun to feel looked out for during visits. It's like squeezing "Family Sunday Dinners" into a week and we enjoy it.

We do love them all and are grateful for them, their friendship, and their love as well. And we're excited for whenever we all get together for a big fun reunion (we're working on a way to do a big homeschool USA road trip in the next couple of years) and, truth be told, we're especially excited for mini-reunions as well whenever anyone visits anyone else--I absolutely LOVE the idea of individual families hanging out together now and then. We've been unable to travel that far for the past couple of years with how things have been and now that we're a bit more stable, the economy sucks (Oprah, still there darling?). We know we're in the Eastern boondocks and we've recently learned that we're not the only ones trying to get out there, that some of them are trying to figure out ways of visiting us here, too, and that really made us feel good, even if it might take years, it still makes us feel very loved. We love you guys!