Saturday, December 28, 2013

Counting Blessings (and Inches) for 2014

As the holidays wind down here on Hott Mountain and the lemon cookies have disappeared, I wanted to share with you a startling discovery.  With 2013 coming to a close, I was searching for a picture in my files and found it within this post.  Since it's original publication, let me just say this now 48-year-old-grey-haired-hott-mama-of-four is celebrating 24 new inches of Hott fun for 2014!
Here is where I found the picture and am reposting it in part because it still makes me giggle.  You'll find the picture at the end:

Burning the Christmas Cookies... Again!

"My woeful attempt to portray Julia Child at Christmas time is normally met with some traumatic experience either on the part of me or my family.  Although I do enjoy experimenting a little in the kitchen and am grateful to my loyal subjects for their willingness to sometimes act as my guinea pigs, one would think the simple tasks of Christmas Cookies would be met without incident.  Here's what happened one day when my phone rang:

Me:  "Ahlooo-oh!"  (That's my best Julia impression!  I'm really good at it!  Just ask Dan!...  I do it all the time!)
Caller:  "Uh, hello?  Mrs. Hott?"
Me:  "Whooo?  Oh, you mean me?  Yes, speeeeaking!"  (It's my Julia Child again!  I'm still not used to being called Mrs. Hott.  That name is reserved for Dan's 89 (now 92) year old mother.  I really do forget it's me after 14 (actually 17) years.)
Caller:  "This is Morgan County 911 Emergency calling.  Is everything alright?  We got a call from one of your neighbors."
Now, I can hear a fire whistle zooming up our hill.
Me:  "My neighbors?  Are they okay?"  (I am confused.  All the Hotts are fine, present, and accounted for.)
Caller:  "Yes mam.  They are fine.  But they have called to report a fire."
Me:  "Fire. Really?!!!  Where"
Caller:  "Well, at your residence!  We have received a report of billowing smoke emitting from your home."
Me:  "Smoke... where?  Are you serious?  Can you see me at my house?  How do you know there is smoke?"  -- Like 911 has some magic eye;  I really thought they were looking at me talking on the phone via satellite or something.
Caller:  "Yes.  Emergency services should be there any second."
Me:  Finally realizing what in the world was going on, "Oh, oh, oh!   Smoke!?  Oh no.... that's just me.  I was burning the Christmas cookies,... again."

Oh! eat these cookies!  They called the Fire Department on me!  Yikes!  When they showed up, I had to give them the only good batch I had.  Talk about feeling like a fool!  There was NO fire!  The only smoke coming from the Hott house was a tray of Christmas cookies I stuck out on the back porch.  Well, they nearly did go up in flames before I got them out of the oven.  But the house wasn't on fire, for goodness sakes.  You probably don't believe me; so, I'll show you a picture:

Doesn't that look yummy?  You see, Julia Child (although I love her) I am not!  And for some unknown reason, I manage to ruin 90% of everything I bake and/or cook.  Although I am kidding about 911 and the fire truck, I seriously DID have to set out quite a few trays of smoking cookies on the back porch after my kitchen was engulfed in smoke and our house alarm went off.  Even the cats won't touch them.

Now, I look at that tray of burned cookies and I am reminded of all the dishes I've burned; crazy things I've done and silly mistakes I've made both in the kitchen and over the years.  And you know what?  It's just cookies.  Each crispy chunk of carbon reminds me of a disappointment I've had over the year 2010 (original post); another mess in the kitchen; mountains of laundry; numerous trips to the grocery store; boo boos needing band aids; noses to wipe; miles of trips to town for school events; more gas for the car; midnight runs to the ER when Levi fell out of bed; mountains of bills waiting to be paid; medical needs that never quit; to mouths to feed again and again."

But like I said, they're just burned cookies.  Let's count blessings! Here are mine!
     Christmas 2010                                                                          Christmas 2013

Just like the Hott family, our blessings grow every year.... least 24 inches combined.   2013 brought us new adventures, wedding dates, career move for Caity, an economics masters degree from AU for Brian, race ribbons for Violet our athlete, Rubik's twisty puzzle records for Isaac, and well.... Levi continues his constant stream of comedy and now music!

Happy New Year from the Hott Family!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33

I send all my troubles (a.k.a burned cookies) to God.  He doesn't mind!

Monday, November 18, 2013

When Family Fitness Is Fun

Fun?! Are you kidding me?  

I'm really sorry, but this 48-year-old-grey-haired-PD bloggin-hott-mama-of-four finds nothing at all fun about fitness!  Not one to do anything fast, working out is, well... w.o.r.k! Seriously!  Sometimes I wonder how did I manage to end up with this 5K running-400 meter dashing-basketball playing-daughter of mine!  Until this weekend at the First Annual Fall for Fitness 5K, I discovered that fitness IS fun... and inspirational!

Organizers report that over 250 runners, walkers, and spectators of all ages arrived in beautiful Berkeley Springs on a spectacular fall Saturday for the First Annual Fall for Fitness 5K and Fun Run!  The benefit for the Berkeley Springs High School Cross Country Team was an action packed family fitness day held on Saturday, November 16th, beginning with a 10:00 5K, 11:00 family fun run, followed by a 2:00 gentle walking tour through historical Berkeley Springs, WV. 

Runners arrived early to a crisp and clear morning from far and wide.  In addition to the tremendous community support, registered runners came from the four state regions, including Hagerstown, Frostburg, Hedgesville, Martinsburg, Inwood, Gerradstown, Big Cover Tannery, Bunker Hill, Williamsport, Falling Waters, and even Washington, DC. 

Sponsors of the First Annual Fall for Fitness 5K included Gat Creek Furniture, Reed’s Pharmacy, Michael Family Practice, Treeworks, Valley Health, Luke Christie State Farm Insurance, Close C.P.A., and Food Lion.  Their support for community fitness was hosted by Guest of Honor, Rene Garcia-Kesecker and Reed Pharmacy founder and candidate for US Congress, Ken Reed, who promotes participation in fitness as a way to even “fight Obamacare by staying FIT!” 

Fitness was made fun with DJ Ken and Rene as they spun songs and Zumba danced for families.  Participating teams ranged in ages from 5 – 82!  According to coordinator, Tally Reed, “the First Annual Berkeley Springs Fall for Fitness was a tremendous success.  Folks showed up in force to show their support of community fitness and our Cross Country Team.”  Race records indicate that the top male runner was 17 year old Zach Simmons, finishing at 17:28:4.  The top female was 16 year old Kinsey Reed with a time of 20:04:3.

Mrs. Reed added, “We got to watch in awe as our own Rene Garcia-Kesecker walked a mile and was able to lead Zumba just a few short months after suffering a broken pelvis and multiple other injuries following a terrifying car accident.”  Honestly, I wondered if Rene would be cleared by her doctors to participate!  Well... she not only supported the athletes but Rene also finished the mile Fun Run!  Here she is, ...still smiling!  

Her participation was inspiring to witness and her recovery is a testament that families uniting in fitness can motivate a community.  Teammates from Hagerstown’s Mason Dixon Roller Vixens arrived to “walk with Rene.”  Check them out!

The First Annual Fall for Fitness 5K generated much needed funds to help our student athletes.  At a time when funding is of utmost concern, this event demonstrates a community that cares not only about its’ education but also the health of its’ residents.  

And for this unfit mom who managed to complete a mile with grandma in under twenty minutes, it was a celebration not only of fitness and community but also a reminder that the healthier we are, well, we just may get to enjoy friends and family that much longer!  

Guess someone better warn Dan that I signed him up for Zumba!  My first class at the First Annual Fall for Fitness 5K was a blast.  Heck, I might even try out for the Mason Dixon Roller Vixens.  After all, skating is just about the only thing I do fast.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bald Eagle by Levi Hott

Every day, it is most likely to see a wild animal, even going to school!  It's probably going to be a deer.  You could also see a ground hog.  Yesterday, I saw a bald eagle!  That was the second time I saw a bald eagle.

I saw the eagle on the way to school!  It's white head glistened in the sun.  "A bald eagle," I shouted!  Afterward, my dad said, "That is right."  The beak was bright yellow, and the body was dark brown. The whole time, it stood with pride.

(This story appears here as it was written by our Levi Hott, age 8, third grader at Warm Springs Intermediate School.  I will never forget the day he came home from school excited about seeing a bald eagle.  He wrote this essay for a school assignment...pretty cool, eh?)

"...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  
They will soar on wings like eagles..." Isiah 40:31

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Put YOU On the Pole

This phrase "put you on the pole" is frequently heard here at the Hott House.

No, it is not some strange Miley Cyrus new dance move we encourage as an alternative to her "Wrecking Ball".  Nor are we offering "pole dancing" performance art from our humble abode here in the W. Va. hills.

So if you have arrived at this blog post expecting some erotic exposition of scantily dressed individuals, well, I am sorry to disappoint.  But while you are here, I challenge you to consider what probably is a memory of most childhoods.

Measuring our (your) children's annual growth.

Our third "hottling" recently celebrated his 10th birthday.  It was that day that my hotthubby, Dan, announced, "Come on Isaac!  It's time to 'put you on the pole'!"

You see, ours is a log house structure and smack dab in the center of our living room is a, well,... a pole!

Seen here, it appears to be freshly cut from the forest, right?  (Well, it sort of has.)  You will notice the plethora of names and numbers along our family "pole".

For the Hott Family, it is a bi-annual occurance for each child to be "put on the pole."  We mark each child's height on their birthday as well as their "half birthdays" until at which time they cease to reach new verticle measurements.

Which, for this 48-year-old-grey-haired-pd bloggin-mama-of-four, marks another sort of life measurement all together.  After so many calculations marked, and some include frequent visits from nieces, nephews, and cousins (and the occasional random neighbor kid who just wants to be included on the pole), each tiny mark "marks" a moment in my heart.

You see, this day in history marked the time that my now 10 year old has reached my height.  Grant it, it's barely 5 feet for me.  But, for a short (haha!) moment in time my next to youngest will look his mommy eye to eye.  And, before you know it, Levi will catch up to me too.

For now, I will cherish the time because as they get older (and some reaching the opposite side of the pole) we won't always see "eye to eye", right?

Then our sons in their youth
will be like well-nurtured plants,
and our daughters will be like pillars
carved to adorn a palace. 
Psalms 144:12-14

So, tell me.  Is there a "pole" in your house too?  Maybe a door frame or closet door?  

I may not always be tall enough to measure my children (nieces, nephews, cousins...) on the pole, but we will always see heart to heart.  And for those 6'7" relatives of mine, it is always fun when you return to Hott Mountain to find your mark on Aunt Angie and Uncle Dan's pole... and heart!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Run With Rene at "Fall for Fitness" 5K

"Fall for Fitness" 5K and Fun Run, a benefit for the BSHS Cross Country Team, is a new event taking place November 16th in Berkeley Springs, WV. Organizers have created a fun family fitness day filled with activities from a 5K Run, a family 1 mile fun run, free post race DJ Dance Party, and a free family walking tour of historic Berkeley Springs!

A very special "Fall for Fitness" co-host will appear with emcee and Dance DJ Ken Reed, owner of Reed's Pharmacy and candidate for US Congress!  Recently suffering a tragic, death defying, car accident, local fitness instructor Rene Garcia-Kesecker will be the guest of honor to recognize fitness in our community and award medals to the top three of age groups.  "Run with Renee" at "Fall for Fitness" coming Nov. 16 and inspire your community to be fit!

Meet Rene.

Rene Garcia-Kesecker.

Always an incurable optimist and possessing a powerful positive attitude, Rene greets everyone she sees with that electric movie star smile and a "Hey you!"  Regardless of how busy her day is, Rene is one of those rare fitness moms that makes time for a hello and a hug.

Busy?  Yes, that's Rene!  With her oldest a freshman at WVU, a daughter in high school, and another fifth grade dancing doll, this busy mom's activities keep her fit as a fiddle as she hustles from high school thespian productions, dance recitals, lessons, and extended family events.  Add to Rene's plate her fitness expertise as the community "zin master" on all things Zumba, a combination of Latin and International music with a fun and effective dance workout, one can find Rene teaching at Rankins Fitness Center or MAC Ice House.
Meet Rene.

It is never a dull day when attending "Zumba with Rene"... or, watching her participate in one of the only four major sports created in America.  No, it's not basketball, American football, or baseball. Try Roller Derby!

Meet Rene.  

A member of the Mason Dixon Roller Vixens, a women's flat track roller derby league, "Rene -K47" knows for certain the meaning of "rock-n-roll" as she enjoys competitive and focused sports devoted to community service, good sportsmanship, physical fitness, and the "left turns" of sweet, sweet Roller Derby!

Meet Rene.  

She was recently heading to help teach a Zumbathon in Hagerstown, MD, when Rene took a turn on a wet road while driving her family car after a late summer shower on a hot September afternoon. The local media soon reported "Woman Taken to Hospital After Driving into Tree" and facebook exploded with concern for a beloved mom in this small community.  We saw this:

Really?...  Rene?  Dear God, please rescue Rene from this tragic accident, love her family, heal her body, ease her pain.

Posts online reported that she suffered a broken collar bone, broken pelvis, and broken ribs.  How's a thrice broken pelvis going to do salsa and merengue at her next Zumba class?  How Rene managed to survive such an awful accident continues to shake this small town.

Morgan County is a rural community.  Although it seems we often hear nothing but the negative news; i.e, failed levy, struggling schools, drug abuse, obesity, child hunger,... in the midst of what often seems a crazy, mixed-up world, we all stopped for a moment to remember our beautiful, smiling, warm-hearted, dancing Rene.

Now, meet Rene...

Still healing, (and smiling) it will take more than a car crash to stop this 45 year-old-roller-derby-mom-of-three!  Barely a month following her horrible accident, Rene can be seen here cheering folks in the local parade at the Apple Butter Festival Oct 12th.  Seeing her at the festival!...and others too.

Why? Because a terrible accident has not stopped Rene.  Nope.  Out on a rainy weekend surrounded by her entire family, Rene returns to all things fun and fit.  With determination and a positive approach to her healing, Rene will soon be back in her Zumba class or making those left turns on the Derby Rink!

In fact, the Berkeley Springs community is pleased to have Rene join them as the guest of honor for the first annual "Fall for Fitness" 5K. As honorary officiate of the event, Rene will be presenting runner's awards and presiding over the event to benefit the Berkeley Springs High School Cross Country team!  On Saturday, November 16th at 10 a.m., family and friends will gather at Warm Springs Middle School to show support for a community fitness celebration for the "Fall for Fitness" 5K.

Following the race, there will be a Fun Run/Walk at 11 a.m., a free DJ Dance Party, and fun for all ages.  DJ Ken will attempt, with Rene's assistance, to lead a fitness Zumba dance while waiting for runners to return!  Inspiring others with her positive outlook, Rene will be present to cheer on the participants.  At this point (and if her doctor permits), she would even like to participate! Online registration to "Run With Renee" is available on, email, call 304-676-7910, or click the link above. Join the BSHS Cross Country team for "Fall for Fitness" 5K on Nov. 16th, celebrate fitness, and

Meet Rene.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

#MichaelJFox - Are YOU watching? My Review of Michael J. Fox's New Sitcom

The new Michael J Fox Show.  Are YOU watching?

Yes, this 48-year-old-grey-haired-PD bloggin-hott-mama-of-four tunes in faithfully to NBC on Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. (est).

Why?  Well, not to see the comeback of Michael to prime time television.  No, not even to laugh with Michael at his own victory over a chronic illness.  Nope! Not even to see how the writers will incorporate Parkinson's Disease into the script.

For me, well.... I can't wait to see what this little guy will do next.  Sound crazy?

But just look at him!  Those chubby cheeks erupting with freckles.  That strawberry blond head full of luscious curly locks.  Those enormous blue innocent blue eyes.  And, get this:  He's eight!  I wonder why I love this guy so much?!  Wait a minute, check out my 8 year old!

Sound familiar?  Well, he is.  Just look at him!

And so is so much of what I see while watching Michael's new sitcom.  Although the marketing folks gave away all things interesting in their promotion of the pilot episode, The Michael J. Fox Show, and in all honestly, I was drawn to its' efforts as a follower of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research there are some genuinely cooky life parallels I keep discovering that keep me watching.  There are several "real life" scenes that only a "Parkie" would understand.  Here they are:

*  Family Dinner -- The painstaking pauses of Parkinson's Disease that keeps a family waiting, yes waiting to eat!
*  Bedtime Banter -- The husband and wife beneath the covers kinda talk that only a spouse with Parkinson's could understand.
*  Nightmares and Sleep Talking -- The endless, crazy PD dreams that startle and stir slumber.
*  Timing PD Meds -- The inclusion of Michael's PD meds into his daily routine is a scene ripped directly from the Hott House!
*  Crazy Kids and Goofy Relatives  -- For my favorite aspect of The Michael J. Fox Show, the complete immersion of his children into living with a dad that has Parkinson's Disease is celebrated in this new comedy.

For this, well,... Michael has me watching.  Because, you see, here is where between the laughs and antics of his quirky moves and dropped lines (another PD symptom), I find that watching The Michael J. Fox show is like standing out on my own front porch and peeking in the window.

Although diagnosed a bit later than Michael, my "hotthubby" Dan came home one day in 2008 and told me that his neurologist was certain that he had Parkinson's Disease.

Wait,... really?

And like Michael J. Fox, we had a family of four.  How would we manage to raise two boys who were at the time just 3 and 4 years old?  Will the progression of this stinking illness mean that Dan will be capable of dancing with the girls, now 13 and 23, at their weddings?

But here's what happened.  Parkinson's Disease just became our new normal.  Not that we were remotely close in the first place, but we sure learned to enjoy each other n.o.w.!  Rather than "throw in the towel," we chose to give PD a room in our house with the rest of us.  As Michael promotes, we chose to believe in "the power of optimism"... and to to always (be) looking up.

Looking up to the one in control of it all, I find that with God's daily Grace, we find ways to giggle at the little things that living with Parkinson's Disease means.

So does Michael.  For this, I recommend tuning in on Thursdays for a peak at our PD families.  And for those of you that don't have Parkinson's living with your family, well,... you just may find something similar that also gives you the giggles.

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Love "Mission" in Morgan County

I am a mom of four living in Morgan County, WV.  Last week, while having dinner with some other mom friends from the middle school cross country team after a meet, I heard a very special story.  "Wouldn't it be nice to hear some 'good' news for a change?" we talked.  Well... listen to this.

Although only 100 miles west of Washington, DC, Morgan County is situated in a remote part of the world, sometimes as seemingly far away as a distant planet.  Our "WV Hills" in Morgan County feature large mountain ridges, winding streams, and acres of wild forest.  With a total population of only 17,535, it's communities are a diverse spectrum of families, similar to any small town, USA.  People here are proud and passionate.

Recently, Morgan County has been the center of some very negative news concerning the fall of the county school levy, a 50+ year local property tax which generates $5 million annually.  A terrible division has developed within the community.  Social networks like Facebook have exploded with heated debate over the children's future.
Not only divided by the huge 2,618 foot Cacapon Mountain range, the towns of Berkeley Springs and Paw Paw are equally as different as the residents opinions on the school levy.  Local folks are angry, upset, and worried about the future of public education in our small county.

But human needs remain the same.
"Let us not love with words or speech
but with actions and truth" 1John3:18

And in order for children and families to succeed, many require that their basic needs are met, not just adequate nourishment, but also safe homes and equally as important...knowing that someone cares.

It was at this hectic dinner that I was blessed to hear about the efforts of Mrs. Brenda Bailey, Mission Team Leader from First UM Church in Berkeley Springs, who organized the first ever "Paw Paw Mission Trip" for Saturday, September 28th. This busy mom coordinated an effort to unify this rural area through something so simple....random acts of kindness.  

Ava Slavinsky, only 5 years old, working hard!
Through word of mouth, Mrs. Bailey located 12 families in Paw Paw, WV, with needs.  From home improvements, handicap accessible ramps, to light construction, 125 volunteers traveled to Paw Paw early Saturday to build, paint, and assist their neighbors across the mountain.  The mission ended in a community children's Vacation Bible School and picnic.

Free Family Goodie Baskets
Sound like a heart warming story?  Then talk to Brenda.  For an event she first thought that only a few would participate, she had 12 complete crews consisting of families ranging in age from 5 to 75 that traveled some 35 miles over Cacapon Mountain to Paw Paw.   Brenda also shared about the mountain of goods gathered.  "The room was so filled with items I never brought tears to my eyes," said Brenda.  In addition to pictured here, the crews took building supplies, paint buckets, equipment, lumber, furniture, and more!

Listening to the outcome of the "Mission in Morgan County" at First UM Church and to see another busy mom manage to coordinate such tremendous efforts really restores my belief in this special community.  It shows us that people, regardless of their own hardships and differences, really can "love their neighbor" (see Matthew 22:40).

In closing, please take a sec and listen to this song.  For me, it summed up what happened in Paw Paw this weekend in the "Mission" in Morgan County.  You'll be blessed To Believe... and maybe share God's love.

To Believe "...that we'll see in one another the loving image of You."

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

National Parkinson Foundation Links My PD App Review!

A Review of the Parkinson's Central Smartphone App

Parkinson's Today is a monthly e-newsletter from the National Parkinson's Foundation.  In the September 2013 edition,  the National Parkinson Foundation links a review I posted earlier this summer about their new smartphone app called PARKINSONS CENTRAL.

Needless to say, I'm a little tickled to see this 48-year-old-grey-haried-PD bloggin-hott-mama-of four's post linked on a national publication... especially NPF!  I first learned of this foundation 5 years ago.  We were at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, MD, where Dan (my hotthubby who has PD) participates in a research program.

Since then, I blog stories about living with PD in the Hott House and raising a dynamic family of four (and sometimes more!).  Recently, a reader commented that "Your blog touched me Angie!  Faith, a Positive Attitude, Exercise, and a Strong Family is the 'secret' to beating Parkinson's Disease!  You guys have it all!!!"  

Secret?  Dan always tells me I can't keep a secret.

This time he is right!  ;-)

(To see the e-newsletter, click Parkinson's Today.)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Team Fox Superstar Emerges

"It's not about how fast you run but how you run fast!"

Have you heard this?  Well, actually... maybe not.  You see, in Disney's movie "Planes" they tell Dusty that "it's not how fast you FLY but how you fly FAST!"  LOL!

Check out our new Team Fox Superstar!  Levi Hott, age 8, finished third in his age group at the Morgan County Partnership's  "Run for Recovery 5K" on Sept. 14, 2013.   Who knew he could run fast?  And who knows?...maybe he'll become a marathon runner for Team Fox someday and raise lots of money for Parkinson's Disease research.

Wouldn't that be a cool way to contribute to the cause to find a cure for PD in our lifetime?  It was quite by accident, by the way, that Levi chose to wear his "Team Fox" racing shirt.  But it was no accident that all six Hott's participated in another 5K.

This week, Dan had his five year appointment at Johns Hopkins Hospital where he has been a part of a research program for Parkinson's Disease.  His neurologist, Dr. Zoltan Mari, was wearing a button with the Michael J. Fox Foundation's logo and a phrase "ask me about PD research".

So... I asked!  Wow....  Dr. Mari's enthusiasm was encouraging and hopeful that all their work will lead to progress in finding ways to help those living with this stinking illness.  Most of all, we talked a great deal about the importance of exercise.  With four active kids and busy schedules, it is hard not to keep Dan active.

Dr. Mari told us that "they believe that exercise may slow down or improve the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease" (well... he said something like that!).

Oh yeah!  So... exercise is the secret to beating Parkinson's Disease?  Well, let's get busy, off our butts, and exercise!  Come on!

Actually, Dan stretches and walks quite a bit.  In fact, we often find that when people see Dan they always say "Wow Dan!  You look great!"  I guess what they mean is "...for a 56 year old with Parkinson's Disease."  Well, fact is, he does look great!  (Pretty "hott" actually!)  And with well timed meds like levodopa it is hard to tell he has a chronic neurological problem at all.

An exercise program to help with Parkinson's Symptoms?  Sign us up!  Or, at least sign us up for a local 5K for a fun, family night out!  Makes this 48-year-old-grey-haired-PD bloggin-hott-mama-of-four remember our family's first attempt at running a 5K.  It was 2011 when I signed up my reluctant crew to run at the Morgan County Fair, one of the many days my hotthubby Dan shone as our PD "Superstar".

But move over, Dan!  There are new stars in the house!  LOL!  And, these stars never have to finish first to show how much heart and soul they bring to our crazy race.

I'm proud of our stars every day.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

This Is My Biome, a Minecraft Parody by Isaac (age 9)

The New Earth Granary hosted a parade of local performers to a packed house last night at the Fairfax Coffee House.  Spilling out into the street, musicians, instrumentalist, pianists, vocalists, ventriloquist, story tellers, and a cool mix of guitarist gathered to unite not just in song but also in a unique spirit of community.  As part of the audience, one quickly found that this night was more than just a "talent show"... it was music with a mission!

This 48-year-old-grey-haired-PD bloggin-hott-mama-of-four just loves this special kind of experience!  Not everywhere can you find quality performers with God given talent like you could last night.  I.mean.really!  Where have you EVer been to see a show when an electric guitarist was needed and the emcee yells out the front door to a boy on the sidewalk?  

Well, enters teenager Sam Silver with his instrument who sits in and performs improv with Johnny, drummer Stephan Burns, Aiden McDaniels, and Jim Fredo.  We originally planned to make an exit right after our Isaac performed until we were witness to the musical magic that happened last night.

We stayed!

The New Earth Granary seeks to provide Berkeley Springs with a discovery, a renewal,... yes, an awakening of the seed/gift within each of us, and to "provide an atmosphere where these seeds/gifts can sprout and produce in a relational based economic environment."  Through the power of music, people begin to unite and foster a much needed sense of unity in our unique little town.  

Our Isaac exemplifies how The New Earth Granary works.  As his mom, I knew he was a little piano player from the time he was two.  At the Granary, he continues to "sprout" as a musician right before our eyes.  Kinda cool that Isaac's song says "...this is my biome. It's what I call home."  Hoping to see "The Granary" become a home to musicians of all ages.

Who knew he could (or would) sing?

God did. 

Watch more music "grow" in Berkeley Springs!  The New Earth Granary, located on Mercer Street near MiRanchito's will celebrate its' grand opening on October 19 with more magic on their new stage.  From new pianists like Isaac to seasoned performers (like Pete Gordon), I know you will be blessed by it all.

"Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!  Serve the Lord with gladness!  
Come into his presence with singing."  Psalm 100:1-2

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Oh My, My, My...Miley

Excuse me....  Miley?

Can I tell you something?

This is my little girl, Violet.  For her 8th birthday party in 2008, you came to our house along with 10 other little girls, younger siblings, friends, parents.  Ahhhhhh... just look how sweet!  Notice that Violet is wearing a Hannah Montana shirt too!

For just a moment in time, we were all movie stars.  Each party participant had a paparazzi photo opp complete with glitter, glam, and shades... and you!  Miley Cyrus!

Oh... my, my, my... Miley.

I am sorry to tell you this, Miley, but I am afraid this 48-year-old-grey-haired-PD bloggin-hott-mama-of-four has to ask you to leave.  I'm afraid you are no longer welcome in our house and I will even be sending your Hannah Montana life size cut out to the trash.

You see, although you once were a child Disney star, now you have become a symbol of all things, well,... sinful: a threat to the hearts and minds of my children.  With younger brothers around, your pop star twerking image now at 20 is not something, shall we say... "appropriate" for not just our 13 year old Violet, but also her much younger brothers.

So, I am afraid I have to insist that you leave.

As a parent, I feel rather betrayed. Don't you?

You see... this family spent our hard earned money to further your career.  We bought exorbitant priced concert tickets, purchased a plethora of your "tweeny" clothing line, watched repeated episodes of your show "Hannah Montana", and cluttered our little girl's bedroom with your merchandise.

Our three year old son even rocked around the house singing your songs!

But enough is enough.

No more.  From now on, I really think you owe us all an apology.  Or, maybe Disney does.  When we parents buy into all things "magical" about Disney, one somewhat expects it to remain rated "G", right?  I mean, I surely hope we never see Minnie Mouse disrobing and dancing around on my television.  If Cinderella or Snow White grow up and ever lick a sponge finger on my screen, this house will never EVer spend another cent on anything Disney.

Of course, I understand all about freedom of expression.  Actually, I hate to give this any more attention than it already has received.  But last weeks parade of the VMA awards over and over again on the media was nothing but a blatant raping of all things innocent and youthful.  From Miley's comments on MSNBC, she said "How many times have we seen this play out in pop music?  Madonna's done it, Britney's done it. Every VMA performance."

Sorry, but those artists weren't invited to Violet's birthday party.  You were.

And sadly, the song taunted as "the biggest hit of summer 2013" was a complete surprise to me and the first I  ever heard of "We Can't Stop."  So, after I looked up the definition of "twerking", my curiosity lead me to youtube to check out what the fuss was all about.

"We Can't Stop" was a shocking slap in the face from nothing more than a troubled pop star.  The song belittles and objectifies women, degrades black females, and threatens to desensitize our younger generation to accept this as normal.  I'm sorry to rain on your party, Miley, but this mom will be blocking all things Miley Cyrus from now on.  For now, this mother CAN stop.

So.  This is MY house and we operate under not just MY rules, but God's rules too.  And in all honesty, while I feel the need to protect my children from your current choices, Miley, I also fondly remember the moments a younger artist was welcome in our house.  God not only judges, honey, but He loves you too. I can't imagine how Billy Rae responded to your display; but, I'm sure your heavenly Father's heart broke a little more at what happened last week as He whispered, "Oh my Miley."

For what once was a positive influence in our culture, Miley Cyrus, you are still a child of God.  Even though your current get-up appears otherwise.
Excuse me, can I tell you something?  Looks a little she has horns, doesn't it? 

"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations.” ...  Revelations 17:1-18

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Big Bully Parkinson's Disease Picking on More People

Like Linda Ronstadt!...  Seriously?!  How cruel can this stinking Parkinson's Disease be?  Does it really have to go and steal away a voice like Linda Ronstadt's?  Sometimes, it seriously just pisses me off!

What a bully!  Right?!  "Why you gotta be so mean" Parkinson's Disease?  (to use the words of Taylor Swift).  You've already diminished a strong man like Mohammad Ali.  You've robbed Janet Reno of public service.  And you continue to snatch the youth of those like Michael J. Fox AND my "hotthubby" Dan.

Enough already!

Sure. I get it Michael.  This 48-year-old-grey-haired-PD-bloggin-hott-mama-of-four is "Looking Up" from the depths of PD.  I understand.  I get the premise and appreciate the "blessings" that come with a chronic illness like Parkinson's Disease.  Believe me.  My knees know.

But come on already!  This week's news that Linda Ronstadt has Parkinson's too just magnifies the sheer unjustice and utter unfairness of how a chronic neurodegenerative illness sneaks up on a person and robs them of the very thing they hold dear.

Leave it to a bully to target the unsuspecting.  Come on.  Billy Graham!?  Really!  What did he do to deserve being hit by a bully like Parkinson's Disease!

Come on and hurry up Michael J. Fox Foundation and find us a cure!

The alternative stinks!

"Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; 
They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, 
They will walk and not become weary."  Isiah 40:31


Sunday, August 25, 2013

No Moms Allowed!

At the Daddy Daughter Ball!

Last night, First United Methodist Church was the host to an elegant evening designed just for dads and daughters.  From tiny toddlers to adult daughters, dads arrived to a crowd of cameras on the red carpet in suits, tuxes, fancy dresses and ball gowns.  It.was.beautiful!

So, why then was this 48-year-old-grey-haired-PD-blogging-hott-mama-of-four so blue?  Honestly, I had to swallow back the tears before we even left the house.  Please don't tell anyone this, especially Dan, Violet (and Caity), but as they were preparing for the night, this mom had a bit of a panic attack.

What a nerd, right?  Well, after I finally convinced our basketball playing, hurdle jumping, 400 meter running, cross country training 13 year old to put on a nice dress and wear a corsage of daisies on her wrist, a got hit in the head with a ton brick.

Or maybe it was a boulder.  But, while I was brushing my teeth, I panicked.  What if Violet decides she is just too cool to dance?  What if our teeny bopper would rather hang with her pals than dance with her daddy?

What if tonight was the only night the two had this unique opportunity to dance together?

And I don't get a picture?  Enough, right?  But listen to me.  Just the evening before, Dan and I encountered another young adult in our house.  For the first time EVer, Violet asked to be "dropped" at the movies.  Our local "Star" theater became the middle school Friday night place to go - withOUT parents!

Okay.... so the time is coming. I know. I get it. So, why was my heart swelling in my throat and my eyes stinging?  (I tried my best to hide it all.)  Then, today our 23 year old calls the house after seeing the plethora of pictures poudly presented on facebook.  And she says it:

"These girls will LOVE these pictures when they are planning their weddings!"

So.  Save the pictures parents!  Caity is right.  At 23, she has set her date and is deep in the midst of planning her big day when she walks down the aisle to get married.  For now, Violet is 13.  Dad and I may not be the coolest set of parents out there; but, a looooooooong time ago, he took Caity to her Daddy Daughter Dance too.

And, she found the picture to prove it.

"Excuse me, can I tell you something?"  I panicked.  Sorry to be such a desperate sap; but last night's Daddy Daughter Dance was so much more for this mom, and just maybe you too.  This evening, (which required some pretty careful med planning for Dan) once again, made me appreciate this very day, moment, second, that my heavenly Dad gifts us with - a moment in time - to dance with your daddy.

Thank you, dear Father, for the memories made last night at the ball, and I pray that my girls will get to dance with their daddy at their weddings too.

In the meantime, I have another picture to prove it!  (Thanks Luke!)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Tomorrow is the Daddy Daughter Ball

Yesterday, it was 1996.

A much younger Dan and our "baby" girl Caity are headed to the Brownie's Daddy/Daughter Dance as they practice moves in the kitchen.  Just look at them?!  (Dan's hair is soooo dark!)

Tomorrow, First United Methodist Church is hosting its' premiere Daddy Daughter Ball!  Dads and daughters of all ages will descend on an elegantly decorated "ballroom" filled with cupcakes, a candy bar, a red carpet photo op, and finally... a night families will never forget.

All planned by the dads!  As moms hide in the bushes to sneak snapshots, our Violet will get an entire two hours with her daddy.

With two younger brothers, that doesn't happen every day.  But for one night only, it's just Dan and Violet, where she is his princess for the night.

And he is her knight in shining armor.  Designed for dads to honor their baby girls (and vice verse), affirming their love, the Daddy Daughter Ball is a chance to not just remind but glorify our girls of their worth, beauty, importance, and value -- also from a Father in heaven.

They are not only daddy's little girl; they are also...

... a princess of a King!

"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;..., 
that we may also be glorified together!"  Romans 8:17-19

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How a Bracelet Helps Parkinson's Disease Symptoms When Meds Don't

Diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease depends "upon the presence of one or more of the four most common motor symptoms of the disease."  These primary motor symptoms include a resting tremor, brandykinesia, rigidity, and postural instability.  Medications  to treat these symptoms involve a dopamine replacement therapy with levodopa/carbidopa.  In addition to all the medical treatments, even DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation), I recently was introduced to a unique and simple little "thing"... yes, it's a bracelet!

In Honor of my Mother here is our Survival Paracord Parkinson's braceletAlthough this bright paracord bracelet doesn't have the capabilities to generate dopamine, it does something equally as important:  It sparks a candle in your spirit that will light up the difficult days when Parkinson's Disease seems to get the best of you.  It let's me know that there is someone out there that keeps studying this crazy stinking illness.  The orange Survival Paracord Parkinson's Bracelet stands for this:


Hope for people with Parkinson's.  Hope for organizations like the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the National Parkinson's Foundation that raise money for research; hope for the caring specialists, neurologists, and nurses that treat patients; hope for caregivers to better understand; and... finally, as I see it, hope to seek God's grace during the most difficult struggles as the symptoms progress.

For those days, and there may be many, when the meds just don't seem to do the trick, this little Parkinson's Bracelet symbolizes my prayer for God to wrap himself around this awful illness.  With the MJF Foundation's signature "orange" color, I found the white paracord represents all that ties us together in the Parkinson's (or any) community:  a God that offers us hope in the darkest days, woven around the orange.

Delighted to open my mail yesterday to see a package from Sandy at Jewels for Hope makes me realize just how much I have grown to love the cool "Parkie Pals" I have met by sharing stories with you here on "Excuse me, can I tell you something?"  From the artist Shasha in Wales, Fiona in Ireland, to dear Linda in Florida and writer, Daniel in Minnesota, living with Parkinson's Disease isn't so crazy when I can fire up the laptop and find someone who understands at my fingertips...

and wrapped around my skinny ole freckled wrist!

You know what?  I may never meet Michael J. Fox, Muhammad Ali, or Diane Rehm (I just LOVE her hair!), but this 48-year-old-grey-haired-PD bloggin'-hott-mama-of-four is grateful to all I've met and shared stories online.  Thank you all for inviting me on your computers for a short time to share my

hope.  "Where then is my hope?  Who can see any hope for me?"  Job 17:15

I now see hope on my wrist as I wear my  new bracelet!  Thank you Sandy!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Today My Son Moved Out

...of his little brother's room.

...across the hall!

He's 9.  And tomorrow will be the first day of fifth grade.  This afternoon, our son made a random announcement, "I want to move!... To my own room!"

Really?  Ok... so as I wonder where the fear of noises in the night and of the sound of wind went that prompted him to share a room with his brother 15 months younger, I begin to calculate  how to coordinate such a move with not just clothes, but also all his worldly belongings.

To my surprise, he tells me he really only needs his laptop, earphones, and of course, his Yamaha Keyboard.   Duh Mom!  Right?

Okay.  I know.  So he hasn't technically moved "out of the house" yet.  Sure, we've been through this already with his older sister, now 23 and living on her own.  But as we said our prayers at bedtime this evening in his "new" room, he chatters away about how excited he is to meet  his new teacher, how grown up he feels as a fifth grader, how much he loves his new Minecraft tee shirt from Kohl's,... I am picturing my two little boys that only hours ago shared a bedroom.

The endless hours of Beyblades, clutter of all things boys everywhere, piles of dirty underwear, jumping beds across the room, giggles about fart jokes, episodes of TMNT, and the hysterical nightly naked butt shaking.

From my child that once told us that he planned to go to college online in order to enjoy the comforts of home, kinda makes me wonder what to expect next.  Do you know what I mean?  As moms, we will get all kinds of calls/texts from our children.  Don't we?  Whether it is "Mom! I got all A's," "Mom, I got my best running time!" "Mom, can Ben sleep over?"...  or...  when it gradually becomes...  "Mom!  I met a girl!" "Mom, we finally set a date!"  "Mom... my boyfriend crashed my car.  We're ok!"  "Mom... can you pick me up early?"  to, eventually things like "Mom... I joined the military; I'm moving to Chicago; I need a loan; I'm pregnant..."

It all starts with a move across the hall.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."  Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Review of "Not Of This World" by Lisa Chan from this 48-Year-Old-Grey-Haired-Hott-Mama-of-Four

Lisa Chan, wife of Frances Chan (author of one of my favorite books, Crazy Love), returns for the third installment of her True Beauty Films, "Not of This World".  

Following "Be Still" and "Deny Yourself", this final video "invites women into an authentic conversation about God's Word."  Lisa weaves her teaching with scripture intertwined with the real life story of another woman's hardships and struggles.

Here is what I liked about "Not of This World":
* Practical Scripture - Lisa beautifully backs up every point she makes with Biblical scripture.  She offers key points from His word to encourage us to live a life in Christ.

*  Personal Reflection Guide - "Not of This World" offers a unique booklet with scripture and thought provoking questions.  It is eye catching and artistic in its' presention; leaving room for personal input and reflection.

*  Personal Story - An incarcerated husband, a mom reveals her path from the depths of sin to salvation.  Lisa melts the story of a young mother with a toddler and, while nine months pregnant, encounters loud knocks as the police take away her husband.  Be sure to watch the "Back Story," which puts it all together.

"Not of This World" is beautiful.  It is eloquent, artistic, and clever; filled with warmth and emotion, providing a direct connection to the love of Jesus.  The answers are all there.  So, why have I been edgy all day after viewing Lisa's final "True Beauty" film?

Here's what I think happened.  You see, when you watch "Not of This World" as well as Lisa Chan's other films, you will see beautiful people in lovely surroundings.  The moms, no matter what struggles they encountered, are dressed to the hilt in perfect hair and make-up, in neat organized surroundings or striking outdoor settings.

Since I am human, what do I do?  Well.... I start comparing.  Like in the title, I am a barely five feet tall, freckled-faced, five pounds heavier, chaotic household, Parkinson's blogging, 48-year-old-grey-haired-(not-so)-hott-mama-of-four!  I haven't experienced incarceration, abuse, or poverty.  I am stuck in this world with school shopping, sports activities, piano lessons, grocery shopping.  Where, exactly, can I relate to Lisa's "True Beauty" series?  Tell me.

Then it struck me.  God thinks I am beautiful.

Interested?  Just let me know and I will include you in a drawing for a free copy of "Not of This World" from David C. Cook or click here to purchase your copy.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Review of PARKINSON'S CENTRAL - A Smartphone App for Parkinson's Disease

Not long ago, I learned that the National Parkinson Foundation was releasing an app for Parkinson's Disease.  "Seriously?" I thought..., "There's an app for that?"  Diagnosed five years ago with a young family, we discovered that my "hott-hubby" Dan would have to live with this neuro-degenerative disease for which there is no cure.

I have to admit that this whole world of smartphone apps somewhat mystifies me; so, how can the National Parkinson Foundation come up with something that can really help people with Parkinson's?  This 48-year-old-grey-haired-Hott-mama-of-four has troubles operating my Samsung Galaxy Note much less loading AND using an app for Parkinson's Disease.

"PD" belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders, which are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells.  Symptoms include tremor, rigidity, or stiffness of the limbs, brandykinesia (slowness of movement) and impaired balance. As these symptoms become more pronounced, patients may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks, according to the National Institute of Health.  Considering the physical challenges of PD, how will patients be able to successfully operate a new smartphone app?

Not only that, but what about the technically challenged healthy folks out there like me!?  My kids (ages 8 - 23) taught me that there is an app for just about everything!  For example, when we visited Universal Studios, they all had apps to learn the wait times for everything from roller-coaster rides, the Minion Mayhem, to Hogwarts!  When I recently ventured to a One Direction concert with Violet, our 13 year old daughter, Caity, now 23, loaded an app on my phone to help us maneuver around the metro in Washington, DC.  I have even seen her use her smartphone app to by coffee at Starbucks.  Golly!

So, after Violet loaded PARKINSON'S CENTRAL, "a free, easy-to-use smartphone app that people with Parkinson's and their caregivers can use to access Parkinson's-related information wherever and whenever they need it", I began a journey of discovery on new telemedical adventure.  Here's what I learned:

*  It's is NOT hard to use!  Once I overcame my clumsiness with something new, I found myself breezing through the tabs on PARKINSON'S CENTRAL and learning useful tips for both patients and caregivers!

*  The format design is colorful and creative!  You know, there is so much information available online these days that sometimes it all seems to be one big mumble-jumble for me.  PARKINSON'S CENTRAL is cleverly designed with eye-catching tabs that effortlessly steer you around the app.

*  The information is current and applicable!  Whether you are recently diagnosed or have been living with this crazy chronic illness for years, PARKINSON'S CENTRAL introduces relevant and informative medical advice for patients at ALL stages of PD.

In conclusion, I know you must be thinking it.  Go on and admit it!  I was.  So hear goes:  How exactly does the National Parkinson's Foundation expect patients, with tremors and other physical challenges, to operate this new app, PARKINSON'S CENTRAL?  Manipulating their way around a hand held smart phone is sure to be a difficult task for many patients with PD, especially those who can sometimes find it difficult to button a blouse or buckle a belt.  Hopefully, a PD patient will find this new app available when their meds are "on" or a patient caregiver nearby.

Hummmmmm....  maybe someday a true smartphone will project an app that won't require specific hand/eye coordination.  Wouldn't that be cool? Rather than requiring a PD patient to use a shaking finger to drive around the PARKINSON'S CENTRAL app, maybe some sort of phone projection could easily be swiped in the air, somewhat like you see in the crime lab at Hawaii 5-0.  Hey, and while I'm at it, what about a sensor that will recognize the soft spoken Parkie out there?  Maybe someday our iPhones will have Nurse Siri to "tune" into the questions and difficult speech patterns of PD patients.

If my kid's Kinnect game can see them play games, judge performance, or race Mario with kids around the world, could a smartphone app detect a PD patients severity of symptoms, medical needs, tremors, weakened muscles, stiff limbs, shuffled gait, physical challenges, soft voice?  If Wii Fit can challenge ones balance skills in Yoga, why not?!  Imagine technology where a PWP can stand in front of a monitor in a remote location like the West Virginia hills and be examined by a neurologist around the world.  Kinda reminds me of Kinnect's DANCE CENTRAL of today becoming the PARKINSON'S CENTRAL of tomorrow.

But, that's for another time, I guess.

Until then, give your PARKINSON'S CENTRAL app a try and let me know what you think!

A Video Birthday Card

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What Makes Me Proud?

Violet, our 13 year old daughter, and her friend Stephanie do!  Here are two teenagers who had a blast at The Amazing Race for Jenna's Joy Foundation yesterday AND raised money to help children with invisible illnesses.  A rainy, wet, day turned to a memorable event as The Algebros, the youngest of 12 teams came home with a third place win for all their hard work.

It was fun watching their teamwork as they met many challenges in The Amazing Race.  I'm sure these two are up to many more!  Teams earned points for costumes, facebook fan pages, routines, and meeting physical and mental challenges which cleverly incorporated the history and community of Berkeley Springs!

Here are "the fans" and even Ozzie came to cheer! Thanks to everyone for all your help coming out to support children with illness AND the Algebros.  It truely is nice to see how our local businesses also came together, even the Martinsburg Journal featured highlights of the amazing fun!

I am proud of these gals AND to be a part of a community that cares!  How about you?  For children (and adults) with invisible illness, each day can feel like a race.  Please continue to pray for them all!

"Let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us"  Hebrews 12:1.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Worst Mob by the Minecraft Maniacs

From Hott Mountain to Hollywood, three boys making a movie on a summer day!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Radiation Exposure Could Have Caused Parkinson's

While advocating for Parkinson's Disease to be included in the Veterans Administration determination for benefits for military personnel with traumatic brain injuries, I attempted to reach out to people across the country.

Meet Daniel Vance.

"Since 2002, (his) weekly column "Disabilities" has been published in more than 260 newspapers throughout the United States and been the nations's best-read weekly column about people with disabilities."

This week, Mr. Vance talks about our story in Radiation Exposure Could Have Caused Parkinson's.

Thanks for listening.  Keep on Praying.

"Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,
 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint 
but rather be healed."  Hebrews 12:12-13

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Summer Camp, When Is Your Child "Old Enough"?

During the summer of 1971, I spent my first week away at Summer Camp.  I was the ripe ole age of six and traveled the 40 minutes, or so, up the mountain and across another state (Maryland) to Bread of Life Camp.

It felt like I was on another planet for eternity.

But I was hooked!  Every summer, mom found some sort of camp to ship me off to for at least a week...or more!  From church camp, 4H Camp, show choir camp, student government, to a two week saxophone camp, we always found something crazy to do.

And I LOVED it!  In fact, I found myself returning to the Lion's Club Youth Leadership Camp in Parsons, WV, to be a "C.I.T." or Counselor in Training.  Now, that was a ride to the far reaches of the universe. 

I didn't want to come back.

Why?  Well, maybe it was the cute boys... I'm not so sure, but at any rate, I loved going to summer camp.  

Now, this almost 48 year old "grey-haired-hott-mama-of-four" has finally shipped off her final two to summer camp.  Our boys, Isaac and Levi, at 8 and 9 years old have just completed their first summer camp experience at Hagerstown Community College for Kids! Lego "WeDo Robotics!" for a week. 

And they LOVED it!  Levi's freckles shine when he talks about his Levi's Lego Spacecraft.  And, they are already talking about what they can do next summer! 

 I guess I waited longer than my mom did to send my boys to even what was a day camp.  And, you know what?  I still don't know if they would be ready to be away from home for an entire week of Summer Camp. Kinda gets me thinking, how do you know when your child is "old enough"?   

Saturday, June 22, 2013

"It's Not Complicated!"

Kids have all the answers!  Especially these Mini Power Campers this week at FCA Sports Camp!  Check out AT&T Dan and his friends.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

Early on the morning of May 25, 1958, two crazy kids from opposite sides of the Potomac River had a plan.

Escaping from the second story window of her home across from the Park-n-Dine in Hancock, MD, Mary Margaret Daniels descended a ladder in the dark of night to meet a young man from Berkeley Springs, WV, Bobbie D. McBee.  With the help of her older sister, Ettie Jane, Bobbie and Mary quietly departed to Cumberland, MD.

Barely sunrise, the two woke up a Justice of the Peace who joined these two love birds on what is now a fifty-five year journey.  Later on the day of May 25th, 1958, the two enjoyed their first meal as husband and wife.

At a truck stop!  Sound romantic?  You bet it is!  Roast turkey, french fries and mashed potatoes will never be the same.

Niether are the three children, 10 grandchildren, and one great-grandson...  Bobbie and Mary remain settled not far from the house on the hill.

Nestled along Sleepy Creek near Berkeley Springs, the two established "McBee's Landing" where you'll find them today... celebrating 55 years of marriage!

"A wife of noble character is her husband's crown..."  Proverbs 12:4

Friday, May 24, 2013

Remembering "D" Day


No, I'm actually not referring to the day of the climactic battle of World War II,  June 6, 1944, which certainly changed the course of events for our world, didn't it?  It was the day the Allies invaded Normandy from England.  In fact, Dan's Uncle Bub was one of the soldiers to be a part of his historical event, a time of unmatched significance in his as well as other's lives around the globe.

D-Day.  For me, I have yet another unmatched significance for the term "D-Day."

Diagnosis Day.  Do you remember the day you were diagnosed?  The day your doctor, neurologist, oncologist told you "the" news?  Was it a day to change your life forever?  Just as D-Day on June 6th was a turning point, Diagnosis Day represents the day that changed my life,...


I even refer to normal every day events to what was happening for us "before" and "after" the D-Day.  Somewhat like AD for Anno Domini and BC for Before Christ; except when relevant to a medical diagnosis, life becomes "BD and AD".  Before was when we were raising a family, dreaming of our futures, never imagining having to live with "it".  After, we have rearranged everything from daily routines to even the structure of our home to accommodate the "d".

But you know what?!  After "D-Day", we have come to cherish each new day when God tells me "Excuse me, can I tell you something?"  He says, "you are as healthy as you are today.  This very moment. So, go out and celebrate what you have right now.  Enjoy My blessings.  Share it."

Although at times I struggle to thank God for everything, I will always remember the day a neurologist diagnosed Dan with Parkinson's Disease.  And like this picture, some days are a battle.

But, all days are a blessing.

Even "D-Day"...  May 16, 2008.  Hard to believe it has been five years.  What is your "d" day?

"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22

Friday, May 10, 2013

Our Mother's Day Crowns

"Gray hair is a crown of glory; 
it is gained by living a godly life." Proverbs 16:31
Here is this then 46-year-old-gray-haired-hott-mama-of-four with her 71 year-old-grayer-mom/grandma-of nine for 2012 Mother's Day! I think I'm almost as gray as mom!  That's.just.not.fair!

This year, mom and I will return to Maria's Garden and Inn in Berkeley Springs to celebrate Mother's Day with some very special people.  I.can't.wait!  Then.... it's off to Levi's soccer game!

The queens will be wearing their crowns to the field!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"Epicly Awesome" Moms

For all you "epicly awesome" moms out there, Happy Mother's Day! May you all feel as celebrated and appreciated as I was last night when Levi presented me with the attached flowers which say:
"To my epicly awesome MOM! Love, Levi"

He declared last weekend's game of Capture the Flag to be "EPIC!"  Now, well... it seems this 47-year-old-grey-haired-hott-mama-of-four is also "epic"!  Cool, eh?

And, here is my traditional annual Mother's Day post called "Dear Mom:".  They don't stay little for long, that's for sure!

"Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."  Proverbs 31:28