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Preview: Blessed with Raising Two Divas

Blessed with Raising Two Divas

Updated: 2014-10-06T18:49:38.572-07:00


My First Ten Days


I have had the opportunity to have a life changing experience happen to me, but at the last minute, that life changing experience was pushed away for another one. My family and I were packing our house, put it on the market, and were getting ready to move to Denver, CO, so I could attend Regis University. It is an amazing school that made me feel welcomed and accepted with many programs based on the Jesuit tradition, but their pharmacy program has yet to have a graduating class (but they will soon enough). And, we would all have to move to Denver, and our girls are well established in their schools, school programs, and their dance classes. Saturday July 23rd was our big day to pack boxes, empty rooms, and clean the garage. But, Friday morning I received a call from Shane at Creighton University telling me that I was taken from the alternate pool and accepted in their distant program. That means I have to travel to Omaha, NE, for two weeks each year, but I get to take my classes online from home. After we talked and he congratulated me (and I ensured him that I would make it to Omaha, NE, by Monday morning), he put me on the phone with Mackenzie (Director of Admissions), and explained everything that I needed to do before Monday (and I ensured her that I would make it to Omaha, NE, by Monday morning). They were both so welcoming and excited for me, that getting accepted was almost the second best feeling I had (almost). I was also given personal cell phone numbers so I could call and text questions or concerns throughout the weekend.So, what does this mean? I found out Friday morning and approximately 12 hours later, I was in my minivan (no more bug driving across the country this time - see this), and 2 days later (27 hours of driving), I was standing on Creighton's campus - soaking in all the sun and the heat and the humidity. So I found AC as fast as I could, because I came from overcast and 65 degrees. By the time I got on campus, I had a room and a roommate ready for me.When Monday morning rolled around, I had a name tag (not as cool as the one I now have but they had one for me), a binder with all the information I needed for the two weeks, and lots of peopled happy to see me. Mackenzie came over to me and congratulated me again and helped me with any questions I had. I have had interviews at three different pharmacy schools and have visited three others, and none of them compare (well, Regis was close) to the acceptance and warmth you feel when you walk into Welcome Week (or the interviews for that matter). During Welcome Week, we heard from all the different people that it takes to make the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions (SPAHP) run smoothly. One group that we met was OASA (Office of Accedemic and Student Affairs), and if you're super nice (OK, even if you're not super), they will give you one of their little Blue Dudes. I'm super, super nice, so they gave me two.We also heard from our Chaplin, and she is an amazing lady. I was able to talk with her one-on-one about our girls and some of the lingering problems from their prematurity they have, and she was so supportive and wonderful about the whole situation. She talked with the whole group about the Jesuit belief and the Ignation Values the SPAHP has adapted:Finding God in All ThingsCura Personalis - Care for the whole personMagis - More or the greater goodMen and Women For and With OthersFaith That Does Justice On Wednesday, we took these Ignation Values taught us and used them in our Service Project. My group volunteered at the Open Door Mission, and I had the most amazing day. The people I volunteered with are amazing people from all over the country, and the people at the Open Door Mission have done so much good for the community of Omaha, NE, and breaking the cycle of homelessness.Later that day, we had our professionalism ceremony at St. John's Church on Creighton's campus, and it is absolutely beautiful! And here is another amazing act displayed by the staff at Creighton to make me feel welcomed. All the programs for the professionalism ceremon[...]

Creighton University Here I Come!


Ok, so I haven't posted in a while, but life has been stressful! The kind of stress where you pull out your hair, gain or loose so much weight it's unhealthy, spend sleepless nights watching stupid infomercials cause there is nothing else on and you've seen everything on On-Demand, and where everything everybody says just rubs you the wrong way for no reason at all. Yeah, I've had that kind of stress. First, let's review: Last year I was wait-listed at Creighton University but was first on the list, and I was told that every year somebody drops out. Guess what, nobody did. So I had to wait another year, apply to several colleges again, and wait for interviews. I applied to University of Arizona (wait-listed), Regis University (accepted), and Creighton University (wait-listed). So we were praying that I would get into Creighton because it is an online program, and we could stay at home, the kids could stay in their schools, and we wouldn't have to move. We waited to hear from Creighton about the wait-list. And waited... So I called and asked questions, and I called and reminded them why I would be a good choice, and I called to tell them to pick me! Anyway, to make a long story short, I was somewhere around the eighth person on the wait-list (no chance right). We put our house on the market, we cleaned out all the stuff that cluttered the house, and we started packing. The week before Welcome Week at Creighton I called again, and I was told on Tuesday, "There is not much of a chance for you to be picked off the wait-list. If I were you, I would plan on moving to Denver and go to the school that accepted you." The comment wasn't cold or malicious, it was said so I wouldn't have any false hopes about getting in. I mean, look what happened last year, so why did I think I would ever get in.Then I started saying and texting a two-word phrase to my wife, "Mustard Seed." It comes from Matthew 17:20, and the scripture goes like this: He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." The last time I said that to Allison was when Madison was in the hospital and we didn't think she was going to make it and were planning on taking her off of the ventilator, but we told everybody that we wanted to the night so our pastor could be there. Allison's mom asked me if there was anything we could do, and I simply replied, "Have faith," and continued walking down the hallway. I remember that night talking with Allison, and I said that if having the faith of a mustard seed can move a mountain, it can definitely heal a lung that tiny."Mustard Seed" (Picture courtesy of Joanna Willis's blog: I digress. Tuesday I was told I had no hope, so we started kicking it into high gear to prepare our move from Washington state to Colorado. Friday morning I woke up with a full morning of errands and things I needed to get done for Regis, and then I was leaving for work at 11 am. My phone rang sometime between 8:30-9:00 (it's all really a blur now), but I didn't run up the stairs fast enough to answer the phone. Voicemail. Fine, I guess I'll listen to the voicemail now. I did. Then I freaked out! Then I replayed it on speaker for Allison, and she yelled at me, "Call him back you idiot! I don't need to hear the rest of the message!" Basically the message went as followed, "Gregg... Well, I guess I'm a liar, because I told you you had no chance of getting in, but here I am calling you with a one hour deadline to return my call..." (That's when Allison called me an idiot - and rightly so). To make this not so short story not so long, I was in my car about 12 hours later driving the 1,800+ miles from my house to Creighton University in Omaha, NE, for a Welcome Week and a week of labs. So, I am sitting in my living quarters (actually not too bad) wait[...]

My Interview at Creighton University


A sign on one of the buildings on campusMy long awaited invitation for an interview at Creighton University School of Pharmacy was finally sent to me, and, as you all remember last year's trip to and from Omaha, NE, the trip was once again eventful. This year, I traveled to my interview alone, and Allison, Madison, and Emma stayed at home to work and go to school. As of yet, I haven't been pulled over by a police officer 90 miles from my house, but I have had some adventures in South Dakota.This is when I turned west into South Dakota and started entering a stormFirst, I want to talk about my interview and the program at Creighton. I think my interview went very well, and I really enjoyed talking with the two people that interviewed me. I love the program, and it would allow my family and me to stay home because it's online except for two weeks a year.Second, I'm stuck in Rapid City, SD. View of Rapid City and maybe all the way to IowaThe trip was going so well, and I was making great time on my way home. But, the car broke down 180 miles outside of Rapid City, and I called AAA (thank you Jesus that we have 100 miles of free towing). My plan was to be towed to Wall, SD (famous for Wall Drug), find nobody to fix my car, and then get towed to Rapid City. The Tow to Wall was 116 miles, costing me $70 for the extra 16 miles, and then I was towed to Rapid City. This is the view from my car after an electrical storm passed overhead sending lighting strikes just to the south of me.The exciting part of this story is, the tow truck driver in Presha, SD, didn't want to drive all the way to Wall, let alone Rapid City, so when AAA got hold of him, he said he didn't want to get into trouble doing a piggy-back tow so he just wasn't showing up. I wanted four hours before AAA got back to me after my many calls to have me clarify. "If somebody in Wall can fix my car, I'm staying in Wall, but if there isn't, I need to be towed to Rapid City." The AAA guy apologized for the delay and called up Mike of Mike's Towing. So after FIVE HOURS, Mike shows up and asks me why Tony (the Presha tow truck driver) didn't pick me up, I explained. He said that he doubted that was the reason cause no more than 100 feet from my location sat Tony.This became my study area for my current online classWell, long story short, I made it to Rapid City Saturday morning at 3:30 a.m. It is now Tuesday, and my car should be fixed by 5:30 p.m. I have no idea where the rest of this journey will take me, but it would be great to have a phone call waiting for me at home telling me I have been accepted into Creighton. Until then, I want to thank all the people that have helped me through this difficult time, I want to thank my family for being so patient as I slowly make it home, and I want to thank God that I am safe and surrounded by so many people that are willing to help.Gregg[...]

A Saturday Family Walk


Last weekend Allison, Madison, Emma, and I drove to Fairhaven and parked our new Green Bug and walked from Fairhaven to Boulevard Park via the boardwalk over the edge of the bay. We started on a gravel path that had apartments on one side and blackberry bushes on the other.Once the gravel path ends, we found this old barn with a view of the bay in the background. This is where we had lots of our family pictures taken this past fall.Just a short distant from the barn we found the start of the boardwalk heading down to the water starting high above on the shore.Heading down the boardwalk, we found many seats, one of which was occupied by Emma Mae.Here is just one of many great views from the boardwalk looking at the beach where the train travels from Vancouver to Seattle.There are several different beaches that you can see from the boardwalk, and some of the beaches have large rock with sad faces scratched onto their surface.Once we made it to Boulevard Park, we got a coffee or a treat from Woods Coffee and then off to the playground. It's a big pirate ship with a ladder, a slide, and lots of room to run.And from the top of the pirate ship, you have a fabulous view of the bay and all the islands.After the park, we walked back to Fairhaven where the kids hung out with Dirty Dan and ran around the on the grass.After the girls ran around the Village Green, we went in to Village Books where we had tons of fun looking through books. It was a fun day hanging with the family down by the bay.[...]

Native American History


After months of studying Native American History, Madison, her classmates, and the entire third grade class at Irene Reither Primary School were able to display what they learned through their artwork, pottery, and a big project on poster board. The third graders were also responsible to give an oral speech in front of their classmates sometime during the week, and Madison practiced for days to get each fact correct and word in the right place. So from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m., Emma and I were able to walk with Madison from her classroom to all the other third grade classrooms in the school, and to prevent traffic jams of third graders, parents, and their siblings, we got to walk outside from one class to another, then walk inside, and then outside again. The picture above is Emma peeking around the corner telling me to hurry up.Madison's favorite part of Native American History was the pottery made by the Southwest Desert Indian women. The pottery made and painted by the women and taught to the girls, and the women also made the necklaces for the tribe that was passed from generation to generation. It was one of the greatest responsibilities any of the women had in any of the tribes, plus, she got to make her own piece of pottery and paint it.Madison learned that buckskins were used by Native Americans for artwork. The third graders were given legends with simplistic pictures used by Native Americans to tell stories or pass along messages, and then the teachers burned the edges of the paper to give it an authentic buckskin look.In one of the classrooms, Madison and Emma found a bed with a Native American blanket on it. Many of the kids stood around the bed and talked about the patterns and colors found in the blanket.After about 45 minutes, Madison, Emma, Madison's class, and I made it back around to her classroom, and we then discussed all the different projects we saw in all the different classrooms. Both Emma and Madison loved the pottery, especially one of the students made a smaller matching bowl to accompany the regular sized bowl all the kids made.Madison did a great job on her project, pottery, artwork, and speech, and we all had a great time walking from classroom to classroom discussing all the different projects the students presented and how the different Native American groups differed from one another.Gregg[...]

Preemie Stats


I have wanted to write a book about our first two months in the NICU with Madison, but every time I start writing about her birth, I start crying. Thinking about how small and fragile she was breaks my heart, but seeing her now almost ten years old and healthy has warmed my spirit enough to actually get a little serious about writing. Truth is, I believe that Allison will be the only one that reads the book, but I want to write it anyway. If it does get out there for others to read, then hopefully it helps or encourages others. As I started looking into some information about Madison's birth, I found her measurements and other information at and around birth. So, here they are:

Weight: 0.628 kg (1 lb 6 oz)
Length: 30.5 cm (12.2 inches)
Number of Diagnoses by discharge: 28
Number of Surgeries: 1 (laser eye surgery to correct ROP)
Number of Chest Tubes: 2 (both in left lung at the same time)
Oxygen Assistance through 1st birthday
Respiratory Distress Syndrome
Chronic Lung Disease
Failure to Thrive
Synagis given as RSV immunoprophylaxis
Blood Transfusions (NINE TIMES)
8-9 rounds of antibiotics or antivirals (some overlap with others hard to keep straight)

Most of this happened by three months of age. Once again, I find it hard to write, but I'm hoping by writing this on the blog I will find the strength to express our experiences while in the NICU at Swedish Hospital.

A New Car?


(image) GREEN ONE!

Well, green-ish. So Emma has taken notice of all those VW commercials and insists on playing Slug Bug (without the slugging) every time we climb into the car. So we play and have lots of fun, but when I wrecked the VW Passat Wagon, Emma said immediately, "So, let's get a Bug car." I laughed and thought never in a million years will we ever buy a Bug car.

I later told Allison what Emma said to me about the Bug car, and Emma piped up what a good idea she had about getting a Bug car. Allison looked at Emma. Then, Allison looked at me. She then said, "That is a great idea Emma! Do you realize how cute we will all be driving down the road in a Bug?" I'm thinking that I'm fighting a loosing battle, but we were picking up Madison from school soon, and she will take my side. When we picked her up and she got in the van, Emma blurted out, "Madison, we're getting a Bug car!"

To make everybody happy, I made the comment, which I thought would win the battle for me, "We will go test drive a Bug car to see if Daddy even fits in one." For those of you that don't know me, I'm a 6'3" 300 pound man with big, broad shoulders. I tried to fit in a VW Jetta once, but I was way too big. I thought that the Bug car would be similar in size, so I thought we would never talk about a Bug car again. We made our way to a local dealership to find a Bug car on the lot, so we ask to test drive it. I started laughing at the thought of possibly getting stuck in the car (it's happened before) as I sit down. I'm sure Allison was laughing at the look on my face as I looked all around trying to figure out where all that room was coming from. I was shocked! It has as much or more room than my recently deceased VW Passat. So...

I lost the battle. So for a week or so we have search all over the internet, talked with the professionals about the differences Bug cars can have, and we test drove many different Bug cars all over the county. The picture above is a Green(ish) 2001 VW New Bettle 2.0 Liter engine with automatic transmission and leather, heated seats. It is getting one final inspection at the shop to make sure everything is in order, and then we will pick it up Tuesday or Wednesday when it will be officially part of our family.


Waiting for an Invitation from Creigton University


If you count today, there is only TEN days left until the final interview at Creighton University's School of Pharmacy. Last year, I was interviewed and placed NUMBER ONE in the alternate pool, and I was told to pack my bags and be prepared to leave last minute for Omaha, NE. You can read some of my older post about our adventure driving to and from Omaha, including getting pulled over by a police office and driving through a dozen snow storms in May. It was a good crazy time, but I didn't get into Creighton last year.I called the school today, and I was informed that a round of denial letters were mailed out last Monday and again yesterday, but I was not one of the people mailed one of those letters. "When are the invitations being sent to the applicants," I asked. "There is only ten days left before the final interview date." I was informed that all decisions are being made this week and will hopefully be sent out later today, tomorrow, but no later than Friday.I wanted to yell at the lady giving me this information, and I'm sure my boss is right there with me. Giving two weeks notice that you will miss a week of work to go interview is pushing it, but now I will have to give my boss a week notice or less.Creighton's School of Pharmacy is an amazing program, but I am having some difficulty with possibly such a late notice about an interview. I was recently reading Sasha's Blog, and I was reminded about the perfection of God's timing. I don't know what His timing is for my family and me or where we will live (Denver is a possibility), but I need to have faith in His plan. For example, you never know how important three months is until your baby is born three months early, spends almost six months in the NICU, almost died dozens of times, but you know God's timing is perfect. All that stress, all that money (much of it still owed), and all those miles and hours driving 100 miles from our house to the hospital all happened because God's timing is perfect. Because his timing is perfect, we met amazing nurses (one of whom now lives in our town and whom we see from time to time - plus, she was our favorite by far), doctors, and staff, we met some amazing parents, a brand new procedure was performed on Madison that saved her life and many babies after her due to its success (including a baby boy that shared the NICU room with his twin sister and Madison and after looking at how healthy Madison was after the procedure, his parents said, "Of course you can do the procedure," not knowing how close their son was to dying or how dangerous the procedure is to perform), and our faith grew and became rock solid. Over the past ten years, our faith has helped us through so many difficult times, including another baby born premature that spent 3 months in the NICU, my declining and recovering health, and now my schooling situation. Going to school last year would have been great, but we know not what God has planned for us or where we will be in the near and distant future. That faith that was strengthened so many years ago is helping us during these unknown times.I need to say at least one more thing in this post; the unknown that we are experiencing about which school will I attend or in which city will we live is nothing compared to the unknown the people in Japan are experiencing right now. My thoughts and prayers reach out to them as their unknowns are about survival. My unknown is wondering where I will be living next year but knowing that I will be in a house with my family that is in a city that has no damage. The people in northern Japan don't know if their spouse or child or parent is alive, can they survive another night in the rubble as snow falls on them again, or will there be enough food to feed their family today, tomorrow, or next week. I ask that as your thoughts and prayers are extended to my family and me, ple[...]

The Mysterious Phone Call


(image) When I was getting my hair cut at Great Clips about two weeks ago, something funny happened. For those of you that know me well, I tend to preface my stories with a little background, and I will not only do that here, I will do it twice. First, I find many things in life funny, and I therefore laugh easily. Second, I am reminded of an Adam Sandler audio skit where he plays an old man answering a prank phone call from some young boy played by an actor named Steve Koren. When Sandler answers the phone, the boys say something prank-ish and hang up. The next five minutes or so is Sandler talking to a dead line with lines like, "Hullo." "Who is this?!" "For God's sake. Answer me!"

So, with those two things said, here is my story from Great Clips:

When I am seated at my chair, an elderly gentleman walks in, checks in, and sits down. About two minutes later, the Great Clips' phone rings. That's right, the store phone rings. The lady cutting my hair starts to walk to the front of the store to answer the phone. After the first ring, the old man grabs his cell phone, puts it to his ear, and says, "Hullo. Who's this? Hullo! Answer me! Who's this?!" The phone rings again, "Damn phone! How do I answer this thing?!" He puts the phone to his ear again as the lady cutting my hair starts walking slower. "Hullo. Hullo! I can't hear a damn thing! Speak up! For God's sake. Answer me!" The phone rings again. "How the HELL does this thing work?! Hullo! I can't hear you! Speak up! Hullo!"

"Thank you for calling Great Clips, how may I help you," says the lady who is cutting my hair.

"Ain't that damn embarrassing," says the old man. "It was the store's phone the whole time." He then picked up his magazine and started reading like nothing happened. The lady walked back to my chair quietly laughing and said, "I just couldn't help myself."

Total Loss


Tuesday morning was a little different than our usual morning, even before the above picture happened. Our babysitter was generous enough to take Emma Monday overnight, and she brought her back Tuesday morning. So we got completely ready even before Emma got home, and as many of you know, Emma is loud and bouncy. So our morning was much quieter than normal, but once she was home, Madison, Emma, and I left for school.On the way to school, I practice Madison's spelling words with her, and when she finishes spelling all the words from her list, we all get to listen to music. So as we head north on a road near our house, I ask Madison for her spelling list, and she informs me that she received one from her teacher but she doesn't have it anymore. Just to give you a little background on this road we are traveling, it is straight for most of the trip with a few driveways along the way. After about a quarter mile on this road is when I asked Madison for her spelling list, when she doesn't have it, I turn to look at her and ask her why. She then yelled, "DAD!"I turned just in time to slam on my brakes to reduce the impact my car made on the stopped car. The truck in front of the car I hit was turning left onto a seldom used gravel driveway. In fact, after years of driving this road, I have never seen a car turn into or out of this driveway. I have never, ever seen a parked car or truck in this driveway that doesn't even have a house belonging to it. No excuse but come on! The girls cried, especially Emma. When we all calmed down, we all ended up to be fine. The girls are sore, and my neck and back are killing me and giving me a nasty headache. When I talked with my insurance company's appraiser, he said that the structural damage is bad enough that the car is a, "Total loss." He didn't even spend any time looking at the engine, but I guess there is no point at that time. The car had 170,000 miles on it and took us across the country, but I'm going to miss it. It has driven me to endless classes, but it won't drive me to pharmacy school. I have driven tens of thousands of miles to and from work but never as a pharmacist. The car treated me very well, and we will all miss it. Now that it's gone and Emma's tears have dried, she is trying to convince me to buy a yellow Bug. Now it looks like I'm outnumbered as Allison and Madison have joined Emma's side, but the biggest problem getting a Bug, I don't fit inside. When we emptied my VW of all its contents, I ended up with this small box of stuff, and the first aide kit took up most of the space. Thank goodness nobody was really hurt from the accident, and I am especially thankful for the great police officer that wrote me a ticket for not paying attention while driving (seriously, he was great with the kids and the whole situation), the fire fighters, and the EMTs. Everybody was fabulous with the girls and really calmed everybody down.[...]

Born Too Soon


I wrote this poem when Madison was in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at Swedish Hospital sometime when she was about ten weeks old. For those of you that don't know, Madison was born around 27 weeks gestation at 1 lb 6 oz. Her lungs just starting to flutter and not yet able to breathe on her own, and nurses and doctors were doing everything they can to save her life just minutes after she is born. This poem is about the day Madison was born, and I followed Madison to the NICU from the delivery room after Allison had an emergency Caesarian. I hope you enjoy the poem about my first hour or so with Madison.

Born Too Soon

Little Miracle born too soon, so small on the table
Three nurses working on you
They stuff a tube down your throat
Don't worry Honey, it's to help you breathe
So fragile, I can't pick you up
To hold you or kiss you
Your skin is transparent
I can see all your insides
You're not expected to make it
No worries, I've been talking with the Man upstairs
You look up to me
Weighed down with tubes and wires
Your gaze warms me with the love you give
You're just happy to be out
Sharing a special private moment with your Daddy
Even though the hospital is bustling about
That bond we share will never be broken
Because the love we share is eternal
And because of God's mercy and your hard work
We'll share our lifetime together




Many of us have been affected by cancer in one way or another, and many of us affected have lost loved ones to this horrible disease. In a six to seven month period a few years ago, we lost half a dozen friends and family members to cancer, including Allison's birth dad. I still have people that approach me in the pharmacy that recognize me as Allison's husband and stop to talk with me about Tony and how he positively impacted their lives. His three girls and seven grandchildren will carry on his legacy and will share their memories of him, but what happens when the person that get cancer is a child. In the year 2010, approximately 10,700 children under the age of 15 in the United States were diagnosed with cancer, and about 1,340 of those children will die within 5 years. That's better than 80% survival rate, but it is still not good enough. Those numbers are far better than in the 1970's where 50% of children with cancer died within 5 years. Why is there such a big difference in survival rate over the last 40 years? Determined individuals have worked hard to raise money, raise awareness, and make medical advancements.The Rally Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that empowers volunteers across America to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research with hopes to quickly find better treatments with fewer long-term and possibly permanent side effects and, ultimately, a cure. The most amazing aspect to the Rally Foundation is that 93 cents of every dollar these volunteers raise goes toward research.There is a regional chapter called Rally NW which is a team of athletes that train and participate in local races to raise money for childhood cancer research at the Seattle Children's Hospital. Team members train for and participate in the Tacoma City Half Marathon/Marathon and the Seattle Rock N' Roll Half Marathon/Marathon. There are also team members participating in the Sprint Triatholon in Ocean Shores, WA. Rally NW was started by Kathi Clarke and her brother after their neice Kelsie passed away, and they are doing an amazing job carrying on her legacy.One of the most important aspects of Rally NW are the Rally Kids. Each team member trains and participates in local events in honor of a child that is either currently in treatment for cancer, in remission, or has passed away. These children and their families inspire the Rally NW team members to work hard, never give up, and count their blessings.My friend, Molly Sjoboen, is in her second year as a Rally NW team member and is participating in the Seattle Rock N' Roll Half Marathon later this year. She says that being a Rally NW team member and raising money for childhood cancer research has been an incredible experience, meeting new people, and challenging herself while helping children and their families. Molly, like all team members, is training and participating in honor her Rally Kid named Rhema. On January 23, 2009, Rhema, then 12 years old, was diagnosed with a rare and aggresive cancer called desmoplastic, a small round cell tumor. Rhema underwent treatment consisting of 6 rounds of chemo and surgery, then 2 more surgeries and 5-6 weeks of intensive radiation. Rhema then went into remission. Spring 2010, however, she had a relapse which included more treatment. Recently, Rhema and her family found out the devastating news that her cancer has spread and there is little doctors can do for her now. She is currently at home and is enjoying time with her family and making memories that will forever be in their hearts no matter what the future holds for this sweet, young girl.Another fundraising event that Molly and her Rally NW team members are having is the 3rd Annual Olympia Pub Crawl in Downtown Olympia, WA. They have already[...]

When Your Story Is Motivating


(image) Today I was working in another pharmacy branch of our chain, and a lady walked in with her two boys (one of whom was very sick). I recognized her immediately, but it took me a few minutes to figure out how I know her. When she returned about 20 minutes later, I said, "I know you." She told me that she worked in the library at our local community college.

(image) We talked for a few more minutes about how I was taking my prerequisites for pharmacy school, how I am finally starting pharmacy school this August, and how I last went to the community college about a year and a half ago. She then looked confused and said, "But you seem so much more familiar to me like you were at school last quarter." I then explained how I was the guy that brought my daughters with me to the library and reserved one of the study rooms 2-3 times per week and on Saturdays.

Her face then lit up. "We talk about you all the time!" she exclaimed. "When possible returning students come and visit us at the college," she explained, "and they tell me that they are concerned about returning to school because they have small kids at home, I tell them your story. I inspire these people based on your success at school and how you brought your girls to the library with you. And now, I can tell them that you are entering a pharmacy program this August." I was blown away. I always felt that bringing the girls to the library with me helped me stay focused on why I was going back to school, and whenever I needed a break, we would draw on the white board or play tic-tac-toe. I never imagined that my story would inspire people. My story of returning to school is only half complete, so I am anxious to see what the story second half will tell.

The Day I Died


I was reminded today about a poem that I wrote about Madison when she was in the NICU at Swedish Hospital about 9&1/2 years ago, so I thought that I would post it. It's a little long and emotional, but it's a good reminder for me about how fragile she was and how far she has come. The Day I DiedThe day I died,Started like any other,My Mommy and Daddy were here to visit meThey're very nice, they're here all the timeI'm only two pounds, if thatMy lungs don't work right, I can't eatI have a tube down my throatBut, I still have my binkyI still have my Mommy and DaddyI was very excitedMy Mommy and Daddy were going to be thereThey were going to see me be weighed inI'm only two pounds, but it takes five people to move meTwo nurses, a respiratory therapist, and others I don't remember nowI see my Mommy and DaddyThey look so proudMy people pick me up to move me, on the count of threeThey're going to put me on the scaleMy Mommy and Daddy are going to see how big I've gottenThey're going to be so proudThen, the looks on their faces scares meBells and sirens go offI've never heard these noises beforeThey're not my normal alarmsMy Mommy and Daddy get pushed out of the wayAs more of my people come rushing inI can't see my Mommy and DaddyMy people are in the wayThen I see them, with tears in their eyesThey look scaredMy people are all around me, what can I doMy people are playing with the tube in my throatAs things go grayI hear my people talking about meThey're saying that I'm blue, then whiteThen... I fall asleepWhen I wake, my people are pushing on my chestIt hurts real badThey're talking about my oxygen levels, blood pressure and stuffThey stop pushing on my chestI see someone behind the front line, with paddles in her handsShe is one of my people, and she says she's readyOne of my people, one of my doctorsShe says that she's not needed now, but stay close byThose paddles scare meWhat do they doI'm only two poundsPlease be gentleAs I look around at my peopleThere are more than my fingers and toesThey're all looking at me, touching meMy doctor then finishes playing with my tubeIt really hurts to swallowI can't find my binkySome of my people are starting to leaveOne by oneThey don't look as scared any moreBut, I still have my five peopleAround me, helping me"Can you get my Mommy and Daddy?"They were scaredThey were pushed out into the hallI just wanted them to be proud of meI'm getting so bigI'm two pounds now, at least, maybe moreI want them to hold meI want to be huggedBut they can't, I'm only two poundsMy lungs are too fragileI can't breath on my ownMy Mommy and Daddy are coming back inThey don't look so scaredI still see that they're cryingBut, it's different, some howThey reach through my wires and tubes and under my plastic blanketThey rub my head, I knowThey love me unconditionallyThey will always be there for meAnd right now, they're hugging me with their heartsAnd on that fateful nightThe day that I diedSomething changed inside meI do not know whatIt may be the love my Mommy and Daddy showedIt might have helped to see my people work so hardOr the people praying 'round the worldI know that I still have a long journey and many battle aheadBut I know that I need to change this title to:The Day I Started Fighting BackGregg[...]

Skipping through the Orange Grove...


(image) When I was visiting my mom in Arizona, we went on many adventures, but one of the greatest things that we did was pick oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits. My mom lives in a retirement community just outside of Phoenix, and she has many nice neighbors that always say hi when you see them walking past. In my mom's backyard, she has two orange trees, one tangerine tree, and one grapefruit tree, and every morning, it was my job to go out back and pick a couple grapefruits for my breakfast and a bunch of oranges for our fresh squeezed juice.

(image) Now when I go to the store and see oranges on sale for $2.50/lb I can't believe my eyes! I picked a couple of pounds of oranges every morning, and the morning I left, I picked over fifty pounds of oranges so my mom could squeeze and freeze fresh orange juice. It took me about 30 minutes or so to pick that many oranges, so why does it cost so much money to buy them? At $2.50/lb, I picked about $125 worth of oranges in about 30 minutes, and I'm not very skilled at picking either. Do you think we picked all the oranges from the trees? Not even close! I picked less than 10% of the oranges on one tree.(image) I love oranges and will continue to buy them (somewhat reluctantly) at the store, but I will always remember those two oranges trees, the tangerine tree, and the grapefruit tree that sat quietly in the my mom's backyard, providing shade, and a free and tasty breakfast.


Four Hours at the Walk-In Clinic And...


I came home after my two week tour of most of the Western United States and my visit to two universities' college of pharmacy programs, and I found a house full of sick girls. Madison had started antibiotics for a double ear infection the Sunday I returned, and Emma has had a cough on and off for almost three weeks. And finally comes Allison. Poor Allison. She was sick the day I returned, and she only got worse as the week went along. She went to work on Monday, slept all day Tuesday and Wednesday, and went back to work on Thursday. She was so sick that she stayed in bed all day Friday and finally decided that she was sick enough to visit a doctor the following day.

Saturday I was working, so Allison had to work up enough energy to take both the girls (both getting over from their own sicknesses) to the walk-in clinic. When they arrived at the walk-in clinic, they were told it would be a two-hour wait. The kids were tired and started arguing, and then Madison started getting nasty. A time-out later and three-and-a-half hours of sitting in the waiting room, Allison and the girls get their own private room and... wait some more. When the doctor walks into the room, he feels her lymph nodes, looks at her swollen uvula, comments about the blisters in her throat, and starts asking questions. Allison answers that her throat hurts, and the doctor interrupts her with this brilliant question, "Have you tried ibuprofen?"

At this point, Allison doesn't answer, but Emma does. Now please remember, Emma is only FIVE YEARS OLD. It may have something to do with her daddy trying to get into pharmacy school or the fact that they've invested four hours of their Saturday to this clinic, but this is how she responded to the doctor: "Ibuprofen?!? She's taken ibuprofen! If ibuprofen was working, do you think we'd be here?!?"

The doctor looked at Emma, then at Allison, wrote the prescription for antibiotics, handed it to Allison, and walked out. I mean, how else can you respond to a five year old implying the question, "How many years of college did it take you to learn how to ask a question like that?"

I love my kids, but sometimes I wish that the mute button on the remote worked when we were out in the community and very clever one liners come booming out of their mouths like they're on stage at open mic night. Allison started her antibiotics and will hopefully be feeling better soon, and if I need to visit the doctor because I can't shake all the germs the girls gave me, I won't be visiting said walk-in clinic with Emma.

Tortilla Flat, AZ


While visiting with my mother in Arizona, we took a short trip out Apache Junction to the Superstition Mountain Range to a small town named Tortilla Flat, Arizona. If you think you come from a small town, think again. Tortilla Flat has a total population of SIX PEOPLE! Yep, I said six. It's a quant little town that includes a gift shop, restaurant, and a convenience store. While waiting for our table, we visited the gift shop where you can find shirts, hats, small treasures, and jewelry, and we stopped by outdoor seating area where there was live country music with freaking hilarious musicians.There are speakers throughout town (remember, it's only on side of the road and about 100 yards long) to announce to everybody when your table is ready. When you walk into the restaurant, one of the first things that you notice is the unique wallpaper throughout the restaurant on the walls and ceiling. People sign a dollar bill or paper money from their home country, and the staff will staple it on the wall or ceiling. There are not very many bare spots available for future signed money, and there are signs throughout the restaurant stating that taking money off the wall is stealing and the police will be called if you're caught. We found money from Canada, South Korea, Japan, Germany, and many other countries. Throughout the restaurant are relics from the past that include a plow, tools, and other equipment used when the town was founded in 1904 as a stage stop. The food we were served was delicious, and the atmosphere makes this town a must see, but the road in is not to be desired. It's curvy and slow, but you do have the opportunity to see a couple of beautiful lakes before and after the town. When driving out to Tortilla Flat, you will pass Canyon Lake which offers many places for picnics or swimming, and after the town is Apache Lake and Roosevelt Lake. The lakes are amazing, and at specific points, cliffs shoot out of the water hundreds of feet straight up.The town is small but well worth the visit, and my mom and I had an amazing time enjoying the lake, the mountains, and this small town of Tortilla Flat. I am including the town's website which will tell you more about the town and its history:[...]

Sedona The Beautiful!


So, I took an Amtrak train from home through Sacramento, CA to Denver, CO for my interview at Regis University. I then took a Greyhound bus from Denver, CO to Raton, NM where I caught another Amtrak train to Flagstaff, AZ. Flagstaff is a quant little town in northern Arizona that has many old buildings that house fun little shops. Our hotel, the Hotel Monte Vista, was built in 1927 and housed at least two bars which could be heard till at least 2:00 AM on a Saturday night (or morning I guess). The next morning, my mom and I took a side trip through Sedona, AZ, where there are so many beautiful red mountains towering above the road. The small little town of Sedona was full of fun shops and many tour companies, including one that offered to excort you through the rough terrain in pick Jeeps.My mom and I walked through so many shops, talked with many of the locals, and were given advice on where to explore during our Sedona visit. Just standing in the middle of town, you are able to experience one of the greatest gifts God has given us on this beautiful Earth. The red mountains tower above the town in so many unique formations, that you can't help yourself but to just stand and stare (then turn slowly turn in circles and stare some more). There are many great resturants in the area and many resorts where you can stay and see these spectacular mountains and have the weekend to experience the town. You have opportunities to sit and enjoy another person's company over a glass of ice tea or a beer, or you can find hiking trails to get some exercise and experience the mountains in an entirely different fashion. When walking through the town of Sedona, you come across many different statues - some are bronze, some are painted, some are big, and some are small. The street art helps to solidify what the town of Sedona is: a great family vacation spot.The area of Sedona that my mom and I choose to explore was the Chapel of the Holy Cross. It is a small Catholic Chapel built into the red rock, and you are able to go into the chapel to pray or visit the gift shop downstairs where we saw so many beautiful and amazing things to buy. Many of the items you can buy are made from the red rock itself. There are many different navity scenes ranging from traditional to a Native American version, and we even found some Jewish items, including a menorah. From the Chapel, you can see many of the red mountains around you, because the Chapel is much higher than the highway that runs between and around the mountains. Plus, you have many high peaks directly above you when you're standing with your back to the Chapel. The views are amazing, and the town is fabulous. I highly recomend a visit to Sedona, AZ, and I hope that you have enjoyed the photos I have taken of our trip.One final piece of information when you visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona is this, pay attention to the last house you pass when you get to the Chapel. If you miss it, you will get a great view of it when you stand next to this little piece of stone artwork next to the entrance of the chapel. I have a picture of the house you will see - it is HUGE! It has its own pond and gazebo in the lower portion of the yard. It has a four car garage. You can't really see from this picture, but his help has their own home on the back corner of the property. Who own's this house? It was just purchased for $25 million dollars by the actor Nic Cage. We didn't see him, but his house is large and has amazing views of Sedona.Now that I have visited Sedona, my mom and I have laid low for a few days, but we are heading out of town tonig[...]

A New American Adventure


Regis UniversityAs many of you know, Allison, our girls, and I drove round-trip to Omaha, NE, last spring, well this year, I am taking the adventure alone. Well, I have traveling buddies, but I don't have Allison and the girls with me. I rode the train to Denver, CO, for an interview at Regis University with my dad. Our train ride took about 55 hours, but we had a blast! We met people from all over the country with all sorts of occupations, and we enjoyed how beautiful our country is. If you have never taken the train through Colorado, I suggest that you do, because it is one of the most beautiful parts of the country I have ever seen.There are several differences between riding on a train and flying in a plane, and some of them are time, you can sit just about anywhere from your seat, the cafe, the diner, and the observation car, and even though you can keep to yourself, you are close enough to other people to start many conversation with people from all over the world. We met people from almost every state in the western United States, and we met people from Europe and New Zealand. One gentleman we met was taking a complete tour of the United States on trains, and was heading back home to the Midwest. The opportunity to meet people makes the train such an adventure, but some of that adventure includes meeting some strange people too. As I stated before, you are able to keep to yourself and avoid those people you don't want to meet, but those people are rare and won't ruin your adventure. The biggest difference between a plane and a train, however, is seeing what you traverse instead of flying over it.My time at Regis University was amazing! I loved the campus and the pharmacy program is fabulous! I believe that the interview and two page essay I had to write went very well, and I am anxious to see the results of this interview. My travels, however, are not complete, and I took a bus from Denver, CO (through Colorado Springs, CO) to Raton, NM. I then took a train from Raton, NM to Flagstaff, AZ. The scenery was again amazing, and the landscape was mostly covered in snow the entire train ride. My dad did not accompany me on this leg of the journey, he flew home from Denver while I enjoyed more of our country. Once in Flagstaff, AZ, I walked from the train station to the Hotel Monte Vista where I met my mom. The next day we drove from Flagstaff through Sadona to her home. But, that adventure will have to wait, as do I. I have another interview to attend, but this interview is at the University of Arizona on Friday. Until my next blog, be sure to enjoy your family, love your family, and hug your family.Gregg[...]

Our South Dakota Neighbor


After months of neglect, I thought I would share more of our adventurous trip to and from Omaha, NE. Let me say one thing, when you're driving on I-90 and pass Wall Drug and the hundred plus miles of unique signs posted every other mile in South Dakota, there isn't anything else to see. Period! South Dakota was one of the long parts of our trip, so we decided to make the most of the monotony by meeting new people. Ok, so it wasn't planned at all, but it's something that we will never forget. When you drive through South Dakota and see a place to stop to pee, you jump on it (ok, not literally). Gas stations happen about every hundred miles or so and bathrooms less often, so we were approaching a rest stop and going to take advantage of indoor and heated bathrooms. When we parked, it was my job to open the back of our wagon and get everybody's coat and put them on as people exited the vehicle and then close the back and run to the bathroom. When we were all done, I took the coats as people peeled them off and jumped back into the wagon, and then I opened the back of the wagon and put the coats in and jumped back into the car. I then backed the wagon out of our spot and started driving away. Did I forget something? Yep! About 200 yards from our spot, a man started jumping up and down trying to get our attention, so we stopped. "Um, hello," I said, and he replied, "Hey partner, I think you forgot something back there." So I looked back to where we were parked and said, "Hey! The back's open." "There you go partner," he replied. I thanked him for getting our attention and picked up some stuffed that had fallen out when we stopped and closed the back. I looked back to our spot and found a cowboy waving something of ours and trying to get our attention. I climbed backed in the wagon, put my head down, took a deep breath, and looked in the rearview mirror and started backing up. Allison didn't see the cowboy, so I had to explain why we were backing up more than 200 yards, and then we all started giggling. When we reached the cowboy, Allison rolled down her window, and this is what happened:"Howdy! You know, I've had bad days before, just like my Washington neighbors have." At this point, Allison and I both thought the cowboy was going to tell us a story about his neighbors that used to live in or now live in or part of the year live in Washington, but no, the cowboy was talking about us. Allison and I just looked at him, waiting for the rest of the story, but there was no story coming. So, we just stared at each other, waiting for the other to start talking. Then he tried to make us feel better by saying, "Hope this will make you laugh later on, my Washington neighbors." Then he lifted the lost item - a flattening iron.We thanked our South Dakota neighbor for returning our flattening iron, bid him a good day, and drove away. Then we all started laughing! Really, really hard! We were laughing so hard that I had to pull the car over to the side of the road. When our laughing subsided enough to drive again, we realized we were still at the rest stop, only about another 50 yards past where we first stopped to close the back of the wagon. So we started laughing again, but I drove through tear blurred eyes this time just so we could leave the rest stop. The rest of the day, we made jokes about what the heck that cowboy thought the flattening iron must have been from a portable iron for jeans to a travel grilled cheese sandwich maker. It was one of the best days of travel we had, and we still laugh [...]

Two Months Later, and I finally continue the story


Ok, I know it's been more than two months since I first wrote about our roundtrip drive to Omaha, NE, but we've been super crazy and haven't had time to finish what we started writing. The trip to Creighton University has been productive so far, because I am on the waiting list for their pharmacy program. I'm just waiting to hear that somebody had other options and took them leaving me an open space to join the program. Anyway, on with our trip...

So, after getting pulled over by a police office in Bellevue, I drove through the night with Madison waking up off and on talking with me. It was really sweet and memorable to share those quiet times with her at 2 am driving over the Washington mountain passes. I tend to get warm while driving, so I was in shorts and a T-shirt, and we had to stop during the night for gas. It was not only cold (low to mid 40's), the wind chill dropped the temperature well below freezing. So, I had no coat, no socks, wearing flip flops, shorts, and a T-shirt in below freezing temperature with the kids inside the car telling me to hurry so they can go back to sleep, and I can drive another 5 hours so we can eat breakfast in Montana. Anyway, I digress.

So, the drive through eastern Washington and heading into Idaho was great, but the Idaho pass is where we hit our first patch of bad weather. Remember, when we left, it was May and Omaha was in the upper 70's to low 80's (Washington was raining in the 60's - nothing new). But we hit a snow storm (our first of many snow storms) and found nearly white out conditions. Less than 24 hours before, I was sitting in Biochem before heading to 7 hours of work and then more than 8 hours of driving, and now I'm driving through a snow and wind storm. It was one of those snow storms where the snow doesn't fall, it blows sideways. Then we got to the bridge. If any of you have driven I-90 through the Idaho passes, I'm sure you know the bridge that spans a canyon from one mountain to another, and I'm sure it's beautiful when the sun is shinning and the wind is mild. We didn't hit the bridge under such conditions, however, the wind was so high and the road so icy, our car hit the bridge and was turned sideways! The front of the car was pointing over the bridge, and the driver-side door was leading the way across the bridge. I am so thankful that we were the only drivers 'smart enough' to be on the road just before sunrise. Anyway, we made it safely across the bridge, but we all wide awake after that little adventure.

We made it to Montana safely where we got some gas for the car and breakfast for our tummies. We then started driving through the rest of Montana for another several hours before we called it a day.

Our trip through South Dakota was less adventurous and more funny, but that story will come later.

The first 90 miles of our 3,700 mile trip across the country and back


Ok, so I thought that I would blog about our trip to and from Omaha, NE, before now, but my anxiety is a bit too high as we wait to here if I got into the pharmacy program or not. So as we continue to wait, I thought that that I would tell about our first 90 miles. Before I do, however, I need to set up the day. Our day started like a normal day: Allison and I got up around 6:45 and starting getting ready, kids up by 7:00, breakfast, kids to school, Allison to work, me to school, pick up Emma, lunch, Emma to the babysitter, me to work, Allison and the girls getting ready for our trip, girls to bed, and then I get home around 10:00. We finished packing the car, got the girls up from bed, and started driving east around 10:45.

The girls are sleeping before we hit the freeway, and Allison's sleeping before we get out of the county. But, I am driving, so I must stay awake. About 85 miles later, I start yawning. I think yawning is an understatement. My yawn is so violent that the car starts swerving, and I cross over to the lane next to me. About 5 miles later, several more yawns, and more unauthorized lane changes, the inside of our car lit up like a blue and red Christmas light show. I pull over, wait for the police office, and wake up Allison. The police office walks up to the driver's side window and asks if I've been drinking. I start to explain that we're driving to Omaha and wanted to start our trip while the kids were sleeping. Allison (still trying to wake up) starts talking, well, not so much talking as sounding really, really drunk. The police office looks in the car and sees the girls waking up in the back seat (Allison still rambling quietly in her seat), and the officer looks me in the eye and says, "I only have one thing to say to you - Montana is BIG!" Then he said (and no I didn't point out he already said one thing), "Now that I've pulled you over, you're totally awake now, aren't you?"

I said yes and thank you as he turned and walked back to his police cruiser, and as I pulled away, both the girls started asking me why I needed the police officer to help me stay awake and keep me in my lane. Soon, Allison and Emma were sleeping, but Madison stayed awake to talk. She fought sleep for about another 90 minutes getting us to the mountain pass around midnight. With all the crazy weather (snow, rain, hail, high winds, dust storms, etc.) we experienced and the 150 miles of Wall Drug signs, being pulled over by the police officer in the first hour and a half of our more than 55 hour adventure was one of the highlights. I thank God that the girls had lots of fun and had great attitudes throughout the the whole trip.


2,700 miles down, 900 to go


So it's 3:00 a.m. Mountain Time (2:00 back home), and we're leaving in 90 minutes to travel the final 900 miles (or about 13 hours of driving time) of our little family trip to and from Omaha, NE. I (Gregg) had an interview on Friday with Creighton University's School of Pharmacy, and I am super excited about their program and approach to health care as a future pharmacist. I won't find out, however, if I got into their program or not for another three weeks, so the following 21 days are going to be absolutely torturous!

During our 50+ hours of driving so far, I have discovered how absolutely amazingly beautiful our country is, and of course, how to drive 90+ mph for the entire states of Wyoming and South Dakota. We also made a point to stop at Mt. Rushmore mainly because I have never been and wanted to go so badly, but we also wanted the kids to experience the absolute awesomeness (yes, that is a word) of the mountain. They loved the presidents' faces carved into the mountain, but they were more interested in the gift shop wondering how to spend the money they have saved. We took lots of pictures while we were there and throughout our entire trip, and they will be uploaded soon after we return home. But, since I am unable to post any pictures now or better organize my thoughts, I will wait until we return home, unpack, get caught back up with work, school, and life in general to post anything more about our trip. It has been amazing so far, and the girls have been even better than I could have possibly dreamed.

Until next time, pray for our safe return and my acceptance into Creighton's pharmacy distant pathway program (that means we get to stay home while I attend school online).

God Bless,




Well, it has been a long time since anything has been posted on this blog, so I thought that I would give it a whirl. I am Gregg, Allison's husband, and I wanted to tell everybody about the experience I had about a month ago at a Saturday church service. I have been a Christian almost my entire life when I accepted Christ into my heart at the age of seven, and I remember it fondly. I had questions about a Sunday school lesson that the teachers didn't answer, so I was sitting outside the classroom when a man in our church sat next to me. Funny thing is, his name was Greg too (but he spelled it weird), so Greg listened to my questions, answered them, and then prayed with me right then and there.Like many churches, however, I was not able to be baptized at that time because I was too young. I grew up as a Christian and only had a couple of other opportunities to be baptized, but I didn't feel like it was the correct time for me. Knowing that I wasn't baptized starting weighing on my spirit, and as we started attending Christ the King church the opportunity to be baptized presented itself during a service where the older kids were brought into the sanctuary to watch the baptism. I told Allison that I wanted to be baptized at the next opportunity, and my oldest daughter Madison (8) told us after the service that she wanted to be baptized too. How amazing it is that we decided to be baptized at the same time!So, one Saturday evening in February 2010, my family (Allison, Madison, and Emma), my dad and step-mom (Dennis and Sayra), my in-laws (John, Pam, and my nephew Jayden), and even some cousins (Adrain, Sasha, JJ, and Ava (who was also going to be baptized)) sat in the front left corner of the sanctuary during the service. When Pastor Grant was done with his sermon, he dismissed all the people being baptized to the back stage area (yeah, there were more than just Madison and me) where we all took off our shoes and any extra clothing we didn't want to get wet. Any children that were getting baptized were supposed to be in the front of the line, but somehow, Madison and I were delayed and as the line was being let out on stage, we had to run to the front of the line. Well, we were second in line, and Ava and Adrain were first in line. As we stood on stage, Pastor Grant talked with the church about the importance of baptism and what it means to a Christian, and then he prayed for us all. When the prayer was finished, Ava and Adrain led the line to the pool on the far right of the stage - our right - but it was the front left corner of the sanctuary where all of our family members were sitting. I remember standing at the edge of the pool holding Madison's hand watching Adrain help baptized his daughter (Ava) and think what an amazing opportunity to not only experience the baptism process with our children but to assist with the procedure. When Ava was baptized, the whole church erupted in cheers and roared with excitement, and the look on Ava's face and Adrain's smile was breathtaking.Then it was my turn, and my emotions fluctuated from excitement and pure happiness for Ava to a complete void. I remember standing there telling somebody I was being baptized first and then Madison after me, and I felt completely mechanical walking down the steps of the pool. All of my shorts had big holes in them so I wore pants to be more appropriate while my picture was being displayed on the two big screens in the sanctuary. Wh[...]

Penelope "Penny"


This is Laurel's baby (our nanny). Isn't she adorable? The girls are so excited that the baby "poped out".