Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer and Thoughts

I can't believ that summer is half over. Well, not technically, but who among us is that technical right?

I guess I'm referring to the fact that the big kids in our house will be starting preschool in just a month and a couple of weeks. It is only for two mornings a week, no big deal. But wait!?! It is a big deal to this momma's heart.

I'm really excited for them to go. They need to go. I need them to go. I hope you are all reading between the lines here and can pick up on the fact that We.All.Need.A.Break!

I can't wait for them to have a teacher to look up to, listen to, and learn from. I would love to be that person for them forever, and I plan to be in some sense, but I feel that time in a different environment will be great for my three. You see for their three years they have lived very structured, safe, predictable little lives. Out of necessity we are quite often the family that has our kids to bed precisely on time, never misses a bath night, and almost never does things on the fly (although this summer I have been challenging this and trying to be spontaneous much more often!). I think it will be great for them to see the world a little bit differently, be among kids who are different, and perhaps even realize that not everyone shares a birthday with other people in their house:)

But boy, it is going to be tough to send them off. I haven't really had to send them anywhere for any amount of time yet. I'm generally the one here with them, everyday, all day. What a strange and sad feeling to think that I won't be the one to kiss their boo boos while they are at shcool, or to talk them through any problems that might arise. And then my heart turns to Brady. I almost want to pin a note on his shirt that explains his whole life story to each and every person he will encounter in the world. Just so they know. Just so they get it. But I'm realizig that I don't need to do that anymore. Sure the school needs to know his health history for obvious reasons, but other than that, he is just another normal preschooler.

So, like so many moms out there, I'm trying desperately to relish the moments. Trying to keep the perspective that these years are precious, fleeting, and oh-so-special. I'm going to do my best to soak up these last few weeks of summer. From here on out, my time with them at home will be less and less with each passing year. I'm excited for them, I'm kind of sad for me! Many tell me this is all normal motherhood stuff, right?

Yours truly,
The Happy/Sad Mommy

ps. As we speak, I have a great graphic designer working on a new look for the blog. You can find her work at The Pixel Boutique and she is graciously offering her services as part of a blog contest that I entered many moons ago. Stay tuned!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Threes

Recently I've begun to think that the person who coined the phrase "the terrible twos" must not had made it to the threes yet!

Ahhh yes, the threes times three.

Matt and I are just astounded that we have days that are more exhausting than the infant days! We are finding ourselves in a constant balance of trying to keep the peace, discipline when needed, give enough attention, keep up with messes, and remember to have fun too! And then there is this incredibly busy, smart, and sassy 20 month old walking around:)

One strategy I have found to work really well in keeping both the kids and I happy is to keep busy. Lately I have been taking the kids on outings just the 5 of us. It helps the day go by and is a lot of fun!

This morning we tried out a new playground and then went to Walmart. Nothing too exciting, but the kids love our little adventures! And yes, I can still squeeze my 4 children into one cart. Can you see Brady peeking out from behind Allie?

Have you heard about our 2nd Annual Alex's Lemonade Stand? If not, read all about it. You can also click on the link to the right and make a direct donation to Alex's in honor of Brady.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Note to Self...

When having a bad day...

just look at this picture...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Brotherly Love



All for one and one for all
My brother and my friend
What fun we have
The time we share
Brothers 'til the end.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Updated Information on Our Alex's Lemonade Stand

I want to make a correction to all of the information I posted regarding our 2nd Annual Alex's Lemonade Stand. A few days ago I posted the date of our stand as Saturday September 6, when in fact our stand is on Monday September 6. Thank you to a few careful readers who alerted me to my error!

After writing about what our needs where in regards to the stand, I started to feel worried. Maybe worried isn't the right word, perhaps doubtful is better. I doubted whether or not people still cared, if people still remembered what we went through, if people would feel motivated to help this year, or if those who once followed Brady's story had moved on.

God sent me a sweet reminder only hours after I wrote the other day. I received an email from someone who graciously, yet humbly, offered to cover the $200 in expenses that we will have.

That person touched my heart so deeply. The fact that they read about our need and acted on it reminded me that people do care. There may not be hundreds and hundreds of people still reading about our family at this point, after all, we are living pretty drama-free these days:) But there are people who when asked, are willing to step forward and help us make a difference in the lives of children just like Brady. I am so grateful for that!

We still need help in the following areas:
1. We need volunteers to work at our stand. Shifts will be in 2 hour increments starting with setup from 8am-10am and continuing throughout the day until 8pm.

2. We will be selling lemon baked goods again in addition to our wonderful lemonade! In order to comply with the guidelines of Genesee County Health Department, we need to do our preparation of baked goods differently this year. I'm organizing a team of bakers to work with me on Sunday September 5th from 1-7pm at my church to bake and package all of the items that we will sell. I plan on selling quantities of lemon cookies, lemon bars, and mini loaves of lemon bread. If you are interested in being a part of one of my baking teams, that is another area in which you can help! You do not have to commit the entire day of baking. I will have more of an idea of time slots for Sept 6th as I continue planning.

There you have it! If you are interested in helping in any of the three areas listed above, please email me directly at or leave a comment in the comments section (please provide your name and email address).

Monday, July 19, 2010

Announcing Our 2nd Annual Alex's Lemonade Stand

I am pleased to announce that our family will be hosting our 2nd Annual Alex's Lemonade Stand on Monday, September 6 at the Oakfield Community Celebration Day (formerly known as Labor Daze).

There is a lot of work to do! Yes, planning the Lemonade Stand is a lot of work, but that is not what I'm talking about! There is a lot of work to do in the world of pediatric cancer. Another year has gone by...and with that year, another 13, 140 children and adolescents were diagnosed with cancer in our country. You would not believe how many people I talk to who have no idea that children can get cancer. We know about lung cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and many other adult forms of cancer that devastate so many in our world.

But so many don't know about pediatric cancer. That is one of the reasons pediatric cancer remains underfunded. While other cancers are achieving cure rates of up to 90%, some parents are told that their child has a form of cancer, like Neuroblastoma, with a 50% chance of survival. Organizations like the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation support families affected by pediatric cancer, promote awareness, and most importantly fund research grants aimed at improving the quality of life for children with cancer and for finding a cure!

These children have faces. Our child is one of those faces. We are so grateful that Brady had a treatable form of cancer and responded well to that treatment, but we know of countless others whose children have fought their cancer until their last breath.

Children like beautiful Sara

So, to my friends, my family, and my community...I ask you to join the Williams Family in doing a small act with great love. Join us in raising money to support Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation on Monday, September 6th.

There are many ways to help!!!

1. We need volunteers to work at our stand. Shifts will be in 2 hour increments starting with setup from 8am-10am and continuing throughout the day until 8pm.

2. We will be selling lemon baked goods in addition to our wonderful lemonade! To cover the expenses of the lemonade, supplies, and ingredients for our baked goods, we are looking for donations of WalMart gift cards in any amount. I'm estimating that we will need approximately $200 in donations for supplies, although this number may increase as I continue to plan:)

**I received an email this morning from a wonderfully generous individual who has offered to donate $200 in WalMart giftcards. For now, this is no longer an area of need.

3. In order to comply with the guidelines of Genesee County Health Department, we need to do our preparation of baked goods differently this year. I'm organizing a team of bakers to work with me on Sunday September 5th from 1-7pm at my church to bake and package all of the items that we will sell. I plan on selling quantities of lemon cookies, lemon bars, and mini loaves of lemon bread. If you are interested in being a part of one of my baking teams, that is another area in which you can help! You do not have to commit the entire day of baking. I will have more of an idea of time slots for Sept 6th as I continue planning.

There you have it! If you are interested in helping in any of the three areas listed above, please email me directly at or leave a comment in the comments section (please provide your name and email address).

Let's make our stand a success just as it was last year! Thank you so very much for supporting families just like ours:)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

How Could I Have Forgotten?

The humidity must be getting to my brain!!! I absolutely forgot to blog about Brady's urine test results that we found out about on Thursday.

The results are in the words of the oncologist, "rock solid normal!" Hooray! Yippee! Yahoo! AMEN!

This was a great week for Brady boy! A good report from the spinal x-rays and a great report from the oncologist!!! Now we can let our guard down just a bit until scan time in October.

As you can see, Brady wasn't worried a bit!

(haircuts planned for Wednesday...and what is up with those tatoos for they ever come off?)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Making Messes


I think it’s pretty safe to say that my children make quite a few messes during any given day. They have free reign of the main level of our house, so by 9am toys are strewn across each and every room.

We have our share of spilled milk, crushed goldfish crackers, handprints on windows, and I won’t even tell you about bathroom messes these days.

Imagine the kids surprise when I told them that we were going to make a mess on purpose today!


Finger paint! I have kind of been avoiding doing this art project for well, a year or so. I have the paints, the papers, the art smocks…but until now I wasn’t sure if Allie was ready to participate. And if that child isn’t  participating in what we are doing, the activity doesn’t go very well!

The kids love coloring with crayons and markers, stamps, and water color paints, so I knew this would be a hit.


It looks like they are covered in paint, but that is just the design on their smocks!


Allie was quite confused as to why I gave her a plate but didn’t want her to eat what was on it. She kept saying, “FOOD! PLATE!’


Here’s to messes!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

To the Doctor We Go

This morning I had several plans for the day, most importantly I knew that Matt and I would be taking Brady for his appointment with the orthopedic doctor. Well, that part did happen. But before that, Cara and I took a trip to Rochester. She has had a high fever on and off since Sunday night. Her appetite is off and she just hasn't looked well. My mother in law peeked at her tonsils today and she saw some "gunk" back there, so I decided it was best to get her in to see the doctor. That was my first trip to Rochester and back today! She did a wonderful job at the doctor, even enduring a strep test with a smile. The strep test was negative, but the doctor said that she has a virus that is going around. She recommended rest, fluids, and Motrin to control the fever.

Later in the afternoon Matt came home from work early and picked up Brady and I and we made our way back to Rochester for his appointment. I wish you could have seen how silly Brady was acting while we waited for the doctor. He had to have his shirt off so that the doctor could examine him, and he was just hamming it up. Matt and I were just laughing histerically at him as he continuously pulled his shorts up as high as he could and then dropped them around his ankles. Not many things are more funny looking than a scrawny three year old in Cars briefs!!! He truly is a goof ball. Matt took him for his XRAYS this time and I just teared up as I watched him happily and bravely march away to the room. He thinks nothing of such things anymore and even talks and interacts with the techs, nurses, and doctors. Where did my shy and fearful baby boy go?

We are absolutely so very impressed by our orthopedic specialist, Dr. Sanders. He is kind, compassionate, encouraging, honest, concise, and respectful. You many remember at our last visit that Brady's kyphosis had not changed from the visit before. His scoliosis had amazingly improved from 15 degrees to 5 degrees or less.

We are over-the-moon to report that his kyphosis (front to back curve) has once again stayed the same!!! Praise the Lord!!! Dr. Sanders was very encouraged by this! His words were that we are "getting out of the woods" as far as a malignant progression, or point of no return in regards to that curve. Children have rapid growth up until about age 4, and children with injuries like Brady are at greatest risk for spinal curvature during this time of growth. As Brady ages, hopefully (and prayerfully!) his risk of curve will decrease. It is very encouraging that the kyphotic curve (42 degrees) has not increased in the past 6 months.

Now his scoliosis (side to side curve) is a different story. Two visits ago, his scoliosis measured 15 degrees, then in March it measured only 5, and today it measured 15 degrees again. I'm still a little unsure about the hows/whys of this, but I think I understand that because Brady is young, his spine is still flexible which accounts for the differences in the curve. Dr. Sanders is still a little leery of the scoliosis and wants to continue to follow this. We will rescan again in 6 months.

So there you have it. Another chapter in Brady's journey. I hate to downplay doctor's visits like today. In all honestly, my eyes were filled with tears when Dr. Sanders used the terms "getting out of the woods" in regards to one of the curves. As emotional as I was, deep in my heart I understand that these orthopedic problems are small potatoes compared to what we have been through, and what we could go through again. And my heart longs every day to hear those words to describe where Brady is in regards to cancer. My mind is never far from cancer...constantly putting things into perspective when compared to that nightmare. We jump these hurdles, big and small, one at a time. We keep on jumping, all the while praying, that God will see us through each and every one. Thank you for your prayers.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

So Long Beautiful Summer Weekend

If you haven't noticed, our little blog likes a tiny bit different. I'm in the process of updating, renovating, reorganizing, and hopefully making our blog more user friendly. It may take some time as I'm trying to enlist the help of a graphic designer since my computer skills are, uh, basic at best! I will keep updating and telling our story as this process moves along.

Here are a few sights from our weekend.

It’s always fun to share a little  bit of Williams’ mischief!


The culprit this time was Allison. Whenever I forget to hang my purse up on the wall hook, she takes full advantage! She knows how to unzip it and ALWAYS finds my coupon organizer. Let’s just say that my coupons are organized no-more…again!

On Saturday we helped our wonderful friend Jessica celebrate her 3rd birthday at her adorable Jungle Party! Check out my 4 safari kids!


There were jungle animals to discover all over the yard!




It seems like forever since Brady has had a big doctor’s appointment. That is probably because it has been 3 months since his last scans. Up until now we have been on a 3-month scan schedule, but now we are waiting six months (October). This week we are due back at the orthopedic doctor to evaluate any changes in Brady’s spine. The appointment is Tuesday and we are hoping and praying that there has been no change in either of the curves in his spine. We haven’t noticed any changes, so that is encouraging. We are also going to drop off a urine sample at the lab while we are there. This will give us a spot check of Brady’s catecholamine level, which is an indicator of active neuroblastoma. A normal result will allow us to take a deep breath until scan time, and of course an abnormal result would be a huge problem. So---please remember to keep Brady and our family in your prayers this week! Thank you:)  

Please Stand By

Hello out there!

Yes, this is still our blog! I am attempting to update and spruce things up around here. I seem to have made quite a mess of the blog! I'm calling in some pros to try and help me sort it out! In the meantime, bear with me and hopefully a new and improved Steps for Brady will be online!

I will continue updating throughout this process...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gone Fishin

Today’s adventure took us to my friend Danna’s house for a play date with her two girls and our very special honorary Grandmas Lynn and Niki.

Danna’s house reminds me of a Norman Rockwell painting---everything about this property is just stunning. Best of all, going there to visit gives my children a taste of country living. 



We spent just an hour or so outside because of the intense heat, but we packed a lot of fun into that little bit of time!

Danna’s girls showed my kids how to catch toads. Brady and Eli loved this. Cara, not-so-much. On the way home she told me, “Mommy, I don’t like toads. They are very dirty!”



Brady ended up carrying this tiny toad around. I noticed him with a closed fist, just walking around a few minutes later. He opened that closed fist to reveal the small toad and said to me, “Mommy, this toad really likes me! He’s not jumping away!”   Um, yeah…he’s didn’t jump away alright…he was squished!

Next it was time for fishing! I was happy to play the role of the picture taker! Danna and her girls had a bucket of worms, fishing poles, and of course pliers to pry the poor fish off the hooks after they were caught.


Brady and his fish!


Brady never minds getting up close and personal with animals!


Eli and his fish!


Even Cara was brave enough to try!


The kids also visited chickens in the barn and ate raspberries off of the bush!

I may not be a big nature girl, but I’m so glad that I have friends who are:)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Heat Stinks and Brady’s Accomplishment!

I don’t do heat. I don’t like to be in the hot sun. I especially don’t enjoy temps in the 90s by 9am!

I am SO VERY THANKFUL for our central air. It was my only requirement when we bought a house, and this house didn’t have it. However, we put it in a year or two after we moved in, and we have never regretted it. Although I have to say if we didn’t have it, we could be in our basement which is also very cool and comfortable!

These days are like the cold winter days in that I have to be creative and think of things we can do to occupy our time, prevent boredom, and manage chaos while not going outside.

Yesterday Matt and I took the kids to Strong Museum. There were moments of fun and cooperation, but there were more moments of the two of us being annoyed at just how difficult managing our 3 three year olds and 1 one and a half year old can be. At any given moment someone was whining or refusing to do something. There were empty threats, timeouts, standoffs, and moments when we questioned our big Museum Trip idea! But alas, amidst all that, we got a few cute pictures:)

Princess Allie kissing her frog prince!



Did I ever tell you about the time when Cara stuck the toothbrush from this exhibit in her mouth…ugh! Also take the time to appreciate Eli’s bad hair day!


Our Brady boy has achieved a BIG milestone today! Do you know how toddlers eventually learn to get up off the floor using a kneel to stand stance? Brady has always gotten up off the floor like a young toddler, with his bum up in the air using his hands to push up off the floor. We worked in PT to have him push off the ground while kneeling on his left leg, pushing off his right (his stronger leg). He could do this when prompted to, and always using his hands to push down on his knee.

For the past few days, I hear him say to himself, “Get up like a big boy!” and then he will get up the correct way without me telling him to! This is great!

But then tonight, I asked him to, “Give lefty a turn” meaning to use his weaker left leg. You may remember that the tumor did much more damage to his left side which has always been weaker. This boy will try and try something until he gets it these days. So he puts his right knee down, his left leg up, pushes with his hands on his knee with all his might…..and….he DID IT! He tried to do it over and over again and did it with about 50% accuracy! Then all of a sudden he started trying to do it without pushing off with his hands, still using his left leg. And he eventually did that too!!!! We were all hooting and hollering and this face was just the best thing I have ever seen! I started telling him to say, “What tumor?” while doing it, and of course he used his big man voice and said it! What a big shot…what a miracle!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday America and Natalie!

4th of July weekend is extra special in our family. Two years ago our beautiful niece Natalie was born on July 4th, so now we have our very own Yankee Doodle Sweetheart:)

Saturday we celebrated her birthday at a wonderful circus themed party!


The day looked a little like this!


And the adorable birthday girl Natalie looked like this!DSC_0678

Auntie Kristen and Uncle Andy did a great job with games for the kids. Check out their elephant putt-putt game!

DSC_0647 Allie was a little obsessed with the cups filled with water!

DSC_0649 Cara, cousin Aubrey, and Eli

DSC_0655 Brady and Eli playing the ring toss game.

DSC_0658 Aubrey being a silly girl!

DSC_0661 And Cara too!

DSC_0664 Allison being a cutie!



DSC_0698 DSC_0697 Of course there was candy and lots of treats!



DSC_0683 The night ended with some wonderful fireworks! Brady fell asleep on my lap (heavenly!) but the other 3 stayed awake until 11pm!

Today it was a low key day at home including some time in the pirate pool!

DSC_0706 Summer is on! We are feeling blessed by our family, blessed by our friends, and blessed by our health!