Monday, December 22, 2008

The Williams Family Top 10

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family!

Ryan is 4 years old, in preschool, and the official family clown. He loves to make everyone laugh. People always tell us how entertaining he is. (I think that's code for "naughty") We love him and our family wouldn't be complete without Ryan.
Ella is 6 and in all day kindergarten. She is the family sweetheart. She is 100% girl from head to toe. She loves makeup and nail polish and prefers skirts to anything else. She is also our feistiest kid. Don't cross this girl!
Olivia is 10, in the 5th grade and is turning into a beautiful young lady.  She is an extraordinary help to me and we are grooming her to take over as our babysitter for date nights. She loves writing, drama and hanging out with her friends.
Ethan is 6 and is leading the class in all day kindergarten. He keeps everyone in check at home as well. Nothing gets past Ethan. He is alarmingly bright and insightful, but continually seeks validation by asking "Right?" to everything. It cracks us up.
Travis and I are celebrating our 14th anniversary this month. We've been together for 18 years. Wow! That means we've been together longer than we haven't. (does that make sense?)

This year takes the cake for our most eventful one to date. It started out pretty ordinary but ended in the most extraordinary way. I can honestly say that our faith has been tested, our patience pushed to the limit, but here we are, a little worse for the wear, having learned so much from our year's journey. 

10. Our family grew by one this year...a guinea pig conveniently named, "Little Piggy."

9.  Speaking of pets, we hold the family record for shortest dog ownership. Rusty, a 130 pound 7 year old golden lab lived with us for 8 weeks before we found him a new home. He kept trying to eat our cat and dragged me around the neighborhood on walks. Our next dog will be much smaller.

8. May marked the 4 year anniversary of Ella's fight with Leukemia. She is wonderfully healthy and continues to receive clean bills of health on her check-ups.

7. Travis and Andrea mourned the cancellation of the season of "24." We're jazzed it returns in January.

6. Andrea left Travis and the kids behind for a 5 day trip to the Caribbean with her dental office. She got to scuba dive in Cozomel and eat nothing but dessert for 5 days straight.

5. With the troubled economy, Travis started doing bankruptcy law.  It's new and different, but it's not brain surgery. He would know about that since he had it in July and just completed radiation for a brain stem tumor.

4. This the first year in too many to count that no one is in diapers. Now if we could just get our boys to stop the bed-wetting!

3. Andrea ran her second marathon and shaved 30 minutes off her time. She is considering long-distance running retirement. 

2. Record-breaking (for us) 3 trips to Disneyland.  We had annual passports and got our money's worth.

1.  Three kids in school all day!

We wish you every happiness and joy this beautiful Christmas season. We are learning the power of love and contentment in our lives. Our faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ, is deeper and stronger than ever. We are living each day with gratitude for the gifts we have. The gifts of love and friendship are the ones we treasure most. 

We send our love to all of you this splendid Christmas!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Most Wonderful (and crazy) Time of the Year

That special time of year has finally arrived.........time to completely stress myself out with ridiculous "to do lists" and endless shopping trips and spending every night at kids' concerts, events, parties. Don't get me wrong. I love December. It just seems like a whirlwind that is out of control sometimes. Every year I commit to start preparing earlier. Keep it simple. I am a very slow learner and apparently very forgetful. Oh, but I love it! So here's a little update on the past 2 weeks since that wonderful cruise I went on. 

Thanksgiving at my parents. Great day, great company, great food. Do you like the staged pic of me serving Travis pie? He always asks for a "sliver" of all 3 types: apple, pumpkin and chocolate. I helped him eat it. Those slivers are never quite small enough. And you know that if you share, the calories don't count.

Turkey carver extrordinaire:
Olivia was in charge of a kids' craft table outside before dinner. It was a great way to keep the kids out of the kitchen and occupy their energetic little bodies.
Cute Ella with Grandpa Adams (recovering beautifully from open heart surgery):

Pilgrim Ryan with his school crafts:
Ethan and Ella at their Christmas music concert......adorable! Can you see them in the middle row 2nd and 3rd from the left?
Wrestle time with dad. All four of our kids plus a cousin (Miah). They couldn't get enough of jumping on Travis. He had enormous patience. They loved it.
Happy kids. Tired dad.
It has been several weeks since radiation ended for Travis. He is doing fabulous.  His ears are still plugged, which is very annoying. (for both of us...I feel like I'm living with an old man, "Huh?") The hearing should return soon as it is a temporary side affect. His body is tired and weak so we are both getting back to regular exercise. That has been on the back burner lately for both of us.  Travis is done with all treatments. He will get a post-radiation MRI in early February to see the results. We were told that radiation continues to work for several months after the completion of treatments. Right now we are enjoying a more normal life with no doctors or treatments. We are excited about the Christmas season and can't wait to celebrate all month long.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Caribbean lucky am I?

Last week my dental office went on a Caribbean cruise for 4 days. I am only working very part-time but they took me anyway. Isn't that nice? Travis and I decided it would be much more cost efficient for him to stay home and play Mr. Mom, so off I went not quite knowing what to do with myself and all MY OWN free time. Travis does such a tremendous job with the kids and the house, but I must say I was a little concerned with how prepared he was just 2 weeks after completing radiation. Thankfully, he was brilliant and everyone had a good time at home. Of course, I had the best time ever. I really needed a break. It was amazing. 

This is at the second port in Cozemel. My ship was called "Grandeur of the Sea." 

My roommate, Ally and I along with 3 others from my office went on a 2 tank dive in Cozemel, Mexico. This dive spot is among the top few diving areas in the world. The water was was a comfortable 78-80 degrees. We went over 80 feet down and the visibility was over 90 feet. We saw vibrant fish and coral as well as lobster and crab. We swam through a couple of tunnels. Happily we saw nothing scary. Who isn't terrified at the thought of a shark encounter?

I am standing on the southernmost point of Key West on a pier. The water was the most gorgeous color and SUPER clear. Ally and I got a Pina Colada (virgin, of course) and walked around the pier and soaked up the scenery.
For almost the same price as a bus tour, we were able to rent scooters and cruise around the 2 by 4 mile island at our leisure. I felt a little dangerous, but cannot deny what a blast it was to see the whole island from a scooter. I loved every minute of it. I topped out at 26 mph. It was hilarious!
We had a great time on the ship and did a lot of eating and laughing. We went to shows every night and I even ended up singing a little Britney Spears at Karaoke Night. Talk about moving outside my comfort zone. My friend, Heather, sang  Madonna and ended up winning 3rd place in the finals on our last night. What makes it so unbelievable is that she is usually very quite and conservative at the office. Did I mention she is a dentist and mother of 4? She blew us all away. She pulled out moves I haven't seen since the 80's like the Roger Rabbit and the Running Man. She definitely tapped into a hidden talent.

I also did well in the negotiating department in Mexico on a shopping adventure. I got some lovely pieces of silver and haggled my way down to a fair price. I enjoyed that quite a lot. Oh, did I mention that I got bitten on the face by a macaw while being photographed with 3 of them on my shoulders and head? That was interesting. 

 I loved the chance to get away and recharge my "Andrea" battery. It felt great to laugh and do nothing but entertain myself for 4 straight days. But I have to admit, I got a little antsy towards the end and my instinct to get home and take care of my family really kicked in. My love and appreciation for Travis only grew while I was away. I came home Monday night to happy kids and a clean house. Travis is quite the guy, huh? It's so cliche but true, "absence makes the heart grow fonder."  I have a truly blessed life.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Utah Trip

Travis and I spent the weekend in Utah as an "end of radiation celebration trip." We went with our friends, Kathryn and Randy, and had the absolute best time. We met up with some other great friends who recently moved to Draper, Mike and Angie. We went to the BYU game on Saturday and watched San Diego get beat badly. The weather was and sunny. I got to wrap up in a coat, scarf and gloves- my favorite things. There was even snow on the ground and the mountains were completely covered. We slept in, ate lots of yummy food, and enjoyed every minute of freedom from the kids.
We stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn in Provo. We spent both nights hanging out playing games, watching movies, and eating treats. The boys enjoyed the game, "Settlers" (thanks, Mike) while the girls preferred visiting in the other room. But is was all a fabulous time and a much needed vacation. 

Cheese frys and hickory sauce from Training Table, Brick Oven Pizza, Downeast Outfitter Outlet (outlets are always a must since everything's so cheap, right?), Tai Pan Trading (Kathryn and I wanted a U-Haul to take home all the stuff we fell in love with), and of course the BYU Bookstore for cool souvenirs, brunch at The Homestead (did you know you can scuba dive in the hot springs crater there? We are definitely bringing swimsuits next time), the view....Timpanogos Mountain is breathtaking! Spending time with friends.......

Hot chicks

We love our wonderful friends. We are so blessed to have such amazing people in our lives. 

My honey and me

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Fun-Filled Halloween

Olivia and her friend, Megan with balloon versions of themselves. Amazing and so cute!

Bumble Bee Maizy after face paint.

Me with Lil' Pumpkin Paisley. (4 weeks old)

A 6 year old me as a princess with my brother, 4 year old Josh (scary pirate) and 2 year old Emily as a bunny rabbit. (my mom worked the pink coat into the costume.....clever.) Those were the days when everyone wore homemade costumes. I'd like to get back to that. How about starting next Halloween?
We have been lucky enough to attend a huge Halloween party at my brother-in-law's Aunt Sandy's home the past several years.  It the party of the year and my kids never want to miss it. There is an incredible balloon guy, a face painter,  inflatable jumps and (BIG) slides as well as decked out food tables with Halloween named items and treats from Sweet Cakes. She has a complete Halloween village from Department 56 that my kids love to stare at and her home is decorated in every nook and cranny. Most everyone is dressed up and everyone has a great time.
Ryan is waiting patiently for his turn with the balloon guy. He requested a RED pumpkin. He was very specific about the color. Now this balloon guy can do amazing creations, anything the kids ask for. Ryan is a boy of simple taste, apparently. 

Our little Queen Amidala (from Star Wars) wasn't complete without her crown.

My mom, Juanita, with my niece, Maizy the Bumble Bee.

My niece, Miah (aka Sleeping Beauty) and Ryan or Jango Fett. (bounty hunter from Star Wars)

My whole Star Wars clad gang. I just love how Ethan (Jedi Obi Wan) poses. He knows how to work it out with the camera. 

I remember the excitement of Halloween evening when I was a kid. Getting my costume on and feeling that thrill of what the night would hold. (of course that being to get as much candy as possible.) My mom always made all of us kids eat a good dinner before we went trick or treating. I could hardly stand the waiting! 

Living in Utah meant that half the time we had to wear coats over our costumes. Now what would that be like? My Arizona kids will never know.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm still alive

Just a quick post to say that I'm still alive and kickin'. I have been feeling a lot like Michael Keaton from Multiplicity. You know, the movie where he clones himself to get more done. Wouldn't that be nice.  So I survived my Friday Girls' Night Out craft night. I think it was a success. At least everyone said they had fun. I was a crazy woman running around all night. Thank goodness for my helpers. I got a little obsessed about the advent calendar kits. I spent insane hours preparing ahead of time. Actually, I'm still recovering from sleep deprivation. I was an idiot and would stay up until 2-3 am working on those kits. That was a once in a lifetime project to mass produce. I've learned my lesson.  I hope......

So Travis is only 7 days away from the end of radiation. Yeah! Unfortunately, the radiation accumulates and he has been sicker the past several days. Incredibly, he's still managing to work and make it to bankruptcy appointments and hearings. His worst symptom lately is nausea. He actually got sick while driving into Phoenix for a bankruptcy hearing today. He was on the freeway talking on the phone to me when he said, "I think I'm going to be sick." Then I hear some horrible noises that went on for a while. I kept asking him if he was safe and okay. He just kept throwing up. Then I heard a guy ask Travis if he was okay. We got disconnected and I immediately called back. He had thrown off his blue tooth when he got sick and pulled off on the shoulder of the freeway. Thankfully, he had a barf bag handy. It was a highway patrol car that stopped to see if Travis needed help. When I called him back he said he felt much better and went on to his hearing. Oh yea, he carried the barf bag (full) all the way to Phoenix and found a garbage when he got there! Is that a story or what? 

He announced to me today, "I'm sick of being sick." Amen. So am I.  I'm ready to move on. 

Honestly, I am floored by the faith and optimism of everyone I talk to. Everyone seems to know just the thing I need to hear at the moment. It keeps me going and helps my faith remain intact. I thank God for sending angels to help me through this. Travis and I are not going through this alone. We have literally hundreds of dear friends and family carrying us through this challenge.
I've said it before but have to say again how blessed I am. 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Half Way There

Travis completed the first 3 weeks of radiation on Friday. He is half way done! It's been hard on him but he is amazingly strong. From the symptoms he describes, it sounds a lot how the early stages of morning sickness feel. He is nauseous, tired and just feels bad overall. He is still managing to work at least 1/2 days or longer. Travis continues to do some bankruptcy work for Clint Smith part-time. He is also receiving a lot of referral work and is keeping pretty darn busy. The next few months will be a transitionary time and a lot will be happening. I have complete confidence that everything will work out very well for us.

The chaos in my life is definitely subsiding a bit. My dad is recovering well from his heart surgery. He is home from the hospital and getting stronger each day. My mom is still scootering around because of her foot surgery, but also doing well. I have my huge Enrichment Night coming up this Friday. When that is over, I will do a very happy, celebratory dance. It's been an enormous amount of work. Isn't it always more work than you every think? That's what I get for optimistically thinking I could pace myself by starting early. Big thanks to Jamie for her countless hours of help. I couldn't do it without my sister. I can't wait for Friday and know it's going to be lots of fun!

Last weekend I took Olivia and Ella to see "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" at East Valley Theatre in Mesa. My friend, Becki's daughter, Elli played the lead role of Lucy. She was so darling and did an incredible job. We had a great time together.
Ryan fell in love with our little Paisley and couldn't get enough holding time. He sure looked sweet with that baby in his arms.
I enjoyed taking a few pictures of her this week. She slept through the whole thing! This is her at 12 days old.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Travis update

So many are asking about how Travis is doing these days. He has completed almost 2 weeks of the 6 weeks of radiation. He goes in 5 days a week to St. Joseph Hospital and the appointments last less than 30 minutes. The drive to and from is what makes it so time consuming. I go with Travis to keep him company a couple of times a week. Travis goes with his dad a couple days a week and then Travis goes with a great friend, Shaun Jeffs, once a week. He was doing morning appointments, but we found that he felt pretty cruddy the rest of the day. So now he goes in the afternoon so at least he can work the first 1/2 of the day. His main symptoms are nausea, fatigue and basically just the yuckies. (Is that a word?) He is managing the nausea with Zofran and it seems to be helping. He is very sensitive to the radiation and has come to actually feel it enter his body. He feels kind of weird for a while after it is done. He wears a custom mesh face mask that is bolted to the table and he must hold perfectly still for 15 minutes. He has gotten very good at meditating and finding his "happy place" so as to make it bearable. His sense of smell is very heightened. He cannot even tolerate sitting in the waiting room so he checks in and waits outside the building. It doesn't smell bad to me but has a very distinct smell that Travis is adverse to. Very interesting. All in all, he is doing very well with it. We are making a graduation trip (from radiation) to Utah as soon as the 6 weeks are up. That gives us something fun to look forward to. Go Cougars!!!

On top of that, there has been a tremendous amount of drama in my family. Besides my sister having her first baby, my mom had foot surgery 12 days ago and cannot walk on it for 6 weeks. At this very moment my dad is having open heart surgery to correct a regurgitating valve in his heart.  He had a horrible experience on a hunt in Colorado a few weeks ago and nearly died of pulmonary edema. (fluid in the lungs from high altitude) The doctors recommended a cardiology consult. That's when they found the problem with his heart. He has been having difficulty recovering from the pulmonary edema, but on top of that a regurgitating valve causes difficulty breathing. Double whammy. 

I am beginning to feel like a rubber band being stretched as far as it can go. I am trying to hold it together so I don't snap. Thank goodness for support of friends, family and church. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Introducing Paisley

My sister Emily and her husband Christian became parents on Thursday night. My sweet little niece had a hard time getting here and after 36 hours of labor then an emergency cesarean she finally arrived. She was having a difficult time at first so she was taken to NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). But soon she was breathing easy and eating well on her own. She weighed in at 6 pounds 14 ounces, not bad for 3 weeks early. They named her Paisley. I love the name. I really love this little baby. She has such a calm and content disposition and has been such a joy to get to know this past few days. It almost makes me want another one. (almost) 

Paisley and me on Sunday in the NICU.

The night they brought Paisley home I took Ella and Olivia over to meet her and brought them dinner. The girls were smitten with Paisley and couldn't get enough of her.

Olivia was especially taken with this new little member of the family. She made Paisley a quilt, she even sewed it by hand. She is trying to convince me to have another baby. Those instincts to take care of a baby are so strong with girls. Olivia even said that she can't wait until she can be a mom. (maybe in about 15 years, or so!)

I love to see my girls so in love with our new little baby. I'm sure we will have an open door to Emily and the baby so we can see as much of her as possible. She is absolutely adorable!

Sunday, September 28, 2008


We can finally all ride together! Ryan made the cut this year when he grew to 40 inches. Way to go, big guy. The funny thing is, Ryan looks the most relaxed out of the whole family. Ella wins for the most terrified.

The happiest place on earth has a magical affect on my children.....they actually get along.

Much to Travis and my dismay, the kids love to climb Tarzan's treehouse. That is just way too much exercise to do at Disneyland. They love the play area at the end.

Olivia took full advantage of all photo ops. She loved the waterfall here.

We've never taken the kids before November so it was lots of fun to see all the festive Fall decor. Everything was pumpkins, orange banners, orange and yellow mums. It made me so excited for cooler temps, Halloween and all the fun Fall activities. But none of us were prepared for the warm September weather. UGH! But the crowds were great and the kids got lots of action on countless rides. It was one of my best trips with the kids because we were able to ride nearly everything together. No more stroller swapping! We are officially out of the baby phase. We have really arrived. 

We planned on spending our third day there until after lunch then heading home. We did everything we could think of and more. It was fabulous. But of course after the last ride, Ella said, "Can we go on just one more ride?" That sums it up.
It's always a sad moment to say good-bye to our favorite place.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ryan's Reptile Adventures

Ryan turned 4 over the weekend and today we had the Reptile Guy, Rich, come with all his amazing reptile friends to entertain 15 kids. It was the best, most entertaining party I've ever thrown!  He wowed the kids with his collection of lizards, iguanas and snakes. He has raised all of them from babies and they were so much fun to see. He had a bearded dragon, Junior, a  legless lizard, Goldie, a friendly snake, Billy (all the kids got to hold him!), and a 7 year old albino python named Lilly. She is over 16 feet long and weighs over 100 pounds! Check out all the kids kneeling beside her in the above picture. Surprisingly, no one was scared and they all wanted to pet her.

Ryan took some convincing, but finally got cozy with Billy. It freaked him out just a bit.

Travis was super comfortable with a snake wrapped around his neck.

One of the coolest friends was T-bow, the rhinoceros iguana. Rich has raised him for the past 19 years. T-bow is only middle-aged so he has a lot a life still in him. Rich educated all of us about these unusual reptiles. Each kid from 3 years old and up were fascinated and mesmerized by the presentation. Rich is hilarious with the animals. He has a funny relationship with each animal and you could tell how much he loves them.

Ethan was excited to hold Billy. I'm sure it was a little scary but everyone was doing it, so how bad could it be?

My sister in law, Jodi, recommended Reptile adventures and Rich didn't disappoint! It was such a treat and all the kids (and grown ups) had a great time. If you want to check out Reptile Adventures click here

Travis begins radiation on the 29th. We plan to take the kids to Disneyland for a few days before he begins. The kids got a little gyped this summer when we cancelled all our vacation plans. We need an escape and as many of you know, we are Disneyland freaks!