Wednesday, June 29, 2011

sugar cookie extravaganza number 44

a farewell to california means a farewell to the monthly sugar cookie making, baking, decorating and eating extravaganza that has been going strong since october 2007. when i invited kristen and lindsey over to my house to make halloween cookies 3.5 years ago, i never imagined what it would lead to. in that time, we only missed one month, bringing the grand total to 44. with an average of 40 cookies {probably more} each time, that's a whopping 1,760 cookies. yum. and we also only almost burned the house down once. those were some hard cookies.

we have it down to a science. from the rolling to the baking {even though we never hear the oven timer} to coloring and bagging the frosting, to choosing the decorating tips to actually decorating and consuming the cookies. we really have that last part down pat.

and now we've all made a pact to never make sugar cookies again unless we are all together. right?
i'm not sure who is going to miss it more - the moms or the chubby-cheeked kids. or maybe ryan. he has a thing for frosting...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

my california family

i feel like there are no words adequate to describe how much i love and appreciate my friends here in california. amazing? incredible? wonderful? selfless? fun? beautiful? awesome sauce?

being away from true blooded family here in california forced us to become family with our friends. it has been an incredible experience, one i wouldn't trade for the world. but it also makes leaving that much more difficult. these {insert great adjective here} women have been my salvation on more than one occasion. 
 {top: rachel, lindsey, jaimi, michelle, cheryl, dyan, nicole, whitney, meghan
bottom: mary, sarah, maren, elaine, jessica, kim, laura, kristen, jen}

they threw a going-away party for kristen and i and it was wonderful. it's amazing to see how the kids have grown and changed...and how many more of them there are! i'm pretty sure i'm the only one whose number of children has stayed stagnant over the past 4.5 years.

not only did they throw us a party and provide us with yummy food, they also made a little photo book for leah with pictures of all of her california friends for her to always remember. we've already read it a bazillion times. and i've already cried that many times too. 

these women embrace the good and the bad in me. they've been my running buddies, my dinner dates, my pedicure partners. they've offered warm meals and shoulders to cry on as well as lots of laughter and good, good times. they knew leah when she was chatty, finger-feeding, book flipping leah. and they loved her. they know leah now and love her just the same. 

 {cousins leah and lauren - little sister of leah's twin, jack}

their kids treat leah like she is one of them. they don't even bat an eye when their hair happens to get tangled in her busy fingers. they just giggle and say, "leah is giving me a hug!" or when one of them says, "i'm not very nice to leah", you can rest assured there will be another who says, "if you're not nice to leah, then i can't be your friend." {true story.} they hold her hand and talk to her and include her. they tell me what she's thinking - and they're usually right. i want to pick up each and every one of these tiny little angels and put them in my pocket to take them with us everywhere we go.

there is so much i will miss about being around these wonderful moms and kids each day, but i'm so happy that they've been a part of my life. a big, huge, enormous part of my life. a part i will always treasure and for which i will always be ever so grateful.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

it's a jungle out there

as i mentioned before, i spent the last week volunteering for my church as a leader at their annual girl's camp. it was held at camp lehi in the redwoods about an hour from my  house. the camp is put on each summer for girls ages 12-18 in our stake. i was unofficially asked to go last year and i kind of chuckled at the idea. why in the world would i give up a week of my summer and find someone to watch leah while i spent a week in the woods with teenagers? but this year, for some reason, when i received the phone call to officially invite me to be a unit leader over ten 14 year olds, it just felt right. i knew it was something i needed to do. 

since ryan is leaving work to go to school, he said he could use some vacation days and take the week off to watch leah. about two weeks before i left, ryan got slammed at work. and when i say slammed i mean he went into work early every day and stayed until the middle of the night. due to various circumstances, the work load in the office overall was increased and the staff was decreased by a few, so there was no way he could stay home. i nearly lost it. i'm not sure how anyone is expected to find someone to watch their child for five full days on such short notice {and not a lot of pay}. but, somehow i always forget how incredible my friends are and six of them immediately stepped in to watch leah that week.

i went to girl's camp as a youth - six years of it, actually. we did different things each year ranging from camping in tents and cooking over fires to rafting the green river or water skiing at nearby reservoir. i think we had electricity one year and flushing toilets another, but other than that, it was lots of flashlights, campfires and outhouses. camp lehi, however, is much different. the girls still "rough" it in tents, and we were in the wilderness all week {mosquitoes, heat, ticks, scorpions, rats, snakes, etc.}, but there were flushing toilets and a mess hall to eat in. which also means there was a larger staff. as a girl, my local young women leaders did everything from plan the camp to carry out the logistics themselves. quite a feat, now that i look back on it.

throughout the week, i counted 53 adults staffed in various areas who were there the entire week, among 15 or so others who came and went. these adults - ranging from cooks to nurses to directors to crafties to duties to certification leaders to unit leaders like me were all there solely to help the camp go smoothly for 88 teenage campers. it was incredible to watch and be a part of. 

as a third year leader, i was paired with another adult to take responsibility for the well being of ten 14 year old girls. alexa and i titled our unit the faithful felines and got to wear cat ears {handmade by moi} all week long. we ate with the girls, we hiked with the girls, we slept in their campsite. we were with them probably 22 hours of each day. and these girls were magnificent. 
we had a lively group, for sure. awards were given each night for various things throughout the day. our unit received no awards for cleanliness in the mess hall or anything of the sort.
 we did, however, receive multiple awards for being the most enthusiastic. and when i say enthusiastic, i wish you could just have a video of us singing {in competition with other groups} to get our meals or practicing for our skit. these girls were a riot.
i learned all sorts of things that are now a part of my daily life, much to ryan's chagrin. i now know the meaning of "i.l.l.y" - "i like love you!" as well as the symbol for the justin bieber heart. i know lyrics to songs i never knew existed and have been singing camp tunes like the princess pat ever since i've been home. 

the theme this year was "it's a jungle out there" and nearly everything we did was intended to strengthen these girls to be able to survive in a world that has very different standards than they do. 

throughout the week we participated in morning and night flag ceremonies, crafts, singing time, service projects {tying quilts, writing our testimonies in copies of The Book of Mormon, writing kind notes to others in our lives}, personal progress, "duties" {setting up or cleaning up after meals/cleaning the bathrooms/walking and cleaning the trails/etc.} and "EFC" - Especially for Campers - which, from what i understand, was one of the coolest parts of camp. unit leaders were not allowed to attend, but for an hour each day these girls were taught by two wonderful ladies about putting on the armor of god.
along with the other group of third years, we we went on an overnight hike on tuesday with packs on our backs to fulfill one of the certification requirements for their third year of camping.
 while on the hike led by sister atkinson, we got lost and ended up tromping through a forest of poison oak, which, miraculously, didn't harm anyone. while lost, we stopped by a river to purify drinking water {it was the hottest day at camp, nearing the 100s} and rest in the shade. when the two trusty men assigned to our group ({brother crist and brother keller} and two of the unit leaders returned saying they found our trail, we packed up and moved forward.
one girl began to have knee pain, so one of the men took her pack. another girl in my unit {and also one of the girls i've had the pleasure of teaching for the past two years} has had some health problems this year. i was called to be her unit leader and had specific instructions to make sure she was eating enough and not exerting too much energy. she had a dr. appointment set up for the next day and if her heart was under stress, she wouldn't have been able to come back. she was doing great, but as we stopped to take a rest, she looked a bit tired. so, i picked up her backpack and put it on my left shoulder and started hiking. she protested, but i insisted. i told her i knew she wasn't asking for help, but i wanted to make sure she came back to camp after her appointment. she gave in and we hiked together the rest of the way. i had a lot of people ask me how i carried two packs full of gear for the rest of the hike and to be honest, i don't know. i really wasn't even tired after doing it. my only conclusion is that i definitely had some extra help from above. this darling girl ended up passing her medical exam with flying colors and came right back to camp. 
thursday night the third years were in charge of a skit. after bonding on the overnight hike, the two units decided to do their skit together and they performed "girl's camp the musical: year three" for all the other campers. they chose popular songs from justin bieber, katie perry and more and redid the lyrics to coordinate with things happening at camp. the girls did everything themselves from start to finish, including cue cards i held for them in front of the stage. it was a bit of a drama to get to the finished product {remember, this group consisted of twenty 14 year olds}, but the result was hilarious and quite impressive.
friday we participated in an all-camp activity. the girls were divided into ten teams to compete in a game of survivor for ice cream sundaes. madeline and i were relieved of our unit leader duties for a few hours and were instead in charge of the "teamwork" competition where two teams competed against each other to be the first to make it across the "river" while standing only on two boards and two stones. also hilarious to watch. some teams got really into it and most were really creative - including picking up the smallest members and carrying them across on their backs. we were, again, impressed.
friday night after dinner and campfire, we held a testimony meeting where girls shared their testimonies of the gospel of jesus christ and how those testimonies were strengthened while at camp. i loved hearing such sweet words come from the mouths of the girls in my unit as well as the girls i've had the pleasure of teaching each sunday for the past three years. 
saturday we packed our bags {when they were lined up on the pavement, the square footage of bags took up more space in a moving truck than ryan and i will use to move our entire house in a few weeks nice.},
 tore down our tents {the first years found a fun surprise under their tents as they were dismantling. two rats had gone in to make a nest before the girls got there and were trampled to their deaths as the girls set up. these 12 year olds thought the foul smell was dirty feet or simply that of camping when in reality it was two dead, smooshed rats they had been sleeping on all week!},

and did our final duties before we headed back home. 

as the week ended, i realized that this week really was something i was supposed to do. it was a joy to be with these girls for six days where we weren't distracted by technology or media or anything else. we could learn and be strengthened and uplifted by one another with no strings attached. i met some wonderful individuals in our stake, which ironically now makes me even more sad to be moving, but i'm glad to have met them and have their influence forever upon me. it is a jungle out there, but with people like this looking out for me and for all these girls, we can definitely make it through.

Monday, June 20, 2011

dad's day

ryan celebrated his fifth year as a dad with a super cool tie decorated by miss ribbons herself. to show his appreciation, he let leah ride in the front seat with him {for 30 our complex parking come pick up me and the food}. 
we then celebrated three great dads with a fabulous feast {yes, those are chocolate chip peanut butter BACON cookies and yes, that cheesecake was made from scratch by the incredible kristen}. 
these kids are such great buddies. they've grown so much since last year! we are sure going to miss them. looks like leah will especially miss mr. austin???
a good time is always had with the katzs and harmans around.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

girl's camp

and i'm off to girl's camp...for a week. 

yup. for the next week i'm in charge of the well-being of ten 14-year-old girls in the forest. it's gonna be great. including an overnight hike sleeping under the stars.

and i promise to blog all about it when i return. along with boston. i promise to blog all my jumbled and amazing thoughts about boston. and a great father's day. and a successful first week of summer break. and a fabulous garage sale yesterday leaving us with a much more spacious garage. i promise. 

funny how the blog gets behind when we're actually doing fun things. 

but for now, i'm off...

garage sale goodness

the saturday before camp, i participated in a multi-family garage sale with three of my friends. i spent the time between europe and then cleaning out and purging. the unwanted pile ended up taking up most of the floor space in my garage and barely fit in my civic that morning. we crammed every last corner of the trunk, back seat and passenger seat full. considering these were all items i wanted to donate, the fact that i made $200 that day is pretty sweet.

we color coded all the items so when they were sold, we knew how to divvy the cash. i was red. kristen, apparently, was green.

don't you love that she looks beautiful no matter what she's doing? 
i particularly loved the way molly labeled this box. nice, molly.

and the best part? when we decided to close shop, everything that was left was piled into molly's car {with space to spare} and driven two blocks to the d.i. truck sitting in the parking lot of the local lds church. i came home nearly empty handed {just grabbed a few things i thought might sell on craigslist} and it felt gooooood.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

head shot

in preparation for mba school, tuck requested a picture of each member of the incoming class. they were to be dressed nicely and against a white or neutral background. so, we set up the tripod and took a few shots. 

my favorite quote of the night came from ryan who, when we were looking through the options, said, "i look...well, maybe i am just old and ugly."

personally, i think he's pretty cute. the suit coat and shorts are just icing on the cake.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

the worst (travel) day of my life

thursday, may 26th we awoke bright and early, finished packing and drove an hour north to zurich where i had, hands down, the worst series of flight and airport experiences of my life. 

i was that person who was checked - and double checked - at every point possible. i was that person who was patted down at security. i was that person who had their meticulously packed carry-on bag dumped out onto the metal table and then run through the x-ray scanner FOUR times. i was that person who was patted down and groped at zurich and jfk. 

in new york, when i was trying to catch my soon-to-leave connection to boston, i set off the alarm {who knows why - i got through that part fine in zurich!} and stood for 20 minutes while the rudest employee known to man refused to even let me try again. it wasn't until another employee came, assessed the situation {and was truly confused at the actions of her fellow employee}, patted me down and sent me on my way. 

when i arrived at customs in new york city, the man at the passport check did not believe the woman in my passport picture was me. granted it was five years ago {gasp!} and my hair was in a pony tail, not down like in the picture...and i had glasses on while traveling {which i took off for him}. i can see how one would be so confused. i'm sure it's never happened to him before. i provided my driver license but he still didn't believe it was me. the landing card i provided asked where i was going in the united states. because i was headed to boston {and my plane ticket said so}, i provided the address of the hotel in boston where i would be staying - per instructions of the flight attendant that day. when my california driver license and the address on my passport didn't match the address of the hotel in boston, he asked to see a third picture id. i'm not sure about you, but i don't know of many adults who are no longer in school that have a third picture id????

he questioned me about where i had been and who i had been traveling with. when he learned i had traveled with three others but they weren't here with me now, he got suspicious. and why, if i had a daughter and i was going to a conference specifically for her, was she not with me?, etc., etc. he questioned me for 20 minutes before my tears got the better of me and he let me through. 
so much for my much-anticipated "welcome home."

as for ed and lindsey, their connecting flight out of atlanta was delayed for a loooooooooooong time and they didn't get home until the wee hours of the morning. 

as for ryan, his flight was flat out cancelled. he thought he had a few hours at the zurich airport, but they got him on an earlier flight and he ended up running to catch it. but he made it safely to salt lake and to sweet little leah. 

i finally made it to boston, on time, and {barely} in one piece. and i went to bed early.

switzerland: awards and outtakes

we didn't find any signs in which we were lost in translation, so we'll skip that prize. 

ugliest picture is unanimously awarded to: ryan

as for the best and worst of switzerland, here goes:

attraction: jungfraujoch {all}
food: aspen hotel {ryan}, bruschetta {maren}, pasta {lindsey}, baguette for lunch {ed}
travel: junfraujoch train {all}
desserts/sweets: apfeltaschen {ed and ryan}, strawberry creme schnitten {maren and lindsey} speaking of schnitten's, i figured out after seeing it about 20 times that it means "bar" and it's my new favorite word. i try to fit it into all sorts of conversations.
incident or experience: stadtkeller show {lindsey and ed}, cowbells in the fields {ryan}, feeding the birds {maren}

attraction: flight simulator {ed and ryan}, boat tour - couldn't hear! {lindsey and maren}
food: olive roll on sandwich {lindsey}, swiss cheese fondu {ed and ryan}, endive in salad {maren}
travel: getting lost in grindelwald {lindsey}, swiss driving pass {ed}, tolls {maren}, rental car in general {ryan}
dessert/sweet: wheat apple strudel tart {ryan}, nut pastry {ed}, none {maren}, biscotti in sack lunch {lindsey}
incident/NOT funny: bern temple and traveling to grindelwald {maren}, getting lost while driving {lindsey}, flies at dinner - "don't break the plate!" {ed and ryan}

as for the best and worst OVERALL:
favorite: switzerland {lindsey}, london {ryan}, paris {maren}, grindelwald {ed}
least fav: none of them! {ryan and lindsey}, lucerne {maren}, london {ed}

favorite: paris {all}, ravioli in paris in particular {maren}
least fav: pub food in london {ryan and ed}, normandy sour cream pizza {lindsey}, nothing {maren}
favorite: london underground {all}
least fav: {paris metro with luggage {all}
favorite: tricole custard {ed}, apfeltaschen {ryan}, creme schnitten {lindsey}, fruit tart {maren}
least fav: wine gums {maren and ryan}, licorice in london {ed and lindsey}
favorite: dday tour {ed, ryan and maren}, grindelwald {lindsey}
least fav: kensington palace {ed and maren}, being outside the louve - hot and dusty! {ryan}, crude irishmen in london {lindsey}

and now, for some final outtakes from switzerland...

and with that, i bid you, and europe, adieu.

cheers to research to reality - bawston

{may 26-29, 2011}

again i find myself staring at the computer screen with fingers not moving. unable to adequately sum up my feelings after a weekend such as mine in boston for the annual international rett syndrome foundation conference. this post will most likely end up being too long, but there are a lot of emotions i'd like to record.

for starters, the train ride on the T from the airport to my hotel was the end of a horrific day of travel. i was exhausted and trying to figure out how i was going to adjust to a new time zone and stay awake for all the sessions at the same time. i hadn't seen leah in two weeks and i was only in boston to attend a conference all about her. 

i was more than excited to see "old" friends and hopeful to meet new ones. i was excited about learning new tips and techniques to implement into my day-to-day with leah, but terrified to perhaps learn what i have been doing for the past year and a half has been somehow incorrect or not enough.

and, again, i was just plain exhausted. 

i arrived in the late afternoon and had to find a drugstore. so after directions from the concierge, i dumped my compactly packed luggage and headed out for a nice thursday afternoon walk along the streets of boston. i picked up my necessities and then realized i was starving. so i stopped at a panera bread on the way home. after i ordered, i sat down, alone, at my table. after i got all situated and began to eat, i noticed a mother with her three young children sitting at the table next to me. i wasn't trying to eavesdrop, but they were close enough that i couldn't not hear what they were saying. the family was clearly headed out for a vacation of sorts the next morning, their father wasn't home from work yet so the mom decided to take the kids out for a special meal before they left. {undoubtedly because she didn't want to make dinner or clean the kitchen the day before leaving on a trip!} as i sat alone with my jumbled nerves, i listened to this mother and her three sweet children. the oldest, a girl, was in grade school. the middle, a boy was probably leah's age. and the youngest, another girl, was probably about 18 months old. this mother had her hands full, but it was the way she interacted with her children that made me think. as she helped them all with their meals she was ever-so patient. she asked them questions about their day and was truly interested in their responses. she asked them what they liked and didn't like about their days and why. she learned things about her children that i'm sure she never would have known had she not taken the time to ask...and listen. it was apparent that she was actively involved in her children's lives. a tear began to roll down my cheek. okay, it was more than one tear. i'm sure it was part exhaustion and part missing leah, but i really believe this mother was a gift sent to me to help me calm my nerves. she helped me to realize that so long as i was actively involved and interested in leah's day-to-day and overall well-being, we'll be just fine. as parents, none of us know how to make it through whether our kids are perfectly healthy or not. we just have to try. and when trying our best is all we can do, it is enough.

and with that, i headed back to the hotel, took the longest, hottest shower of my life and crawled into the most incredible fluffy white bed for the best sleep i'd had in two weeks. 

the next morning i was anxiously awaiting the arrival of some good friends from my vegas rettaway the previous summer. i took my time getting ready, even straightening my hair with a flat iron that hadn't worked overseas. i went downstairs to the lobby and began to text my friends who should have been near when one of them came up and gave me a big, giant hug. 

they took the red eye so erica went to take a nap while colleen and i sauntered through boston common. it was a beautifully warm day and it felt so nice to just be out in the fresh air. 

when we came back inside, we grabbed some breakfast {and erica some coffee} and met up with a few more friends. we registered mid-day and i received the leah-laden lanyard i'd wear all weekend. it definitely made me smile. 

my first big event was a tour through boston children's hospital's rett syndrome research lab. yes, they have an entire lab dedicated to researching treatments and a cure for rett syndrome. doctors and students and professionals who dedicate their days to bettering the life of leah. the thought of it made me cry more than once. erica and i both went on the tour and joked that we didn't say a word other than "wow" as we moved from room to room hearing explanations of what this particular person was doing with this particular piece of ridiculously expensive equipment. the picture below is one of many of a brain and the fascinating things they are learning about it. the tour was overwhelming and incredible at the same time. i'm excited that boston children's is going to be our stomping grounds for the next two years and that we get to rub shoulders with the likes of dr. omar khwaja and more.

on the tour i met a new mom from iowa whose daughter turns five this month and has been misdiagnosed since she was two. they received the official rett syndrome diagnosis one month ago and decided she should be at the conference. if that isn't the definition of a supermom, i'm not sure what is. i was most definitely NOT in an adequate emotional state to attend a conference one month after leah's diagnosis.

when we got back, we had afternoon tea at the hotel with even more friends. i'm certain the waiter wasn't fond of me because i didn't order tea. oh well. 

friday evening we attended the welcome address. to be sitting in a room full of parents, grandparents, medical professionals, teachers, therapists and more who are all interested in this horrible disease is indescribable. some of these individuals have been seeking answers for 50+ years. thank goodness for them. 

after the welcome session, i attended an informal breakout session for parents whose daughters are in leah's age range. we each introduced ourselves and our daughter(s) - one couple has a pair of identical twins with identical rett syndome mutations - and where we were from. i briefly mentioned that we were from california and would be making the move to new hampshire later in the summer. after the session, a mother from new hampshire introduced herself to me, wondering where in the state we would be moving. come to find out, we will live 10 minutes away from her and her 6 year old daughter. the next morning, this same mother introduced me to the preschool coordinator for the area where we will be living.  yes, you read that correctly. the women who had all of the answers to the questions that have been a big jumble in my head since ryan was accepted to dartmouth was standing right in front of me. she gave me a list of names and numbers and made sure i knew i could call her with any questions. and then she went on her way, leaving a teary-eyed maren in her wake. i was beginning to realize that tears would be a common thread woven throughout this weekend. 

friday night we ate at a pub nearby where i inhaled some of the most delicious clam chowder {er, chowda} i have ever had in my life. new england here we come. 

saturday was jam-packed. we missed breakfast because our beds were ridiculously comfortable, so we skipped some sessions about genetic testing and snagged a quick sandwich before heading into the keynote address given by dick hoyt. 

for those of you who aren't familiar with dick hoyt or his son rick, i urge you to become familiar. their story - team hoyt - is truly inspiring. unless you are completely void of feelings, you will most likely cry. erica asked me before the session started if i had my tissues {that came in our welcome bag - those irsf people are smart!}. i had left mine in the hotel room but was certain i'd be fine. i was completely and utterly wrong. i was a mess. but i felt a little better about my tears when dick himself got emotional while watching the video. rick competes in marathons and triathlons across the country with the help of his dad. dick, now 70, runs, swims and bikes with rick in tow. rick can't walk or do much of anything on his own. when he was born, the doctors said he would be a vegetable. dick told us, "we still haven't figured out what kind of vegetable he is." dick's whole message was "yes you can." and by the end, i truly believed that i could. rick, with the help of his trusty computer, said, "dad, when i'm running i feel like my disability disappears." for leah to feel that way for 10 seconds would be worth any effort of mine to make it happen. after the session, i bought his book and made sure to meet this man in person. fellow runners, eat your hearts out. 

the remainder of the day was spent in sessions ranging from the current state of research to communication to gastroenterology to therapies to neurology and epilepsy and more. it included others - like a sibling panel - that i didn't attend for fear of a total breakdown. 

saturday night we went to dinner with a fabulous group of girls and had an even more fabulous time where ann marie got a very fitting fortune in her cookie. 

after our bellies were filled, we headed back to the tribute reception. awards were given to various individuals for outstanding work in research, advocacy, awareness and more. my favorite quote of the night was from colleen who, when it was announced that an academy of young irish dancers would be our entertainment for the evening, said {dripping with sarcasm}, "oh great. watching a bunch of kids get up on stage and do all the things my daughter can't do is exactly what i needed tonight." i had to laugh at the irony, but all joking aside, these kids were amazing. the evening ended with another musical performance, a raffle and a tribute video of all of our girls {which, sadly, leah's picture didn't make it into by accident}. 

after the reception we headed to cheers. i was merely planning to get a good foot shot, but i also found a fantastic root beer to bring home to ryan for our root beer taste testing ritual with the harmans. it was a perfect ending to the night. plus, the cheers theme song is also the unofficial rett syndrome theme song - we decided that last year.

making your way in the world today takes everything you've got. 
taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot. 
wouldn't you like to get away?...
sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name. 
and they're always glad you came. 
you wanna be where you can see our troubles are all the same. 
you wanna go where everybody knows your name.

sunday morning i attended a few more incredible sessions on communication, literacy and mid- to high-tech devices to enable that communication and literacy and i learned a lot. we're hoping to continue in that direction in the next few years and get our hands on something that will really work well for little miss leah. i had to head out early to catch my flight and missed one of the sessions i wanted to hear the most on the igf-1 clinical trial. but from the reports i heard, the trial is going fantastically and we are definitely one step closer to treatments for our girls. that makes this mom smile. 

my flight home was awesome and to top it off i was met at baggage claim by the handsomest of husbands and the cutest of little girls. i was a little afraid leah might not remember - or care - who i was after 17 days away, but those fears were swept away when she giggled and leaned in to kiss my salty cheeks. it was good to get away and great to take a break from my worries {or understand them a little more}, but it was even better to be home sweet home.