WordPress is just too big a pain to continue to navigate.  I’ve moved the blog back to Blogger:


Summertime kid update

Since part of the purpose of this blog is to capture memories of my sons’ childhood, I thought I’d share some things I’m particularly loving about them this summer:


• Andy is really great with the elderly. He’s got an affinity for them, and they love him. Some of this may be because he’s been homeschooled up until now and so he’s had a lot of freedom and time to get to know our neighbors, half of which are older and retired. He loves to visit with them, talk to them, help them in the yard…every other Thursday he takes down the recycling of several of our neighbors, and then takes the bins back to their back porches after the truck comes and empties them. He keeps a particularly close eye on the lady who lives across the street from us, who never married. He knows when she’s gone to the grocery store, and he waits for her to come home to help carry in her bags. This affinity for older folks really showed itself when we were at Nordley for a week of vacation last month. Katie’s mom and her boyfriend were there along with Katie’s sister and her mother in law. These 4 took the train from Washington State to Washington DC and stayed for 3 weeks, and 3 of them were octogenarians. Andy kept such an eye on them! The mother-in-law, Jo, took a fall during her stay, a few days before we arrived, and she was particularly limited in some of her movements. Andy put her shoes on for her, brought her water and snacks on the porch where she spent most of her time, and checked in with her regularly to see what she needed. She sent him the nicest note in the mail, which we got this week, and I cried reading it.

• Though I wish it applied a little more to his room and younger brother, Andy has a servant’s heart. For all the things he does for our older neighbors, he refuses to take any money. However, recently another (20-something) neighbor asked if he’d be willing to do some yard work for her, and she offered to pay him. He came to me to talk about it, and wanted to know if it was okay if he took payment from her, when he doesn’t for some other neighbors. His rationale was that he does things for the older neighbors who can’t easily do them for themselves, and he’s happy to do that, but this young woman is perfectly capable of doing it herself, she simply didn’t want to spend the time. If Andy hadn’t done it, she’d have hired someone else, but the other neighbors would simply struggle alone with their recycling bins or heavy groceries. I was so proud of him for perceiving the difference, and agreed that he should let Hayley pay him whatever she thought was appropriate for his work.


• For all his brusque-ness, Alex is really a pussycat. Every night before they go to bed the big boys have some quiet tv time in the living room, and usually Martin and I are in our room on the bed watching our own TV. Alex always comes in after he’s brushed his teeth, and gets this shy little sneaky grin on his face. If I ask what he wants, he’ll say, “Squeezers!” and then jump up on the bed to give me a full-body bear hug. They’re the best! He then always scooches over to Martin for a repeat, then runs off to bed. It’s my favorite part of the day!

• Alex wakes up slowly. This morning, like many others, I was in the bathroom getting ready when I heard him banging around getting down from his bunk, and eventually the bedroom door opened and closed. I looked out into the hall to say good morning, and there he was, shuffling along like an old man, with his long body pillow under one arm, and a giant stuffed snake he won playing a carnival game at Busch Gardens under the other. “Mornin’” he grunted, and shuffled off to the living room to climb into Martin’s chair and watch the vacation planning dvd that Walt Disney World sent us 7 months ago. He loves to watch that thing, over and over and over!


• Jack continues to be a love-bug. He’s very good at hugs, and those hugs usually include pats – he pats you on the back or shoulder while he hugs you. Precious!

• Jack is talking up a storm, finally, though we still struggle to comprehend exactly what he’s saying a good proportion of the time. Particularly common phrases these days include:

o O-hay (meaning okay)

o Me, too

o Is good, Andy/Alex? (he asks if their food is good, frequently!)

o That way!  (Directing us where to go…)

• Jack is all about two things in life: Grandpa, and the swimming pool. He really loves jumping into the pool, and we put water wings on him (which he calls Patricks, because they have starfish guys on them that remind him of Patrick on Spongebob) so he pops right up from the depths after he jumps, and he immediately flips over and starts swimming for the edge. “More more!”

Cool Kids Campaign

You know how obsessed passionate I am about fighting cancer, though most of my work has been centered at this point around either breast cancer or blood cancers.  What gets to me more than anything are KIDS with cancer. I’m so thankful for my 3 healthy guys that I’m always looking for ways to make a difference.

My Aunt Linda is on the board of a really fabulous charity that’s headquartered in the Baltimore area called the Cool Kids Campaign.  CKC was co-founded by World and National championship figure skater Kimmie Meissner after losing two young friends to cancer. The mission of the Cool Kids Campaign is simple:  to provide kids with cancer a higher quality of life for themselves and their families while facing challenges of cancer.  They’ve been featured nationally on CNN and other news outlets, and their Cancer Fears Me line of gear is a hit with kids in cancer treatment centers across the country.

Having completed my first half marathon last fall, I know that there is (like with childbirth) a certain amount of amnesia on which I can count…I am signed on to do my second in a little over a month, right?  So I’m banking on 6 weeks being long enough between the Rock n Roll for amnesia to set in, and I’ve signed on with Team Cool Kids to do the half marathon at the Baltimore Running Festival on October 16th.  Even more cool is that this is going to be a family affair – many of my cousins will be participating in the weekend, and both of my older boys, Andy and Alex will be doing the Kids Mile. 

To that end, all 3 of us have made a commitment to fundraise on behalf of the Cool Kids Campaign!  Andy and Alex both have to raise $40 each, and I have to raise at least $200, but we’re hoping we can do better than that!  I’m proud to be teaching my kids not only about the importance of being active, but about being socially active and volunteering.

So I’m asking for help! I need donations, and I need your help in spreading the world. Please consider linking back to this blog post and getting the word out, it would mean the world to all 3 of us, but more importantly, your dollars and those of your friends will help fund support for kids fighting cancer!

My fundraising page:  http://www.active.com/donate/teamcoolkids2010/LWHarris

Andy’s fundraising page:  http://www.active.com/donate/teamcoolkids2010/AHarris274

Alex’s fundraising page:  http://www.active.com/donate/teamcoolkids2010/AHarris275

WordPress or Blogger?

I’m once again trying to decide where to host my blog. Since blogger has gone all Google, I’m finding that makes more sense, but everything is HERE right now. *sigh* Why can’t WordPress be more user-friendly? It’s certainly prettier, but it’s a pain in the tookas…

Thoughts, anyone?


Wow, I’m like a month behind! I did post photos from our annual week at Nordley, so scroll down and take a look!

The week was wonderful, and went by too quickly, as always. The previous week had been hectic due to Vacation Bible School which kept all of the boys (Martin included, as he taught Science) busy and so I was really relieved when at 2:30 on Thursday my boss told us to have a nice long 4th of July weekend and get the hell out of the office! (We had Friday and Monday as the holiday.) That let me get some things done before going to meet girlfriends Marcey, Steph and Cheryl for dinner and Eclipse which was just as bad as the first two episodes of the saga, but still fun to laugh about with the girls!

Friday morning July 2nd I dropped all 4 boys at church for VBS then hoofed it home to finish packing and loading the car. By the time I got to church around 11:30, things were winding down, and we got away just after noon. We stopped at the house to drop off the VBS stuff, grab the last few temperature-sensitive things we were taking, and we were on the interstate headed to Nordley well before 1pm. We beat the July 4th beach traffic, and were there, unloaded and in the pool by 4pm. Ahhhhh!

This year Katie’s mom, sister and 2 friends were all there for a 3 week visit. They took the train from Washington (State!) to DC, which was quite the adventure, and so it changed things a bit to have 3 octogenarians in the house. The boys loved the extra friends, though, and Andy in particular went out of his way to be helpful to everyone, which was nice.

We’ve been having record heat in our part of the world, and so we really didn’t do a whole heck of a lot while off that week. On Wednesday, when it was due to be 100 degrees out, we loaded up and took the trek to the Eastern Shore via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. The boys had never been across, and it was a nice outing. We went to Cape Charles, had lunch and poked around, then headed back to Dad’s. On Thursday it was due to only be around 90 (only!) and so Martin and took our crew over to Busch Gardens for the day. It wasn’t crowded at all but the boys seemed to take turns being cranky (and to be honest, I think both Martin and I had a turn ourselves) and so we loaded up and got back around 4pm to jump in the pool and cool off! On Friday we had friends come for lunch and a swim, which was nice. Saturday morning Dad rode along with us to Williamsburg to hit the L.L.Bean outlet in search of backpacks for school. We scored, and even found matching lunch boxes, so that proved to be a successful outing. We had one last dinner and then headed home Saturday night (July 10th) after a great long week. I want to go back now!

Sunday the 11th we spent getting settled back in at home. We went for bagels for breakfast, then did an epic grocery shop, as we’d worked our way down to nothing before going on vacation. Andy and I then did a Target run and ended up buying a fair bit of the boys’ back to school list since they were putting out the school supplies…I’m a sucker for school supplies and love getting stuff before it’s all picked over! Yes, I’m a geek, I know it! Sunday afternoon I went for a pedicure, and we all had an early night so I was ready to go back to work the next day.

Re-entry after vacation is always rough, but the week went quickly. Unfortunately, when it rains it pours, and on Wednesday both the kitchen sink and the home computer began acting weird. The sink turned out to be an easy and cheap fix that Martin managed on his own (love him!) The computer, unfortunately, is probably dead. I hadn’t really planned on buying a new one until after Christmas, so we’ll see what happens. For now, Martin is using my laptop but the boys are forbidden to touch it since they end up inadvertently downloading crap that messes things up. After the first day or two they stopped complaining about it, so we may see how long we can stand this arrangement!

Both boys have a summer reading homework assignment from school. Alex has to read 5 books, and Andy has to read 4 (obviously, his are bigger and more detailed!) Alex has to draw a picture for each of his books and answer one question. Andy, on the other hand, has to choose a question from a list to write an answer for each book. Getting that child to write is like pulling teeth! He gets so hung up on spelling that he just shuts down and either refuses, or has a complete hissy fit. So I’ve dreaded starting this assignment, but realized that as we’re now into the second half of July, we shouldn’t put it off anymore.

Therefore, this past Saturday, after returning from a really horrible run with Team in Training, I got cleaned up and we all headed out to the library. Despite saying they don’t like to read, both Andy and Alex love to go to the library and pick out books, so we decided to capitalize on it. I had already picked some books out from their suggested reading lists, but we decided to let them pick some, too. Turns out the library is also running its own reading contest, and the boys got Chik-Fil-A coupons for signing up. They get a “cool treat” (who knows what, but presumably a coupon for an ice cream or something) when they read 5 books, and some other nifty prize for reading 10 by August 31st. Since they were both on the hook to read 4 or 5 for school, we signed up. Then my friend Christy texted to give me a head’s up about a reading contest Barnes & Noble is offering kids this summer, where they can pick out a free book when they fill out a passport for reading 8 books. We stopped there on the way home from the library to look for a book we couldn’t find, and signed the boys up for that one, too. 3 contests!

Turns out, competition is a good thing. Alex has read and done his drawing/writing assignment for 4 of his 5 books for school already, and of course those books also count towards the library and B&N as well. One more and then we can just read for the fun of it and not have to color or write unless I can convince him to keep doing them for fun in a notebook. We’ll see! Andy, the more headstrong and resistant of the two on this subject, has completed 3 of his 4 school books, which is quite a feat considering we started Saturday afternoon and it’s now Tuesday afternoon. What did the trick? A book I bought him a year or two ago that he refused to even look at before: Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Granted, the fact that it’s got lots of drawings sucked him in because he thought he was getting away with something, but the fact is he absolutely loved reading it and laughed out loud and kept coming to read us favorite bits. It was awesome! I have had to put my foot down and make him read other books between Wimpy books, but so far so good. We’ll see if I can parlay that into at least 10 books for the library contest or not.

Martin and I are both avid readers. We would both love nothing more than to be left alone for an afternoon to read, and so we keep waiting for the boys to catch the same bug, you know? I’m hoping this summer will do it for Andy. Alex isn’t reading on his own yet, but maybe next summer…

Have you seen the ads for Neutrogena SkinID? It’s a “personalized” skin line of Neutrogena products that is meant to be more effective than ProActiv because it’s customized to your skin’s needs. I decided to try it a couple of months ago, because even at 39, my skin hasn’t decided to leave it’s teenage phase sometimes, and ProActiv is way too harsh and dries me out horribly. I went online, took the questionnaire meant to tailor the products to my needs, and submitted my order.

The box came about 10 days later, and included a wash, a spot treatment, an overall treatment, and a moisturizer. They also included a body wash and a makeup bag everything fit in. I’ve been using it for about 6 weeks and can’t say that I have noticed any real difference. I forgot to go online and cancel my membership before they autoshipped my refills, until the $49 charge showed up on my bank account and the box showed up. I sent it back before going on vacation with instructions to refund my money and cancel my membership.

It’s now been 15 days, 2 emails via their website and I’m currently just past the 1 hour mark on hold on their phone lines. I still haven’t gotten my money back (though they received my return 11 days ago, which I know thanks to delivery confirmation) nor have I gotten a live response via email or phone. When I submit an email via their website I get an auto response warning me that their email volume is higher than normal and they’ll get back to me ASAP. 5 days later, still nothing. So I called this morning, chose the appropriate option on the phone tree, and was warned that call volume is high and wait times can be up to 30 minutes. Try 1:02 and counting! I am sick to death of listening to the same music and voices, I need to pee, but I refuse to hang up. I want my money back!

So here’s my unpaid, unsolicited review of Neutrogena SkinID: DON’T BUY IT! It doesn’t yield noticeable results (though to be fair, it didn’t dry me out) and their customer service is HORRIBLE, bordering on fraudulent.

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