Thursday, February 27, 2014

It's time again to celebrate...


My favorite boy in the middle of a Cameron sandwich turned
10
in January!

It was great fun with a Minute It, to Win It party at the school gym with 10 boys.  The best line of the night, when we were seriously losing control of the party, was by a friend who is in Fifth grade.  He said, "Mrs. Shook, this is what happens when you get together a bunch of Fourth graders."  Mike and I still laugh about that line.  It was classic!

Mike and I are so blessed to have Cameron as our son.  He has a passion for many things but mostly he loves Mindcraft, always his Legos, books and his sisters.  He is an all-around great kid who never gives us a minute of trouble.  In the off chance that he is a little bit obstinate he almost always ends up telling us before we could ever find out.  He wouldn't be a great criminal.

God gave us Cameron to break us in gently as parents.  And it worked, because who else would try it two more times??!!  We are blessed to have Cameron in our lives.

I haven't felt the need to blog in a while, actually quite a while.  I had felt like the ability to be myself had been damaged by some who didn't know me or appreciate me as myself.  You know what I say to that?  If it was appropriate to type I would do so, but let's just say I'm thinking it in my head.  Never ever let people make you question who you are.   It's OK for people to not like you.  But, it's not OK for people to belittle who you are.  Who you are is between you and God.  Period.

So, I'm going to try and be back!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My baby turned 6...

I'm in denial I think...

our baby is now 6...


and she is so full of life!


Amanda is such a love to her family...




and we cherish her very much...
even when we see this...


one girl who is so feisty!

Amanda, you are a beautiful girl on the inside and out that keeps us on our toes and gives the biggest, best hugs...





Enjoy being 6 Miss Amanda!
We love you very much!


Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy belated birthday to Molly...


This beautiful little baby now turned 8!!

Very hard to imagine that it's been 8 years since she arrived.  I didn't believe at first that a little girl had been sent to us.  I thought for sure Cameron was getting a brother.  But, alas, it was a mini Me!  Although she's truly more her Daddy.


Always a smile and always big blue eyes.


Fun loving and full of zest.



Serious but yet smiling.


Such a cutie!


A dancer girl.


Doesn't mind a little mud.


A little mother to all.


And a good friend to many.
Always have a big heart my special first girl!

We love you, Molly!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Familiar faces...

Yesterday I ran into Wal-Mart after work.  It was a quick trip with the kids.  A woman was standing by the jewelry counter with a friend and she said hello to me.  I said hi back and kept walking.  Then I stopped and did a double take because I knew that I knew her from somewhere.  She had turned as well and she asked me if she knew me from somewhere as well.  Instantly I knew her face and realized that she was one of the Child Life Specialists we had met on our trips to the Children's Hospital with Molly.  She is a very kind woman with a big smile.  I will never forget her.  That part of this story isn't as important as the part I want to share about my feelings after I saw this familiar woman.

You see, it's been 4 years since Molly had so many set backs from surgery complications.  It's hard to realize that she has doubled her life (she was 3 1/2, she now is 7 1/2) since she was in the hospital.  I don't think about it all the time but certain things trigger memories and especially feelings of that time. 

My reflections on that 6 months 4 years ago is still very strong.  I know with even more time it will soften.  And I will always be so very grateful and recognize how very blessed we were to be a success story.  It was a God moment.  I truly know that. 

I try really hard to not talk about it too much.  But I also realize that it is an important part of who I have become, especially as Molly's mom.  I learned that you ALWAYS speak up for your child, you ALWAYS ask for further explanations on things if you don't understand and you ALWAYS tell your children the truth about what is going to happen.  I know many parents believe that sheltering their children from the harsh realities is best but I do not.  No, I don't give the gory details but I do not lie and I do not withhold information.  Both of my parents had serious surgeries when I was a kid/early teenager and they always told my brother and I what was going to happen.  I have always appreciated that my parents were honest and Mr. Shook and I have done the same.

Last week my girl, Molly, was star of the week in her 2nd grade class.  You get to take in show and tell every day for a week.  On the first day Molly took Josh, the dog you get on the pre-op tour when visiting the Children's Hospital.  Molly has loved that dog from day one.  She sleeps with it almost every night.  I asked Molly what she was going to tell her class about Josh.  She said that she would tell them that she got him from the hospital.  The best part to me is that Josh is a part of her life, but she doesn't actually remember being given Josh.  She was too young to really remember.  When you ask her about her hospital experiences she can't really share many details.  Molly remembers getting to watch movies, getting a new set of Polly Pockets, having a catheter.  That's about it.  I find this absolutely perfect.  I am willing to bear all of the feelings we all had during that time myself.  Molly doesn't remember hurting, being scared or being in any pain.  I remember it all. 

And, I am the most proud of how well Mr. Shook and I handled ourselves through the experience.  If you are reading this blog and you are not our family or from the time we lived in Michigan or Ohio we didn't know you 4 years ago.  We had only lived in Illinois a little over 4 months.  I think God has now put people in our path that we can really call friends, but it was just the two of us, our two other children and thank god, my brother and sister-in-law.  We didn't have many to turn to so we turned to each other.  I am so lucky to have Mr. Shook as my rock.  Not just in this situation but every day. 

4 years ago on Valentine's Day Molly had her third surgery in a week and we ate Avanti's carry out in the hospital as our "romantic" dinner.  I will skip the flowers and candy every year just so I don't have to have Valentine's any where but with my family.  God blessed us that Valentine's Day and I will always remember it. 

And, I will try my hardest not to talk about it too much.  But, I make no promises.  It's a part of who I am. 

Enjoy this week of love and family! 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Cameron #9...

 Our first family picture 2004


 Cameron's first birthday


 Cameron's 3rd birthday


 Turning 6


Yesterday my first baby turned 9.


For the first half of the day I was a blubbering mess.

I cried taking him to school.

I cried thinking about this same day 9 years ago.

I called Mr. Shook at work crying.  (Note to self, I don't think he's a fan of that.)  Not that he cared I called crying, I think I made him feel a little teary as well.  Not very global finance-ish.  Mr. Shook talked me off of the ledge.

The thing I couldn't get over for most of the morning was...

HE IS HALFWAY TO 18!!!

HOW DID THAT HAPPEN??

These first 9 years have flown by and I know the next 9 will too.

Mr. Shook and I were so very blessed 9 years ago + 40 weeks when we were given the wonderful gift of our first child.  Cameron was the easiest baby ever.  EVER.  He was a joy from his first breath.  He is turning out to be a great kid, who loves his sisters, knows just how to get on their last nerve but is the best of friends with them as well.  Cameron does well in school, tries his best and is learning responsibility.  

Happy, happy #9, Cameron Michael Shook!!






Thursday, January 17, 2013

Livestrong...

If you know me very well then you already know about my love affair with sports.  I love watching them and love rooting for them, especially a good underdog story.  I faithfully watch the Super Bowl even if I don't care about any of the teams in the game, I love college football and one of my favorite times of the year is from March Madness to the Masters.  The first 2 days of March Madness are my favorite.  When else can you watch games non stop from noon to midnight?  And they always are very exciting games.  I am also a sucker for the good vs. evil story that is sometimes spun into a sporting event.  Or the little man vs. the giant.  I love for the human interest story that makes some professional athletes seem more like every day people.  The obstacles and challenges that they have had to overcome.  I love it all.

But, one of the things I struggle with is the inappropriate moral values that some of the athletes of today occasionally have.  I don't like it when young people choose to idolize people who have made some really bad choices in their lives but they choose to ignore or not be aware of every day heroes that are in their lives.  

That brings me to someone like Lance Armstrong.  I am not a follower of cycling.  I don't even understand why the Tour de France is days and days long and how the switching of the yellow jersey means something.  But, I know who Lance Armstrong is.  And, I know what he started his own foundation called Livestrong.  And, I know that it is backed by Nike.  Cha-ching.  Allegedly Lance Armstrong has confessed to Oprah Winfrey that he used performance enhancing drugs while competing in cycling.  This allegation has been going on for years and I'm not sure why Lance decided know to fess up.  I also know that the foundation Livestrong has raised millions, maybe even billions of dollars for cancer research.  I heard on the radio yesterday that even without Lance being the face of Livestrong that their sales only dropped 7%.  

The question I have is simple.

Do we overlook the misconduct that Lance Armstrong did to his body, the sport of cycling, and all the followers of his sport for the huge contribution he has made in the world of cancer research?  Are these two different issues or will eventually American's look past his moral flaws in support of his humanitarian contributions?  Is his name ruined forever or will Lance be able to one day restore it?

I don't know the answers to any of these questions, but I do know one thing. 

Lance Armstrong needs to give Mantei Ta'io a big shout out for being the ultimate diversion in the news.  We may have already forgot about Lance Armstrong's poor choices.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Back on track?...

Was there a month of December??  I think I missed it.  Or at least I missed it in the blogging world.  Oops.

But I'm hoping now to get a little back on track.

We had a very nice Christmas that included a (really) long stay with Mike's parents in Ohio.  We saw other family and the kids got some Aunt/Uncle/Cousin time that they always enjoy.  I really love Mike's family and they are very good people.  When we get together with his extended family it's always a nice visit.  He has a VERY small family, 2 uncles, 2 aunts, 3 cousins...small.  But when we get together it's always a fun time.   We got to see some of my extended family as well and we feel the same about them, too.  We are very blessed to have such wonderful family.

But, the holidays come and go, oh so quickly.  Then it's back to real life.

The kids started school up again on Tuesday and we're back to the routine.

Today I got to do something really special, though.  Today I got to take my friend Becki to her chemotherapy appointment.  Becki first goes for labs, then saw the doctor who gives the a-OK for that day's treatment and then she begins infusion.  There is no rushing through this day.  We were together for 6 hours.  Some of the day was exactly like I envisioned and some was not.  Because Becki already has a port the actual receiving of the drugs wasn't as dramatic as depicted on TV.  I checked it all out, asked what things were, and even tried to figure out if the Taxol she was getting could possibly be from the pharmaceutical company that I worked for many moons ago in Cleveland.  I feel blessed that I was able to spend this time with my friend.  I made a Chick-Fil-A run for us, my first visit ever to one.  What a perfect place to have your first sandwich from Chick-Fil-A...the Illinois Cancer Center!  I started out the day by attending about 45 minutes of my weekly bible study.  It is regularly taught by our previous pastor but he has to be out for a few weeks so our new church pastor filled in.  We were studying some of the psalms and were reflecting how many of them are now songs and hymns.  We even sang some!  When I had to bow out of class Pastor Gary asked me if I had to take off.  I shared that I was leaving to take Becki to her appointment.  He immediately stopped class and we prayed for her.  All my anxiousness was gone and I knew that I could confidently take her to the clinic.  I really appreciated that moment.  Thanks to all who were there this morning for giving me the confidence and strength to be there for my friend.

I think it was one of those God moments.