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40 Years

September 24, 2014

On the eve of my 40th Birthday I have become nostalgic for all the moments that have brought me here. Truth be told I have a good life. I am comfortable in my own skin. I feel optimistic about the future and I live each day to it’s fullest. I try not to let days slip by without making them worthwhile. I know my days are numbered and that I can’t predict how many more I have here on Earth.

As I sit here and look back I am amazed by my courage and stamina. Let’s be honest, I have been through a lot. I have three charities that are on my pay it forward list.

I fought for years to have a baby born alive to me. It wasn’t without great personal heartache that I went through each step of infertility. I could never have gotten here without the research done by March of Dimes. Without them Annie and Mimi would have died just like the other 5 babies I had. They will always be important to my life story.

I feel personally moved by the work of Lifewater and Charity Water. My son didn’t have access to clean water. It could have killed him and others in his native country. I cannot imagine not being able to provide something so simple to myself and my children. 30,000 deaths occur each week due to unsafe water. Nope that wasn’t a typo, I said a week. :( This is why it is so near and dear to me. I have watched people drink from puddles on filthy streets, those images never leave my mind for long. Water = Life. It is that simple for me

Addis street scene

My last and final charity is for Donate Life. Tissue and organ donation saves lives. Why everyone isn’t a donor is beyond my imagination. You won’t need your organs in the afterlife and they certainly can do more good to someone else rather than roting away here on Earth. Please consider this option and sign up if you feel moved to do so. Heck if you are feeling really adventurous sign up on Be the Match, like I am, and be ready to donate marrow should anyone be my match.

Life isn’t all about what you are getting, it is more about what you are giving to yourself and others. Please consider making a contribution to one of the above charities in honor of my 40th birthday!

> Family News | Comments (1)

First Day of School

August 12, 2014

I can’t believe how old the kids are getting. I have two fifth graders, a fourth grader, and a second grader.

Mimi is starting violin this year. Annie is continuing on with the clarinet and Kimberly is continuing with the flute.

Kimberly on her first day of 5th grade

Annie on her first day of 5th grade

Madeline first day of fourth grade

Paul on his first day of 2nd grade

> Annie, Kimberly, Madeline, Paul, School | Comments (0)

Bill’s 40th Birthday

August 9, 2014

Bill is the kind of person who likes their birthday to pass without any fanfare so that is what we did. He took the girls to the power plant for a tour in the morning and then we went to the ice cream social for the kids school. All in all it was a quiet day, but of course we couldn’t leave it that way so we had the family over for dinner and surprised him with a barrage of silly string.


Sometimes you just have to break the rules. ;-)


For his birthday he didn’t really want or need anything so I started thinking and came up with a cruise for just the two of us to take. The cruise was from Long Beach to Catalina and Ensenada. He really enjoyed the down time and the time together.


Happy Birthday to the man I cherish, even though he is old now. The kids and I had a great time joking around with you about your age.

> Family News | Comments (0)

Paul’s 7th Birthday

August 7, 2014

Paul is 7!

Color: blue
Sport: basketball
Animal: lion
Food: mac and cheese
Book: Spiderman 3
Season: don’t have one
Restaurant: Mimi’s Cafe
Holiday: Christmas
Weather: cold
Cereal: Cocoa Puffs
TV Shows: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Movie: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Candy: chocolate
Subject: math or social studies
Thing to do: play TMNT
Place have been: Arizona, California, Washington, Ethiopia
Place to be: home
Place want to go: Ethiopia
Person: Annie
Hero: John
Time of Day: night
Song: TMNT theme song
Drink: chocolate milk
Treat: cookies
Vacation: Disneyland

Paul was able to have his birthday party on the same day as his birthday this year. He had friends over to play video games.

Paul playing video games with his friends

Party time

Paul wanted his signature Costco cake made with chocolate cake, chocolate icing and chocolate mouse in the middle. I have them not decorate it and I made a track for Mario Cart.

Paul's 7th birthday cake

Paul with Mommy and Daddy

That night the family came over and Aunt Teresa made him a cute Mario mushroom cake.

Paul and his cake

Paul had a great night swimming with family and enjoying his gifts.

It is amazing to watch him grow and mature. He is such a unique boy and I love him with all my heart.

> Paul | Comments (0)

OT/PT Therapy Continues

August 6, 2014

Madeline’s OT therapy continued throughout the summer months. The other kids had to suck it up and sit in the waiting room every week while Madeline was working. This was not fun for them. Finally, on the last day of summer therapy the therapist asked if Mimi wanted to show her siblings some of the fun things she does at therapy. They all were so excited to see.



Mimi had fun showing them around and the kids had a great time on the equipment.

> Madeline, Therapy | Comments (0)

Summer Camp

July 30, 2014

This year we decided that Kimmie and Annie were ready for sleep away summer camp. They were nervous so we went with the 3 night option. They went to Girl Scout camp in the pines.

Annie on her way to camp

Kimberly packing up

They loved it and had such a great time that when we came for pick up they weren’t happy to see us. I guess they really were ready for the week long camp. They learned how to be independent within the confines of a safe environment.

I am the first one to say that people helicopter around their kids far too much but on some of these issue it is even hard for me to let go. Yes, we went out on the streets until the street lights were on and came back in one piece, but where I grew up everyone’s mom did the same thing. There were tons of other kids out and about on the streets. If I were to send my girls out riding their bikes around the neighborhood they may not run into another soul the entire time. This is more dangerous than if there were lots of people out. They could be snatched up in no time and nobody would notice. So, in this day and age we have to manufacture these kinds of experiences. This camp was a place I felt comfortable letting them free.

However, as I drove away from the camp (which is located 2.5 hours from my home in the remote mountains) I felt queasy. It isn’t easy letting go. I feel it is important for them to feel safe without me as much as it is for me to feel safe and trusting without them. I would hate it if the first time this happened they were driving away in a car from my home with me having no idea where they were. Baby steps people!

As soon as we dropped them off they got right in the circle and started having fun with the counselor.

GS camp

They had such a good time and can’t wait to go back next year, but this time for a whole week!


> Annie, Girl Scouts, Kimberly | Comments (0)

Summer is My Favorite

The kids and I LOVE summer. It is a time for relaxing, no rushing, sleeping in, having pajama days, late nights and movies galore.

One night we found the Waffle Luv truck and enjoyed some amazing waffles.


We played in an awesome daytime monsoon storm.


Went to Happy Hour at many places including Pita Jungle.


Hung out late at night with the neighbors.


Went swimming with friends.


It was such a wonderful summer. I am so sad to see it end. :( I can’t wait for next summerwhen the kids and I can enjoy a laid back lifestyle.

> Family News, Vacation | Comments (0)


July 24, 2014

The kids participated in VBS once again this year. They loved learning more about God and I loved hearing all they had learned. They had their singing performance but I decided to just relax and listen this year instead of trying to get a photo. You are going to have to trust me that they were adorable and they sang their little hearts out for the Glory of God.

> Annie, Kimberly, Madeline, Paul | Comments (0)


July 17, 2014

This year we weren’t able to have a big summer vacation because of cellulitis so we made do with a fun summer and a long weekend at the JW Marriott in North Phoenix. The kids enjoyed the bog pools and the lazy river. It was a nice break from our regular routine.



Such a fun time to relax and reconnect as a family.

> Family News, Vacation | Comments (0)

6 Browns 1 Love

July 13, 2014

One day we went on a journey to find love. We were rocking out to songs that included the word love in them as we drove. We took the kids to the Scottsdale Arts Center and wandered around until they found it.


Sometimes being a parent means you get to be corny and hilarious even if you are the only one who thinks you are being hilarious.

> Family News | Comments (0)

Dad Moments

June 28, 2014

I am often in awe when I see little snippets of how sweet Bill is with his daughter. Yes, I had a Father, and yes, he was always far more tender with me than my Mother was (since she was the one mainly home and the main disciplinarian) and I should expect that Bill would be just as amazing as my Father was. However, I am still in awe when I see it happening. He talks to them so calmly, he listens to them with earnest, and he treats them like they make his life worthwhile.


I had to snap this picture one afternoon when Bill was tenderly brushing Madeline’s hair. It just exemplifies my feelings on how he is an amazing daughter to his children.

> Madeline | Comments (0)

PV Panthers Swim Team

June 12, 2014

Annie, Kimberly, and Mimi joined the swim team this year. They are all pretty good swimmers and I figured it was time to get them out swimming.


They really enjoyed the meets and being able to compete with other kids. They received a second place in the freestyle relay on their first event.


By their last meet they were the first place division champions for the medley relay!


Swimming is something they love doing. I hope they continue to do it each summer and hone their skills more.

On a side note, dressing them all in the exact same outfits was a thrill of mine. I always loved to match Annie and Kimberly and now to add Mimi into the mix was adorable. Mimi is getting so tall that people often think I have triplets. Adorable.


> Annie, Kimberly, Madeline, Swim | Comments (0)

Cellulitis Kicks Off Summer

May 27, 2014

Annie is such a free spirit. I’ve tried for 10 years to get her to be a bit less of one, but it really doesn’t have any impact. She is who she is. Over the weekend we went to the park to listen to the concert and hang out with friends. Annie was playing in the trees, doing cartwheels in the grass and always on the lookout for bugs and lizards. When Annie comes home from the park with some sort of welt it is just considered another day in paradise.

On this visit Annie had a welt on the palm of her hand. I gave her some benedryl when we got home and put a cool washcloth on it and sent her to bed. The next day it was still bothering her so we continued with the same treatment. Monday was Memorial Day so the Dr. offices were not open and I am not a fan of urgent cares so I kept on doing my own care. We have a neighbor who is a firefighter and he took a look at it and agreed with me that it was a allergic reaction.

The following morning we woke up and Annie came to me and showed me her arm. She had a red streak coming up from the welt area going up her arm. It was warmer than usual to the touch. At this point I called the Dr. and got her in for an appointment. He diagnosed Annie with the condition cellulitis. He said that since I was an ever vigil parent I could have a choice between hospitalizing her and doing home care with bringing her into his office each day.

Because home care is always preferred if it is safe we went that route. Annie had to have a shot of antibiotics in her rear before we left and a prescription for antibiotics to take that night. She also had to go get her blood drawn to make sure the bacterial infection wasn’t too far.


As we were sitting in the waiting rooom Annie was playing on her DS and I was reading something on my phone. All of a sudden Annie started crying. It was in that exact moment that I realized that SHE had never had a blood draw. Mimi had tons for her seizures, Kimberly had tons for her iron deficiency, and Paul had tons for his titers and failure to thrive, Annie however, had never had any.

We started fooling around and taking selfies to take Annie’s mind off it.



Finally they called us back and it was super easy. Annie was nervous but once it was done said, “that wasn’t that bad.” So often we get ourselves worked up over something that when it actually happens it isn’t that bad.


It ended up being a very long week. Annie was in the Dr. office more in that week than she was the whole year previously. Annie is healthy and happy now and is a little more careful with her cuts and scrapes to make sure to clean them out.

Sadly, we had a vacation planned that we were unable to go to due to Annie condition. No worries, we have rescheduled our trip for next summer.

> Annie | Comments (0)

Principal List Awards

May 21, 2014

For the final quarter of the year Annie and Kimberly both earned the Principal List award for having all A’s. We are so proud of them!


Keep up the good work in 5th grade next year!

> Family News | Comments (0)

Variety Show

May 19, 2014

The Brown Family was involved in the Boulder Creek Variety show once again this year. I love to see what the kids come up with and what they want to do to entertain.

Paul started the show off with the National Anthem! My boy certainly is adorable.

Mimi and Kimberly sang “Don’t Go Breakin My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee. Madeline sang the Elton John parts and Kimberly sang the Kiki Dee parts. They made up their own movements to the music and picked out matching dresses. They were adorable! Unfortunately, just before they went on stage for the night performance the second mic broke and they had to improvise with just one mic. They were resilient and did great.


Annie sang a trio with a couple of other girls. The tall girl in the video actually wrote this jazz song and put it to the music.

> Family News | Comments (0)

Rocky Point

May 17, 2014

Our neighbors invited us to go along with them to Rocky Point, Mexico. It would be the first time the kids would travel outside the US, they were beside themselves with joy. We stayed at the lovely Tessoro Resort.

Out far, see the black line that is where the tide will come back to

The one great thing about Rocky Point is the tide pools that occur when the tide goes out. The kids LOVED finding creatures and searching around for all sorts of animals.

Bigger than Annie's face

Sea cucumbers

Madeline and the sea star

Kimberly's clams

Annie, Bill and Mimi

There were tons of stingrays in the water and tide pools. Our neighbor renamed Annie, Bindy Irwin. She was so bold in her searching for animals and picks them up without really wondering if they are safe or not.

Paul loved to spend time in the “chacuzi”. He loved the warm water and playing with friends.

Enjoying the evening

We are so glad they invited us to come along. It was such a fun time.

MImi, Sandi and Sarah

> Family News, Vacation | Comments (0)

Mother’s Day 2014

May 11, 2014

In my life these children are my greatest blessings. There 4 souls intertwined with mine long ago and I cannot imagine being a mother to any others.


> Mom's Soap Box | Comments (0)

Toothless Wonder

May 9, 2014

Paul is the Toothless Wonder. If he has a tooth that is barely loose you can expect him to pull it out within a couple of days. He just works at them the whole time until they give up. His current smile is pretty adorable!


> Paul | Comments (0)

Madeline’s Glasses & Therapy

May 8, 2014

We have decided to take Madeline back to a therapist to deal with some of her issues.

As long time readers know, Madeline had apraxia as a child. She went to tons of therapy and made a lot of progress. So much, in fact, that she was released from therapy with the knowledge that at some point in the future we may need to go back.

She also took occupational therapy for her impairment due to her grand mal seizure and brain damage.

It has become clear that we need to reopen this book. We need to help Madeline to be able to live happily in her skin once again. This is an uphill battle. One we have traveled on before.

I was devastated when we first decided and got her diagnosis once again. It felt like we had already done this. Wouldn’t we get a pass for all the hard work we did the first time? The answer was no. We have to travel this road again and she actually will never get away from it. When I heard those words my heart broke a little. This is one of the things I will never be able to fix for Mimi. Something that no matter how hard she works on it, it will still be there in the background. It reminded me of the helplessness I felt dealing with my own infertility. I want so much for us to have battled and won this.

Madeline has now been diagnosed with limb discoordination and apraxia. The apraxia rarely presents itself in language, however we see it often in her motor planning and sensory loss. She will be seeking therapy one day per week and have homework to work on throughout the week. I am nervous how she will respond to all of it over time. She is so old that if she isn’t really dedicated to it she won’t do well. She can make her own choices at this point.

One of the first things we did was get her eyes evaluated. She had some issues with her testing that led us to take her to an eye doctor who specialized in occipital lobe damage. He said that the strain is hard on her eyes and that while she doesn’t need glasses to read she needs them so that her eyes don’t tire so quickly. When her eyes/brain tire she gets more irritated and we see the undesirable behaviors.

She looks adorable in the glasses and we will work this summer to get her to wear them more often. Because of her sensory issues she really doesn’t want to wear them often.

She has already begun therapy and has a long way to go.

> Madeline, Therapy | Comments (0)


May 5, 2014

I absolutely adore this picture Bill and I took when we were in Carlsbad. You can see each one of our kids in the background enjoying the ocean and we are there enjoying it all. There is something so simplistic about it that makes me smile each time I see it.

> Family News | Comments (0)

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