Happy news is so easy to report and post about. It’s the really sad stuff that stops me in my tracks. We lost our eldest pet Saturday. We don’t know the cause. Jaws had gotten down to skin and bones at the end and had pretty much quit hopping or doing the happy dance that he used to always do. He was also not getting any nutrition from his food or water. Luckily, each of us were able to hold him some between Friday night and Saturday morning, when he passed. I believe the tiny fellow had more of an impact on all of us than we realized. He will be dearly missed.

Click here to view a journey through life with Jaws

When you click the link, your Windows Media Player should open and play the video. Slower connection may notice a longer buffering period.


Last weekend was long and short at the same time. For the girls’ birthday they had received tickets to Taylor Swift in concert….in PENNSYLVANIA. She was performing with Kellie Pickler and Glorianna at Bryce Jordan Center on the campus of Penn State. The concert was AWESOME! I loved it! I really did. I think the girls enjoyed it too. I hope they did anyways. :-) The drive not so fun. Four hours up and then four and a half hours back and I believe we were leaving the parking lot at midnight. FYI…I’m pregnant and like to SLEEP at night, not drive. I said my prayers, though, and we got home, safe and sound. Of course Sunday had to include a nap so the weekend was basically preparing for, attending, and recouperating from the concert. Well worth it – in my book!

I am looking forward to a nice long weekend this labor day weekend though. The house is a wreck and needs attention BAD. The yard too. The pool is doing pretty well so perhaps we’ll actually get to get into it for FUN and not work purposes! The girls have dentist appointments for cavity fillings on Monday. I just realized that THEY should be paying for these fillings not the parents! Hmmmm – I’m gonna mention that as a new rule. See if it helps them take better care of their teeth!

All the babies!!!

Busy week so far for us! Yesterday we went to the Level II Sonagram and found out we are expecting a baby girl in January. Albeit 6 hours apart – Jaime and Sabrina had the exact same initial response…YEAH! The sonogram was long because of checking out other stuff (see the PG blog) so Junior kept asking when he could go home and take a nap. He didn’t care anything about napping. Baby Girl Dalbo was just not as captivating to him on screen as Dora, Blue or his other noggin friends. Especially Marina, she’s a drummer in the Fresh Beat Band and Junior “loves her” and “Wants to be her when he grows up”. Okay. Sabrina, our middle girl (I know you know who she is, I am just trying to get used to three girls), wasn’t able to be at the sonogram because she (tear rolls down cheek) started middle school on Monday. My nerves are shot, but she said she likes it so far. Yesterday they even changed classes and she said it went good. (I have no fingernails.) As for the biggest baby, Jaime, she made a video for her sister, Sabrina, re-enacting the sonogram so that it was like she was there with us. Sabrina and I think it is HILARIOUS. I hope to have it on youtube tomorrow and linked back to the website vids page as well. I sure do have four beautiful and super cool babies! (They will always be my babies!!!)     

End of Summer Fun

For last weekend’s movie night, we did something we had never tried before. Skyline Cinema in Centreville. It was really neat. They basically had blowup screens in a parking lot, where they showed the movie at dark. Before the movie there was games and face painting and moon bounces. Want to hear the neatest part…everything was free and we aren’t even Fairfax County residents. I’ve known of the drive in summer movies for a couple years had always hoped that when we went it might give the children a glance into our past with a movie venue type that we experienced as children and was part of our upbringing. It just not quite the same. When you can surf the web from a phone while waiting for the movie to begin or you tune to a radio station instead of having a speaker hooked to your window for sound and oddest still was putting the minivan seats in the “gound” to make room for comfortable pillows and blankets. Oh well – it’ll give them something to tell their grandkids as they fly around in spaceships. :-) As for game night – we were coincidentally invited to cousin Hailey’s birthday dinner at Chuck E Cheese on Monday. I had intended to have each family member play the same game together, and decide the winner by score, but we ran out of game tokens too quick. Not before I got a “sketch” picture of all three of them, though. LOVE IT!


We have a new family member and she has wings…
20090809 SDD JJD Slide1
20090809 SDD JJD Slide2
She’s technically Joe’s bird, but I named her Sunshine Delila Dalbo. She is a Sun Conure and she is probably the neatest pet I have ever had. The kids all love her already and physically fight to hold her (Junior and Jaime got into a shoving and pushing match last night over who was next to hold her.)

July 15 - 31, 2009

The last two weeks of July were busy ones for all of us. Junior would say “this is taking forever” as that is his new saying. He is also sounding less and less like a baby. He has learned to add the sssss sound at the beginning of words like nake, quare and kool. He’s also learned a lot of shapes including squares, rectangles, octogons, and pentagons. We had a yard sale on the 18th bringing in a little over $300. The girls’ portion was $80 which pleased them. They were also beside themselves with excitement of their impending birthdays. This is the first year ever that I have not held a party for them. It was strange not to be preparing for it for the past couple months, but kinda nice just the same. We all went to Chuck E Cheese on the 31st to celebrate. All 3 kids had a blast. With their tickets, Jaime bought an invisible inkpen set and proceeded to write on the interior roof of my van on the way home. Sabrina’s purchase was not as defacing but pretty irritating, as she got trick glasses that squirt water at unsuspecting parents and siblings. Did they just turn twelve or two????? For the last movie night it was my turn and we watched In The Womb. I’m sure I enjoyed it more than the others. For game night, it also happened to be my turn and I chose a game I played with my Nunna years ago, Rummi-O-II. Joe and I had been wanting to start teaching the girls Rummy, and they really seemed to enjoy it. Yippee! 

June 15 - July 14, 2009


I haven’t posted in a month – do I blame “busy”ness or “lazy”ness? How bout a little of both. I was on vacation at home from the 3rd to the 12th of July, so it’s likely we were very busy up to that point, and then decidedly lazy from July 3rd on.

I am back in the swing of things and hope to keep posts up on a weekly basis. I do think the format will change to weeks ending on Fridays and postings on Saturday mornings. We changed our family game night to Mondays (except this week), so we get to do it more often – which has proved to be more fun with each person’s turn coming around more quickly. The timing cut the way the weeks were falling though, so I’ll try this for a bit, and we’ll go from there.

Quick Overview of the Month:

First ultrasound was on June 17th

Sabrina was promted from elementary school and received 3 awards on June 18th

Girls have been reading and writing daily to keep their skills sharpened. They don’t know it yet but Math and Physical Fitness are in store for this next month, along with a sprinkling of spelling and vocabulary. And more chores too. Mean mommy – I know. They’re gonna be so happy when school starts back and they can slack off. hahahahha

The whole family had a BLAST watching the City of Manassas fireworks show. Happy Birthday America!!! May God bless you and keep you safe this next year!!!

George was fixed on July 10th and seems to have recovered incredibly quickly. Even though he still “wrestles” Simon in play, I think he is showing signs of becoming calmer already.

Movie Nights – we had to have had a couple – I only remember Titanic off the top of my head – it was good to see again, but boy – what a tear jerker. On my vacation I also saw Knowing and Marley and Me – “Puffy eyes” would have been a compliment

Game nights – there’s been at least 4 – Joe has been choosing UNO Flash quite a bit and winning too. We played Cranium Cadoo one week and Jaime and I were on the winning team. I’m drawing a blank on the other games we’ve played lately.

Today we had a genetics ultrasound because of the higher risk of my age, but everything looked great. The whole family enjoyed seeing the baby wave it’s arms and legs around at first. It measured 1.89 inches long and it’s heartbeat was 154.

June 8 - 14, 2009

Let’s see, last week, what happened?!?! Hmmm I really don’t recall anything eventful. The pregnancy hormones must have taken over my brain because I don’t recall anything at all.

The gas ran out on my grill – I remember that – 3 minutes before the chicken was finished cooking. Had to finish it up in the oven/broiler. No one showed any signs of sickness from it – so that was good.

Joe was off Tuesday and Wednesday with his new schedule and seemed ok after working Thursday through Saturday in a row. He used Sunday to rest up after the long stint. I am sure it will take some getting used to, and then about that time, it’ll change again. :-)

Joe, Junior and I went to the Salvation Army Wednesday afternoon to purchase some maternity clothes for me. Excellent prices and an even better fit. Junior found a Buzz Lightyear shirt for 75 cents. My kind of deal! He was so excited that he wanted to wear it home. We talked him out of that, but he did wear it the next day to day care.

The weekend was quiet and lazy. A trip to the library and swimming a lot was about it. There was some unneeded excitement in the swimming department. George dunked Junior with both paws. Junior had been in the pool and George wasn’t paying him any mind, but I watched him turn and look at Junior at one point and I KNEW what was coming. George pounced and I pounced. Junior was only under for a second if that. I quickly stood him up on the edge of the pool, out of harm’s way. He said, “Thank you Mommy.” Awwww how sweet. Now to kill the dog. I didn’t have to – the second I turned around he had tucked tail, jumped out of the pool and bolted out of the fenced area. My best friend mentioned perhaps it is George’s “instinct” that has him “saving” people. Joe thinks he’s just playing like he does on land, not realizing that water is softer than land, and has the potential to drown his playmates. I am taking the easy way out and hoping it hormones. Well they run my life – why not everything else’s? He is scheduled to be fixed on July 10th. Until then, he is not allowed to step paw into the pool area while children are swimming. After July 10th, it’ll be on a very closely watched basis.

June 1 - 7, 2009

Last week didn’t end well and this week didn’t start well. Just as he was preparing to leave for work, Joe heard an inner voice tell him to check on the female snake who appeared to have ovulated recently. Sure enough – there were eggs – unfortunately – all four appear to Joe to be slugs. He did move them to the incubator but feels it’s only a matter of time before they perish.

Sabrina’s Monday wasn’t much better. After arriving at school, they ushered the 5th graders to the auditorium to begin a day of healing after the loss of one of their teachers.

Junior was quite excited about the contents of the care package that arrived Monday from Grandma and Papa Halcrow, especially the Nintendo Game Boys! He played The Land Before Time game like an old pro. I had never seen a 3 year old do so well on a video game. It was really cool!

We also celebrated Joe’s birthday as a family on Monday. We had a Carvel ice cream cake. Aunt ‘Nita, Grandma and Papa Dalbo arrived in time to share in the celebration with us. The kids got their Daddy an orbital sander thingy.

Georgie-Porgie turned 6 months old this week and Simon is now forever in his shadow. I never thought I would view Simon as a small dog but he is looking smaller and smaller each day.
Family Game Night was my choice and I chose a $100,000 Pyramid DVD game that we received in the care package. The girls have never seen the show themselves but really enjoyed the clue giving part, once they got the hang of it.

Family Movie Night was Sabrina’s choice and at least now I don’t have to worry about a trip to the beach this year, as she chose Jaws. She loves sharks and did pretty good watching one wreck havoc. Kids will be kids, and I guess I have two with pretty good heads on their shoulders (SOMETIMES) because they actually laughed at the point where Jaws killed the old boat Captain. I think they saw the movie for what it was and were happily entertained. I will admit – I saw the movie through different eyes this time. Not sure when the last time was that I watched it, but it was before having children, because I let loose quite a few tears when Roy’s sons were in/near the pond where Jaws was attacking. Funny how things change with kids around.

Our weather was rainy all week so the pool was pretty cold Saturday but quite comfortable on Sunday. It’s amazing how much time and energy the members of our family use in planning to throw people into the pool. It’s almost become an obsession for some. :-)

Speaking of…..Jaws, our eldest ferret, has lost his hop it seems. He’s not the young, bouncing hairball he used to be. When he spent time running (walking mostly) around the house on Sunday, he looked his age. He seems a lot more fragile now. Still the sweetest ferret in town though!

May 25 - 31, 2009

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” The opening line to Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is overwhelmingly appropriate for this update.

Jaime made the cheerleading team. We are so proud and happy for her. Sabrina learned Saturday that her homeroom teacher had a heart attack and passed away. We are so sad for her loss.

The week was fairly quiet otherwise, if you don’t count all the times Junior screamed at the top of his lungs when he lost his patience or was told No. He spent almost as much time in “Time out” as he did swimming this week. I plan to check out the local anger management groups to see if they have any minimum age requirements. :-)

May 18 - 24, 2009

It’s kinda hard to top a week when you find out you’re pregnant, but we gave it our best shot. We had a great week! Jaime and Sabrina both had SOL tests and think they did well. Junior went fishing twice this week. He had never been before, and on his second time out he caught SIX fish! Great job Junior! Check out the pics and vids! Jaime’s chorus concert was great. Jaime also received her interim this week. She currently has a B in both PE and Language Arts and the rest are As. PLEASE keep up the good work Jaime. She is also 3.5 weeks away from another year of perfect attendance. I’ll have to check but I think that’s THREE or FOUR years in a row! Amazing! Friday night game night was Jaime’s choice, and she chose Balderdash. Great choice since I won! hehehe We all really did have fun playing and learning how to BS each other. Saturday afternoon all three kids went to Kian’s 11th birthday party. They had a blast! Thanks so much Kian! Enjoy being eleven!!! Saturday Movie night was my choice and I chose The Sound of Music. It’s so long though we actually watched half Saturday and half Sunday. Excellent movie, if I do say so myself! I hate to end this week’s post on a bad note but we learned something disturbing about George. He is not the gentle giant we thought he was, at least not in the pool. He has attacked floats (bit a hole right through our favorite one), people and Simon. He actually chased Jaime from one end to the other and he single-pawedly tried to push Junior under water. Hopefully by next week’s post, he will be a better poolmate.

May 11 - 17, 2009

Sabrina studied really hard this week. She had two SOL tests this week, Reading (which was “good”) and Science (which was a lot easier than she thought it was going to be). Jaime attended Cheer Camp on Wednesday afternoon. Joe learned that his new work schedule starts June 8th. He will be off Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays starting then. Which is great for the girls’ schedule and summer being just around the bend. Junior learned the word “aisle”. I know this because he asks me when I leave a parking spot, “Mommy, you want to leave the aisle?” Also cute – is that he’s learning to tell people what time it is (in his mind). Joe had him Thursday and I on Friday (Miss Karen was off for John’s wedding *BEST WISHES TO HAPPY COUPLE!!*). Anyways, we both attempted to sleep in on our respective mornings but were told “it’s time to wake up, it’s 833″ It wasn’t 833am, but that he thought so was just too CUTE! The pool is looking pretty good, if I do say so myself. After 2+ weeks of wind and rain, I am actually surprised it’s doing so well. And as of Friday….George is bigger than Simon. They meet shoulder to shoulder but George’s backend has surpassed his big brother’s. WOW! Only 18.5 more months of growing! :-) I almost forgot, Junior DOES know his address, in fact he can sing it. I got a video of it and will upload it as soon as I figure out how. And I’ll upload the audio of him singing his ABCs. We’re so proud! :-)

On the 15th, we also found out that we are expecting another baby. Online preganacy calendars calculate the due date as 1.19.10. Junior learned the results the same time as me – while I shockingly stated outloud (the positive line took it’s time showing up) “OH MY GOODNESS….we’re gonna have a baby” Then he repeated it, and then I repeated it too as the reality of it all sunk in, or should I say started to sink in. He told his Daddy as soon as he got home that day. Joe smiled.

May 4 - 10, 2009

Too wet to swim in the first half of this week, and the tree spring thingys were all over the place. Which didn’t stop Junior from jumping around in his rain boots in the back yard puddles. George celebrated his five month birthday – only one month til “snip snip”. Sabrina received her 4th quarter interim. She got a C in Math, Bs in both Science and Reading and As in Social Studies and Language Arts. She said she is going to do her best to improve those grades by the end of the year. We know she can do it! Friday night was game night – Daddy’s choice – Uno Flash – The Winner of the evening was Daddy. Something to note, Mommy racked up so many points the last hand that she went from tied for first to almost last place. FUN :-) The sun came out and made for a beautiful day Saturday. Mommy, Junior and the dogs went swimming while the girls played school. Seriously! Saturday night, Movie night, was Jaime’s choice – and she chose Hotel for Dogs – It was a great movie! Thanks Jaime! Mother’s Day began at 630am when I awoke to breakfast in bed – Yummy! The girls told me that they had gotten up at 4am to decorate the back sliding glass door with window paint – then went back to bed – only to wake up at 6am and start preparing breakfast. They gave me a really nice card and gift bag filled with flamingoes and handmade goodies. Junior had also made me a card and magnet at day care. I also enjoyed not cooking the whole day!

And so it begins...the pool - green and cold as it was - had it's first daylight guests (have to upload very poor video of the girls getting in Friday the 24th at 8pm at night!) on 4.25.09
Posted by Picasa

An awakening of sorts - dedicated to my stepsister

This is definitely a personal and emotional blog...I have lost someone that I never really "had" and actually hardly even knew....my stepsister, Taunia Halcrow Oechslin. By my best recollections, we hung out twice in our lives, twenty-five some odd years ago. The first time was for just the afternoon, in Fairfax, VA, at the batting cages I think. The second was at her Grandma's in Drayton, ND. That doesn't mean I didn't think or care about her or that she had no effect on my life....far from it.

Ever have those times - when people come to mind, that you haven't thought of in a while, or with no true prompts at the time? You know? Out of the blue, as they say? It happened to me, and very recently. I will research my history and find the exact date, because I do that - off topic - one day I was obsessed with finding out the song that was played on Friends during the final show where Rachel "got off the plane" and came back to Ross - guess what...it was the anniversary of the original air date of the Finale - yes freaky - well I think so anyways - so yes I will research my history to find out when I went looking for my stepsister on facebook. Unfortunately, for the grief I feel now, I was looking up the wrong name AND I didn't google her. So is it fair to say God was working a little here - I think so because I had such a strong, unprompted desire to reach out to her...now the questioning...was she thinking of me at that moment and that was to be our connection, possibly, or maybe we actually weren't meant to actually connect, because that might have been to painful or upsetting for Taun during her last week. I just can't help FEELING though that the feeling wasn't for nothing.
So how does a stepsister you've seen/meet twice have an impact on your life.....read on....earlier this morning I was walking and talking with friend and told her - I think I live my life the way I do in part because of the relationship Taun and I DIDN'T share. If you know me, you know I adore family, always wanted one, always trying to create one, always trying to join one :-) I just think they are they greatest tribute to love which is of course "the greatest of all things" AND we always want what we don't have. I didn't have a relationship with Taun. I always thought that for her and I to have a relationship it wouldn't sit well with the adults in our lives, but that didn't stop me from explaining my life story to anyone who'd listen.....i have a half-brother and a stepsister - neither one living with me and unfortunately neither one of them in touch with me either :-( So guess what? I created the identical situation and have vowed (literally, to the justice of the peace)to make it work - I have jaime, sabrina and joseph - and you know i adore them. I've even had multiple conversations with the girls and told them how I really want all of us to get along and treat each other well because I wasn't able to do that with my brother and sister. So Taun will live on, forever more, in my family.

I also have to mention that I have learned so much about my stepsister this morning after googling her - she was an amazing person, she was giving and caring and worked with the community to truly make the world a better place. I am so proud of her and definitely missed out not knowing her. I am so sad for her husband, and young son, and her extended family, and for their loss. I now know how huge it was. Taunia, you are an true inspriation! I know you are in Heaven! God Bless Your Soul.






Taunia Halcrow Oechslin
OECHSLIN– Taunia (Halcrow), 39, Westmont, died peacefully April 9, 2009, at Windber Hospice after a three- year battle with cancer. She was born Feb. 4, 1970, in Shirley, Mass., and is survived by parents, Don Dudley and Pam Halcrow, Fairfax, Va; husband, Brian, and son, Connor, both of Westmont; grandmother, Jessie Halcrow, Drayton, N.D.; aunts and uncles, Sharon and Dennis Gustafson, Thomas and Konnie Middleton and David Halcrow and Cheri Halcrow; and mother-in-law, Adele Oechslin. Taunia was a 1988 graduate of Westmont Hilltop High School and a 1992 graduate of Lycoming College. She was currently serving as senior director of donor recruitment for the Greater Alleghenies Region of the American Red Cross. She organized a "Fun Run" to raise money for the Keystone Chapter. In her personal fight against breast cancer, Taunia established the annual fundraising event, "Girls Night Out." She also was a hospice volunteer and served as a volunteer board member for the Windber Hospital Foundation and appeared in several public service ads for the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center. Taunia led a team effort to raise money to remodel the facilities at the Johnstown Family Kitchen and served on the board of the alumni association at Lycoming College. A memorial celebration to honor Taunia's life will be held at a date to be announced. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center in Taunia's memory. Arrangements are entrusted to Picking-Treece-Bennett Mortuary Inc., West Hills.

Welcome back!

I guess I am still in the testing phase of this "blogging" thing. I hope to spend a little more time on it and then regularly (weekly?) update it. To quote Rascal Flatts..."Sometimes it feels like this world is spinning faster Than it did in the old days". Everyone's busy fitting life into the finite hours we have each day - hopefully this will keep us connected a little better than before.