Saturday, December 31, 2011


I love technology. Especially when I can share things with family & friends. :o)

A while back I created a YouTube "channel" so that I can upload videos & share them with whoever wants to see. I've been uploading quite a few recently so I thought I'd share how to find them on YouTube!

You can CLICK HERE to take you directly to my channel. If you want to subscribe to it, just click on the Subscribe link next to my name. (I think that when you subscribe it lets you know by email whenever I post a new video.)

I mainly have short videos of Cali dancing, but I've recently posted her first dance recital & her day care Christmas Program. Oh and I also have our very last fill that we did on Brooklyn back in October right before her 4th surgery...for those of you that wonder what a fill is like. :o)

Happy watching!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dancing Queen

There are a few things I'm passionate about. Dancing is one of them. No, I don't dance anymore, but I did. And when I did, I loved it. Now I'd never compare myself to my twin cousins, who are professional ballerinas....& something I only dreamed of doing when I was a kid, but I sure loved it! I was in dance from the age of 4 until I got quit around the age of 14. But I blame 99% of that on where we live.

I grew up, & danced, in CA. I was in 3 classes a week & we were in competitions (& won) & everything. I even tried out for, & made it in, the Nutcracker in the Long Beach Ballet. I was one of Mother Ginger's children & it was literally months of practice for like a 3 minute long dance. My twin cousins were Clara for several years in a row in the same ballet before they moved to San Francisco to join their ballet.

Then we moved to MT. Nothing against this place but there's no good dancers here! There was 1 dance teacher here &, sadly enough, I was teaching HER stuff. So needless to say, my dance career pretty much stopped at that point. I wasn't learning anything because there was nothing to learn. Shortly after we moved here a new dance teacher came to town. She was quite good! So I immediately switched to her & she told my mom all the time that she was so glad to have me in her classes. Unfortunately though, not many people take dance here in our town so there weren't many classes. I was in classes with adults (& I was like 14 at the time). Long story...& a few crappy situations later...I got fed up with it all & I quit. Seeing professional ballerinas dance really makes me regret that decision. But it was done & life has moved on.

So...after that decision I knew I always wanted to have something to do with dance & I really hoped I'd have a daughter who would like to dance. Thankfully enough, Cali has a tiny dancing bone in her little body so I signed her up as soon as I could...right after she turned 3. I actually signed her up with the teacher that I quit, so she would get the best lessons in town. And let me tell you what...she loves it!! Now I'm not going to go & be a Toddler's and Tiara's mom (like the insanely ridiculous TLC show) but I will have to restrain myself!!!

Their first recital was called The Nutcracker: All Jazzed Up...& boy was it ever!! Janet (the teacher) has 4 kids, all of whom dance. One of her sons was going to be in it but he's in the Cincinnati Ballet & they have all their performances right before Christmas time. So the only time he could come & be in it was after Christmas. So the recital was the 29th.

Cali had to be there Monday the 26th for pictures & a run-through, Wednesday the 28th for the dress rehearsal, & Thursday the 29th for the performance. So it was a busy week.

Here's Cali the night that we got her costume...she pretty much fell in love with it! :o)

Here she is the night of the recital. First time she's ever worn make-up!
Posing with the aloe vera plant... Hey...she wanted to!
 And here's the performance!!!

During the bow. She's in the red dress in the middle-right of the picture (kind of between the 2 girls in the red & white stripes).

One of the things I remember the most about being in dance was that my mom ALWAYS brought me flowers! So here's Cali with her flowers. :o)

And Cali with mommy (daddy & Brooke were getting a diaper change).

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!!!

Christmas morning had to be my biggest anticipation this year. I was informed by Santa that Cali & Brooke would be getting the Disney Princesses Castle & also a Princesses tunnel thing so I just couldn't wait to see their faces when they saw their stuff. I wanted to see their faces so bad, in fact, that we made the girls sleep in our room Christmas Eve night just so I was assured that Cali wouldn't get to the living room before us! :o)

This is posted to YouTube, but here's the video I took of their first peek at what Santa brought them:

And here's the day in pictures:

Here's THE Disney Princesses Castle. Notice all the hundreds of tiny pieces that Santa had to put together. I have a feeling it took him a solid hour, with a helper, & that it was a huge pain in the you-know-where. I also have a feeling that he would never put another one together & that he took all the super tiny miniature small pieces & put them in a plastic baggie so the girls can't find it. Just sayin'.

But with all that work....Cali LOVES it!

After we got up & opened the stockings, we got ready & went to church. After church we ran home, changed our clothes, & went to Dustin's parents' house. Without a genuine miracle this will be Dustin's dad's last Christmas so we wanted to spend as much time over there with them that we could. We opened presents, ate, & visited until about 7pm. It was a good day at their house!

Here's Cali at Dustin's parents' house dressed up as Belle in her new Princesses dress up clothes.

After Dustin's parents' house, we came back to our house, where my parents & brothers were waiting for us, & opened ALL our presents! So yes, it was a VERY long day...but super fun!!

Cali, opening up a present as big as her!

Brooke even loved the castle too!

Cali & Brooke's grandpa Gary got them matching Scooby Doo they just HAD to try them on! They were soooo cute.

Here's the girls Monday morning trying on their costumes again!

...and playing in their tunnel again. This picture (& the static) just cracked me up!

And here's Cali, the bride, who put on her own dress-up clothes & came in to surprise me. She was so darn cute!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve holds it's own traditions for our family now that we're in MT. Every year we go to the Christmas Eve service at church, then go to a party at the home of some church friends, then come home & open 1 present (usually pajamas).

This year was no different. It was a great Christmas Eve!! Here are some pictures:

Family picture

Since Cali wouldn't sit in front of the tree when we put it up, she got her chance on Christmas Eve in her pretty Christmas dress. :o)

Sitting with Daddy drinking hot cocoa before they put some out for Santa!

Excited she got to stay up so late; excited she got to drink hot cocoa with daddy; excited that Santa is coming in just a few short hours; & just excited with the day!!

Getting ready for Christmas

We've been in full Christmas-preparation mode in our house recently!! From getting the tree up & decorating windows & banisters to sending out Christmas cards & going to Christmas programs & recitals...there's a lot to do in this busy time of year. Here are a few pictures to explain what we've been up to this busy time of year:

Cali wouldn't take her picture with the here's Brooklyn after we decorated it.

The finished product...with the stockings.

First time I've ever done window decals. Brooke had a ball "pushing" them on. She STILL says "push momma push"!!


Christmas cards ready to be mailed!

And the dessert I took to our Christmas Eve party... Otter Pop Freeze!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cali's first Christmas program

Cali (& now Brooklyn) goes to Small Wonder, a fabulous day care, 2 days a week. They recently did a little Christmas Program for us parents to watch & let me tell was fun! It was short, but it was so cute & I'm super glad that Cali did such a good job. Here's the video that I posted to my YouTube channel. (Cali is in the pretty Christmas dress... black long-sleeve top with red belt tie & white with black polka-dots skirt, white tights, silver glittery shoes.)

And here are some pictures when it was over:

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Well my child decided to do her own hair...again. She had cut her hair a few months ago & I thought that I made such a big deal about it (in a bad way) that she'd never do it again. Hahahahahaha!

She must have thought it was time for a haircut or something cause she did it again. But this time it's VERY noticeable. It's bad. Really. It is. I thought about taking her in to get her hair chopped but I always make such a big deal about going to get our hair cut; & it's a fun thing to do with I couldn't do that. So we've just left it. What I don't like though is that she has her day care Christmas program, Christmas, & her dance recital all coming up in the next 1-2 weeks. So we're gonna have to figure out how we can "style" her hair so it's not as noticeable.

Here's her masterpiece:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Our 2011 Christmas Card Preview!

Well here's our 2011 Christmas Card!!! I saw it on Pinterest (of new obsession) & fell in love with it. I'm super excited to get it & send them out! :o)

Top Moments Christmas Card
Visit for Christmas cards this holiday.
View the entire collection of cards.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Stroll

Every year in our town we have a Christmas Stroll. It's when people walk around downtown Lewistown on the first Friday in December & freeze their little ninnies off for 4 hours. Seriously. It's always so cold...but you don't really, totally notice it because of all the people around & all the activities to do. Ok so I'm lying. It's cold & miserable, but we all manage to suffer through it.

I've generally gone most years in the past. In 2005 we had a booth for a Nursing school fundraiser & I swear it wasn't even 0 degrees out. We sold hot drinks & baked goodies to make money for our graudation. I remember my nose hairs frozen, my fingers totally numb, & my toes like pin pricks cause they were so it wasn't a "good" experience.

So imagine my desperate-ness this year when I decided to do a booth & sell cookbooks. Clearly I wasn't in my right frame of mind, but I was desperate to get these Volume 2 cookbooks sold. I got 27 boxes back around September or so & I've only sold about 4 boxes. Pathetic. I figured that this time of year they'd start selling faster but no luck. I don't know what it is...everyone who got a Volume 1 said they couldn't wait to get a Volume 2 but now that they're here no one is getting them. It's pretty discouraging seeing over 20 boxes of cookbooks in my house just sitting there.

So I needed to get them out & get them sold! I was so lucky that Dustin had that day off of work so he could help me get all set up. Plus a good friend of mine & her husband came to help set up, then we had my mom & another friend there to help sell. So we had some help...which was so nice!! I had hot chocolate, hot apple cider, coffee, homemade chai tea (from Volume 1), hot tea, plus about 10'ish different types of homemade goodies that I'd spent the last 3 days making.

When we went to set up it was a full-on blizzard, so Dustin went & grabbed a tarp so not so much snow was coming in. This made things very difficult because everything was getting wet...including all my books. So we put the books away so they wouldn't get ruined, & finished setting everything else up. Thankfully though, about 20 mins later it cleared up & was actually quite a nice, crisp (colder-than-cold) evening. Here's our booth:

On one table (to the right) was the hot drink stuff. Then on the other table (behind Dustin) was the table with all the goodies. Oh and yes, that is a heater. It was THE best heater... It worked so well that I didn't even need to wear gloves (you can see that all the snow was melted where the heater was too). So we had a great set-up...& managed to put a couple cookbooks out for people to signs.

We were literally running around like chickens with our heads cut off for the entire 4 hours! It was amazing. My mom was handling the food & money while Dustin & I had a perfect little system going with the drinks.

At the end of the night we went through FIVE AND A HALF boxes of hot chocolate!! That, by far, was our biggest seller. It was amazing! We only sold about 4 cups of coffee, a little chai tea, quite a bit of hot cider, 1 cup of hot tea, TONS & TONS of goodies, & just 4 cookbooks. But we did so amazing. Our prices were lower so we ended up selling more than other people who were selling the same things. I was soooooo happy & excited with our final outcome (even though the 4 cookbooks were slightly disappointing).

I'm so happy with how we did that I'm almost positive we'll do this again next year. I'm positive that we'll still have Brooklyn's medical bills a year from now so we'll do this again to help pay for that. :o)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Boy Named Keith

Once upon a time there was a boy named Keith. He was born just a few months before me, in July 1981. When he was still young he was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy & his parents were told that he wouldn't have a long life-expectancy. But that didn't stop Keith. He started using a wheelchair, got an electric chair, went to grade school, went to Jr High, & then went on to high school.

It was in high school that I became friends with this boy named Keith. There were actually 2 kids in our class who were in wheelchairs, Keith being one of them. Of course I had seen him around a lot in Jr High but high school is when we started being friends. What a time in my life that I'm thankful for...I'm thankful that we became friends.

I was fortunate enough to have a last name very close to Keith's in the alphabet. His: Bursheim; Mine: Cauffman. So at graduation we got to sit next to each other. I remember the roar of cheers as they said his name. He wheeled himself across the stage to get his diploma & have his tassle moved from one side to the other. And the smile he had!!! You could tell that everyone was so proud of him. But that's another thing amazing about Keith. He always had such a good attitude. He was down to earth, funny, & kind...simply kind. So it came the time to throw our hats but because of Keith's DMD he couldn't take his off his head & throw it. I threw mine & then looked at him, when he demanded that I take his off his head & throw it in the air! So that I did.

Keith & his sister, Holly

That summer after graduation I worked for Home Health as a PCA (personal care attendant) & they assigned me to help Keith out. Oh boy was I excited about that. Seriously...I couldn't have been happier. Nothing against the elderly, but I was super excited about helping Keith, a peer, a friend, someone MY AGE, instead of helping an old lady who would never remember my name.

It was that summer that we became great friends. I wasn't a person taking care of Keith. I was a friend coming to his house to hang out with him. On the occasional day that I was assigned to take care of Eric, the other boy in our class in a wheelchair, I'd pack Eric up in my car (not an easy task, mind you) & we'd still go over to Keith's house to hang out.

Keith was SO into movies that I can't even begin to describe. We watched tons of movies that summer of 2000. Keith was home-bound, pretty much, but that was fine with me. We were able to get to know each other more because of that. We talked, laughed, played games, & watched movies. could mention ANY movie & Keith had seen it. It was pretty amazing.

Keith & I shared a slightly twisted fascination of Christina Aguilera. Ironically enough, she was coming to Billings, MT that summer so Keith was trying to score some tickets. He wrote her a letter & her assistant ended up calling Keith's mom shortly after they got it!!! They offered Keith 2 tickets to her upcoming concert! He asked his sister to go with him but she couldn't make it so I was the runner up!!! :o)  So Keith's parents, Keith, & I packed in their van & drove down to Billings for the concert. Not only did we get to go to the concert but we were able to see Christina for a meet-&-greet before the concert started...AND we had a free lunch with her backup dancers.

So the cool thing about meeting Christina Aguilera....she's shorter than me. Yup. Seriously. We got a picture of us & I know I have it somewhere around here...I just have no idea where to look for it. It's times like these I wish I was more picture-organized.

Keith & I kept in contact after I went to college & then moved to MT. I'd go visit him occasionally, but not nearly as much as I should have. Keith's health started taking a toll on him & he started losing weight, got put on a vent, & was completely home-bound. When I was in nursing school I was lucky enough to get to take care of him in my clinicals. He would occasionally go in the nursing home on respite care & I would ALWAYS beg my teacher to let me have Keith. She knew that we were good friends so thankfully she'd always say yes. Probably a bad idea on her part though cause I hardly ever left his room....

These past couple years I knew his health wasn't the best, but he was still fighting. He was always on Facebook, writing emails, watching movies, & of course being interviewed by local news crews! He was even writing an autobiography.

To go along with Keith's love of music & movies, he planned "Keithstock"...a 30th birthday party in July of this year. Everyone went dressed up as their favorite movie character & we had a potluck & drinks at his house. It was awesome. Of course I wasn't there as long as I'd like but I'm so glad I was able to go...because unbeknownst to was the last time I got to see Keith alive.

Keith passed away on November 19, 2011, at 30 years old.

So many emotions went through my head when I found out he died. I was sad because I'd lost a great friend; mad at myself for not seeing him more; happy & blessed for knowing him; excited that we had such a great relationship; devistated for his wonderful family; & empty because there was no more Keith.

His funeral was a week later & of course it wasn't something I looked forward to, but it was good to get to celebrate the life of someone so awesome. I was able to catch up with 3 amazingly wonderful ladies, who were also super close with Keith over the years, so that was nice.

Me, Jamie Gill Cataraha, Sonja Gates Durr, & Bethany Smith Davies --- all dressed as the colors of a rainbow

Simply were amazing. You were a great friend, a funny character, a warm heart, a gentle spirit, a movie buff, & have outlived your life expectancy by years & years. This world was a better place because you were in it & I'm so blessed to have known you & even more blessed that I could call you my friend.
I love you, dear friend, & miss the heck out of you!!!

Keith & his nephew

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nevus Outreach

I have a special request... The company, Chase, is giving away $3 million dollars, divided up between 100 charities. Nevus Outreach is one of the charities that could get a portion of the money. But they need your vote. Simply go here: Log in to Facebook, "like" the page, then vote for Nevus Outreach. Nevus Outreach could potentially win a lot of money, and boy do they deserve it. Nevus Outreach has been the single biggest factor in our lives with Brooklyn & her congenital Nevus. It's where I met all my lifelong nevus friends, where I found Dr. Bauer, and where I turn to for support. All they need to do is get in the top 100 to win a portion of millions of dollars!!! Will you PLEASE vote for them? Without them who knows how lost I would the search for Nevus-related info. Please help them out, for me, & for the many future Nevus families who will have nowhere else to turn. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2011 Christmas pictures's Christmas picture time again. Click HERE and HERE to refresh your mind on our 2010 Christmas picture experience.

We went to Sears in Great Falls again (NOT Billings) because the lady here in Lewistown isn't doing them anymore. :(  So we went to Great Falls yesterday for them. It was horrible. But not bad enough that I won't go back go Sears in Great Falls. I think it wasn't as bad as before, just cause I'd been through bad picture experiences. But this was close to it.

We got there & needed to get them Christmas dresses for the pictures. We found a cute one & Cali loved that was a plus. We got to the room where they were going to take pictures & the girl didn't even say hi to us. Just pointed us to the room. Ummmm, ok. She didn't tell Cali or Brooke where to sit, how to sit, what to do, or anything. She was horrible! So my mom & I had to try to pose them in positions & try to get them to move. Cali would smile but Brooke wouldn't. Then when Brooke smiled the girl wouldn't take the picture! It was very frustrating. She was flat horrible.

So we told her we wanted to take a break for a few minutes. Thankfully she had to leave!!! LOL Yeah, she told us she had to go right smack dab in the middle of our picture session. No crying on my part. Another lady, Victoria, came in & she was a little better than the first person, who didn't even introduce herself. But still, Brooklyn looked like a deer in the headlights. She would get up & move around, not stay seated at all, & then Cali kept putting her hands in her mouth!

We got 1 or 2 "good" ones that will hopefully work for us, but they're nothing like the really good ones we've had in the past. Oh's a good story we'll have for them someday! Here's a few of them:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

And we're home...

Our drive home was pretty uneventful...thank goodness. The first night we actually made it to Grand Island, NE...which was a good 10 hour drive from Chicago. The girls were doing so well that we just kept driving. The 2nd night we stayed with my best friend, which was very nice catching up, even if it was for 12 hours! We finally made it home Saturday night around 7pm. Here are some pictures from our trip:
Brookie asleep in the car... This travelling thing is pretty boring!!

No, folks, I promise you we did NOT put that DVD there. Cali fell asleep like this!!!

Jennifer with Cali & Brooke

That night Cali turned into not such a nice little girl. She had had a long day & she was SO tired that absolutely nothing made her happy. She was simply P-O'd. She wanted to sleep in the bed with daddy & Brooke layed on the air mattress. Well then Cali decided she wanted to sleep there. While she was throwing her fit, she sat on the air mattress, against the bed & fell asleep!!! She cried herself to sleep, literally. It's blurry b/c the room was almost completely dark so my camera wouldn't focus, but you get the point! :o)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Maybe 4 now?! Dr. Bauer's "plan"!!

Thursday AM we went in for Brooke's 1 week post-op check & to get our release that it was ok to go home. They said Brooke looked amazing & that she was healing nicely. :o) Good news all around.

But probably the BEST news was that we MAY not need the 5th surgery! What?! What a total shocker to us! Dr. Bauer said that we can postponne our March 1st surgery until possibly the fall. Here's the plan:

Waiting 4 months for her to heal is not enough time. We need longer to see how she's going to heal up from her 4 surgeries this year. 9 months is a better time frame. It just so happens that 9 months from our surgery will be right around the same time as the next Nevus Outreach conference!! Last year at the conference I won a family registration (about a $600 value) so we were planning on going to the conference anyways next year. Dr. Bauer is a speaker at the conference & his wonderful staff is there also. So we'll meet with Dr. Bauer the first week of July 2012.

At the conference Dr. Bauer will decide if Brooklyn does or does not need that 5th & final surgery. He's thinking she will, but if she heals properly then she may not!! The 5th surgery will be making her forehead smaller, making her eyebrows even, & generally just making her face symmetrical. So if she heals up & doesn't need that stuff then we're done with surgeries! But if she doesn't heal as good as he wanted, then we'll need that last surgery, which he wants to do in the fall.

So...long story short. We MAY just be done with surgeries! But we'll find out in July if we do need that last one. If we do, it'll be in the Fall of 2012. :o) Simple as that!

Here's a picture of Dr. Bauer's amazing nurses...with Brooklyn & me. Gosh we already miss them!

Susan, Merilee, Brooklyn, & Mim

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Last Night in Chicago...

Our past couple of days have been non-eventful...just passing the time before we go in to the office tomorrow AM for Brooklyn's 1-week post-op check. It's kind of crazy that it's already been a week since her 4th surgery. Tomorrow AM (Thursday - 11/3/11) we'll be heading in to the office to have Brooke checked out, make sure she's doing ok, & then we'll be on the road. I'll explain our past couple days with a few pictures...

Just a cute picture of Cali B playing with her little dollies instead of going to bed!!

Tuesday we went to the Field Museum. It was the only "big" museum that we haven't been to in Chicago yet. They have different exibits going on for a few months at a time. In January when we were here it was something that I really wanted to see but we never made it. In March & August it was "The Horse". This time it was "Chocolate Around the World" (oh yippie) & "Whales". I guess it should be pointed out that I'm definitely NOT the museum type. I'm more of the amusement park person. I just don't appreciate stuff in musems like I should. Plus, it's kind of hard getting in to things with both girls running around. Anyways, it was still nice going to the museum for something new to do. Here it is:

They have a full-size dinosaur inside... well as 2 awesome elephants...

...and 2 awesome kidlets!

Cali liked the bison!

After the Field Museum we walked across the grass to see Dora at the Shedd Aquarium. Our annual pass is almost up so we needed to do something free today! We went to the aquarium, went to the Dora theater & the lady let us in for free! (It's usually $3/person but b/c it was late in the day she let us in for nothing. :o)) Then we just walked around for about an hour before they closed at 5pm. Here's a real penguin...

And here's a real penguin person!

...and another penguin person!

They had a blast dressed up as penguins, doing things penguins do... Like slide down the ice...

...and slide some more!

After the penguin dress-up was the submarine.

Today we went to the BIG mall, 12 miles away, so Dustin could get another pair of mail carrying shoes. We had lunch at the Rainforest Cafe so the girls could be "entertained" while eating. Here's Cali with the dolphins that we got to sit next to:

And of course a little bribery goes a LONG way! If Cali was a good girl & sat in the stroller (which she hardly ever does) then she'd get to go play in "Play Land" (as she calls it). So she was a good girl & she got to play. She had a ball & we let her play for a while...& even let Brooke have a good time playing too.

Then it was time to come back to the hotel & pack up so we can leave tomorrow. :(  We ate our complimentary dinner at the hotel in the lobby, said our goodbyes to our favorite hotel staff, & packed up the car so we can get up bright & early...