Friday, July 29, 2011

I gave up food for these photos, breakfast that is. Looking back? As crabby as it made me, I don't regret it. In fact now I hardly remember the hunger, I just remember the tranquility, the stunning charm everywhere I looked.  We drove a few minutes from our hotel on Sunday to Nicollet Island, plunked down in the middle of the Mississippi River.

Confession- I cheated a little.  I followed Rick and his camera.  I bent low when he did.  And turned my camera when he did.  And looked for what he saw.  It was like when you are little and learning to dance and you climb up on your dad's shoes to get the feel of the steps for yourself.  Dancing on my own after awhile,  I was feeling bold after getting the hang of what he was doing, and took some from my own point of view.

Then I "picniked" my way through editing.  My tiny, outdated, point and shoot, needs some help on the back end in bumping up the volume.  Rick's photos are stunning straight out of the camera.  Oh well.  Mine end up looking similar to his in the end.  I guess sometimes it doesn't matter which path you take, the destination may be the same regardless.

After some shopping for school shoes at the Mall of America and getting my Imac fixed (yay for the Apple store), we stopped at my friend's house on the lake.   Normally we would have left for home by this time.  We knew it would make for a late night.  I knew, it would be worth it.

It was a gorgeous night.  The boys were drawn to the fishing instantly.  My friend Kristi and I spent a few precious moments together catching up.  

We went for a pontoon ride around the lake to cap off our night.  All too quickly it was time to leave.  

Colton and Christopher being goofy together.

Sweet little Brynne who has grown again since I saw her last and delighted me with all she could say and do. 

Thanks Paul, Kristi, Christopher and Brynne! 

It was Colton who pointed out the sunset to me.  He is learning so well... "mom there is the sunset, just like the ones you love!"   I feel such urgency to squeeze as many moments into my day as possible.  I don't think I missed a single one this day, I was completely filled up.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Twins weekend

Its difficult to adequately express in words sometimes, the deeply generous acts of so many people, for our family.  This past weekend we were so honored and excited to have been given tickets to the Twins game on Saturday.  We had amazing seats in the Legends Club. Along with the tickets came a hotel stay for two nights, and a surprise "tour" of Target Field before the game.  Let me just say, we had a completely fabulous time.  We got the "rock star" treatment, and it will be a weekend we won't soon forget.  We left Minneapolis late Sunday night and the kids re-hashed every detail of their magical two days.

Our tour guide was Tom who is the Coordinator of Engineer and Broadcast.  He has been with the Twins for 22 years now, and can't say enough how thrilled he is to be working for such an outstanding organization.  Rick was in techie heaven.  It was obvious Tom had such pride in the facility and its state of the art broadcast equipment, as well as the overall Twins organization.  The boys and I were simply in awe of all that it takes to showcase a Major League Baseball Team.

Even the piping for the ballpark beer was impressive.

Below is a view of the Champions Club.  You valet park your car in the back of Target Field, walk a few steps and enter the Champions Club.  The first thing you see are the two World Series trophies from 1987 and 19991. 

From the lounge and dining area of the Champions Club its another 10 steps to your seats and the field.  All of the food is included in the cost of your tickets...

This is Tom, showing us the broadcast booth.  

The two places we were not allowed, the locker room, and the dugout.  This was as close as we got to the dugout, but the boys were thrilled with getting a good look.

Since batting practice had started, the boys simply did not want to leave the field.  Each boy staked a claim at a railing just waiting for a ball to come their way.  

Nolan was taking so much in, he was actually quiet.   He didn't want to miss a thing.

Our seats were directly behind home plate in the The Legends Club.  A few steps away from our seats was air conditioning and amazing food, more than just your ballpark standard food.  Even I was able to get a veggie wrap with goat cheese... so yummy. 

The view from our seats.  We even had waiters/waitresses for beverage orders, so we didn't have to leave our seats- cushy seats too, I have to say.

It was Colton who saw our names with a greeting flash across the scoreboard.  "Mom, look, thats us!"  "They know we're here!"  "How'd they know that?"  The innocence of being 9, and the wonder of it all...  from a mother's perspective, I love these childhood moments.

One final surprise came.  An usher calling out our name.  "Are you the Westra Family?"  She had a bag full of Twins goodies, from all of the Miller family who generously thought of every last detail.

We even had an unplanned surprise at our hotel.  As we drove past the stadium on our way into town we saw the opposing team's (Detroit Tigers) bus parked outside.  As we sat waiting for Rick to check us into the hotel, the Detroit Tiger's buses pulled in ahead of us.  They were staying at our hotel!  Nolan was so enamored with the players.  He would hide his Twins cap and take a baseball around for them to sign.  They graciously signed his ball and he managed to get a lot of the player's autographs by the end of our stay.  We'd like to think we brought the Twins some luck... they won Saturday night, the only game in a four game series. 

Our utmost thanks and appreciation goes to Chris, Katie, Caroline, Marty, Mike, and Tom, and perhaps a few people whom we don't even know, who created our unforgettable Twins weekend.  

I can honestly say most days I have a hard time forgetting I am a woman living with breast cancer.  Last Saturday, the biggest gift I received, was forgetting about the cancer, and experiencing just how "alive" I really am.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sneak peek

We had an incredible weekend with so many fun adventures and this is just a hint at what we did...

but I seriously need to recover from all the excitement. Plus I have a long list of people to thank who gave so generously to our family, and I want to take my time and make sure I don't leave someone out.  We won't soon forget our Twins adventure and will be forever grateful for all the special things carefully orchestrated and executed in our honor.

Today I have labs at 7:00, Panwalkar at 8:30 and Chemo at 9:30.  Be back in a few!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cully's Kids picnic

It shouldn't surprise me. Its always hot. Its the third day of the event and with the heat a factor all three days, we're wearing out. But all you see are smiles everywhere. Because it doesn't matter what your "battle" is, cancer, or physical disability, or childhood disease of one kind or another, Cully's Kids show up to this event and participate to the fullest. And we forget. All of us forget about the battles, the illness, the scars... the heaviness of life sometimes. We forget, and become kids again through the joy being spread by one of Cully's kids. You can't help it. They smile with their whole face, their whole hearts. And don't tell them they can't throw, or run, or be a part of it. Because clearly, they do, they are, they will be a part of it.

                                        The volunteer crew minutes before the gates opened.

Matt taking a picture with one of the sponsors of the picnic.  

And cheering on Cully's Kids will be their biggest fans, Matt and Bridget. They aren't just the faces behind the foundation, they are the real deal, supporting and helping these families year round.  When Rick asked me to go get Matt and ask if he was ready to go in the dunk tank, I asked Bridget if she wanted a turn too, or better yet, maybe they could go together.  They both lit up- without a moment's hesitation, she said yes!   He climbed in first and then helped her lower onto his lap.  The first boy up, took aim and fired one solid shot...

and dunked them the very first time!  The crowd went wild.  The kids couldn't wait for their turn to dunk Matt and Bridget.  Actually the adults were secretly hoping for their turn in the dunk tank at some point too.  You could have wrung out our shirts with sweat from the humidity.  

Grant got a turn next.  He threw and threw and even though it would brush the button, it wasn't hard enough to spring Matt from his seat.... so 

Bridget got in again and on the first throw... splash!  He got her good!

I can't tell whose smile is bigger?

Brynn getting her face painted. 

The official start to the running of the bases.  See what I mean?  These kids weren't going to let a little heat, and a wheelchair, or crutches get in the way of running the bases.  Their spirit was contagious.

Matt, Mark, and Joe Cullen all took a base to give high fives to the runners.  

Grant is doing wheelies across the bases... 

Hi Dad!  

This little guy's mom was told by doctors he may never walk.  His brave momma took him to Europe for a new experimental treatment and guess what?  Not only is he walking, he may be shedding those crutches soon.  

When you show up to volunteer you you think you are going to contribute something.  But actually you walk away inspired, with a lump in your throat and a renewed sense of what "living life to the fullest," looks like.  

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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