Wednesday, November 30, 2011


He is a mass of destruction, demolishing anything in his path that his teeth take a shining to.  His latest casualties?  The neighbors rope when they graciously watched him for us this past Sunday, and Colton's shoe.  We're getting better at clearing a path for him, but when we lapse in our efforts to put our things away, he makes sure we know.  

And yet, he redeems himself, usually within minutes of his mischievousness.  He spent 6 hours in his kennel yesterday, which is the longest time by far.  We were so wrapped up in chemo, and an engine light steadily glowing on the truck, and hockey for both boys, and - you know,  life in general, that Crosby had to wait.

So when we finally arrived back home and let him out?  He bounded into our arms and licked us up and down and wiggled his not so little body in utter delight at being freed. And he redeemed himself, for all his past transgressions, and all his future ones too.  He may not be perfect in his manners, but he is perfect in his love for us.  And isn't that what really matters?  Love that is big, and sloppy, and limitless...  and perfect.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Living our moments

Usually by this time of the year, we are covered in snow. So I celebrated, on the inside, that we've yanked a couple of weeks back from the grips of old man winter.

At 9:30 this morning we jumped in our little blue Prius and noticed it just turned 198,000 miles and it has given us equally as many smiles at all of the gas savings we've incurred.

The boys were giddy upon hearing this... or not... they were just watching an old DVD of "The Country Bears."  Shhh, I promised Nolan I wouldn't blog about it, but I totally had my fingers crossed.  I love when they still get excited for the things they did when they were 4.  

He is trying so hard not to let me see him smile... but those eyes and the way they dance when he likes something- give him away every time.  

When Rick said we were going to a "Truck Stop" for breakfast,  he wasn't kidding.  

While Subway beckoned from across the store, really, would I turn down dinner-plate-size-blueberry pancakes?  Umm no, hello, blueberry pancakes!  And yes, they were that good!

In case you haven't any idea where we might road trip to on a Sunday morning?  Here is a subtle hint... its sometimes called a "barn."

And when you see the rafters inside, you completely understand why.  Nolan's Pee Wee team was playing their first away hockey game in his coach's home town of Alexandria.  The pressure was on for a big win.  As an A-2 team, we are challenged more times this year with trying to match up with A-1 teams.  We have been told not to expect to win a lot this year, but the development of our kids will be worth it.  

Nolan, below, in black trying to get it past the goalie... but it didn't go...

Nolan skating with the puck...

Nolan on the left, found out what its like to play with a defensemen who has a knack for sticking to you like white on rice...  Nolan could not figure out a way around him... yet.

At the end of 3 periods, we were tied 1-1.  Both teams played a fast and aggressive game... but just a little ways into OT Alexandria scored and we lost 2-1.    It was hard to feel too bad when the kids skated with such heart and passion.  

Chemo tomorrow.  Dr. Panwalkar is doing bone marrow transplants all day, so I will see a nurse practitioner instead.  My stomach crawls up in my throat a little as I type this.  Will I ever get used to this as a way of life?  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks and giving

"You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink." --G.K. Chesterton

Gratitude ... goes beyond the "mine" and "thine" and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy. --Henri J. M. Nouwen

Thankful for pink...

 I'm learning breast cancer is a highly politicized topic, and there is quite a backlash against "the pink culture of bc."  It came as a complete surprise to me and my naive grasp on the topic precludes me right now from saying too much.  But I was given pause recently to reflect... maybe pink isn't so bad.  

I sat watching two sisters across from me at the infusion center.  They were actively discussing scarves, although I noted the sister with cancer still had her hair.  She was admiring another woman's brightly adorned bald head.  The scarf looked like silky and luxurious, with autumnal colors in it.  

The sisters then moved onto the topic of the quilt with the cancer color ribbons on it, hanging on the wall behind me.  "Colon cancer", the sister says, "Could you tell me which color ribbon it is?"  We all three gaze at it as our eyes settle on the ribbon at the same time.  "Eww, we exclaim, its brown!"  "Who wants to wear a brown ribbon?" her sister asks.  We go on to discover that melanoma is black, ew again.  And 1 of the cancers is sort of a drab olive green.  "Pink," is actually one of the more cheerful colors. 

The sister with cancer  then says she still has plans for a tattoo with the brown ribbon.  She wants to have an artist create a colorful hummingbird with the brown ribbon dangling from its beak.  Its creative and the way her eyes smile when she talks of it let you know she has put a lot of thought into it.  

I don't want to be the one to tell her, most likely she can't get a tattoo while on chemo.  But then her sister speaks up and tells her.  "Oh, not while I am having chemo she says.  Only when I am in remission."  Her whole face lights up this time.  

Clearly, her ribbon color is brown, but her spirit is pink.  My name is called just then.  I grab my "pink" water bottle and head off to chemo smiling.  I think her pink, rubbed off on mine. 

Today, amongst all of the thankful moments, I graciously give thanks to each of you who continue to bless me by showing up here each day!  Happy Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 21, 2011


So... along with the wound care nurse last week came a nursing student and HE was a cross between a "McSteamy", and a "McDreamy."  And there I am all oozy and woozy and thinking, really?  I have to talk about hypertrophic granulation and exudate when I'd rather talk- Oh I don't know- something really Grey's Anatomy-ish... you know, smart and funny both at the same time.

But then Dr. Bouton came in and in his customary fashion had the gauze ripped off, the wound re-packed and new "Aquacel" dressings applied.  Just like that.  He then proceeded to triple-book himself on Tuesday just so he was sure to see me this week, and suddenly I remembered why HE is the one that makes me all McMelty.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


“I am younger each year at the first snow. When I see it, suddenly, in the air, all little and white and moving; then I am in love again and very young and I believe everything.”-- Anne Sexton

Despite the fact he got away from us three times yesterday.  He is faster and stronger, and he loves it when he can break free from our grasp and chase circles around the yard.  Our hearts jump into our throats as we call and cajole him back to the safety of our house. 

Despite that fact he chewed the laces of Superman's tennis shoes.  And when we bought new laces?  He smiled (really I think he did) maniacally as he left the new laces perfectly intact above him on the bench as he laid below chewing the shoe where the laces would go.  

Despite the fact we left the vacuum cleaner out and he chewed through the cord- oh yes he did- 

Despite all of that...

We love our little Crosby.

Watching him discover the snow was such a joyful moment yesterday.  It was like seeing the snow through fresh eyes and remembering the discovery of the magic and mystery of each flake as it tumbles from the sky.  

I'm still counting gifts... seeing with "fresh eyes," like those of a puppy in his first snowfall.  

What will you see with fresh eyes today?  

Monday, November 14, 2011

A goat and two chickens

Can you think of anything better to buy with your first "paycheck?" I sat staring at the check I received from On The Minds of Moms. I know, they PAID me, as if being published weren't a big enough gift already. Crazy.

What was I going to do with the money I earned? My doorstep, my mailbox, my inbox- all the boxes are brimming, overflowing with such goodness I can barely stand it. I'm so overwhelmed and filled with gratitude, but how do I give back? Pay it forward? Give, as much as I receive?

I knew if I looked at the check long enough it would speak to me. And one day last week amongst all the mail I saw the pamphlet. Compassion International.  It was a gift list of sorts.  It had chickens, goats, fish, etc., all kinds of ways for an international family to raise their own food source.  You could even buy an entire "farm."  If you've been following Ann's blog you know about her travels to Ecuador with Compassion.   If you need a bit of an other-world view and a shift in perspective, I dare you to visit her blog once and not come away moved and changed.  You'll see why a goat and two chickens was an obvious choice and its heavy on my mind and heart to do more if I can swing it.

I found this nestled on my doorstep after chemo last week...
Not only was there coffee nestled in this basket, but the plaque down below...

Its perfectly, perfect.  Gratitude in Everything...  please let my heart know this every day.

Thank you Angie!

Sweet Jo Ann sent these to me and I was expecting a card from her.  The devotional and the music- look its Kate Miner and Rita Springer!  I'm so touched and honored sweet friend!  Jo Ann is in the midst of a bout with pleurisy and I know she would welcome any prayers if you wanted to visit her blog and leave them with her.

And this... I knew was coming!!  For two weeks we watched the mail!  It was a package of "goodies" from Germany and my kind and talented friend Mimi!  

She made this guardian pillow with a secret pocket in the back... can you guess whose picture she might have placed there?  

Its my Dad with the boys and it has a lovely verse on the back.

And as if that weren't a gift all on its own, she included a beautiful wrap loop scarf with a flower- its so soft and the color is so vibrant, I know it will help keep me warm this winter! 

And she didn't forget the boys, all THREE of them who got fairly excited with the large assortment of candy and sweets she sent! 

Bussal Mimi!  My cup overflows...

Quick medical update:  I saw Dr. Panwalkar on Tuesday.  He showed me the mystery blob in my brain on my MRI. He said the radiologist didn't even have a name for it.  But it doesn't have any of the characteristics of a cancer at this time.  So we watch and wait.  Everything else about my visit was normal... oh how I love to be normal every once in awhile.  

My incision however, is going to be an ongoing saga.  It continues to open, the hole going deeper and wider each day.  It is now considered a "hypertrophic granulation wound."  Or, "proud" flesh.  Which is too much tissue being made.  Dr. Bouton says its like goldilocks and the three bears- we need the kind of granulation that is "just right."  And that may take awhile.  So he referred me to the wound clinic and the nurses did a wonderful job of cleaning the wound and repacking it.  But then Dr. Bouton came into the room and informed us he'd like to still see me each week before I see them... just for extra measure.  It makes me feel "extra" in all kinds of the best ways.  

Friday, November 11, 2011


~The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another~ Thomas Merton

For two days now, I've been wrestling with the words to use to write about what happened on Monday.  And I just can't.  It gets harder and harder.  There are so many, who are so worthy.  Yet I find myself surrounded, quite literally, by such an outpouring of generous and love-filled acts that I simply can't "wrap my brain around it."

Because, this isn't the first time this group has loved on me.  After they completely outdid themselves with a benefit for me last May, they discovered they were going to miss the deadline to apply for matching funds from Dakota Medical Foundation, (DMF) Lend-A- Hand program.  It was too much of an opportunity to pass up.  So they did it again.  Last August they held a golf outing and silent auction... for me.  And they raised enough money to have it matched by DMF.

So last Monday, Rick and I received a check from DMF, and 4 of the main members of my benefit committee were in attendance.  The fifth "honorary" member is Kenzie (on my hip, below.)

So this is me, doing a "brave" smile.  You know the one, where if you stop for even just a second, you will completely lose it and never regain your composure again.  Oprah calls it "the ugly cry."  I was not going to ugly cry, so I grinned as big as I could, hoping to keep it all in.  My eyes only leaked a little.  

Since it was so close to lunch time, we celebrated with lunch at Granite City.

"We're here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark."
Whoopi Goldberg

And this is where I am stuck.  How do I even begin to say thank you?  Each time a hospital bill shows up, which honestly, is daily... I know we can pay it and still eat.  We can pay, and still keep our house.  We can pay and still let our boys go to hockey.  We can pay, and we get to keep living our life.  Could there be any bigger gift?  Any bigger blessing?  Down the road, these decisions about how we will pay, may not come so easily.  But I am a "live your moments" kind of girl.  And this moment?  Is one I am going to savor, and just live.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

cell by cell

Here's the Story of the Day:
Second Thoughts
travelling as fast in one direction as she can go before she has second thoughts &; goes back to doing the same old stuff
Brian Andreas

A part of me wants to make sure I am living all of life that is out there for me to live. Every little drop of it. But at the same time, I want to make sure that in that space of living, I allow it to change me.







I need to change the physiology of my body so that it doesn't continue to grow cancer, to host cancer, to know cancer.  If I don't feed my brain with new thoughts, and nourish my soul with sustenance of a spiritual kind, then how will I ever overcome cancer? Chemo, radiation and surgery are only a few tools in the arsenal needed to combat cancer.

When Karen @ This Old House II, mentioned that she had made a new header for my blog, I was excited. I love the warmth I feel when I visit hers, the vibe is inviting and I love visiting her corner of the world.  She brings it to life through her photos and talents as a photographer.  Please go visit, you won't be disappointed!

But before I could accept Karen's gracious offer, I had to let go of the old.  I would be taking down Gitz's beautiful header and blog makeover she surprised me with last spring.  Yet, somehow, I knew she'd want me to move forward.  I've saved Sara's header and will make it into a piece of art to have displayed on my desk.  So I took a big breath and said yes to Karen.   I am still coming from a place of yes, a place of, I'll try, a place of one thing different.  

And look at the beauty Karen created for me? I love the shabby-chique feel of it.  The warmth, and of course my love of the color blue all combining to give me a new look to my bloggy home.  Thank you Karen!

I have lab work tomorrow, Dr. Panwalkar, and then chemo.

And later this morning I have an incredibly humbling event happening, and I will be sure to come back and share with you when I am back on my feet later this week!

Friday, November 4, 2011

"Anything can be..."

“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
― Shel Silverstein

stitches opening

wounds weeping

hole stretching

bandages staining


gift counting

joy filling

"silver" healing

 dizziness dissipating

fatigue vanishing

 bird's nest discovering


golden sun streaming

bejewled sky painting

soul stirring




Wednesday, November 2, 2011

11 years in the making...

Nolan's first Halloween he was just 5 months old.  We had already figured out that earlier, was better, when it came to his bedtime.  So 7 pm was it.  But then daylight savings happened the same day as Halloween and guess what time little guy fell asleep?  That's right, by 6 pm, just as the trick or treaters were coming to our home, he fell asleep and missed the whole thing.

Score: Halloween 1- Nolan 0

Who would have thought by the time his second Halloween would come around, I'd be pregnant with Colton already?  I was in the throes of all day sickness, and we decided to make a hasty trip to Minnesota, from Idaho where we lived.  Grandpa and Grandma would love to experience trick or treating with one of their grandkids.  But this lion lived up to his costume and roared the whole time we tried to take him.  Pretty sure we never made it out the front door!  

Score:  Halloween 2 - Nolan 0

But surely by the time he was 3 and his Aunt let him use his cousin's Buzz Lightyear costume- well certainly he'd be excited to go then?  

Score: Halloween 3 - Nolan 0

I'm not even sure when Nolan started actually leaving the house for Halloween.  One year we took Colton by himself and Nolan stayed with Grandma after we moved back to Minnesota.   

But each year, there is drama and tears before we even get out the door with Nolan. Every. Single. Year.

And Colton?  With all the drama surrounding Nolan, this is the first actual picture I have of him in a Halloween costume.  He has always been completely thrilled and excited to go.

This year was an entirely different story.  There was more emphasis on pumpkin carving then costumes.

So Nolan carved a Pittsburgh Penguins pumpkin, of course.

And Colton made a Clone Trooper pumpkin.

And Nolan, ended up going to hockey tryouts.  So Colton threw on his old clone trooper costume and the two of us went trick or treating.

At the end of the night we realized, it was the first time in 11 years we made it out the door without any tears and drama. 

Score:  Halloween 10 - Nolan 1!!!  

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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