Friday, March 27, 2015

I am~

My arm bling, is bringing me such joy.  I trace over the words trying to imprint them on my brain, when I'm struggling to hold tight.  This was a dear and thoughtful friend who gave me a beautiful card and remembered I had turned 4 years in living with cancer. That shouts "blessing," bigger than anything right now.

A jar of beautifully hand-folded stars, shining bright with affirmations on them.  These came from a friend in Texas and she had them sent from an Etsy store named SistaLuna.  Worth checking out!

The devoted hockey moms behind this rapidly rising brand of hockey everything- TeagsandRy- gifted me with this bag.  Its light, yet durable.  Has pockets for water bottles, change for the concession stand and lots of mittens, hats, and scarves.  Its the perfect bag for any busy hockey mom!  You have to check out their adorable site!  TeagsandRy

When I received a message from a friend wondering if my mom would like some flowers?  Naturally, I said yes, knowing my mom.  She is such a caretaker to plants and flowers.  The bigger surprise came with a knock at MY door.  Flowers were gifted to myself as well.  

I'm searching for the rest.  Struggling with the words.  Needing the time to soak in His tender mercies.  To feel His Grace wash over me, again and again.

I'll be back as time allows, and words pour forth. 

I'd be so honored to pray for you, as you all have done for me and mine.  Please leave a comment or message me if you desire to be added to my list.  

~All shall be well~ 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

our nolan

He crawls onto his Dad's side of the bed and lays down next to me.  He sighs.  I quickly hit the pause button on the tv, not wanting to overstimulate him.  I watch the rise and fall of his chest as his eyes glisten with tears.  I fold my fingers over his hand, softly, murmuring, "oh buddy…"  He grips back, hard, strong.  A man's hands, with a young boy's heart. 

How was it that just hours earlier, we had arisen with hope on the horizon?   He had done better on the computerized concussion test, the night before.  He was showing some symptoms, but so many seemed better.  This day he would physically get to ride the exercise bike, and push his heart rate up, to see how he would do.  

Then he finished school, and waited for his Dad to come.  They would hear the results offered by the Concussion Specialist, the Dr. at the Orthopedic Clinic, overseeing Nolan's care.  

How do you prepare for that news?  Where the rug feels like its being ripped out from underneath you, and you reel back, not sure you are hearing what is said.  Based on some of the previous test results, some further testing was indicated. So when asked to close his eyes and balance on his feet, Nolan wobbled right away, as they suspected.  His eyes fluttered and couldn't stay still.  Almost instantly he was dizzy, and had a headache.  

When asked to follow a finger slowly moving in front of him, Nolan's eyes shifted up and down, twitching and unable to focus with any coordination.  It was all, everyone involved, needed to see.

Even Nolan.

He was unable to perform, the most basic tasks.  

He was told he had to go back to shut down mode.  Quiet, dark rooms.  No computers, no phones, no tv.  Limited school.  Nothing- which meant everything all at once.

Because it meant,  no hockey.  And hockey is everything to this man-sized boy. 

Oh my hockey-mom heart was broken for this boy. 

Our puck-moving, ice-loving, team- belonging, goal-scoring, State- Champion-dreaming, hockey-loving, son, has played his last game of his Moorhead Youth Hockey Career.

He may at least be able to attend and watch the VFW State Tournament games with his team mates this weekend, from the bench,  but we will have to monitor him for symptoms of too much stimulation.  His brain simply can't filter out noise, lights, and sensory input in general.  

We will re-test next week.  


We're trying to build him up.  To piece him together.  To help him move forward.  

I go down to his darkened and unusually quiet room.  His head is throbbing again, and we're waiting for the acetaminophen to kick into action.  I rub his temple, watching again as his chest rises and falls.  

"Just believe, Nolan," I whisper, "Just keep believing."  

I lean in and kiss his chiseled and stubble-filled cheek, as he drifts off to sleep. 

Thanks to sweet Angie, and Robynn, my "word" embraces my life everyday. (Just a couple of blessings to come our way… more soon.) 

And in case, I needed a boost- Robynn added in a helping of "Grace," for good measure.

We're so thankful for all of you!  

Monday, March 23, 2015

4 years… and updates

Superman and I escaped for an hour in Duluth, with the sun shining bright and the boys busy with their friends.  We simply went for a drive.  Rick googled and found the name of a park- Enger Park- that was close by.

The light was bouncing off everything, surrounding us with warmth and beauty.  Everywhere our eyes sought out, seemed to be cast with a golden glow.

Enger Park is the home to an observation tower that overlooks the city of Duluth,  as well as Lake Superior.  

Up we climbed.  Stopping to soak in the golden hues already lowering in the sky.

People were quietly traipsing about, going in and out of the tower.

The concrete staircase was in the middle, with each level having places to sneak a peek.

And this is what awaited us at the very top…  my camera may have been tilted just a tad, but what I love is that it looks like the curve of the earth, in the photo below.  Could the sky be any bluer?

Here is the draw bridge below, and areas where the the ice has been broken and it won't be long and ships will be moving through once again.

A peek out the back of the tower which overlooks a golf course.

The lake view through the front.

One last look back, as we descended the hill out of the park.

As we drove down the hill from the park, I squealed when I saw this next structure looming in front of us.  This was just one of the hotels we stayed at over the course of our honeymoon- almost 18 years ago.  

I sometimes feel, like God, puts these reminders in my path and helps me conjure up memories of what has stood the test of time- like Superman, love, and our marriage.  

Speaking of still standing...

As much time as I spent at the hospital with mom last week, when our book club found a night we could all meet last week, I knew how much my spirits would lift being around these beautiful women.  Impulsively, I lifted my glass and said I had just passed a milestone worth mentioning.  

March 16th, 2011 was the date of my breast cancer diagnosis.  We had book club just the night before my appointment. 

Last Monday, marked my 4th year of living with cancer.

So many have continued to walk with me, all 4 years, like these special friends.  We lived fully this night, and I am one blessed woman.

I've always thought that reaching a million views on my blog, was like a fantasy dream.  But suddenly, I am well over half way to that reality.  Want to help me achieve another goal?  Visit away! 

Its still the "little" things that add up to the biggest joys.  

Mom is settled back into room 212 at Bethany on University.  I finally crumbled on Saturday.  My body simply unable to tolerate much food, my legs cramping, and the rest of me just worn out.

It was Rick and my Uncle Bill and Aunt Carol, along with my cousin Pam who saved the day for us.  They fully moved mom out of her apartment in the basic care side and moved her all the way in to the skilled nursing side.

We took pizza over to her last night and Colton entertained with his new card tricks.  

Mom ate a little.  Talked a little.  But she has a new look in her eyes.  A far away look, that goes right past the grandchildren, right above my shoulder, and seemingly penetrates the brick wall, in a dreamy way.  

We talked about celebrating her 80th birthday earlier than October 21, her actual birthdate, with a big party, sometime this spring.

But as Rick so poignantly said last night, "the time to celebrate your mom, seems to be right now, in this moment, today."  

Thank you to all who have done exactly that- the love is streaming throughout her room.  

I have received some lovely and encouraging gifts in the mail, and on my doorstep.  Thank you!  
 Nolan's re-test for his concussion looms later today.  Infusion tomorrow.  I will be back with more as soon as I can… 

Live your moments.  Live them full. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

broken open

The poem comes from Rumi, from the book Broken Open, by Elizabeth Lesser, which I am devouring.

Last Wednesday night I listened to my mom barely able to talk into the phone.  She couldn't catch her breath.  The nurses at Bethany were watching her, however, the sound of her didn't make me feel comfortable, at all.

But the Bethany night nurse wanted to wait until the next morning before maybe taking mom into the clinic to be checked.

We said no way- uh uh, no way.

We spent a very late/early morning getting mom admitted to the hospital.  Her ER doctor wanted the fluid out of her right away.  They took two liters off and decided to stop and see if that helped with her breathing.  It did.

After some blood work they quickly ascertained she was in renal failure.

They would use the next few days to see if they could help her failing kidneys begin to function again.

I stayed with her all day Thursday, postponing leaving, for the big hockey state tournament.

 Friday the team of doctors felt she was stable enough that I should be able to leave for the State Tournament.  Her nurses assured me as well, and our family continued to step up and fill in for us which is such a blessing.  

So I left with the Riveland Family and my friend Shelly who graciously squeezed me into their truck for the ride to Duluth.

As torn as I was my mother simply said, "As much as you've sacrificed for me, I can now sacrifice a few days for you."  It felt like such a humble gift, and it helped me believe I could go.

The sun was shining, it was a beautiful day.

One of the many ice arenas in the Duluth area, where we would spend our weekend.  

These 3 younger brothers, Grant and Andrew,  Luke, and Colton, sporting the "heads" of their big brothers, were part of our big cheer section.

They cheered so well we won our first game over Osseo Maple Grove, 5-1.  Nolan had two nice goals and all of our kids played a really great game.

It was later that night that I found out, that another hockey dad, Chris, had sent an email, to the men broadcasting Nolan's game.  They spoke about how his Grandma was sick, and could everyone remember her in their prayers.  I was so touched by that thoughtfulness and Nolan was grinning ear to ear.  Thank you Carey Family!  

Our first win meant we would be facing another big opponent.

We would face a really big rival, Edina, who we noticed,  sitting in the stands watching our first game.

Here is where I have to choose my words carefully for this next part.  

Let me just say, as a hockey mom I fully know every time my son takes the ice, that accidents and injuries are just part of playing the game.  

Nolan, while along the sides of the boards with the puck, was elbowed in the face by an Edina player and knocked down flat towards the end of the game.  He didn't get up.  And he didn't get up.  We watched, as the rink grew silent.  And tears sprang to my eyes, as a coach went out, and then a trainer went out to him on the ice.  Mere seconds felt like ages.  Slowly he moved.  His team mates came out and they helped him off the ice.  

Contact with the head is a major offense.  But the player was only given a two minute penalty.  He should have been ejected from the game.  But the ref says he didn't see what happened, and only called a 2 minute penalty.  It was frustrating and demoralizing. 

How is it safe for any player out there, if there is no major consequence for hurting a player with an improper hit to the head?  We have rules for this- but what happens when they aren't enforced?  Should their be 4 refs at a State hockey tournament?  So many questions.   Isn't there a protocol the medical trainer follows when he sees a hit like that happen to a player?  Other than some gauze for Nolan's cut in his mouth, he was cleared to play shortly after.  

But clearly, our Nolan wasn't the same thereafter.  

We went on to lose a very close game at the end, 4-3.  

After the game as we examined Nolan's bleeding mouth, his bruised knee and his growing headache, coupled with the uneven size of his pupils, we knew, he likely had a concussion.

With sound advice from coaches and our friend who is a nurse, Nolan didn't play the next day.  We didn't have to tell him he couldn't, he knew he shouldn't play.

We've had several of Nolan's team mates get injured this season, and spend a lot of time on the sidelines.  Somehow the team found a way to win games.  Nolan believed his team mates would do and will do the same, until he is cleared to come back and play.

We ended up playing for 3rd place last Sunday.

Here we are lining the bridge to the rink where our young men would come out of the locker room and skate onto the ice ready to play their final game against the team ranked as #1 for most of the season, Centennial.

We had to go to overtime- but won the game 2-1 for 3rd place! 

Too tired and drained to even move, I stood in the stands this time, and got a shot of all the great parents and fans of our boys.

In between games, it was so nice outside, I grabbed my camera and headed out to the boardwalk to shoot some photos of Lake Superior.  Its still mostly frozen, with patches of water beginning to appear where the sun was casting it's rays.  I call it "therapy."  

It was early on the last day that I got to see the sun lighting up the sky in pinks and oranges against the grey of the clouds.  Such majesty and grace, God's goodness everywhere.

I would need it heading into the next week.

I feel as though I've traveled light years in just one week.

Nolan has a mid- range concussion.  He has had to lay in a darkened room, with no tv, no phone, no computer, xbox, or stimulation of any kind.  He will be re-evaluated on Monday.  His team plays in the VFW State Hockey Tournament on the 27th, and Nolan is so hopeful he'll be able to take the ice again next week.  

As I type this, my mom is still hospitalized.

Her kidneys are still in failure.  Her liver is still in failure.  There is no cure, and very little in the line of treatments for her at this time.

We met with Hospice yesterday morning.  

That might have been one of the hardest sentences for me to type, period.

Soon, mom will be going back to Bethany to a new room.  

When we have more clarity with everything, I will be back to update.

Your prayers continue to buoy and hold us, when life feels like a whirlwind of chaos and uncertainty around us, and I am completely "broken open."


Thursday, March 12, 2015

…never let it rest...

"Good, better, best, never let it rest.  Until your good, is better than, your best."

There is no "rest," amongst these boys.  

They skate as a team.  Each of the 3 lines has its own flair- its own way of working- of getting it done.  All three lines contribute to the success of the team.  Our defensemen rotate in and out, matching the play of each of those lines, seamlessly.  Along with the work of both of our goalies.  Equally contributing to the strength of our team.  

Hockey is a game of mistakes.  And yet, it seems that when one player can't make the play he desires, another player is right behind him, making the next play.  When one is injured, another steps in and fills the void.  When Nolan was sick, the others stepped in and stepped up.  Repeatedly, we've seen these boys play with their whole hearts.  

This team, won all three of their games two weekends ago,  and earned a berth at the Minnesota State Hockey Bantam AA Tournament, March 12th- 16th.

Nolan slept for almost 3 full days after his game.  I've not seen him so weak and tired in a long time.  After taking him to the doctor, he was found to have an acute bronchitis.  For a kid who has only had antibiotics a few times in his life, he is starting his second round now, and we pray it helps him breathe more freely.  

How cute are these treats?  It was Clay's birthday, and his mother, Nancy, surprised us with these clever  cake pops treats.  The addition of Snoopy is just the best touch! 

So many of the siblings of our players came to this game.  They spent an afternoon making posters for each player.  

Some of our moms cheering our boys on.  

Colton talking, hockey, with one of our teams biggest fans.

So we're off to the State Bantam AA Hockey Tournament for the next few days.  We could use all of your positive vibes and energy!  

I pray mom will be okay.  I see her often, and talk to her daily, often twice a day.  I've reassured her, I'll find my way back to her, if needed.  But we'd welcome your prayers that she simply feels well enough, despite our being gone. 

Back soon with all the details!  

Monday, March 9, 2015

when believing is seeing

“It’s often been said that “seeing is believing”, but in many cases, the reverse is also true. Believing results in seeing.” 

It wasn't even the chocolate, as tasty as it was, that got me.  No, not that.  It was the Whitman's tiny yellow box that finally made me openly weep.

My mom used a box very similar to this one, when I was young, and put her bobby pins inside.  It rested on the shelf next to the big Kentucky Fried Chicken Bucket, where her curlers resided.  For years they laid on the orange paper-lined shelf in the bathroom.

The events from that day last week just could not be "boxed," or compartmentalized in my head any longer.  The grief escaped in streaming tears, and heaving sides.  I'd been storing up.   

I had chemo earlier that day.  It went fine.  I was even up for visiting mom right afterwards.  Her building is just blocks away from Roger Maris, where I go for treatment.

Mom was in her wheelchair, waiting, for a free haircut being done in a room down the hall.  It had been months since she had it cut and was truly excited to have it done.

So when it was close to her turn I was shown where to push mom, down the hall, outside of a storage room with a sink, where the stylist was working.  

Her exasperation in having mom show up, flashed across her face instantly.  "Mary Ann, are you wanting a haircut, too?"

Mom says, "Well I think its been a few weeks."

"No," the woman says, "Its been months, and you are long overdue.  You should have tried sooner.  I've been doing these all morning, I had hoped to be about done."

 Her response is sharp and I blanche at her tone.  

And I am already in "battle mode."  How am I going to "fix," this?

I gaze heavenward, asking for His guidance.

I'm tired, nauseous, and ready to go home, and yet I feel I am needing to stay for some reason.

The stylist is midway through another woman's haircut as mom and I wait, and watch.

So I begin talking in earnest.  I simply start asking the hair dresser questions, about herself.  I quickly learn, the woman has much to say.  

Her responses are sharp at first.  She has been doing hair for almost 60 years now.  She is 79 years old, just like mom, but in good health, and just trying to stay busy since her husband passed away.

So I listen, and support.  I smile, and nod.  I compliment and encourage.

It occurs to me, her clients are hard of hearing, and often have trouble making a complete sentence themselves.  It must be hard to feel the "reward," in what she is doing. 

Soon, its my mom's turn.  And I barely need to say a word, our "beautician" as my mom would call her,  is still telling us her story.  We are her audience.

And slowly, she softens.  Her tone changes to a little less sharpness.  She cuts, then form waves with mom's hair and begins expressing how beautiful my mom's hair truly is.

Thank you, God, for these grace-filled moments.  

My belief, helped me to "see" her.  And in turn, it felt like she would be able to "see" my mom.

I slipped a 5 dollar bill into mom's hands before I turned to go.  She winked back at me.  

I had just watched my mom get a haircut in which she had no say.  Nor any mirror.  No input on the style or how it should look.  She was in a wheelchair, with hair falling freely all around her.  How did this become my mom's life?  

It was a few days later, when I was looking around the house for a container to house my own bobby pins, that I saw the Whitman's box.  

My bobby pins are tucked away, much like moms used to be.  The beauty of the parts of my mother still present with us, pinned together with the memories of who she used to be neatly resting inside.  


The boys went with Rick to the Minnesota High School Hockey Tournament, for 4 days.  The tickets were a huge gift to us, and we were so thankful for them!  Several boys that Nolan skated with last summer were skating in the tournament, and Nolan loved cheering them on.

Even for him as a hockey player, sometimes, believing is seeing.

We were also excited for some new hockey opportunities to come our way, for Nolan.  Our world continues to expand, and we're ever so grateful when new things present themselves.

So I stayed home and rested and healed.  My friend Steph left the new "Believe" Young Living Essential Oil, and the necklace infuser, on my door step the other day.  

Love, doesn't even begin to describe how much I adore this gift.  I should do a whole post about being introduced to Essential Oils and how much I am learning about them and using them.

Saturday I felt well enough to both go with my friend, Anne, to get pedicures, and also get my hair cut.  

I have a big care conference for my mom today.  We will discuss the possibility of her permanent placement in the Skilled Nursing Care side of Bethany.  

Has believing ever resulted in "seeing," for you? 

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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