Wednesday, December 24, 2014

merry christmas

as i type this, the house is still quiet and she sleeps, he wraps up work, and i do the same.

i look forward to the days to come. time with family. laughter. leaving cookies out for santa and apples for  his reindeer. the magic that comes when she walks downstairs christmas morning to see what santa brought. the questions about how he is going to fit down the chimney. listening for his sleigh bells in the night (i can rememberly so vividly laying awake and listening so hard to hear those bells when i was a kid). the great food. the present exchanges. the christmas lights on the tree. every aspect of all that is to come this week and next as we ring in a new year.

i am so thankful for another holiday season, for being here to enjoy it all over again. i am so very lucky.

so i will hold my loved ones close, say my thanks and prayers, and savor every moment of it. i will also think of those that are missing their loved ones this season, those that have finished their fights, and those whose holidays aren't what they would wish for them to be as they are in the midst of their battles.

i wish you all a very merry christmas.

may it remind you to believe in magic.

Monday, December 22, 2014

link love + chaser update

a couple of things that i have loved lately ---

+++ i totally love reading these annual north pole party posts every year, and am feeling totally inspired to do something equally as fun in 2015.
+++ chocolate candy cane muddy buddy mix? yes please. i might whip up a batch for christmas eve, or i might whip up a batch to eat all by myself. either way, it sounds like a solid plan.
+++ i love this advent calendar idea and am going to plan on doing this next year. would be a great way for malena to help think of fun ideas for us to do as well during the holidays.
+++ love this great idea for saying a thank you to your mailman at the holidays -- we always thank ours with some goodies, but this print would be very fun to include as well
+++ this post about cultivating a good life by by doing the things we used to do definitely has me thinking, and planning.
+++ feeling inspired to choose my one little word for 2015
+++ loved this one from ali on practicing gratitude in the middle of the mess

also, here is an update on chaser from his appointment at mayo today:

"Although we haven't been blessed with a smile yet from Chaser since his accident, he sure has no problem letting us know when he is unhappy or something is wrong. He either moans if he is uncomfortable, or crys if hes really upset. But until a few days ago, he crys would consist of a loud, distinct sound, squinting of his eyes, the raising of the eye brows, grimising of his face....but no tears. Well, we can check one more box off the wish list! The other day he had some many tears flowing, his sideburn was soaked. I know its a little different to be happy to see tears from your little dude, but it was exciting to see another "normal" appear! We are taking this as another positive step in the right direction.
We met with the ENT surgeon this morning at Mayo to discuss Jan 7th. We talked about all the potentially effective and available options to better Chasers quality of life. With the many issues of Chases' condition that need to be delt with, his lung health takes top priority right now. Keeping that, and his obvious discomfort in mind, and with the constant buildup of flem in his throat, we collectively agreed to take a chest CT of his lungs the morning of surgery. His Lungs will tell the real story, and take away any assumptions or guessing work. Depending on the condition of the lungs, (same, worse .....or better), we are going to make a game time decision as to how many of the salivary glands will be delt with. We are both confident this is the right decision. Thank you all for you thoughts and prayers. We are pumped to be bringing the family back to the Huge metropolis of Bird Island to hang with the Sheehans, and then its up north to Sioux Country to celebrate JC's B-Day with the Lykken Clan.

Merry Christmas!- from the Lykkens."


keep the love coming.

happy tuesday, make it a good one. xo

Sunday, December 21, 2014

weekender + judy + chase

the weekend was a good one.

life catch up over tea with a friend late on a friday afternoon. project runway and jelly beans. falling asleep while looking at christmas lights on the tree. saturday morning treats at our favorite coffee shop. feeding rudolph and his friends apples and telling them that we will listen for them on wednesday night. talking to santa about what is on the wish list, and knowing that no matter how old i get, there will always be something so magical that happens when you talk to santa. it just makes you believe. wrapping presents. opening gifts i had on my wish list for a long time. drinking tea. two family christmas celebrations. good food. laughter. time with those we love (while missing those that couldn't be home this year).





i also wanted to give updates on judy and chase.

judy got good news -- the pathology report came back and indicated that they got all of the cancer during the surgery -- yes!!! such great news;) since the cancer in her jaw was an agressive type they are recommending 6 weeks of radiation that will begin in a few weeks. keep your good vibes and prayers going her way, clearly they are working -- loving those results. an early christmas present for sure.

here is the latest update on chaser:


"Like Ralphie coming down the stairs in Christmas Story, Chaser was wheeled through the double doors of school with his Rudolph costume! He pulled it off well! He celebrated his school Christmas party yesterday- and he had a great day- unfortunately he had to say goodbye to Debi, his school nurse who has been with him since day one. Not only did she take incredible care of him, she became a friend to him, as have the rest of the awesome staff there. Debi, thank you for all you have done with Chaser, and good luck on your new adventure at the hospital!
 
We had an hour phone conference with our General Practitioner from Mayo yesterday to discuss the appointments last week right. I expressed to her that I was very uncomfortable, infact- sick to my stomach, with the thought of removing some of his major salivary glands. I get that we have to consider his health and do all that we can to protect it, but different from many clinical opinions, God is running this show, and I don't want to do anything that could make life more difficult when he has recovered- to what extent he recovers isn't up to us, but we need to do all we can to get him there. Having said that, here is the situation we are facing:

After reviewing the scope and witnessing the amount of salvia that engrossed his voice box, the Dr's are very concerned that Chase is not doing anything to protect his airways. With the previous Lung cultures showing a "petri dish" of bacteria- originating from his salvia, it is clear he is aspirating some.....to what extent and if/ and what amount of damage it is doing to his lungs, we don't know. The team is proposing we remove 2 of his major salivary glands, and tie off another 2....potentially eliminating 75% of the secretions that he is struggling to control. Theoritically, he would be able to handle the 30%, and as previous patients that had this procedure done, he could live a normal life after a recovery. We are struggling with this- and I need to know there is absolutely nothing else we can try prior to this- we have tried botox to the glands 4x's- the last 2 were not effective....actually may have made matters worse? He is currently on Robinul to dry them up. This is very effective from an outside view, but once we saw what we did with the scope, it appears to not be effective either. and then there are the potential side effects of the Robinul..... which brings us to another major issue....

His stomach emptying results came back, and it could have been better news. It turns out, his stomach is digesting his food at 30% the rate it did last year when we took the test- could be due to two things, a side effect of Robinul (slows down the movement of the food in his stomach), or a break down of the nervous system- removing the glands would potentially allow us to take him off the Robinul, and eliminate this.....
With Chaser going down to Mayo on Jan 7th to get his Botox injections, he is already going to be put under general anesthesia, they are suggesting we remove the glands at the same time. Again, we both need to know this is the last option. So I requested we do another scope- maybe Chase had a bad day...this was the first time we had seen his voice box covered. I requested another Chest CT scan- If his lungs are showing damage from aspirating, there is clearly a problem....if not- then maybe its not as bad as this one shot in time showed. I requested another stomach empting test....again, this was one time, want to make sure results are same again....and we requested to talk to the surgeon again face to face to reiterate our position and be positive this is the best solution....and possibly only remove one gland- She said she would see what she could do. 10mins later, the phone rang- "we have you schedualed with the surgeon at 8am Monday morning! Man gotta love Mayo. So we are back Monday morning to discuss, and give us something to think about over break. This is by far the biggest decision we have been up against since his accident. I hope the Big Guy slaps us in the face with his plans!
Have a great weekend.

God is Good!"
 
please keep sending chase your good vibes and prayers too -- and to lisa and chris as they make decisions on next steps in the days to come.
 
at this time of year when there is so much magic, i am always reminded of those that we love that are still hoping for magic.
 
i know how they feel.
 
not a day goes by that i don't hope for it too.



Thursday, December 18, 2014

december goals


oh december, watch out, i have some goals that i am going to make happen.

+++ eat candy while making gingerbread houses (already done, and yes, the spice drops were good)
+++ zoo lights
+++ merry go round in redmond
+++ read (note - since the month is busy, no goal to finish a book, but do want to read some pages)
+++ drink 3 hard ciders (i know, i know, this is a tough one, but i think that if i dig deep, i can pull it off like i did in november)
+++ sign up for my next run
+++ choose my word for 2015 -- have a couple i am kicking around, just need to settle on that perfect one
+++ take a nap (this might be one of my most favorite goals)
+++ garden lights
+++ go to a movie
+++ print 2014 pictures that i haven't got to yet
+++ download new music
+++ give hugs (lots of them)

i am also thinking about my goals for 2015, and i am for sure going to order one of elise's goal calendars. setting a goal, and checking each day off, that is pretty much my dream come true. as she says in her post, even if i don't hit everyday (which is definitely going to happen), i will get to see the year of progress and i love that. now i just have to decide which goal to focus on, or decide if i need multiple calendars to track multiple goals;)

happy friday peeps -- hope your weekend is full of good things. speaking of good things, judy is home from the hospital (yay!!!!) and is starting her road of recovery. such great news, all of your good mojo is continuing to work its magic. love that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

sometimes

there are times when reading blogs about someone else's fight with cancer makes the days harder. they just do. but that doesn't mean that i stop reading them. but sometimes i do take a break to catch my breath before i read on if i can feel a little downward spiral coming on.

there are times when reading blogs makes you want to travel to wherever the person is who wrote it and give them a huge high five and a huge hug, and say thank you. thank you for being a voice that makes you feel less alone and gives you hope.

tonight is one of those nights that i want to give someone a high five.

read this and you will understand why.

oh, and --- "melanoma you crazy bitch" might just be my new favorite saying.

fight on warriors, fight on.

+++ ellie -- xoxo

Monday, December 15, 2014

weekender

 
friday night we lost power (no clue why since it was about 24 hours after the massive storm had passed through). so we hung out by flashlight and right as we were about to drag ourselves to bed, boom, the lights come on. by that time it was about 9:30pm, but when the lights came on malena's energy went through the rooftop. "please!!! please!!! can we do our gingerbread house??!!??" of course we can, so we rallied and we busted out an awesome house. totally worth the lack o' sleep.

the weekend continued with breakfast at our favorite place, and a trip downtown to check out the holiday gingerbread houses and the carousel. december traditions, love them. in some ways, it feels like it has been so long since we were there last year, and in others, it feels like the blink of an eye. maybe that is because i feel the same way as last year, so thankful for being able to be here and asking the fates to make the same possible next year. always my biggest christmas wish and the kind that i would tell santa if i could sit on his lap.


a cheerful dessert party with good friends and swim lessons rounded out a great saturday.

sunday started out with a blue sky morning and a cold 5k run in downtown seattle. it was super cold, but we did it. it was a ton of fun to get to run with friends and see some of the runners in their awesome costumes. my favorites were some girls dressed as olaf and the guy with them who was dressed as elsa - it was so funny and i loved it! of course, we ended our race at the "cheer garden" with a complimentary hard cider -- yep, even when freezing, on an empty stomach, after running 3.2 miles, at 9am...i am not going to turn down a free cider. yes, please. it tasted pretty good -- maybe i have a new drink in the morning instead of green tea? hmmm....

lastly (but definitely not least), i also wanted to say that one of the best highlights from the weekend were the good reports from judy. she is doing really well so far with her recovery in the hospital, and is improving each and everyday. go judy go!! keep the good vibes and prayers coming her way -- they are working!

happy tuesday peeps, this means we are almost to wednesday, which means we are almost half way to friday, which means the weekend will be here in four days. i am excited about that, can you tell?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

this one is for judy, part ii + cameron + perspective

thank you for all of the good thoughts and prayers for judy today.

her surgery lasted 8.5 hours and went as planned. so thankful for that.

she will be in the hospital for an expected week or so, and with the last update i got, she was in icu and sleeping.

so keep sending the good vibes judy's way as she starts the road to recovery.

also, please send your good vibes and prayers out to a young girl cameron. she is a college student who started having bad headaches at school, and the doctors determined the headaches were caused by a brain tumor. she had the first part of surgery today with a second surgery to follow tomorrow. i do not know cameron personally, but my aunt does, and she asked for good thoughts to be sent cameron's way.

besides, it really doesn't matter that i don't know cameron. i know that she has been affected by cancer and that is all i need to know. she deserves as many good vibes and prayers as she can get.

tonight as malena and i had a girls night and grabbed some dinner and did some shopping, i was thought about perspective. how cameron and judy would probably have given about anything to be shopping at target rather than be in the hospital. i remember so clearly laying in that hospital bed in so much pain and wishing with everything that i had that i could have been anywhere but there.

so on the days when things don't go my way, and life is so frustrating, i often take a few breaths and remind myself that i am lucky to be in that moment. whatever is happening, whatever is frustrating, whatever is going wrong, i am lucky.

because i know that someone out there would give anything to be doing whatever it is i am doing in that exact moment.

a clearer perspective.

one of the few good things that cancer brought my way.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

this one is for judy

 

i told you all last week that i was going to ask you to show up for a special person this week.

today is that day.

judy is the beautiful woman in this picture, and she is the mom of my dear friend kris. kris and i were pretty much inseparable throughout most of high school.

judy was a like a second mom to me throughout those years, their house was my second home.

in june of this year, judy experienced some issues with her gums. after she sought help from six different doctors and a dentist, she finally found the one who made the correct diagnosis just about two weeks ago.

cancer in her jaw. unthinkable.

luckily, her scans have indicated that the cancer has not spread. so, so thankful for that news.

on wednesday morning, she will go in at 5:30am for a 10 hour surgery. her surgery is going to require two surgical teams. they are going to remove the necessary part of her jawbone, and reconstruct it by doing a graft from her leg.

the surgery is complicated, and her recovery is going to be long.

we need your prayers, mojo, good vibes, and love for judy and the entire family as tomorrow dawns and judy begins her fight.

i know that the surgery will be successful, and i know that she is going to beat this.

i already told the cancer fates that is how this is going to go down, so they are clear on that plan.

i just wish there never had to be a plan associated with cancer and judy.

but we now know that wish won't come true, but the wish that she recovers well and beats this will.

i am counting on that.

thanks for all of the love and prayers that you are going to send their way, i will give an update tomorrow night. xo

+++ love you kris, you can do this. that i know for sure. keep breathing and taking it one day at a time. xo



Monday, December 8, 2014

december traditions


it is starting to look a lot like christmas around here, and i love that.

the tree is up. the lights are on. the decorations are out.

everything feels cozier.

the traditions have started.

tonight i had my last monthly dinner of 2014 with my friend chris. our december dinner always signals the coming end of the year as we look forward to our first dinner of 2015. i think about all that has happened in this year between the two of us - good scan results, her marriage to a fabulous guy, and the tons of stories about our daily lives that we got to share every four weeks. 15 years of dinners every four weeks. i am looking forward to year 16.

and there is still so much goodness to come this month.

i am excited for it all.

every single moment of it.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

goodbye november

"life is grace. sleep is forgiveness.
the night absolute.
darkness wipes the slate clean,
not spotless to be sure,
but clean enough for another day's chalking."
(frederick buechner)
 
 
 
i went to town on my november to do list.
 
as you can see, i did not quite hit the 50 mile mark on exercise, but i did hit 42.86 miles (yes, the tenths of a mile are super important). but not too shabby considering that we made the goal on the 7th of the month. without that goal of 50 miles, there definitely would have been days that i would not have gone outside to run because it was super cold. but then i thought about that goal, i bundled up, and hit the pavement (and was maybe muttering to myself about why in the hell i thought that goal was a good idea;)).
 
although super tough to get through, i was able to drink the couple of hard ciders. whew, that was a challenge. but i dug deep, preservered, and made it happen. no goal is too big for me.
 
i braved the department of licensing (i am pretty sure that i was the only one there voluntarily that did not have to get a renewal) and that  adventure will be its own blog post.
 
i ordered the chatbooks to have all of my pictures from my instagram account documented in book form and they are so cool. i will share those in an upcoming post too. and if you aren't on instagram, you should be. just sayin'.
 
on thanksgiving, you could pretty much call me betty crocker as my friend sasha and i made apple pecan pies. you guys, they were so good. favorite new dessert for the win. yum.
 
you already have my download on wonder and i am now on to amy poehler's yes please and as i anticipated, it is awesome.
 
the other goals got busted out as well, minus the one about framing some new prints. i know that one isn't going to happen in december (i have more important things to do like eat candy while making gingerbread houses), so i am going to go ahead and plan on that one showing up on my january goal list.
 
so november, that my friend is a wrap.
 
look out december, i am coming for you.
 
sidenote:
+++ this print. i am totally in love with it. how great would it be if that was the answer everyone gave to that question?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

random

on a random wednesday, you may leave work a couple hours early even though there no less than one million things that could keep you there. but you shut off your computer, you drive to your daughter's school, and you walk in and completely surprise her by being the mystery reader for her class. the smile when she sees you walk in reaffirms why those one million things you left behind absolutely do not matter. and how that one smile does.
 

on a random wednesday, you may celebrate her fifth tooth coming out with her having a chocolate milk and marshmellow dream bar and you having a green tea and a marshmellow dream bar. you might both be in a little bit of afternoon bliss as you enjoy your treats. losing a tooth always deserves a little bliss, right? right.
 
on a random wednesday, you may need to take your daughter into a restroom and when you do, you are greeted by words that make you smile. you might take your camera out and capture the moment because how awesome is it to see both of your reflections beneath the words "hello gorgeous". yep, pretty awesome.

on a random wednesday, you may ride escalators more times than necessary. in fact, you might look for every opportunity you can to ride one. sometimes you go up, just to turn around and come right back down. for no other reason than she loves it. and that is reason enough to go for some rides.
on a random wednesday, you may go into your favorite store and watch her look at almost every piece of clothing. you may wonder if she is getting thoughts for her sketch book she uses when she watches project runway, and you may wonder if this is just a glimpse of her starting to grow into her own and deciding what colors she likes when she looks at clothes. no matter what the reason, you just stand back and watch, and you love every second.
on a random wednesday, you may thank your lucky stars for giving you that day, and for every single moment of it (minus the work part of course;)).

on a random wednesday, you may feel pretty confident that you will have good dreams.

on a random wednesday, you may know that will be the perfect way to end the day.

Monday, December 1, 2014

thankful


thankful.

so much to be thankful for in the last few days.

campouts. tickle fights. tons of family time. laughter, tons of laughter. hugs. smiles. hard ciders. some of my favorite foods. turkey sandwiches. trying out new recipes and loving them. friends. finding some perfect christmas presents. watching the macy's parade on tv in our pjs, thanksgiving morning traditions. the joy in finding some rainboots that lit up my day because they were so colorful. seeing the pacific ocean on a blue sky day. sleeping next to malena in the bed that i slept in when i was a kid, crazy how big it seemed to me then and how small it seems to me now.

just overall thankful. for more time. for good scan results. for hope. for the days to come. for every second of it, everything before now and everything to come.

as i awoke to the news on sunday morning that my dear friend's mom has been diagnosed with cancer, i was also thankful. thankful that i know that they will be surrounded by a ton of prayers and love. as this woman who i have known since i was a kid gets ready to start her fight with cancer, i wonder why yet another person has to be affected by cancer. why. we will never know the answer to that question. so the best we can do is show up, give our love, send our prayers, and be there no matter what comes. i am thankful that i am here to show up for them. i will be asking you to show up and give your prayers  and mojo next week when the time for surgery comes, and for the days of the fight to follow.

thankful.

in the midst of all of the chaos and the hurt and the pain that life brings our way, there is always so damn much to be thankful for.

the shit and the joy.

both part of life, one makes us appreciate the other so much more than we would otherwise.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

chase

this day.

this is chase's day.

i do not think that there are three more important words on this day to say than "happy birthday chase".

keep on fighting chase, you are one of the strongest warriors i know.

here is a post chris, chase's dad, wrote to him today.

"Happy Birthday BT



Chaser, I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what to get you for this day. I planned on giving you the first skate on our outdoor rink, but the weather had other plans. I have realized that there is nothing I can buy at a store right now that will make a difference, so I decided to give you my words, and share how much you have given me- I know there will come a day when you will read and understand this, but until then, I hope you feel it. It was 6 years ago today that you were graciously given to this family, and Chaser, it was 6 years ago you completed this family! Ever since the day you were born you have been special. Not more special than your brother and sister, but special in a different way. Countless times, your mom and I sat in silence, with huge smiles, watching you roll around on the floor, listening to you coo at all hours of the night, watching you sleep, most of the times if were weren't discussing it, we where thinking it- that you were an angle sent to this family. Your brother and sister earned a nickname when they were young, but when you were two years old I gave you a special one. There has always been this indescribable power that you possess. The power to light up a room with your 3 mile smile. The power to make people stop and smile at you. Anywhere we went people would say hi to you and give a compliment. You did, and stll continue to bring this family together as one. I gave you the nickname Big Time. For years I have told people that I knew you were going to be Big Time in life! I guess prior to your accident, I thought you were going to be a professional hockey player, a movie star, or even the president- i really didn't know.....but I KNEW you were going to be Big Time. Today is your day buddy, and a lot has changed since I gave you this nickname. You have obviously gone through more than anyone can ever imagine. As you have persevered threw your countless challenges, and always manage to come out on top, not only have lived up to your nickname, but you have surpassed any possible expectation I could have ever dreamt up. With your incredible will to live, and your silent, but captivating spirit, you have taught me more about life and myself than I you could have learned in any book or on my own. You make your mom and I want to be better people! Although the pain and challenges you face each moment of your little world right now make my heart ache, please know that you have forever changed us for the better -as you have changed my definition of Big Time. To be honest with you Chaser, looking back a year and a half ago, I didn't have a clue what life was really about- you have taught me, and continue to teach me,- why we are here, what is really important, and how great God really is.
We are soooo proud of you BT! And may this B-Day and every B-Day to follow just be another progressive chapter in your entire book of recovery. I know the Big Guy has a plan for you, in my heart I know it is to bring you completely back and give you a smile and voice again. Until then, your silence continues to speak volumes! Happy Birthday Chaser!


God is Good!"

Monday, November 24, 2014

6

you turned 6.

you got to have chocolate donuts for breakfast.

you were super excited to go to the aquarium. that was your specific ask for your birthday.

you picked out a frosted snowman cookie at starbucks for an after school treat for the drive to seattle. you love frosted cookies, especially if they have some sprinkles.

you wanted to see the fish, the sharks, the otters, and the divers in the big tank.

you held the map, you wanted to lead the way. you always do, i think that i know who you get that trait from.

you loved to watch the seals, they are always your favorite. one of them came right up to the window and just looked at you for the longest time. it was like he was there specifically to give you his personal birthday wishes.

you wanted to go on the merry go round. twice. you never want to only go once.

you were very focused on your horse coming in first in the merry go round race, magically, no matter which horses we pick on any carousel we have ever been on, your horse is always the one that comes in first place.

you played with the pizza dough non-stop that they gave you at the place we went to for dinner. i loved watching the smile across your face as you played and played.

you were so excited about the "big" horse that you got for your stable that papa built for you, i wonder if you will grow up to be a veternarian.

you sat next to me as we watched project runway and you got to stay up late because it was your birthday. you wanted jelly beans as your special treat, and i was kind of happy about that because i really love those jelly beans too.

you fell asleep and i watched you for a bit and wondered what your birthday dreams were  made of.

whatever they were, i hope with everything i have that they all come true.




Tuesday, November 18, 2014

wonder


if i could buy one book for every person that i know, wonder would be the one.

my friend chris gave me this book for my birthday and i was excited to read it as i had heard really good things about it, although i hadn't heard what the actual focus of the story was.

the main character, auggie, was born with a facial deformity. he is homeschooled until fifth grade and then he enters public school. the book tells the story of his transition into the public school, but does it through not only his eyes, but from the perspective of the others in his life.

i did not want to put the book down. last tuesday night when i was pulling an all nighter waiting for my scan results on wednesday morning, i finished it around midnight.

"because it's not enough to be kind. one should be kinder than needed. why I love that line, that concept, is that it reminds me that we carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness."

this book makes you think about tough situations from other people's perspectives, and it reminds you that a little kindness can make a huge impact.

this is one that i will keep for malena.

this is one that i will always remember.

the quote on the jacket is right on, "wonder touches the heart in the most life-affirming, unexpected ways, delivering in august pullman a character whom readers will remember forever."

thanks for letting me come along with you auggie, i wish we could have hung out a little longer.






Thursday, November 13, 2014

the day after + happy mail for evan

we are still coming off of the high of yesterday's news, i think that i might still be in a little post-scan shock that we got good news again. i was telling my friend today that i feel like maybe my oncologist will call me and say "oh sorry, i was looking at someone else's file, those weren't really your results." it just feels so good to hear good news that it takes time to let it sink in and believe that it won't be taken away from me.

for yesterday specifically, i ordered a new sweatshirt that i thought would bring me good luck. i was right, and you know that i will now be wearing that sweatshirt for every results appointment from now on. if you like it too, you can get it at mulberry press co.



after we got the good news and had a chance to update everyone, barrett and i asked a woman in the lobby to take our picture to capture the moment for us.
we then waited for beth to come to the cancer care building for her appointment to have her chemo tube removed. it was great to be there to see her walk out of the final chemo appointment - to see her when she was finally done. so proud of her, and so glad that we were together on such an important day for both of us.

we then headed to a celebration lunch with our parents, and guess what, i crossed one of my november goals off of the list and had a hard cider;)
it was a gorgeous day so barrett and i got a good afternoon run in under the clear blue (and super cold) sky.  felt so good to get out and run, seemed like a fitting way to start the next six months.

my dad made his world famous nachos for dinner (as he does everytime we have good news after scans) and i checked another november goal off of my list with another hard cider. it was a very productive goal day:)
there were so many great parts of the day. other than getting the news itself, being able to tell malena that my cancer doctor told us that i did not have any cancer in my body and that i wouldn't have to come back for tests for a long time was the highlight for me. if i could look her in the eyes and have that same conversation with her every 6 months as we both continue to grow older, my greatest dream would come true.

when we talked with my oncologist, we talked about how it is about 5% of patients that do not have melanoma come back within 5 years of a stage iv diagnosis. he said that we will assume that i am one of those 5% until we have a reason not to. someone has to make up that 5% statistic, and there is no reason that i can't be one of them. right? right. i thought so too and that is definitely the plan.

so as we catch our breath we also continue to support all of the other warriors that keep on fighting as well. my friend mary (you all know mary because i talk about her frequently on the blog) decided to start a happy mail campaign for her friend evan who is also currently fighting melanoma. i am going to be sending evan happy mail for two weeks, and next week is my second week. i thought that it would fun to really get him feeling the happy mail love by asking any of you who are interested to join in with me next week. if you would like to help make evan's week a little better and would like to send him a card/postcard next week to keep his spirits up and let him know that has a lot of peeps sending him good vibes, get in touch with me. message me, email me, text me, leave a comment on the blog, send smoke signals up in the air, trip me when i walk past you -- however you know how to get my attention. i will hook you up with evan's address and you can be part of the happy mail campaign for a melanoma warrior that is currently in the fight for his life.

i hope that you all have a great weekend and enjoy all of the big and small moments. i know that i will.

thanks again so much for all of the love and support this week, we could not have made it through without you. xoxo

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

good news!!!!

the news is in and it is awesome!!!! scans were good --- spots on my lungs have not grown and all my other organs looked good and bloodwork was great!! i come back in 6 months --- we just got the best christmas present ever!!!!! thanks for all of the good vibes, prayers and mojo!!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

anticipation of results + november goals


i am going to write this one out earlier in the day than normal since i find myself with some unexpected quiet time while malena takes a nap.

wednesday at 9am we will be in the room waiting on the results. my stomach has already kicked into being in total knots and i am a nervous wreck. i had a massage today and i think that every muscle was as tense as it could possibly be. it is officially that time when i want time to speed up if it is good news so i can breathe, and to slow way down in case it isn't. but unfortunately, no one gave me control of time, so i sit and i wait while the second clock goes tick tock, tick tock, etc.

but i decided today that regardless of what happens tomorrow, i have some goals for november so i might as well crank the list out. as you can see, i felt super ambitious taking on the goal of drinking two hard ciders this month -- it will be hard, but i think that i can do it. i think that it is good to have goals that make you reach out of your comfort zone a little bit;)

thanks again for all of the good vibes, prayers, and mojo -- beth and i will both take them with us tomorrow as we head in for our appointments. beth goes in at 11:15 for her appointment, so we are going to need good vibes coming to seattle all morning long.

here we go again peeps.

anywhere i go, you go. xoxo

Monday, November 10, 2014

scan day

"you will have bad times,
but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren't paying attention to."
(robin williams)
 
 
scan day.
 
ugh.
 
went i got to the cancer care alliance building, i got to see beth in her chemo bay for a few minutes before i checked in for my appointment. it felt both surreal and in a very odd way comfortable to walk those halls again. a big part of my life happened within those hallways, i feel like there is still a part of the old me that never made it out of there. i have not been in those hallways since the last day that i had my high dose treatment, but i remember so well the hallways, even the specific rooms that i was in. i can still remember who was with me in the rooms while i was getting treatment each day. when i was receiving treatment, i never could have forecasted that on november 10, 2014, i would be back in those rooms to sit with my friend as she started her last chemo treatment and as i prepared to go in for another scan as a stage iv patient. but you never know what life will throw at you, or those that you love. so on this day as i sat next to beth i felt thankful that although both of us would rather be anywhere else in the world than there, at least never of us were there alone. for that we are lucky beyond words.

after i left beth, it was check-in time for me. the usual paperwork. the usual bracelet.
as seems to be the norm, my veins were not super eager to cooperate today. so the iv hook up took longer than i would like. but on the good news side of the day, they have apparently changed what melanoma patients drink before ct scans. no more contrast, instead two bottles of water within 30 minutes. it is much easier to drink water, but i have to say, drinking two bottles of water in 30 minutes on an empty stomach is not as easy as it sounds.
unfortunately, they still push contrast through my iv when i get the ct scan so i still feel like hell after the scans. ugh.
 
as usual, ellie was my post-scan snack superhero. we hung out for our 30 minute wait after the scans to make sure that i didn't have any reaction to the contrast. we were also hanging out with matthew mcconaughey and he says to tell you all hello;)

i got home and crashed out hard.
 
woke up a few hours later to pick up malena from school. decided on the way there that i deserved a little treat from starbucks so we picked up a green tea to try and help my stomach settle a bit.
i spent the rest of tonight spending some quality time with my favorite couch and my favorite blanket. one of my go to combinations when i am feeling rough.
 
thank you for all of the love, good vibes, and prayers for me and beth today. i really appreciate it from the very bottom of my heart. it is so comforting to know that no matter what comes at 9am on wednesday, we will not face it alone.
 
that is one thing that i know for sure.
 
xoxo


Sunday, November 9, 2014

here we go again

             "i survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me."
(joshua graham)
 
 
this weekend was the usual pre-scan type of weekend for me, constant motion. one thing about scans and results is that i can't sit still.
 
i got in a good run on saturday morning. per my scan orders, i can't exercise for 24 hours before i go in for the scans. luckily, it was a gorgeous fall morning, blue sky, fall leaves all around - perfect for cranking out a 3.5 miler. my friend kerry and i committed to each getting in 50 miles of exercise in november, so i have got to get on my game.
 

on saturday  afternoon we headed into town on a whim for some fajitas as i had been having a craving for them. we walked around, checked out a shop that i have been wanting to pop in to, and then wrapped the time up with some ice cream from my two favorite guys - ben and jerry.

today we hung out at an urban farm, fed some chickens, went on a hike in the rain, and had a great sunday afternoon adventure.
in between all of our adventures there were campouts, a ton of playing, lots of hugs, quite a few tears. it would not be a weekend before scans without the tears.
 
so tomorrow we head in for a 10:45am check in time. my friend beth is having her last round of chemo tomorrow and we will be at the cancer center in seattle at the same time. i am going to go and see her in her chemo bay before i go into my appointment. wednesday i get results at 9am, and beth goes in to have her chemo tube removed from her port. for the last time. a big week for both of us. so ironic that this year comes down to both of us being there on the same days for such important moments. please send her lots of mojo and good vibes as she wraps up this year of treatment and surgeries. i am so, so proud of her and how brave and strong she has been all year, and i know that she will continue to be.
 
so send us seattle girls your love, mojo, and prayers this week -- like always, we are going to need them. xo


Thursday, November 6, 2014

goodbye october

 
 
oh october, you were a good month. i really liked you. a lot.
 
in addition to perfecting my awesome pumpkin carving skills (as you can see from the image above), i did tackle my to do list. i didn't get it all done, but that is ok, that is what november is for.


 
++ you already know about our painting session
++ as you can see, i didn't quite make 50 miles (damn you fall darkness and rain for cutting down on my running time) but i did make 40. not too shabby.
++ thanks to my mom for sharing some of her succulents (and my dad for spray painting the pot for me), i have some gorgeous succulents in my window that make me very happy. thanks parental team - you are the best;)
++ i am all over getting a new driver's license in november -- you will see why when i show you the before and the after. hint - long, blonde hair + pregnant. enough said.
++ clearly, 3 new recipes didn't happen this month, but i am kicking it up a notch for november - because you know that i am all over these apple pecan pies like white on rice
++ you know that i loved the happiness of pursuit and i am now about half way through wonder and am loving it (thanks chris --xoxo)
++ i am all signed up for a 5k in december - bring it on.
++ malena's bday party got planned and was a success -- and after being around 19 six year olds, i had a little party of my own. here is a hint.

++ barrett and i snuck in a date night with good food and a chance to catch up and talk about things other than breakfast, dinner, who is picking up, who is dropping off, etc.
++ i am all over ordering chatbooks to document my instagram pics
++ i did get caught up a bit on 2014 pics, i am not totally caught up, but i new better than to make "totally caught up" a goal;)
 
thanks october, it was fun kicking it with you for 31 days. thanks also for the inspiration for one of my november goals -- drink hard cider (why didn't i think of that before?;).
 
happy weekend peeps - make the most of it, we are going to be laying low and getting ready for scan week. start sending your good thoughts our way. xo
 
 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

600

a couple of weeks ago i had the chance to go up and visit my niece at college, she now goes to the college that i went to. it was the first time i had been back on campus with malena, and it was so fun to get to show her my dorm, where i had my classes, the brick pathways i walked across each day for four years.

that day as we walked around campus, i thought about that 18/19/20/21 year old kid that i was then. i also thought about the things that she never could have known that her 39 year old self could tell her all of these years later.

i would tell her that she would make some of the best friends she would have for the rest of her life in those four years and they would see each other through the sunshine and the rain.

i would tell that she should never delete the messages her grandma jo left on her answering machine. i would let her know that there would be many days after her grandma was gone that she would give anything to hear her voice again.

i would tell her that she won't end up with the career that she thinks that she will. but that it ends up being better than ok, and even on the roughest of days, she loves what she does. those years she spent on the degree were exactly what she needed to end up where she was supposed to be, she just never saw it coming.

i would tell her that she will marry her perfect match, and the broken hearts along the way made her stronger than the she realized at the time.

i would tell her that being a mom will be her greatest accomplishment, and that even on the days when she may feel differently for a million reasons, she is a really good mom.

i would tell her that she should wear sunscreen everytime she is outside, and that no tan would be worth what she would later go through.

i would tell her that she should watch her moles as she gets older, and that if she notices any change, she should go right to the doctor.

i would tell her that on july 16, 2010, her life would forever change, and she will need to dig deeper than she could ever imagine. i would tell her that on february 20, 2013, she would feel the same way.

i would tell her that she will lose her hair, and that four years later it never gets any easier when someone asks why she cut off all of her long blonde curly hair, and that the question itself makes the tears form in her eyes.

i would tell her that there will be days when she doesn't want to get out of bed, but that she always does, and she always keeps going.

i would tell her that she will buy cinnamon bears on a rainy thursday in november 2014 because she is preparing for her next round of scans and she believes that the bears bring her good luck.

i would tell her that there will be a day that she will sit down and look her daughter in the eyes and talk to her about her fight with cancer. that the conversation will be one of the hardest things that she will ever do, and that she will curse the fates that any parent has to have that conversation with their kid.

i would tell her that she will beat herself up mentally on things that no one else will ever understand, but that she also needs to remind herself to give herself a break every now and then. life deals her a shitty hand, and sometimes it is ok to let that get you down. it is absolutely ok, and eventually, she will pick herself back up. she always does.

i would tell her that it is hard to know that no one knows how you feel. but it makes you realize that you also don't know how anyone else really feels, and so you tread lighter and you are more careful with hearts than you may otherwise have ever been.

i would tell her that in the days leading up to scans she will feel so exhausted, but will also be afraid to close her eyes because that is when the nightmares come.

i would tell her that she will love gummy candy her entire life, and that she still hasn't met a swedish fish or a gummy bear or a hot tamale that she hasn't liked. a lot.

i would tell her that although that cold beer on $1 pitcher night tasted good in college, a cold hard cider to help calm her nerves when she is 39 will taste a million times better.

i would tell her that she will miss eating sourdough bread. big time. she will sometimes curse the fates for giving her celiac disease, but in the grand scheme of what she will face, saying goodbye to gluten will be a piece of cake (pun intended).

i would tell her that she will consume more dilly bars than she could imagine when she was pregnant. i would also tell her that each and every one tasted so damn good, and that there would be times when that craving would come back with a vengeance that she would be willing to pay a lot of money for one chocolate dilly bar.

i would tell her that she would write a blog for longer than she expected when she started, and on november 5th, 2014, she would write her 600th post.

i would tell her that writing will bring her a lot of healing that she might not have otherwise had, and it will help her to get some of the demons out.

i would tell her that is after 10pm when we are having this chat and her big brother would be telling her to go to bed and get some sleep.

i would tell her that he is usually pretty smart, and so she should follow his advice. if the demons come, she will make it through their visit.

i would tell her that the demons never win.

she would tell me that she already knows this, and doesn't need a 39 year old telling her that.

i would tell her that she is right about that.

i would tell her that is why i have loved her from the start.





Tuesday, October 28, 2014

the happiness of pursuit


"here is a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete. if you're alive, it isn't."
(lauren bacall)

last week i finished reading the happiness of pursuit and it was so, so good.

the author, chris guillebeau, traveled to every country in the world (there are 193 of them in case you are curious) before he was 35. as it says in the book cover, "everywhere that chris visited he found ordinary people working towards extraordinary goals, making daily down payments on their dreams."

you know i love stories, and i love people following their dreams, so this one was a win win for me.

in addition to chris's own story, the other stories shared are so damn interesting.

walk across the united states. circumnavigate the world's oceans on a 38-foot sailboat as the world's youngest sailor. take, edit, and publish one million photos. run 250 marathons in a single year. set the world for the most sighted birds. lead an epic battle to return alaska's newspaper to the poeple of alaska. cook a meal from every country in the world. on and on. all amazing.

what i found equally interesting as much as the quests was the reasons behind them, including the ones where there was no specific reason other than they felt that it was just something that they had to do.

i got the chance last week to listen to the author talk and meet him in person. it was so great to hear how his quest came about, and how he ended up making this book something different than a memoir focused on how he traveled the world. how he was inspired to learn about what made other people pursue their own quests, and then how they go on "after the summit is climbed, the painting hung, the endurance records broken, the at-risk community saved."
this is one of the books that i will write a note in for malena and hope that someday she loves reading it as much as i did. i want her to remember through the words in this book that she can pursue anything and everything that she wants to, if for no other reason than her heart telling her it is the right thing for her.

i can't wait to see what adventures come her way.

getting to be her mom will always be my favorite one.