Saturday, December 31, 2011

last of the year

hard to believe that the last post of this year is here. time flies. i got this card last week from a good friend (thanks kimberly) and really liked the quote on the front. the card is from this series which are some of my favorite to give if i am not giving one of my own. there is definitely a lot to be thankful for from this last year, and i know that there is much to come to be thankful for as well.

in this year when i felt like hell more than i felt good, i am thankful for all of the good that has occurred. the unrelentless love of my family and friends. the good care that i received over the last year from my myriad of doctors and nurses and other medical staff. knowing that i am stronger than i ever knew. the ability to really appreciate every single day and all of the moments that i have with family and friends. the friends i have made that would not have otherwise come into my life had i not been diagnosed - i wish that melanoma was not the reason that we had met - but they are some of the best things that i gained from the diagnosis (hi wallace!).

for this new year, i hold out hope for many things. that recurrence won't be something i have to face. that i can continue to heal emotionally from all that has happened over the last year and a half. that family and friends that have been blessed with good health this year continue to have good health, and that they truly appreciate every single day that they are one of the lucky ones. that friends and family that already know that cancer treatments will continue or will begin in 2012 find the strength to fight the fight and will be surrounded by a lot of love and support while doing it. that they end 2012 in a better place with their health than where they are today. that those with a loved one fighting cancer will have the love and support they need because it will be a fight for them as well. that my friends that already know that 2012 will be a tough year remember that they are strong, they can do this, and that they have people who love them fiercely supporting them every step of the way. that overwhelmingly more good than bad comes to those that i love.

i wish you all the very very best for the new year, i hope that it brings you all that you are hoping for and more.

you deserve it.

we all do.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


i hope that everyone has had a good holiday week so far as the new year looms ahead. ours has been great, a lot of good times with family and friends, it has been really nice to have some down time away from work to just breathe a little. and to sleep a little. yes, sleep - my friend that left me around thanksgiving. i have been able to get some sleep especially in the early morning hours when the darkness starts to lift. the nightmares have eased some during recent nights which i am very, very grateful for.

i have been thinking a lot about the new year, especially tonight as i saw a movie focused on new years eve with one of my most favorite movie buddies. resolutions and new starts are definitely on my mind, more about those later this week.

one of my christmas gifts was a book that i was anxious to have. i first heard about this book when i read this blog post on marta writes. when i went to see about the book, the background on the book caught my eye - and my heart. the inside cover page starts "when molly wizenberg's father died of cancer, everyone told her to go easy on herself, to hold off on making any major decisions for a while. but when she tried going back to her apartment in seattle and returning to graduate school, she knew it wasn't possible to resume life as nothing had happened." when i read those words, i knew that i needed to read this book. the words "she knew it wasn't possible to resume life as nothing had happened" immediately registered with me. i too know that isn't possible. i am now about 40 pages in and loving it so far. after i get to the end, i am sure that i will write more about it - and maybe there will be some posts in between (though i don't think this one will really end for me because there is already one recipe that i am anxious to try). molly shares recipes and the stories behind them which is my favorite part. i love stories. when talking about her dad on one of the first pages she writes "my father woke up each morning wanting that day. you could see it on his face." when i read those words it confirmed for me that i was meant to read this book.

i also want each day. more than you know.

on this specific day, i wish one friend safe travels as she heads home to face the unknown twists and turns that life has planned for. i know that it will be tough, but she will hang on tight and will make it off the ride just fine - if not even better than she was at the start. i wish one friend a happy birthday and hope that the upcoming 365 days bring him all he is wishing for and more, it would all be well deserved.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

red nose

um, how cute is this idea that becky higgins posted on her fb page today? i know, very cute. a friend made this for her as a welcome gift. i am soooo doing this next year. love it.

also on my love list from today was this story on the curly girl design blog. my favorite part of the post was this excerpt...

Time well spent with those you hold dear is too big to put on any wish-list or gift guide. It doesn't fit into a stocking or sit under the tree.

It calls you on a Wednesday or shows up with a bottle of wine. It takes a walk with you, or a long drive. It travels through two airport hubs and goes through security to get to you. It doesn't involve gadgets or take batteries or need it's software to be upgraded, in fact, it often requires you to unplug.

It is the best gift you can give someone else or yourself and it will never be worth less than what you paid the day after Christmas! I promise.

when reading these words, i had a rapid fire of thoughts move through my head about the time well spent with those that i love. i am so very lucky, i have a lot of people to love. it is laughing. it is the funny text messages that make me smile and even sometimes laugh out loud. it is having a drink with a friend and talking about everything and nothing and anything in between. it is getting a hug. it is giving a hug. it is being comforted. it is giving comfort. it is being told you can do what seems impossible at the time. it is having cheerleaders who always are there to cheer you on, even when you have been benched. it is hearing a knock on the door and knowing that someone you love is on the other side. it is hearing the word "mommy" and knowing you will never get tired of hearing that little voice say that one little word. it is listening. it is being listened to. it is the unexpected fun mail waiting in the mailbox. it is the unexpected gift from a friend when they give you something for no other reason but that they knew you would love it. it is hoping for the best. it is comforting when the best isn't the outcome you get. it is the email with kind words that comes at just the right time. it is knowing that you are loved just as much as you love. it is realizing that it is ok to mess up as long as you get up. it is knowing that you are strong enough to keep going, and even if there was another option, your choice would still be to keep going. it is knowing that it is ok to be really scared, that just means there is a lot to lose. it is letting go of some things that really aren't important for those things that really are. it is making things better, and when they can't be fixed, it is being there to say that you aren't alone.

this christmas i am so very thankful for all of the things that can't be wrapped up and put under our tree or in my stocking.

santa knows what i am really hoping he brings me for the next year.

i have always believed in him.

i know he believes in me too.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

her hands

i miss my grandma josephine all of the time. i think about her a lot during the holidays since my childhood christmas memories were all at her and grandpa's house.

i remember the decorations. i remember how the tree looked. i remember the ornaments. i remember the lights she had on the front porch that constantly changed color. i remember the tinsel. i remember her cookies. i remember all of the food. i remember being so excited when i was picked to be the kid to pass out the presents. i remember the true excitement of opening presents.  i remember grandma's house being so warm because she always had the heater going. i remember going to bed and being so excited to see what santa would bring in the morning. i remember not being able to sleep because i wanted to hear santa and the reindeer when they landed on the roof.  i remember having stevie and nerd to tell me to go back to sleep when i would try to get them to wake up and go downstairs at like 4am. i remember showing grandma and grandpa what santa brought me. i remember the year santa brought me a yellow shopping cart and plastic food and how i wheeled that around their house for hours with absolute delight. i remember feeling that i was in a house full of love. i remember the joy grandma and grandpa had when their family was gathered together in their house. i remember how grandma would hold your hand, she would hold your hand between her two hands.

today i read the paper coterie blog called "these hands" written by april meeker and i have copied it below. i miss my grandma holding my hand.

I don’t have pretty hands. It’s a fact. I’ve come to accept it. They have always been wrinkly, like I just got out of the bath, and my nails are often chipped and black from working with silver. I usually hide them in my pockets when I am feeling self conscience.

I tried getting fake nails to glam them up a bit, but they just looked like wrinkly hands with thick plastic ends. I spent the first day of my honeymoon ripping them off.

I inherited my ugly hands from my father, who, in turn, inherited them from my grandmother. My grandmother’s name was Vola. Vola Wyatt. She was the pinnacle of our family. She made Christmas happen.

Her hands, her wrinkly hands, kneaded and draped and clipped and cleaned and stirred and smoothed until Christmas, Campbell style, materialized. Then she dialed and served and presented and hugged and made each of her grandkids feel like her favorite. I miss her so much this time of year my chest constricts each time I make one of her recipes or catch myself humming the way she used to hum. And, oh how I miss her hands. If only I could feel her stroke my hair or grasp my arm. If only I could plant one more kiss on her downy cheek.

And now it is up to me. I have to put my hands to work and recreate the type of Christmas I had as a child, the type of Christmas I want my children to have.

They are large gloves to fill.

i remember.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


this awesome homemade card is from my friend jill (jill - you know i am framing those other cards too asap, love those as well, xo) who rocks it in wisconsin.

on friday we checked out the gingerbread houses at the sheraton, very fun, and the donations go for diabetes research. fun and a good cause - win win. here are a couple of the pics. these are serious gingerbread mansions people. seriously awesome.

later on friday we tackled our own gingerbread house. it was the first time that malena had made one and she loved every second of it. she also ate some of the candy while she constructed, pretty sure that she picked up that habit from yours truly. today she got to make another gingerbread house at daycare, and she was showing it to me while we were getting her things ready. a little girl who is in another class came up to me with the sweetest and saddest eyes and was looking longingly at malena's house and said to me "in my whole life, i have never got to make a gingerbread house." oh man, i wanted to rush out and get her a kit asap. a reminder that those traditions that seem so simple are ones that some kids never get the chance to do. we are so lucky. when we decorated our house, we had two expert helpers - mema and papa who were critical to the overall construction and decorating process.

i agree with you, i think that ours is the best too. who needs mansions when you have spice drops and peppermint circles and can eat the candy? the last pic one is one of the many that malena took herself of her house. i think that i have about 60 gingerbread pictures on the camera. our little annie leibovitz.

shall we move on to some other holiday fun? we shall.
- if you want easy to make and good to taste chex mixes during the holidays (and i know you do and so do i) then you need to check out the recipe for this honey chex mix (tnx gloria for introducing me to my newest addiction). when my cousin gloria made the mix she didn't include the sesame seeds and subbed the cherries for craisins. so, so, so, so good. another yummy mix is the chocolate muddy buddies recipe which my mom makes for me (yes, i am spoiled but i deserve it right?). i am the first to admit that i am a sucker for good chex mixes.
- if you need a good idea for what do with your christmas cards, i have one for you. years ago my mom gave me a suggestion that i use every year. i keep the fronts of the christmas cards and use them the next year to decorate our presents. i haven't bought bows for christmas presents for years, the gifts look great, it's a good way to reuse the cards, and they make my presents easy to pack up when we need to take them somewhere. get a glue stick and you are good to go. i told you it was a good idea. you are welcome.
- there are a ton of holiday ideas on marta writes today, many of them diy and i would love to stay home tomorrow and craft some of them up.

wednesday, i love you. you represent the half way mark.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

the firsts

the firsts of the holiday season have continued this weekend with building gingerbread houses and malena wrapping her first christmas presents...more about those firsts later this week.

during this holiday time of firsts, i have thought a lot about whether these will be our only firsts. last year the decision to be pregnant with our second baby was taken away from us with the diagnosis. pregnancy while doing treatments was not an option. had we not got that fatefull call, we would likely either be pregnant right now or would already have had our second child.

we always assumed that we would have two kids, and i hadn't really thought about not having two...until last year forced me to think about it. now the thought of being pregnant carries far more risks that it did before. could the changes in my immune system during pregnancy contribute to a recurrence? what risks come with getting pregnant and pushing out scans from my regular schedule? what would we do if cancer came back when i was pregnant and i couldn't do any treatments? what would we do if the cancer came back and we had malena and a newborn to take care of? if the cancer came back and i didn't beat it, what would life look like for barrett raising malena versus raising two children? how could i face leaving two children when i can't fathom leaving malena?

i am very scared that i will have a recurrence, the thought of having a recurrence and not being able to do everything i needed to scares me even more.

i think that i had always pictured a sibling for malena partly because i have two siblings that i completely adore. my brother and sister are two of most favorite people in the world. some of my best memories include them. i love to laugh with them. i talk with my sister every day. i can't imagine my life without them. i want that type of relationship for malena too.

it isn't like we have to make a decision today, and we will definitely not be making any decisions until after my scans in january. i haven't felt good enough since treatments stopped to even consider being pregnant. but, i need for us to make a decision soon. the decision about whether to have a second child weighs too heavy on my heart, i can't carry it around with me for too much longer. i can't have baby things in our house if there will not be another baby under our roof. when we took malena's crib down this fall, i couldn't watch as it was too hard because i didn't know whether we would ever put it up again. we will either need to put the risks aside and hope like crazy that life plays in our favor with a second pregnancy, or i will need to grieve the loss of what we thought our lives would look like. i think that the grief of the things that are forever changed will continue to play out for me in more ways - and for longer - than i can imagine.

all of this is not to say that i do not love every single second of all of these firsts with malena, i most certainly do. i have always been - but am more so now - thankful that we had her when i was healthy and that she is healthy. if we do not have a second child, i am already luckier than i could have asked for.

no matter what life gives or takes in the future, life brought me her.

she will always be my most favorite first.

*photo by nerd (aka denise hamilton)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


it seems that i just need to get a really bad cold in order to get some sleep. i have been home sick the last two days. i can now feel the roots of all my teeth and they ache, i think that could be a sinus infection coming on. oh goodie. i have been taking my cold medicine and the last two days i have just curled up in a little ball during the day. and slept. with no nightmares. it has been so nice. i of course can't sleep when night comes around due to the nightmares, but i haven't got as much as sleep as i have in the last two days since thanksgiving. i think that i might just need to start reversing my schedule and working at night and sleeping during the day. i will have to look into that.

one of the other things that we need to look into is doing our will. i promised myself earlier this year that we would do that by years end. but truth be told, it was too much to do during treatment, and has been too hard emotionally to do after treatment. so i have given myself permission to put that off until the new year.

last year after i was diagnosed and before we knew exactly what was ahead of us, there were a few things that we talked about and then agreed to not talk about again during treatment. the reason for that was we wanted to just focus on getting through the treatments, and to not focus on the what ifs of what could come. one of those things was that i told barrett that if something happened to me, i would want him to remarry again if he found someone to share his life with. when we had that conversation, i realized that was one of the conversations that we probably never would have had if i hadn't been diagnosed, but it should have been a conversation we had regardless. there are things that no one wants to talk about because they are associated with something going wrong, but they are important to say nonetheless. if it wasn't cancer, and something happened to me unexpectedly, i would want barrett to know what my wishes would be for him and malena - and what my wishes would be for myself if i had to leave them early. all of those wishes haven't been said yet, but over time, they will be. they are important for me to say, to be at peace they have been said and be able to move on. i can only vocalize those thoughts in small doses though so they will come a little at a time.

how about moving on to some happier thoughts...yep, sounds good to me too.

- this friday we are going to check out the gingerbread village at the sheraton and then make our own gingerbread house (not sure which will have more candy - the house or my mouth;))
- next year i think that we will also do this awesome idea for creating a gingerbread village out of recycled cereal/cracker boxes
- love this idea for using books to make a christmas tree - might have to put this on my holiday to do list for next year, it would look great on our dining room table
- read this story the other day and really connected with the thought of sending my wishes out to the world and then letting them go

happy wednesday peeps, we are half way there.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

monday dinners

on the second monday of every month, i have dinner with the same person - my dear friend chris. our pic from our latest dinner is below, not sure why it looks like my hair is tinted blue, and no matter how hard we tried, we couldn't a pic where our eyes didn't shine bright white. i blame it on the lighting at the spaghetti factory;) but you get the idea...

chris and i met in 1998 when we were both working in olympia at the same office. chris left to take another job in 1999 and we decided to meet up one month in tacoma for dinner. we had such a good time we decided to try and do it the next month and we made it happen. thus began our tradition of having dinner together on the second tuesday (we now do the second monday) of every month. since 1999, we have met every month for dinner except for five times - the three months after our kids were born, and two months when i was too sick from treatments. so in about 13 years, we have had a lot of dinners together! during that time, chris has always been in tacoma - i have been in vancouver, kirkland, aberdeen, olympia, kirkland (again) and sammamish. but no matter where i have been, we have found a place to meet that we could both to get to, and never cancelled due to weather which is pretty amazing considering we live in the nw.

it is one of my favorite traditions, and one that i hope we are able to continue for a long time. it is amazing how much we have to talk about after only four weeks apart. i often think about how great it would be if i could have dinner once a month with all of my friends to catch up on everything in their lives. i also think about how much i miss of what goes on in their lives, since i only see most friends a couple of times each year if i am lucky. i am lucky to work with some of my best friends so i get to see them more often, but even that proximity doesn't allow us time to regularly catch up on what is going on with each of us.

our dinners have included talk on boyfriends (those are some of the funniest stories), husbands, parents, pregnancies, our kids, cancer (her mom, my dad, my own fight, others we know and love), our families and friends, work, and all of the other things that life throws at us. sometimes we laugh (a lot actually), sometimes we cry, sometimes we encourage, and sometimes we just listen.

in addition to our monthly dinners, we have celebrated other events in our lives, many happy, some heartwrenching sad like the day we met in tacoma to say goodbye to chris's mom gail. chris and i walked together for the 3-day, 60 mile, breast cancer walk about 6 years ago. chris's mom gail, who was fighting breast cancer at the time, drove us to our drop off point the morning of the walk and cheered us on as we took our first steps. both chris and i walked for her mom, but i also walked to support chris as well, and every other woman affected by breast cancer. we did it, all 60 miles. with lots of bandaids and blisters, laughs, and tears. gail physically left this world on may 29, 2006, but i know that she continues to watch over chris and beckett, stella, and sawyer each and every day. she is greatly missed. these pics are from the morning that we started the 60 mile walk.

this monday will be our next dinner. december is always super fun because we exchange holiday presents, and mine from her is always the same and i wouldn't have it any other way (assuming she will keep making it for me;))....chris's homemade peppermint chocolate bark. yum yum. like my birthday cake, if i offer to share a piece of it with you, you know that i really really really love you.

so here is to 2012 and 12 more monday night dinners, can't wait.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

jingle all the way (with no sleep) the nightmares are taking a toll again. they are back every night and unrelenting. i have not got much sleep in the last two weeks. i am starting to feel like a walking zombie. i was wondering at work today if people could tell they had a zombie in meetings with them. if they knew, they didn't let on. very nice of them. i can't wait until i sleep again. i really miss sleep.  i hope that i am not waiting for its return for too long.

on to happier things (which is coinciding with "modern family" being on tv right now which always makes me happy)...

- last weekend i went to the timber creek christmas shop which is a must shop/stop every christmas season. they have two cabins full of great gifts and christmas decorations. one cabin is all christmas ornaments and gifts. here is what the front door to the christmas cabin looks like....

when you walk in to the cabin it is warm and toasty and there is music playing (the quiet kind, not the overpowering-too-much-christmas-music-kind) and they offer warm cider. love that. here is a little glimpse of the fun inside...
- we went to snowflake lane last night for some snow and drumming fun. great time. got to kick it with the michelle and her clan which increased the fun factor.

- if you are looking for cute, free, downloadable christmas postcards you need to click here, a great tip from how about orange

happy thursday all...we are so, so close to friday. woohoo.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

on comet, on cupid, on donner and blitzen

today we went to the reindeer festival at the cougar mountain zoo. we had such a great time. lemurs. tigers. moutain cats. cranes. alpacas. dears. emus. wallaby - most of which we got to feed. we got to sit in santa's sleigh. we fed all of santa's reindeer, who really love to eat apples (which we will now be leaving out on christmas eve). we saw santa in his house and got to tell him what we wanted for christmas. hot cider, hot cocoa, and animal cookies were the perfect treats on this cold day. a new tradition has begun, one i hope we get to do for many more years together.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

hello friday, i have missed you

oh friday, i am so happy that you are here. this has been another long week.

the funeral for diane was very nice, but tough. to hear about her fight with cancer, and to hear stories and see pictures of the last year or two (when she didn't feel well, when she lost her hair, when she wore a wig, etc.) were hard to hear and watch. a couple of times it felt like watching snapshots of my life flashing by. they played two songs that generally make me tear up when i am not already upset. at one point during the second song - about a woman who goes before her time - i felt like i literally couldn't breathe for a second. another goodbye. i am so tired of those. i never like goodbyes. ones that involve cancer are even more brutal.

but life comes with the sad as well as the happy times. tomorrow i get to celebrate a friend's 40th birthday. i wish her 40 more (and beyond that) years of good health, joy, laughter and adventures. i look forward to more fun memories to share with her. love you christina. you are rockin it out at 40.

a couple of things for the weekend...
- you can download this holiday print from marta writes for $7. awesome. as she usually is.
- these two songs are on constant rotation on my ipod

"run" by sugarland and matt nathanson (jon - saw your post today my friend, you are going to love this. i am so excited for february to get here. i am counting down the days til i get to see you. can't wait. xo)

"little lion man" by mumford and sons - i heard this for the first time last week and immediately knew that i would have to load it up

martina mcbride's "i'm gonna love you through it" is a song that i can't get through without tears. i heard it the first time this summer when i was driving. i remember feeling like i had been stopped cold in my tracks while i was driving at the same time. in the last part of the video is one of the women saying that you know that are loved, but you don't know how much you are loved until you get sick. i would definitely say that is true. i would also say that you know that you love your family and friends, but you don't know how much you love them until you get sick and have to think about leaving them.

off to bed i go. will try to get some sleep. sleep has not been my friend this week. i guess we are on the outs. not a big surprise, i was expecting the nightmares to gain frequency again this week. they showed up as expected. they are not a welcomed guest.

tgif peeps. hope your friday is a good one.