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 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


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


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.
+++ 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


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



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.


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.