Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bag of Bones

Mantha is with her dad tonight, so I hope to get a picture of her in costume - I don't even know what she decided to go as...

But, my little bag of bones was here to trick or treat

Please don't mind the messy mail basket next to us, or my dissheveled "Saturday" look, nor the fact that we tried to catpure the glow on Jadon's face, and the fact that Jim has not yet mastered taking pictures with is BlackBerry...

Hope you all had a SPOOKtacular Halloween!  I also hope we don't have a repeat of last year...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

White House Pink Ribbon

Photo courtesy of AP

Read more about this photo and the following line here!

"CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller reports that the ribbon couldn't be hoisted last week because the driveway was being repaved."

That cracks me just a little.  Priorities.  Maybe next year it can go up all month!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A lunar mission

We have found ourselves in great need of a new dishwasher. Our old (not so old - only 3 year old) dishwasher has laid out its plans to launch to the moon with each press of "start" on its controls.

It gets so loud and hisses so that I get headaches listening!!! I love to wash dishes by hand, but with fibromyalgia, I cannot stand over the sink for more than a few minutes.

Its looking as though my new sofa is now going to be a new dishwasher.

Unless of course, I would happen to win one of the lovely $200 Best Buy gift certificates that my good friend Jennifer is giving away on her blog!

Are you in need of a new Samsung appliance from Best Buy?  Then swing on over to Jennifers blog, and leave her a comment!  If you REALLY need a new Samsung appliance, then read the other ways you can win!  There are many!!!

If you happen to have a desire to donate a fine sofa to my cause, please note that I like comfy, slightly overstuffed but not too tall, or deep, because of my verticle challenge and all.  Oh, and the color?  Well as long as it goes with my red antique persian rug, red and green walls and has a little exposed wood (it is a family room after all!) I will be ever so happy with it! 

If not, well, don't complain when you come to visit and sink too deeply into my worn out cushions, and don't make fun of my attempt to wrap the seat cushions in new covers, I did that only for your safety - I have no idea if those marker, and crayon stains will attack your rear end or not (it is a family room after all!)!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Not Me! Monday

Its been a while old "Not Me! Monday" friend.  But know you have never strayed from my thoughts.  It could be the lack of Cheeto eating breakfasts and the missing morning dates with my laptop that have caused me to stray, but today my dear "Not Me! Monday" friend, I honor you!

Because it has been a while, I will share with you once again the origins of Not Me! Monday.  My good friend Jennifer designed this blog carnival of sorts to relieve the burdon of holding on to things she just needed to let loose!  She was so kind to pass on the cost savings to her friends and fellow readers, and it is now an international success!

Last week I did not stay in bed nearly every morning until literally the moment before I needed to load the kids in the car because shocker I stayed awake too late.  I did not also beg my darling 12 year old to help her adorable 7 year old brother get cereal so I could lavish myself in said luxury.

I did not forget to bring my Abstract to the Attorney, I also did not forget to email my Board their minutes on Thursday afternoon for the Board Meeting we have tomorrow at noon.  I am not forgetful.

Now where was I?

I did not wear out 2 pens, use up 4 Sheraton Hotel note pads, and go through countless pages of note paper at this weekends Midwest Division Relay For Life Leadership Summit!  I also did not take notes on every cotton pickin' piece of paper I was given in my breakout sessions.  I do not have so many new ideas for next years event that I am going to have to put them in an interest survey and bribe my committee with copius amounts of chocolate to get them to agree to add a few things!

Gross alert!  Gross alert!

I most certainly did not accidentally grab the bottle of stool softeners (they stay with me after the narcotic induced obstruction I had last year!) in my purse instead of the Advil I thought was in my purse, and take 3 before noticing my mistake during the opening ceremony on Friday.  They did not kick in this afternoon when I was at a meeting with two of my local committee members.  I did not make up an excuse for having to leave because I was "suddenly not feeling well", when really, I did not want to use the bathroom of the restaurant we were at.

Gross alert over...

I did not literally chew my tongue raw on Thursday afternoon when following a meeting with the schools about a new program we are trying to do together, Mantha's Social Worker pulled me aside to tell me the results of her case study.

I did not want to throw up when she told me that the Autism Specialist not only confirmed her initial diagnosis of Aspergers, but actually has placed her a little higher on the Autism Scale. 

I did not choke back tears when she told me that while there are signs that her brain IQ is well over 125 (she is testing in the next few weeks), they believe her social IQ is more that of a 5 year old (also testing in the next few weeks). 

I did not try to hide all of that in a Not Me! post because it is easier to sound like you are not in denial when you are in denial of doing those very things.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Energized, Excited... oh, and Exhausted!

If you know me at all, or have read my side bar, you know that I am a passionate Cancer Research Fundraising Advocate. 

I am going into my 3rd year as Chair of my counties Relay For Life.  A Relay I am extremely proud of.

I just got back from a very powerful, very energized, very exciting Midwest Relay For Life Leadership Summit.  A Summit I have attended for 5 years now.  A Summit that I have often times walked away from upset because I was missing that one little thing that I just could not put my finger on.  This year, I can honestly say....

I have so many new ideas in my book of ideas that I will have to stay on the committee for at least 300 more years just to do them all!  I am so energized that all I can think about is what we can do, and how can we get it done, and where am I going to find people to help.

I also made a decision to share my story.  Because this year the American Cancer Society is the proud sponsor of more Birthdays, and....

I also decided that this year I was going to go about my own personal fundraising differently, starting with my goal.  I have always set it at the standard $100.  This year I am celebrating 5 YEARS CANCER FREE so why not go all out, and raise the bar a little... or in the case of what I decided to raise, a lot...

This year I am starting early, and I am GOING to raise:

Because I am exhausted from being so energized and excited, I am not going to go into great detail tonight, but I am excited to share with you that our little county ranked:

In case you were wondering (because I now have YOU all excited)...  in 2010 my little tiny county is going to break:

And because I don't want to end this post tooting my own horn, the MIDWEST DIVISION (Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota and Iowa) ranked overall:

... and kicked the reigning champions out of the coveted spot they have held for more years that I have been Relaying (this will be my 6th year).

Doesn't that just give you goose bumps???

All that excitement has made me exhausted!

Monday, October 12, 2009

It deserves its own post!

This is just so cute that I have to give it its own post!


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Friends, family and another Birthday!

On Friday night I had the pleasure of joining a group of friends and fellow bloggers at this amazing place.  Of course my good friend Jennifer aka MckMama was behind the arrangements of the wonderful evening:

I finally got to meet some of the people that I have gotten to know so well over this past year, and some new friends that I have met again!  Tina, Heidi (one of the first ever blogs I read), Christy, Kami, and Kerry. 

I spent more than a half hour chit chatting about my old "hood" with the husband of someone I didn't recognize.  Chatting with both of them for quite a bit longer, Janelle (who came all the way from Iowa to see us, and ) came over and joined in the laughs. After a short time she said, I have been looking for one person, and tried to get online to look at her blog so I could see her picture again -  "has anyone met Justlori2day yet?"

She and Shannon apparently were both looking for this illusive person!  It was quite funny because Shannon and I have been commenting back and forth through email and blog comments, but we didn't realize we were who we were!

Thanks again Janelle - I hope you made it home safely (and thanks again for the song)!!!

There was one lady I was dying to meet - she has sent me some inspirational emails over the past few weeks, especially while I was reminscing my mothers last days.  So I looked for her - and found her many times - but kept getting caught up in other conversations and missed her all together.  But in true Mela fashion, she has already emailed me, she is going to mail me one of her CD's, just because that is the kind of person she is!  I cannot wait!

So many ladies (and brave husbands and adorable baby's) yet, so little time!  I know I missed many of them in my comments here, but I hope you all know how much fun it was to meet you all!  If you were there on Friday and donated a hat to Jen's Pediatric Cancer Hat Drive and did not receive one of these

Please contact me!

After leaving Mudd Lake, I drove to one of my most favorite places on this earth - to my aunt and uncles cabin on the same lake that we summer at every year.  My family joined me the next morning, including my brother, sister in law, and niece Lainey:

Twice a year we (in which I mean Jim) find ourselves (again, Jim) wading through icy waters to tend to the dock.  This time it happened to be on a weekend when we had SNOW on the ground and temps in the 30's.

Our brave men (Jim and my brother), or suckers (as you will see in a moment), donned leaky mice nibbled on waders (with footies) and wandered into the friggid cold lake.

Like that hat?  Um yeah, we don't know who that guy was - he just sort of snuck into the frigidly cold lake, took my husbands nibbled on leaky footed waders, and helped my brother remove the dock from the lake.  Where was Jim during this?  We think a rabbit ate him.

Last but not least, we have another birthday in our house.

Can you guess who it belongs to? 

I will give you a hint.... 

If you guessed it was this little fella, you were right!

Happy 7th Birthday big boy!!!  I love you!


It was so much fun!  Watch for the post on Sunday night!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tormenting (me) Tuesday

Its still raining.







Makes me laugh!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Is it possible to have rain brain?

It has rained here for 3,672 (or 6) days straight! No kidding! We are like a big ol wet squishy mess here in sunny cloudy Minnesota!

Now I love me fall and winter. Summer, not so much. However, I do not love being wet. All. The. Time. Cold is one thing, cold and wet is a whole other beast, and let me tell you, it is COLD and WET! My bones asked for a towel earlier - and a warm blanket. You would think I was some teensy skinny little thing for how chilled I am, but apparently the inherent value of my fat storage is not up to code any longer.

The gloom is making me tired. The cold is making me shiver. The rain is hypnotizing me. When people "stop by" and ask me technical questions (like what is my name) I just stare at them blankly and say "huh?".

Kind of like this day....

So I ask friends, can I use the excuse I have rain brain today?

(BTW, I have reinstated my Disqus Comments because it is easier to respond to questions on - I got rid of it because all two of you who read my blog hated it, but lately I have new friends, and they are using it too so well, three trumps two (bwahahahahaha!) smooches!)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sermons, Widows and Strangers

We went to church this morning for the first time since June. We haven't been to our church since quite possibly in March when Lawrence died. We just can't remember.

Just as our younger than me - more traditional than the Pope - Priest ended his first sentence with "Chapter 1", I looked at Jim and he mouthed to me... "every time"!

What he means is this. We are regular "seasonal" church goers. Our seats are vacant all summer, and while most often it takes a few weeks to get in the groove, we are fairly regular in fall and winter.

We always seem to "go back" the first Sunday in October. Of course we never put two and two together until we are in the pew. October is "childrens rights month" in our small town Catholic Church, and our Priest has a humdinger of a "program" (as he calls it) for each Sunday of the month.

Of course that means that we will hear all about our role as Catholics to avoid the evils of contraception and abortion, not to mention the evils of artificial ways of conception and non medically emergent surgeries to alter our abilities to bear children.

Today's sermon, Jim and I decided, was adlibbed when Father saw us enter his holy house, because it included the evil of preventing our children their privilege to "come to Jesus".

We felt the heat of the spotlight over our little corner of the pew. Father started off the discussion by thanking all of the GOOD parents for bringing their children to church every Sunday. Even when they are whiny, crabby or downright unruly (which BTW, he has no patience for unruly children). Then he proceeded to gently in not so much as so much a damnation with pointed finger and spooky wheredidthatcomefrom voice from the Heavens remind those of us who are not bringing our offspring to Jesus every weekend that we are denying our children the privilege of knowing Him.

I felt as though I was his only audience member.

Of course when it was time to take the Eucharist, it was as though the seas parted and I ended up right smack dab in front of the very man who just told me I was sinning and calling me practically by name. Why oh why couldn't that little old couple in front of me go straight instead of turn? I was so close to being off the hook!

Seriously, I am sure that Father did not intend to make me feel such a spectical. But he sure knew how to lay that Catholic guilt on thick this morning.

In order to avoid eye contact with our young, uber traditional Priest, I found myself perusing the perishoners ahead of me. Taking note of how small todays crowd was I was particualarly aware of the large number of blue haired women sans their partners. It is not surprising. The widows out number widowers, and vastly out number the couples of advanced age in our community. It goes without saying that rows six and seven on either side are mostly considered "widows row". Many are friends by circumstance - traditionally not friends before their loss.

When we went to brunch at my friend Jeanne's coffee house, many of them were dining at the large table next to us. Two of them very new to their new way of life.

It was sad and comforting all the same. I am glad they have each other. I am sad they have suffered such great pain. I hope when I am their age, I will be one of the few that out rank those who have lost their spouse. If I am not that lucky, I hope I have the same network of support.

So how does spooky strangers tie into all of this? It doesn't. But I beg you to heed this warning...

If you are home alone. If your spouse is away for the night and you are easily frightened by the slightest of sounds (or not), DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT! Watch."The Strangers". ALONE. AT ALL. DO NOT DO IT. Step away from the TV, find something on Disney to watch and believe me when I say, DO NOT DO IT!

If you decide I am over exaggerating, if you think I spook easily, or if you are tempted by my threats to see what I am talking about, well, remember this...

DO NOT DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Reposting: 12:57 am, October 3rd, 2001

Picture cir. 1978
You woke up in pain.

Your nurse came into your room, leaving only to get you pain meds.

She returned at 12:55 am.

She sat next to you for the next two minutes. Watching your breathing labor more and more.

At 12:57 am, while she held your hand, you let go and took His hand.

You were gone.

The phone rang at 1:06 am. I had only just gotten into bed not an hour before. I was spent. Jim, who could sleep through a freight train jolted awake and handed me the phone without answering. He knew. I didn't. It took me totally by surprise.

I thought I had prepared. I had spent months knowing the final outcome. I said good bye to you - asked you to put your sword down - just 27 hours before. But then I had this wonderful evening with you.

And now you were gone.

I had phone calls to make.

No time for tears.

I needed to call Bruce and gram. I had dropped her off at your house just 2 hours before. I didn't want to wake her. I wasn't sure I should. But I did.

I called Ted. He was mad at himself for not spending your last night with you. We thought we had more time.

I called your sister Chris - who lived 6 blocks away and asked her to call your siblings... Dan, Cath, Mitz and Ed. I wanted to be the one that told Mary and Nick. She understood. Then she made the most selfless offer - rather than coming with us to say good bye to you, she came to the house and stayed with Mantha.

Then Jim and I drove, what felt like the longest drive ever. It felt like a normal visit - only at 2 am - and then it hit me - just as we turned on Snelling. It hit so hard that I wanted him to take me home. I wanted to not go where we were going. I want it to not be true.

But he trudged onward knowing I wouldn't have it any other way.

Bruce and gram were there waiting. Ted and Theresa arrived just after we did. We gathered at the end of the hall. Waiting so we could all go in together. But then strangely, they told me to go in first. I think they wanted someone to break the barrier, to make it more real - to make it acceptable.
Because no one wanted to accept it.
I took on this role while you were sick. I became the informer and the enforcer.

I went to all the doctors appointments, asked the hard questions, pushed for more results and made everyone in your charge rue the day they came to work in less than fully submissive to kindness and gentle care.

I pulled the non challant Radiologist out of that first appointment and asked him flat out if you were dying. He tried to stay neutral, he tried to be overly technical - but he didn't know who he was dealing with. I remember the look on his face when I, barely 5'1", knocked his over 6'3" down to size - telling him I didn't to subtle, I didn't do sugar coated. I wanted the truth, and while he thought it was best for you not to know, it wasn't his decision to make.

I verbally chastised your Oncologist for arrogantly admitting he made a mistake when he didn't do a bone scan in February. And then I made him tell you your prognosis, and when he would begin to sugar coat it, I would glare him back into the truth. (He still doesnt like me by the way, but I dont care, I dont like him either - I refuse to see him when my I make my annual trip to the Cancer Center).

I took notes, kept a journal, emailed everyone, and made countless phone calls throughout your illness. I took advice I didn't want to, was yelled at for looking at the illness straight in the eye, and not pretending it wasn't really happening. I told it like it was, and called the naysayers out. I made sure that no one, and I mean no one, talked about you in third person - over your bed - like you weren't able to hear or understand what they were saying. I didn't allow myself to get upset or breakdown.

So it was natural to me to cross that threshold first, and report back that it was safe.

I took my time.

It was my turn to grieve.

My turn to be selfish.

I will never forget thinking you looked as though you were sleeping, mouth agape, expecting to hear sounds escape. But there were none. I wanted to crawl in bed with you and never leave. But I didnt. Instead I told you how much I loved you, and I prepared you for what was to come. I promised that no one and no thing could ever hurt you again.

Slowly the rest started filtering in. They didn't stay long. It wasn't easy for anyone.

As we sat together, in that room that people gather in, we all realized at once that this was it.

All I wanted to do was sleep. But I couldn't turn the phone off, I didn't think it was fair to those awaiting the news. I didn't sleep until that next day.

And then came the morning after - a full day after you were gone. I decided I would take Mantha to daycare and work on putting memory boards together. I dont remember the motions, I just remember that after visits to the local Target, Pier 1, Fabric Store and grocery someone finally got brave enough to ask me if I was ok. The night before I had gone to bed in sweats and a shirt that read "bite me". Apparently when I woke up that morning, I did nothing more than grab my purse and my daughter and leave the house. I didn't comb my hair, I didn't check the smudged make up. I didn't change clothes.
In my semi-upscale suburban town I went out shopping with a bang.

My cares were with you, not with me.

It was all for you.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Reposting: Seven Eight years ago today... October 2nd, 2001

In a SNAP!

Who would have known. You spent so many days non responsive. Not to touch, not to sound, not to anything.

I wasn't going to come see you today. I had a church gathering to go to, and I was one of the hosts, so I did not want to deviate from my plans. And then Jim called me. He said that he felt I really needed to go see you today. He had a "feeling" that things were changing, and I shouldn't put it off. I never told him that I had already said good bye to you. But something told him I needed to be with you today.

So I made other arrangements for the party. I called the person I was sponsoring and explained the need to be with you, and I even left work early.

And so much happened. All at once, but in slow motion. I remember almost every conversation. I remember every watchful eye. I remember the entire meal. All of it.

One thing at a time...

When I got to the Home, gram met me in the hall with a little more pip in her step. A little more excitement. And a SMILE.

What a welcome. You were sitting up in your bed. You were smiling, and you were muttering a few very quiet words. This was only the second time I heard your voice since August. And it was such sweet music to my ears.

And hungry. You hadn't eaten solid food in a month. You hadn't even sat up in bed, or opened your eyes in at least three weeks. And here you were, wanting me to order your dinner.

Your favorites. Like magic, not more than an hour after we asked for them, they were delivered to your room. Maybe they went to get them because they wanted your last meal to be special. Maybe they knew something we should have known. We read the book they gave us. We knew that it was possible you would come back to us - if only for a short time - before you left us for good. We will never know - but amazingly, they had it all. Even the butterscotch pudding.

You ate it all.

Soon after dinner, you received some special visitors. They had come to visit when you were still in the hospital. But it was really hard on them to see you that way. They weren't sure they could handle seeing you get any worse. But they came. And they were so happy to have made that decision. Because they got the best part of you. We reminisced. We remembered every memory there was to remember. And there were a lot. They were our best family friends. We lived next door to them for 25 years.

As the night wore on, you started to get tired, and a little more obtuse. Now just watching and taking it all in. I remember walking back and forth in the room, and you watching me closely. Because I am who I am, I said "what, do I have boogers on my face?". You just nodded and giggled - sort of silently - and kept watching.

It was fastly approaching late, and gram was having a hard time keeping awake. Your visitors had long since left. And you were getting more and more distant. We knew it was time to let you rest. So we said our goodbyes. Several times. And as you drifted off to sleep, we just sat and stared, in awe of all we witnessed tonight. And finally, we left your room.

And we felt really good about the evening. What an amazing time we had with you. It gave us a new found hope. We spent the entire ride home revelling in all that had transpired.

You were amazing.

What a special night.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reposting: Seven Eight years ago today.... October 1st, 2001

Today, October 1st, 2001, I whispered to you... it was ok.

I thought they would be my last.

You proved me wrong.

But that story is for tomorrow.

Whispers of love...

I love you more than you know. I want you to put down your sword, your battle is over. Go to Him, and be at peace. Run in fields of flowers, and be free. Gaga and Leonard are waiting for you. Its ok to go now, we will be ok. We have each other. And we will see you very soon.

And then I held on for dear life.

And I wept on your shoulder.

And I looked back several times before I walked out your door.

You were so beautiful.

So peaceful.

So loved.