Monday, February 28, 2011

Guest Speaker

This is going to be a short and sweet one tonight.  Tomorrow is a big day.  I've been invited to be the guest speaker, yes, the guest speaker, at Arizona Country Club's Rally for a Cure golf tournament and luncheon.  So, being the responsible gal I am not, I left my speech writing until today, and I'm still fine tuning it as we speak.  My friend Michelle, who recruited me for this endeavor, gave me the biggest compliment.  She said I am like Phoenix's own Kelly Corrigan.  I mentioned Ms. Corrigan a couple posts ago.  She's a breast cancer survivor as well as an incredible author and public speaker.  Yikes, I better keep practicing.

I just did my first live practice for Nick in the bedroom and I'm not sure who teared up more, him or me.  I'm going to try to keep that in check tomorrow, I just can't look at him in the audience while I speak.  Wish me luck, I'll let you know how it goes.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tiny Beast

Jenny-Jane with another little friend
Our household was on a brief hiatus from the Mom-a-palooza this weekend as my Mother retreated to my sister's tranquil house for a couple days.  We are excited to welcome Mom back tomorrow as she turns it up a notch to spend the next week running around town with me and the whack-pack.

A new lil' friend has joined our lives and I wanted to document it here because it's so damn cute.  Yesterday, for the first time, Jenny-Jane introduced me to her imaginary friend.  We were in the Safeway, her in the cart seat facing me, and she holds out her 2-year-old hand and says "Ahhh.. Tiny Beast".  Strangely, I instinctively knew that she was referring to a miniature, invisible beast from Beauty and the Beast.  And so it began.

Tiny Beast made an appearance in the hot tub this evening too. Again, she just holds out her little hand, palm up, and says "Tiny Beast," and he suddenly joins us.  Then after dinner, she placed her sweet head on my chest while gripping the guacamole cup from Chipotle for dear life with one hand, and holds out her other hand and says "hold Tiny Beast," so she can grab the bag of chips.  He even did a little singing tonight during stories.  His voice is similar to Jenny-Jane's but a little deeper, and I think he's got a Cajun accent.

My God she's funny.  Oh, and now when she's mad at you, she'll shout through tears, "Santa call you two minutes!!!"  Doesn't matter if we are ten months away from Christmas, if you piss her off, you are threatened with a call from Santa.  Nobody wants that.

I hold such gratitude in my heart tonight to whatever powers are keeping me on this earth to experience the joys of our children. Watching these insanely fabulous moments unfold before me are true gifts, and I am beyond thankful for every one.  

with love,
k and tiny b

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Mom in the house!!!  Me, Mom and Diane at El Chorro for brunch.
This week and next my Mom is visiting from Wisconsin. She'll be joining me on my simple but joyful life of toting the kids to school, the park and the grocery store. It's my own personal Bermuda Triangle.  

Today was my sister Diane's birthday.  My Mom, Jenny-Jane and I took her flowers at work and watched as her bar-full of customers at the Red Devil presented not one but two, huge birthday cakes.  I can think of no one more deserving of two cakes than Diane. She's so double cake worthy.

Ever since I moved to Arizona, Diane's always been my go-to gal. She's Fisher's Godmother and puts up with all his antics, lord knows she's seen the best and the worst of that kid.  Her purse contains surprises for the kids every time they see her, which is usually at least a couple times per week.  And this past year, when I needed her the most, she absolutely shone.  I wish I could thank her for every thing she did, but honestly, I was so out of it most of the time, that I don't think I have a true inkling of how much we leaned on her. She's remarkable and my whole family loves her so.  Happy Birthday Sea-star!

So tonight to celebrate Diane's day, my Mom took Nick and his harem of Knotek gals to dinner at our favorite spot, Tuck Shop, where we small plated ourselves into a blissful food coma.  Please go there and order their Shrimp Po'Boy Popovers.  You'll thank me.  It all felt so normal, so fun.  Yes, my Mom's husband of 57 years died just months ago, and yes, I am just out of the woods from cancer treatment, but we didn't wallow.  We just laughed and ate and loved our time together.  How lucky I am!

I've got another week and a half of my Mom here in Phoenix and I'm going to utilize every free moment.  So far I've got her gluing candy on dinosaur Valentine's, designing our Oscar's Night betting board, mending Fisher's jeans (with her mother's perfect condition, ancient sewing machine that she mailed here for just this kind of job), and making light sabers out of pool noodles and duct tape for Fisher's upcoming Star Wars birthday.  Yes, she's a VERY good sport, quite crafty and great company to boot.  Hmmm... maybe that's where I got my spunk.  Thanks Mom.

I'll have plenty more to share as our Mom-a-palooza continues. Who knows, we may get even veer off our triangle of errands.  Crazy!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Not To Say

I know, making small talk can be challenging, and making small talk with someone who has had cancer can be really uncomfortable.  I get it.  I wouldn't know what to say to me either. But I do know now what NOT to say.  There have been books written about it, and even a website by a wonderful author, Kelly Corrigan who wrote a book called The Middle Place about her breast cancer diagnosis and then her father's cancer battle.  Her story sound familiar?  Anyway, she developed a website called Circus of Cancer which has a great section on How to Help Your Friend.  It offers truly smart suggestions for those who love someone with cancer.  

So, back to what not to say.  Oh, I don't know, how about something exactly like this "Do you know so-and-so?  Well her best friend in Baltimore had breast cancer too and she had horrible chemo for years and I heard she DIED last month.  Terrible."

So, as a recap, if you know anyone who knows anyone who has DIED from cancer, you can probably skip that little nugget of info. You know anyone who knows anyone who lived for 25, 30 or 40 years after a Stage 3 cancer diagnosis?  I'm all ears.  


Sunday, February 6, 2011

On Wisconsin!

I rarely get homesick, but I've had a few pangs this past week.  First, the most obvious.  Yay Packers!  I know I should say, "Go Packers!" but that would make me sound like a football fan, which I am certainly not.  But how could I not root for my home state?  Those Green Bay boys did us proud tonight.

I was born and raised in a suburb north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin called Fox Point.  It's known for being kind of richy rich, but we didn't qualify for that. I was lucky to live in a great old (and I mean it literally was on the register as one of the oldest houses in the Village) house in a beautiful, safe neighborhood.  Everyone had a big yards and no one had fences so all the properties connected.  When we played outside, we had acres of big green lawns among all the neighbors and we ran wild from yard to yard.  Summertime was king. I remember feeling truly free walking the railroad track just blocks from our house, collecting inchworms under the big shade trees, riding my bike to the Fox Point pool for swim team with my best friend Jenny, and playing kick the can in the cul-de-sak way past dark.  I am not waxing poetic.  It's the truth.  

But summertime in Arizona?  Not so much.

Here in Phoenix we hide in our air conditioned homes from 10am until the sun goes down, and even then, it's often too hot to even take a walk.  Is that how kids should be spending their summertime?  Hell no.  Maybe someday Nick and I will be able to afford our dream summer home in Manhattan Beach, California, but for now, I'm dreaming about Milwaukee.  My Mom just reported that my free classified ad in the "Fox Point-Of View" (I know, it's painful) is hot off the press. Yes, I actually placed an ad. I'm looking for a Fox Point family who may be taking a summer vacation to allow my family to house sit or dog sit for a few weeks this summer.  I'm even willing to pay for the chance to take care of their house!  I just want out of Phoenix for a chunk of time this summer.  I want my kids to run free in the beautiful weather, in the picturesque neighborhood.  We want to be close to my Mom, without taking over her home and allowing her to keep her sanity.  So, if anyone out there is willing to open your house to us, please contact me.  I see our Phoenix summer peeking its pitchfork around the corner and I need a plan to escape!

To add to my twinge of homesickness, Nick and I watched the episode of American Idol that was filmed in Milwaukee at the incredible Art Museum.  They kept showing the Milwaukee skyline and familiar places that I didn't even realized I missed, but boy, I really do.

What I miss most about Milwaukee is my Mom, and I am giddy that she is coming to Phoenix for a couple weeks arriving this Friday. There are several layers to the reason for her visit.  Of course she wants to visit my family and my sister Diane here, and she needs to escape that wild winter weather for a bit.  But another reason, the clincher, is that this Saturday, February 12th would have been my Dad's eightieth birthday.  It's been six months since he died this past August.  We are all pretty nervous that his birthday is going to evoke some powerful emotions, some that we probably haven't even experienced yet during our grieving.  

Maybe it all comes down to the fact that I'm homesick because what I really miss is my Dad.  Wow, I hadn't put that all together until I just typed it right now.  This is not where I meant for this blog entry to go, but looks like my subconscious lead me here, and with that, and a few tears, I'll say goodnight. 

with love,