Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Welome Wagon


High five for Grandma G.G while out to lunch

Lots of pool time with Rusty, yes it was freezing!


Front yard sparklers and fireworks

There were three tutu changes that day

I wanted to post a few more photos of our fun-filled weekend with Virginia and Rusty.  Note the fireworks in the third photo.  My sister Diane joined us Sunday night for "Nick's famous ribs" and we broke into our little stash of semi-legal fireworks.  Diane and I are pros.  My Dad was all about fireworks while we were growing up in Wisconsin. You could regularly find us kids wearing welders gloves and aiming Roman candles into the neighbors' yards.  And this was approved play.  I'm not sure Nick's family shared the same summer pastime. He and Virginia were both freaking out pretty hard as Diane and I giggled with glee at the fire-spitting sparklers being held by preschoolers.  And he only allowed us to light one "big one" in the street that shot sparks into the sky and screamed like mad into the quiet night.  Party pooper.

Ok, so I need to mention this Adrienne gal.  This story is another one of those weird cancer synchronicities.  A few months ago, I was at the park with the kids and saw another bald mom.  Of course, being the unofficial welcome wagon to cancer living that I think I am, I approached her and talked to her about her treatment.  Adrienne was deep into chemo for breast cancer and we chatted for a while about how much it sucks being a mom with cancer, and I referred her to my blog.  I had been there done that, and she was interested in my experience and wanted to know what to expect.  That was my last contact with her.

Then Saturday morning, I escaped the family to walk the bridal path. I noticed a woman wearing a scarf on her head, walking slowly and wearing big glasses.  Of course she was going through some type of treatment, I just knew it, and it took every ounce of my being not to try to take her under my wing. I walked past, but I knew I should have said something.  Then that night, I get this comment on my blog "Hi...we met at Butler Park a couple of months ago. My name is Adrienne. You approached me because I had a handkerchief on my head & you wanted to know if I was undergoing chemo. I'm writing because today I went for the 1st walk I could muster up the energy for in 6 months. I was on the bridal path on Central & I think I saw you walking...I wanted to catch up with you & see if it really was you but I was going at a snails pace. I was thinking how ironic it was that I would see you on my 1st day of recovery. I will be walking there often & maybe I'll see you there another time. I hope all is going well for you. Great job on the blog! :) "

Damn it, it was her!  I should have trusted my gut, and now I have no way to contact her (blog comments don't give me email addresses). So if anyone knows an Adrienne going through treatment in Phoenix, please give her my email address khower@cox.net.  Maybe this cancer tour guide, welcome lady thing is actually a calling for me. I do enjoy being a networker and a hostess, who ever dreamed I'd be parlaying it into a position at the cancer chamber of commerce. Can I trademark that?  I think I'm onto something!

love
k


Monday, March 28, 2011

From Hull With Love

Virginia and Rusty join us for a night on the town
Well lookie here!  Nick's mom Virginia and stepdad Rusty were back in town this weekend.  I honestly can't count the number of times Virginia has made that marathon trip across the country from Hull, Massachusetts to our southwestern corner of the world over the past year.  I am SOO very grateful to her and all the love they have shown us.  She's been our rock and we love her so!  And you ain't so bad either Rusty, we of course love you too.


I'll have more photos and stories of their wonderful long weekend here in Phoenix.  Needless to say, we lived it up the best we could. This included lots of time in the hot tub, endless cups of Keurig coffee and continuous conversation of how truly amazing and hysterical the kids are (if I do say so myself).  


The night has slipped away from me and so I'll give you the full scoop in the next day or so.  Oh, I'll also give you the story of Adrienne from my last post.  The world is a very small place, my goodness!


with love
k

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Yo Adrienne!!

OMG!!!!  Adrienne, please email me at khower@cox.net.  I want to respond to you but don't know how to contact you.  (All others, I'll fill you in later)
k

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mexico Perfecto!

The Mamas: Andrea, Shelley, me and Monica





















The 5-year old rat pack: Thomas, Fisher and Finn

Everybody's gone surfing...




























Princess Sandy Bottom

Nick and Thomas looking perfectly beachy
Green eggs, ham and green french toast

Our view from the deck at low tide, can you see the boys out there?

Zoom in, can you see them now?

Finn and Fisher head back home
Oh, it was GREAT GREAT fun, and I have the photos to prove it.  For the first time in our career as parents, we took the kids on a spring break vacation.  Last Wednesday we caravanned with three other beyond wonderful families down to Puerto Penasco, Mexico where we played hard day in and day out until we hit the road back to Phoenix Sunday morning.

The Martins, our generous and most gracious hosts, packed enough food to feed our crew of 15 kids and adults and gave us free reign over their gorgeous beach vacation home.  I've never seen a beach so expansive, and it was right out our back door. 

The ever so calm tide rolled out every afternoon literally tripling the size of the beach, giving the kids more space to roam free than they have ever had in their whole lives.  Us mamas held our breaths as we watched the five year olds move so far away from us as they ran toward the shore, that they actually disappeared into the horizon. We watched them go, knowing they would come back safely, but we knew we were glimpsing the inevitable future.   

The memories from this trip are like sparkly gems in my head.  I cherish them all.  A few that stand out, in no particular order include: the paper plate line up to feed the kids at every meal, the gas powered blender for beachside pina coladas, nightly gourmet home-cooked dinners for the grown-ups, perfectly sunny skies every single day, a big-girls day trip to the city for margaritas and a two story beer bong (no, we left it to the spring breakers),  Fisher and Finn sharing a bed in our room so we had three sweet kiddos in our room every night, Monica's rooster pitcher purchase, Andrea's seashell studded sand castle, Jenny-Jane's hour-long tantrum that prompted a round of mimosas, two huge pirate kites flying in tandem, an enormous full moon that magically lit the beach, Ruby's lip gloss obsession, an invigorating private morning walk with my friend Shelley and Charlie the dog, kids and dads in colorful kayaks, green eggs and ham St. Patrick's Day morning and Fisher's first truly loose front tooth.

Thank you dear friends, for allowing us to share this time together. This was a gift of enormous proportion for our family.

And through it all I felt great, truly normal.  I'm trying to convince myself that I am normal, and that I have no trace of cancer left drumming up trouble in other parts of my body.  But no matter how hard I try, I can't turn that radio off in my head that creates the constant static to remind me that all this fun could end very abruptly. It's my job to live in the present and I have to work at it.  Mexico was all present all the time. It was a vacation from cancer, if only in my mind.

Via con dios,
k



Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Break

This is a quick note to say "Adios!" for a few days.  Our family has been generously invited by our friends the Martins to stay with them in their off-the-hook Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) Mexico home for a few days over Spring Break. We are heading down there with four families for some serious fun.  Get this, we've got seven adults, three five-year old boys, and five girls ranging in age from eight weeks to nine years.  How can that not be crazy fantastic?  I'm told we have plenty of room for everyone, an expansive private beach where the kids can be wild and free, and all we really have to worry about is our next meal, or cocktail.  Nick and I are in charge of the bloody mary supplies and the vacation soundtrack.  I think we can handle that.


And no, we are not worried about driving into Mexico.  This is not Juarez, and there is very little, if any, drug cartel activity in this sleepy gringo vacation spot just three and a half hours from Phoenix.  


I think my oncologist would agree that my limited alcohol consumption mandate doesn't really hold up when I am out of the country, and that Mexican beer doesn't count anyway, right?  


I'll be back to my blog in about a week with plenty of photos and stories from this wild getaway. In the meantime, I want to say how beyond grateful I am to our friends who are making this trip possible. I hope to repay a fraction of the generosity that we have been shown over the past year.  Truly, we are humbled.


Hasta luego!
k

Monday, March 7, 2011

FIVE

My little boy is 5!
Tomorrow morning is Fisher's 5th birthday.  I'm cutting out red "5"s to make a path from the kitchen to his new red big wheel in the living room. My love for this kid is so huge, so powerful. I'm giddy with anticipation for his excitement on this extra special day. This is exactly why I have to survive this crazy disease.  


Happy Birthday Sweet Boy!!


love
Mom

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Speaker of the House

So I did it, and you know what?  It was great!  My short speech to the ladies at the Arizona Country Club's Rally for a Cure luncheon was a true success.  I was of course nervous, but public speaking is something that is fairly comfortable for me, while I know it sends many people running for the hills.  


During my career as a construction executive, I made formal presentations on a weekly basis to highfalutin business owners, and actually trained my superintendents on how to do the same.  That was pretty fun.  Trying to convince those guys not to chew tobacco and avoid the word "ain't" at interviews with presidents and CEO's was quite a task.  At least I knew not to do those things at the Country Club.


Nick came along for moral support, sweet guy, and I even found a few friends in the crowd of about a hundred.  Michelle, who organized the very pink and perfectly appointed luncheon, put me at ease and filled me with encouragement before I hit the podium.  I didn't stumble on my words and I didn't shed a tear.  A few gals in the audience did, which was pretty amazing to see.  They laughed at the appropriate times and sighed when I got to the heavy parts.  I avoided eye contact with Nick as to keep myself composed and focused.  


Although it was completely gratuitous, the audience actually gave me a standing ovation at the end of my talk.  It was then that I shed a tear or two myself, more in relief than anything else.  


I've questioned myself as to why I feel so comfortable talking and writing about this subject of my cancer experience.  I think it's a combination of a few things.  First, though I've been to hell and back, it still doesn't feel like it's happening to me.  I'm detached from it.  I still feel like I'm watching someone else's life unfold in front of me.  Isn't that strange?  And second, I feel it's my duty to report on the inside goings-on of a cancer patient.  I know that not everyone will have this privilege (smirk) of my experience, and I find it important to honestly share the behind the scenes scoop.  And finally, if I share my story, maybe I won't feel so alone and so scared.  By revealing my true feelings about all that is happening, I'm bringing my readers along with me for the ride.  Misery loves company? No.  It's more like strength in numbers.


So will I do it again?  I sure hope so.  I'm actually receiving encouragement to pursue public speaking as a possible career.  Who knows, it might be the start of something.  I love making plans for my future.


with love
k