Saturday, July 30, 2011

Apple Sauced

Quite obviously, there's a glitch in the matrix. I have gobs of photos I want to share and fantasic (or shall i say Nantastic) stories I want to tell about our East Coast adventure. Alas our beautiful big Apple computer has pooped the preverbal bed. That's a Nick phrase and he doesn't use the word pooped. But anyway, for now I'm writing in HTML from my iPad and waiting patiently for Nick to work some serious magic and hopefully fix our computer without having to replace the whole enchilada.

I do want to say thank you to our three amazingly generous host families, Dad/Larry and Cyndy in North Kingston, Rhode Island, Mom/Virginia and Rusty on Spinnaker Island in Massachusett and Mellissa, Pete and lil' August Moser in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey. Plus, we even escaped to the big cities of Boston and New York City for some very needed kidless time.

Oh yes, it was unseasonable hot and humid every day we were there, but that did not derail our fun. And best news of all, I felt great every day of our trip. I'm in a very good place right now health-wise, and I'm not taking it for granted. I never will again.

So, stay tuned for photos and stories to come. Nick is actively tinkering with the computer and I hope to be up and running again by the end of the weekend. Is there some patron saint of electronics we can pray to?

With love from back home in AZ,

Saturday, July 16, 2011

East Coast Bound

Here we go again! I'm packing up the family to take them to the East Coast to visit Nick's Dad in Rhode Island and Mom in Massachusetts, then to New Jersey/New York City to visit the Moser family.  Nick is already in Wickford, RI enjoying lots of time with his Dad on the boat, and we arrive late Sunday night to spoil all their fun (just kidding).  I LOVE the East Coast and Nick's parents, of course, so I can't wait to get going.  I do not love the 5 hour flight alone with the ankle biters, but I am nothing if I'm not prepared.  Ipad and DVD player loaded, a bounty of new books from Half Priced Books, snacks-a-plenty and Southwest Airlines drink coupons are at the ready.

While Jenny-Jane's pink suitcase and Fisher's red one are all set to go, mine sits empty and I've got clothes strewn across my room.  It's 10:30pm so I'd better get my butt in gear.   

Oh!  And a quick health update.  With Rebecca at my side, I saw my ever-wonderful oncologist Dr. Wendt on Friday morning for my 3-month check up and he had nothing but glowing praise for my progress.  After all his standard and somewhat bizarre list of questions and a little poking and prodding, he said "I think you look great!"  He applauded me for following all the rules:  lots of exercise, low fat diet, limited alcohol and low stress.  While it may not be my choice to follow this clean living regimen, it's definitely keeping me healthy which is our top priority.  

I'll be back with stories and photos from our big trip.  I'm especially looking forward to next Saturday night when my Sigma Chi lil' bro Pete and his lovely wife Mellissa have a grand night out planned for us in the big city.  I ADORE NYC and can't wait to cause some trouble!  (Clean living may have to be put on hold, it's NYC for goodness sake!)

with love,

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


March, 2007
I clearly remember that March day, four years ago, riding in the back seat of my best friend Jenny's minivan with her two kiddos, Maddie and Connor, and Jenny and her husband Rich in the front seats. We were all laughing like crazy as we drove from the Milwaukee airport where they had just picked me up, to their house in Cedarburg.  I was home for Jenny's "Celebration of Life" party which was designed to give Jenny a chance to publicly say thank you to the hundreds of people who had been supporting her and her family through her cancer treatment.  It was on this car ride that we came up with the "Honk If You Love Jenny" sign which was posted outside the community center where her celebration was held.  It was amazing that Jenny even allowed this grand party, let alone this incredibly public sign, as she was a fairly modest gal.  She had a way of surprising me and I loved that about her.

I now understand why Jenny gave her blessing to this party and to this great sign.  It was only four months later that Jenny's melanoma took her life at the age of 36, on July 13, 2007.  That makes today the four year anniversary of her death. Of all the shitty things that happened to me over the past year, losing Jenny is something I just can't get my head around.  My heart was truly broken in ways that cannot be mended and I feel it every day.  I just miss her so much.

There are very few people who know me who don't know of my life-long best-friendship with Jenny.  I've even had some ask "It's so strange that Jenny died of cancer and now you have cancer. Do you think there's a connection?"  Honestly?  No, I don't. It's a crazy, crappy coincidence. I've come to learn that cancer has very little rhyme or reason.  The lives it takes and the lives it spares seems to be random.  There is NO reason why young mothers should die. None.

So in an effort to curb my anguish of this difficult day, Jenny appeared to me in the guise of another important friendship.  Today I had a soul revealing two hours with my friend Pat, my sorority sister who was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer just months before me.  Pat is mother to four young kids, yes, four.  I am certain that the support and love Pat and I shared today was directed by Jenny.  She knew what I needed, like she always did, and put Pat's hand into mine to help me through this day.  

I send my love and memories of countless Jenny and Kristin mischief to the entire Reinhart/Schultz/Schleicher family.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Not Ready To Say Goodbye

I'm Coming Home...
Fox Point, Milwaukee

Walking the tracks just blocks from home

Lots of love for Grandma Caroline

Front porch happiness

Lake Michigan is truly beautiful

Love in the green, green grass

Uncle Mike is more fun than a barrel of monkeys

Leaving Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon was hard for so many reasons.  First, I hated saying goodbye to my sweet Mom who bravely hosted my wild family for nine days in our beloved family home pictured above. Second, the weather was absolutely perfect while we were there and we spent every second possible outside in the incredibly vivid, green grass.  Third, I knew I was coming home to the hottest day of the year here in Arizona, at 118 degrees.  Fourth, I was flying back solo with the two crazy ones on a nearly four hour flight, drink coupons anyone?  And finally, it could possibly be the last time I get to spend in my family's home of 50+ years.  Sadly but smartly, my Mom will be selling our historical home and moving into an adorable new house, better suited for her lifestyle.  I'm so not ready to say goodbye to the house, especially since every single item in the home was either installed, built, hung, selected or repaired by my Dad.  I can feel his presence in every room and saying goodbye to the house is like saying goodbye to my Dad, again. I know my Mom feels the same way. I'm working on convincing Nick to let us go back again, one last time, in August.  Pretty please, Nick?

While at home, we were able to spend time with so many people that we love dearly.  My brother Mike is one of my favorite people in the world and we got to play with him, his most amazing girlfriend Genny and kids Kelly and Max on several occasions.  My brother Peter and his wife Binky even made it down from northern Wisconsin for dinner at Genny's.  We had a mid-week BBQ with my second family (my best friend Jenny's family), The Reinharts, and were even surprised by Dr. Scott Maul and his family.  Scott is my old St. Eugene's grade school buddy, my friend Jenny's oncologist, my Dad's oncologist and even Jenny's mom's oncologist.  How's that for an incestuous cancer relationship?    

I truly felt great every second of our trip, and am actually a little surprised at how normal I am feeling physically.  For all that my body has endured the past 16 months, I'm very strong now and probably even healthier than before my diagnosis.  I'm currently seeing my plastic surgeon every two weeks to continue growing the tissue expanders in my chest in preparation for my implant surgery in September. And in another exciting development, my period (I know, TMI) has returned after going dormant 14 months ago when my body kicked into menopause when I started chemotherapy.  I am not happy about this, as it seems I will get to experience hot flash fun and all the other not-so-pleasant symptoms for a second time.  Oh well, I'll just take it as another sign of my body returning to normal, and that's good.

Our next big adventure is an exciting trip back East in a week and a half to visit Nick's side of the family.  I may or may not have our Wisconsin laundry done by then.  In the meantime we are suffering through the insanely intense heat of mid-summer in Phoenix and being hit with haboobs (huge dust storms) that leave our patios covered in quarter-inch layers of dirt.  Why do we live here again?

For more Milwaukee fun, I have a Shutterfly album of about 50 photos from our trip which you can access by clicking here. Please don't feel obligated, other's vacation photos can be painful, I know.

Here's hoping your summer is bringing you great joy.
with love