What it's all about...

I'm a 39 year old wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt & friend. That should tell you who I'll be writing about most of the time.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Ok, so I knew that my attempt at NaBloPoMo would mean that weekends would likely be missed, and I was okay with that. But now my work computer has thrown another obstacle in my way. I can only access the text box...and that's it. The buttons to link to another site, change the font, underline, italicize, add a picture, etc are gone. Or rather, they are hidden behind the text box and I can't access them. I've been told that by the end of the year I'll be getting a new computer with up to date versions of everything, but I'm not holding my breath. The internet is moving forward and I'm stuck in the not supported past. :(
And yes, I could blog on my computer at home, but I try very hard to only do schoolwork at home because my time with Shell is very limited as it is. So in the meantime... just words from me.
I'm kind of excited and kind of nervous right now. In an hour, I'm going to interview a pagan minister for the final project in my comparative religions class. I'm excited to learn more about this type of religion, but want to ask good questions as well, because that's what I'll be graded on. I really love this class, which I wasn't expecting to at all. Definitely the highlight of this semester.
Only 4 weeks left, and one of those is a week off for Fall Break. Yay!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Kinda Down

This has not been an easy couple of weeks for me emotionally. Our money situation is not good, the end of the semester is looming in one month with all the final assignments taunting me, Shell has been trying to pick up overtime shifts whenever possible to ease the financial stress which results in less time together, less time together plus stress plus being tired equals not enough quality (wink wink) time... And I don't want to complain because there are obviously others in much worse shape than I am. It's just hard for me right now to see the light at the end of the tunnel and it's getting to me. I tried to talk to my best friend about it and was able to vocalize most of what was bothering me, but not all of it made its way to the surface. It's just too much to process all at once. It feels like as soon as one thing starts to ease up, something else comes crashing down. I feel the weight of the election tomorrow and really kind of need Obama to win because I can't imagine the reality of what the alternative will be. And it's November and I'm trying very very hard to be thankful for what is good in my life and to focus on those things and not dwell on the other. I am not normally this person who lets the bad overshadow the good, but it is and I don't like it. So one foot in front of the other right? It sucks to feel like this. I need that light to shine a little brighter right about now...

Friday, November 2, 2012

My Vote

This morning I took advantage of early voting and voted. Now starts the waiting game. I saw this post on Dorothy Surrenders this morning and it said everything that I feel right now. So I'm going to repost it because it's just that perfect.

My Weekend Vote

The question for me, four years later, remains shockingly simple. Do I believe in hope? Yes, yes I do. I still do, four years later. Sure, that hopey changey thing isn’t magic. My vote four years ago didn’t change the world overnight into a unicorn-riding utopia where we all slide down rainbows while braiding each other’s hair. But I am not so na├»ve to be disillusioned that change takes hard work and hard work is, in fact, hard. But here is what makes it so simple for me – change is happening. Not as quickly as we all impatiently want, but coming nonetheless. For the first time in our nation’s history, we have a sitting president who openly supports marriage equality. Who believes we aren’t the problem or a scapegoat or a wedge. Who does not say “It’s not right” when gay couples have children. Who affirms our personhood and right to the most basic of liberties – love.

But, lest you think I’m a single-issue voter, I am not. Sure, my ability to exchange rings and eat cake with a roomful of my friends in a way that is recognized and sanctioned by the government is huge. But other issues are just as huge. I am a liberal of the bleeding heart kind – and proud of it. So I see government as a benevolent force for good, not a malevolent impediment to progress. Is there waste, sure. And it drives me crazy. But I’m even more thankful for the road we drive on and the law enforcement who keeps us safe and the teachers who educate the next generation and the safety net that catches us if we stumble and the first responders who risk everything when emergency strikes. That’s big government, folks. And in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, I’m extra proud to have my tax dollar go to federal disaster funding. Because I see nothing “simply immoral” about my money being used to help people ravaged by forces they cannot control. Can the private sector help? Of course. But do we really want a world where “This Rescue Was Sponsored by McDonalds” becomes a thing?

I want a president who believes the government can and must do those things as well. I want a president who believes my love is equal, instead of “not right.” I want a president who believes we need to combat the rising of the oceans, instead of mock them. I want a president who believes all Americans should have access to affordable health care, instead of just the richest. I want a president who believes in a woman’s right to choose, instead of vowing to overturn Roe v. Wade. I want a president who believes rape is rape, instead of only the “forcible” or “legitimate” ones. I want a president who believes in the power of the government to lift people up, instead of faith that corporations are people too. In short, I want four more years of Barack Obama as my president. I want four more years of hope that a better world is waiting. Vote Tuesday. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Random Songs Meme

Today is November 1 and is the first day of NaBloPoMo. Can I do it?? Gonna start with a meme that has everything to do with music. My music. I saw this one on Maria's blog a long time ago and saved it because I thought it sounded like fun. So here goes.

Take out your ipod (gonna use the music library on my laptop for this). Put on random selection. FIRST song that appears answers the question.

1) Describe your childhood: Have a Nice Day- Bon Jovi. You know, I actually had a pretty "nice" childhood. Nothing extreme happened, we lived on a cul-de-sac where everyone knew everyone else and everyone's kids played together.

2) What was your first crush like? Blowing Kisses in the Wind- Paula Abdul. This seems strangely intuitive. My first crush was also my second crush and became a very short-lived "thing" in high school. We crushed on each other at separate times through elementary school and junior high, but never synced them at the same time. By the time we tried it in high school, too much had changed. Thankfully, we are still friends and have kept the connection that just never developed into something serious.

3) What was high school like for you? (Okay, now this is getting scary. How does it know what song to go to next??) For Good from Wicked. Do you know this song? If not, you must find it and listen. If you do, this is seriously THE MOST appropriate song for high school for me. High school was all about my friends and it was mostly about Eric and Shell.

4) What was college like for you? Come What May from Moulin Rouge. This is favorite song from one of my all-time favorite movies. It is the name of my blog, is mine and Shell's song, and will one day be the inspiration for a tattoo. And going to college right now has shown me that I can do more than I ever thought I was capable of and that our relationship can make it through this, come what may.

5) Describe your first paying job. I Kissed A Girl- Katy Perry. This makes me laugh. I was working at my first job when Shell and I started dating. And kissing. And I liked it... ;)

6) Describe your current job. Shout- Tears for Fears. I feel like shouting a lot at times. It makes me crazy how much grown men whine sometimes!

7) Describe your boss or closest co-worker. The Long Way Around- Dixie Chicks. It does feel like there are some things that take much longer to communicate than they should sometimes with these guys. That's the best I can do with this one...

8) What do your siblings think about you? The Glory of Love- Bette Midler. You know, I never thought of it as anything but a song about a couple, but the lyrics could certainly apply to other relationships. And it could definitely apply to siblings. I don't think this would have fit years ago, but right now? Yes :)

9) What do your friends think of you? You're Only Human- Billy Joel. I am human and I do make mistakes...and sometimes it is my friends who help me see that it's not the end of the world when it happens.

10) What do you think of your friends? The Power of Love- Huey Lewis and the News. Another one that is probably better for a couple, but almost all of the lyrics would definitely apply to how I feel about those who support me and listen and let me be me.

11) Describe your first kiss. Love Hangover- Diana Ross. First kisses are as dramatic as this song and mine is no different in my memory. Didn't happen until I was in 8th grade and it didn't disappoint. And there were fireworks, I'm sure of it.

12)Describe your first sexual experience. Silly Love Songs- Paul McCartney. This doesn't really describe the experience itself, but I suppose it's pretty descriptive of how I felt at the time. And how I thought he felt.

13) Describe your first date. Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now- Hairspray. My first "date" was to another school's winter formal dance with the son of one of my mom's clients. We were freshmen and I'm not even sure why he asked me because until that time we had spent all of about an hour together. It was a pretty big deal though and I did indeed feel like a "big girl" :)

14) What did you think the first time you met your current love? Forbidden Love- Madonna. This song is more appropriate for the time years later, but if you asked Shell, she'd say it works for her. I didn't feel anything when we first met, but she did.

15) What did your partner think the first time he/she saw you? Head Over Feet- Alanis Morisette. Yes, yes, yes. I think this is perfect!

16) What do you think of your current love now? Lucky- Melissa Etheridge. I am so lucky that she has allowed me to see and grow parts of myself I never even considered before. I'm very lucky.

17) What does your current partner think of you now? Diamonds and Pearls- Prince. I think that for the most part, this is probably accurate. And I love this song, so this one coming up on shuffle was a delightful treat :)

18) What describes your love life now? Bridge Over Troubled Water- Michael Jackson. Sometimes our troubled waters can only be traversed by a bridge and sometimes, that bridge is our love life. There have also been many times that our love life caused the troubled waters and a bridge was hard to find. This might be too descriptive of a song for this question actually...

19) What do you look like in the morning? I'm Still Standing- Elton John. Oh, totally!

20) How do you see your life right now? Love Heals- Johnathan Larson. It's beautiful and is perfect here. Love in all forms heals me everyday. I hope that it does the same for you too. Take a listen.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Morning is the topic of today's challenge. This is what it looked like as I pulled out of my garage this morning on the way to drop off the kids at the busstop. It was 6:20 and dark and very cloudy from the rain we got overnight. Summer is obviously leaving us as the mornings are staying dark longer...and I am thrilled. 


Day 7 of the photo challenge is Food. This is becoming a favorite breakfast of mine. Iced coffee and fruit and maple oatmeal from McDonalds. I really like oatmeal, but usually don't like it to be really sweet. I like the sweetness of this as well as the fruit in it. And the iced coffee I pour into my cup before leaving the house and just bring it with me. Good stuff!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Low Angle

Today's challenge is Low Angle. This is my girl getting her makeup done on Saturday to go to a quinceanera for her very good friend.  These are her with her makeup and hair done and her dress on. She's not a little girl anymore, that's for sure...

I love this girl- truly, madly, deeply. She is the best of me mixed with a lot of what could only come from her own unique heart and mind.  She cares about the world within and outside of her world and she teaches me every day.  She is VERY mature and aware of the world around her and I worry that she will miss out on some of the fun of being a teenager as she protects herself from getting hurt and/or disappointed.  She reads a lot of books that are probably more suited to 16 year olds, but she asks questions when she is not clear on something, even if the material might seem kind of embarassing (and it is at times, but we don't shy away from it and I'm proud of that).  She's simply amazing. I love her more than she could ever imagine.

Friday, September 21, 2012

High Angle

These are my crazy basset hounds. Joe is on the left and Willow is on the right. I love them, but they are in desperate need of baths right now and to be honest, a high angle is really the best distance to be from them.... I'm kidding, kind of.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Green for Today

Today's challenge photo is Something Green. This is my math notebook and it's also my first math exam. So far so good this semester!

And in non-green related news, I downloaded the new albums by Pink and Melissa Etheridge last night and am LOVING them! They both have very sexy voices and put out amazing music. It's a win-win for sure!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Third Day!

Today's photo challenge is Clouds. There are a lot in the sky today and these were illuminated quite well by the sunrise.
And thanks for the comments ladies. It is nice to see that there are a few of you out there who still check in with me. I'm looking forward to both of your photos in this challenge :)
Stacy, we will absolutely get together in December. I am so looking forward to it!
Dani, I am beginning to really love instagram. How can I find you?

I was starting to think about all the stuff that has been going on since I posted last. There's been A LOT! Some big stuff and some not-so-big stuff...but definitely more than we are used to seeing in such a short period of time. I'm not going to bore you all with the details of each, but they deserve mentioning if for no other reason than for me to have a record of it. So, here's a breakdown of my year so far.
~  My Cubub's passing
~  MONephew moved here and in with my parents
~  MOSis, her fiance and daughter moved here and in with us
~  MONephew and my parents didn't work out. He moved in with us too.
~  Went to the Def Leppard/ Poison/ Lita Ford concert. Seats were amazing and the show was awesome!
~  The heating element in our oven broke. Couldn't use it for almost a week until replacement came.
~  The compressor in our air conditioner died at the end of July. At $1500 to fix, it has remained dead. As was our moods for most of August in 90-100 degree temps. Even the dogs looked wilted. Bring on the fall weather!
~  Shell turned 37, I turned 38, and our kids turned 14!
~  My CASis was here for a weekend and my bestest friend and his boyfriend visited us for a week in January. I know I already talked about them, but they were both highlights during a sad time and deserve mentioning again.
~  Shell's dad and girlfriend drove out from Utah in March to see us. It was very nice getting to know her a little and Shell loved having her dad around.
~  We bought a new-to-us car in April after Shell's became too expensive to fix. So she took mine and I get to drive the new one. It's a Chevy Malibu and I love it.
~  Celebrated my MONiece's 5th birthday in March with family and friends. First time we've celebrated a birthday with her :)
~  My boy had a 3-day tension headache likely caused by his posture when sitting at the computer.  Within a week my girl was at the doctor with a pulled muscle in her neck from stretching wrong.
~  My girl also had a sinus infection that lasted FOREVER. When I started feeling sick soon after I thought it was the same thing. Nope, it was bronchitis. I'd never had it before and would not like to experience it again.
~  My boy decided not to continue playing football. To say that Shell was disappointed would be an understatement. He was good at it, but just didn't enjoy it anymore. No need to pay for a sport that he doesn't want to be in.
~  We took three trips. Two to CA and one to UT. They all deserve their own posts.
~  My kids started high school. My girl is now the stage manager for the elementary/middle school musical and they are both in an internship program to learn the technical side of the theater.
~ I started my 5th semester of college.
~ MOSis and her fiance are "on a break". After constant bickering and arguing, they decided to take some time and decide if this is something they want to try to salvage. He went back to MO. This just happened two weeks ago.
Never a dull moment! And I even left some stuff out! No wonder I feel like this year has been rough.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Challenge Day 2

Today's photo challenge topic is "something that makes you happy". Pink's new album is released today. I will be downloading it tonight. Been looking forward to new music from her for awhile. :)

Wanna know what else makes me happy? Getting a 91% on my first math test of this semester. Getting 100% on the first test AND paper of my religion class this semester.
This semesters classes are Physical Geography: Landforms, Intro to Sociology, Math for Liberal Arts, and Comparative Religions.  The first two are online courses and the last two are on campus in the classroom. This math is the last one I need to get my AA and will transfer. Transfer where you ask? I will be transferring to Regis University next fall. I've already been accepted into their Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences program and will officially transfer over once I earn my AA in the spring. I still can't believe that I'm doing this and it's very surreal to think that I've almost completed the first step in this journey. Regis is a pretty expensive school, but they have a consortium agreement with my community college where I can take a large portion of the BA courses at the community college at the cc tuition cost, while still getting the credits at the university. Plus, all of the classes I'll need to take at Regis are either online or in the evenings, so I'll still be able to work. I've already been in school for two years. It continues to be a challenge trying to balance work, school, and my family and most of the time I don't do a very good job. But I keep trying and will likely come up short more times than I'd like, but I always have the best of intentions and I have to believe that my wife and kids understand that. Hmm...sounds kind of like this blog in a way. :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

30 Day Photo Challenge

Hello to anyone still checking in with me. Yes, it's been a very, very long time and yes, there is ALOT that has happened. But for now, I'm going to sort of pretend that I haven't neglected my blog and start a 30 day photo challenge. CJ started it and now that I'm on instagram I thought it would be fun to post them there too. Today is self-portrait and is also a bad hair day. My hair is two weeks past when it should have been cut and colored and boy does it show! But for better or worse, here I am today.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I'm Versatile!

This is so cool. Two of my very favorite bloggers have nominated me as a Versatile Blogger. The fact that I was nominated the second time is purely due to my laziness at posting about the first, but I am honored nonetheless. Thank you so much Stacy and CJ!! The only downside is that now I can't nominate them back, but I would in a second if I could!

So what does this mean?

Here are the rules:
1.) Add the Versatile Award graphic on your blog post. (See above)

2.) Thank the Blogger who nominated you. (Done x2!)

3.) Share seven random things about yourself. (See below)

4.) Nominate fifteen fellow bloggers. (I love each and every one that I nominated. I also LOVE the ones that nominated me. Thank you again!)

5.) Inform bloggers of their nomination. (I intend to!)

Seven random facts:
1.) I love folding shirts. I worked at a clothing store for awhile and was obsessed with using the shirt folding board. I don't have one at home, but I get them pretty straight. I've been known to pull my kids shirts out of their dressers and refold them to my satisfaction.

2.) My 20 year high school reunion and my niece's high school graduation are both this year. I think that's kind of cool.

3.) When I eat chips, I prefer to put them on something as opposed to eating them out of the bag. This is for two reasons: 1. I don't like the salt/oil from the bag on the back of my hand and 2. I like to eat chips by size- broken ones first, smallest intact chips next and the largest ones last.

4.) I really love Facebook. Haven't really minded the changes they've made and this Timeline thing isn't really that big of a deal. As long as I can still see what my friends are doing and keep in touch with them, it doesn't matter to me. I love it. :)

5.) I really liked my time in high school. I know that puts me in the minority, but it was a great time for me.

6.) If I hadn't always seen myself with kids, I think I would have enjoyed being a flight attendent. I love flying and I'd love to be able to travel to different cities. Plus, you get perks for personal travel too.

7.) Shell and I both miss each other when we're apart. We tell each other "I love you" a million times a day. We spoon in bed and save tv shows and movies to watch until we can watch together. We've been together almost 20 years. From what I see all too often, I think that this is not typical. I'm okay with that. :)

Nominate fifteen fellow bloggers:

2.) Keri at Back Forty

3.) Jessie at Love+Love=Marriage

5.) Laurie at Creating A Miracle

5.) Ashleigh at 2moms2dogs2babies

6.) Heidi at Thinking Miracles

7.) Judy at It's Just Life

8.) Laura at 2 Lasses and a Baby

10.) Jennifer at Arcane Matters

11.) Beth at Endless Love

14.) Natalie at Midlife Natalie

15.) Roxy at Uncommon Curiosity

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Full(er) House?

While my MO Sis was here in January, we sucked up as much time as we could. Even though we don't talk as much as we'd both like, we are pretty close. She's mentioned a few times that they'd talked about moving here, but the idea of looking for jobs wasn't appealing, plus my nephew is in high school and was pretty settled in with his friends and his basketball team and after many years of struggling, he was finally getting good grades. So she didn't want to mess that up.

Well, late last summer they moved and my nephew would have had to change schools because of the boundary lines. Instead, he had a friend whose dad offered to let him live with them so that he could stay in his school. So that's what he's been doing for the whole school year so far, but just before Christmas, my nephew and that dad had some issues and he decided that he couldn't keep up the arrangement. So my nephew stayed with another family through the winter break and at the beginning of January, but they weren't able to have him stay permanently. He would have to move back in with my sister, but he'd have to change schools. When my sister mentioned to him that she really wanted to move to CO, but that she hadn't so that he could stay in his school, he told her that he'd rather move here than have to go to the other school. So, plans started being made- pretty fast.

I got a call from my mom while Eric & Jake were still here, saying that MO Sis had given notice at her work that she wouldn't be there after February 17. Her plan was to get her taxes filed and as soon as their refund arrived, they'd move. They would need the money to rent a truck for their stuff. My mom told me that she thought my house would be best for them to move into, since I had the basement already set up as a room, plus they'd be bringing their dog and her chihuahua doesn't get along with other dogs. I was so mad that she just assumed that doubling the number of people in my house would be a better idea than adding four to her current two. After venting and ranting to Shell and Eric and freaking out about adding more people to our house and onto our already tight expenses, I calmed down when Shell said that it would be okay with her, but that maybe instead of having all four move in with us, perhaps my nephew (who is 16) could stay with my parents while the two adults, four year old, and dog live with us.

Since I hadn't talked to my sister yet, I called her and asked her what she was expecting would happen with this move. She said that they really didn't want to live with anyone, but that if they couldn't secure jobs before they came (and the likelihood of that would be slim), they probably wouldn't be able to get an apartment right away. She said that living with my parents was not appealing (and I couldn't blame her), so I mentioned having my nephew go to their house and having the rest stay at ours. She agreed that it would make it a little easier that way, so we called it a plan.

So today is February 17, her last day of work and the plan is moving towards completion. My nephew has already been here since Sunday, he flew out so that he could get enrolled in school and get started. His first day was yesterday. My parents are already making him a little crazy, but I hope that will die down a little as they all get more settled. The truck from MO should be here sometime next Sunday, so this weekend we are going to move my boy's stuff from his basement room back upstairs to his old room, which was turned into my office to work on schoolwork. We bought a desk and small bookcase for that room, so we'll need to rearrange our bedroom to make room for them. Our house will be very full, but we're doing what we feel is the right thing to do. We want them here, and have for a long time. They want their own space as much as we do, so I feel that they are motivated to find jobs and get their own place as soon as they can. We'll be inconvenienced for a while, but it will be worth it. And we'll get to know my sister's fiance and their daughter much better now, which is a huge bonus. Collectively, I've spent less than a month with my niece since she was born and I am really looking forward to spending lots more time with her.

Once again, life is moving in its typical crazy fashion.

On a Much Lighter Note

To continue catching up...

My Cubub was in ICU for 13 days and as I mentioned in my last post, I was the text-connection for those out of state. My sister in Missouri struggled with whether to drive out from the very first day. She couldn't decide if she should come out and end up sitting with us for hours at the hospital each day, or wait. She decided that she would definitely come over spring break if Cubub did make it, since we knew that the cancer would take her within months and that way she would get to see her. When we learned that the vent would be removed and that she wasn't expected to make it, my sister decided that she would definitely come if Cubub didn't make it. She wanted to be here as we all gathered together to mourn. So on Jan. 5, the day after Cubub died, they packed up the car and my sister, her fiance and my 4 year old niece headed here.

My sister in California was already scheduled to come out on the 5th to go with me to the Michael Jackson Immortal Cirque du Soleil show. Losing Cubub put a sad spin on her visit, but she was also glad to be able to come and see so many people. So it turned out that my sisters were both here over the weekend. We haven't all been together in years, so it really was a great time. I think my Cubub would be happy to know that she was the reason for it too.

The Immortal show was good and I'm very glad that I went and that I got to share it with my sister. We got all dressed up and had dinner at a pub next to the arena before the show, where the only music playing was MJ and Jackson 5. We loved it. My other sister was staying with my parents since I already had my CA Sis at my house, but we called her and told her to meet us back at my house in her jammies and we'd have a slumber party with adult beverages. We had drinks and laughed and just really enjoyed all being together. We spent the weekend together and with with family, alternating between grieving and joy. It really was a special time. Both of my sisters left on Monday, Jan. 9 and we were very sad to see them go. Our house wouldn't be empty for long though.

Three days after my sisters left, we had a memorial service for Cubub. She had been cremated and there was some discussion over whether or not to have a service. At first, Bill thought that he just wanted to have sort of an open house and invite anyone to come over and visit and support each other. I'm not exactly sure what changed his mind, but he did. My grandma and uncle, who had driven in the day that she died, decided to stay so they could attend the service. Some of the family from out of state had made their way back to their homes in the week since she passed, but there were still quite a few who stayed once they knew we'd have a service. I left work early to attend, and it was a fitting tribute to her. Many tears, but many good memories were shared and we rallied around Bill and my Cubub's parents, my great aunt and uncle. After the service, we went back to Bill's house, where they had Atlanta Bread Company sandwiches catered. I didn't stay as long as I probably would have otherwise though, because I had more visitors flying in that evening. My best friend Eric and his boyfriend Jake were coming for a week-long visit and after almost two weeks of almost daily visits to the hospital and constant bad news, after three days of having my sisters here and the highs and lows of that weekend, after the endless tears and hugs and sadness of the memorial service, my best friend's presence was exactly what I needed. Their visit had nothing to do with my Cubub and although I was still hurting, they were the perfect distraction. We took them to the Butterfly Pavilion, to the Coors Brewery, to the 16th Street Mall, to the Denver Zoo and to Hammond's Candy Factory. I got up each morning and had coffee with my best friend. We all watched The Help and after the kids went to bed we watched Contagion. We stayed up late and slept in late. Every day was an absolute gift. The day before they left, I started my 4th semester of college. And while they were here, my sister in Missouri told us that they were moving here. In February. And the discussion of where 4 people and a dog would stay until they found a place of their own began.

Craziness prevails and life continues to throw out curveballs... :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Hi out there! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Valentine's Day! :)

I keep thinking that I'm not sure where to start concerning what has happened around here over the last two months, so I'm just going to start from the beginning and see how many posts I can fill.

The day after my last post, December 23, the bottom fell out of my family's world. My mom called me at 5:30 that morning to tell me that her cousin was in the hospital and it didn't look too good. Actually, I should back up just a little. My Cubub (I couldn't say Cousin Barb when I was little, so I called her Cubub and have ever since) is my mom's first cousin and the main reason why we moved to Colorado from California. Cubub and her husband Bill moved around a lot over the years, but when they settled in CO, they couldn't say enough positive things about it. My parents came out to visit them and decided then that they wanted to move here. Cubub's son Steven and his family lived here too, so they were the only people my parents knew when they moved. I think it's safe to say that my mom was closest to Cubub than any other relative of hers, even though she's about 6 years older than my mom. So about a week after Thanksgiving, we find out that Cubub has been admitted to the hospital due to weakness and blood coming from her rectum. They kept her about 3 or four days and ran a lot of tests, finally discharging her with a diagnosis of diverticulitis. Less than a week later, she received a call from her doctor that the results of the scans were in and they found spots on her liver and lungs that were suspicious. She went in to have one on her liver biopsied and the results from that confirmed that she had liver cancer that probably spread to her lungs. They went to the cancer center and learned that she had small cell cancer and that chemotherapy was usually pretty successful at putting the cancer in remission. It wouldn't cure her of it, but would buy her time. She was adamant that she wanted to start chemo as soon as possible, so on December 21, she had her first dose of chemo, followed by the second on the 22nd. She was supposed to have the third on the 23rd and then go back to be re-scanned to see how the cancer reacted. Unfortunately, that's not what happened.

Later in the day after her second dose, she started coughing and it got worse very fast. Her doctor took an xray and she had pneumonia, so he sent her to the hospital. As she was being admitted, she started gasping for air and within moments she lost consciousness and stopped breathing. They inserted a ventilator and sent her to the ICU, where they told her husband and daughter-in-law that with her bone marrow wiped out from the chemo, she was in very bad shape. Now you're mostly caught up, so after getting the call from my mom, I decided that work was not where I should be that day and went with my mom to the hospital. I became the information messenger for my sisters, cousin and aunt who all live out of state. The text messages and calls were constant and after arriving at the hospital around 7am, we didn't leave until after 4 that evening, except to force Bill out to Denny's so that he would eat something. My sister who is a nurse kept asking me questions about Cubub's heart rate and blood sugar (she was diabetic) and white blood count, which I couldn't figure out from the displays on the many machines they had her hooked up to. So I explained the situation to her nurse and that woman became my best friend. She answered every single question and even gave me more than I asked for, knowing that my sister would understand and could explain it to us. She was amazing. She was also honest and told me that Cubub was very sick and was helpless against any infection, because her WBC was practically nonexistent. My sister was not optimistic either.

For a week, we went to the hospital every day, supporting Bill and their only surviving son (their other son died 3 years ago at the age of 47 from a massive heart attack) and trying to understand not only what happened but also what might happen. She was sedated the majority of the time, but they did bring her out to try to get her to breathe off the ventilator, with no success. Her WBC didn't come back like they hoped and she kept spiking fevers, even though she was on a constant flow of antibiotics. Bill had decided from day one that she would be DNR, knowing that she wouldn't want to be kept alive by machines. Plus they said that in her condition, doing CPR would do damage that her body just wouldn't be able to handle. On New Year's Eve, we were told that there wasn't anything else they could do for her in ICU and that the next step would be to give her a trach and transfer her to a long-term care facility. Her nurse told us that in her opinion, Cubub would probably never get off the trach after that. She probably wouldn't have any quality of life. Until that point, we were going to see her every day thinking that maybe she could get better. She would sometimes nod or kind of smile while we talked to her, but her eyes never focused on anyone and she wasn't really coherent. Her nurse and then the oncologist who we talked to, confirmed that after this reaction, they wouldn't recommend more chemo and the kind that she had was very aggressive to boot. He thought she'd probably have about 6 months, at the most. We agreed with Bill that it made no sense to put her on a trach just to have to fight the effects of the cancer for the remaining months of her life. He told them that he didn't want her put on the trach and it was decided that they would remove the vent and see what happened. If she started breathing on her own, Bill wanted to take her home if possible and they'd do whatever was necessary to make her comfortable. If she didn't breathe once the vent was removed (which they suspected would happen), we'd let her go.

Cubub's parents and brother drove in from Utah, as well as family from Idaho. My grandma and uncle drove from California. We all assembled at the hospital on the evening of January 4 and the wonderful people in the ICU allowed us to break the "2 visitor" rule as we crowded 15 people in and near her room. Everyone would have a chance to see and be with her before the vent was removed. There were hugs among family who hadn't seen each other in a very long time, in some cases it had been 20 years. We cried as we went in and out of her room, letting everyone near her for spells of time. I was in her room more than not, usually occupying her left side and either holding her hand or touching her foot. I couldn't stand it when she wasn't being touched by someone, so I took it upon myself. There were many who talked to her and encouraged and/or pleaded with her to be strong and breathe when it was time to remove the vent. Just before it was time, as each person made their choice to either stay in the room or wait in the lounge, I kissed her forehead and whispered in her ear. I told her that it was okay if it was too hard. That we would take care of each other. That she was surrounded by love, not just in the hospital, but from all those who couldn't be there. And that I loved her to the moon and back. I was a sobbing mess, but I knew that I needed to tell her.

When they removed the vent, there were just 8 of us in the room, other than the nurses. She lasted less than 20 minutes, her body trying to do what was necessary, but what it just wasn't strong enough for. We all watched her heart rate slow and her breaths grow farther and farther apart, until her heart stopped. Her son and husband crumpled into each other; her grandson and daughter-in-law moaned and sobbed loudly and my mom held her 83 year old aunt (Cubub's mom) as they grieved together. I stood at the foot of the bed with my hand on my Cubub's foot as tears ran down my face. I was devastated, but that emotion was about my own sadness that she was not in my life anymore. I was not sad for her, I was actually so relieved that she was not in that condition any longer. Laying in a bed, on the ventilator, a central line for easy access and catheters for her waste was not how she would have wanted to live. And I was so thankful that Bill was strong enough to know that and to be her advocate and to love her enough to say when it was enough. And it was.

My Cubub died on January 4 and that evening I got a text message from a dear friend that her son was born that morning. It helped a great deal to be reminded that life does go on.