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, 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.