Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Wonderful news!  Mike's doctor called this morning and said the chemo had done it's job on the lymph node and that he was cleared for the lobectomy whenever the surgeon said.  It's hard to believe, even though we've been so positive the whole time!  Just to hear the doctor say, "Best case scenario."  Wow.  The surgery is not a piece of cake, so that will have to be gotten through, and no one knows if there is more chemo and/or radiation on the other side of surgery, but again we have to do things as they come and pray for continuing good things in the future.

We're about to leave for a pulmonary function test at Swedish Issaquah where Emily works.  We already had plans to meet her for lunch at the hospital, so this will work out nicely.

This is my early morning view while I'm getting ready for the day.

And if I can share it with this little fuzzy head, it's even better.

She's working on her zipping skills with my suitcase.

Time to go.  I'll add more this afternoon.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

It was a Great Birthday

Well, it's just impossible to write on this blog.  Impossible.  I wrote this title yesterday, wondering if I could remember the day before, and now it's 2 days later.  I just don't have the time.

Briefly, on my birthday, almost everyone was gone during the morning, so I worked a few hours, stopping only to receive a couple of deliveries.  I'm not sure what we did the rest of the day, but we had dinner at an Indian restaurant that Emily and Ryan love.  It was amazing, really the first Indian food I've eaten, and I have no idea what I ate.  We just let them order for us - four different dishes.  Yum.  Every one of them was good.  Graysen especially enjoyed her mom's mango lasse.

Another thing she enjoyed was standing between her parents and surprising the man in the booth behind them with sticky little hands on his neck.  I'm not sure he enjoyed it as much as she did.

Afterwards, we went to Fred Meyer to get Emily a fishing license for their fishing trip this morning, and it was so much fun to push G around in the Halloween and fall decorations and see her reaction.  She exclaimed at all the owls and turkeys and even the witches.  The only thing she hated was a huge furry spider hanging from one of the shelves.  Nooo-nooo with a lot of head shaking.

Yesterday afternoon, Emily, Graysen, and I took a short walk, and Emily tried to show Graysen how to roll down the hill in the grass.  No deal, Mom.  She loves the new park across the street and is almost TOO brave about climbing the steps and going down the slide.  She's so ready to start playing with the other kids.

This morning while the others were fishing, she and I walked to town and back.  A perfect morning, just chilly enough to seem fall-like but not cold.  The leaves are changing so nicely, and the town seemed dream-like.

She likes to hold a couple of leaves while we walk - but only 2 and only dry ones!  She hums and sings and talks to the cheep-cheeps and doggies she meets.

We came home and had just a great morning, unloading drawers, playing, and reading books.  I got a little housework done - but very little.

 And then this afternoon 4 out of the 5 of us had nice long naps.

That's just a quick summary of the last few days.  We really are happy up here and just wish we weren't having to stay with Emily and Ryan so long.

We're about to go for another walk, so I'll take my camera and try to remember what happens.

The usual walk but fun--

 Same route - past the gardens where we saw huge brussels sprout plants and pumpkins.

Then around the corner and up to the big hill where Graysen practiced running up and down, Mom did some working out, and Griff and Mimi just enjoyed the evening.

We avoided the park because it sounded like it was full of big kids and retraced our steps.  We saw a huge raccoon cross the street in front of us, but I wasn't quick enough to get a picture.  Guess he had been in someone's garbage.

We got back home and unloaded the pantry, made taco soup and studied the new Halloween glass.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pumpkin Shirt

Graysen outgrew her pumpkin shirt from last year, so I had planned to make her at least one for this year.  Debby and I saw this color combination in a local store and thought it was so pretty and original, especially since there was a shirt with the same blue rick-rack on it.  I found some similar orange fabric and just pretty much copied it.  I guess that's not a nice thing to do, but I'm just not that creative. 

It seems a little early for fall fashion, but it's already pretty cool up here.  We were swinging on the front porch yesterday morning at 63 degrees, and we were a little chilly.  Then I talked to Mama, and she was talking about how hot it was and that she had let Darby in early.

I have good intentions of writing every day, but it's harder than I thought to get upstairs to my computer.  If I bring it downstairs, I have little fingers trying to poke the keys or asking to see pictures of "the baby."  Then last night when I tried to write, there was no internet connection upstairs.

So briefly yesterday,  I was planning to babysit while Emily and Ryan worked and Mike, Larry, and Jo went to Seattle to visit various places.  Larry and Jo have stopped to visit for a few days on their vacation.  Mike ended up not feeling like the trip, so they ventured off themselves with the GPS to guide them and I think had a pretty good time.  Pretty pictures and videos anyway.  

I can't say that I did more than putter around the house and enjoy Graysen.  I did work 3 hours while she napped yesterday afternoon.  Sounds boring, but it was a wonderful day, doing just what we wanted to.  Mike felt a little better as the day went on but is up this morning not doing that well.  

The rain is horrible closer to Seattle, and I'm glad they didn't decide to wait until today to go sightseeing.  There might be some closer trips today, maybe to Issaquah to a Thai restaurant, and one other place where I might be able to go with them. 

We'll see how the day unfolds.  Right now, breakfast sounds pretty good.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


I'm sitting here in Snoqualmie drinking a big cup of coffee, having made my departure from Montgomery feeling relatively good about things and having pulled off another flight by myself without doing something stupid.

I'm making a rash decision to write something on this blog every day before checking emails and looking at Facebook or doing anything else.  Unless Graysen wakes me up, and then, of course, she comes first.

Sherry and David are off on another outing with the kitties, this time for her to attend long-arm quilting classes in Springfield (ha, I don't even know which state yet), and she said she was going to keep up her Tails from Tennessee blog.  I figured I could do as much myself, so let's see how it goes. Although - I just went to get the link, and the last entry was 2 months ago.  I need to call her out on that.

Yesterday halfway to Seattle, I started thinking about how the day had gone so far, with the object of writing it down, and it took me several minutes to even remember my seatmate from a few hours ago.  That may be because she didn't speak English or chose not to speak any language.  I've come to appreciate people like that a little bit, although the elderly Asian lady on one side of me on the other flight kept glaring at me, even when I smiled at her, and clutched her purse tighter if I turned her way.  I knew I was going to be in a middle seat and was worried I would have 2 no-nonsense suit-wearing guys who wouldn't be tolerant of having yarn draped all over them and having to pick up dropped knitting needles.  But the glaring lady and (I believe) her granddaughter on my other side ignored me completely and let me knit or sleep all I wanted to.

Last time waiting in Atlanta for the flight home to Montgomery, I was cross-stitching and attracted the interest of 3 other ladies who were headed to Montgomery also.  Four completely different people of different ages and stages in life were drawn together by a hobby, and we had so much fun talking we hated to get on the plane.

This time in Atlanta, I met a grandmother waiting for her daughter and 4 grandchildren to come from Nashville so they could fly to Seattle and then on to Hawaii.  She was interesting to talk to and a little anxious about them being late.  It was priceless seeing her expression when the children ran up behind her and surprised her.  I was knitting, and this opened up a conversation with another grandmother from near Seattle whose daughter and granddaughter live in Columbus, GA. We had a lot in common to talk about, and I now wish I had gotten her email address.  She loves to garden, and if we ever get a chance to move here, she could give me some ideas.

Ok.  So I wrote the above at 7:00 a.m., and it's now 10:18.  Where did the day go?  First a sweet little girl with striped pajamas came down to play, and I have not seen my computer since.  Such a fun day.  Friends from Lubbock, Jo and Larry, flew into Renton and are spending a couple of nights.  They have their own plane, and we're their third stop on their trip to the West Coast.  Lots of things planned tomorrow, but tonight we're all tired and getting to bed early.  Ryan smoked some brisket and pork and made an amazing potato salad, so we're all full and ready to sleep.

I'll have pictures tomorrow because I took a lot today.  Have to sleep now.....

Monday, August 25, 2014

Highs and Lows

Fortunately, it's been mostly highs in our lives these last weeks.

The good things are that Mike has finished his first cycle of chemo and done so well we can't believe it.  I think this weekend has been the hardest yet though.  He takes steroids the night before and the morning of the chemo, and they give him pre-meds, including steroids, right before they start the chemo meds.  So for the first few days afterwards, he's usually feeling pretty happy and enthusiastic about everything.  We won't go into the day he almost bought a house up here on a steroid high.

And the lows are not related so much to this illness as the fact that we want to live in WA more than anything and are tied to Montgomery because of Mama.  She can't or won't move with us, and there is nowhere else for her besides a nursing home, and she's not disabled or sick or anything.  We never intended to live in Alabama, but things just worked out that way.  It's not our home, and we don't really feel at home there, but we have an obligation to give her a home.

We go over and over the possibilities and reject them and start over.  It's just a time when we have to stop micro-managing everything and let God tell us what we should do.  As bad as this situation with cancer is, we have to be thankful that it's allowed us this chance to have these months where we want to be.

It would take pages and pages to describe the joy Graysen gives us.  She has changed just in the two weeks plus I've been here, and I told her tonight when we were rocking that I didn't know how I was going to be able to leave Tuesday.  We have a little routine for going to sleep that is so precious.  At the beach when I put her down for a nap or bedtime, I would read a couple of books (quickly because she wasn't interested) and put her in her bed to usually cry and yell a little bit.  It's different with Emily and Ryan because they already have their bedtime routines, but I love figuring out what makes us both happy.

We first start talking about going to sleep and talking about which books we're going to read.  At night I turn on her closet light and the white noise machine, and we settle down for story time with one of her blankets.  She is insatiable when it comes to stories and would listen to and look at 20 books if I didn't mention sleeping.  Once I say something like, "Time to rock with Mimi," she turns around and puts her arms around my neck and closes her eyes and I rock her for a few minutes.  And of course talk nonsense to her.  Then it's just a matter it putting her in her crib and tucking her in.  She snuggles down so sweetly, and that's it.  So much easier on my heart than hearing her cry.

Emily and Ryan went fishing late this afternoon, so we watched her play so nicely downstairs and then fed her supper.  I was washing the dishes when I heard this little voice behind me saying, "Peeee, peeee."  I turned around, and she was holding out a package of the little baby cookies called Mums or something like that.  She had found them in her diaper bag and was sweetly asking if she could have them (please).  Her parents have her sit on the floor for snacks or in her chair, so she plopped right down and said, "Peeee," again.  No way I could resist that.  She crossed her legs and sat there happily munching them and even said thank you when I gave her the second one - or a-ou.  It's amazing how much she understands even though she can't communicate it all to us.

She also has a displeased set of actions that unfortunately makes us laugh, although we try hard not to.  I've tried to capture it with the camera but failed.  She wrinkles her brows and narrows her eyes and puts her finger up in front of her face in a warning.  She does it so seriously.  Tonight she was about to drop some cheese on the floor for the dog, and I said not to, and I really got what I call the thundercloud look.  The word "no" in any form will do it too.

I have to stop typing and go to bed.  I have a few pictures from this week, some from the clinic and some taken here.  Nothing special but just a slice of our lives this week.

The usual look when he sees the camera.

We did get a cubicle this time, so it's a good thing Emily wasn't with us.  A funny thing happened behind that curtain.  There is no privacy, so everything that is said is heard by everyone, although you try not to hear.  At some point, the lady there was talking to her nurse, and we heard her mention Alabama.  There is always some mention of Alabama while we're there, and the nurse Friday said that they had a travelling tech or nurse from Alabama and ran off to get him.  He came and introduced himself and said, "Matt Smith from Hot Springs, Arkansas, but close enough."

So being the introvert he is, Mike waited about 20 seconds before starting to talk to the lady on the other side of the curtain about where she was from:  "Not being nosy or anything....."  She joined right in and said that she lived in WA, but her husband had died, and she was moving to Birmingham to live near her sister.  Small world.  Mike explained our situation to her, and she asked if the female she heard was his daughter.  He said, "No, it's my elderly wife."  She came right back with, "I heard you give your birth date to the nurse, so I know how old YOU are."  Such a sweet lady.  She came by and visited after she finished her treatment and made me wish we could run into her again.  I only know her first name and that she's moving to Homewood.

Since the space was so small and the day was so beautiful, I took my lunch and went out on the 3rd floor terrace to make some phone calls.  Lovely.  Although it was sunny, there was the smallest hint of a cool breeze to make it pleasant.

The visit was a good one.  He had lost a pound and had low white counts, so he got a booster shot of Neulasta to build up the white blood cells.  Other than that, Dr. Kaplan was pleased with his progress so far.  He has a 2 week break before starting the 2nd cycle on Sept 5th.  I'm not sure when I'll come back.  I guess we'll see how he does that first time and overall.  There is more tiredness this week than last and again the headache and heartburn.  I guess it's to be expected, but maybe these 2 weeks will get him back to feeling good.

Emily and Ryan were able to spend a couple of days at a cabin by a lake with some friends (I forgot to find out the name).  So beautiful, and they had a great time.  Some pictures Emily texted us.

Alan and Kathy sent up some Alabama peanuts which were promptly boiled and taken to the lake.  This was Graysen's first taste.  The clapping is her signing "More!"

Tomorrow is my last day here for awhile, so I need to make the most of it.  Flying home won't be as nice as flying here, I have a feeling.

Monday, August 18, 2014

I'm not sure where this week went

Emily worked Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and we got to keep Graysen on Wednesday.  We had plans to take her downtown to the library for toddler story time, and we were there waiting when we noticed that people were reading a sign on the door that said story time was cancelled.  Not to waste a good experience, we, and many others, went on in and let the children play or pull books off the shelf or, in Graysen's case, just stand and observe everything closely.  It was a little new to her, but I think next time she will be comfortable listening to the story and playing with the others.  She WAS the cutest one though, I have to admit, although Emily laughed at my choice of clothing.  I had on a favorite yellow playsuit and green sandals, but the hooded sweatshirt she had to wear because of 60-something-degree weather and rain kind of ruined the effect.  The only one there with bare legs,   After we left, we walked around half a block and came back.  She held my hand so sweetly and enjoyed looking around at new things.  A man in a store window waved at her, and he got "the look."  Later on after her nap, we took her to the grocery store.  We all enjoyed that.  We were just getting a few things, including milk, and when G saw the milk carton with a cow on it, she said, "Moooo."  Grandparents are thrilled over the smallest things, but it did make us laugh.

Friday was the trip to Seattle to the cancer center.  It was sooo much better this time.  We went first to get labs drawn, which was so easy with a port.

At this point, Mike had not yet realized that he left home without his crossword puzzles and his book.

This is what it looked like when he realized it.

Our visit with Dr Kaplan and Stephanie, his nurse, was great.  His labs were perfect, and he had lost only 1 pound and that probably from eating healthier and not from loss of appetite - although there was a little bit of that during the week.  The doctor was well pleased with his good symptom-free week and gave some advice on what to do if and when certain things happen.  He and Mike ended up having a history discussion, and he told Mike a good joke that he can't wait to deliver himself.

The next visit was to the treatment room.  We didn't get a private room, of course, but he did have the one with the best view - the garden room.  
Since there were so few patients, Emily and I could stay there comfortably with him, which may not always be the case.  Once again, the nurses were friendly and competent, and it was just a pleasant afternoon.  He was able to get his lunch - a turkey sandwich, orange, and cookie - and an egg custard to top it off, so it couldn't have been better for him.  Except maybe not to be there at all!

Emily found a trivia app on her phone that kept them entertained for much of the time.

Just a good picture of Emily being able to relax a tiny bit with everything going so well.

I just cannot remember what we did one day ago without writing it down.  We did get out and ride around North Bend yesterday, and that was interesting and nice to just get out for pleasure.

This morning, Mike and Ryan went to see about buying a boat, and Emily, Graysen, and I were going to church.  We got all dressed and were ready for the 9:30 service, but when we got there, there were no cars and a notice on the door that services were going to be held at a nearby park - at 10:30 - for some anniversary.  They are new to this church and don't really know anyone yet, so we just came home and enjoyed a short walk with Graysen in her wagon.

Blackberries are everywhere along our route, and sometimes we will pick one, but they're a little hard to get to.  This time, I was able to get a handful.  Emily washed one for Graysen, and she gobbled it up and wanted more.  She was eating them as fast as we could pick them.  

We managed to get home with a few which she finished up.

This is truly the sweetest baby - or little girl.  She is learning so much every day it just amazes us.  I get to pretty much spend as much time as I want to with her, and this afternoon we stayed in Mimi's Room for a couple of hours.  I let her look at a few videos on my computer, and she is obsessed with "Wheels on the Bus" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider."    I limit it to one session a day, but that doesn't stop her from pointing to my computer and moving her head around and saying "Bus."  We read books and played in her tunnel, but the most fun was playing on the bed and reading under the comforter.  She will now give me kisses and cuddle, and I feel like the luckiest person in the world.  

I see the Parmesan Chicken picture on my screen, which is what we made last night.  Delicious!  One of those simple recipes that never fail.

Mike continues to feel pretty good.  He is not sleeping as much as he would like but seems to have plenty of energy.  Just praying it stays this way.  We know how lucky we are to be spending these treatment days in a place where he is happy and content.  Ryan tapes Jeopardy every day, and we gather after Graysen goes to sleep to play.  Or rather, I kind of listen and toss out an answer once in awhile.  

Tomorrow Emily is off, and I'm not sure what we'll do.  It's time for us to have a girls' day since the guys have been having so much fun fishing.  Tomorrow is Ryan's birthday, and Tuesday is Mike's.  Guess we'll be partying all week.