Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!

It's a happy Halloween when soup comes in pumpkin-shaped bread bowls.

It's a happy Halloween when your children can carve their pumpkins all by themselves!

It's a happy Halloween when your one and only trick-or-treater is excited to wear the no-fuss costume you suggested--skirt made for her older sister years ago and vintage cardigan that was her grandmother's.

It's a happy Halloween when you successfully picked out and consumed all the Reese's peanut butter cups from the Costco-size bag of candy you bought.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

MMB Guest Post

I was so surprised this morning to discover that I am a guest post at Mormon Mommy Blogs today--just as surprised as I was yesterday to wake up to snow!

It is my Soccer Mom post. (Click on the blue words to get to the link.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Snow powdered the mountains above our home today and there was a definite chill in the air.

Yet, in our yard on the bench below, hot pink chrysanthemums were nearing full bloom.

Their white sisters had already arrived.

I even found (a very sedate) bee enjoying the last frostless day.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rose Petals and Animal Prints

I think it's time to rake (or maybe mow the lawn one last time.)

The leaves almost look like rose petals.


Love the burning bushes

and animal print leaves

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Costume Collage

This was Kellie's costume for her Halloween soccer practice her Freshman year at the U. We created it with items from the dollar store.

Rachel as a "poor sailor boy" (I think she looks more like a minuteman), Dorothy (she really wanted those red sparkly shoes), a butterfly, and Raggedy Ann

Travis as a blind referee (no disrespect intended), a nerd, and a mummy

Abby as a black cat, a pink witch, and Red-Riding-Hood

Yes, I just figured out how to do a collage in Photoshop. Humor me. :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Lesson from Steven

WARNING: This is a serious sort of post that I felt I had to write for ME. It is one of the many lessons my brother taught me.

My brother, Steven, died from cancer when he was 14.  Desmoplastic small round cell tumor is the official name, but basically it was cancer of the abdominal lining.

Steven (age 12) with my newborn son, Travis
Steven was diagnosed just after Christmas. He was 12 years old. For two years he endured very aggressive treatment that included 7 rounds of chemotherapy, 4 surgeries, a bone marrow transplant, and intensive abdominal radiation. He received more than 300 units of blood and numerous platelet transfusions.

Steven during his first year of treatment
During his second year of treatment we were able to take a trip to Williamsburg, VA with Steven and my parents. Wonderful memories. Wonderful time. We were even able to see the Hale-Bopp comet at its brightest.

Steven and Travis in Williamsburg
That trip, however, was the last time that Steven was able to eat or drink anything by mouth. His intestines were blocked.  From that point on all his nutrition and hydration had to be given through a tube that entered his body via catheter that was inserted into his chest at his initial diagnosis. Steven carried his 10 pound bag of nutrients wherever he went in a special backpack.

He was 14 years old.

I look at my own son, also 14. His favorite part of the day is mealtime. Food is everything, and lots of it.

How would that be? Not being able to eat anything. Steven could only watch and smell.

Steven, Summer 1997
I remember whenever Steven would come to our home, he would raid the condiment section of our refrigerator. He just wanted to have a little drop of salad dressing, ketchup, or pickle juice on his tongue.

He coped by watching cooking shows and became a rather excellent chef. He was especially good at making omelets and insisted on making me one when I came over for a visit one morning. I actually was full from my own breakfast, but I enjoyed it for him.  He also insisted my parents buy a deep fat fryer so he could make a "blooming onion" just like they do at Outback Steak House.

It was hard. Very hard. I talked to Steven on the phone before his final surgery in late September. He told me all he wanted from the surgery was to be able to eat and drink again. He craved a hamburger.

Steven ( age 14)  September 1997
The surgery brought sad news. The cancer had taken over Steven's body. He would probably do OK through the Holidays, but he would not see another summer. The surgeon, however, did what he could and constructed a bypass around the blockage. Steven would now be able to drink clear liquids. It wasn't a hamburger, but it could be his favorite Mountain Dew.

On December 1, 1997 Steven passed away.

Clearing out his desk my mother found coupons for pizza and Mexican food. He had held onto hope.

Thank you, Steven, for helping me remember that food is a blessing not a curse. It is for my nourishment not for my gluttony and my emotional psyche.

Thank you for helping me remember that I have a choice. Every day. You did not.

Your trial was horrible in a way that I will never have to try to understand, yet you found the good and the positive and didn't give up.

Thank you for helping me want to do better when it comes to food, to stick to the goals I have that seem so shallow compared to what you went through. The humdrum of daily living goes on for us still here and I often forget the perspective you taught.

Thank you, Steven, for helping me remember.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Just An Apple Tree

The variety of colors on my apple tree caught my eye this week. I had to snap a picture. 

"Commonplaces are never tiresome. It is we who become tired when we cease to be curious or appreciative . . . [We] find that it is not a new scene which is needed, but a new viewpoint."
--Norman Rockwell

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Pumpkin Patch

Tyler's pumpkin patch is a half block from our home and has become an annual tradition. It is an oasis of "country" in our neighborhood.

It was nice to have Kellie home for her Fall break especially since Brian was en route to New Jersey and couldn't join the family outing.

Everyone found the pumpkin that was "just right".

Abby had never seen green eggs before. She insisted we buy a few. All we need now is the ham!


Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Hint of Halloween

Skimming through magazines and blogs for decorating ideas is one of my favorite pastimes. I am very much lacking in natural decorating ability so I look for inspiration everywhere. Since I enjoy peering through the blogosphere into others' homes, I decided I better reciprocate in some form.

My entry and mantel easily lend themselves to change with the season.

The Entry

The Mantel

This is my version of October's plaque attack from Just Another Hang Up.

I was most excited about the grouping of glass bottles (reagent bottles to be exact). The two that are not official chemistry glassware are housing stones from our Lake Tahoe vacation two summers ago.

There it is--my hint of Halloween.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

To Infinity and Beyond

The infinity sign became very familiar to me in college as I "manipulated" it during the three semesters of calculus required for my statistics major. I was in the midst of my second semester of calculus when Brian and I started dating. As a chemistry major he too, was very familiar with this mathematical figure.

This image symbolizes infinity and to us (freshly in love) it meant that our love would go on forever and ever. It is found scattered throughout the love letters we sent back and forth during our long-distance engagement.

In graduate school Brian was required to take a machining class and he made me a brass heart one Valentine's day complete with stand. Of course, he engraved the infinity symbol into it.

Years ago, while perusing the wares on Telegraph Avenue, we spied a ring that we HAD to purchase. It really was a love knot, but to us it was our infinity sign.

While living in Virginia Brian gave me a jewelry box with a name plate on top. The shop keeper insisted he didn't have the infinity sign character, but Brian confidently suggested he use a sideways 8.

Just a few years ago Brian had a gold ring made (exactly like the first one we bought in Berkeley) to go with my gold wedding ring.

A mathematical symbol, yes, but it is a great reminder to the two of us. To love and to BE loved. . . forever. The effort and sacrifice is worth it.

I am not always very lovable, but I guess I have to work it out.

Monday, October 4, 2010


October is here and with it thoughts of Halloween and costumes. We have outfitted witches, brides, football players, clowns, cows, nerds, hippies, and more. But, one of our favorite family costumes was a four-year-old Kellie as Pippi Longstocking.

Literary heroines are important to our family and Brian had been reading the Pippi books out loud to the girls at the time. Kellie adored Pippi and identified with her on many levels. Pippi loved animals. She was strong, independent, and brave.

Since Brian was in graduate school and I was a stay-at-home-mom, we really needed to power up the creativity and frugality. A dress Grandma had made for Kellie worked out perfectly. I added patches from scrap fabric, found two different colored stockings and added my 90's style ankle boots-- oversized just like Pippi's. Kellie's most memorable part of the ensemble was her orange dyed and braided hair that stuck straight out of her head (with wire cut from hangers) just like Pippi's.

That smile lasted all day and night.

For MONTHS afterwards Kellie insisted HER name was Pippi and even signed it as such. 

Yes, we hold a special place in our collective family heart for red-headed literary characters. Anne (with an "e")  eventually topped the list, but that is another story, altogether.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I'm a Guest

I am a guest blogger today on Lesa's Notes About Music Notes blog.  Check it out.

Thanks for having me, Lesa!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Wedding Day Smiles

Wedding day, cheek hurting, joyful smiles are the best.

The bride and her daddy

The bride and her mama

The groom and his mom

The groom with his brothers-in-law

Photography by Haley Ann Warner