Friday, January 26, 2007

1,000 Cranes

I've not posted this week. There's just something about being sorta depressed that makes me not want to share what's going on with the world. I didn't want to come on here and be all complainy. I do that enough to my poor girlfriends on email every day. But today, today I got a reminder that there's just so much good in the world.

My mom's been in the hospital for more chemo this week. Other then some fever spikes, nausea and not sleeping (not because of chemo, but because of the insane practice of doing CONSTRUCTION at all hours of the night in the hospital), she's doing really well. I wish I could explain just what a great attitude she's got. Everything's a learning experience in her eyes, and the bad stuff rolls right off her. And she's always got her witty sense of humor about her. Like for instance: her chemo IV pole is not only plugged into her, but the wall as well. So when she wants to simply move around her room to get exercise or just to be out of bed, its a production. She's dubbed it 'pole dancing'. Hehe! Now that's a good attitude.

Anyway, back to the good in the world... Today a lady from my mom's work told her she was going to stop by with a gift that was from the people at the company. My mom had no idea what to expect. Well, there's this story about a young girl in Japan who contracted leukemia as a result of the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. While she was in the hospital, a friend reminded her of the old story that if you made 1,000 paper cranes, the gods would reward you with a wish. So she started making the cranes. She was in the 600s when she died. Now, she is a celebrated figure in Japan, and people around the world send paper cranes to be placed at the foot of her statue.

Well today.... today my mom's friends delivered her 1,000 paper cranes that they'd made. I have a hard time even writing that. I'm just so amazed by my mother and how she's touched people's lives, and it is evident by the love that has come back to her. It is just amazing.

So instead of focusing on the crappy stuff that happened this week (pipes exploding in our house much?), I choose to think about the good things in my life today. Like tomorrow I'm taking the monster dogs to a charity dog walk for assistance dogs. There's going to be a great dane drill team performing! How hilarious is that! And tomorrow night I'm going to a surprise party for my Aunt Deb who came back from Iraq this week. AND, my mom is checking out of the hospital tomorrow. So much good stuff to be happy for!

So that's it for me. Tomorrow the plan is to post again, maybe with some pictures of the spinach ricotta crepes I made early this week. Maybe great dane drill team pics! Maybe all about how my stinky dog is getting her sacks squeezed tomorrow! The options are endless! Later!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Best Weekend Ever

I could have quite possibly had the best weekend ever. I don't know what it is, but I've felt silly happy all weekend. My mom is better (although she goes back for chemo tomorrow again), and my cold was a dud (I totally have the secret for getting rid of it quick!), and I got the whole weekend with my man. Saturday we slept until the dogs started whining (10am! unheard of!), got up, had breakfast while reading each other the paper, then off to the Phoenix Art Museum to see the Ansel Adams display, then to My Florist Cafe for lunch (wild mushroom and brie soup with half a chicken, brie and carmalized pear sandwich sided with the most fresh organic salad ever), then home for some Xbox (making it Ryan's best day ever), then off to a great firefighter party. Usually I feel like I have to be glued to Ryan's side, but I knew so many people at this one that I didn't see Ryan for half the party and had the best time.

Then today we slept in, woke up to rain, rain and more rain, saw my mom pre-hospital check-in, went to a football party (where neither of us watched football), then home. But on our way home we saw that the gorgeous mountains around our desert were covered with new snow. Well, we couldn't let that gorgeous sight go to waste, so we grabbed the dogs and headed North. We went out toward one of our desert lakes, then took the first off-road turn we could find. Here's Ryan on a hill that was much steeper then it looks in this picture (I actually got out because I was too scared):

OK, yeah, and right after I took this picture I had to run up the hill in the fancy boots I was wearing for the party earlier in the day. In the mud. But the view from the top? Unparalleled.

I've been trying for about 3 years now to take a picture of the mountains surrounding our desert that showed the contrast of two. The sight of the mountains covered in snow with the saguaros down below is amazing. I think I'm getting pretty close with this one:

(View bigger here) It was just beautiful out today after the clouds cleared. Arizona is so amazing. I have a feeling that people have a misconception about Arizona. They think that it looks like the Sarhara, that its dry and ugly. This picture shows what I think Arizona looks like. The desert is gorgeous with its severe rocks and cacti, but we have so much more then that too.

My perfect weekend. The only bad part is that I think I might have passed the crud on to Ryan. Poor guy has been so sick and hurt the last few months. But what can I say? He's so adorable, I just can't stay far enough away from him to keep the crud to myself. :-)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Caught the Crud

Well, it sounds like the dreaded sickness is hitting everyone. And just last week I was bragging at work about how I was the only one in my group who hadn't gotten sick. But here I am. Sore throat. Stuffy nose. Exploding head. Ohhh my head...

My mom's headed back to the dreaded hospital on Monday, which sucks with me being sick and not allowed to be around her. Bummer! So I'm taking meds like crazy, drinking gallons of water, and I already told my boss not to be surprised if I called in tomorrow to sleep.

This past weekend was Ryan's company picnic. Now usually a picnic with free beer
would be a no-brainer for a firefighter picnic. But Arizona, like everywhere else in the country, is having this weird cold thing going on. It was a high of 51 and windy on Sunday. Which in Arizona is like MISERABLE weather. But we all threw on our gloves (shut up! 51 is freezing to us!) and held our beers around a fire.

And some brainiac thought it was a wise idea to have a water relay. For adults. People! Adults HATE picnic games. We all mumbled and groaned, but I wasn't going to be the wife who refused to do it. So I threw on huge fire boots, a fire jacket, and a helmet, and got to hauling water. I had to run over to a resevoir to get it in buckets,
slosh it back to Ryan who was wearing a firefighter breathing mask covered by a hood so he couldn't see, then direct him to a trash can. The couple we raced against was a guy AND girl firefighter, and she graduated with the physical fitness award from her academy. So we lost. But come on! Is that at all fair?! Here's some pictures:

Well, I think I'll try to clear a spot on my tissue-covered couch so I can lay down for a bit.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Love your Pup

Lots of stuff rolling around in my head today. First of which is dogs. I don't know, maybe its because my dogs are my kids, but I can't understand the 'outside dog' thing. I know, I know, its perfectly acceptable, and they're dogs, but I just can't help feeling so sad for dogs who have to watch their families looking in from the outside.

Today I was visiting my parents and there was a loose dog outside. There were some neighbors out there trying to catch him, but he was totally unaware. I walked over to him, and as soon as he saw me he wagged his tail and came straight for my outstretched hand. I took him back to my parents' house, and noted the registration number on his tag. Arizona participates in the wonderful Pets 911 program, so I was
able to call and the automated voice gave me his owners' phone number. I immediately called, but no one answered. I left a message. We put up signs. We waited. That was at 11am. It is now 8:30pm and our new furry friend is still hanging with my parents. He's really sweet, and very obviously in need of some human love.
I finally figured out (bonehead that I am) that I should have just done a reverse look-up on the phone number. The dog comes from 4 houses down the street. So my dad goes down to check it out. The gate is open. It has been over 9 hours and not a single person has noticed that this dog is missing because he's been dismissed outside so they just wouldn't have noticed. And there's no one home, which means
our furry friend probably would have missed dinner if he was still in the yard.

I can't tell you how much this frosts me. I may complain about how I plan my day around letting my pups out, or making sure they aren't home alone for a super long time, but I just don't think I'd feel right if I didn't make them a priority. I'm their human and I've taken responsibility for their well-being. Don't you agree?

So what happens when my parents' neighbor comes home and finally gets our phone message? I know I'll think often about that dog and how he's going back to a
situation where no one notices him. And that's just sad.

Let's end on a cheery note, shall we? I spent the day with my mom today. She had enough energy to make homemade split-pea soup (I made grilled-cheese sandwiches to go with), then we took her hat shopping. The lady's got some style! She's got some kickin' new hats. She was pretty sapped after that, but baby steps!

And also, here's a picture I neglected. My dad dressed up in a full Santa suit for Christmas Eve at the hospital. It was meant to cheer up my mom so she wouldn't be thinking about our traditions that she was missing (and we had a GREAT time
opening gifts and hanging out), but truth be told my brother and I were a little embarassed about the whole thing. Until we got to the hospital. I can't tell you how people (patients, nurses, and visitors alike) changed when they saw 'Santa' walking down the hallway. It was so amazing. My dad's got this big voice and when he "Ho Ho Ho" 'd down the hallway, people were thrilled.

It was one of the best Christmases ever.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

One Track Mind

Look! A successful gem picture! I've had this project kicking around for quite a while for someone, but first I didn't have the right lens, then I got distracted from the project by life. No excuse. Anyway, this is the first one that I'm happy with....

My mom is still doing well. It realy is amazing what chemo can to do somebody. My mom was a super healthy lady before this. Was? Is? Anyway, that chemo just pooped her out. When before she was walking the dog for 2 miles in the morning, then hitting the gym in the afternoon, now the goal is a neighborhood block.

Through this whole thing I have been amazed by the generosity of others. The church I grew up in adopted my mom and sent a new, interesting person to chat with her almost daily. My girlfriend africankelli made all kinds of food for my dad because she knew he was running back and forth to the hospital all day trying to make my mom more comfortable. My girlfriend KC and her sweet mother put together a care package for my dad as well. And the people at my mom's work really took care of her. They sent her cards, and posters, and even a DVD of them singing Christmas songs for her. And that all isn't even taking into account the countless number of people who left gifts on my parents' doorstep without including a card. Now that my mom is out of the hospital, the thoughtfullness continues. Because she knows how much it would mean to my mom, one of her friends has been taking Shadow, their black lab, for walks every day. And my mom's best friend Carol took a hard thing (buying and styling a wig) and turned it into a girls' day out with lunch and a trip to a salon.

This whole thing really has changed me. I wonder if I'm the kind of person who would go out of their way to do something nice like that when hard times hit for a friend. I sure hope so. I think after all this, there's no way I couldn't be that kind of person. I hope.

I've also spent a lot of time thinking about what its like to have my parents get older. This was definitely a shock into reality for me. My parents both look so young for their ages, and they love to travel. My dad has always had physical problems (exhibit: 3 total knees left, 1 total knee right, elbow, total shoulder, collapsed disc in his neck... shall I continue?). But even through all this physical problems he's shown an amazing resiliency. He's a survivor. And my mom? The picture of health.
I know that Leukemia can happen to anyone of any age, but I always sort of thought of my mom as one who's visited the Fountain of Youth. She makes it her life's purpose to eat healthy and live healthy. She's got a job she loves with people she loves. She's active and loves to travel. It just was a shock.

I swear I'm not being a downer, but I've been forced to realize the reality of life. You know? Life is short.

How do I get past this semi-depressing stuff? Have I mentioned my stellar gem photos I took? And how much I really suck at Photoshop?

Plans for this weekend: crockpot turkey breast tomorrow night (yeah, yeah, no one said Ryan and I were exciting), Saturday take down parents' Christmas decorations and make wassail for my mommy (who was in ICU when she should have been sipping wassail by a Christmas tree with a tummy full of lasagna), then Sunday we've got Ryan's fire department picnic. Its at the Phoenix Zoo, so that should be fun.

What's everyone else up to this weekend?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

OCD much?

My mom is home after a whopping 28 days. We've probably got some more chemo (at least 2 more rounds) ahead of us, but she's feeling much better. Other then being weak and struggling a bit, she's doing really well! Now if only we could get my dad healthy too... *sigh* Ryan and I are going to do a better job taking care of the two of them in the next week or two. Dinners, maybe some yard work, there's a promise of getting Christmas decorations down... One step at a time. I'm so glad she's healthier. Its been hard.

We're so beaten down lately. We neglected planning for our 5th anniversary this April because of lots of stuff, and now that we're planning we're both excited. Until the enginerd in me came out. Exibit A:

Please click for full insanity. That's right folks, a trip to Costa Rica staying at hotels costing around $100/night is over $4000! Our hearts are broken over this. With the new 4-dr Jeep Wrangler we ordered, we just can't afford this.

But please note my OCD . Poor Ryan. I've got tabs built into that spreadsheet for tour info, itinerary, costs, hotel info with hyperlinks, details of what we'd do every day, and alternate plans like a cruise, florida, or cancun. Yes, I know... But I have to channel my nerdiness somewhere! Might as well be in vacation planning.

So... anyone got any ideas for a romanticish vacation that isn't just laying on the beach, doesn't involve crashing on snowboards, is around $2000, and has lots of stuff for us to do? Anyone?

Dang, money is depressing....

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

My resolution is....

...fewer loved ones in hospitals in 2007.

I really thought it'd been like 2 weeks since I last wrote. It feels like enough has happened to fit into months.

It has been so up and down with my mom. She is 3 days shy of being in the hospital for a full month. A month! I think I've missed only 5 days of that whole time. I swear I hate the hospital, but I love the time with my mom. She was really bad there for a few days and it was scary. She's got almost all the side-effects of chemo, but add on
to that pnemonia, and also she's developed some unknown infection in the last few days. Its just the weirdest thing because she was the picture of health before she checked into the hospital. She was even dancing around her room to keep entertained while she was getting her chemo drip. Then it just went bad. Fast. And now she's on the way up and it all just doesn't even seem like it happened. And through it all she's still joking around and even managed to work with the musical therapist to write a song that they put on a CD. I swear, she's amazing. And I feel like I've gotten really strong through this situation. I feel like I can handle anything.

And even though it was hard and I was worried about being away for a few days,
Ryan's been having a rough time lately so I took him up to the ski resort for New Years. We went with Bec and Matt, just like last year. The first day the snow was so-so, but there were a million people up there. I'm a slow zig-zag across the mountain skiier, so I spent much of the day skiing solo, which I don't mind.

But then the trip went bad. The next day we went up again and the snow was more ice then fluff. Bec was sore from her rental boots, and I suspect she was feeling bad about me being solo (which is silly because I really don't mind being a lone skiier. I move faster through the lift lines!), so she stayed with me on the Midway lift and the boys went to the top. At about 11:20 we got up the lift to the halfway point and
there's a crash from one of the upper runs right there. There's a ton of ski patrol guys around someone, and I see snowboards and I just get this sinking feeling in my stomach. But I went and looked, and the snowboards aren't Ryan's or Matt's, so I ski down.

When we get to the bottom we jump on the lift line. The ski patrol comes barreling through pulling the emergency sled behind them and tell me to move. So I back up. Then I look down as the sled passes and its Ryan's bloody face looking up at me.

I guess there was a ski patrol guy behind him when it happened. Ryan doesn't remember the accident, but the guy says Ryan caught a front edge on the icy snow
and took a header. He hit so hard that his helmet flew off with the strap still clipped together. He was unconscious when they got to him, so they called a helicopter (which they eventually cancelled when he came to). When I got to him in the ski hut he was repeating himself and couldn't remember what happened. Anywho, I got a nice ambulance ride to the hospital at about 90 mph with lights and sirens. Bec and Matt took my truck, but I didn't have time to grab shoes so I ended up clopping around in ski boots in the ER for the next few hours.

Long story short, Ryan had a bad concussion (he was really sick to his stomach), and he's missing a chunk of skin from his face. It could have been SO much worse. If we hadn't bought that helmet for him last week.... I just don't even want to think about it. We are so lucky. He's still really sore and his face looks horrible, but he's alive and
can move all his limbs.

Here's some fun broken Ryan pics. The first is in the ER. Can you tell how loopy he
is? The second is a day later when he's not quite as happy.

Ryan kept telling me he couldn't believe I wasn't freaking out. He said he thought for sure I'd be crying. But for some reason, I didn't at all. I really think it has a lot to do with what's doing on with my mom. This whole time with my mom I haven't freaked out because I really felt like it would be bad, but that there WOULD be another side to it. And I think I knew that with Ryan too. I saw his toes move in the ski patrol hut, and that was enough for me to not freak out. Freaking out isn't going to help an emergency situation, so I just didn't.

Overall, I'm feeling pretty good about life today. My mom's making it through OK and there's an end in sight for her. My husband is alive. I've had more chances to talk to my far-away family lately because of the Cancer. My dad and I have become a little team taking care of my mom. My husband's got a new work schedule that will actually be better for us. Lots to be thankful for this New Year.

One little glitch in my hospital resolution is Fred. The doctor decided today that we can't just ignore him, so he's gotta come out. Poor Fred. And poor me because it means I get surgery and anethesia. But, in the grand scheme of things, its a teeny tiny thing. And its outpatient, and blah de blah... So there ya go. I'm just glad to have it done with. Although I will miss the little guy... :-)

I hope this post finds all of you happy and healthy in the New Year.

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    Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

    I'm Amanda. I'm an engineer in an industry full of men, a professional wedding and family portrait photographer, a firefighter's wife, a traveler, and a dogMa.

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