Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I heart my cousins.

Big time.

I do. They're awesome, and I love them!

I was lucky enough to start today with a conversation with my cousin Rachel. (Well, technically, I was "lucky" enough to start my day with a bowl of Shredded Wheat, and I was at the bank by 7:00. But at about 8:00, I got a text from Rachel - I love it when she texts me, because then I know she's by her phone, and will pick up when I call - so I walked outside, called my cousin, and sat right down on the wet grass and talked/laughed/cried with her for a good 40 minutes.)

It was a glorious way to start the day. ... Wet bum and all!

One of the reasons I love to talk to Rachel is that she talks like my mom. (I know, I know. That means she talks like HER mom. Our moms talk the same way - use the same words, have the same inflections. They must be sisters!) This morning, she was telling me a story and said "What's that about?", and sounded EXACTLY like Big Ude. It was awesome!

It's really been brought home to me, in the last month, how incredible the women in my life - the women in my family - truly are. Watching Mark and Rachel go through diagnosis/surgery has been heart-wrenching. But it has also been awesome. It has been awesome to see their strength. It has been awesome to see Rachel's friends and family gather around her. It has been awesome to see my aunts drop everything in their lives, so they can be in Provo.

I love that I found out that Mark was in the hospital because my cousin Julie called me - because our aunt Deb had facebooked her to let her know she was coming back to Utah, and why. It makes my heart happy that Cousin Katie texted me from the hospital when Mark came out of surgery, that Becca texted me from the airport in DC when she was headed to Utah and then posted pics that gave us the first visual of what was going on in Utah, that now that Katie is in the house with the family, she sent a picture of Mark and the girls Sunday night. I'm so grateful for the relationship I've had with Rachel, that it's not weird to her that sometimes I have to pick up the phone and call her when I read her texts. (Or, if it is weird to her, that she picks up my calls anyway.) I feel so lucky that I don't only know these incredibly strong and amazing people - I am related to them!

It is a thing of beauty that our aunt Cindy dropped everything in her life in Cedar and went to Provo when she knew Mark and Rachel (and their kids) needed her. That Debbie was right there at the hospital with Rachel and/or Mark - around the clock - makes perfect sense. Her sister - my own sweet mom - has never left my side when I'm in the hospital. I mean, she's slept on the floor, so I wouldn't be alone in the night.

Service and Love. Those two words encapsulate everything about my mom and her sweet sisters. (And their brothers, too. I don't want to leave John and Keith out of the love-fest!)

I love them. I'm so grateful they're my family.

I'm so grateful for the generations that came before (it has become very clear that the reason my mom and aunts are so darn servicable and kind must be because they learned it from their own sweet mother). I am grateful for my association with my aunts and uncles - all of them. I am grateful for my cousins, for the incredible people that they are - for the relationships I have with them (both familial and friendship).

This morning, I got to spend some time with Rachel. And it was awesome.

On Saturday, I sent a package to my cousin Amy because their baby shower is this weekend. (I might not be able to be at the shower, but that doesn't mean I can't dress that baby girl in bright Laurie-facsimile, ruffled and/or striped outfits!)

Last week, I was trolling through my email, looking for some information and ran across an email from Bethy that made me cry. ... Beth was the first person to send me money last year. As soon as she had an inkling that I needed financial help, she called and asked me for my routing and account number, so she could wire funds - and she gave explicit instruction that I use some of the money she sent to buy something I wanted/eat something yummy while I still could.

Also last week, my cousin Katie posted the following on my FB:

I laughed out loud (and when I say loud, I mean... LOUD) when I read that. I love her!

After Julie was here in March, she sent me the following bullet list of why she likes to come to AZ (she knows I love lists - hopefully, she also knows that I love HER, and she won't mind that I copy/pasted this to ye olde blog):

- I know I'm going to laugh. Hard. And a lot.
- I can relax and do nothing.
- We can talk for hours.
- I will learn something new. About myself, others, and the world.
- You tell things like they are.
- You support, build up, validate, and love.
- You have awesome friends.
- It's warm and beautiful.
- For the view of the turquoise pool and pink sky.
- I don't hear "Mooooooooom!" once.
- I get good book recommendations.
- Our conversations run the gamut from spiritual to naughty.
- There's always good food involved.
- Science experiments.
- I can hang out in a towel.
- I feel closer to my cousins through you. I could easily cook with Becca, dine with Brea, watch movies with Amy, etc.
- I love you!

(Our science experiment last time was a blind Oreo taste-test. ... We Ball kids heart science. Big time.)

I love how so many of my cousins are my friends, that they're good friends - people who are involved, if not daily, in the weekly and monthly timeline of my life.

I could tell so many stories, share so many experiences, where these people that I love - these people who are my mother's siblings' children - have blessed my life.

Man alive, I looooove these people! I love them so much that I'm going to blast the www with just a few memories/images of these people I love so freaking much.

This was one of my favorite days. I was visiting Julie. Beth happened to be in the states. (She lives in Jolly Old England.) We went to WalMart for pedicures (because we're super fancy like that) and ran into two aunts and four cousins. (Truth be told, they heard my laugh. That's right. Over the din of the Utah County WalMart, they heard my laugh. And they found me. ... As in, the laugh led them to me. How awesome is that?!)

L to R: Becca, Rachel (with Shelly), Katie, Bethy (Baby Nate?), Jule, me, Robby

Here's another fun day. This is Julie, Nikki and me - wedding dress shopping. (Yes, one of us was recently engaged and planning a wedding. No, it sure wasn't me!)

Grammy and Grandad's house. 1988. Watching Singing in the Rain. :-)

Lindsay, Nikki (with Amy on lap), me (with Becca on lap) and Rachel.

I actually remember this day. Which isn't that weird, considering I was 14. I doubt anyone else will remember it, though. (Keep reading. Upon later conversation with Becca, she thinks she might remember this day, too.)

Julie, me and Beth. April 2008. ... It's just a random snapshot, but it's one of my favorite pictures of us. E-ver.  

In case you wondered what my actual favorite picture of the three of us looks like (circa 1978):

A rare sighting of children PLAYING UPSTAIRS at G&G's:

(That would be me and Nikki. How cute is she? Loooove the piggies!)
Jule and me. Summer of '95. Roaring 20's Murder/Costume Party.

  This is in my grandparents' house. Uncle John was magical. (He still is, actually.) This is the penny trick. Christy is in the back. Julie is the kid looking up at her dad. I am in yellow, on the far right.  

How sweet is this?

That's Greg and me. April 1976.

Below, L to R: Doug, Greg, Julie, Me. Summer, 2011.

This weekend was the first time I'd seen Greg in... I don't know that either of us could actually remember how long.

The four of us were in the same ward for YEARS when we were in our 20's. (G&D were roommates. So were Julie and I.) Grammy and Grandad were still in Provo, and we'd get phone calls inviting us up to the house to help Grammy "clean out the fridge" (eat leftovers) and then Grandad would cut us a square of ice cream and we'd eat it either at the kitchen table or on the flower couch. (Because we were grownups and could be trusted with such things.)

We would borrow VHS tapes of old movies and chain-watch them together. (The first time I ever saw The King and I was at Greg's apartment. It was Grammy's tape. Greg had borrowed it, and called to ask if we wanted to come over and watch it with him. That was the first year I lived in Provo. We made so many memories that year. ... Oh, and the next four or five, too.)

The boys camped out (yes, camped - overnight) at the old University theater to get tickets for the re-release of Star Wars. The deal was the the boys would sleep over to get the tickets, and then Julie and I would camp out at the theater, to make sure we had good seats when the movies started. I'm pretty sure we saw the midnight showing of all three Star Wars movies - on opening day/night. (And we had good seats every time.) I worked across the street from the theater, so I'd walk over as soon as I got off work and set up camp. Julie would come and bring dinner. We'd play games and talk and laugh - and eat - for hours. The boys were always firm that WE had to camp out to get seats - but they'd always show up by 8:00 and spend the next several hours sitting, talking, eating, and/or playing Phase 10 with us. Sometimes their roommates would come with, sometimes it was just us. One night, we ate three quarts of ice cream, sitting cross-legged on the sidewalk, passing the carton of Baskin Robbins from cousin to cousin. ... I'm pretty sure Julie and Doug both ate 4 Big Macs the night we saw Empire Strikes back.

We had some good times. I mean... a lot of them!

Again, summer of 2011. This is (duh) me, Lindsay and Julie.

  Do you love how short I am next to my cousins? I do! (And I was wearing 2 inch heels in this pic!)

Here's a fun one of ... well ... a lot of us, but mostly Becca and me:

I texted a copy of this to Becca, and this is what she sent me back,

"Oh my gosh!! I love it! And I LOVE your side ponytail!!! One of my most vivid memories of you was probably from around that same time period. I was sitting on your lap at Grammy's on the green spinny chairs and you were laughing so hard that you threw me off your lap and ran to the bathroom so that you didn't pee your pants!"

That's right, kids. I've been peeing my pants for over 20 years. I'm awesome like that.

Our grandparents had a two story house, with a basement full of extra rooms. A huge family room, a kitchen, two bathrooms and three bedrooms were downstairs... Well enough room for visiting families to co-habitate for a week or two in the summers.

The "big" bedroom downstairs had a king-sized bed in it. Next door, there was a room with two twin beds. One summer, the twins and I wanted to stay together - but no one wanted to sleep on the floor. So, we found a way to make it work. For a week. (I vividly remember listening to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Over and over again. We were three teenage girls who could not believe that Patrick Swazye could sing AND dance!)


In the summer of '89, Debbie and Cindy came to Taylor with their kids. (How can I tell what year this was taken? The super sweet Coppertone T-shirt is a dead giveaway. This was my PE shirt my freshman year. Super awesome style sense I had, no?)

Here I am with two of my favorite girls:

And here's a whole bunch of us on the grass:

Ahhhh... Here's another fun one. Disneyland, September 2007.

I had gone with several girlfriends for a long weekend. We were standing in line to get some hamburgers, when I heard an incredulous "Cousin Laurie?!" behind me.

Now, I wasn't surprised to hear my name in Disneyland... I have a family of cousins who live in the area, and stranger things have certainly happened. (See above for story of running into my Disneyland cousins in the Orem WalMart.) What surprised me was that the person calling my name was Doug, who lives in Utah. He and Dana had taken the kids to CA. Neither of us had any idea the other was in the park. The CB Gals and I had happened to walk into the restaurant at the same time Doug and Dana were getting ready to leave. (It's true, what they say: Disneyland really IS the happiest place on earth!)

Back to G&G's...


(Elbow Ball, btw, is now an absolute impossibility for my sad body. A huge part of my physical therapy after my last surgery was lying on my stomach - in an elbow-ball-esque position - to stretch my stomach muscles back out. It's been almost a year since surgery. I can now lie on my stomach, propped up on my elbows - but there's NO WAY that I could maneuver my body to catch/kick/headbutt a ball around. Awh, well. At least I have the memory of Elbow Ball to keep me warm at night. This, along with freeze tag and croquet, were the staples in summertime fun at Grammy's.)

I love these kids.

I love that I have pictures with my cousins that are over 30 years old. I love that I also have pictures with my cousins that are no more than 3 months old.

I'm so grateful that so many of my earliest, childhood, friends have seen me into adulthood. I am a blessed, blessed woman!

These people make me happy that Families ARE Forever! ... I mean, super duper happy.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Because I haven't posted a pic of my left eye in quite some time...

Also, because I wanted to show you all my fabulously wrinkly forehead.

Oh, and my new GRAY STREAK!


Remember when I was losing all that hair back in September and October? Well... It's come back in.

My once-straggly mop of hair is back to being a bushy-bushy-bon-hair-do. It's a little out of control, actually. I pull it up or back pretty much every day, and it never ceases to amaze me how freaking much hair I have, how big my bun is.

And all those brown hairs that fell out of my head? They've grown back in gray. Every blessed one of them. .I have gray at my temples, and an INSANE gray streak above my left eye. Every time I pull my hair back into a bun, I remind myself more than a little of a certain Disney villainess:

Do you see it?

Same gray streaks. Same pinched face. Same scowl. Same narrow little face and high-necked blouse...

The Wicked Stepmother and I are basically the same person. (Just cracked myself up, btw. Mostly with the high-necked blouse comment.) Ha!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A peach (or 7.5) a day...

Did you know?

It's PEACH SEASON in the desert!

Seriously. It's the middle of May, and the peaches at Schnepf Farms are glorious!

This was Jo's and my second annual Peach Festival Outing. (To see a pic of me "climbing" an apricot tree last year, click here.) Because Jo's the best friend/chauffeur ever, she picked me up at 6:30 and we hit the McD's drive-thru for our favorite breakfast and then we made the drive to Queen Creek.

My favorite part of the Peach Festival weekend (other than all that quality time with Jo, of course!) is the picking of sun-ripened fruit right off the tree and... CHOWING DOWN, right there in the middle of a peach orchard.

Seriously. Have you ever eaten a ripe peach straight off the tree? It's like heaven!

I totally ate five and a half (only half of one of them was ripe) peaches while I was filling my box. Peach juice dripping off my hand, sliding down my chin, streaking my yellow gingham shirt... Heaven!

Speaking of boxes, behold:

Jo's box is on the left, mine is on the right (with my customary water bottle... I carry those puppies everywhere anymore!)

I looked down at our boxes of peaches and said, "Your peaches are so much bigger than mine!"

Jo's response was, "What can I say? I have a type."

I came back with, "Yeah, big and beefy. Whereas, CLEARLY, I'll take whatever I can get."

True story.

(For those of you who haven't met Jo's husband, you should know that he's a GIANT. ... Whereas my husband is ... well ... MIA. As in, "I'll take anything I can get." ... We crack ourselves up.)

Another thing that's important to note is that my box has more peaches in it than Jo's does. She's the mother of five. I shop for myself, and myself alone.

That's 8.5 lbs of peaches there in my box, kids. (The upside of having taken "whatever I could get" was that some of my peaches were perfectly ripe, some of them were close, and some of them were little peach boulders that have been ripening on my counter since Saturday.)

Years ago, my (favorite) aunt told me that she had experimented and had found that the exact number of peaches one could eat without experiencing *erm* unfortunate side-effects was four. (We're all about science experiments in our family.) I would like to announce to the www that I, too, have been experimenting with peaches and have found that - as long as you counteract the peaches with copious amounts of cheese, yogurt and bananas in your daily diet - a person can get away with eating 7.5 peaches a day. (Don't try 8. That's all I'm going to say.)

And if you'll excuse me now, there are three peaches on my counter that are calling my name. ... And I'm pretty sure I'm hearing a muffled sound coming from the pint of cream that's on the top shelf of my fridge, too.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Chocolate: It's what's for dinner.

I haven't been feeling well today (suuuuuuper tired, lightheaded/dizzy, fever), so I cancelled my usual Sunday schedule so I could stay home and rest. And rest, I did.

I took a two hour nap on my couch this morning, then moved to my bed and slept until 3:15 (I had a church meeting at 3:30, so I'd set an alarm... otherwise, who knows how long I could have slept?!) I got home from my meeting at 5:00 and crashed again.

Remember how I was saying, just the other day, that when I do too much - for too many days in a row - my body shuts me down? Well, I got shut down today. In a big way. But that's alright. I'm pretty sure I got more sleep today - in the day part of the day - than I've had at night in the last three nights. I'll take it!

Because I haven't been feeling awesome, and because I wanted to have room to sleep if/when/wherever I was, I texted Jo this afternoon to let her know I would not be making an appearance at Sunday dinner.

This translates into: I had to make my own dinner tonight. First, I boiled some whole wheat noodles (because I'm so healthy) and had a little stroganoff. Then, I made....

S'more (Crack) Dip
1 cup milk chocolate chips*
1 cup mini marshmallows
2 Tab milk

Melt in a saucepan, then pour into an ovensafe dish. Layer another cup (approx) mini marshmallows over the chocolate mixture and broil for 1 minute, or until marshmallows are toasted.

Serve with graham crackers for dipping.

Because this isn't the first time I've made S'more Dip for dinner (not even the first time I've done it this week), I'll share that *I think it's best with half milk and half semi-sweet chocolate chips. Also, you can cut the recipe down into half or a third and/or do the first step in the microwave. (It takes, maybe, 30 seconds to melt the chocolate chips and marshmallows, and then you can put the other 'mallows on top and throw it right into the oven to broil.)

And that, my friends, is how you make dinner (or dessert, if you're one of *those* people who feel like chocolate can't be a main course) in less than two minutes.

You're welcome.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Now, there's something you don't see every day!


That's a VW convertible. With what looks to be three TRACTOR tires loaded in the backseat.

On the freeway.

With said tractor tires leaning up against nothing more than a rolled up window.

I was so curious about what could be happening here... and so was my chauffeur (Jo)... but the dude driving the car went through a yellow light and we lost him. (It's too bad, too, because I was curious enough to roll down the window and ask the man what was up if we could have met up at a red light, a la the old Grey Poupon commercials.)

Friday, May 17, 2013

State of the Union Report

I've had a few calls and texts in the last week or so, asking how I'm feeling these days. (It seems that my not constantly barraging you all with news of what I can/cannot eat and/or telling you stories about how I'm down to only having to hold one side of the railing as I go up and down the stairs has led you to wonder if I'm doing better... or if I'm just too tired to be writing these days.)

The good news: I am, in fact, feeling much better. I have more energy and stamina than I've had in... well... a couple years, actually. (I remember feeling like this in December of 2010.)

The bad news: Having more energy and stamina has led to me over committing myself. I've been keeping myself busier than I have in months, which is wearing me out. (Much like what happened in December of 2010, I keep booking myself to do dinner or a movie after work. And then the next day I do it again. And then the next day I do it again. ... And then the next day, my right ear starts to hurt, my tonsils swell up and my body lands me flat in bed and I sleep for a straight 10 hours. It's a vicious cycle - but it sure is a lot of fun on the "up" days!)

Mid-March, I started to notice that my energy level was coming up. Smack in the middle of the third week of March that I realized that I didn't need to lie down right when I got home from work. Since then, I've made dinner (actual dinner - not just noodles) at least ten times. And I've vacuumed my apartment. Once. (HA!) My energy level hasn't gone up since March - but it has held steady, which is saying something. (Other than when I push too hard, too fast, for too many days. But that's my own fault - and the perk of the cycle is that I can justify naps like nobody else I know!)

While I still don't have the upper body strength to open a door with the same arm that's holding a bag full of groceries, my core strength is improving. I can tell because (drumroll please...), in the last week I've started rolling over in my sleep. That's right. I've been waking up on the other side of the bed. And that, people, is seriously impressive, because moving in my sleep is something that stopped after my first surgery - in 2010.

I still have residual pain that I'm pretty sure is scar tissue. I still get stiff and sore if I sit, lie, or stand in the same position for too long. I still get tired faster than I think anyone my age should poop out.

But I am stronger than I was. I feel better than I have in several months (like, 27 of them). And that gives me hope.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Retail Therapy

I had some interesting (by which I mean: sort of weirdie) conversations with a few people during the holiday season last year regarding my single status. You heard me. I had more than one person make an assumption that Christmas was a hard holiday for me, because I don't have a boyfriend/husband or children - and then take me aside and express sympathy for my situation and ask how I was doing.

Uh... I was doing AWESOME, thanks! I looooove Christmas! I mean, a lot. I love it a lot.

While I will agree that having loved ones to share the holidays with makes things a different kind of magical... by no means do I have a miserable time mid-November through January 2nd, because I am all alone in the world. In some ways, I'm pretty sure that I have an even better time, single, than I would have coupled and/or with little people in the house.

A few of the perks of the holiday season at my house:

- I put the tree up on Thanksgiving and I leave it up as long as I want (it came down MLK weekend this year)
- Every family recipe is MY family's recipe (aka: I know and love ALL the holiday food over here!)
- I enjoy sole possession of the remote control, which means that White Christmas is on pretty constant replay for the entire month of December
- I can eat fudge for breakfast, lunch or dinner and I'm the only one with a sugar high
- Christmas shopping. Ohhhhhhh, the shopping.

Shopping for my friends, for my family. ... For myself.

I love to shop. Stores all decked out with tinsel and wreathes make me love shopping even more. And they put all the good stuff out there in the aisles. Jewelry, dvd's, books, clothes... ripe for the picking - all at a discounted price. I love it!

One of the best (seriously, best!) things about being single at Christmas is that you have it in your power to get every single thing on your wishlist. I'm not even kidding.

So, Christmas (the holiday season as a whole, really), being single is cake for me.

Mother's Day, on the other hand... Not so much.

And it's not like I don't have a rockin' awesome mother to celebrate. I do. I love her. I'm so grateful for her! I mean, every day, I am grateful for the home I grew up in, for the parents who loved me and raised me.

I love my mom, and I love that Mother's Day, every year, gives me the opportunity to tell my mother (and anyone else who'll listen) how much I love her and how grateful I am for her influence in my life!

Mother's Day also happens to be a hard day for me, because it is a reminder that I do not have the life that I thought I'd have.

Every year, Mother's Day breaks my heart a little bit. ... It's not like I don't love the life that I do have (see above for references to the sole possession of the remote control and the getting of every single thing on my wish list). I do. I love my life. I am SO grateful for whom and what I do have. I am a blessed girl who leads a charmed life, and I know that.

This is just one day of the year that is hard. One day that reminds me that there's something that I want that I don't have. ... Well, more than a day really. It starts a few weeks early, when the Mother's Day sales start hitting.

Which brings me back to the title of this post: Retail Therapy.

It's a real thing, people.

This year, when I started seeing Mother's Day sales being publicized, I thought to myself, "Self... They're putting everything pretty and girly on sale. You're pretty. You're girly. ... You'd be a FOOL not to take advantage of this!"

So, I shopped. Sort of a lot.

Three pairs of shoes, a new purse and wallet (actual patent leather instead of shiny plastic, thanks) and a pair of REAL pearl earrings later, Mother's Day was a lot easier to swallow this year.

Did the shopping make Mother's Day completely painless? No. No, it did not. But I did get to revel in all things feminine for a few weeks with complete justification that I could and should buy myself something pretty. And then maybe something else. ... And then maybe something else.

You get the picture.

Money may not buy happiness, but it does buy stuff. Specifically, pretty, girly stuff that goes on INSANE sales during the month of May.

Welcome to the way that I handle difficult situations. Don't judge. (Fair warning: If you do judge, I'm going to assume it's out of petty jealousy of my faaaaaabulous accessories. Take that!)

Retail Therapy: It doesn't actually cure all that ails a girl... but it does help to know that sometimes I can go out and buy what it is that I want. (Maybe by this time next year, I'll have found a man who'll buy me a baby. ... A girl can always hope!)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The #1 Mom

It's Mother's Day.

Which means that phone lines, inboxes and social media sites everywhere have been flooded with people saying that their mom is the best. While I don't think those people are lying, per se, I do think that they just don't know...

MY mom is the #1 Mom.

It's true. She tells me so all the time.

I can't tell you how many voicemails she's left me, "This is your mom. Call me back. You know my number. It's #1."

She's the best. I love her!

This is one of my favorite pictures of us:

Do you see the way we're smiling at each other? ... Some things never change. We still do that.

I'm grateful for the things that I got from my mom:

my hair
my eyes
my nose
my fingernails
my laugh

I think of her every day, and I'll love her forever.

Thanks, Mom - for giving me life, and for teaching me how to live it. I love you!

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Starting to feel a little more like me...

It's Cinco de Mayo, people!


Do you see those cute little sombrero sugar cookies up there? I made them with my own two hands.

That's right.

I made sugar cookies.

Something I hadn't done (outside of the batch I made for Dr. H last year to make him love me) since December 2010.

It doesn't matter to me that I made the frosting and the cookie dough on different days (I have a hard time standing for very long, esp when part of that standing is going to be spent bent half over), and it also doesn't matter to me that by the time I'm done baking/frosting the cookies, I need to take a nap to recover enough to wipe off the counters and do the dishes.

I don't care how long it took the make, bake and decorate the cookies. I don't care that my counters may or may not have had flour and cookie crust on them for over 24 hours before I got up the gumption to clean them.

I made sugar cookies.

It's been almost a year since my last surgery. I'd love to blame Dr. G for taking my energy out of me (right along with the slew of organs he removed), but the reality is, I never got strong enough after my second surgery (in March 2011) to go back to baking the way I used to.

It's not a double batch of rolls or whole wheat homemade bread (like I used to do on any given weekend), but it's more than opening a box of cereal or boiling a pot of noodles, which is all I've been able to do for months.

I'm nowhere near the cook I used to be. I still get tired, and I have to work in increments, but... it's AWESOME that I'm starting to feel a little more like the old me!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

She went public!

I found out this morning that Rachel made her blog public!

For any/everyone who'd like to follow what is happening in my sweet cousin's life, here is a link to her blog.

She is amazing. There's no way that you can read her blog and not love her like I do! (Okay, there's a chance. Since she's a blood relative of mine, and I've known her for, like, her whole life, I guess that's a huge part of why I love her so much. So... maybe you won't love her QUITE like I do. But you'll still love her. I guarantee it!)

Friday, May 3, 2013

The best part of my whole week

I logged into Facebook a few minutes ago and saw the most amazing thing:

Do you see that? Do you see who "liked" my status? Mark Schofield and Rachel Gardner Schofield. AKA: Mark Schofield and 37 others.

Mark Schofield.

Mark's awake and coherent enough to be surfing FB and randomly liking statuses. (Too bad I was not as coherent when I posted this status on Wednesday. Somebody missed a comma. #GrammarFail.)


This week has been crazy.

I got a phone call from my cousin Julie around 9:30 Monday night. She'd been online and our aunt Debbie had sent her a FB message that Mark, our cousin Rachel's husband, had been admitted to the hospital that afternoon. Preliminary tests had shown "a growth" in his brain. (A growth that later turned out to be a tumor. Insert curse words here.)

By the time I got off the phone with Julie Monday night, it was too late to call my mom. So, I called my mom first thing Tuesday morning and we talked and cried as I drove myself to work. She had talked to Deb the day before, so she had more information than Julie had been able to give me, and she had been sitting on a series of emails that she wanted to forward to me. (She knew I'd want to know - I love Mark - but she didn't know what my schedule was like and she hadn't wanted to call and give me the news when there was a chance that I'd be on the road when she called. ... How cute is my mom? Like I don't treat my car like my own personal office and conduct my most important conversations on the telephone (this is what happens when you live alone, you have an hour-a-day commute and most of your family lives hundreds of miles away), and like I haven't had approximately 723 conversations about cancer at 70 mph in the last three years. But still. She didn't want me to have a shock while I was behind the wheel. She's adorable and I love her.)

When I got to work Tuesday morning, I had three emails sitting in my inbox, giving a brief explanation of what had happened in Rachel and Mark's life on Monday. I texted my aunt, my cousin Rachel, emailed my mom and settled in for a day of wondering what was happening in Utah.

People at work kept asking me if anything was wrong. (I don't usually check my phone, my email AND Facebook every five minutes while I'm on the clock, looking for an update. Any update.) I explained that I'd just found out that my cousin's husband had what looked to be a brain tumor... and I got a bunch of blank stares. (It turns out not everyone knows their cousins' spouses' names, let alone would be on a Cousin Call Tree to have gotten a call from a mutual cousin as soon as word hit the street that something was wrong with someone. ... Those poor people are missing out. Cousins (esp those with a capital C) are awesome.)

This week has consisted of checking my phone at all moments of the day, just to make sure I haven't missed an incoming call or text, checking my email before I go to bed (to see if anything's come in from my aunt/uncle, or any cousins) and waking up and checking it again. And then checking Rachel's blog to see what else there is out there.

It turns out that I'm an internet junkie. I've been an absolute FIEND for information this week, and I'm SO grateful that my aunt and my cousin have been writing as much as they have been. It's been awesome to be on the receiving end of information. Granted, it's not all information that I am in love with... but I'm grateful to have it. I'm grateful for technology, for how quickly information can spread. And I'm grateful for the relationships I have with these incredible people, for the opportunity that I have to share this experience with them, albeit from hundreds of miles away and on the outskirts of a huge extended family.

This is Mark, Rachel and their kids.

Isn't that a beautiful family? ... I love them!

I'm so grateful that Mark's doing as well as he is, that Rachel was able to get him in to the ER as quickly as she did, and that their doctors were able to get him into surgery within 48 hours.

I won't lie, I'm a little jealous that Mark was able to EAT the same day he had surgery. (I've always had to subsist on ice chips for, like, five days - and then, when I can eat, I can barely get anything down. For weeks.) But hey, if a kid has to have brain surgery, the least the universe can give back is a pan of brownies.

I wish I could give you a link to Rach's blog, but she's private (not a scandalously publicly over-sharer, like myself). I wish you could read what she has written, the details that she's remembered - and shared. I wish you could hear her courage and her faith. I wish you could see how brave she is.

She is amazing. Mark is amazing. This has been hard - and it's going to stay hard for a while - but there's no part of me that doubts that their little family is going to be okay.

Cancer sucks, and I hate its guts... but man alive, I love my cousins! So. Freaking. Much.