Monday, August 27, 2012

An Adoption Story...

I love to hear how other families come together through the miracle of adoption.  I've been following Ashley's blog for a few years now and most recently she has shared her journey to adopting her daughter from China.  Today's post is about when she finally meets her for the first time.  If you're anything like me, you'll get chills and need a box of tissues handy.  To read Ashley's post, click here

And because Ashley's post got me feeling all reminiscent, here are pictures of us meeting and holding our babies for the first time.  


I think we were in shock holding our E...I couldn't stop staring at him.   He is eight days old in this picture. 


We were definitely more experienced (and more relaxed) with our Little Miss.  She is a day old in this picture and she already had a great set of lungs.

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance.  The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break.

-An Ancient Chinese Belief

Saturday, August 25, 2012

One Last Hurrah...

WARNING:  Bald head photos below. 

I guess it's kind of strange to warn you, but I feel like I have to.  It can be kind of shocking if you haven't seen it.

Since my hair will be starting to grow back, I thought it would be good to get some photos of my bald last hurrah because I don't plan on being bald EVER again.  
Little Miss looks as though she has just seen me bald for the first time....let me assure you...that isn't the case.  

If you look closely you can see the long wispies (spelling?) on the top of my head.  Thus E's comparison of an ostrich...or my BFF's of a dandelion. OY-can't believe I'm posting such an unflattering photograph...but, this is what you call keeping it real.  My excuse:  6 months of chemo, an eye infection and sweating my tush off while "hiking" to a waterfall in New Hampshire.
 And now, E's turn for the wonky face...

FYI:  The lovely compression sleeve and glove on my arm and hand is to help with swelling.  The lymphedema  in my arm has been acting up ever since my infection about a month stuff.
And because I don't want to end the post with "bald" pictures... 

This is pretty much the last hurrah. We want to leave it out there and enjoy it, because it's coming to an end.
-Rylan Rizza

Thursday, August 23, 2012


 We had a backyard tea party the other day.  I was inspired by something I saw online, but, of course, I cannot find it now.  I will post more pictures from our tea for two, but right now I wanted to talk about PicMonkey.  What is PicMonkey you ask?  Well, it's a place where you can upload your photos and edit them using an array of features.  It's easy and fun and just adds something new and different to your photos.  I'm partial to the yesteryear feature...I like the vintage look.  



A good picture is equivalent to a good deed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Crossing things off the summer list

Have a picnic

 Ride the swan paddle boats (and take lots of photos)

 Ride the carousel

 Drink slushies in the 90 degree weather.

 Feed the ducks

Some things were not on the original list, but who says you can't add things as you go.

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” 
― Henry James

Monday, August 20, 2012

New Normal

It's hard to believe it's already been two weeks since my final cleanse.  Life has been busy as I struggle to find the "new normal" life A.C. (After Cancer).  Finishing chemo and moving on has (at times) felt a little like being thrown into a lion's den, it can be  exhilarating and give me a rush and then there are the times where I want to run in the opposite direction.  But, it seems especially crucial to stay calm and avoid panic; I'm doing my best and in my spare time, I continue to work on my roar.

The lingering effects of the 6 months of chemo are still with me and according to Dr. S they may continue to be there for several months.  Of course, these are minimal in comparison to the immediate days following my infusions.   I am, however, very impatient with this process and long for the days to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and energized without several body parts aching.   I know those days are coming...just not quite quick enough for me.  

So, just what is the "new normal"?  The thing is...I'm not quite sure yet.  I take each day for what it is and carry on with my life, which right now consists of soaking in the final days of summer, crossing things off our summer list and enjoying every minute possible with my two soon-to-be full time students.

Monday, August 13, 2012

D-O-N-E....whoop, whoop!

So folks, I'm officially D-O-N-E with my cleanse...whoop, whoop.  There are so many things that came along with this process that I will not miss...anxiety, nausea, fatigue and medicines to counteract the side effects to name a few.  Oh, and who can forget about the hair loss too.  

Actually, what initially was one of the most anxiety provoking side effects turned out to be one of the easiest things to deal with.  A hairless body turns out to be pretty low maintenance....I will miss that part of it.  I'm predicting our water usage will probably increase with the growth of my hair though; right now I can pretty much take a shower in 2 minutes.   As I said, low maintenance.   The weather really has not been all that conducive for wearing hats or kerchiefs, especially when you sweat like a pig (as I have been lately-one more wacky side effect), so I will be pleased to have the hair back on my head.  This week, though, it's still falling out; it's hard to believe there is anything left to fall out, but there is.

So, onto the next phase...7 weeks of 5 days/week radiation.   That would be 35 days folks...yes, 35 days....piece of cake. ;p  I also meet with Dr. S, my oncologist in 4 weeks (well, 3 weeks now) to discuss my further treatment which includes taking an oral medication for the next 5 years; this will further reduce my odds of re-occurrence..AMEN to that!  

Dr. S said it could be several months before I feel completely "normal"...what the heck does that mean anyway?  For now, I'm enjoying the fact that I am on my way to a full recovery from this lovely phase I liked to refer to as my cleanse.  

Thank you all for celebrating this moment along with me.

"Life isn't a matter of milestones, but of moments."Rose Kennedy

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I am bigger...

As I glanced over to my sidebar the other day, I noticed the "labels", and was pleased to see that the "ME" category is larger than the "cancer" category...I am bigger than the Big C. 
This was just one of those "signs" to remind me that my life doesn't have to be about cancer.  I must do what I have to do to responsibly take care of this unwelcome guest, but I am also able to carry on with my life. 

 It's hard to keep this in perspective sometimes, especially when I'm visiting the doctor's office multiple times per week, going to PT appointments, sweating in my kerchiefs, gagging when brushing my teeth, and cleaning the hair off my pillow.  But my life is not cancer, it is so much more than that.

 "Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don't complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don't bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!"
-Bob Marley

Friday, August 10, 2012

Guest Blogger: Julie

Please welcome Julie as she debuts on my blog this week.  
Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us.

 July 21st was a day filled with many momentsMoments  are those little slices of life you want to tuck away for later.  The moments I will remember are close to my heart.  Dad hung up his dusty work clothes and worn out loafers and traded them in for a suit and tie.  One cannot truly appreciate this unless you know him.  Dad does not get dressed up unless it is for a funeral or a wedding.  Thankfully this was for a wedding.  On this day, I realized my nephew, or as I’ve called him for years, “little guy”, was no longer little.  He is a handsome young man (who looks stunning in a suit).  

Nana created her own moment  when she proved she can still play with all the kid toys and dance up a storm at another one of her granddaughter’s weddings.  

This was a day when two hearts, began to beat as one, my cousin Charlene’s wedding.  All weddings are unique and special but I knew this was going to be a fabulous day.  Charlene was simply radiant.  The day was plucked straight from a storybook, down to every last detail.  White tent overlooking the Newport water, old wooden farm tables with carefully selected flowers, mantels decorated with family wedding photos throughout the years, right down to a surprise song written and sung to Charlene by her “husband” (all men at the wedding are now wondering how they can top that for their bride).  Throughout this day and many days thereafter I found myself reflecting on a recipe for a happy marriage.  Maybe it is because two days after this spectacular wedding was my seven year anniversary.  Maybe it is because a wedding gets me reminiscing about my own marriage.  So here goes Cha and Doc, if there exists a recipe for marriage, it’s staying real and true.  I once read, “a recipe is one person’s take on one moment in time”.  Recipes are not rules, they are suggestions, something that got written down.  They are ideas, experiences along this path of what we call life.  Here is my recipe, remember moments , not days.  Take the time to make memories together, even if they are silly.  Those are the ones you remember the most.  Always laugh with each other (sometimes you’ll have to cry together too).  Clearly, Doc has already started your journey off by making a moment that will soon not be forgotten; singing a song written just for his bride!  Now that’s a moment  to remember.

Throughout this day I tried to capture special moments  to freeze in time.  There are many moments  I want to tuck away and keep forever.  I want to remember the moment Charlene appeared at the end of the aisle, looking absolutely exquisite.  I want to remember my little girl dancing her heart out yet pausing to refresh a minute with her Papa. 

I want to freeze the moment “my little guy” actually stood with me and laughed as our picture was taken.  

I want to tuck away the beautiful sunset god sent down as a gift.  The day was filled with blessings, some on the surface, the beautiful weather, the wonderful family (old and new);   some blessings we have to dig a little deeper to see.   These may be different for each of us.

Wishing Charlene and Andrew many moments  on this blessed journey called life. 

 “We are lucky, we’ve found love.  Now and forever it means the two of us.”    ~Andrew Soucy

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Guest Blogger: Patti

Well, last time I wrote a post for Linda I talked about my challenge of becoming an “empty nester.” I have had a busy summer preparing for that ever looming day, including two graduation parties for my daughter, Kristen.  On July 6th, we had a party at our beach house on Cape Cod for Kristen, and two of my nephews who graduated from high school and college.  

I almost didn't make it, due to the fact that I had spent two days sleeping in a chair next to my son Michael who was in the hospital with what they thought was appendicitis and ended up being diagnosed as Chrohn's. That’s a story for another day. Michael basically threw me out of the hospital and made me go to the Cape.  And, I'm so glad he did, as my father-in-law unexpectedly passed away twelve days later and that was the last time I saw him. He had just turned 85.  Michael is quick to remind me that he is the one who made me go.  

The second party started with a huge trip to BJ’s with three carts, by myself and multiple droppings of grape tomatoes, ( I could show up on America’s Funniest Home Videos)  We had Kristen’s graduation party at home with my family and many of her high school friends on July 14. It was a beautiful day! I cooked 21 lbs of pulled pork for 27 hours! I must say it was delicious along with pasta salad, meatballs and too large of a cake, which became a source of entertainment for my 24 year old! I told you, they don’t get any better as they get older. Tim began by just poking his fingers in the cake and then decided to move himself to the front of the cake and change “Congratulations Kristen,” to “Congratulations Tim!” You can see the results in the photos.

 It was a great day to celebrate with her friends and family as she embarks on this new chapter of her life!

In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away - Shing Xiong.