The Kofford Family relocates to Colorado after 40 years as Californians. In December of 2007, Grandma Lorraine is diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer. Sadly, she passed away on Dec. 26th, 2008 after a year long courageous battle. Follow our journey as we keep Lorraine's memory alive, and as we learn to appreciate that each day we are given, is a gift to be enjoyed!

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
~Maria Robertson

Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve Kindness

Happy New Year's Eve to our friends and family both near and far! We are wishing you all a year of good health and memories to treasure! Today my mom was moved to the, "Transitional Care Unit" of the hospital where she will receive extensive physical therapy to regain strength before coming home. This floor is in the older part of the hospital, so she does not have the "luxury" rooms that she did before! The nurses quickly told us that although this floor leaves little to be desired, the care is better than anywhere else in the hospital! That is a fine response, as my mom will need to spend some time there while she regains strength from her neurosurgery, and begins her radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

We have missed our wonderful circle of friends and family back in California, and have felt like we will be fighting this cancer battle on our own here in Colorado; until this week that is! Tonight, my riding instructor and friend, Kate, brought us a delicious meal that just warmed us right up, both physically and emotionally! (My mom loved the flowers and beautiful homemade "horsey" cards too Kate!) Kate has only known us since Sept. but she stepped right up and anticipated our needs before even we knew what we needed! Thank you Kate! Another kind friend, Barb, has taken Ashlyn for a playdate and is bringing a meal next week as well. Tonight I also got a call from some very kind Longmont moms who just want to help us, as they knew we were all alone here in Colorado. These kind gestures, have just confirmed how welcoming Coloradoans are, and we are so grateful!

Tomorrow my mom's dear friend Annette, is flying in from California to help for a week! We are so happy to have her, and I know my mom will be so pleased to see another familiar face, especially one so loved! I printed off all the kind comments you have left for my mom in our blog entries, and read them all to her tonight. Hearing your comments brought her to tears, and made her feel so loved knowing how many prayers and thoughts are coming her way. Thank you all, both near and far, for all your support! It is appreciated more than you can ever know. I hope we can one day repay the favor to you!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Football in the snow and a spaghetti dinner

A week and a half ago, life was normal, predictable, and routine. Within that time, our lives have been turned upside down, and the things we once put so much importance in, have now been overshadowed with a new reality of time. I have learned that time spent with family, time spent laughing, playing a game, or just visiting, is to be treasured moment by moment.

Tonight I sat with my mom as we enjoyed our spaghetti dinner together. We talked about her wishes, things she still wants to do, and the ways she wants to be remembered. The neurosurgeon stopped by, and wanted to talk as well. He told us about the people he knew who had passed away from the same type of brain cancer my mom has. He told her this cancer gives her a gift, to have time to say, "Goodbye", unlike his 20 year old patient earlier this week, who died tragically in a car accident and did not have that same, "gift." He explained to us, that whether she has a few months or a year, that she should go and live her life the way she chooses, while she still has the remaining brain power to do so. He looked her in the eye and said that she should not worry, that she should fight to the end and have hope. He wanted her to know that although her health will eventually decline, the end would not be painful, and she should not fear it. A week and a half ago, we never even pondered such things, or imagined we should need to.

As we ate our dinner together, and discussed his comments, I thought of Tom making banana milkshakes with the kids, of him playing football in the snow with Kyle, and of his unconditional willingness to fight this cancer battle with us. Tom has given us all his gift of time and presence. I thought of my mom raving about my mediocre spaghetti meal, and that it didn't matter that it wasn't a gourmet meal, but it was a gift of time shared together. Everyday moments with family and friends, playing football, making a milkshake, or sharing a meal; these are the gifts of time the doctor spoke of. The end should not be feared, but the time spent living should be enjoyed.

We will enter the first 6 week battle of cancer armed with radiation, chemotherapy, and hope. We will enter it, knowing time is ours to enjoy, no matter if that time is measured in days, months, or years. Our time spent with my mom, watching the kids play, of visiting and reminiscing, will be our lasting gifts. I hope you too will savor all those little moments with your family, and know that time, is your gift too.

The pony that went to the hospital...

Tom and Ashlyn stopped by the hospital to see my mom this afternoon, and they brought Ashlyn's beloved, "Butterscotch" pony to show her. My mom missed the entire Christmas holiday with her surgery, procedures, Ashlyn was anxious to show her what Santa brought. (Little does Ashlyn know, that although Santa got credit for this pony, my mom was the secret elf!) Knowing that this may be her last Christmas with us, makes this gift even more bittersweet. Fortunately, my mom's personality is still all her own, despite damage that this aggressive tumor has caused. She was delighted to see Ashlyn so happy, and was excited that nurses and doctors alike, came in to see the pony that went to the hospital!

"Blast" it all away, you Glio"blast"oma!

Hello again kind friends! Yesterday was a dark day filled with news we didn't want to hear. The doctor explained to us that my mom did indeed have a "Glioblastoma, multi-forme" which is a Grade 4 brain cancer. It is an aggressive cancer, so treatment will need to begin immediately. Treatment will not cure this type of cancer, as it typically grows back over time, but starting treatment early will prolong my mom's life for another year. Left untreated, her time would be measured in months. So, after many tears, conversations, and discussions with doctors, she has decided to proceed with the treatment options. Her hope is that we will have more time with her, and she with her grandkids, to form positive memories together while the cancer is being treated.

Treatment will entail 5 day a week radiation therapy, for 6 weeks. The radiation oncologist will "blast" all those cancer cells with a laser and rid her of as many as possible. She will also have daily chemotherapy for the entire 6 weeks. At that time, she will have 3 weeks off, and can perhaps return to her home in California to get her affairs in order, and make a decision about proceeding with the next round of treatment. With each round of treatment, she will have stronger doses of chemotherapy, which will keep the tumor cells from multiplying. She will stay with us during this radiation and chemotherapy time, and social workers, home health professionals, etc...will assist us with how best to care for her.

Again, your continued prayers and support are so welcome. I have read all your e-mails, and kind comments, and they bring both my mom, and myself such comfort. Thank you!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Hospital or Hotel?

Hello everyone! I spent the morning with my mom, and she was in good spirits, despite a rough night of medication reactions, little sleep, and pain. While I was was with her this morning, her heart started to beat rapidly, and they have not been able to bring it down to a regular rate. This may be caused by the chest tube that she has in, so they are still trying to figure out what will allow fluid to continue to drain from around her heart, yet bring her heart rate down to normal. When I return later, I will let you know what the doctors have decided.

As unsettling as it is for her to be in a new state to have these things happen, we are very confident in her team of doctors and staff. She has a cardiologist, neurologist, neurosurgeon, pulmonologist, speech therapist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, nurses, assistants, a chaplain, and a priest all working together to provide her with the best possible care. That is reassuring, especially while we wait for the results of her brain tumor, and the stage that this brain cancer has progressed to.

On a lighter note, we are having a debate to whether she is really in a hospital, or is it a hotel in disguise?! I remember hospitals being a sterile and uninviting environment. Longmont United Hospital resembles a luxury hotel. Upon entering the front doors, a grand piano plays classical music and a fireplace burns surrounded by chairs and books. A cafe, gourmet coffee cart, shopping, and a museum of art are inside. My mom has a daily room service menu with everything from varieties of salads to gourmet ice creams. Dogs are allowed to visit patients, and orchids are found on her plate when meals arrive. Hmmm....we almost thought she was in Hawaii....until we looked out the window and saw snow, and the morning temperature of 5 degrees!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Grandma Lorraine...Day 9

Hello friends and family! Thank you so much for your kind comments, wishes, and prayers. I have shared them all with my mom, and they have sure helped to brighten her day, as she enjoys hearing who we have spoken with, and how many people are thinking about her.

It is hard to imagine that 9 days ago, my mom arrived in Colorado expecting a nice Christmas, and instead she in the hospital with a life threatening form of brain cancer. This certainly wasn't the kind of Christmas "gift" she was wanting! She came through her brain surgery with flying colors and they removed a tumor about the size of a silver dollar. She is recovering well and is sitting up, visiting, and eating with a big appetite, all of which are good signs.

She had very few symptoms that anything was wrong until arriving here when we noticed a lot of confusion, difficulty with words, and weakness on the right side. They are hoping some of that will improve as she heals from the surgery, but again, the prognosis is poor, and that is a hard thing to digest. I don't think I will ever be able to forget the moment the doctor looked her right in the eyes and said, "You are probably looking at about a year. You've lived a good life." We are still trying to accept that, and what it means for her quality of life, and what it all means for us as a family, and the challenges to come.

Within the next few days we should know more about that prognosis when the findings are available from the removed tumor. I will keep you connected as we learn more. Thank you again for your comments, calls, and e-mails...they are sure appreciated more than you know!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Grandma's surgery

Hello everyone, I wish I were writing with better news today. My mom is currently in surgery, to remove a large tumor from the left side of her brain. We won't know the exact type, and more about it until the biopsy results come back in a few days. Unfortunately, the neurosurgeon suspects it is a very serious tumor called a "Glioblastoma, multi-form." This type of tumor is not curable, but removing it can prolong her life for a year. As you can imagine, we are very saddened to learn this, but will keep you informed as the doctors know more. Thank you again for your continued well wishes and prayers. We so appreciate it. Denise

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas in Colorado

Merry Christmas! We hope you are all enjoying a wonderful day! Santa made his arrival this morning, and the kids were thrilled with their gifts, especially those that Grandma Lorraine insisted on helping Santa with! Kyle got the guitar of his dreams, and Ashlyn loved her "Butterscotch Pony" that she had been talking about for months! Thank you Santa, and thank you Grandma! This morning my mom had a procedure done to drain some of the fluid around her heart, and it was successful. Certainly not the kind of thing you want to have done on Christmas, but the cardiologist called this morning and said it really couldn't wait. Thankfully, she is recovering well in ICU, and we can bring her Christmas dinner to her tonight. She is still scheduled to have her neurosurgery tomorrow a.m. if the surgeon feels she is strong enough for it. I will keep you posted. As always, my mom has an outstanding attitude, and is a perfect patient, even the nurses rave about her disposition! Thanks again for your prayers, and please keep them coming. Send me a comment so I know you read the latest...and I will share them with my mom!

Monday, December 24, 2007

New Update

Hello again friends and family, thank you all so much for your well wishes and prayers for my mother. Unfortunately, we got some very bad news today, and we are still coming to terms with this new diagnosis. Tests this afternoon determined she did not have a stroke after all, but instead has a significant brain tumor. She will need brain surgery within the next few days to find out what kind of tumor it is, and what her prognosis is. They also determined that she has a large amount of fluid around her heart, and it is located in a difficult place to remove. This fluid is potentailly life threatening, and will need to be removed before they do the brain surgery. This was very hard to hear on Christmas Eve, but we are trying to remain upbeat, and will hold out hope that these issues can be resolved successfully. My mom even started laughing during one of her procedures today, and has kept the wonderful attitude she has always had despite the current news. We will bring Christmas to her tomorrow in the hospital, and I will keep you posted as we learn more. Enjoy the holiday with your families, and thank you again for your kind support for my mom.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Latest Update

Hello friends and family, we unfortunately have some sad news to share. My mother, aka "Grandma" in the posts below, has suffered a stroke, and is currently admitted into our local hospital. We were very concerned for her, and how she progressively declined after her arrival here. We are waiting on more test results and evaluations from a neurologist, physical therapist, etc...before we can make any decisions about what her future holds. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers, and I will update you as we know more. Thanks!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Santa Claus!

Santa Claus parachuted into Roosevelt Park in Longmont today! Today was the grand opening of our outdoor ice rink, and Santa made a grand entrance!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Handstands at Airborne Gymnastics

Ashlyn has been working hard to do a handstand at her gymnastics/tumbling/cheerleading class. On her last day this week, she finally mastered one, and here is her proud photo to prove it!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

New Friends...Barb and Kate Ü

Since moving to our new state, Barb and Kate, hold the esteemed title of being my first friends in Colorado! Barb and I both take our horseback riding lessons with Kate at Briar Gate Farm. We have so enjoyed learning to ride with Kate, who has been a terrific riding instructor and friend. Both Barb and I have daughters in the same First Grade class, and Barb's daughter Caitlyn, has been such a good friend to Ashlyn, so we are very thankful for their friendship! We enjoyed an evening out last night with dinner, drinks, dessert, and laughs at "Martini's Bistro" in Longmont. Thanks for welcoming me to the community Barb and Kate!

First Grade Christmas Party

Ashlyn and Grandma share books, a craft, and refreshments at the First Grade Holiday Reading party.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And here she is!

Grandma Lorraine made it in safely last night after a long flight from California to Texas, to Colorado! She will be with us for a few weeks, and the kids are excited to share Christmas with her! Grandma poses with the pretty pointsettia plant from Kyle's Orchestra fundraiser.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care... hopes that Grandma soon would be there...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Calling all potatoe lovers!

For Dotty! Laura shared with me your kind e-mail, and that you were also a potatoe lover! I too love potatoes, in any variety, shape, and serving technique. I will eat them baked, boiled, fried, scalloped, au gratin, mashed..."It doesn't matter how they come... just be sure to bring me some!" Here is my favorite potatoe recipe that you requested! It is from my mother's, dear friend Annette's, mother, Irene! Whew! (Is that even grammatically correct?!) Oh well, correct or not, the dish is delicious! Enjoy!

Holiday Potato Dish

Our family has enjoyed preparing this dish to accompany a ham dinner around the holiday season. It is very tastey and a crowd pleaser!

4 lbs. potatoes, cooked and drained
1 cup chopped onion
¼ cup butter
1 can cream of celery soup
1 pint sour cream
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup corn flake crumbs or bread crumbs
3 tbsp. melted butter
Pimento strips and parsley for garnish

Remove skins from potatoes; shred into bowl. Saute’ onion in ¼ cup melted butter until tender. Remove from heat. Stir in soup and sour cream. Pour over potatoes and cheese. Mix well. Turn into greased 13x9x2 baking dish. Cover and refrigerate over night.

Sprinkle with crumbs and drizzle 3 tbsp. butter over top. Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Garnish with pimento and parsley. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snowboarding on sleds!

The kids love to sled down this little hill on our property...Kyle is trying to snowboard, and Ashlyn is showing off one of her many "tricks!" It is warm today and sunny, so we are trying to enjoy the snow we have for as long as possible!

Disney on Ice: Princess Wishes

Ashlyn and I enjoyed a "Mother/Daughter" morning in Denver, where we saw a fantastic Disney on Ice performance! Disney always puts on a good show, so there were fireworks, flying skaters, and lots of oohs and ahh's from us! We did have one BIG scare though during intermission. I lost Ashlyn for 10 minutes, and was in a panic! She walked off thinking I was behind her, and I was putting souvenirs away, thinking she was waiting for me. After 10 frantic minutes searching the sea of moms and kids up and down each section, we finally reunited. In 12 years of parenthood, I have never lost a child for more than a second around an aisle in the store, and this was the worst feeling! Thanks goodness it all turned out time we're making the boys come with us! :-)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Tom and Denise before the "Snowball"

Here is a photo Kyle took of us before leaving for Tom's company Christmas party tonight. After 19 years of marriage, we are looking just a bit older than we did back in 1988!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ashlyn and her 1st Grade Class

Ashlyn and her classmates after the Christmas program.

Christmas Songfest

Ashlyn's first grade Christmas program. She is in the middle wearing a blue/lavender snowflake dress, and a big bow in her read hair! :-)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Penny Pony Rides

I should be saving money; what with the cost of gas so low, no In-N-Out Burgers to eat, and no new clothes to buy(when you move, all the people in your new town have never seen the old sweaters and coats!) But, the best money saver (hee hee) is the carousel ride at the grocery store! It only costs one penny, to take a pony for a ride! I was always the mom fumbling for more quarters to put in these fifty cent rides when my children begged for my wallet can stay full, and all the pennies in my purse can keep a child occupied the entire way through the check out line! Just one more reason, one of you loyal readers with small children, should join us out here in Colorado! :-)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Life Lessons Learned in Longmont

Little Observations and Life Lessons Learned...things I didn't know 5 months ago...things no one told me...things I am now happy to know!

10. When the temperature is below 20 degrees, the wise mother learns that she will have happier children if she removes her keys from her purse before exiting the building.

9. When dressing up for a special occasion, one must forsake fashion for practicality, and wear big ugly snow boots, or one’s fate will be wet feet for the rest of the evening. (Or, in the case of Tom’s company party on Fri. night, I will bring the pretty shoes in a bag!)

8. After leaving a Christmas gift for the mailman, mail miraculously arrives 2 hours earlier each day.

7. Snow isn’t as cold as you thought, unless you are shoveling it.

6. Snow is enjoyed more when viewing it through the eyes of children.

5. Observation...Little girls love those Peruvian hats…you know, the ones you used to laugh at with yarn braids down the sides?

4. Chihuahuas and cats are not happy walking through snow.

3. Children call soda, “pop” here, and make snow cones out of freshly fallen snow, flavored drinks, and flavored “pops.” On that note of cold drinks, other than beer, alcohol is not sold in grocery stores, and liquor stores are closed on Sundays. Not that we are out looking for cocktails every day, but if you want to buy a bottle of wine for dinner on a Sunday, you are out of luck!

2. I will never again take for granted a fluffy warm scarf, and a flip-switch instant fire. Sure, it lacks the charm and ambiance of a wood burning fireplace, but the instant heat is such a pleasure on a cold day!

And, the number one lesson I have learned over the past 5 months is…..

1. The friends and family we left behind when we moved, are missed more than I ever could have imagined!

That means YOU!

New Friends

Ashlyn and I attended a special Mother/Daughter Girl Scout Tea over the weekend. It was held in Loveland, which is about a half hour drive from Longmont. I was challenged to get us there in one piece with the snow fall and slippery roads...this California girl just isn't used to driving in snowy weather! Once we arrived we experienced walking through the snow in "fancy shoes!" Hmm...we learned that fancy shoes end up wet! Here are a few of the older girls from our troop with Ashlyn at the tea and during the craft time.

Snow Scenes

All right, I know I have gotten a little "picture happy" taking photos of every view, so this will be my last for awhile! It is just so fun to see snow everywhere, and I am anxious to share it with you! You can see our icicle daggers hanging from the raingutters, and the pretty view from upstairs. Ashlyn also poses among our pine trees.

100 year old farm next door

This is the view of our neighbor's place outside our master bathroom. We love seeing the horses, and when the weather is warmer, the ducks and chickens wander in the pasture too.

Long's Peak View from our home

This is the view of the snowcapped mountain from our upstairs bedroom.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Snowy Sights in and around Longmont

After working at Ashlyn's school this morning, several sights caught my eye around town, and so I stopped to take pictures along the way. Here are a few that I thought you would enjoy. It is so much prettier in person, but I tried to capture just what our community looks like, on this snowy wintery day.

Snowy Sights in and around Longmont

This Methodist Church in the little town of Hygiene is so quaint and picture perfect with it's big bell tower and snow covered walkway.

Wintery Scenes in Longmont

This tree lined driveway was right across the street from the cows below.

Wintery Scenes

This sight caught my attention today. These icicles were hanging from an awning of a local business. Can you imagine having one of these land on your head?

Snowy Scenes in and around Longmont

The cows don't seem to mind the cold and snow. They just looked so content grazing in their snowy pasture.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Sundown over the snow

A special request for the Wiley Family, (because you were so kind to express you may be interested in our offer to move to Longmont!!! hee hee) We are going to keep trying to convince you to come out here with us! Your kids could be standing here in the snow, right next to Kyle! Our kids could be playing together sledding down the hill! We could wait together at the bus stop, and share a snow plow! Are you sure we can't talk you into moving out here with us???? You can see your future new home right across the street in the picture! Maybe I shouldn't mention that it is currently 8 degrees! Brrr

Shoveling the sidewalk

There's a first time for everything....this is the first time Tom has had to shovel sidewalks and a driveway, and today was the first time I had to push a full grocery cart through a snowy parking lot at the market!

Ashlyn's knee deep in snow

The freshly fallen snow was just like powder. Ashlyn and I were out at 8:30 a.m. and we just sunk right in! Our home thermometer says it is 19 degrees, but it sure doesn't feel that cold, especially with the sun shining.

Snowflakes up close

Have you ever seen the design of an actual snowflake? We were amazed. I hope you can see the outline of snowflake patterns on the porch railing.

Where's the driveway?

Last night's snow covered our driveway for good! The neighbor's were all out with their snowplows attached to their lawn mowers. Tom just used his pick up truck to trudge through. We won't be homebound today after all!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Our frozen pond

You can see the rocks we threw on the pond to test if it were frozen over. It's solid, but probably wouldn't hold us trying to ice skate! We joked about putting Roscoe and Tara Belle on one of the sleds and sending them the end I decided I didn't want to jump in if they went through the middle! ha ha (We tried to get them to come outside with us, but as soon as they see white, they run right back inside! :-)

Trying out the new sleds!

The snow is coming down in huge flakes right now! We had fun playing outside in it, and the kids tried out their new sleds sliding down our little hill with as much speed as they could gather up. Sitting and spinning was Ashlyn's favorite method, and Kyle loved to jump on his sled face forward to gain speed. Won't you come join us??? We know our fellow Californians would love it!

Cookies and Hot Cocoa

Ashlyn and a few friends got together to decorate cookies, enjoy hot cocoa, do a craft, and enjoy the Christmas spirit. We had a great time, and loved that it snowed outside while we sat the kitchen table. Ashlyn has been so fortunate to meet such nice girls through school and Girl Scouts. Today we're off to the tea and the sock hop tonight!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Let it snow!

Good Morning! It was a cold wait for the school bus this morning! Actually, I think we are turning into Coloradoans as 32 degrees didn't feel "that" cold! Ashlyn was checking if the pond was frozen over as she waited for the bus. I have been driving the kids down to the mailbox and we wait in the car until we see the bus come. I suppose that is cheating because standing outside in it would be much colder! We were excited for this to be our first snowy school day. Tonight Ashlyn and I are hosting a little Christmas get together for 5 of her girlfriends. We'll be decorating cookies, doing crafts, and enjoying hot cocoa. It should be a fun evening to celebrate the holiday season! P.S. Do you see that rounded mass in the top right hand corner of the picture? That would be our mangled trampoline at the neighbor's! Tom is going to retrieve it this weekend. It has been a conversation piece in the meantime!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Horses at Briar Gate Farm

Meet my new 1200 lb. friends...Belle, Chummie, and Amigo. I have riden both Belle and Chummie during my riding lessons. Chummie, is the white Dutch Warmblood, and he has been a patient teacher while I learn to trot and post, and just today, even a little "jumping" over ground poles! You can check out all the neat horses at Briar Gate Farm, and even see some pictures of Ashlyn at Saddle Club! The website is: Click on the Saddle Club link and you can see Ashlyn grooming Chummie, and doing crafts in the barn. Briar Gate Farm has been one of my favorite "Longmont Luxuries" since our move! If you come for a visit, I will be sure and arrange for you to have a lesson too!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas Lights

The trampoline blew away, but the deer did not! Update...I just read in the paper that our winds peaked at 78 mph yesterday in northern Longmont. The kids are still disappointed to see the trampoline tangled on the fence at the neighbor's place. We will need to secure it with cement next time!

Kyle's Concert

Kyle is sitting in the back on the right wearing a Santa hat.