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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"The Apple Tree Scholarship Fund"

As you can see from the recent photos on the blog, my mom loved everything Hawaiian as it reminded her of her childhood, and a culture she appreciated and adored. In addition to loving all things Hawaiian, her very first passion since she was a little girl has been teaching!

She taught for over 30 years, and impacted so many students' lives during that time. My mom was always excited to share what she had with fellow teachers, and she loved creating educational games, activities, and programs that encouraged children to develop a love for learning. She was involved in several organizations that supported education, and it was her passion for children and her joy for teaching, that led to an idea that would support her mission for many years to come. My dad was a teacher, a principal, a coach, a school board member, and more. He too so deeply appreciated education that I wanted to start a scholarship fund in both of their names.

Today I opened an account at Wells Fargo Bank called:

"The Apple Tree Scholarship Fund in memory of Harry and Lorraine Johnson."

I look forward to developing this scholarship and it's mission in the coming weeks and months. Tom and I would like to award several scholarships yearly that would support students pursuing a degree in education, as well as to support existing teachers in underprivileged areas. I know this cause would have meant much to my parents, and I hope it will be a way to give back to the community my parents loved, and to support education in a tangible way that will honor each of their memories.

Contributions can be brought to any Wells Fargo Bank, or checks can be made out to "The Apple Tree Scholarship Fund". I will deposit all funds and see to it that you are kept up to date on how the scholarships are distributed.

Thank you for remembering my mom in your prayers, your comments, e-mails, and phone calls. Our family has felt loved and supported during this difficult time, and I have felt such hope and gratitude today. Thank you!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lorraine's Funeral Mass

Thank you so much friends and family for your condolences and sympathy upon hearing of my mother's passing. We have so greatly appreciated your kind words and support throughout her entire journey this year. We will be celebrating my mom's life at a Funeral Mass and reception in a few weeks. Details are below...

Lorraine's Funeral Mass

Monday, January 12th, 2009

10:00 a.m.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Main Street
Red Bluff, CA 96080

On Sun. Jan. 11th, there will be a visitation from 2-5 p.m. and a rosary at 4 p.m. to be held at "Hoyt Cole Chapel of the Flowers" in Red Bluff, CA.

I am currently working on a scholarship fund in my mother's name that would support students pursuing a degree in education, as well as existing teachers and classrooms in various school districts. I will post more information here as it becomes available.

Once again, thank you for your continued support throughout the past year. My mother's passing on Dec. 26th was exactly one year to the day from her neurosurgery last year in 2007. She was gracious, loving, and optimistic through her final days and I am so proud of her and how she lived her life. Thank you for sharing in her story, and for your support of our entire family. I so deeply appreciate your kindness.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My mom "Grandma Lorraine" passed away last night...

Last night on Dec. 26th, at 9:17 p.m. my sweet mother passed away from this life, and joined my dad in her new heavenly home. Gayle, Annette, and my mom's friend Sue were all there to comfort her in her final journey.

Earlier in the day Gayle had called as she was concerned that my mom was still in pain. Hospice was coming to make some adjustments to her medications. I had just arranged to fly out as I felt so helpless at home doing "nothing" but calling every few hours. She had been so strong and was rallying to the end; I thought there may still be time for one more visit. The Hospice nurse came after I spoke with Gayle and he adjusted the dosaging of the medications. The new dosages had her very comfortable as the evening went on, although she was still trying to communicate with those around her with vocalizations, raising her eyebrows, etc...

Around 8 p.m. Annette and Sue came over and Sue was such a reassuring presence as she has knowledge of the dying process and helped put everyone at ease with what was happening. At 9 p.m. my mom begun to cough, or attempt to clear her throat, and minutes later she took her final breath. Annette called me shortly after. An hour later the Hospice nurse came back to confirm her passing and discarded all medications, etc...When the funeral home arrived, Annette talked me through everything that was happening, and it sounded very peaceful.

Before the funeral home workers left, they placed a single long stemmed rose on my mom's bed, and we all said our final goodbyes. Annette gave my mom a final kiss for me, and I shared my last, "I love you's" via the phone that Annette placed at her ear. As you can imagine, it was a very sad moment for all of us left behind, but there is also peace for my mother that she suffers no more, that she is once again reunited with my dad and can now be at perfect peace. She was surrounded by love and warmth, and I am so grateful to Annette and Gayle for remaining by her side to the end of her journey.

Remembering my mom the way we were...

My mom's birthplace and her favorite place to visit, Maui, Hawaii...Our Hawaiian vacation in 2006. My dad is behind the camera.

Remembering...My mom came to help with Ashlyn's 6th birthday in 2007.

Spending time together in August of 2008.

God bless you Mom, you will always be loved...

Steffi and Edward, please contact me when you are able. Thank you...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Miracles...

Merry Christmas friends and family! We hope you have all enjoyed a beautiful day celebrating Christ's birth with your families.

We continue to be amazed by the stories we are hearing from my mom's house. I spoke with my mom's caregivers and friends 4 times today, as well as my mom for a few brief spoken words. She has these brief moments where she comes out of the nonresponsive state and opens her eyes, communicates, and will attempt to speak. They are beginning to understand what she may be needing as Gayle told her to raise her eyebrows for "yes" and close her mouth for "no." The system is working well and they continue to be in awe that for a few minutes at at time she is able to do this. They held the phone to her ear today, and the kids each spoke with her telling her a story or two, and sharing many, "I love you's!"

During my last phone call I learned that the case manager from Hospice was driving to Redding tonight to pick up a special prescription and would be taking it back to my mom this evening. I was unclear as to what the medication is, but apparently she was moaning this evening and they were uncertain as to whether she was trying to communicate or if she was in pain. She had two droppers full of water today and a teaspoon of applesauce. Her friend Beverly stopped by to pray with her, and this was very comforting. Tonight, Annette and her daughter Manda are both staying the night with her caregiver Sharon. I hope and pray that she is able to find the comfort needed to make her transition with no pain, no fear, and only peace.

Yesterday a beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived from my mom, via her special elf helper Annette! Annette later said she showed my mom several pictures of arrangements and my mom pointed to the one she wanted to send. I put the arrangement right in front of my kitchen sink so I am reminded often of my special mother and her love for us.

Thank you again for your encouragement and prayers, and please know that I will keep you up to date on my mom's status in this ever evolving journey. We send all our love and gratitude to you this Christmas day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Update...

Thank you friends for your supportive blog comments and e-mails. They have encouraged me more than you will know. I look forward to responding to each of you, and wanted you to know that reading your comments is such a bright spot for me during this sad time.

Thank you Comeau Family for giving Ashlyn such special memories this Christmas season while I was away. From baking cookies, sleeping over, swimming, ice skating, going to the movies, truly showed her the Christmas spirit and we so appreciate it!

We arrived home safely last night at 3 a.m. and turned on my cell phone with anxiety over what messages may be waiting. Once again, my mom "rallied" after 7 tough days of difficult breathing, unresponsiveness, etc...She "awoke" and spoke, asked for food and water, and told Gayle and Annette she loved them! She did this again today, and each felt privileged to have been a part of that. Annette put the phone to her ear this morning and she whispered a very faint but audible, "I love you" to me. I was amazed, as when I left, we truly thought, (as did the Hospice nurse) that there were only hours remaining.

Gayle said tonight that she has once again lapsed back into the non responsive state she was in when I left. I was especially saddened to learn that she told Gayle and Annette she was scared today when she was in the alert period. I was heartbroken for her. Annette laid down next to her, and just held her hoping she would feel comforted and be free to pass. We so thought she was at peace, and hearing she was frightened just saddens me so. What a strong woman she is holding on for this long with no food to speak of (except for one small spoonful of applesauce) and only a few drops of water over the past week. She is obviously not ready to go "home" yet, and until then, Annette and our caregivers are doing everything possible to keep her comfortable, warm, and cared for.

Today my goal was to spend time with each of our kids individually and help them work through their sense of loss without making it frightening. Tom and I are working on ways that we can approach the holidays in the future with hope and not a a sense of dread. It is important to me that we approach my mom's upcoming passing with a hope filled future so that the kids do not see Christmas as a time of sadness, but of hope, faith, and a promise of new life.

We wish each of you a peace filled Christmas with your loved ones. Remember to savor each special Christmas memory with your family, and live them fully.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'll be home for Christmas...

It really is a privilege to see the dying process unfold, and how the mind works in the journey. It is so hard to see my mom unresponsive, and it hurts me to know she has been without food and water for almost 48 hours. Her body is strong, and she is hanging on until she is good and ready to go. The Hospice nurse came today and was very kind, tender, and peaceful. She did a visualization with my mom about crossing over a bridge to see all the relatives that would be waiting on the other side. I found it to be very helpful to hear, and I hoped that my mom would soon take her advice and "cross" over the bridge from this life to the next.

It was decided after much heartache, that I should return to Colorado and be with my children and Tom for Christmas. I had so many wonderful opportunities this week to share my thoughts with my mom and say my "goodbyes" that I felt at peace with the choice. The Hospice nurse suggested she may be waiting for me to go... and I think she would want me to be with the kids and share this Christmas together. Last year was difficult learning of her diagnosis on Christmas Eve, and this year, almost one year to date, she will be ending the journey. I have been so proud of her and how she has handled herself during illness, during my dad's passing, and how she has lived her life of far too few days.

I'm at the Sacramento Airport awaiting a call I don't want to receive. It may be later today, tonight, or tomorrow. Either way the call will come, and I will have to accept what I hear.

Remarkably, when I called Gayle to tell her I made it to the airport safely, I heard a wonderful story. She and Annette witnessed a mini miracle! After 40 hours of no response, Annette told my mom that I was going home. Annette promised she would always watch out for me and make sure I was taken care of, and then she said a little phrase that got my mom's attention. Annette said, "I love you, love you, love you..." in a silly voice that they would say to one another. My mom opened her eyes, tried to speak, and raised her hand. She was communicating with her eyes and eye brows, and they were both in awe. Gayle said they both felt privileged to witness this glimpse of life in the midst of another reality. Gayle asked that I call when I get home, no matter how late. They feel that once my mom knows I arrived safely home, she will have the peace to pass. I will keep you posted, and up to date on both of our travels.

Tuesday update...

It is 3:30 a.m. here and I am having a hard time sleeping tonight. Plans changed yesterday when Sharon, (my mom's night time caregiver) woke me early in the morning with the news that my mom had taken another step closer toward joining my dad. She was having a difficult time breathing, was experiencing pain, and more. Sharon was afraid I would be frightened so she called my mom's best friend Annette to come over and help her change positions, set up the oxygen, etc...She also called Hospice and woke me around 5 a.m. when things were stable. I felt terribly sad seeing my mom this way as just the day prior she was talking about having all that "fun!" We really thought that this last "rally" was going to keep her going for another week or so.

I cancelled my flight and spent the day by her side. She has been unresponsive since last night. Monday was Annette's birthday, and although I was praying for my mom to pass when it was her time, I also didn't want it to happen on Annette's birthday. Sharon, Annette and I sat with her until Gayle and Sande (the other two caregivers who have been like angels to her) arrived. We all took turns holding her hand, told her we loved her, said her favorite prayers, and gave her "permission" to pass when it is time. Many tears were shed, but she seemed relaxed and at peace.

The Hospice nurse came around 10 a.m. and said that she is in the active stages of dying and gave us a pamphlet to read with helpful information. She has a fever, low oxygen, an increased heart rate, etc...The best literature we had though was a symptom time line from which listed specifics to watch for. My mom was calm and resting well, but her breathing continued to be very congested which in Hospice terms is called the "death rattle"; a harmless rattle sound of air over mucous as she is unable to clear her throat, cough, etc...It is disconcerting to those in the room so there are special drops that are given to dry up any fluid so her breathing once again appears less labored. Fortunately she is not bothered by it, but it is quite loud.

My dear friend Kim Ludwig came by to be of support, and brought us all a warm lunch which was so appreciated since we hadn't eaten. She stayed and spoke to my mom which I know was such a comfort as well. Kim is on stand by to take me to the airport and help in anyway. Thank you Kim! My sister in law Cindy drove an hour to just sit with us and "be there." She gave my mom a very special message, and a promise that touched my heart deeply. I will never forget it as long as I live. She walked with me to get some fresh air and we enjoyed walking around the peaceful surroundings of my mom's property. My in laws, Ron and Billie, also came to be of support and later left returning with dinner for us all. These small gestures just mean so much, especially to me at this point in her journey. What meaningful and special gifts were offered: warm meals, time, presence, and love.

The evening ended with Gayle, Sande, and me sitting with my mom telling stories, and reminiscing. We also started counting breaths as they are now coming at longer intervals of 10-30 sec. between inhale and exhale. I called the Hospice nurse to ask a few questions and she told us that although keeping a 'vigil' is important, sometimes your loved one will not pass with everyone in the room. So, we decided to stay up until midnight, so that we would know if she passed on the 22nd or 23rd. We felt relieved when midnight came and went and that Annette could be with her family on her special day. We had a fire burning in the fireplace, and played soft piano music for my mom while we spoke to her. The Hospice nurse said that hearing is the last sense to remain so speaking to your loved one can be of great comfort. Each of us is taking turns sleeping and staying with her, and we have agreed that if she passes in the night, we can all be at peace.

When saying my 'goodbyes' to my mom a few days ago, I told her that she soon would join Jesus, my dad, her parents, her aunts, uncles, etc...A few days ago she said she will go, "...when they come for me." We all asked each other this evening, "When do you think they will come for her?" We cannot answer that question, but we do know it will be in God's perfect timing.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday thoughts from my mom..."Let's have some fun!"

Thank you readers for your encouraging blog comments! Your words encourage both my mother and me, they make us smile, and they bring us comfort during a difficult time. I can't thank you all enough for your support and for caring about us.

It was a quiet, cool and overcast day today with rain in the afternoon. The Christmas lights were on in the house, the fireplace was burning with a soft glow, Christmas music played on the TV, and not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse! :-)

A secret Santa came early and dropped off a special something for the kids...this secret Santa knew that the Christmas season would be tough for two children who would soon be losing their Grandma. Thank you Santa for remembering little ones, especially those who may not have a truly "merry" Christmas, but who wouldn't stop believing in you since you "believed" in them. (I know you understand what that means.)

I was able to drive out to my in laws and had a great visit with Tom's parents. Ron and Billie are so welcoming, and I feel so comfortable with them. They are such good listeners, and they encourage me in ways they don't even realize! Thank you Billie for the delicious persimmon cookies too...they have been enjoyed by house guests, caregivers, and me!

Two special friends came by today that worked with my mom at "Antelope School." They came to visit her, but I enjoyed spending time with them too! Thank you Obdulia and Sheri for your friendship, kindness, and for sharing special stories about my mom that I hadn't heard. My mom was sleepy through most of the visit, but several times said, "Oh yes, that was fun!" and "Wasn't that exciting!" Right before they left it brought tears to my eyes when she quietly said, "Let's have some fun!" Only my mom could find a way to "have fun" from her bedside! What a lady!

My sister in law shared with me how she regretted not having a picture of her mother's hands. I remembered this and asked my mom if I could take a picture of her pretty hands. You'll notice in the picture below my mom's beautifully manicured fingertips. Yes, her nail gal makes house calls, and my mom has continued to have her nails and toes done regularly! (Did I tell you when she was in the hospital in Colorado that she looked up in a phone book the name of nail salons and called one to send a nail tech to the hospital?) Yes, she did come, and continued to do my mom's nails until we brought her home to CA! Oh Mom, I love your style!

Annette and her husband Fred came by as Annette does each day, and when my mom heard Fred's voice, she again became more alert. A manly voice seems to rouse her best. We enjoyed our visit with them and had several good laughs as we always do! Thank you Fred and Annette for everything...from meal prep, to paying bills, to replacing fire alarms, and for hugging me every time I tear up! Your presence has been such a comfort for both my mom and me!

Sharon has been with us for 3 nights and 2 days, and I know she must be exhausted. The three caregivers my mom has are remarkable women...they call and stop by on their days off, they work extra hours so the others can spend time with their families, and they cater to my mother's every need which brings me such peace of mind. Thank you Gayle, Sande, and Sharon for doing all the things that are hard for me, but not for you, and for doing them with great love!

Her caregivers have encouraged me to fly home and spend Christmas with my family, so with a heavy heart, I will say, "Goodbye" tomorrow. Although I miss my children and Tom, I wanted to be here for my mom's passing. Fortunately, she has been eating more, and is doing better, so they felt it could be weeks now instead of days. There will continue to be ups and downs in this final journey. Either way, I wanted to be here, and I leave feeling sad and unsure. I will return after Christmas, and hopefully my "goodbye" can be, "Hello" once again. If not, I still believe that we will never truly say, "goodbye" but instead, "...until we meet again."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Peace in the journey...

"Peace is not the absence of turmoil or challenge. It is to be in the midst of these things and still find calm in your heart."

Thank you Annalora and Kevin for the perfect quote above! It certainly fits my state of mind today, and more importantly, my mother's state of mind as well. Sharon asked if she could take our picture, and this was one of the few times my mom could open her eyes today. You can also see the special blanket made of my Dad's t-shirts on her bed.

While waiting for visitors I kept busy hanging cards on my mom's bedrom door so she could enjoy the colors and messages. So many people voiced how special she was, what a difference she had made in their lives, and how she would never be forgotten. Just like the show, "Everyone Loves Raymond", I told her we could start saying, "Everyone Loves Lorraine!" :-)

We really had a good day, all circumstances considered. We had a few sets of visitors in the morning, which my mom enjoyed. She doesn't have much strength to add many words, but continues to remain polite and cordial ending each visit with, "Thank you for coming to visit me! It was good!" My friend Kim stopped by with lunch in the early afternoon and we got to catch up and spend a few hours together. I so enjoy her company, and Kim's words of encouragement always seem to give me strength for any challenge I may face. Thank you Kim, for taking time out of your day to give us a boost!

We enjoyed visiting, and my mom tried hard to stay involved in the conversation even with her eyes closed. She would interject a comment here or there so we knew she wasn't sleeping. She was able to keep down ice cream and pears earlier, and then surprisingly, she had a few bites of steak, a baked potato and broccoli for dinner. That was the best she had eaten in a few days.

Tonight Annette came and spent the evening with us. Sharon, Annette, my mom, and I all sat in her bedroom and listened to a CD of my mom's favorite singer, Johnny Mathis. She really enjoyed hearing the sound of his voice and remembering bits and pieces from her younger years. We sung "Happy Birthday" to Annette a few days early and it was sweet to hear my mom's quiet voice singing along.

It was such a pleasant day with the fireplace burning, Christmas lights twinkling, and the house filled with the sounds of friends and laughter. My mom kept repeating how "good" the day was and she seemed to be at such peace. What a perfect Christmas gift.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I arrived into Sacramento late last night after an hour and a half delay in Denver. Our dear friend Warren, who was also the "Best Man" from our wedding 20 years ago, graciously agreed to pick me up and drive me two hours home at 11:30 at night. Thank you so much Warren for taking time out of your day (night!) to do this for me!

The Christmas lights were on when we arrived...

Gayle has the house looking so cheerful for my mom and her visitors.

My mom was sleeping when I got home, but woke up after a few minutes. We had a nice conversation and she enjoyed hearing about the party in Ashlyn's 2nd grade class. She smiled and giggled hearing about all crafts and fun the kids had with the frosted "Christmas trees" we made out of ice cream cones, frosting, and candies.

This morning she took another turn, and has been fairly unresponsive for most of the day waking only briefly. Her breathing has changed, and is becoming more congested. Several friends stopped by to say their, "goodbyes" which is difficult not only for them, but for those of us standing by. It is a necessary part of this process and one that will surely not get any easier.

My mom can only take liquids from an eye dropper now, and all medications have been stopped except for morphine which is given round the clock to manage pain. She is sleeping comfortably under a very special blanket that my mother in law Billie made for her. This blanket is extra special because Billie made it with such love, and also because it is made out of T-shirts that belonged to my Dad! She is covered with a reminder of him, and that is such a comfort.

Yesterday the parish priest came and prayed over her, giving her a special blessing and the "Anointing of the Sick." Gayle said that this was quite comforting for her as well.

She has lost a considerable amount of weight, and is unable to keep more than a few spoonfuls of food down. She is very weak and can no longer hold her head up, with the right side of her body being most affected. She continues to interject a thought here or there, even with her eyes closed, and seems to enjoy listening to the conversations. Tonight Annette, Gayle, Sharon (one of her night time caregivers)and myself were sharing stories of growing up. During one particular story she chuckled out loud and it was so delightful to hear her laughter.

Gayle made us all a delicious hearty beef stew, green salad, and sourdough bread which was enjoyed by 6 of us! Gayle's husband Mike stopped by and my mom was so tickled to hear his voice. She refers to him as her "bread man" since he brings her a favorite type of bread from Costco on his shopping trips. She seemed to become more alert when she heard his deep voice compared to the jabber of all the ladies!

The CNA came by to give her a sponge bath, and the Hospice nurse, "Chuck" also stopped by to check on her. When he arrived she was feeling nauseous and had her head leaning into a can...he jokingly said, "Well Lorraine, are you trying to find an echo in there?" This tickled her too and she no longer felt sick after his comment. Humor is such good medicine!

Chuck believes she has a few days to a week at most before she makes her "transition" (a term used in Hospice language.) He commented on what a special lady she is and how he wishes he could have known her before her tumor. He also said that he believed she would pass peacefully. He felt confident in this because he has been with many patients through the dying process. He had learned that those who have lived a life of community service, are secure in their faith, and who are on positive terms with their family members, have the most peaceful passing. It was interesting to hear this perspective from someone who has worked in Hospice for 20 years.

I anticipate more changes in the coming days and have cancelled my flight home until next week. I will keep you posted regularly now from home as Annette helped me figure out how to use the lap top with my mom's old Mac...(the ethernet cable was the key!) Now I don't have to leave to go to Starbucks to post an entry.

Remember to live fully, and savor every day...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Home to California...

Yesterday my mom's Hospice nurse called to keep me up to date on what the nurses are doing to keep her comfortable and pain free. I speak with my mom or her caregiver daily, but as you know, my mom doesn't complain and doesn't want me to worry. I think mothers always want to protect their children whether they are young or grown.

The Hospice nurse said my mom's increasing chest pain is most likely a sign of disease progression. She has also developed an infection they are treating with antibiotics. Increased swelling around her neck and back may also be a sign that her Hodgkins Disease has returned. Of course when you are under Hospice care, there are no diagnostic tests, everything is geared toward comfort care so some questions will never be answered. Her heart rate was also elevated and the nurse thought that we are coming to a new stage in her cancer journey.

I was able to get a flight out tonight, and will keep you posted. Her health has declined significantly since our last visit, so I know this will be a difficult trip. We had an especially touching phone conversation yesterday, and she was so clear minded at the time, that it was truly a gift to "have her back" if even for a few minutes. I am very glad that we had the chance to say so many important things to one another. I wanted her to know how proud I was of her and how she has handled herself with such grace throughout this entire year. I also told her that I knew she would need to join my dad soon, and that her influence would be with me always. The emotional talks like these are so heartbreaking, but I know we both felt as though we said what we needed to, and that brought us both peace.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Michael :-)

Happy Birthday Michael! This is me with my cousin Michael...Since I was an only child, Michael and his brother David were like brothers to me. In the photo below I was 8 years old and I remember being so thrilled that my aunt entrusted me to give Michael a was a first for me and an honor that I took seriously! I wanted to tell her that I would do a good job, and that I wouldn't be careless. I didn't say any of those things, but I remember thinking them, and I remember feeling so proud here to be given such an important job!
Christmas Eve...showing Michael all the presents under the tree...
David and Michael playing in the snow. I always had such fun with these two special cousins, and would wait patiently at my window when they would make the 10 hour drive to northern CA to visit us. I have never grown out of that excitement when I know I will get to see "the boys!" Swimming in our new pool, circa 1980-something! I was SO happy that they were there this day...but then I was happy on ANY day that I got to see my cousins!
The three cousins posing in front of my new, "Yugo!" (Remember those?) As you can see, I have been fond of Michael and David for as long as I can remember!
The last time I saw Michael was at my mom's "Celebration of Life Luau" in Feb. I remember when they played a special DVD tribute to my mom that contained both old and current photos of our family. I felt so emotional when I saw all the memories, and realized that out of the hundreds of people there, Michael was the only other person in that room of my generation who lived through most of those years, and those memories with me.
My handsome cousin Michael, whom I still adore! :-)

Happy Birthday Michael...I miss and love you so very much!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Modern Day Menthol Miracle!

Mommy, battles minus 6 degree temps at midnight to drive to drug store in search of medicine for sick child with croupy cough. Sick child's 2nd grade Christmas party is tomorrow and Mommy is in charge of crafts, activities, etc...Sick child needs to get better! Mommy reads on Google at midnight that rubbing sick child's feet with Vick's Vapor Rub will stop a cough. Guess what? This home remedy worked! Hopefully we'll both be able to attend the party tomorrow! One of you recently sent me an article on this...but I can't remember who! Thanks for sending it, as it got me doing more investigation. Mommy is now off to pick up prescription and an inhaler so that sick child's feet don't smell like menthol in the morning! :-)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bitter cold...sub zero temps this morning!

Morning update...yesterday Denver reached a record low of -19 degrees below zero! This beats the low of -14 in 1901. Here in Longmont at our home, we registered -11 below at 6 a.m. Amazingly, the news reported that to bare skin the temp. would feel like -35 degrees! Brrrr...stay warm friends and enjoy the holiday season. Photos of our freezing Sunday are below!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Frigid Fun on Sunday...

A wintery Sunday in Colorado...just yesterday it was sunny and in the 50's. Overnight brought quite a change to the weather! Here's how the day unfolded.
Oh boy is it C-O-L-D! Here's the proof...

Earlier today...I awoke to find this snow drift right outside our garage door...

A chilly looking front yard...


The frozen pond at 9 a.m. The mound in the middle is our "island." Kyle and his friend Tyler discovered this afternoon that although the top is frozen, a foot will easily go right through!

Ashlyn ready to head down the hill...

Kyle "snowboards" down the hill. Our house is in the background. Tom and I even got in on the action, but sadly there is no record of mom and dad diving head first down the hill, which we did and LOVED! :-)

Cold, but fun and great exercise!

Remember our summer photos of the kids on our little swing set? What a change to see the same view in the middle of a snow storm!

Tom at work shoveling snow...

Ashlyn and I made this lovely mother nature inspired snow woman. She has a pine necklace, a set of berry earrings, dried flower eyes, leaf buttons, etc...

Oh, the poor, poor, poor Chihuahuas! They were miserable and spent the rest of the day in front of the fireplace, not that I can blame them!

This evening we picked up Ashlyn from a great event at our friend Kate's farm. Kate hosted, "Christmas in the Country" where the kids decorated cookies, completed Christmas farm crafts, sang Christmas carols to the horses in the barn, and made special horse treats for the "Colorado Horse Rescue" organization. They also collected supplies for the local Humane Society and had a wonderful afternoon and evening. On the drive home this was the temperature our car registered! Seeing is believing!

We drove through some local neighborhoods to see Christmas lights, and caught a few that went the 'extra mile.'

Then we came home and warmed our feet by this!

Tom made us his signature tacos for dinner, and we sat down for the season finale of our favorite TV program, "Survivor." The whole family loves it, and so we had a little friendly contest to add to the excitement. We each drew names of a character in the show and whoever had the winning charcter, would be the "winner." The winner of the contest would be entitled to a day off from chores and would receive special pampering from the rest of the family. It turns out Kyle was the winner and he already has plans for a back rub, a day off from garbage duty, etc...SO, it looks like we'll be busy tomorrow fulfilling Kyle's requests! We hope you had a great weekend...stay warm and enjoy your Monday!

Vintage Valentine Swap

It's a little early to start thinking about Valentine's Day, but if there was a reason to start early, this is it! Heidi at "Foxgloves, Fabric, and Folly" is hosting a "Very Vintage Valentine Swap." What a fun concept!

I love correspondence, sending letters, and receiving "snail mail." If you enjoy the same you may want to join in her Valentine swap. The premise is that you send a basket filled with no more than $20 of vintage style Valentine goodies to someone special who also wanted to participate. You send Heidi your preferences in terms of flowers, colors, decor style, etc...and someone is given your name and preferences. Since it is a vintage theme, I stopped at one of our local antique shops and had fun browsing through vintage hankerchiefs, silver spoons, tea cups, old 50's style Valentine's etc...for ideas to send in my package.

You have until Dec. 29th to join. On Jan. 2nd your recipient's name is sent to you, and then on Jan. 21st everyone mails their packages. It sounds fun, and several ladies had done her Christmas exchange and were so thrilled, I thought I'd join the fun. If you're interested you can check out her sidebar on the right! :-) But first, let's enjoy the Christmas season and savor the weeks to come!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

13 year old boy gets real paying job!

Munkey & Rockie Pictures, Images and Photos
Kyle got a job! He'll be taking care of a "miniature horse" like one of these! The neighbors a few houses down are taking a Christmas trip to watch the Rose Bowl Parade in California. They needed someone to care for their mini horse and hired Kyle for the job! He will be taking care of his new charge, "Dan" for 10 days and will earn real money for the job! Today he asked me if he could save his money to buy a car when he turns 16. He'll need to care for Dan a lot longer than 10 days to earn enough money for a car, but I liked his saving money attitude! We'll just see how he feels at the end of the 10 days... feeding on cold mornings and shoveling snow to make his way into the barn on frozen evenings. It should be a great lesson in responsibility, and that earning money can be hard work! :-)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Call your mother~

Telefono Pictures, Images and Photos

We often hear or read this phrase on TV shows, magazine articles, etc... "Call your mother, she worries you know!"

Since the mid 1980's after moving away from home to attend college, I called my mother once a week. Usually on Sundays, because my mother always called her mother on Sundays. We would chat about the latest in our lives, who was doing what, where we went, and what was planned for the week. When we were both teachers, there were always stories to tell about school, bulletin board ideas, and yard duty escapades!

This phone calling routine repeated weekly, year after year.

Sometimes it felt like there wasn't much to say. Sometimes it felt like we just talked about the same things over and over again. Sometimes I felt busy and didn't feel like calling.

When my dad died, I called my mom daily. But after awhile this routine, selfishly at times, felt like an obligation and not as I realize now, a privilege.

Since my mom's diagnosis last Christmas Eve, I have had a complete turn around in my thinking. All of sudden, there is SO much to say! Suddenly, the unimportant feels VERY important. I want to tell my mom everything...

I want her to know that her granddaughter wrote a story about the two of them together, that she played two songs in the piano recital, and that she made a clay penguin in art class...I want her to know that her grandson did well on his math test, that he played Christmas songs on his violin, and that he can type more words per minute than I can.

I want to tell her about things I am learning and doing, and ask her for advice. I want to hear her opinion on everything from how much soy sauce to put in the stir fry recipe, to what all the words are to the Hawaiian song "Mele Kalikimaka". Brain cancer has taken away that ability to answer many questions, and to share her wisdom verbally.

I want to hear her voice strong and well and hear her say, "I love you" as if it weren't for the last time. I have saved a phone message she left for me a few months ago, because I just can't bare to erase her voice...the time will soon come when I will never see, or hear her again, so I am trying to memorize everything about her voice, her smile, her presence.

If your mother is still living, call her today. There may not be much to say, but if it were the last time you heard her voice, it wouldn't matter much what was said, except to hear and say, "I love you."
telephone hearts Pictures, Images and Photos

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holiday Garland

What a fun blog! If you love to decorate and need fun ideas at a low cost, definitely check out, "Nesting Place" (Her link is on the sidebar to the right) and you will leave inspired! Today the "Nester" is asking her readers to post photos of their holiday garland. If you go to her blog you can see MANY awesome ideas on how to make your garland come to life. My garland doesn't even come close, but here is what I have to start with...the first thing I think our garland needs are feathers, (yes, feathers!) as the Nester uses many and it looks terrific! I also think it may be time to retire my artificial pointsettias...hmmm...time for a makeover!

The view by night hides many flaws!

The twinkling lights look great and hide my attempt to "swag" my garland...

By day though...bare walls and bare spots in the garland...Nester I need help!

In this view you can see my big wall that I am waiting for some great inspiration to know what to put on it, and lots of gaps in the garland swagging. The Nester says to double your garland, and use it in fewer places. This makes what you do have, look full and lush! Good advice for someone who will listen next year! :-)

The mantel above the fireplace needs to be flat so it won't catch on fire...this one could definitely use some feathers and embellishment!

The garland may need help, but the presents look pretty! :-)

Merry Christmas! Wishing you "garlands" of JOY! :-)