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

Friday, October 31, 2008

My Dad Harry; a remembrance...

This was my Dad.

He died two years ago today.
He lived life fully on the day he died.
He flew his airplane, exercised, and talked on his ham radios.
He called a day that included all of the above a perfect day.

The last time I saw my Dad alive was two weeks before he passed.
He and my mom had just returned from a fantastic trip to Japan.
They went on the trip with his sisters and brother in law.
They made many memories, and were all grateful for that time with him.
He was in a great mood the last time I saw him.
He watched his grand kids head off to school.
He sat in our big comfy chair and visited with me, in no hurry to leave.
He gave me a big hug and told me he loved me.
He and my mom drove home, and I never saw him alive again.

My Dad was 67 years old the day he died so unexpectedly.
Life can change in an instant.
We had just come home from taking the kids trick-or-treating.
I got a call from my mom I'll never forget.
He didn't come home for dinner that night.
She worried.
She called the airport hangar where he had been that day, having flown earlier.
He didn't answer.
She drove out to the hangar.
She found him in his office.
He was on the sofa, as if he had just fallen asleep.

My Dad was a tall man standing at 6' 6" tall.
He was happily married to my mom for 41 years.

He was a talented man.
He accomplished everything below in 67 years.
My Dad was a magician.
He was on a ski patrol.
He brought injured skiers down from Mt. Lassen.
My Dad was also a pilot.
He was a business owner.
He was a police officer.
He was a special ed teacher.
He was a middle school and high school teacher.
He was a teaching principal.
He was a basketball coach.
He was an elected airport commissioner.
He was elected as a school board member.
He was an officer in the US Army.

He wanted to make a difference in people's lives.
He did.

He held my hand when I needed stitches.
He taught me how to jump rope.
He walked me down the aisle at my wedding.
He held our children when they were babies.
He came to their birthday parties, and performed magic tricks.
I admired him.
I still do.

He was always concerned for my happiness.
He was one of those people who asked meaningful questions,
and truly listened to my answers.
He used to ask me as a little girl, "Oh by the way, did I ever tell you I love you?"
He would ask this question several times in a day, and each time,
it confirmed that love to me.

As I got older, we didn't always see eye to eye.
We argued.
We disagreed.
Even if we had words with one another, I never doubted his love for me.

He was so happy to have a son-in-law, a grandson, and nephews.
He loved having 'boys' in the family.
He loved my mother, me, and his granddaughter.
He loved his sisters.
He was so happy to have Steffi, our German exchange student, become a part of the family.
He believed in surprising us all with generous deeds.

He loved animals and always had a soft spot for them.

He loved the snow and would have loved Colorado.
He would have appreciated that we have big tall doorways.
Being so tall, he always had to duck underneath standard ones.
He would have been happy looking out our windows at the mountains, as he called the mountains "Gods Country."

He would have been so proud that his grandchildren can play musical instruments.
He would have been pleased to see us happy.

My Dad was a wonderful man.

I would give anything to see him one more time, and tell him so.

Just a few old time photos...My Dad and me (on the right) during a dinner party.

Dad with his new puppy "Sargent."

Four generations of Johnsons. I am the only one still living. I remember my Dad, Grandma and Great Grandmother vividly. Each one of them had a fascinating story to tell.

My dad and I during my junior year in high school...

Our little family of three on the day Tom and I married.

So very many memories, so little space to journal a life well lived...
Remembering my Dad today

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumpkin Night

Last night we enjoyed our annual Halloween pumpkin carving dinner and had such a nice evening. The Smiths, (a fellow Covidien family) and The Johnsons, (from Briar Gate Farm) joined us for dinner and pumpkin carving!

The kids had fun using stencils and free hand designs to turn their pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns!
Ashlyn scooping out her pumpkin pulp before making a cute kitty jack-o-lantern.

Kyle hard at work on his vampire design.

Molly scooping and carving.

Sweet 2 year old Ella helped her Daddy carve a cute face...

5 year old Oscar made "hair" on his jack-o-lantern and it turned out really neat with the candle glowing under his jack-o-lantern hair special effects! While the kids carved, the adults enjoyed apple pie and hot apple cider after dinner. It's so nice as our kids get older and can take over much of the carving duties themselves...this was the first year Kyle did it all from start to finish!

Megan helping Molly complete her bats with full moon background. (If you haven't tried the stencil kits for carving, we highly recommend them! They are easy to do and have such a professional finished look!)

The finished pumpkins looked so pretty glowing with the lights off, but I couldn't figure out how to turn off the flash on my camera so these photos don't do them justice!
Since it was a school night, everyone needed to get going by 9 p.m. but Kyle stayed up later to finish his "vampire." Here is his finished creation...look at the neat moving light effect from the candles! Cool! :-)

I am off this morning to give a presentation at Ashlyn's school to 12 parent mentors for the PALS Program. We'll be talking about Math and Literacy! (Two of my favorite teacher subjects to talk about!)

Happy Thursday, and we wish you all a "spook-tacular" evening tomorrow night!

Happy Halloween Haunting!

Pumpkin Carving Party and Jump Rope Team!


Tonight is our annual, "Pumpkin Carving Party" so I'll be posting photos this evening of all the highlights! :-) Thanks for your clever ideas for possible centerpieces; I loved them all and will be making an 11th hour decision!

Today I have jumping feet going around and around in my head...Ashlyn has joined the school's jump rope team called, "Hot Shots." Yesterday after school she practiced for 45 min. until piano lessons, then she came home and jumped "the scissors", "half steps", "giddy-up horse" and more until dinner. After dinner she jumped in the living night she slept with the jump rope by her bed...She said she dreamt about ropes, "overhand passes", and qualifing for the upcoming try-outs to perform at the 2nd grade "Showcase." BIG stuff I tell you in the life of a 7 year old! :-)

It all made me so much more appreciative that I can watch our children as they grow, succeed, and struggle, when Korrine's family will not have that opportunity any longer with their daughter. I have been thinking about their family and how difficult this week must be for them...thank you for remembering them in your thoughts and prayers.

My mom sounded really strong and happy on the phone yesterday for which I am very grateful! The Hospice nurse came by as she is developing a bed sore, and they are trying various things to prevent it from getting worse. She is wheelchair bound at this point and so any activity is helpful to keep her moving. She told me yesterday that she feels incredibley blessed to have so many people who care about her, and that knowing we are all there for her, makes her feel at peace with her situation. She will have her caregiver drive her to the cemetery this week to put flowers out for my dad, as we are coming up on the 2 year anniv. of his passing in a few days. She was not sad talking about it though, just happy to "have one more day on this earth!" She always amazes me!

Savor today, and make it count...or in the words of the "Hot Shots" slogan, "JUST JUMP!" (Jump for joy that is!)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Korrine Croghan...

You may have seen the blog link to, "Team KC" on our sidebar to the lower right. Our friend Lorri introduced her blog readers to the story of a sweet 13 year old girl named, Korrine, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at Christmas time last year. My mother was also diagnosed with her cancer at this time, and we began following Korrine's cancer journey. Korrine lived in a neighboring community next to our last home in Dublin, and it was wonderful to see the outpouring of support her family received during her cancer battle. Throughout Korrine's journey, her family raised such awareness, and funds for pediatric cancer patients in their community. Sadly, Korrine lost her battle against cancer yesterday at 14 years old. Although I never met her, following her story and her parents journal entries throughout the year, was very inspiring. Korrine's attitude, outlook, faith, and hope in the future was very awe-inspiring to witness. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers today as they mourn the loss of their Angel Korrine. You can read more about her story at:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Centerpiece ideas?

This Wednesday we are hosting our annual, "Pumpkin Carving Party" where we have two families over for dinner and then carve pumpkins while enjoying hot apple cider and apple pie! We invite different families every year, (for the past 8 years!) just so we have an oppportunity to get to know new friends! I was setting the table tonight to see how everything is going to fit, and there is no room for a centerpiece. I have little acorn and pumpkin candles at each person's seat, but it still seems as if a centerpiece is needed. Any suggestions?

My mom was in a great mood the last time I talked with her. She has been sleeping well, and all "body systems" are a go now, so she was happy about that! We're trying to find ways to keep her somewhat active and moving from her wheelchair. I read an idea about blowing up balloons and playing "balloon volleyball" where she could kick at the balloons and bat at them as they come to her. If you have worked with someone wheelchair bound, please share any ideas you may have about movement and activity.

Gayle (my mom's daytime caregiver) took her out for a drive to see the fall colors and she was so happy to enjoy that time out. They went to Jack-in-the-Box for lunch and ate their meal overlooking the Sacramento River so that was also a mood lifter. My mom hadn't been for a drive in 3 weeks, so she was happy to get out and enjoy a drive through town. Gayle takes her for a daily wheelchair ride, and the other day my mom "gave permission" to Gayle to pick a pomegranate from a neighbor's tree. Gayle felt so embarrassed when the neighbor came outside and commented! It's funny as my mother has always been the most honest person, so for her to tell Gayle to pick the fruit was a rare sign of rebellion! hee hee :-)

All is well on this end. Kyle had a dentist appointment today and he has two cavities, which he was disappointed to learn meant a trip back next week! Ashlyn got stung by a bee at her riding lesson and almost fell off her horse, but she managed to stay in the saddle and hold back the tears until she could get off. I made the mistake of doing a quick "rip" with the tape that was bandaged around the sting last night, and she has still not forgiven me for inflicting "terrible pain on me Mom!"

Off for now to work at this evening's Brownie Meeting. We hope you are all well, and I will update you again soon on my mom's status. Happy Monday! :-)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Our week in pictures...

It's been a busy week in the Kofford, work, music lessons, Girl Scouts, flu shots, orchestra concert, working in the 2nd grade classroom, meeting new friends, Enrichment Friday, crafting, and enjoying lots of Halloween activities! Here's a few photos of the week's adventures!

Completed jack-o-lanterns from our Friday class!

The girls busy reading...

Pumpkin math...scooping out pumpkins is fun!

Working on sticker scenes and ghost windsocks...everyone serious at work!

One of Ashlyn's Halloween bows...we are working on making on our own...

We haven't perfected the bows yet, but we did create these cute little indian corn pins for teacher gifts, etc...They were fun to make, and Ashlyn was very proficient at the tiny hand work required.

Kyle's first concert of the season. This is the 7th grade orchestra. Kyle is sitting on the left, in the second row, in the second chair playing violin.

Visiting the pumpkin patch and selecting pumpkins for our annual "pumkin carving party" this week...

Ashlyn pulling our wagon of pumpkins for carving this week.

Kyle's pumpkin weighing in at 29 lbs!

This picture doesn't do it justice, but the little country store at the pumpkin farm had the neatest indian corn ceiling!

Tom and the kids pose near the "train."

Kyle still needed a costume so he decided on this yucky swamp know if you are a 13 year old boy the gory costumes are the best ones! (Ashlyn will be Hannah Montana...sweet, pretty, and non-ugly! hee hee)

Neat sunset as we drove home tonight...the interesting thing is that the sun sets in the west, and this was the view from the east!

More bushes are turning colors in the yard...I loved this vibrant red!

Lastly, tonight Kyle, Tom, and our friend Ryan are driving out to "Terror in the Corn." You may remember me telling you about this VERY scary haunted house set in the corn fields at Anderson Farms. A hay ride takes patrons out to the corn fields where you navigate your way through scary scenes and chain saw actors chasing you through the fields at night! Ashlyn and I were big chickens so we are home enjoying a nice warm fire and hot apple cider! I'll let you know how the guys survive the night! :-)

Grandma Lorraine Update...
I called my mom twice today, but each time spoke with her caregiver Gayle as my mom was resting. Things are changing each day. My mom is sleeping more, eating less, and moving little. Her digestive and intestinal systems are slowing down, all signs of tumor progression and medication side effects. I will let you know when I am able to speak with her person. THANK YOU Toni B. for taking time out of your day to purchase a new monitor set. On top of your daily radiation treatments, you always make time for us, and we thank you dear friend!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Enrichment Friday this afternoon...

In a few short hours I will have 8 children here for our Halloween themed, "Enrichment Friday" class. Here's a sneak peek into what will be happening. More photos later this evening of all the kids in action! Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Friday!

Kyle will be helping me this afternoon with crafts, organizing, and a new title I have given him as, "Yard Duty Supervisor!" hee hee
The kids will be making ghost windsocks, listening to Halloween stories, completing math activities, and more...

These plain pumpkins will be used for math, writing, weighing, and will magically transform into fanatastic jack-o-lanterns! The "after" pictures will be coming later tonight! :-)

Grandma Lorraine Update:
I spoke with my mom today and she said she has been enjoying a nice day. The CNA arrived to help wtih bathing so she felt nice and squeaky clean this afternoon! :-) The Hospice nurse was stopping by so that is always a good sense of reassurance to check vital signs, etc...Unfortunately, the monitors that the caregivers use to listen for my mom at night stopped working. My mom was upset that she called and called and no one would answer her call for help last night. I assured her that we will send someone to buy a new monitor today so it wouldn't happen again. Our evening caregiver felt so badly about it as my mom said this morning that she thought everyone had left her alone. I can't even imagine what it might feel like to not be able to walk or get out of bed without assistance, and then not have anyone be able to hear a call for help. Hopefully it will all be sorted out by tonight. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hello from 25 degree Colorado!

Oh it is a cold morning here today! We woke up to a frosty morning of bus stop duty, and already there is snow on the mountains...soon it will be down to our elevation (5000 ft.) and it will be time to take out the snow pants! It has been a busy week and I will post photos soon of all the week's happenings. It is all busy, fun, family/kids 'stuff', but sometimes it all seems so insignificant compared to what my mom is facing. I feel frivolous posting of such things, when I know that the coming months will bring such heartache, and that sadness has been settling in for me. Ultimately, I know my mom wants us to continue moving forward and not get 'stuck' in this sadness, but as next week marks the 2 year anniv. of my dad's passing, I am feeling 'stuck' in that grief. For now I am off to help in Ashlyn's classroom, and then to join a new friend for lunch, so that will surely be a little "pick me up" today! Tomorrow is our second "Enrichment Friday" so I will let you know how that goes should be a lot of fun...think scooping pumpkin pulp, and making flying ghosts! Smiles! :-)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just for fun...

I hope I am not boring you to tears with all my old photos, but I have a few more I wanted to share with you!

My mom and I getting ready to board a small aircraft at the Red Bluff Airport. This flight, (in which my dad is taking the picture) is the one that inspired him to become a pilot back in 1978!
A family photo from 1984 taken on Thanksgiving Day. Ah, the days when we all looked so young!

Faith, Hope, and Love

My mom is no longer walking. She cannot cook, clean, drive, or enjoy her favorite pastimes. It is becoming more difficult to read and write. My mom's brain tumor is progressing, and cancer is taking over. Although there are many things she cannot do as the cancer continues to grow, there are still three that cancer can never take away; ", hope, and love...and the greatest of these is love."
~1 Corinthians 13:13

Saturday, October 18, 2008

At Grandma Lorraine's House

Hello from Red Bluff, California!

I arrived safely into Sacramento Thurs. evening, and my friend Kim Faires was there waiting for me. It was so nice having a smiling face to greet me! (Rental car agents just aren't the same!) We had a nice drive back "home" stopping for an enjoyable dinner on the way on the way. My mom needed to go to bed early, so I wouldn't get to see her on Thurs. When I arrived home a new caregiver was there, and it felt awkward having a 'stranger' in the house as I had become familiar with the 3 caregivers on my mom's "team." The other two remain the same, so that is good to maintain that consistency for my mom. The new gal is a former police officer and court baliff, and she seems very capable and kind.

Yesterday, my mom enjoyed being pushed in her wheelchair around the neighborhood, and then felt refreshed after a CNA came to assist with a shower. Her Hospice nurse came by to meet me, as we will be working closely over the coming weeks and months. He was a kind and attentive gentleman about my age, and he related very well to my mother, so I felt comfortable with him as well. Her main daytime caregiver, Gayle, is an absolute angel to my mother, and does "everything right" as my mom would say about her. That makes her the perfect caregiver, and my mother has become quite attached to her referring to her as "My Gayle." My mom and I had the opportunity to visit yesterday, and it seems like discussions about the past are easiest for her remember facts about. We enjoyed reliving childhood memories and funny stories about my dad, family trips, etc... It was fun to laugh together and to hear her gregarious laugh once again!

I spoke with Tom several times and all was well at home in Colorado. Kyle arrived safely into Las Vegas so I was greatly relieved when I heard that news! I am anxious to speak with him in person and hear all the details of his first day of adventures in Las Vegas. The last I heard the boys adjoining room to Tyler's parents was upgraded to a suite, so I am sure the two 13 year olds were thrilled to have their own TV and space to stay up late! I'll let you know once I can speak with him in person to hear about the days events!

Last night I went over to Tom's parents home once my mom went to bed, and had such a nice visit wth them as well. Ron and Billie have always been so welcoming to me, and for the past 20 years they have been like a second set of parents. Billie is ready upon my arrival to cook and cater to my needs like I was a first time house guest! They are truly wonderful people! I left their house last night with a big bag of walnuts freshly shelled from Tehama County! I also inherited some beautiful sweaters that Cousin Kathy didn't need, so I left with full arms, and a full heart!

Thank you so much for following my mom' s story, and walking beside us during this journey. She feels blessed to have so many friends that care, and she is so tickled by all the blog comments for prayers and well wishes! Her eye sight is deterioating quickly, so it is quite difficult for her to look at the computer now, but I will be sure and read to her your well wishes!

Enjoy your Saturday, and I will post another update soon!

I forgot to tell you that two ski resorts opened last week in Colorado?! I am enjoying the beautiful weather here, although we are anxious for our first snow back home!

Love from sunny 82 degree Red Bluff,
Denise :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Live from the Denver Airport!

I'm on my way to California shortly and wanted to say, "Hello!" I will give you an update on my mom's health as soon as I am able. It will be so nice to have this weekend together, and again BIG thanks Lempko Family for making all the arrangements for me! Please keep Kyle in your thoughts and prayers for safe travel as well. Tomorrow he will be flying to Las Vegas! Tyler and his family are taking Kyle with them to Las Vegas this weekend to celebrate Tyler's 13th birthday. Tyler is a big "Chris Angel" fan, (the talented magician!) so Kyle will get to see his show that is part of Cirque Du Soleil! Tyler's family has planned a weekend full of wonderful activities and as you can imagine Kyle was thrilled to be invited! Ooops, need to run, they just called my row to board! Bye for now!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This trip sponsored by...

BIG THANK-YOU-GRATITUDE wishes to the Lempko family! We have known the Lempkos since our boys were babies in the same play group 13 years ago! The Lempko Family generously gave me their frequent flier miles so that I might be able to see my mom this month! I leave tomorrow afternoon and return on Sunday, thanks to Greg and Lisa who offered me this wonderful gift! My good friend Kim Faires is driving 2 1/2 hours to pick me up, and my wonderful sister and brother in law, Mitch and Tami, will be driving me back to Sacramento on Sunday! You are all so special for doing this for me, and I can't thank you enough for your kindness!

Thank you to each one of you for all your support! From meals, to grocery shopping, prayers, phone calls, and visits, the support we have recieved during my mom's illness has been so deeply appreciated! Please continue to keep my mother in your prayers for peace during this cancer journey. We both so gratefully appreciate ALL you have done for us!

Lastly, thank you to my beloved Tom for ALWAYS being so supportive, and for being "chauffeur/chef/house cleaner/pooper scooper/" and more, all while working full time during my CA absences! You are the heart of this family, and we love you!

Boo Buddies

Thank you blog readers for your kind comments below! I have been tardy in leaving comments back the last few days, but I will be by to visit soon! In response to the fun, "You've Been Boo'd" poem, I will include below the version we received the other night. There is another version that was used in CA that had a non-ghoulish ryhme for younger kids, but I can't find it anywhere! Charlene, if you still have a copy of it will you post it for us? Thank you friend!

Here is the Colorado version! :-)

"You've Been Boo'd

The Halloween Goblin has visited you! Now you have the curse upon you! To break the curse you must place a sack of goodies at 2 homes tomorrow night with a picture of this Goblin. Then, place this picture of the Halloween Goblin on your door so others will know you've been visited!

Happiest of Halloweens!"

The back of the poem had a picture of a cute ghost. Since my copy machine at home doesn't work too well anymore, I just printed off a photo from Clip Art when I typed up our poem. I added Halloween stickers to the sheet and then our bag of treats had candies, pencils, Halloween erasers, etc...just little trinkets in a Halloween sack! So easy, so fun!
The front and back of the scroll poem.

Enjoy and Happy Haunting! :-)