Sunday, January 30, 2011

the neglected blog update, with a party no less!

she turned 5 a couple weeks ago, but the big sha-bang was today. and mom has really put the camera down lately to enjoy the activity and missed a lot of moments... like the one when she signed the special birthday chair with this name: "E**** Lotta". yep. chose Lola's (of Charlie and Lola fame) best friend to use as her last name it seems, and we're fine with that. the bday party was held at our local museum of natural history, and was a huge hit with her and all of her friends. she was especially pleased to be in this special birthday chair :)

they made their own buttons to wear.

did some coloring.

made FOSSILS. ours is in the kitchen. fossilizing.

toured some of the museum of natural history.

dug in the sand for shark teeth

and found an entire set

opened a few gifts

blew out exactly 5 candles

and i caught at least one nephew (Alex) on camera in his totally rad sunglasses...

e with cousin Colin

this was the best i could do of my brother's boys
(Alex, Ethan behind Dylan, Colin).
after cake, they never stopped moving!

E had such a blast and as we drove away, Aunt Dawn and Uncle Brad couldn't hear
her waving and yelling "I will love you!" and "Be careful!" (she is forever
the one giving instructions).

as we pulled off, she had me roll her window down so she could yell to her
granddad and her other aunt and uncle,
"I love you guys!"

my god we are so blessed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

this is Jiji.
This is where Jiji sleeps when
she isn't camped out on our bellies,
chests, heads, or any body part she
can find.

a little bed.
for a little kitten.

just for her.

or so i thought.

this is Ransom.
Ransom is not a kitten.

even having put on a few pounds, he's dreaming big
if he thinks he can curl up in this bed.

but you can't blame the lug for wishing.
and Jiji? she knew he'd give her the bed back.


i have to say, she's pretty sweet for sharing
and giving him a turn

Thursday, January 20, 2011

the budding artiste

The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.
Francis Bacon

(photos by dad)

Monday, January 17, 2011

5 has arrived!

and she couldn't be happier! we surprised her with some (very early morning) bday gifts after baba decorated with some ribbon the night before... we had a 2 hour drive to another neurosurgeon (right? what a way to spend your bday!)- we wanted a second opinion regarding her spine/brain MRI's from a year ago and walked away very impressed with this physician- thorough, personable, and even took the time to show us the MRI and go over it with us all in detail. We have learned that watching and waiting is in fact appropriate at this time. we will be repeating another MRI within the next 2-6 months to see what changes (if any) have taken place since she's grown about 6 inches in the last year. overall, such great news that there is no surgery in her immediate future. i knew 2011 was going to shape up nicely! here she is with Aunt Karen who took some time out from her hectic schedule to meet us for the appointment and pass along even MORE gifts (thank you Aunt Karen!!).

there will never be an easy way to couple such a wonderful celebration with the anniversary of the loss of my mom, the grandmother that E will not meet in this life. i can only say that while E's presence in our life in no way dulls the pain of losing her (just as our presence in E's life will never dull the pain of losing her parents in China), her pure love and joy reminds us of all the reasons we should continue to celebrate- my mom- what she gave to us- what our lives have become. there is so much to be thankful for. what a gift that is. i trust mom is here in spirit, smiling with us. and she'd want things no other way. she had no time for tears. :O)

happy birthday to the best kiddo i've ever known. we are incredibly blessed to be witness to her ever emerging beauty, both inside and out.

Friday, January 14, 2011

meet Jiji~!

A few of you guessed correctly, a pet of her very own, and there is nothing she's wanted more than a cat :) We found her through our local pet rescue, she's 5 months old and incredibly sweet and curious. While I'm happy to have another cat, it seems a bit surreal and as with any relationship, it will take time for a bond to form. E is completely in awe of this (early) birthday gift and couldn't fall asleep last night for her excitement. Jiji (pronounced Gigi) was chosen after the cat in one of her favorite anime films, Kiki's Delivery Service.

Ransom isn't as thrilled as E, and seems a bit depressed, but he'll come around. He acted the same way with Gambit and he was second to come into the family at that time. I am giving him tons of extra loves and reminding him he's my boy and no one, not anyone, could ever replace him :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

i don't talk about my work often. it's something that is just a part of my life & one that i grumble about too frequently. it rarely seems worth much attention here. when my friend Norma tagged me in this photo on FB, i was really overwhelmed by how proud i felt looking at all of us. there are 3 fairly new nurses in this picture, i'm one of the oldest at 43 (center in green and black). and those new nurses (in spite of my grumbling) have really renewed me in so many ways. they bring to us new knowledge and energy and prompt us to recall why we chose this career in the first place. because trust me, when you work on a furiously active unit dealing with cancer on a daily basis, renewal of spirit is essential. burn out is high. we have substantial turnover on our floor and seem to always be struggling to have enough staff to feel adequately supported. and it saddens me, because it seems it is always the best of the best that take wing and find their niche elsewhere. i certainly don't begrudge them. i'd be a hypocrite if i said i'd never thought of finding a place to work that is less intense.

but this floor has been a second home now for over 12 years. these people, even the ones that only arrived a matter of months ago, are like family.

anyway. seeing us huddled here together, saying good-bye to one greatly cherished friend and co-worker, emphasized how blessed i feel to be in the trenches with some of the best people (and best nurses) i have ever known. i've been in a steady slump at work lately- tired, stressed, and essentially, burned out. this photo affirmed some of the foremost reasons i love this field and especially the reasons i love this floor. we are a great team. and this is just a small sampling... behind each and every one of us are the hundreds of patients that have helped shape who we are and who have magnified the best in us.

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011. bringing the good news early!

lifted up
(pentax, film)

today was our yearly follow up with E's urologist, which included a renal ultrasound (kidneys), VCUG (where fluid and dye are injected into the bladder and then xray-ed to see how the bladder has changed, if there is any reflux of fluid into her kidneys, or any leaking), followed by the appointment with her M.D. who is, in a word, our favorite physician. that says a lot, cuz our girl got lots. at any rate, GOOD news all around. the reflux has resolved (thanks to medication), her hydronephrosis (basically, engorged kidney- with "water", or in her case, probably urine) is 100% resolved, and she held an UNgodly amount of saline in her bladder without leaking during the exam. are we in the clear? for good? no, and we never will be. she has one kidney that is severely scarred from years of insult (reflux) and her bladder pressure runs high very early into filling, showing that it's basically a bit "noncompliant" (as in, it doesn't want to stretch, but the meds are helping). and it will mean surgery for her in the future, but that could be years away. and that's what we're hoping for and banking on. and even though she doesn't have reflux anymore, the high pressures alone cause kidney damage, so she'll be closely monitored for the rest of her life.

that said, i am hoping this is a sign of good news to come, all around. her bday is exactly a week from today and we are completely stoked (especially the birthday girl who hasn't stopped talking about January since September). She will be receiving one very special surprise hopefully this weekend if all goes as planned... (sorry, can't spill here... yet!). not meant at all to be some cliff hanger, just so darn excited for her (and us) that i can't keep my mouth shut. Aunt Karen, no spilling the beans! of course, anyone is free to guess. just cuz i'm curious about what you'd come up with.

we are waiting to have her party at the end of the month because we wanted to secure the museum of natural history- there will be a fossil hunt, fossil making, a tour, and a party. we can't wait!

in other not-as-exciting-to-you good news, i was loaned this camera (the one i borrowed dates back to the early 80s). i had it checked out at my fave camera shop today and it is in perfect working order despite shelf dust and only the lenses need some cleaning. so, this weekend promises some adventure. i swear i am a total camera hog. if i like this one, i will be buying it from the prior owner.

ransom's tumors seen to be multiplying but so gradually that it's not, for whatever reason, concerning to me. someone commented in another post that love is keeping him here, and it reminded me of my favorite photographer, John Kaplan, who documented a large portion of his journey fighting lymphoma in Not As I Pictured (perhaps the most evocative and compelling documentary I have ever seen. as an aside, he happens to have adopted from China as well). what struck the deepest chord in me was one photograph he took of himself when he'd returned to class after treatment- on the back of his t-shirt was this: "LOVE KILLS CANCER". tears were streaming down my face. LOVE kills cancer.

i visualized all the cancers there are in this world: from his and my dog's and all my patients lymphomas to lung cancers to hatred to prejudice to religious intolerance... and i thought, the truth- it always hits you this hard. love kills cancer. in all its forms. of course! brilliant!

and truthfully, seeing this documentary as an oncology nurse with a severe and lifelong passion for photography, coming to know his story even a little- well, he's been the inspiration for me to return to school. my first declared major was photography. and maybe it's a pipe dream and maybe i won't be able to really make it happen, but i'm looking into photojournalism. as it happens, he teaches at the school i graduated from, right up the road... :O)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

(pentax k1000, film fuji pro 100)

i swear we are all alive, and breathing, and well! it has been a whirlwind beginning to 2011 and the weather though crisp has been gorgeous so we find ourselves opting for long walks or when it's too cold (or rainy as it was yesterday), indoors playing new games on the W*i - which has been, i have to admit, a complete blast. i'm also posting more often here, as one of my cameras follows me everywhere i go and lately i have been a girl of few words.

i promise a proper update soon, as this month promises activities and hope: E's 5th bday in 11 days, a second opinion about her spine and brain from a highly recommended neurosurgeon in a city not far from us (and with this, the hope of detethering of her spinal cord), ransom who is holding his own and still doing beautifully in spite of those tumors, and my desire to return to school in the fall :) more on that later!

off to embrace a bright, sunny, 63 degree day!