Friday, June 22, 2012

cancer sucks

Last year my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

Breast cancer in her lungs.

She has fought this ugly disease for several years now.  It seems that just when she's declared cancer-free, something else shows up: a lump, a spot, a tumor.  In the past, she's had surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.  The doctors always find a way to make the cancer go away.  Not this time.  This last diagnosis was the worst kind, as it has no cure beyond a healing miracle.

My mom is diligent about getting her scans and bloodwork and following her doctor's orders (plus she's an optimistic, God-fearing woman with a very large fan club), which has helped tremendously. She's been in and out of the hospital, had another port surgically inserted, and is a regular at the cancer center.

Sometimes she has little "helpers" with her.  My sister and the kiddos are so good at keeping mom company during her chemo treatments when our dad can't be there.. and texting me picture messages.

None of us know how this will play out.  Some people live a long time with cancer.  Others don't.  I do know that my mom's greatest gift is having all of her children and grandchildren around her, and I don't think she's done being a grandma yet.

Body scans today, chemo again on Monday.

God is present.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

smoothie 2

This was the scene, as I drank my blueberry-greens smoothie right out of the shower.  You know, when you tilt the cup back and the liquid comes at you all at once?


Monday, June 18, 2012


I live in the wrong part of the country.

Football is a big deal in the midwest, and I'm just not that girl.  Give me soccer, hockey, beach volleyball or gymnastics, and I'm good.

Not even the lure of stadium hot dogs and loaded nachos will make me want to attend a football game (though, tempting).  The two ways you can get me to go are if someone I know is playing or is one of the cheerleaders.  It's what made me go to football games in high school. Well, and the social scene.. and the cute boys.

My dear friend, Melissa, is a cheer dancer for The NE Ohio Prowlers. This is the same friend who cheer danced for The Crew MLS team in Columbus last year.  The Crew dissolved their dance team, so Melissa moved closer to home and got a job coaching and choreographing for The Prowlers.

© photo credit:

The Prowlers cheer for a semi-professional football team called The Predators.  (I agree, the names are kinda creepy).  Saturday night, I joined Melissa's family for a little road trip to Macedonia to watch Melissa perform.  Of course, it meant sitting through a three hour football game, but you do crazy things for love.. and Melissa is one talented girl (pretty, too!)!

I've always loved watching people dance in unison.  Show me any dance movie and I'm a fan, regardless of the weak plotline and acting.  I watched the original Fame as a child, and even attempted ballet for a year.  I can't wait for Step Up: Revolution to hit theaters next month.  And, flash mobs?  Heck yes!  Hip hop is my favorite style of dancing to watch, so when Melissa led her girls in a hip hop-style routine to "Whoomp! (There it Is),"  I was at the edge of my seat.

You can see my phone video here.

She and her brother, Josh, have danced in events at our church over the years, and they both danced professionally on stage for a time.

Even though football will take a long time to grow on me, spending an evening with friends on a mild summer evening (watching one of my favorite art forms) makes it all worth it.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

waldorf remix

Chopped apple, nectarine, celery, grapes, and walnuts make the base for my version of Waldorf Chicken Salad.  Cover in the juice from 1/2 of a lemon and 2 small naval oranges (or 4 little mandarin oranges, if you have a few of those lying around).  

Throw in some cooked chicken (seasoned with salt & pepper) and light mayo (I use a good squirt, but not too much). Spread on spinach wraps or flat out bread.  

Add lettuce if you're fancy.  Roll it up.

Serve a colorful quinoa salad on the side.

Hello.  Summer is here.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

roommate 2

On April 14th, Amanda moved in.

We joked with her before she arrived that we were going to "Amanda proof" our home, like you do for a baby.  I suggested padding all sharp corners with bubble wrap.  She was amused, and maybe slightly disappointed that we didn't really do it.

Amanda has had her share of minor injuries and other health struggles since moving in, but she is learning how her body responds to pain and how she can help herself.  She also started physical therapy again this week.

The three of us have talked a lot about her health and how we can help motivate her towards change, as well as teaching her about self-awareness and living communally.  Amanda has so much potential.

We believe in her and desire to see her flourish and have the best possible chance at this life.  This video has been a motivator for us.

Never give up.

So, while Amanda has found herself in these places lately..

She has also found herself surrounded by an army of friends, and a support system that exists even when she is alone in her room.

Plus, she has become a master gardener and is a huge help around the house.  She bakes us brownies and even cooked dinner for my husband after he returned home from a church conference this month.  Shake 'n Bake has become her specialty.

Amanda is quirky and beautiful and funny and sincere.

And we love her.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

tears & dancing

Earlier this week, one of my high school girls, Lauren (who left me a love note on my car window), asked if I would drive her to the cemetery where her childhood best friend was buried.  Tragically, he was hit by a car and died in front of her four years ago.  This is the first time she would visit his grave since the accident.

How can you say no to a request like that?  She called it a favor, I considered it a duty.

On Saturday, armed with blended drinks from Starbucks, we found ourselves walking around headstones looking for his name.  Lauren didn't know where in the cemetery he was located, but she looked pretty, wearing a black dress and bright red shrug.  

Being that it was 84 degrees out that afternoon, we gave it an hour and then regrouped.  Thankfully, she was able to find his obituary online and, in turn, the address of the hosting funeral home. We drove there and a kind man named Bill looked up the boy's burial records and showed us a map of the grounds.

With his help, we went back to the cemetery and found young Cody's grave within minutes.  I left Lauren alone, as she laid a potted plant next to the others and wept.

Later that evening, I drove to Akron to watch one of my young friends dance.  It was her 14th birthday.

This is the fourth production I've seen Victoria in over the past two years.  She has grown as a performer and is no longer scared on stage.  She is confident and graceful, and can even dance on pointe. Two of my other high school girls are also in the troupe, Sarah and Angela.  Angela danced the lead in this show, beautifully.

Victoria's mom found me a seat two rows from the stage, giving me one of the best view's in the auditorium.  It brought me so much joy watching all of the young people on stage, expressing more (through movement) than words ever could.  I had to ask the gal sitting next to me for a Kleenex.  I cried like a proud mama would.

"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others." - Pericles

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

change is good

Two years ago last April, we bought our first home.

While we've decided we prefer to be renters, we have made this house our own and quite like the owner privilege of making changes wherever we choose.

Recently, we updated the guest bathroom and kitchen floor.

Here are before and after photos.

We removed the tiling on the wall, changed the paint color from pale yellow to raffia ribbon, and replaced fixtures and d├ęcor.  We left the shower tiling in its original form, since I'm not (yet) ready to part with the nostalgia of the pink bathtub and its matching pink and white backdrop.

The linoleum that came with the house was old and stained.  No matter how hard I scrubbed, I could not get it clean.  Plus, when we remodeled the kitchen, everything got moved around, so the floor no longer fit.  We learned to live with it, but now that it's new again, my bare feet are happy.

Change is good.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


© photo credit:

Cornerstone Chapel is busier than usual this week, as we host the viewing and memorial service for Kevin Fox, one of the young people who died in a car accident on Sunday.

It's being called the Brunswick Tragedy.

Five teenagers were speeding on a country road and lost control of their vehicle, as it was launched over an open railroad crossing and struck a tree.  Four of the students died, one survived.  The day they died was the same day two of them were supposed to graduate from Brunswick High School.

Approximately 2,000 mourners attended yesterday's viewing.  At least twice as many are expected at this afternoon's memorial service.  My husband is on staff at the church and told me they've received food and supply donations from businesses and churches all over the county and beyond. The outpouring of support has been amazing.

Kevin used to attend our youth group and Sunday morning services. It's a terrible loss all the way around, and makes me want to hug my youth kids a little tighter.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

fly with me

Yes, I know it's not polite to take pictures of strangers without their permission.  But, what can I say?  I am fascinated by culture and facial expressions, fashion choices and personality.  Those little moments that make up a big moment pass by so quickly.

I don't want to miss out on the story.

Since meeting my husband, I have logged hundreds of air miles flying between states, and international travel.  He and I had a long-distance "dating" relationship, so terminals and baggage claims became familiar territory.  For the eleven months prior to saying our vows, airports were the source of blissful expectation and gut-wrenching goodbyes.  Thankfully, we lived in a pre-9/11 world, and could sit with each other until the final boarding call.  Chris used to hold me in his arms and sing softly in my ear. Thousands of tears were shed that year.  Pining is not for the weak.

Like parents with multiple kids, there does come a time where the way you coddled the first child becomes a thing of the past with your third.  Same with flying.  Chris and I often take solo trips now.  While living in Washington, he made several commutes to California for work, and to visit his dying father.  He takes trips now for church conventions, and occasionally we fly together to San Francisco to visit the extended Holowaty family or to Orange County to visit his godson. Mostly, I fly to Seattle by myself.

One of life's delights for me is meeting people on airplanes.

Rarely do you know who you will be sat next to.  I'm the one who pops her head up like a gopher to see who's eyeing the row she's sitting in.  Over the years, I have met businessmen and women, puking children, karaoke singers, scientists, honeymooners, students, musicians, and the like.  I'm not one who chats it up the whole flight, just enough conversation to be comfortable with the person I might be sharing a flotation device with "in the unlikely event..."

Last week, I made one of my semiannual visits to Seatown.  Now that there are no longer direct flights to the west coast, I have to take a total of four planes round-trip.  That's four opportunities to make a new Facebook friend.

On the first flight, I sat next to an international dog show judge named Ron Hilliard.  He and his wife used to work the dog show circuit together, until a muscle disease crippled her.  Apparently, you can't be a judge if you walk with a cane.  And yes, he has seen the Christopher Guest mockumentary, Best in Show.  On the second flight, I met a hipster couple who brought their pet spaniel on-board. He read Time magazine, while she drew pictures in charcoal and colored pencils.  Flight number three had me seated next to an old Asian couple.  She had back troubles and must have shifted in her chair and across her husband's lap a dozen times.  They were so sweet, and spent half an hour telling me (in broken English) their natural remedies for allergies (raw garlic & honey anyone?).  The final flight was late in the evening and I was tired, so I opted for reading my People magazine and watching overpriced airline television.  For sure the middle-aged couple who shared my row was Eastern European (such distinct features).  He played Sudoku while she read a romance novel, and they shared a hard salami & cheese sandwich that was smelled before seen.  I enjoyed listening to them talk to each other in a language I didn't understand.

Come fly with me.