Life of Joy

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Love the Ones You're With!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

My Bros

To Mark and Norin, my favorite and most dear brothers.

Mark---Thank God, I figured out years ago that I was never going to come out on top if I was in a competition with you. That gave me permission to quit trying and to find other things I could do well. I still remember the only time I ever won the Ransom County Spelling Championship when we lived in Lisbon, was after you had moved on to Junior High and couldn't compete against me! Since Erik left Drake I miss your Fall visits to IA. I know that it has to consume a lot of your time and energy keeping up with all the young adults you and Jana have between the two of you. We have had many fun family times together over the years. I hope that we can keep finding ways to get together at least once a year and include as many kids in that gathering as possible. I have really enjoyed getting to know your kids as young adults----they are interesting, intelligent, socially conscious people who are a pleasure to be around.

Norin----First of all, I'm glad that you and Robin and the dogs survived Ike. It was very reassuring to talk to you this morning and to hear it from you that you really are OK. Norin, you were the first little kid that I ever really liked and enjoyed. I would get as excited when you learned to do something new as Mom did. I loved teaching you the words to identify flora and fauna when I took you to the park to swing. I'm sure you were a quick learner, but I was pretty positive I was a good teacher back then, too! So the next time you identify and tree or weed in the wild, think of me! Thank you for checking up on me this past year, all of the family support was really vital when trying to stay positive and hopeful. You have been a great little bro and it's hard to believe my little bro is now 50 like the rest of us. I enjoyed our time together in ND this summer, even though it was sad about Uncle Don's passing.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Pam, you are the best sister I could ask for. We certainly have a long history together, but I'm looking forward to creating many more memories. Here is another digital LO I did for my Jessica Sprague class. The picture on the left is you when we did the Hiawatha bike trail and I was celebrating the one year anniversary of my surgery. I was so grateful for your visit a year ago. It really helped me keep my mind from dwelling on worst case scenarios. I really enjoyed your company. I know it might not have seemed that way to you since I could not make it through a movie without falling asleep, but something about having you here gave me a lot of courage, courage to face the installation of my port, courage to face my first chemo, and courage to face my future. Somehow having you nearby reassured me that everything was going to be OK. So thank you for that gift of you. You will never know how much it meant to me. Now this summer was a far cry from last summer. Visiting the Bison Range, Riding the Hiawatha Trail, Rafting the Bitterroot, shooting pictures wherever we went, it was wonderful sister time and I enjoyed it immensely. I am looking for many more adventures and don't forget our Norwegian cruise. You are going to have your money saved before me, I fear!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Men in My Life

Karrah and John

John and Derek are the #1 men in my life. I'll start with John who is my husband, my partner, my co-conspirator in home projects (YIKES), my co-parent. Life is so different now from our dating days when we basically were always on the look out for the next concert to attend, camping on the Caribbean beaches south of Cancun, spending lazy Sunday mornings reading the paper in the park. I'm guessing that Married With Children had something to do with that.

You have been such a support during the past year, my dear John. Especially last summer and early fall when I was off work following surgery. You were my chef, my butler, my chauffer---anything I wanted or thought I wanted you found a way of trying to make it happen. Pam felt so sorry for you after the first chemo when you fixed everything that I thought I wanted to eat, but I was sick from the smells and had to go lay down. I'm sure I didn't say thank you enough for all of your effort. Then there were all the trips to see the Doctor this past year, every 3 weeks, the trips to the Infusion Room, taking me back to the hospital for my Neulasta shot after chemo. I really appreciate all that you did and that you are still doing.

We certainly had a good time attending some really great concerts prior to having children and are now enjoying attending concerts with our children. I enjoyed the Green Day concert so much even though my companions were 5 twelve year old boys! You and Karrah experienced Bob Dylan together in the past year. Our family saw The Who together in 2006. We had intentions of having a family trip to Chicago to see Eric Clapton and his group of guitar heroes at Slowhand, but my cancer and surgery interfered with my attendance.

I really love your playful, fun loving side. When you are in the mood, you can be quite the life of the party. I hope you can find that side of yourself just as often in our AARP years, as you did in our relative youth 25 years ago. I'm looking forward to many more adventures with you as we launch the kids somewhere in the next few years. I think we're too old to sleep on beaches and the party has to be over by 10 (bedtime) but other than that I think we can kick up our heels! Love you honey.


Derek, you are an amazing young man. I cannot believe how you tower over me all of a sudden. We haven't measured you lately, but I think you are probably about 6' 3" and I'm not sure you have attained your full stature.

Derek, you have a great disposition most of the time. You can be so considerate and helpful.
You are a very capable student, but I know that you would rather be motivated by money than grades. ; ) It is hard to believe that you will be taking driver's ed before this year is out. And, by next spring you'll be driving on your own.

Follow your conscience, listen to your heart, and always be willing to help when someone needs an extra hand. Believe in yourself, your ablity to do a good job and your ability to achieve your goals. I know that sounds a little like blah blah blah to a fifteen year old, but I sincerely mean it . I love you. Oh, and don't forget to wash behind your ears. (Mom's are always supposed to say that)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mom and Dad

Next I will pay tribute to my Mom and Dad. I know you may have not always understood me while I was growing up and I certainly did not always understand you, but now being on the other side of the equation, so to speak, I have a lot of sympathy for what I put you through. I count myself as being so lucky to first of all, have you two for my parents. But secondly, that I have got to spend all this time with you. Your good health has been a blessing for me because I can't imagine a life without you. I also appreciate that you have always been there for me, and never questioned my judgement, at least not as an adult! I see so many kids in my job that have never known or felt that kind of love and support. It is not hard to understand the devastating impact that they carry with them for their entire lives. I have learned that you never quit needing your parents. They are the rock that never gives way, they are the force that holds you up when you are too tired to hold yourself up, they are the people who always, always, always believe in your goodness and will do anything in their power to help you. I try to be that kind of Mom because that's what I grew up experiencing. God bless both of you and I hope that we have many more wonderful years together. Here is a scrapbook layout I just completed from our family time together over the 4th of July.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I completed another digital layout this morning, so thought I would tie it in with my message to my daughter. You can never know the joy that you brought into my life one cold December day almost 18 years ago. Your imagination and creativity, your way with words, your sense of humor has always amazed me. I know that my picture taking is very vexing at times, but I certainly appreciate your humoring me from time to time. You are so beautiful right now with your bloom barely unfurled. May you always trust yourself, you have great inner instinct. May you always believe in yourself even when the barriers seem incredible. And, may you always know what joy and laughter you bring to those around, how loveable you are, and how grateful your parents are that you are you.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Where Has the Summer Gone?

It seems like I ask this question around this time every year. How is it that it "suddenly" becomes September? The kids are back in school, fall is almost here, meaning certainly that summer is almost gone. I'm not really sure why I'm always surprised by September, summer is not shorter than any of the other seasons, yet it never seems quite long enough for all the projects, trips, gardening, photographing that I want to do.

In September I plan to devote my blog to paying homage to those special people in my life who give my life meaning, who gave me the strength to fight my cancer, who inspire me to keep looking forward to each new day.

I'm taking a digital scrapbook class from Jessica Sprague. I completed the first assignment this morning. I used a picture of Linda Beal Tyler from Pelican Lake this past summer. At first I tried to use a group shot but I couldn't get it cropped to the 4x4 format I needed for the layout, so I ended up using this one. We (friends from high school) have been getting together each summer since our 30th Reunion in 1999. We had planned to gather in Ames this summer, but we made some changes when Linda was enduring some work distress. We did the same last year when I had my operation for OvCa a few days before our planned August get together. Our reunions are times of great joy for me. I feel so blessed to have such wonderful women in my life. This picture of Behi on one of our "magical" pontoon rides with Chuck at the helm more or less says it all. Not a worry in the world. Peace, camaraderie, caught up in the beauty of the moment----it was all ours. I will relive that moment everytime I look at this LO. Thank you Jane and Chuck for sharing this special part of your world with us. Thank you Patrick and Linda for making the drive. Thank you, Dot, for being there and being my roommate, if not my bed mate!!