Tuesday, July 27, 2010


This picture shows exactly how I felt today - just in a fuzzy, blurry haze. Tired, tired, tired. I went outside to try and take a sunrise picture, but there was absolutely NO color. Everything was gray!

New pain doctor tomorrow, hoping for any new perspective...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Blast from Brent's Past

I went with Brent to his 10 year high school reunion on Saturday night. We went with a great group of friends he is still in touch with, including his best friend Jordan (in the picture) and I met plenty of other nice and interesting people at the reunion. It was entertaining to hear stories of Brent during his baseball days, his famous homecoming after party (for which he got caught) and just seeing a different side of my goofy boyfriend. Ever since we met he has been saying he wouldn't go, but he had a much better time than he anticipated, and I am so glad he had fun! I didn't have a good high school experience, but it made me think a bit-I wonder if I will change my mind? There are some people I wouldn't mind seeing...
{Brent lovin'...I think he likes me better!}
There wasn't any dancing so unfortunately we didn't get anything like Romy & Michelle's, but maybe if I go to mine I can look forward to something like this...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Some More S'mores

S'mores. Crunchy. Gooey. Chocolatey. Melty. A sweet messy overload of yumminess. To me, there is nothing like s'mores to evoke the feelings of childhood. Family camping trips, Indian Princess campouts, and bonfires. Demolishing one after another after another until the parental cutoff. Looking down at the campfire, and up at the stars, left with a sick but content belly, sticky fingers and a big sticky smile.
After weeks of cravings, Brent and I finally made it happen. We stationed two camping chairs on his tiny patio in front of our makeshift campfire-the barbecue-and geared up. Overcome with a familiar childlike giddiness, I roasted my perfect marshmallow-golden brown exterior and gooey interior, finished with a kiss of flames for a quickly charred outer shell.
Graham cracker-check. Hershey's chocolate-check. Perfect mallow-check. Three little ingredients forming such a gigantically blissful creation. I held the treat like edible treasure, and we sat back savoring each and every bite. I will say it again...Crunchy. Gooey. Sweet. Chocolatey. Melty. Messy. Gooooood.

For the second round, Brent one-upped it, and added peanut butter to the mix. Imagine s'more meets Reese's. Even the annoying June bugs (or should I say July bugs? They seem confused) flying into us and the walls couldn't put a damper on our s'more making. Sweets with my sweet. What could be better?

♥Yay for summer!♥

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I Heart Music, July Playlist

On a recent bad day I flashed back to a specific time during the hospital stay following my transplant. I was by myself in my room, feeling really sick and my spirits were down. The room phone rang, my mom was on her way down and would be there soon. She could tell I was having a rough day and desperately wanted to do anything to make me feel better. She suggested a little music therapy. I was being stubborn and told her that, no, I didn't want to listen to music-"it wouldn't help!" But a few minutes after hanging up with her, I put on my headphones, popped a c.d. into my metallic blue portable player, and instantly felt better. Two things: 1-mother knows best, and 2-music always makes me feel better.

Music holds so much power in its amazing ability to calm, inspire, create emotion, form memories, generate associations, transport a person to somewhere else, and much more. I am fascinated with everyone's unique preference toward different styles and sounds, and the wide range of meanings music can hold for each person.

So many songs are tied to specific memories of mine...if I hear any Enya song, I am immediately taken back to one of my sickest points in the hospital and have to get away from the sound. Eric Clapton's "Leila" reminds me of my dad, a song he frequently sang and played on his guitar when we were kids. John Mayer is my comfort food of music. The Last Kiss Soundtrack, specifically Joshua Radin's "Paperweight" takes me back to Brent and my first date, the CD I had playing in my car. "Spiderwebs" by No Doubt reminds me of the time I called the local radio station to request the song and the DJ told me to look up to my ceiling to check for spiderwebs, I was around 9 years old. "Ready or Not" by the Fugees makes me think of my brother, Nick, he listened to it when we were kids and wanting to be just like him, I of coursed liked it too. Shaggy takes me back to our weekends out at the desert house in Ocotillo Wells sitting by the fire on Saturday nights with the stereo blasting. Ratatat makes me laugh everytime, thinking of Nick and his friend's dance video to the song in Australia, which then inspired Andrea, Brooke and my take on the video.

Pandora + the Broken Bells station = lots of new music I have fallen in love with.
Here's my June Playlist:

Broken Bells "The Ghost Inside"
Blind Pilot "One Red Thread"
Angus & Julia Stone "Paper Aeroplane"
Phoenix "Armistice"
RJD2 "A Beautiful Mine"
Mumford & Sons "Little Lion Man"
Andrew Bird "Imitosis"

So on that recent bad day I listened to my July playlist and BAM! I felt better. ♥

{Picture taken in Central Park, New York City, NY}

Morning Mist

Nights may be the hardest time of day for me. With pain all day, I want nothing more than an 8 hour escape from it. But while most people use this time to rest, recharge, and rev themselves for the next day, mine is spent tossing and turning and is far from restful. I dread crawling into bed. I have not had the luxury of a good night's sleep in over two years - and when I say good, I mean NOT waking up 4-5 times per night in pain, and waking up at crack of dawn needing to break loose from my bedroom prison.

It's like I sleep with some cruel partner who takes pleasure in waking me over and over. Poking me relentlessly through the night going "wake up, wake up!" Then an hour later "are you awake, are you awake?" And then as early as possible "get up, get up!" I get out of bed a few times per night to grab an ice pack or heat pack, take a pain pill, stretch, or sometimes move to the couch for a different feeling on my back. This little evil partner is sitting there laughing, waiting for me to fall asleep again just to wake me up once more.

It usually takes me about a half hour to actually get out of bed in the morning, I am in such intense pain from lying in the same position for so many hours my back cannot take another minute of it. But after a fitful night of sleep, my mind is fighting as hard as it can to get my body to stay in bed and sleep some more. But it's useless. I need a sleeping pill every night just to get enough past the pain where I can fall asleep. It only works for a few hours, until I wake up for the first time.

Up at 6:00 this morning, the house completely silent. I am always the first one up, except for Uncle Hal who has already left for work. I open my door in a very specific way to avoid it's loud creaking, and tip-toe out to the couch. I lay down for a few minutes staring out the window then go outside. 62 degrees, light grey sky, and a light misting. The only sounds I can hear are from the neighborhood waking up. A baby crying and mom trying to calm it. A dog barking. And all the happy little birds chirping back and forth. Do you think birds sleep well? Or are they talking about the same thing as me? Something like...

CHIRP-CHIRP-CHIRP-CHIRP (translation): "I slept so bad last night, the babies kept waking me up."
CHIRP-CHIRP-CHIRP: "Yeah me too, mine kept pushing me out of the nest."

What do you think?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Butterflies and Bullfrogs

Brent's family has been going to Warner Springs Ranch for over twenty years and this past trip was bittersweet. The resort was recently purchased by the Pala Indians for $20 million, and the family will no longer be individual owners after this summer. This trip was last time everyone could get together for a weekend out there.

The weekend was tough for me physically, my back did particularly bad with the drive and I didn't sleep a wink, I stayed in the cabin all day Saturday feeling rather flu-like while they went golfing. Sunday I didn't feel sick, and I forced myself to work through the pain and exhaustion to tag along on the golf course. I am glad I did...it looked completely different than the previous trip and there was so much to see. Have a look!

(Can you see the BullFrog?)

Friday, July 16, 2010

We're Not in California Anymore

It has been HOT this week. Seems like summer is a little confused this year, it's typical weather trying to play catch-up and make up for coming late. Thursday was no exception. It was just about 100 degrees in the backyard...and while I know the rest of the country is much hotter in places, this is hot for us.

My dad come up last night to visit. Aunt Lori & Uncle Hal celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary yesterday and went to dinner, so my dad took Emily & I out for Thai food at Mongkut Thai, delicious as usual. As the evening progressed the sky turned darker and darker and we could hear thunder in the distance. We came home to a HUGE full rainbow in the backyard, and a beautiful sunset in the front of the house. We were all laughing about the "Double Rainbow" video, and laughed even harder when we stumbled on the "Double Rainbow Song." While we were outside snapping pictures, it started to rain! It was still just as hot, but with big fat drops falling from the dark sky.
We lit the tiki torches and the five of us sat in the backyard marveling over the strange weather. Are you sure this is California?
P.S. the rainbow was much brighter and striking than it appears in the photo, but had it on the wrong camera setting :(

Monday, July 12, 2010

Survivor Season 10, Episode 2

More photos from the party...
My wonderful Dad
My very own Survivor Buff!
Hamisha and Keno
Dane & Jack enjoying their cupcake feast!
Georgia, my mom, and Deanna
My cousin, Emily, and Clyde, the male Bull Mastiff

Brent & me

Yay :)

Survivor Season 10, Episode 1

Season 1 of Survivor aired in May 2000, the same time I was in the hospital for my transplant. One of the first major reality TV series, Aunt Lori & I, as well as so many others, were instantly hooked. Each week in my hospital room we would watch - and while I don't remember most of what happened during that first season, I do remember how exciting it was and what a nice escape from my reality it provided.

10 years later, May 16 2010, Aunt Lori carried this theme through to my 10-year transplant anniversary party. She gave me a homemade Survivor "buff" & the first season of Survivor on DVD.

This was a very special day for me as friends and family gathered together to celebrate with a pool party at my mom & Doug's house in Fallbrook. It's hard to believe it has been 10 years. 10 years since my new beginning. 10 years since that day at Children's Hospital when I received my cord blood transplant. The IV bag hung next to my bed and looked no different from a normal blood transfusion. Taking only about an hour or two to complete, I slept through it. I had spent the past week at the Ronald McDonald house with my mom as my body was wiped clean of its immune system. I underwent total body irradiation three times per day for 5 days, and one week of intensive chemotherapy.

For me, half of what makes for a good party is the food. And there was no disappointment here! The menu included my favorite-pulled pork sandwiches, accompanied by two types of coleslaw. It was potluck style and everyone did a great job...2 types of guacamole-regular and mango, olive tapenade with bread, leek & mushroom quiche, blackeyed peas, green salad, cold pasta salad, tomato/feta/cucumber salad, Nick's famous smoked fish dip. For dessert I baked 3 types of cupcakes-chocolate, vanilla & lemon, plus 3 flavors of frosting-chocolate, vanilla & cream cheese, and set up a build-it-yourself cupcake bar with toppings galore-M&Ms, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, 3 flavors of jam, lemon curd, nuts, dried fruit, crushed graham crackers & Oreos, sprinkles, gummy bears. The food was all so incredible, I was a happy girl.

Thanks to my mom and aunt Lori, there were also a handful of surprises in store.
{Surprise 1}
The first guests arrived, my grandpa and Pearl. I thought they were still on vacation in New York and had no idea they were coming!
{Surprise 2}
I was waiting down at the pool as the remaining guests arrived. Coming down the steps to the pool area was a woman I did not recognize with two young boys. My first thought was, "who is that" and my second was "did someone just invite a random friend? That's annoying...I didn't really want just random people here" and then..."wait a minute...that's...JEN!!" And let out a scream.

I had my share of nurses, some I liked more than others. But Jen...Jen was different. She didn't treat me like another sick kid patient. We bonded instantly, talking about things that had nothing to do with my being sick or the hospital...we talked about girl stuff. And her cute Navy Seal husband. And gossiped about the nurses and doctors. And laughed at stuff on TV. And when I was at my sickest, she was the only nurse who voluntarily took me as a patient. The other nurses were to scared to be responsible for me in my sick and fragile state. Years later we are still in contact and I could not have thought of a better surprise for my party. (Plus her boys Jack and Dane were adorable)

{Surprise 3} A card from my primary care doctor, Dr. Roberts. I liked him from the moment I met him-even though the first time we ever talked was when he told me I had cancer. From his warm demeanor to his crooked smile to the way he talked to me, I liked and respected everything about him. Receiving this card from him wishing me congratulations was very special.

{Surprise 4} A card from Susan Branch. I will explain in more detail later, but in a nutshell, I met her just before my transplant on a trip I took with Aunt Lori & Emily. Knowing about my upcoming transplant, she sent me a package filled with a beautiful blank scrapbook and a gigantic amount of scrapbooking supplies. I used the scrapbook to make a memory book of my time in the hospital. Hearing from her 10 years later was such a wonderful surprise! (It is a great story and I will post soon in detail)

It was a such a fun group of people...my family - Mom & Doug, my Dad, Nick, Aunt Lori, Uncle, Hal, Emily, Grandpa, and Pearl, Aunt Laurie and Uncle Phil, and everyone else - Andrea, Brooke, Jen & her two boys, Brent, Georgia & her husband Billy and sister Deanna, and our friend Keno who was visiting from Germany for three weeks with his girlfriend Hamisha. Georgia I worked together for a few years and have been close ever since, and Keno was originally our exchange student, and when Nick and I went on our 8th grade exchanges to Germany we stayed with his family. He has been out to visit many times since then, and was actually staying with us 10 years ago while I was going through my treatment.

It was such a wonderful day and much more than I ever expected. Thank you so much to everyone who helped make it special, I will never forget it!

Friday, July 9, 2010


I don't remember when my favorite color became green.
I have a memory of standing on the playground in elementary school and proudly stating my favorite colors were purple, pink, and silver.
I outgrew those colors & it has been green for a long time.
My Dad thinks green is an odd color to choose as a favorite, and says he only knows two people that have it as their favorite-his girlfriend and his daughter.
Warner Springs a few weeks ago with Brent's family was a treat, and everything was so green! So clean, so fresh, so inviting.
The weekend was filled with warm weather, beautiful surroundings, hot springs, golf, reading, lounging at the pool, card games, laughter, delicious food and fantastic company.
The golf course was so strikingly green it was almost glowing.
We are going back this weekend and wonder if it will look the same?
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