Thursday, January 31, 2008

Finally, a finish

I finally put the borders on my Carolina Crossroads quilt today. I used Bonnie's no-math method for the first time and they turned out great, so she has yet another convert! I still need to put together a backing and the binding, but at least the top is done. I want to do the backing and binding and keep them with the top so that when I finally get back to longarming I can just grab the next in line and go!
Speaking of longarming, I bought Dawn Ramirez' Pajama Quilter DVD because Mary was having too much fun with hers! And I can say that now I know why -- what a fabulous find. Dawn has lots of tips for beginners and beyond on machine quilting freehand. I even went out and bought a bigger whiteboard so I could actually practice easier (instead of having to erase every foot!)

My quilt guild's newsletter editor had to give up the job this month because of other commitments, so I volunteered to finish the year (which just started). I was actually going to volunteer last year when they were filling offices, but Nel had already said she would do it again. She's done a great job. But I'm looking forward to the work. It makes me focus on quilty stuff and it's actually a lot of fun. I used to be the editor a few years back.

JR got his stitches out yesterday afternoon and is cone-head free now! He's still "letting" us carry him upstairs, but he can actually do it himself. We're supposed to keep him from jumping and running around for 3 months -- yeah, like that's going to be an easy job! We can take him out on a leash for now, so that helps some. Thankfully, the weather is too cold for him to be out running around anyway.

Steve is doing well this week, his first of radiation and chemo. They've given me the dates I'll be driving him to Madison, which are not that many -- he really has found out what super friends he has -- these guys are even taking days off work to share in the driving duties.

Witnessing the impact my son has made on the lives of others. If we're lucky, we only know the impact we've made on our own families in the end and can only imagine the impact we've made on other's lives. Steve's finding out now and it's blowing us all away!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Today's the Day

Steve and Kim are making the trek up to Madison today for the first of many radiation/chemo treatments. Hope this first blast stuns it and the next one kills all the cancer! Good luck, Steve!

Yesterday we celebrated the January birthdays, and Aaron's, who turns 30 Feb. 3. After breakfast at the Stockholm Inn in Rockford, we all went to Kevin's for a bit. This was the best picture out of 15! (Obviously Steve gets his lack of photography skills from his mother!) Will

thought Murphy's kisses were cool! Murphy is a 14 yr old mini dachsund.

Bonnie is doing a scrappy bargello lap size quilt this Sunday (Super Bowl Sunday) and just for grins and giggles issued an invite to anyone who wants to play along. The instructions are already on her website. I still have the borders to attach to the Carolina Crossroads top I did, but I've been playing in my scrap bins lately too. I still have a long way to go, but I have 1 four-drawer bin of 2", 2-1/2" 3-1/2" and 5" strips and squares completely organized. I hope to add more to it this week and maybe in the process I'll pull the 128 strips I need to play along on Sunday. Next week I'll be helping out with the Madison driving, so probably won't be doing a lot of sewing. It'll be a good time to sort more scraps though.

Things I love: 6. The sound of a baby's laughter.

The feeling of being pro-active in the fight against cancer.
"A positive attitude is a magnet for positive results." -- author unknown

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I've been sewing!

But first, I was babysitting our grandsons last Saturday! That plastic card is Will's favorite thing to chew on! He refuses to sleep on his back, so I checked on him constantly during his two hour nap!
AJ was an angel, most of the time! vbg He fell asleep on the couch for about two hours in the afternoon, too.

It has been bitterly cold here and we've gotten an additional 9 inches of snow this week (and more to come tomorrow). I did manage to get out on Tuesday and run errands and get my haircut finally -- seems like it's been months since I've been out alone! Had lunch with a friend, too. All in all, a great day.

Yesterday I actually sewed some. I made a "practice" grocery tote bag. I was so ticked off on Tuesday -- I bought groceries and I forget to tell them I prefer paper, so I end up with those lousy plastic bags. On the way from the garage to the house, one tore open and deposited a couple of cans and a couple of bottles of salad dressing onto the concrete floor. Thank heavens the bottles were plastic. Anyway -- I decided now was the time to make the grocery totes I've been thinking about making for a couple of months! I used the pattern at and made one yesterday with a few idiot mistakes (might help if I actually read the pattern). Then we had to take JR in to the vet for his first after-surgery checkup. So, when we got back, I cut out 6 more bags and folded and pressed the straps. Today, I stitched up all 6 bags (took me all day, too!). And here they are:

I am pleased with the finished products. But now I need to go back and put the borders on my Carolina Crossroads mystery quilt!

Things I love:
5. Watching babies sleep.

JR is doing well, hopefully next week he'll get the stitches out and the cone off!
Lunch with a friend.
Steve's positive attitude.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Reply to Oscar

Oscar, thanks so much for the comment on my blog -- please check out Steve's blog and leave your email address -- we would much appreciate it. It is wonderful to hear you are doing well! Thanks so much for writing.

Happy Birthday, Kevin!

Kevin is 55 today! Yep -- all three of our kids have January birthdays.
So, Happy Birthday, Kevin!

Friday, January 18, 2008


I have half of my Carolina Crossroads quilt put together. I'd have finished it all, but I spent too much time on the phone talking to my kids -- but the quilting can wait!

Steve will start radiation and chemo on the 28th of January. He was officially accepted into the clinical trial studies also. And spent some time talking with the doctors in Madison gaining knowledge on side effects and what to expect. And also got the cat scan and fitting and marking for the radiation treatments. Ready to get started -- but hopefully he and Kim are out to dinner tonight to celebrate his birthday.

I'm babysitting the grands tomorrow, so maybe Sunday afternoon I'll have time to finish putting this top together!

Happy Birthday, Steve

Today my first born turns 39 (I'd refer to Jack Benny's proverbial 39, but it was before his time!).
May you have 50 more happy and healthy years. Either way -- go for the gusto and enjoy every minute. We all love you.

Things I Love:
4. AJ calling "Uncle Teeb" and wishing him a happy birfday!

All of our kids turned out grand in spite of the times of drugs and violence that permeate our society.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Carolina Crossroads Pt 7

I spent the entire day making the last 25 blocks for Bonnie's mystery quilt, Carolina Crossroads. I have all the blocks finished, now just need to rearrange to my liking and start putting them together. I really like the quilt. Thanks, Bonnie! I need to find a better place for my design wall -- too close to the longarm. vbg

JR is starting to get used to the cone now, but it's really a pain in the butt for all of us. However, it is doing it's job of keeping him from tearing out the stitches -- he's quite frustrated that he can't lick the knee. He also thought he'd like to come down the stairs by himself tonight, but I quickly put a stop to that -- the little daredevil.

Things That I Love:
3. The silence and beauty of snow falling at night.

The George Forman Grill
A phone call from Steph

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wednesday Update

Steve, Kim and I went to UW Madison again yesterday. Dr. Mehta's team determined that it is in fact a Glioblastoma Multiforme. They also confirmed that Dr. Crute did an excellent job of excising the largest mass and they will not be performing any more surgery. Steve signed the papers for enrolling in the clinical studies for this brain tumor, so we now have a plan -- something to work towards. He has to go back on Friday for another scan and to mark the area for radiation. Next week will be some final papers and testing sessions. We think radiation and chemo will start January 28. He will have radiation 5 days a week for 6 weeks, in Madison -- the radiation only takes about 20 minutes, so it will be a drive up there and back every day and they'll work out a schedule for us volunteers to drive. He'll also start on the chemo that day -- it will be in pill form and he will take it 7 days a week for the full 6 weeks. Then he'll have 4 weeks off and then begin the chemo clinical study - which is random. He will either be taking chemo 5 days in a row and have 3 weeks off, or a lesser dose for 21 days with 1 week off, for a total of 6 - 12 months. There are no placebos in this study, just different doses of the chemo. He will have periodic scans during this time to check on progress. So now we start praying for remission.

I also had to take JR in for his anterior cruciate ligament repair yesterday morning before we left for Madison. Bill picked him up in the afternoon. He was pitiful last night -- still groggy from the anethesia, cone on his head that he hates, and very sore leg. This picture was taken a few minutes ago. He's still adjusting to the cone and he still looks pitiful! And the back leg that has been shaved is the one with the stitches. He has to go back next week for a check and in two weeks he'll get the stitches removed, so he's going to have to wear than cone for two weeks. Feeding him tonight should be interesting. He did take a "Beggin' Strip" from me this morning though! And so far, he drinks water if you hold the bowl up to him -- but he's going to have to learn how to negotiate the cone and water bowl soon. And it's really getting cold here, so he's going to have to learn to take care of his business a bit faster -- instead of checking out every last oak leaf that has fallen since the beginning of winter!

Things I love:
2. Antique crocks.
Finally having a plan and having Dr. Mehta explain a few things about this type of brain cancer. We all felt a bit more knowledgeable after his explanation.
Dr. Ian Robins (who prefers to be called Ian), the oncologist in charge of the chemo -- he explained what to expect. It's always nice to get a little insight on what to expect.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Carolina Crossroads Pt 6

I am all caught up with this mystery now. I'm not trying to figure it out -- I'll wait for the surprise. I just put all the part 6 pieces on the design wall so I could get a picture. I can say that I'm already loving the scrappiness of this quilt. And I don't think it'll look too Christmassy with the red and green (although I should wait til the rest of the quilt is done before I decide that).
I'm glad to have caught up though --- I don't like being too far behind.

Back on January 1, Jeanne was talking about selecting a "theme" word to live by for the year. I thought this was quite interesting and was mulling it over when Cher mentioned virtually the same thing. Cher posted a link to this site which I followed. I've been going back and reading more at that site when I get a chance - I like what she has to say. Anyway, I've been mulling over my word for 2008 and I've decided on Compassion. This is to remind me that we are not the only ones going through some tough times, medically, or any other way.
One of the other things Christine Kane suggests is to make a list of 100 things you love. I think I'll try to do that a little at a time and share those things on my blog in lieu of, or in addition to my gratitudes.
Things I love:
1. Hearing almost 6 month old Will babbling in the background while Steph and I talk on the phone. (He must wonder why she talks into that device, but he answers her anyway!)
I'm grateful Bill and I were able to visit our old friend Clancy, who is in a coma and at the end of his life -- but I still believe he knew we were there. And I think we were a little comfort to his kids.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Steve's Blog

Steve decided to start his own blog to document his journey -- so if anyone is interested:

Carolina Crossroads Pt 5

This is my first finished block -- I have roughly half of the 100 needed finished - the rest are in the pile waiting to be stitched together. Except for this one, the other half are waiting to be pressed! It felt good to be stitching today though.
I did spend some time on the longarm, but didn't like what I started to do in a small inner border, so picked those stitches out and gave up for the day. I need to concentrate on only longarming when I get back to it, so I thought I'd finish up the piecing of Bonnie's mystery quilt first.
I've been watching what Mary has been working on and I'm loving the wonky feathers she's playing with. I have lots and lots of flimsies to quilt, so I'm going to concentrate just on the longarm soon and couldn't help but order the dvd Mary has been learning from! This will be the last thing I buy for awhile though -- I have plenty of books and stencils and pantos and patterns to work with really -- I just need to practice, practice, practice -- and I'm looking forward to it.

Steve called today after he got the "zipper" removed from his head (30 staples). His back is feeling better and right about now he's arriving at UW-Madison for his MRI. Today was a good day.
Next Tuesday I'll be going up with Steve & Kim, but Bill will stay home. I will probably be dropping JR off at the Vet Tuesday morning -- he is scheduled for a anterior cruciate ligament repair that day. If I don't get back early enough, Bill will pick him up after surgery. That is going to be some feat -- trying to keep a Jack Russell Terrier down for a few weeks while his leg heals -- we'll probably all go stark raving mad!
Making time to quilt today.
Friends and neighbors that lend a hand.
Online friends -- thanks. You know who you are, and so do I!


Again - no pictures -- gotta get back to quilting!
So, we spent all afternoon in Madison, WI at the UW Cancer Clinic. We met Dr. Mehta (boy did I have the spelling on his name wrong!). He is fabulous. He is the Radiology Oncologist and one of the best in the WORLD. We met Dr. Robbins -- he is a neurological oncologist -- he literally idolizes Dr. Mehta (vbg). He told us Mehta was one of the top 3 in the world (and he considers him #1). Anyway....
Kim (my daughter-in-law is very organized), brought along the CD's that were made from the MRI's and CT scans and all the reports, and the actual tissue specimens of the tumor. Steve also had an MRI of his back the night before, so Dr. Mehta wants that too. (That MRI showed mild disk degeneration -- not at all involved with the tumor as far as we know). Dr. Mehta wanted his surgeon to look everything over and talk to us, but he was involved with another patient/family and couldn't get away yesterday.
Dr. Mehta is very surprised about the diagnosis. He sees Glioblastoma's in much older or much younger people. They will have their own pathologist (that only deals with brain tumors, nothing else) look at the specimens. If it is a different kind of tumor, the treatment is different. If it is a GBM, Steve is eligible for a clinical trial that is being done world-wide.
Steve is going back tonight for an MRI at Madison -- his surgeon here scheduled one for 6 weeks after the surgery, but Dr. Mehta wants one now to see what's what -- so he can compare the ones before surgery and this one after.
We have an appointment next Tuesday with both these doctors and they will have the results of the MRI, their pathologist's report, and their surgeon's input from the MRI's. We are not to make any assumptions. We will know what they know then.
They want to start treatment soon -- as in 3 weeks from the date of Surgery, which would be about the 21st. Treatment for this tumor and the clinical trial is radiation for (they say 6-1/2 weeks, but Dr. Robbins said 42 days, so that would be 8 weeks 2 days), and an oral chemotherapy drug at the same time, then a month rest and then 5 days of the chemo and 3 weeks off for 6 - 12 months or 21 days of the chemo drug and 1 week off for 6 - 12 months -- (this is the trial -- a lesser amount of the drug for a longer period of time and we will know whether he is the control group (5 days) or the trial (21 days) because they don't do sugar pills -- they do the gold standard of treatment or the trial -- which would be a win/win situation. Also -- although this treatment is covered by their insurance, if he does the trial the drugs are free. And the radiation treatment will be done in Madison, so it means driving Steve there 5 days a week for the duration -- but we'll work it out among a few volunteers (it's about a 90 minute drive).

Anyway -- so that's where we're at -- we'll know a lot more next Tuesday. And today, he gets the 30 staples removed! His back is better, but not totally great yet. All of us are looking forward to a quiet, relaxing weekend though! (And I'm looking forward to maybe firing up the longarm!)
The snow/rain didn't start falling til we were back on the road home, although it was a mess for Kim to have to drive through.
We were all impressed with Dr. Mehta and feel UW-Madison is the place we want to continue treatment.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Baby Girl

Today is Steph's birthday -- 32 years old. Born during an ice storm at 11:36 p.m.
Happy Birthday, Steph.

We're heading to Madison, WI today for a meeting with the brain cancer specialists.......
I'll post tonight or tomorrow.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Carolina Crossroads Pt. 4

I managed to dust and vacuum the house today -- wooo hooo! I even got on the treadmill for the first time in over a week. Got a few things done so I could do some quilting today. I have a quilt loaded on the machine, but I need to do some practicing before I start it and I wasn't up to it today. So I decided to tackle step 4 of Bonnie's mystery. I call this type of same-thing sewing mindless, but actually it gives you way too much time to think instead of not think. I guess I need to work on something that makes me concentrate on it so my mind doesn't wander through the what-ifs.
Steve did call today -- he's doing okay at home but his back is killing him -- mostly from the hospital beds and not getting any exercise. It would be easier to recover if he didn't have a back ache. We're going over to see him tomorrow, so maybe I'll stop and pick up some icy/hot patches or something.

Finding some time to quilt -- for my own sanity.
The Eagles' new CD - it's great.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Latest news: We were at the hospital this morning and they took the bandage off permanently. He has a large C incision with a railroad track of staples in it! He is doing "phenomenal." In fact, he is going home tomorrow! He will be recuperating at home for a week before he comes back to have the staples removed. He has an appointment with the radiologist for next Tuesday and they are making appointments with the specific doctor at UW-Madison. This will be where he starts -- they have a team approach there and we believe he will be in good hands.

I can't tell you how wonderful you have all been. It has been exceptionally great to hear from people who have already gone through this very same diagnosis and prognosis and are already 3 years into remission, or ten years beyond the initial surgery. It's something when you read about it in research on the 'net -- it is something else entirely to actually hear from real people. I told Steve about some of the comments and emails I have received and he is really cheered by it. So, thanks from all of us!

We had to take JR (Jack Russell terrier) to the vet today -- he has an anterior cruciate ligament tear. We will be taking him to our first choice vet on Monday, and if he has to have surgery, we'll have him do it or get a recommendation. May not seem important in the scheme of things, but we are a family of dog lovers, and we hate to see them suffer too. Steve & Kim have 3 dogs that have been going crazy because Steve isn't home, so they'll be real happy tomorrow!
We are ever thankful for the prayers and good wishes for Steve and our family.
The surgeon and her nurse practitioner -- they are really wonderful.
Family and Friends

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A Brand New Year Filled with Hope

I can truly say that 2007 ended on the lowest point I have ever experienced in my life. Parents are not supposed to outlive their kids.
I can also say that 2008 will be filled with HOPE. And from what I've read so far, we have a right to hope -- there are 10 and 15 year survivors of this very same cancer, very same diagnosis, very same prognosis. Today Steve is still in intensive care, but he's up and walking around this day, he's even taken a shower. Tomorrow he will more than likely be moved to a room on the neuro floor and hopefully will be going home by the end of the weekend. Starting tomorrow we will be gathering information at the hospital -- I'm a firm believer that the more knowledge you have, the better off you're going to be. I will keep you updated on what is happening, but not on a day to day basis. We also need to return to some semblance of normal --even though our "normal" will be different from what it has always been.

Moving on: This is the picture of the January calendar -- my daughter's family.

I'd been thinking for the past month about what I wanted to accomplish in 2008; what quilty things and also some personal goals. After the events of the past week I thought that certainly life was going to be different; what doesn't matter just doesn't matter, etc. And that is certainly true, but I think it's probably good to have some kind of goals too. So, I'm keeping my personal goals -- one of which was to spend more time with our kids and that will definitely happen! Quilting will still happen, but probably not as much time will be spent on it. I will be working on reducing the ufo pile and I will be working on reducing the scrap bins -- mostly because those kinds of quilts work best for me when I want to do no-thought quilting.
I have the first ufo finished for 2008. I spent an hour or two finishing the binding on the Depression Block quilt and will take it to the hospital tomorrow for Steve. I didn't put a label on it because I don't have a name for it -- it'll just be Steve's hug quilt.

In today's Dear Annie column in the paper (the old Ann Landers column), they posted a piece to take the place of New Year's Resolutions. They did not name the author.
Just for Today

Just for today I will live through the next 12 hours and not tackle my whole life's problems at once.
Just for today I will improve my mind. I will learn something useful. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
Just for today I will be agreeable, I will look my best, speak in a well-modulated voice, be courteous and considerate.
Just for today I will not find fault with friend, relative or colleague. I will not try to change or improve anyone but myself.
Just for today I will have a program. I might not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two enemies - hurry and indecision.
Just for today I will exercise my character in three ways. I will do a good turn and keep it a secret. If anyone finds out, it won't count.
Just for today I will do two things I don't want to do, just for exercise.
Just for today I will be unafraid. Especially will I be unafraid to enjoy what is beautiful and believe that as I give to the world, the world will give to me.