Monday, June 24, 2013

New cuteness, mom update, and a fundraiser!

A lot has been going on in the past week or so!  I'm so excited that my new niece has finally made her way into the world (EIGHT days late, to be exact) and she is all things cute wrapped up into one little package.

Brynn Redina Hooper arrived on Saturday, June 15th at 12:33 PM.  8lbs, 4oz, 21" long.

And she already looks like this.  All perfect and wearing pink.  I can't wait to meet her!  Congrats on the new munchkin, Mom and Dad!!!

Mom is doing well.  Her chemo rooms have an awesome view of the big lake, which will never get old to me. 

She endured her first 5 days of "cocktail" as she likes to call it, and her main side effect so far is fatigue.

Her treatment right now consists of 5 days in a row of chemo infusion, and then 3 weeks off.  On her off weeks, she still has to have blood taken twice a week and sent to the lab to check her white counts, hemoglobin levels and blasts.  Her numbers on Thursday were all heading in the right direction, so we are thankful for that.  Since they are not treating her leukemia to cure it, or put in into remission, we will just be watching these levels and doing what we can to keep them in the ranges that they need to be.

Erin and I are taking turns bringing her, and even though there were a few soggy days in there, I still liked spending the time with her, and getting some good knitting time in.

I will never get sick of watching those huge ships enter or leave the harbor!

Also, this week I blinked and this kid...

turned into a teenager.  I don't understand how that happened.  I'm convinced I've lost all sense of time because it was seriously last week he was that other kid up there.  Uggggh.

Grandma and Grandpa Hooper came up to Duluth with Carson this weekend for a family grad party while Carson's parents put in some time on their new house.  According to Carson, Andy is his best friend and he is going to come over to his house and play sometime very soon.

Carson didn't want to leave his best buddy!

Then yesterday afternoon, sissy Erin held a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society to earn money for the upcoming Relay for Life walk.  This was our Bocce team.  We didn't win, but we sure had fun, and we helped Erin raise over $1000 towards her fundraising goals!  Isn't she awesome?

We named our team after Grandma Jan, and by far had the coolest team name.  Like, evar.

Oh, and just in case you were still thinking of donating towards my fundraising efforts, I'll make it nice and easy for you.  Just clicky RIGHT HERE and send me 5 buckaroos!  :)

that's about all the updates for today.  Thank you again SO MUCH to those that have donated!  I'm so so grateful for you all!



Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Seven weeks and four days after Dad died, mom got a call from her doctor that she has Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.

Seriously universe?  What.  The.  Heck.

This whole stupid thing has hit the family like yet another ton of bricks has been dropped on us. 

I've waited a week to write anything about it here, partially so we could tell a few people in person, but mostly so I could take a little time to get a grip and understand what is happening a little bit.  I've begun to break the surface on everything there is to learn about this stupid disease, but I'm still left with 87 million questions.  Most of them can't be answered by any doctors.

In a nutshell, mom went to the doc last Monday afternoon because she thought there was a possibility she had pneumonia.  After a few chest X-rays and a blood draw to be sent for further testing, she left with a positive diagnosis of pneumonia and anemia and a prescription for an antibiotic.  They told her they'd call her the next day with any further results and instructions.  Little did she know that her instructions would include a referral to an oncologist.

I went with her on Thursday to talk to the doctor to figure out a treatment plan going forward.  Together we chose the one we felt would be the best for her, and she got her first dose of chemotherapy on Monday.  Talk about a whirlwind!

Right now we are all trying to stay positive, and believe that we will have lots and lots of years with her still here folding her plastic grocery store bags neatly into little squares, and calling ME to ask me knitting and crocheting questions.  (I LOVE when she does that!! HA!) 

I guess we need to feel fortunate that this wasn't thrown on us 4 months ago in the midst of Dad's illnesses.  It's hard right now to feel fortunate about much, but I am trying. 

My sister, Erin, has organized a team for the local Relay for Life event for the American Cancer Society for the past 5 years, even though cancer hadn't touched our family so closely until now.  I have participated in the event in the past, but this year I'm going ALL IN and making this count.  The relay is Friday, July 19th and I will be raising money to fight this right up until that date.  If you feel so inclined, please go to my fundraising page HERE and make a tax deductable donation to the American Cancer Society.  Right now I'm only $5 away from reaching my first fundraising goal of $100!  Will you go donate $5?  $10?  more???  Please?  I want to blow that goal out of the water.  YOU can help me do it.

In case you missed it, HERE IS THE LINK.  Just clicky right on those words and it will bring you right to a little old form to fill out.  Easy peasy.

Thank you to those that have already donated, and to those that are thinking about it!  Remember what I said before, I'm a total hugger, and I need every single one I can get these days.  Because this all sucks.  Big time.  And hugs help.  So do prayers.

There is so much crap in the world that just doesn't matter.  People and family matter.

Now I'm gonna go read and re-read my last post about good stuff in the world over and over a few times.

Looooooooove to you all!



Monday, June 10, 2013


"There are man eating sharks in every ocean, but we still swim.  Every second, somewhere in the world, lightning strikes, but we still play in the rain.  Poisonous snakes can be found in 49 of the 50 states, but we still go looking for adventure.  A car can crash, a house can crumble, but we still drive, and we love coming home.  Because I think deep down we know that with all the bad things that can happen in life, they can't stop us from making our lives...

I took these words from an Allstate Insurance commercial playing in the rotations on TV right now that I am in love with.  You can watch it here:

I love these words, but is it just me, or does it seem really, really hard lately to remember that?

In this tiny little nowhere town that I live, there have been 3 or 4 completely unrelated shootings or stabbings in the last few months.  Most of these have been people that know or live with each other.  What the heck?

And should we even talk about the natural disasters happening?  Two major tornados in Oklahoma within a week?  A major forest fire in Wisconsin?  Tsunamis?  Hurricanes?  The fact that these things are bigger than us and we don't have control over them is what scares me the most.

One thing that we do (sort of) have control over though, are senseless shootings in public places.  It makes me so sad inside to think about the people that are present for these horrible, horrible crimes.

On the morning of December 14, 2012, a 20 year old Adam Lanza shot his mother, drove to the nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT and killed six adults and TWENTY children ages six and seven.

Twenty children.

Those poor, sweet children who will never get to do so many things that their families had always dreamed them of doing!  Their first date, band concerts, sports games, prom, marriage, family, etc, etc, etc!

After this horrible event left me in shock, wondering how I would feel if it were one of my own children that would never be coming home from school that day, I was reading one of my very favorite blogs written by my friend Sharon who enjoys all things yarn and photography (which is exactly why I want to be her when I grow up) and came across this beautiful blog post.  Sharon wanted to do something - anything - that would offer even the tiniest amount of help to these families who had been struck with the worst pain in the world, of losing someone they dearly love.

I immediately knew that this was something I had to be a part of.  Sharon not only was asking her readers and customers for monetary donations to be sent to these families, but also was requesting the help of her knitters in making at least 26 blankets to send in memory of those lost that day.  She put out a request for squares measuring 8" X 8" to everyone she knew.

About two weeks ago, I headed over to Sharon's studio and picked up my bunch of 77 squares that had been collected from every corner of the country (and probably some outside of the country, I'd guess?), sorted by Sharon and some of her staff, and carefully divided  into some sort of order. 

It was my absolute pleasure and honor to be able to crochet these 77 squares together to make one blanket filled with so much love to have it sent off to one of these families.

Borders were put on each of the squares, and then they were arranged...

and arranged...

and rearranged until Morgan and I came up with just the right pattern to have them laid out to.

And then began the process of stitching them each together.  Never before can I think of creating anything with my hands that had so much meaning.

Every single stitch that went into this blanket was made for a specific reason.

 I can only hope that the recipient knows that, and can feel that.

I hope they can feel the love that went into it, and the love from the person that they can no longer get one more hug from.

It truly came from the hearts of many many people who are still thinking of you all - even six months, almost to the day, after that day that changed your lives.

So please wrap up in this beautiful gift, and remember that son/daughter/sister/brother/mom/teacher/friend that you lost in such a senseless way, and know that there are people still thinking of you.  It is our way of sending you 77 hugs that will never run out.  Ever.

To Sharon, thank you for making your idea come to life, and letting me be a part of it!

(This is a picture of me knitting the square I made and gave to Sharon back in January.  I hope it's stuck in the middle of another blanket being put together by someone else!)

So hopefully when all we see on the news is bad, and we are feeling discouraged when bad things happen, we will remember that there are good things going on too. 

I can't do much for these families.  But I can knit, and I can crochet squares together.  If this blanket helps heal one heart even one little bit, I will feel good knowing that I did something that mattered.



Thursday, June 6, 2013

How I Feel About Today - the Last Day of School

Today is the last day of 5th and 7th grade for my kids.  Here is how I'm feeling about that (because I know you were wondering.)

1.  Thankful that I don't have to ask the question, "Do you have any homework?" for the next three months, and question if the answer I'm getting is truthful.
2.  Slightly panicked about what the grocery bill is going to look like. 
3.  Jealous that they will get to sleep in every day, and I won't.
4.  Anxious to get that first phone call/text while I'm at work where one of them tells me they are bored.  I can't wait to share the list of "fun" things around the house I've drawn up for them to do!
5.  In shock that they have grown up this much, this quickly.
6.  Extremely tired.  This year has been exhausting. 
7.  Glad to have three months off of signing a daily planner that wouldn't get signed by the teachers anyway (by NO fault of the teachers, mind you!)
8.  Not looking forward to yelling at them to clean up dishes, wrappers, dirty socks, etc off of the living room floor every. single. day.
9.  Totally confused on how the school year went by so fast, but can I send them back yet?
10.  Happy that they have one more year under their belts.

Happy last day kiddos!  Hope you had fun with finals and watching movies and signing yearbooks!!



Monday, June 3, 2013

Noteworthy Stuff I Saw on My Walk Yesterday

Sweet Jesus it was nice outside yesterday.  I spent as much of the day outside as I could.

Saturday's walk was windy and cold and overcast and at times a little drizzly.

But not Sunday.  No, Sunday was so nice that I had to take pictures along the way to share with you.  It made me realize, however, that I cannot have music playing, my GPS app running, and take pictures all at the same time on my phone.  This made me sad because every time I tried to take a picture, the GPS app thought I stopped exercising or moving or whatever, and put my workout on pause.  I'd have to go back in and tell it to resume.  Hello?  Don't you know that I can actually walk and take pictures at the same time?  Oh wait.  I can do that if I upgrade my app to MVP for the low, low, cost of $2.99 per month!  Um, thanks but no thanks.  I'd rather spend that money on M&Ms or a bottle of Boone's Farm.  Thankyouverymuch.

Anyway, here are a few noteworthy things I saw on my walk:

Lord have mercy.  Blue sky and sunshine!

Not quite shorts, but I actually wore my "capri" length workout pants and a T-shirt.  With short sleeves.  And I even got a little sweaty.  This picture reminds me just how pasty white my northern Minnesota legs are though.

Daffodils!  In someone's yard!  This goes to show you that stuff under the 17 feet of snow all winter just goes to sleep and really does wake up again in the spring and grows all by itself!

Yes, some of our trees are still in the budding stage, but you can see green on most of them.  How can this not make you happy?

Since it's officially not winter anymore, we've hit our other season - road construction.

People working in their yards!  I was going to report on how many different people I saw mowing their lawn but I think I lost count at 15.  Yesterday was also the first day this year we cut our grass.  Seriously!  June 2nd!

Hooray for the USA!  By the way, Adam Levine doesn't really hate this country.  He just wasn't pleased with how the voting turned out last week.  Give the man a break.  I still love ya, Adam!

Dandelions - man I hate when these suckers creep into my yard, but I was even happy to see them yesterday because it's a sure sign of Summer!  (and they were in someone else's yard.)

Gas prices are finally back under $4!  I actually found myself telling my kids the other day that I could remember when it was under $1 and then I groaned and told them I was totally sorry for sounding really old and asked them to give me knucks and turned up Rianna really loud on the radio.

This vacant house was set on fire in the middle of the night a few months ago.  They are calling it arson.  It makes me sad to see it every day that I drive by.  It needs to be torn down.  The surrounding trees looked super cool for a few days after being sprayed by the fire hoses in below zero temps.

There were tons of trucks pulling boats/campers/trailers of yard crap.

Driveway chalk drawings!  (and more dandelions that were not in my yard.)

All those campers are back now resting in driveways from the mystery winter camper storage places.  I don't like camping.  I would probably like it a little better if I had a nice camper that I could sleep in and would keep the rain off of my sleeping bag and MY FACE during the night.  NOTHING worse than hearing that drip, drip, drip of the water soaking in through the paper thin nylon tent and landing somewhere inside your tent.  It doesn't even matter where it's landing, it's going to be bad.  And the air matress is going to leak, and your kids will drop the cooler full of food and your hamburger patties will fall all over and get dirty.  I don't care who you are, you can't wipe that dirt off of your hamburger patties.  And you will have to pee in the middle of the night and wish you were a boy because it's SO MUCH EASIER FOR THEM!  I do enjoy the good times around the campfire and drinking some bevvies, but I'd prefer to do that in my backyard where I can go inside and pee in my own bathroom.

Wow - where was I?

Oh yeah.

So I walked by two garage sales yesterday and couldn't stop because I didn't have a dime with me.  I also felt that it wasn't necessarily appropriate to stand at the end of someone's driveway and take a picture of their garage sale.  Therefore, no garage sale pictures for the blog.  Sorry.

I walked past a birthday party for a child looking to be about 6 or 7 years old.  I could tell that mom was also thanking the Sweet Baby Jesus for the lovely weather and that she didn't have to entertain those 10 children in her living room.  Also probably inappropriate for me to take a picture of 10 children I don't know.

Anyway - Sunday was a perfect day to bust out that 3.46 mile route around the 'hood.  I can't tell you how long it took me though, because I'm too cheap to upgrade to MVP status on my app.  It took me a little longer than it did on Saturday, but the scenery was so perfect, I wanted to enjoy it a little longer!!