Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Oh How Fast Time Passes!

Apparently I can post from work, but home still has some problems. When I just made the last post, I looked to see what other pictures I had and I noticed that I had Harrison's first school pictures from when he was in the 18-24 month Montessori program. He looks so adorable even though his daddy put his pants on backwards.

Ellen's Legacy Walk

Here are some pictures of our amazing walk to support pancreatic cancer awareness. Did you know November was national pacreatic cancer month? Do you even know what pancreatic cancer is? Do you know what your pancreas does? This time last year my answer to all these questions was "no." Unlucky for me, I got to learn the right answers the hard way!

Please take a moment to learn a bit about pancreatic cancer by visiting http://www.pancan.org/. Unfortunately this is a type of cancer that has no good warning signs, but perhaps by spreading awareness we can see a change in the funding that is made available to this type of cancer so that future patients have treatment options available that do more than give a 50% change for 12 weeks. The current options are just that grim.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Why does Blogger hate me?

I try to post....really I do, but for some reason my computer and Blogger are not getting along. I really think its my computer, but we will see. So here is a test to see if this posts!

If it does you will see one of my favorite pictures of Harrison. It was taken about 1.5 years ago on his first cruise. He looks like the golden boy!

Oh, and P.S. Guess I am using names now. I forgot I wasn't since its been so long.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Halloween - a little late

I have had a terrible time with Blogger lately - especially since my hubby started "working" on the computer to test out his new skills. Anyway I can't get in to edit my last post to include the picture from the Pan Can site and it has taken me days to just get this screen up to post Halloween pics. Lets hope this works!!

Here are the boys on Halloween. It was a bit of a sad night for everyone b/c Nanni and Pa usually stay at the house and hand out candy. We stop by a few ties throughout the night to show of H's finds, but this Halloween Mommy had to stay behind and give out the candy.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Ellen's Legacy - 1st Pancreatic Cancer Fundraising Event November 11th

We created a team, Ellen's Legacy, to walk in Atlanta's 2nd annual (and our 1st) pancreatic cancer walk to benefit PanCan. You can learn more about pancreatic cancer and the walk by visiting http://www.pancan.org/. Mike, Harrison and I are all so honored that many family and friends have chosen to walk with us this Sunday in honor of my mom. Our team consists of Bethany, Madeline, Sherrie, Eric, Suzanne, Marley and Heather. This is my mom's story from our team's page.

Go Ellen's Legacy!!!! (This is a picture of my mom on her 1st birthday)
This May, my family and my mom, Ellen, and stepfather, Jack, returned from one of our favorite vacation spots - Disney World. Prior to and during our trip, my mom complained of a burning sensation in her ribs. When we returned home, she decided to go see her doctor. The doctor was unsure and scheduled a CAT scan. The scan was on June 7, 2007 and she was diagnosed later that day with metastatic pancreatic cancer. This was her greatest fear as she reviewed the possible outcomes of the scan the day before. Never did it cross our minds that in fact it would be pancreatic cancer.

June 7th was a turning point in my life and hers, as well as in all of our family and friends. It was the last day I worked for the next several months, it was the last day I slept well, and it was the last day that I did not spent next to my mom. From that day on, my family dropped everything to start on this journey with her. We hoped the journey would be a long one, but our wishes often aren't answered. Instead, my mom died in her sleep with us nearby on October 4, 2007, three days short of 4 months from diagnosis.

During the 4 months we had some really great times, but we also had some really hard times. PanCan provided information and support to us during this journey and it was not until a week after her death that I discovered this upcoming walk in Atlanta.

This walk will mark the start of our new life without my mom by our side, but we will continue to live, hope and pray for a day when pancreatic cancer patients are at least given options for a chance at increased survival.

I promised my mom that her death would not be in vain and that we would continue to live our lives in a way to create a better world for us and those around us. This is just the first step in our new journey and, as we promised...we won't stop!

We love you mom, Ashley, Michael and Harrison

Saturday, October 20, 2007

My Sweet Mommy

This certainly a post I never wanted to write, but after stalling long enough it must be done.

My dear sweet mom died on October 4th from pancreatic cancer. We were so optimistic even though we were given a 0% chance of survival, but it never occurred to me that she wouldn't be here for Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas. She lived 3 days short of 4 months from diagnosis...only 16 weeks and she was gone. For most of the 4 months she did well and I was fortunate to spend every moment with her. Her passing was silent, peaceful and just as she would have wanted it. My wonderful husband who had spent many nights by her side, was the one to lift her onto the funeral home stretcher and carry her out of the house. He was also the one who stayed with her during her cremation. Both amazing acts of kindness that I will never forget.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Back to work...well, sort of

When Nanni received her diagnosis I immediately left work. My firm was so incredibly understanding even though it has been a huge burden for them. Their understanding and compassion has been unbelievable.

Well, today was the day that my 12 week federal leave was to end but I just couldn't do it. At first I thought I would just go in the office a few days a week and then telecommute for the rest. I had that all set up, but knowing what I know about pancreatic cancer I just couldn't do it.

I talked with my bosses and the were wonderful enough to allow me to work from home hourly - as much or as little as I felt I could do. I started today and while it was a little tough with a 3 year old hanging on my leg, I think it is going to work really well.

Nanni's Beautiful Flower Garden

This evening we had a nice visit with Nanni in her flower garden. H was sick today so it was one of the first days since Nanni's diagnosis (12 weeks ago) that we haven't been able to be there all day. We were sad this morning, but I used the time to clean our basement (uuughhh). Nanni finally called and gave us clearance to come over. We chatted for a while with a friend who stopped by to visit from California and then Nanni, H and I went to sit in the garden. The garden is a very special place at Nanni's house and being able to be there all together is very important to us. Here are a few shots of our time.

We think this is the baby "zardo" of the big mama zardo we posted about a while back. As soon as I snapped the picture, he dove off the butterfly bush. He is definately not a poser like the other zardo.
Nanni's garden is so full of butterflies that they actually land on you at times. There are a bunch of baby butterflies or really small butterflies that will actually sit on your shoulders as you walk up the driveway. I have to remember to bring my camera for those little guys.
Nanni was feeling a little tired today so she was already in her jammies. Of course, she wanted the jammies to match the garden for photos so she wore her purple ones!
We are so lucky that we live so close to Nanni so that we can be there with her everyday. Right after we took these pictures she realized that her hair is starting to really fall out. I had noticed a few days ago b/c it was all sitting on her shirt, but I didn't want to upset her. I told her it was probably a tad of punishment for when the other chemo people asked about her hair and she ran her fingers through it saying..."oh, my chemo doesn't make your hair fall out." Not to worry, I told Nanni that we will buy her a hot pink bob wig and get her a few "tats" like the L.A. Ink show :) Ha ha. I think she will look great even without hair, but here is the cutsie chemo girl looking cute even on a bad day!
In addition to all of the rest and relaxation in the flower/lavender garden, H had to make sure that he and Nanni did their "nut" work. They collect nuts, throw them into the woods, and say "you drive me nuts"...."no, you drive me nuts" ... "Menuts....who is menuts!"

When the Mom is Away...They Boy will Destroy!

Here is a little bit of evidence as to what happens when mom runs upstairs for a few minutes. H loves to take all the pillows off the couch to build his castles. Seems this castle also comes with Tommy stickers. Well, at least he is wearing pants which is quickly becomming a HUGE issue in our house! Oops ... upon a more detailed glance I see that he is NOT wearing pants. Nice!

My Very First House

This is my very first house that I bought as soon as I graduated law school to work in the very small North Georgia town that I started my career in. We have held on to it for many years, but unfortunately it has come time to sell it. We have been working on getting it back in shape after a couple years of rental damage. We just took a spur of the moment overnight trip up to the mountains to do some painting.

Here is the cutie...we sure are going to miss her! We still have a lot to do, but someone is going to get a really great house in the mountains. Good thing we have another one right down the street in the same neighborhood so I can keep an eye on her :)

Sister Love with Mona and Mims

Here are the sisters on our trip to the mountains to work on our mountain cottage. They were so cute in the backseat that I had to take a few photos. Unfortunately you cannot see Bass a.k.a. Fat Sister, b/c her other sisters are smothering her!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

First Scan Results

We went today to receive the results from the first scan after chemo started. Tanta was back in town and it was great to have the extra support. Nanni was very very nervous, as were we all. So, on for the news....the good news is that the tumors have not grown at all. The downside is that they have not shrunk either. With pancreatic cancer the liklihood of shrinkage is low, but we were really hoping. It took us a while to appreciate that we were also luckier than a larger percentage who had tumors that fail to respond to chemo at all. Now we celebrate the news despite the fact that Nanni is feeling a little under the weather. Here are some photos outside of the chemo place of the sisters celebrating!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Comparison Shopping Paid Off!

Thank Goodness ... The Boys finally decided on a tractor.

Poor Lowe's had mislabeled one of their tractors and low and behold my hubby exploited their mistake. See, H's Daddy had been "cruising" Lowe's for some time looking at all the tractors. He saw one that seemed to stick out for the price on the label. Turns out, poor Lowe's had put a much lower grade tractor tag on this big doozie tractor. Thus...the plan began.

We must have gone over the "arguement" 100 times. Finally, I offered to go instead to get the tractor b/c I told him that I wasn't worried about walking out without it. That certainly put H's Daddy into the perfect frame of mind and off he went. He was so incredibly proud when he came back with the tractor. Of course, we haven't mowed the grass yet, but we have ridden it up the driveway about 20 times. We use it like our golfcart :)

The pics are from later that day when it was delivered. H had been playing naked slip and slide outside so the pictures are a little X-rated.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Shopping for Boys!

H and his dad have been on a special mission to find the perfect tractor for the lawn. H has been trying out all of the tractors since he started walking and now that his daddy decided it was time to get one .... it is serious business. This is H testing out a few on a recent trip to Lowe's. H is so serious about checking out all of the tractors that Nanni tought him how to raise the hood to inspect the engine and the battery.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Let's Crush those Tumor Markers!

Nanni got some really good news yesterday....her tumor markers have dropped from 260,000 to 50,000!!!! We are so excited and just wish that she felt better. She has been feeling really bad the past couple of days and H has been having a really hard time seeing Nanni so upset. This picture is from a week before she got her diagnosis (May) and is in Disney.

Thomas Comes to Town

Today H and I went on a very special date. We went to see Thomas at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and it was superb. H gave me about 100 kisses on our date and said he had so much fun. I tried to get some good pictures, but H insisted on doing his funny faces for the camera.
H was so excited to see that Thomas, Percy, Diesel, and Trublesome Truck were all in the show along with 3 conductors and Sir Topham Hat. H loved to interact with the show and had no problems yelling out on cue!
H was so easy to take on our date together. Even though there was so much excitement he always held my hand and did a great job staying in his seat (which is sometimes difficult). He actually did have fun, but when I tried to take the pictures below before the show started he almost looked comatosed!
After the show we even say some friends of ours in the lobby. It was so exciting that after the show H and I had to take a long nap at Nanni's house. Poor Nanni was so bored, even Pa was asleep!