Sunday, July 19, 2009

A weekend away......

After a very stressful month,
which I'd like to say did not get the best of us,
(but it totally did)
David and I stole a much needed weekend away.

We started out at the Bite of Seattle.

We had so much fun walking around

and looking at all of the food booths and vendors.

I couldn't believe how many people were there!
I love doing things like this.
Sitting out on a blanket listening to a live band play,
sampling different foods
and just watching people bustling all around me
sounds like a great Saturday afternoon to me.
David, on the other hand, had to make some concessions
for me as this is not his thing.
He loves the food but he'd rather not be where the crowd is.
Inconceiveable, I know!!

Though there was a plethora (I love that word!) of food
available for the tasting,
we each quickly found our favorites.
David went back to his southern roots
with some N'awlin's flavor in a seafood and chicken gumbo,

and I could not resist the dungeness crab cakes.

I'm a Maryland blue crab girl at heart,

but since I can't be with the one I love,

I gotta love the one I'm with, right?

It really was quite good and my favorite of the day.

We tried other things too,
like a ravioli sampler,

and these yummy dipped strawberries!

We got a great view of the space needle from where we were.
We've not been to the top of this yet.
It's on our list for this summer!

With full bellies,
we drove toward Poulsbo.

We pulled over to take these scenic shots.
That is Mt. Rainier in the distance.
Gorgeous, huh?

After a long drive,
we finally arrived in Poulsbo
where David has been staying for the past week.
He's been in school and has one week left.
He's been exploring after class
and found the cutest little strip of boutiques, eateries
antique shops and coffee shops right on the water
in downtown Poulsbo.
Knowing I'd love it,
He couldn't wait to take me there.

We found a great restaurant serving local cuisine.
It's called Mor Mor and it was delish!
I just love pretty food!

I also love quaint little alley ways
and I find myself drawn to photograph them.
I enjoy the little burst of surprise in the creative use of space.
I've got photos of alley ways in Annapolis, MD. Rockport, MA.
Boston, MA and NY.....and now Poulsbo!
Something about taking what most people ignore and
avoid and turning it into a treat to delight the eye and senses
makes me feel like I've stumbled onto the best secret
and I want to capture it to remember through the years.
Aren't the best things made out of often overlooked nothings?

Poulsbo is such a cute little town!
It's just thriving with local flair.
I loved being there.

David told me that it is often refered to as
"Little Norway".
It's Norwegian founders originally named it "Paulsbo"
but when they applied to have a post office for their little town,
the name was mispelled on the forms and
it stuck!
The Norwegian influence can easily be found everywhere.

And it's a seaside town,
so that already suggests natural beauty,
but Poulsbo has it in spades!

David and I found ourselves as excited over seeing the eagles
as we were over seeing famous people when we lived in southern California.
But just as it was in LA,
the locals didn't even notice them.
Bald eagles abound here,
but their commonality was lost on us.
We both got chills and risked brand new shoes
by venturing far out onto the sloshy beach at low tide
to get as close as we could to them!

It was worth it!
Now we've not only captured the memory of seeing these magestic birds,
but we've got the memory of gigging together
as our shoes sank farther and farther into the goopy slime
that is low tide.

It has been a while since David and I have been
away together for an overnight.
The last time was December 08 for
a Christmas party
and before that it had been since our honeymoon
almost 17 years ago!
Shame, I know, but a week turns into a month,
a month to a year
and before you know it,
it's been a decade or more since you've taken the time to rediscover
why you fell in love in the first place.
And we just can't have that!

We've been faithful to our date nights a couple times a month,
which helps us to remember that we are a couple
and not just mom and dad.
But there is just something about going away for a night or two
that helps keep the sizzle sizzlin!

There is definitely something about not being in familiar surroundings
that makes you feel like you are just a girl and a guy again.

Hopefully, now that the older kids are teenagers,
and very capable of taking care of Bren
and the house for a night,
we'll be able to do this on a more regular basis.

After all,
I want to know this guy when the kids are gone.
It's important to build our own life together
while we are helping our kids build their lives,
because their lives will ultimately take them away
from ours and we want to have something exciting left.

I left David at the hotel in Poulsbo and
headed back to Marysville via
the Edmonds ferry.
It was a beautiful clear day and I could see
Mt. Rainier pretty well.

Lots of people were out on the water
with their sailboats and kyaks.
Wouldn't you love to live in one of these houses on the water?
There's something so peaceful about a living on the water,
don't you think?

This seagull was trailing the ferry
undoubtedly hoping for a crumb to steal.
Instead, I stole a moment of his effortless flight
and will add his image to my collection of seagull photos.
It seems we take a seagull photo almost anytime we are near the water.

The ferries are one of my favorite things about
living near Seattle.
Well that and a starbucks on every corner!!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Cox Knots"

"You know if I am calling you that it is not good news."
The words of our family doctor hung in the air
like the fists of a prize fighter
ready to deliver their painful blow.

Madison had been in the previous week for an MRI
prompted by new pain in her knee.
This was a follow up on an MRI she had done three years ago.
Having these MRI's on various parts of our bodies
is not something that is new to my family.
We have a condition called osteochondroma.
We refer to it as "Cox knots" because it comes from the Cox side of the family.
The results of this new MRI showed suspicious changes in Madison's bone marrow
and lots of edema and swelling.
The doctor told me that the radiologist who read the MRI
was of the opinion that this was different than just an
osteochondroma and pointed very strongly to bone cancer.
There they were.
The words that other people hear about a disease
that happens to other people and other people's children.
Not mine.
Not my vibrant 13 year old daughter.
Shock helped me remain calm during that phone call,
but failed to help me hold back my emotions
when I called my mom a few minutes later.
I locked myself in my bedroom,
and through a flood of tears that I knew I was powerless
to even try to control,
I choked out the words
"Bone Cancer".
My mom who just happened to be in a van
packed with the strong women of my family at the time
cried right along with me.
I heard gasps and shouts of refusal from my grandmother,
my aunt Brenda, my aunt Janet and my cousin Natalie
as my mom relayed my words.
My family is full of prayer warriors so I knew what was
happening as I hung up the phone.
I made another call to the members of my family
who have a great deal of experience with osteochondroma.
They too were all together in one room having lunch.
My Dad, my brother Jeremy, my brother Jason
and my cousin Scott.
All of us bear the scars from having our own Cox knots removed,
but I wanted to know if any of them had ever had
a doctor refer them to an oncologist because of suspected bone cancer.
None of them had.
One more phone call to my cousin Carrie
who has the most experience with this issue
calmed my fears a bit as she relayed a few stories
of doctors being overzealous with this condition.
With looming disbelief and a fear that I had never known before,
I spent the next few hours at my computer
researching osteosarcoma and scaring myself to death!.
David and I made the decision to keep this information
from Madison over the 4th of July weekend.
She is a hand wringer of a child and worries herself into
hysterics over health issues and personal safety,
so we knew that she would have a hard time wrapping her head
around this enough to function normally.
We spent the weekend stealing glances at eachother whenever
Madison would complain that her knee hurt.
It was hard to look at her at all without wanting to
burst into tears and take her into our arms to protect her
from even the thought of having this kind of fight on her hands.
Our doctor supported our decision to keep this from Madison over the weekend
but advised us to tell her before we met with the specialist.
We decided to tell her the day of her appointment
which was this past Tuesday.
We simply told her that anytime something grows and changes in
our bodies, we need to make sure there are no serious
issues surrounding it.
And that was good enough for her.
She didn't ask any questions.
On Tuesday, we met with the pediatric orthopedic surgeon
who took new x-rays and informed us that what she had was
a very large osteochondroma on her thigh that needed to be removed.
They found two others behind her knee
that we may or may not have removed
pending another scan in a few weeks.
I let him know that we were told that the radiologist had suspected
osteosarcoma (bone cancer) based on the changes in the MRI,
and he assured me that this was not the case!
David and I audibly exhaled for the first time in a week!
We were so relieved!
As we were leaving Seattle Children's Hospital,
Madison was expressing alot of disappointment over her upcoming surgery.
Having never heard the word cancer,
she still did not know the weight that had been lifted.
We explained to her what we had been told,
who all was carrying this burden with us,
how much we had prayed,
and how different the outcome could have been.
She was amazed, not only that we had kept this from her
but also at the outpouring of love she felt as she heard stories
of prayers and support on her behalf
and of the depth of concern from family members that
she thought would certainly be unaffected by her distant life
because she'd only met them
a few times.
For the next few days she felt enveloped in a love that was deeper
than she had thought.
It was evident on her usually dispassionate face.
We saw more smiles and less insecurity,
more certainty that she is supported,
held up
and sustained
by a myriad of people
that she never knew felt as deeply as they do.
What a gift coming out of such
ambiguous cicrumstances!
Madison will have surgery on September 2nd
to remove a large bone tumor
that we refer to as a Cox Knot.
It is a condition passed down on my side of the family.
Most of us wear our scars as a badge of honor
and a sort of right of passage.
It is common to compare scars and stories at family gatherings
and to question whether new cox knots have cropped up.
So far, Madison is the only one of my four
that has this condition.
I have had three removed myself.
One from my leg and two from my right arm.
My youngest brother Jeremy and I have
matching scars on our shoulders.
Jason has several scars, my Dad has a few and Scott and Carrie
have a bunch as well.
Just like blue eyes and bubble butts,
this is just another genetic thing that makes us related to eachother,
but it is the free flowing love and concern
when one of us was threatened
that makes us belong to eachother.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


After a busy week,
I am playing catch up a little here on the blog.
I wanted to share some photos
from Madison's 13th birthday party
a few weeks ago.

She wanted a backyard party
with grilled hamburgers and a fire pit.

She had about 20 friends come over to hang out.

We took the group over to the elementary school
to play man hunt.
Man hunt is like team hide and go seek.
My kids love it!

As soon as it got dark,
we made our way back home to
make smores over the fire pit.

I love this fire pit and I envision lots of
summer nights spent out here
roasting hot dogs and marshmallows.
There's just something very
"Kum-By-yah" about gathering around a campfire
even if it is in your own back yard!