• 2017,  Dearest Don Raine,  Family,  Flowers,  Grieving,  Holidays,  Hope,  JD,  JD,  Joy,  Love,  Memories,  Nate,  Nature,  New Years Day,  Oregon,  Parenting,  Raine,  Travel,  Values

    Dearest Don Raine – This Was 2017

    I regret that I didn’t write and share photos more in 2017 in this special space. The loss of Grandma Mary at the end of 2016 extinguished a spark in my heart. I worried that the spark could never return. I now know that her death changed me, Leah, as I know myself, evermore. It feels like I had to get used to this new version of me all year long. If you should lose a physical part of yourself–this is what I imagine it would feel like. How does one begin to live anew without want for what was lost? A leg, hands, sight, or hearing? I find my…

  • Awesomeness,  Birthday,  Celebrate,  Char,  Dan,  Doug,  Family,  Friends,  Grateful,  Holidays,  Jim,  Joy,  Leah,  Memories,  Oregon,  Peoria,  Photos,  Rachel,  Raine

    And Along Came a 40th Birthday

    It felt like an outrageous accomplishment. It felt like the summit of Mt. Everest. And it also felt normal. We made it to his 40th birthday and life with cancer has become so normal to us, I was distracted by daily non-cancer minutia and completely forgot to plan something. While I was distracted, Dan planned his trip to Oregon. He always hoped to celebrate his 40th by traveling to the beautiful southern coast of Oregon to visit Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, consistently rated among the top golf courses in the nation. He set up plane flights, a rental car, air b&b’s for Lake Oswego and Bandon, reserved a golf cart–got a…

  • Allyson,  Birthday,  Books,  Cards,  Celebrate,  Gifts,  Joy

    Lovely Gifts: Eva’s 1st Birthday

    little monkey! 2016 gave us the opportunity to celebrate the loveliest little munchkin’s first birthday, Miss Eva Caroline! Raine and I put together a birthday package for her in September; a colorful combination of handmade art, expensive apparel, and hand-me-down toys and book. Then we got to hold her, hug her, and try to keep up with her during our trip to Colorado after Thanksgiving. Oh, the sweetness! Thinking of her makes me so happy.   dinnertime munchies in the car, we sat in the back seat with her and sang songs. she especially liked twinkle twinkle little star. pirate bootie snackies and the cutest bib ever! where did you get it…

  • Awesomeness,  Celebrate,  Christmas,  Dan,  Family,  Flowers,  Friends,  Gifts,  Grateful,  Holidays,  Joy,  Memories,  New Years Eve,  Raine

    2016 Gave Us a Different Kind of Christmas…

    I started decorating and helping Raine get ready for the holiday season the day we returned from Colorado (a trip to see friends after Thanksgiving). I was grateful that I did that–I didn’t know the majority of December would be engulfed by the trauma and duties of grief, then caught up in the whirlwind of our very first Christmas with our families (12 years overdue). Although it felt like a mad dash to get ready for Christmas after the funeral on the 15th, I had a few moments to slow down and try to find my way inside the consoling cover of a peaceful and joyful moment. Seeing sentimental items and…

  • Awesomeness,  Cards,  Dan,  Joy,  Leah,  Love Letters,  Memories,  Nature,  Photos

    Our First Date

    MEDICAL UPDATE: (After yesterday’s post) Dan’s heart showed improvement yesterday so the catheter was removed and he was moved out of CICU last night. Today cytology results came back and there were no cancer cells in the fluid. He was discharged today!   Top 10 Reasons Our First Date Was Weird But Awesome (Kind of like our journey being in love the past 12 years) Our first date was at a wedding. Thank you, Allie and Joel Birchler. The wedding was out-of-state in northern Indiana. It was a weekend-long date, because I had plans to go camping with our mutual friends, Hattie and Corey, while we were all there for the…

  • Anxiety,  Awesomeness,  Bipolar Disorder II,  Dan,  Depression,  Fibromyalgia,  Friends,  Grateful,  Gratitude,  Joy,  Leah,  Memories,  Raine,  Travel

    Disneyland!

    We did it! We went to Disneyland! Thank you to all of our amazing donors who helped make the trip possible! Thank you to Allyson Patterson, Aileen Fontana, Charlene Herzing, Doug Herzing, Patricia O’Brien, Javeed Shah, Frank Sierawski, Terrah Barkley, Bronwen Thiebes, Andrea Barry, Melissa Ritchie, April Catlett, Mark Nicklas, Linda Buchanan, Sarah Christensen, and the Lemont Township High School Class of 1995! It was a quick trip–two travel days and two days in the parks–but the difference it made in our lives was incredible. I have told a few friends who have asked how it was, “I think it was so absolutely amazing because we went into it with very low…

  • Amy,  Awesomeness,  Backyard,  Dan,  Drink,  Food,  Grateful,  Joy,  Leah,  Optimism,  Special Events,  WLS

    Cheese & Chocolate Party

      At Dan’s last platinum chemo treatment day, February 21st, we joked with our friend Patrick that we should have a “Cheese and Chocolate Party” in six weeks to celebrate the supposed return of Dan’s taste buds. We origicnally christened it the “5 C party,” the C’s to stand for Carlton Crest Cheese and Chocolate Celebration. We were a little dramatic about it, possibly due to a post-Lardo sandwich blood sugar drop, or we are all just super nerdy. Patrick set up the date on the Google calendar and sent us reminders. My face flushed with excitement. (I will later explain to Raine that it is that quarter slice of French heritage that gives me desire…

  • Carlton,  Dan,  Doug,  Flowers,  Gifts,  Grateful,  Hobbes,  Holidays,  Joy,  Leah,  Love,  Photos,  Raine,  Rocco,  Snail Says,  Special Events,  Wine

    Our Wedding Vow Renewal Ceremony

    There was a beautiful opportunity that opened up for us to renew our wedding vows on Valentine’s Day. In three weeks, I planned a small ceremony for us with our siblings, Doug and Rachel, and enlisted a few friends and community members to help us put it together at the last minute (on a shoestring budget). It all fell together like clouds parting to let a generous slice of sunshine through–and that warmth covered us so that we felt rejuvenated as a couple. It was utterly luxurious to dress up, shamelessly invoke romance, and focus entirely upon our love and our solemn vows to one another. You can read more about leading…