Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A New School Year

A new school year has started! I was dragging my heals before the first day...not wanting the summer days to end. But something happens on that first day when all those fresh faces walk into the classroom...they are so eager, so excited, and often, so nervous!

As a teacher, we spend more of a child's waking hours with them than their parents - hopefully - if they're going to bed at a decent hour! We get so close to those little people...so protective of them.

But now my routine is changed...it has to be more structured so I can get everything done. I do have one major rebellion on my hands, however. HE does not like this new change of routine. HE has gone to HIDING in the morning when he knows it's about time for me to leave.

Guess who?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Eskie's new sleeping spot?

Now Eskie is one of the loves of my life. He's my first cat and I absolutely adore him. He was 17 years old in May...so he's getting a bit elderly! One thing he has NEVER done is get up on the counter. I'm sure he tried when he was a kitty, but he quickly understood that was NOT TO BE!

Fast forward 17+ years...Eskie has now developed this desire to get on the counter. We still won't let him...but he keeps trying. Ron will 'give him the boot' if he sees him. "The boot" by Ron is not physical, he just picks him up, scratches him on the head, tells him he can't be up there, and gently puts him outside. I will usually congratulate him first for BEING ABLE to get up on the stool to get on the counter...then I'll gently remove him.

Well, this is what I saw when I went downstairs this morning...I had to take a picture. Do you think Eskie is guarding the jam?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Couple of Camilla's Men

Camilla has some special people in her life...but this is just about two. I pondered the name of the post...should I say "Men"? One I know for sure, the other...well, he would probably call himself a man.

This is referring to John...John is Camilla's brother. She loves him SO much, looks up to him, adores him, gets so incredibly angry with him, pretends to stab him with knives, and even put a crab claw on his pillow - KNOWING he is FRIGHTFULLY SCARED of crab. This is something he doesn't like (that he's afraid of crab) but one he will definitely admit.

John is also a wildman. He has more energy than...well, I don't know what to compare him to. Unfortunately, his wildness caught up with him this weekend. John and his buddy, Jeff, went to a resort with Jeff's parents. John and Jeff were on the golf course racing (I don't know if John would use the term 'racing', but I would assume that is the correct term). Well, John the wildman was driving. He's only 15, which might explain, but he knew he was getting ready to CRASH the golf cart into some ROCKS???? (Yes, question marks need to go there.) So, Jeff braced himself for the crash, but not John...nope, he jumped out of the moving cart. Apparently the cart ran over his foot AND pinned it between the wheel and the rock. Can't help but love John!

The other man, in the title "A Couple of Camilla's Men" is her grandfather - Farris. Now Farris is remarkable. He and I share the same birthday...although I told him he WAS older than me - like by 30 years. But you'd never know it.

Now most of us would agree that Grandfather's are special people...but I think Farris is more special than most. Rema is his only daughter. She has a special look when she talks about her 'Daddy' and I think if Camilla was mad at the world, she wouldn't consider being mad at her grandfather.

Farris is on the go...he just had Wildman John and his buddy, Josh, visiting for two weeks. Thank goodness he had a little help in entertaining these two guys.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Vacationing with my girlfriends

What a great time my girlfriends and I had this week! One of us, Terri, has a cabin at the lake - lucky Terri! Fortunately, she loves her girlfriends and we (well, 7/10 of us) left Wednesday and headed for the cabin. 7/10? Well, only 7 of us went...and 2 more came Thursday evening and had to leave Friday morning. Now that should tell you how close we all are...those 2 drove 2 1/2 hours to eat dinner, dance, visit, sleep, eat breakfast, drink coffee, and visit some more...and then drive 2 1/2 hours back! Unfortunately, we didn't have Sandi.

I'm not sure what I would do without my girlfriends. As I said, (or I think I said) on an earlier post, we've been GREAT friends for...something like 14-15 years. We get together once a month and always go somewhere in the summer. Probably our favorite get-aways have been on a houseboat. This trip to Terri's cabin ranks way up there for RELAXATION! I think one day, we stayed on the porch in our pjs for 8 hours!
We're relaxed, we're comfortable, we're enjoying ourselves on a beautiful summer morning!

Friends need to help friends figure out how their cameras work!

This is all 9 of us before Terry and Anne had to take off. Then Pam and I are relaxing reading Lorna Landvik books...notice Pam's bookmark?

Ron called one day and asked if we'd been out in the boat..."Nope" I answered. "WHY NOT?"...he couldn't understand. "Well, we're just visiting and relaxing..." there was no use in trying to explain...he wouldn't have understood. We did eventually hop in Terri's car and head down to the lake to swim for a while...but we never did take the boat out!Terri is THE driver!

Lynne climbed in the back of Terri's car so we could all fit in to head to the lake. Pam and I had to take our annual photo together.
Laner (on the left) and Jake (right) take pictures of me taking pictures of them...like I said, we were just relaxing in our pjs!
Here are 7/10 of us. Terry took the photo as she and Anne were leaving...and like I said, we missed Sandi for the whole weekend:(

I remember my mom use to tell me when I was growing up that I should count myself fortunate if I have one really close, dear friend. Well, I have 9 of them! I think the word to describe it is 'blessed.'

Monday, August 14, 2006

What happened to my jam?

I love to make jam...it's a summertime thing! My kids love it when I make jam and they get to be the recipients. I love to give them the jam too...and then there's my mom. She guards HER jam...won't even let ME open the jam I GIVE her. Nope...if I gave it to her, it's hers and hers alone! She told me yesterday she just opened the last jar. (She asked me if I understood what she said.)

One minor problem with my mom opening her last jar is that she lives over 2000 miles away from me. Minor problem. I don't really want to mail jam because it's so dadgum heavy it would end up being the world's most expensive jam. I told her I would put some in my suitcase at Christmas. "No, don't do that...the airlines will just throw it away," she told me. Oh yeah...the London ordeal...

Well, day before yesterday I made a new recipe for jam...hot pepper jam. I was excited to try something new. IT DIDN'T SET! Nope, it's runny...I KNOW I followed the directions...and I've been making jam for about 30 years... So I called Sure-Jell (aka Kraft Foods). The lady gave me the "Re-make recipe." I'll see if it works.

If it doesn't work, oh well, we'll just use it like relish and I'll make a lot of beans and rice...yum!

So tonight I made some peach jam...yum! I know it will be good...and right now I love hearing the 'ping' of the jars sealing! Mom, do you want peach?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A lot of good news about Camilla!

Two big tests have come back and they both have been EXACTLY what we wanted to hear! The first was called a 'chimerism.' This measures the DNA of the cells in her bone marrow. Because Rema was the donor of Camilla's 2nd transplant, what we wanted the chimerism to show was that her cells were '100% Donor 2 cells'...and they were! This is HUGE!

The second test was a CT scan to check her lungs from the pneumonia. They had been told that it wouldn't show any improvement for at least 3 weeks...wrong. It showed a great improvement.

Here is Camilla with her kitty, Embers. On the right is her buddies, James, Cody, and of course, Camilla.

More good news...I think today will be day 4 that Camilla is able to eat. She's not eating much, but she's eating...meat sticks and drinking a little. Plus, she's walking. Now, if you ask Camilla how she's doing, she'll tell you she's NOT doing good. My translation of this is...she's feeling good enough to realize how rotten she feels. A frustration she has right now is she will crave a food...and then when she gets it, it doesn't taste good to her. Her taste buds have been affected from the chemo...this happened before, but it's still frustrating.

One more piece of good news...When I posted about Camilla 'engrafting' on Day 10...that was when the neutrophils (is that how you spell it??? the white blood cells) took hold and began to make cells. But there is another 'engraftment' that happens and that is with platelets. Well, for Camilla this happened on Day 14, which according to Dr. Horowitz was not good...or great...but EXTRAORDINARY!

Dr. Horowitz said that at this stage of transplant, EVERYTHING is PERFECT! This is exactly what we love to hear. Camilla is now completely off her pain meds...and if everything keeps going along...she and Rema will leave the hospital Sunday and go home to Target House.

It's great to post such good news!!!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Summer is winding down

I think it's true to say that summer is winding down. I don't want it to be true, but it is.

This has been a busy summer for me traveling to Europe...plus a couple of other trips down to see the kids. But one of the sure signs for me that summer is closing is going back to school to get my classroom ready. Yesterday I went...I told myself I'd only stay 2 hours...well, I think I was there 4, but I got a lot done. Some of my girlfriends were there....Pam, Elaine, Lynne...they're some of my best buddies and one of the great things about school starting back.

My daughter-in-law, Emily, is excited about summer coming to an end. She has just gotten her FIRST TEACHING JOB! YEAH EMILY!!! Yep, she will be teaching 6th grade reading and social studies. I know her kids will absolutely adore her. This past weekend while Ron and I were down visiting, Emily took me to see her new classroom. It was probably just as much fun for me as it was for her. All the excitement of a new teacher...a brand new room to decorate...the promise of a group of kids that hopefully you can make an impact on. I'm so very proud of her!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Now it's pneumonia

A short update...
Good news first: Camilla talked to me on the phone! YEAH! That's a great sign to me because she hasn't been talking because it hurt so much.

Bad news second: She told me she has pneumonia. She said she would never get out of the hospital because they'd give her 100 new medicines for the pneumonia...I don't blame her for feeling that way. She's been in bed for 3 full weeks!

My interpretation: She's feeling better and is getting more frustrated with how long she's been in the hospital. BUT....she engrafted...she's talking....I am hopeful that the light is getting brighter at the end of the tunnel!

Come on Camilla.....

Friday, August 04, 2006


Rema called today as Ron and I were driving to Lindseys to tell me the great news... CAMILLA ENGRAFTED today! Her white blood cell count went up to 2700 today...unbelievable! One of her doctors said he had seen one patient engraft this soon, and the other doctor has never seen anyone engraft this soon! Today is Day 10 after transplant.

Now however,Camilla is feeling worse. One of the reasons for this is because her bone marrow is working to produce cells (HEALTHY CELLS!) that is causing excruciating pain in her bones. Plus, the mucusitus is worse. Now that she has white blood cells, it will take a few days at least for it to start to work against the mucusitus. She's still miserable, she's actually at the end of her rope, Rema said. I cannot fathom what she is going through...but I am so thankful that there is some good news...no, it's GREAT news!

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Well, the doctors still say she is 'textbook'...and textbook is still feeling absolutely horrible. The mucusitus is worse...she can't eat, can't even drink water, can't even swallow like you and I do countless times a day without thinking. It's just too painful.

Camilla has resisted taking fentanyl...now I'm not sure how you spell it...I'll have to look it up. but it's a strong pain killer. Camilla doesn't like how it makes her feel. I don't know if she finally said OK, or if the doctors took the choice out of her hands, but now she's on it. She had to have some relief. She also has a ballast (I think that's what you call it) but it's a little pump where Camilla can give herself an extra little boost of the drug when she needs it. It's measured so she can't give herself too much. I think if she presses it any more than once every 20 minutes, nothing will happen. It's safe.

Dr. Horowitz is hopeful that MAYBE she will ENGRAFT by this weekend. That would be GREAT! Once she engrafts and starts to get some white blood cells, the mucusitus should improve. Dr. Horowitz said there might be some precursers going on to give hope of engrafting soon. Yesterday, Camilla's white count was .2...today it was .8. Now that's not much, but it's something and it's certainly headed in the right direction. Rema said you just can't tell. She could stay at .8 for a while...or maybe it will go up more.

But for now...even though everything is still going 'textbook'...Camilla herself is feeling unbelieveably bad. Pray for her...