Thursday, August 9, 2018

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Two Years

Two years. Not really much when you think of it in the span of a lifetime, yet oh so much when you're told you have months to live.

Two wonderful, difficult, happy, tear filled years.

When I was pregnant with Olivia I would pray everyday that my husband would live long enough to meet his child. After being told that not one, but THREE new tumors had formed, I pretty much surmised I would be raising our baby alone. I began to write down the things he told me, so I could I help my soon to be born baby "know" who their dad was. (We didn't know she was a girl yet.)

I was listening to a pod cast the other day, and the person being interviewed said "There are blessings in our curses."

What a wonderful way of putting it. Recognizing the fact that even though something is downright a curse,  sometimes blessings can arise from within those curses. Olivia is one of our blessings. Had we continued on our pre-tumor life path we probably wouldn't have decided to have a baby, we probably would've remained very career focused and continued to spend our spare time at bars.

I have to remind myself of that from time to time. When I find myself comparing where our lives have ended up, and where they could have been if we weren't so cruelly disrupted by this disease. Maybe, and here's a weird wild thought, our lives are better because of this.

We love each other more profoundly than we did before.

We relish simple pleasures like gazing at the stars, going on a Sunday drive or having breakfast in a cafe in a town not our own.

We do things for the sake of experience instead of acquiring possessions.

And most importantly, we pour our love and experience into this little girl we brought into the world and it gives us a purpose greater than ourselves. We try to do the same for Celeste, but she's in her preteen years, so our profound experience with her consists mostly of yelling, stomping and door slamming.

Raging hormones aside, this past year has been a fairly quiet one. And that's perfectly fine by me.

There have been lots of doctors appointments. Lots of missed work and sympathetic bosses. Lots of dirty baby sink baths. Lots of focusing on family and not too much else.

Chris traded in his sports car for a 4 door sedan. We took Olivia to Lake Tahoe for the first time. We spent a weekend at our brother and sister in law's cabin. We saw Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at Lake Tahoe in the summer. I chopped 18 inches off my hair and Chris is working on growing his back out. Someone told him he looked homeless the other day.

We threw an epic 80's birthday for Celeste. Olivia went on her first roadtrip to Seattle, Vancouver and Portland. That's right, Olivia Drue, international traveller. We made our annual trip to the balloon races, and Chris saw Dawn Patrol for the first time. I honestly never thought I'd see the day. This man rarely get's out of bed before 9am!

Our refrigerator broke and we lived out of coolers in the kitchen for two weeks while we waited for the new one to come in. We live in a 1960's ranch style house, the kitchen is original, gingerbread valance and all. So now we have a really cool retro styled fridge that fits, so I guess in house camping was worth it.

I took the girls to see a Back to the Future art show, featuring a sweet Delorean completely reworked to be the time machine. The girls had no idea what was going on. We saw an outdoor showing of Nosferatu in the park, complete with a live orchestra. Chris lovingly sat through a Hozier concert with me. He's such a good husband.

We celebrated our second anniversary, cotton. I gave him a pillow that read "You belong among the wild flowers." Lyrics from a Tom Petty song he listened to a lot these past two years. I would turn my back to him and silently cry when he played it. To me, it represented the brief existence we have here, and how important it is to live your life wild and free and exactly the way you want it to be.

He gave me a beautiful leather bound sketchbook with paper made of cotton fibers. I haven't written or drawn in it. I feel the need to make it's entries epic and memorable and am thus paralyzed by the need to be in this perfect place to create this perfect book so I don't tarnish this beautiful gift in any way. Sometimes I just need to get over myself.

We chopped down our third Christmas Tree together. It was cold and snowing and we bundled up and drank hot cocoa and roasted sausages over the fire. Our jackets were steaming and we couldn't feel our fingers or our noses. The kids took turns sledding down the embankment while moms screamed about watching out for trees.

We went to a great big Thanksgiving full of good food and fabulous people that we love surrounding ourselves with. Olivia's cousins outgrew their mini furniture and passed down a baby arm chair, it is her favorite thing ever.

We went to the Wedge Ceramics Studio Chili Feed Fundraiser and painted Christmas ornaments. We started a project where we're turning a hall closet into a shower for the Master powder room, so we'll have another full bath, as well as something better suited to Chris' needs. Chris' brother's and their wives have sacrificed many a weekend to put it together and it's nearly complete!

I embarked on a couple of month's worth of daily projects, only to discover I have no time for such things with a baby. I had my first show featuring my film photography. Nothing sold, but one was stolen. I have another show featuring watercolor paintings this July.

We had professional family portraits taken and they are amazing. Everyone should do it, it is the best investment in your family memories ever! We took Olivia and Celeste on a day of exploration at the Discovery Museum. And this past weekend was miss Olive's first time camping!

All in all we've stayed busy with relatively mundane things, but we love it just the same.  I find myself sad and disappointed at times that we don't  live in a better neighborhood, or can't afford to go on really cool vacations or fix things about our house. Or even just have time to cook a decent meal everyday.  I just have to remind myself to embrace the simpler things in life, and know that where we are right now is where we need to be. And it's ok to to buy a pizza for dinner. Even if it's not an organic, gmo free one dammit.

Sometimes I just need to remind myself to be grateful for the blessings and not focus on the curses.

P.S. As  a designer I am super embarrassed at the state of this blog. I want to say I started it something like over seven years ago and have never done an update, so, yeah. There are dead links everywhere, but hey, I'm a working mom and wife and just can't find the time to get to it just yet. And does it really matter since I can only seem to lay down my written word on an annual basis? Probably not. Just know, it's on my to do list. I Swear.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

One Year

It's been one year today. One year since I drove my husband to the emergency room after he was found on the floor of his tattoo shop, speaking mostly gibberish and thinking it was 2010 instead of 2014. One year since we were given the terrible results of a cat scan he received upon admission.

Tumor. Left frontal lobe.

You know you always see it in the movies, how your life can change in an instant. Life is funny that way. Really you can't plan anything, life will take you where it wants to and you are just along for the ride. Your plans are meaningless in the face of life, and that's a hard pill to swallow, especially for me. I always try to plan, work out every possible scenario in my head, be prepared for it all. But you never really can be, and sometimes you just have to accept that the unwritten, unplanned destiny of your life is what it's supposed to be, and that's okay.

A lot has happened in one year. My husband and I are truly lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing family and friends who have helped us in ways both physically and emotionally and for that I am eternally grateful. No one should have to face something like this alone.

When the pathology of the tumor came back and we learned that it was aggressive and malignant it was a devastating blow to our attempts of keeping positive about the situation. We were told typical survival is 6 months to a year post diagnosis. Well today he surpasses the statistics. And we couldn't be happier about that.

He endured radiation and chemo and its terrible side effects, but we remained positive. He is young, he is strong, he's got this.

In the month between brain surgery and beginning treatment we got pregnant. After radiation was over we went to Burning Man, leaving the radiation mask to burn in the temple, along with all the terrible things it represented. We celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. One year is the paper year. I made him a photo book of our first wedded year and he made me a painting of Don Draper. I love that we both used our talents to create something for one another.

We journeyed into the woods and cut down our second Christmas tree together.

And then, just when we got a little distant from the whole cancer thing, just when it felt like life was a little normal again, it was time for Decembers MRI.

We learned the brain tumor had returned, along with two others. It spread into areas of the brain that made it inoperable. We stayed in bed crying for three days straight. I'm lucky I have understanding bosses, because I didn't even call in, I ignored all my calls, I couldn't talk to anyone, I couldn't deal with it.

My sweet husband, learning without further treatment that he may have mere months to live, walked out of that doctors office and said "Well I guess I better take you to Paris." So we did, we went to Paris and I was 7 1/2 months pregnant. It was amazing, it was the honeymoon we never had, and even though we both exhausted easily, we enjoyed every second of our travels.


When we returned home he began a new treatment, two different chemos, one every other week, one every six weeks.

Our dear friend organized a fundraiser in the form of a Poker Tournament, since my husband loves a good game of poker. The outpouring of support from the community for our little family made us feel so loved.

We closed the tattoo and piercing shop, treatment is exhausting and running a business is stressful. I think he was very successful operating his two shops for 15 years, but at the same time relieved to not have the burden of the business anymore.

In March we had our beautiful baby girl, who we named Olivia Drue, Drue is her daddy's middle name. When she was ten days old we moved, they had sold the house we were renting. We decided to move back into my old house that we had been renting out for a couple of years.

Shortly after he had another MRI. I was so fearful of what that MRI would say. All of them really. MRI result days are always scary.

But this one was amazing. The current treatment had caused a significant reduction in tumor size, one wasn't even visible anymore! It felt so wonderful to get some good news.

It's crazy to think about how much has happened in a year. My husband is the most amazing and resilient person I know. How he has managed to remain so positive is beyond me. But he's never looked back, it is what it is and he has so much to look forward to.

He is truly a source of inspiration and strength and I am so lucky to get to spend my life with him.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I Was Mean

And I feel really bad about about it now. In the past few weeks I've been filling my husband in on how life was going pre brain tumor discovery. He doesn't really remember it. I'm kind of glad though, because I was mean to him. And it makes me feel terrible, because he was out of control of his own mind.
In my defense, I didn't know it at the time. So how did we know? That's a question a lot of people ask me. Could you tell? Not really. Sure, there were symptoms, things that could be explained once we found out, but those symptoms could be for a variety of things. And my mind thought the wrong things.
Shortly after we were married, right around the beginning of 2014, my husband began getting headaches. Headaches he described as the most painful things he'd ever felt in his life. They would stop him in his tracks and his body would tense in pain. Thirty to sixty seconds later they were gone. I had recently moved the wifi router into our bedroom, under his night stand. Being the weirdly paranoid person that I am, I moved it back to the living room thinking it was the cause. It wasn't.
He forgot my birthday. He was busy at work, working late most nights. It was awful for me, I was deeply offended and it caused me to really analyze his behavior, how he really wasn't himself. I thought "the honeymoon is over" and he just wasn't as attentive to the relationship as he had been.
Then he began to not feel well, sleeping late, being late for work. Sometimes I'd come home at 4 p.m. and he'd still be in bed. He stopped being able to take Celeste to school, she started to take the bus.
I started picking fights with him, assuming he'd come home late all the time to avoid spending time with Celeste and I.
But sometimes he would say to me that he did not know what was wrong with him, sometimes he'd be a glimmer of himself, instead of this weird vacant person who seemed more frequent. I tried to get him to go to a doctor, he said they couldn't help him. I thought he was depressed. I asked if he had ever been like this before, he said yes, once, so he drank a lot. So that's when I really thought it was depression. Then he started to fall a lot. He wouldn't go to bed when I did, then in the wee hours of the morning he would wake me as he attempted to come to bed. I would yell at him. He fell a lot in our bathroom on the middle of the night. At first I was concerned, then I stopped helping him get up and would just leave him there. I thought he was drinking. He was having seizures.
His employee at his shop said his behavior there was erratic too. One night, 3 days before we found out, he called at 8 p.m. seeming perfectly normal, he said he was on his way home. Then at 11 p.m. he had still not come home, I called him and he was really slurry and not making sense. I thought again he had been drinking. Eventually I could no longer hear him on the other end of the line, so I woke my daughter and drove down to the shop. I found him slumped over and he had vomited on himself. Seizure.
The next day he did not remember any of what transpired the night before. He wanted to know where his car was. I explained that I had driven him home. I also told him I refused to take him anywhere except the doctor's or the emergency room. He found another ride to work, after I made him sit in my hot truck while I did the things I had planned. I was not going to let his drinking and depression inconvenience my life.
Later that night I went to the bar to confront him. I told him I was sick of his behavior and I wanted a divorce. He didn't even care. He stared back at me blankly, this empty version of the man I loved. I went home and cried myself to sleep. I Awoke to an empty house and went to my Saturday job. At noon I received a phone call from his employee. He found him in the shop, unconscious, he had vomited everywhere.
I said I'd come get him. I was pissed. Here I was taking care of yet another drunkard. I drove to that shop fully intending to be mean to him some more. But when I saw him, I knew something more was wrong. This wasn't just drinking and depression. I tried to call his family. I had his employee and his friend lift him into my truck.
I finally could take him to the emergency room without him fighting it.
Even as I pulled in he murmured, no, just drive.
No, I told him, we are finding out what the hell is going on with you.
They took him back immediately, no waiting around. They asked him questions. He thought he was 22. He was 33 at the time. He thought it was 2012. They changed him into a gown and handed me the bag of his belongings. I was so worried he was going to be mad at me for all this. As he walked out of the room the nurse looked at me and said "You did the right thing" and I just burst into tears.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Comeback

I've been a little hesitant to start writing on my blog again. I loved it so much for so long. And then life took over and this was just one of those things that got discarded. But, given the circumstances of this past year, I realize life will always be a crazy chaotic mess. And if you really want to do something, you have to find the time for it. I still read a lot of other peoples blogs. And I love that little peek into their lives. I love feeling I know someone out there who is living and experiencing just like me, even if we never meet or interact. I think that's what ultimately brought me back. I know someone out there would benefit from my story, so I should get back to writing it.
The last time I posted was a farewell to my grandmother who had passed away. Since then, we've seen some major ups and downs. Life changing, perspective altering sadness and ultimately happiness and togetherness.

Celeste broke her arm. And busted out her two front (adult) teeth. This did not come at a small price for mommy.

I graduated college. It only took forever, but I finally did it!

We went to Hawaii. I've always kept it on the west coast of the continental US, so what an amazing adventure it was! Celeste, the little weirdo, wanted to swim in the swimming pool the whole time, even though the house we were in was right on the beach! Kids. They don't know what their missin'. My favorite part was when Chris and I took a hike to Manoa Falls. It was challenging, but fun and rewarding too. We were a muddy mess when we were done. Supposedly scenes from Jurassic Park were filmed nearby, and I thought it totally look like it!

We got engaged! Chris is seriously the most amazing, genuine and handsomest guy I know. Sometimes I still feel like "me? are you sure you pick me?"

I had my appendix removed.

Three weeks later we were married. It was the best. We did it in the Virginia City Cemetery on Halloween and costumes were mandatory. It was such a blast and totally fun, no pomp and circumstance for us.

We went to Portland to see Pearl Jam.

In February of this year I started my new job as real life graphic designer. Yay!

May 31st 2014 I took my husband into the emergency room after his employee found him at his business. He had apparently suffered a seizure. Later that night we were told he had a brain tumor.

World crumbles.

But you don't stop living. You can't. Life is all any of us has.

Six days later they cut open his head and removed that tumor. Tests showed it to be malignant and aggressive.

He ended radiation treatment last month and is currently on a break from chemo until the end of the month. Then, he will resume chemo for the next year. His first follow up scan since treatment is in 2 weeks.

One last thing before I end this event filled comeback post.

In the month between brain surgery and the beginning of radiation and chemo we decided to make a baby. And miraculously, we did. We had "planned" on waiting for a year or two before any of this happened. But we quickly realized life doesn't go according to our plans, it just goes, so why put off doing the things in life that make you happy? It's not about a budget or a career or when the time is "right". It's about being happy everyday you possibly can, because you never know how long this life will be or where it will take you. So surround yourself with the people you love and do the things you want to do. Screw the plan.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Farewell Grandmother


My dear, beloved grandmother Miriam has left this earth today. My heart is sad that I shall never again be held in her arms or greet her smiling face. She was so special to me, and I wish I had told her more. As I moved through the eery fog of today, I tried to remember bits and pieces of how she graced my life. I let go of all my petty, worrisome thoughts and filled my head with my lovely grandmother.
I know as the years pass these memories will become even more fleeting, especially since I cannot make anymore. So I want to write them down, to remember her beautiful life that was a part of my own.
Grandma always loved and cherished my creativity. She made sure I was constantly stocked with art supplies. She was a source of encouragement in every creative endeavor, sure to tell me how she had known I was so talented since a young age. Every child loves to be artistic, but she had seen I was so deliberate and concerned with my art. When I was older, she always told me she wanted a drawing or painting, but I was so busy with school, life and work. Finally this past year I was able to give her a painting. A whole lifetime of support, I hope she saw it in that one painting.
Grandma always left gifts from Santa. Wrapped in parcel paper with her distinct penmanship. Those parcels were simply magical to me, and am glad I recognized her handwriting for it all to make sense when I was older. I looked forward to Grandma visiting for Christmas each year. She would spend the whole day making her amazing meatballs and spaghetti sauce from scratch. She gave me that recipe, I really hope I can find it. On Christmas day my two favorites were her clam dip and cherry & boysenberry jello mold with sour cream sauce. I don't need a recipe for those, I make them every year, by heart.
As children, we so looked forward to our summers, when we would travel to stay with grandma. We would beg her to go swimming every single day. She and grandpa had a condo in San Pedro. I still remember the smell, the color of the furniture, how everything was blue because it was her favorite color. Her collection of creepy head mugs. We were a handful, my brother, sister and I, I'm sure, but even when grandma was stern with us it was never mean.
As an adult, grandma was just that much more enjoyable. She had an awesome sense of humor. She loved her Raiders and Tiger Woods. And if anyone challenged, she would staunchly defend. She was immensely giving, your happiness and comfort always her concern. When I'd visit her she would make me food and we would spend an afternoon talking of her trinkets or old photographs, I loved to hear all the stories behind them and I wish I could recall them now. I am lucky enough to possess a couple of those photos, which we had discovered copies of as we rummaged through boxes of gorgeous vintage photos from the early 1900's.
My dear grandma Miriam, I am so lucky to have known you, to have loved and been loved by you. Thank you for being such a positive influence in my life. Love you forever.

Miriam Ellen Robert
June 16, 1935 
December 30, 2013

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Typewalk Poster

Typography lovers gather. #typewalk

Have you heard of the AIGA? It's the Associated Institute of Graphic Arts. I joined the Reno/Tahoe chapter in 2011 and have tried my best to attend as many of the meetings as my schedule allows. We also have a student group which I recently became president of. A crazy move on my normally super shy selfs part! But hey, I need to step up and be a little more outgoing. I also think that it will force me into networking within the local design scene, which will be immensely beneficial as I am about to graduate and enter the field of my chosen profession.
This past June the Reno/Tahoe AIGA group held their second annual type walk. Unfortunately I missed out on the first one, but I had heard from fellow group members how fun it was, so I made sure to make time for this one. Designers love our typography, and the typewalk sends us into our little city in search of all the unique typography we see and often take for granted. The first year it was held in downtown Reno. This past one was in Reno's Midtown district.
We paired off and were given a map to confine our journeys to a certain area. And we were off! We walked around in search of fabulous examples of typography. You could try and get the entire alphabet if you wanted. I was in search of an awesome K, for Kristine of course. But I also thought unique letters like X and Q would be fun finds.
Everyone then submits their photos and from them one of each letter is chosen to create the annual Typewalk poster! Here are my submissions...












And here is the final poster. My F and G made the cut!

Click image if you wish to purchase.

Until next time. XO. K.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...