Monday, July 27, 2009

The need for laughter

If you want a good laugh, come to our house and hang out with Gianna for a while. Actually, all you really need is a few minutes.

She is pure entertainment...her faces, the things she says, her mannerisms...

this was her idea...

This is her newest "friend". Meet Iguana. Now, I'm not really sure it's really an iguana but Gianna insists that's what he is. If you haven't figured it out yet, he is a pool float. A few nights ago, I went to check on her after she fell asleep and he was in her bed.

How we love our precious, funny, little one...



And big news around here...Gianna finally, finally, finally let us put swimmies on her and after much time and effort by her Daddy, is now swimming on her own! Yippeeeeeee!!!!!!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Visit

I went to see Berta yesterday. My first trip to NYC in a long time and it's to the hospital. Boy, she's in rough shape. She still has the respirator in from Monday's lung biopsy and she is heavily sedated, however, she does respond to her name and to people's touch. Her eyes open wide briefly when she hears her name and then her lids get heavy and close. She was crinkling her eyes and nose to respond to people which was really nice.

It was so emotional to be in her presence and to see her hooked up to so many tubes and wires and machines. I walked to her bedside to let her know I was there and I got a nice response from her. Later on, Lauren and I were on either side of her just chatting and including Berta in on the conversation. I was telling Lauren how I wanted to bring Berta chocolate, which is her absolute favorite treat, and upon hearing the word "chocolate" she crinkled her eyes and nose! What a treat that was for us!

The oncologist came in to talk with the family about her prognosis and about starting treatment. Unfortunately he used the word "shocking" to describe her body scans. The cancer is so aggressive and is literally everywhere. She did start chemo today however and we are all relieved something is being done now. We are hopeful for a miracle.

When it was time to say our goodbyes, Lauren walked over and got a nice eyes and nose crinkling from Berta. When it was my turn, she was too weak to respond. I repeated her name a few times and then joked to Berta and Lauren that I wasn't leaving until I got a really good goodbye from her. I waited a few more seconds and repeated that it was me and I was leaving...and then the best thing of all happened. She lifted her right arm a bit and her left arm reached up pretty high and she crossed it over her body in the direction of my voice. She was giving me a hug goodbye. I know I got the most precious gift of all.

"God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease—smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see—but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension. By his love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise."

There's always hope...I have to have hope.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My friend

This is my friend, Berta. I met Berta about 15 years ago when we worked together for a training company. We spent 7 of those years working together, however, not really "together". She worked from her home office in Brooklyn and I was in MA. I would call each morning precisely at 9:00 a.m. to start our work day together. It was about 3 or 4 months before we actually met in person. I remember how funny it was to actually see her. We both pictured ourselves quite differently. When she got back home and called me at work the next day, she said "Ahhh...there you are Dineen"! She's originally from South Africa and has this amazing accent. Lots of people in our office had a hard time understanding her but not me. I had long grown accustomed to her pretty accent. Even though I don't see her often, I still consider her to be one of the best friends I have. She knows everything about me and I know everything about her.

I remember when I was offered a new job somewhere else and had to make the decision to leave. I had two reasons to stay and one of them was Berta. My last day at work she called me up as she had so many times before, but this time we both couldn't speak. We were in tears knowing it would never be the same. I started laughing at how ridiculous we were being and told her to hang up and I would call her the second I got home, which I did. Our friendship of course didn't end with that job.

The last time I saw her was last summer when she was here on business and stayed with me and Danny for a few days. It was wonderful having her here. She loved getting to know our children and brought them each a gift. Danny made her some wonderful meals and she couldn't get over what a great cook he was.

Today I found out that she has cancer and it's everywhere. Today she is lying in a hospital on a ventilator sedated. She doesn't even know the final prognosis as she is recovering from a lung biopsy. In a way, I wish she would just slip away right now and be spared the pain and agony of what is to come. Her first and only concern will be for her elderly mother, Cato, who is her very best friend. This will break Cato. Berta is her life.

Berta called me about a month ago to just check in and say hi. And I never called her back because I was too busy. Too busy. Doing what? Too busy to call my friend to say a quick "hi" back? All I want now is to hear her voice again and have the chance to chat and laugh like we have done so many times before. Now I don't know if I will ever have that chance and if I do, how will it ever be the same again?

Berta is a sweet soul. She is a wonderful, loving, loyal friend. She is an amazing daughter, sister, and aunt. She is smart, funny and silly but yet quite sophisticated.

She doesn't deserve this. And all those who love and adore her don't deserve this.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dennis, Cape Cod

We spent last week on the Cape. We had fantastic weather...sunny and dry every day. The house was on Follins Pond. We spent lots of time here on our own private beach...

The kids swam out to the dock and used their nets to collect all kinds of things...

Nicholas and Julia were in great spirits the entire week...

and Gianna? Not so much...

She was pretty homesick the whole time. She called our rental house the "fake house" and wanted to go home to her "real house". The days were very busy and long for her and she often napped in the afternoon. And when she didn't nap...oh my.

One morning, Danny and I took the kids to our favorite breakfast place the Keltic Kitchen. Years ago, when we used to rent cottages in Yarmouth this is where we went almost every morning for breakfast. Simply delicious food.

Wonderful hot chocolate...not that watery stuff...

We went on Sparky's hayride again. We did this last year with Pops and CeCe and this year the night was just as beautiful. It's a fun ride down to the beach...

The views are spectacular...

The guy who owns the cottage took the kids tubing one day. I knew Nicholas would love it but I wasn't so sure about Julia. But she got right on and actually went twice! I was so surprised at how brave she was. She even asked him to go faster the second time!

Gianna loved the boat which really surprised me. Later that afternoon, he took us on a long boat ride down the Bass River and Nicholas, Julia and Danny jumped off the side of the boat for a quick swim.

You can't go to the Cape and not get ice cream. I was so torn between Mint Chocolate Chip and Buttercrunch. The Buttercrunch won out in the I knew I would have to "help" Nicholas lick his ice cream before it melted everywhere. So I got the best of both worlds.

We had a wonderful week building sand castles...

playing at all the different beaches...

and watching Gianna have so much fun even though she was homesick. She literally skipped everywhere she went...

Here are some short videos of the kids having fun...



Monday, July 06, 2009


Rick and Tyler are visiting from Florida. We went up to Kim's Ogunquit house over the weekend and had a great beach day. Yes! Finally a beach day!

Gianna didn't complain about the beach this year. She played and played and then took a nap in the cabana.

So glad the kids have aunties that love to play with them.

Tyler is awesome with kids! He played and played with them too.


and even Julia "surfed" too...

My handsome nephew...

Some ate lobster for dinner (not me 'cause I don't care for it but they obviously did)!

My girls...especially their cousin, Tyler.

It was a great day...

P.S. Some photos are compliments of Ricky.