Saturday, August 22, 2009

Thelma n Louise (with a better ending- we hope!)

After about five minutes of careful consideration and another five minutes of intense planning (and several hours to deliberate our wardrobe choices), my friend Ali and I are off on a road trip - just a night - or most of it - or possibly part of another day - or not... we really don't know except we'll have about 12 hours of driving time, round trip, with my dog Max, to expound at great length and painful detail on our strangely parallel lives, eat, laugh, hear some good music and generally find just a bit of mischief.

These photos are from our last haphazardly planned get together, which included flavored martinis-I've already forgotten what flavor; fishnets, 80s prom dresses, a hula hoop, redneck barbie and bunny ears.

Maybe more Lucy & Ethel? Or can you think of another dynamic female duo???

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sunflowers, I just love 'em

I can't resist at least one post each summer dedicated to my favorite flower. I just love everything about them -- Their size: so large they look almost comical in contrast to my manicured shrubs -- their color: some very yellow, some with red highlights, some more ochre and brown -- their shape: round and happy and symmetrical -- their seeds: that attract and feed the summer birds and bees.

In my garden they grow whereever the birds drop them out of the feeders, so I never quite know when or where or how many I'll have.

This is the last of them for this summer, brightening my dining room table.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Fish imitating life..."

Many of you ask how my sister and her husband have managed to cope with my niece's condition over the last nine months. Humor plays a big part...

We are saddened to start tonights update with the news that "Daddy the goldfish" is no longer with us.

Mike (whom "Daddy the goldfish" was named after - by Avery of course) was found belly up tonight when Mike got home.

Avery received her 2 goldfish a year and a half ago -- on Easter Sunday - from her Aunt Jesse and Aunt Mary.
Avery which - she affectionately named them "Daddy" (after Mike) and GiGI (after my mom - Avery's grandmother).

Needless to say - Mike's response to being named after a goldfish was:
"this is my worst nightmare - I have to live trapped in a tank with my mother-in-law" :))

Anyway - after I received the news this evening - I called my mother to let her know. She was inconsolable.....laughing.

Of course when Mike told me - I asked him "how GiGi the fish was doing" -- his response:
"she is fine - happy to be eating her food all by herself as if nothing ever happened - and every now and then - she will swim around and bump into him."

So - all in all - "fish imitating life"

As for Avery - I am happy to report - she is MUCH better than Daddy AND GiGI! She is a little more awake today and we were able to start weaning her ventilator a little bit more.

We are still battling this infection as well as trying to heal her belly wounds. We are also trying to figure out when the best time is for her to go to the cath lab for her first post transplant biopsy. When this does occur - we will place new "clean" lines in her - but want to make sure we have her blood cultures clear before that - so her new line doesn't get infected.

We are also continuing to follow her creatinine (for renal function) which is still elevated but stable. She continues to pee very well - so this is reassuring - but "mom" a data driven gal - so she won't rest until the number is just right :)

We will keep you posted and please continue the prayers!!

Cheryl and Mike

Monday, August 10, 2009

Avery - on the road to recovery...

Avery continues to have a lot of swelling and the usual balance of fluid levels after major surgery, so she will not be closed up until Wednesday. She has a very long road of recovery, but thanks to all of you and your support, wishes, prayers, she's well on her way. Here is the latest update my sister sent us Sunday night...

"No longer an only child..."
Hi everyone,
As promised - tonight's update is dedicated to Avery's donor - and in our minds and hearts - her new sibling - a child we love as if they were our own.
Yesterday - one of Avery's nurse's asked me "did you feel it"?
I asked her - "feel what?"...and she responded - "her heart - it is so strong beating inside of her"
Avery's heart is literally covered only by a thin bandage made out of plastic - so you can literally gently place your hand over it and feel her new heart "jump up and hit the palm of your hand" with each beat.
At first I thought - I have no intentions of putting my hand there -- but being the mom and insanely curious nurse that I am -- I did.
It was overwhelming on every level!
I could not help but think of the parents of Avery's donor - some how wishing I could hold their hand there too - so they could feel the life of their child inside of Avery.
We hope that one day - God willing - if the donor family wants to - that we are able to meet them...and even more so...that they are able to meet Avery and know her story! They will forever be part of our family.
It is inexplicable to even imagine what they have experienced and the void that losing their child will leave in their lives.
We pray that God gives them strength and that they somehow find peace in knowing what they and their child have done for Avery and our family.
The following is a song that my dear friend Julie heard the morning of Avery's transplant. I had never heard of it - so I looked up the lyrics.
I cannot think of words that could better capture what "We Wish" for Avery and her donor.

written by: Jeffrey Steele and Steve Robson
recorded by: Rascal Flatts

"My Wish"
I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
And each road leads you where you want to go,
And if you're faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
And if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walking until you find the window,
If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile
But more than anything
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
and you never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
I hope you never look back, but you never forget,
All the ones who love you, in the place you left,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
Oh, you find God's grace, in every mistake,
And you always give more than you take.
More than anything
This is my wish...
~Cheryl and Mike xo

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Avery will get a new heart - TODAY!

Beep... Beep... Beep!
(was the sound of the pager that alerted my sister and her husband at 2 am)...
Excerpted from Avery's carepage updates...
Good morning everyone! Avery's heart has been found. She went down to the operating room at 5:35 a.m. and we are told she will be there for most of the day. We got the call around 2 a.m. Her transplant cardiologist Dr. Betsy Blume told Cheryl it is "the perfect heart."
Her surgeon Dr. Francis Fynn-Thompson left his vacation on the Cape and drove here to the hospital around 4 a.m.
We don't have any information on the donor or where the heart came from... and we may never know.
Please say a prayer for Avery, her donor and their family today.
We will keep you posted once we have more information.
Thanks for all of your prayers, messages and support!
Mike, Cheryl, and Avery

These are Avery's most recent photos with her parents, in the hospital garden, enjoying some watermelon. To the left of her mom is the IV pole with her meds, and in front is the Berlin heart that has been keeping her alive and allowing her to build the strength she needed to receive a new heart.

I cannot thank you all enough for sharing this journey with us. Your prayers, good wishes and messages of support have made a huge difference for all of us. I will continue to share information as I know more.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Sacred Spaces...

Sacred Spaces-Home. 11 x 14 acrylic & mixed-media collage on deep set canvas.

That's the theme of the exhibit I will be participating in from Sept 3 to Oct 29 at the Colonie Town Hall in Latham, NY. This is the first of 4 or 5 pieces I will be exhibiting.

I was recently invited by my friend Marilyn to become a member of a newly-formed local artists group - art 'round town (a.r.t.), and since the rules are few and participation is flexible, it sounded like just the right opportunity for a rules-resistant, deadline-hating artist such as myself.

And although I am busy with a lot of things this summer, I loved the theme for this exhibit, so I could not resist participating.

Here is the flier promoting the event:

If you're in the area, stop by the Town Hall and check out the exhibit!

Monday, August 03, 2009

My crush "of the month"...

Okay, so it's been waaaay more than a month since I posted my last crush. In fact, it's been about two years. It's not that I haven't had any other crushes, celebrity and otherwise, I just kind of forgot this particular blog topic until the other day.

You see, early this summer, my sister Jesse asked me if I wanted to see Kenny at the NY State fair (at the end of this month), and I said sure. I actually like his music and even own a couple of his CDs. I just wasn't all crazy about him like most of his (mostly female) fans seem to be. I have, in fact, resisted the charms of this particular cowboy for more than a decade, while my sister has not missed a concert within a hundred mile radius, and owns every CD he's ever made. I must even confess that after one particularly unfortunate wardrobe choice Kenny wore to the CMA awards back in the late 90s, -- a white, sequined Elvis-style jumpsuit -- I was one of those who suspected he might be, well, a little Brokeback Mountain -- not that there's anything wrong with that,(and I now believe that I was wrong) but I teased my sister unmercifully about the fact that her favorite cowboy probably didn't like her as much as she liked him.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, my sister gave me this CD and I am smitten. It's a little Jimmy Buffet, perfect for summer, and I am just reggae-in' all over the place and loving this guy's mellow vocals and laid back carribean charms. After I sang Jes my best rendition of Key Lime Pie for the fourth time, and told her how I want find a way to get backstage at the concert, she finally confronted me -- " I think you have a bigger crush on Kenny than I do!"

And for this month, at least, she's right!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Did I say tomorrow? I really meant, um, never.

I just read my last post to see where I left off and apparently I had promised photos from a recent art gathering "tomorrow." That was a week ago. What can I say? Time flies! And when I finally opened the file with the photos I took, they were all blurry. Have I mentioned lately that I am one of the world's worst photographers with my digital camera? The camera I've had for 4 years? And every January I make a resolution to actually read the manual and learn to use it? And then I don't? Have I mentioned that lately?

So in lieu of my own photos, I will link you to the blogs of some of the attendees who actually do know how to use their cameras -- Tabitha and Ginger.

It was a perfect day. The hostess, a very good friend of mine, is an event planner as well as an artist, so in addition to good company, we had great food, beautiful surroundings, and a seamless choreography of the day's events. She even managed to make it stop raining -- no small feat this summer.