Friday, July 29, 2011

Joy and Sorrow

This past month has felt like an emotional roller coaster for Dan and I. There's been a lot of grief, but always intertwined with love, thankfulness, and joy. Dan and I rarely travel separately, but last weekend he flew to Williamsburg, VA to visit his family, and specifically his Aunt Irene, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last Thanksgiving. Her health seemed to stabilize for a while as she underwent treatment, but in the past month it was clear that she was quickly declining. Dan hoped that he'd be able to spend time with her when he flew to VA last Thursday, but God called her home the Tuesday before he arrived. Aunt Irene was a follower of Christ, and her family saw Him work in her life to simultaneously soften and strengthen her even as her body was failing. We're thankful that she's with God and free from pain, although we'll miss having this special woman in our lives. Dan was there for her memorial service and said it was a blessing to spend time with his extended family and others who loved Aunt Irene.

While Dan was in VA, I spent the weekend in Ft. Worth, TX to visit my family, and specifically my brother Paul, who was diagnosed with cancer in his spine earlier this month. Our family has been through the gamut of despair and hope as the doctors have explored Paul's treatment options. The great news is that he's receiving care from specialists at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas who have treated similar cases. I don't think that any of them has met someone like Paul, who thrived for 32 years after having cancer in his brain at age 4. Most children with the type of cancer Paul had didn't live to adulthood or experience the rich life he's lived. Paul's had surgery to remove part of the tumor in his spine, and true to form, he's recovering better and more quickly than the doctors expected. (Now you know why my younger brother, Steve, and I are so crazy - we had an older brother who's a walking miracle and always exceeds expectations! Ha!) He'll heal for a few weeks before starting radiation/chemo, which we're praying will eradicate the rest of the tumor without damaging the nerves in his spine.

Since my parents retired in Ft. Worth, visiting their house is a new & fun experience. All our extended family also lives in TX, so we had visitors every day, which was so fun! Kind of a sporadic family reunion. Our families are really close, and we could definitely feel the love from all sides!

Obviously pictures weren't the main focus of our visits, but here are a few anyway.

Dan and Aunt Irene last Christmas in Williamsburg

One of my favorite guys in the world, who is teaching me a lot about faith in the Lord when the rubber meets the road. We'd all appreciate your prayers for Paul as he heals and continues treatment!

Me and my parents at their new house. They've mostly settled in, but my mom and I did a little shopping for furniture and found places to hang pictures on the walls. I like how my dad is using my mom and I to give himself an amazing hourglass figure in this picture. Well played, Dad. :)

Steve was there, too, and this is the only picture I took of him all weekend. Dan & I & my mom pitched in to buy him new shoes for his birthday, and they were apparently more important than his face. Heh. Sorry, Steve! :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

4th of July Fun

We were thankful to have a 3-day weekend to celebrate Independence Day. I got a free ticket to a Padres game because I ran in the Rock n Roll half marathon, so we took advantage of it and chose seats closer to the field than usual. You got a lot more action from the mascots and vendors down there! As opposed to our usual seats where our noses bleed from the altitude and the view is sometimes obstructed by low flying clouds. I was hoping for a ball to come flying our way (my fool-proof plan was to hit the deck while screaming "CATCH THE BALL!!" to Dan), but alas, I had no opportunity to exercise such brilliance. But we did get on the fan camera! They were doing one of those "pick the hat that has the prize in it" games right by our section, and you better believe we were jumping up and yelling in the background! Soaking in those 5 seconds of fame, baby!

As you can see, there was hardly anyone at the game that night. Apparently, we only make it on camera when there are slim pickings. :)

Dan's favorite part of going to a baseball game - tripling up on hot dogs. gross.

A very large Petco cat drunkenly danced through "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

Speaking of very large cats, we met our friends Chris & Judy and their sons Ian and Jon at the zoo on Friday evening! We'd never been there at nighttime, and we saw a lot more activity from the animals as the day got cooler. This is the closest I'd ever been to a lion before, and man, I was glad about that tall fence. Of course the fence provides zero protection from his "7-10 foot spray"! Fortunately, he decided not to mark us as his territory.

This mountain lion looked hungry and was slowly pacing back and forth, looking right into our eyes. You didn't need to speak his language to know exactly what he was thinking.

It was so fun to spend the evening with these cute guys. I tried to get Jon's attention, but there were elephants behind me that he was saying hi to.

Ian was the best guide - he knew exactly which animals were around every corner and all the best places to stop & play along the way.

Hopefully he ran off a lot of energy and slept well that night!

Great company in a fun setting!

On Saturday, we helped our friends Kat and Burton paint a room in their newly purchased condo. For some reason, they weren't fans of the original baby blue color. :)

We work for cheap!

And on the 4th, Kat and Burton came to our house along with my co-worker Sammy to have dinner, play games and walk to the bay to watch the SeaWorld fireworks. It was a great weekend!