Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Picture Book and…Fibonacci?

I may have just broken a code.

A math sequence. The fibonacci sequence (1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55…)

In a picture book of all places!

Disclaimer: my neurologist did say my left parietal lobe could have trouble with math after surgery.  

To that I say…psshh. Lame.

Disclaimer #2: I was never very good at math.

The book is Jack, by Tomie DePaola. It's a beautifully illustrated book, seemingly not at all about math. Interesting! Let's take a look...

Jack lives with his grandfather out in the country. One day, he decides to try out city life. His grandfather is very supportive and offers Jack advice to seek help from the king. Along the way, Jack makes an assortment of friends.

So Jack (our #1 hero) sets out for the city, leaving his grandfather (1).

On the way, he meets a chick (nice pun, DePaola).

Jack + chick = 2

Then Jack meets a duck:

Jack + chick + duck = 3

Next Jack meets a goose and a dog:

Jack + chick + duck + goose + dog = 5

Then a frog, a pig, and a cow:

Jack + chick + duck + goose + dog +frog + pig + cow = 8

Next, Jack meets a cat, a sheep, a horse, and an owl:

Jack + chick + duck + goose + dog +frog + pig + cow + cat + sheep + horse + owl = 12. I know, I know. The next Fibonacci number should be 13. But what the text leaves out, the illustration makes clear: + crow. The crow joins the group for the rest of the story and we now have 13.

The other characters are quiet observers in the scenery. They include two doves on the dedication, a worm, ants, mice, spider, nuns, Jack & Jill, Humpty Dumpty, a guard, king, queen, etc.

I wonder if they make 21? 34?

Don't forget that crow!

I'll leave that for you to decide. My brain needs some rest. This is where too much time on my hands has led me. But it was worth it. Whether or not my math holds true, this story illustrates how to be inclusive...and the beautiful outcome that builds from there.

Have fun delving into this fun, beautiful book!

Monday, June 26, 2017

brain surgery!

I am alive and well after brain surgery!

I was so scared that a) I would wake up DURING surgery and freak out, b) I would not wake up AFTER surgery and freak out, c) the surgeon would poke different areas of my brain and be completely freaked out, and d) all of the above.

However, my neurosurgeon is amazing. He was able to remove most of the tumor, plus the ballooning cyst. They sent it to lab and there were a few "hot spots" on the pathology report showing slightly higher grade (not quite a 3, but more like a 2.5). I went to see my neuro-oncologist to discuss radiation and he said I can delay it for a year or two since the surgery went so well in removing those hot spots. YAY! Now I can enjoy my summer. I still need to do chemo, but it's in pill form (Temodar). Very convenient with not as many side effects as IV form.

So here is my updated To-Do list:

And now for something completely random...

My surgeon lived for a time in Tyler, Tx, not too far from my hometown of Shreveport, La. Small world. I have no idea what he managed to do there other than go to a couple honkytonks and a Dairy Queen. Both of those sound pretty good right about now. Hey, maybe he ran into Matthew McConaughey. You never know.

My oncologist's first name is Jerome. It's one of my favorite names, because it's a ghost town in Arizona where we went one summer vacation. Look it up! It's awesome. My oncologist is pretty awesome, too.

My tourist t-shirt looked something like this:

  • London
  • Paris
  • Rome
  • Jerome
I have to write it here because my husband begged me not to bring it up at the doctor's office. I am very good at embarrassing him with trivialities. It's just too darn fun. I will most likely bring it up anyway. Once you are diagnosed with brain cancer, you just don't give a care about what people think of you as much as you once did. YOU GOTTA DO YOU. I may even try to find that t-shirt. 😂

I'll sign off for now, but remember, if you or your loved one is struggling with a health issue (or any serious issue), please know there is help and support out there. Try to find the right medication, reach out to others, start a gratitude journal, listen to music, etc. Do what you've been wanting to do for a long time. Seek joy.

It's been a roller coaster ride for me (I happen to not like those) and I am not always chipper and optimistic. But hopefully, some good will come out of hardship. In fact, it already has. I've met some wonderful people (like Dr. Tyler, Tx and Jerome) and have had more quality time with my family. Try to focus on the positive, and when you can't, just breathe. Hold on. You're not alone. 💖

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Update on oligodendroglioma

What do you think? Is John Oliver a good new look for me? 😆😁🤣😫

Two weeks ago I had not so great MRI. Tumor has not only grown, but now there is an egg sized cyst.  This explains increase in seizure intensity. It was a shock to find this out. Thought I was doing ok. Handwriting and typing is totally fine now. Had another MRI (Happy Mother's Day!) to check motor fibers to see if surgery can be done safely. At the least, we will have the cyst drained and then aggressive treatment of 5-6 weeks daily radiation and chemo. It's not all bad, though. Best joke of the day (inspired by new hooded robe): I am Obi-mom-kinobi 😆😂👏👏

I will continue to write and read for as long as possible! I may even start sprucing up my manuscripts fo

Saturday, February 4, 2017

We Need You, Strega Nona!

Oh, the politics lately…


I was reading Strega Nona this morning, by Tomie dePaola. When I came to this page, all I could think of was Donald Trump's hair. Covering the house, the town, the world…

Boastful Big Anthony had only wanted to show the laughing townsfolk he wasn't full of lies (ahem, alternative facts). But his foolishness nearly destroyed the village by throwing it into chaos and making the townsfolk even more livid. 

Sound familiar?

When will Strega Nona return with her three kisses?!?

Please soon. Thank you!


Tuesday, January 24, 2017



The brain tumor is a LOW grade (grade 2) oligodendroglioma. It responds VERY WELL to treatment, most likely a targeted combo of radiation & chemo.

Basically, it is a GENETIC MUTATION.

Which makes me a MUTANT.


I am an X-MAN.


This is one of the HAPPIEST DAYS OF MY LIFE!!!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Still On Stand By

Still waiting for biopsy results. I will know something by the 24th of January. Only 4 more days…

So while I'm on Stand By, I thought I'd share a post on parenting. Because my kids are definitely on my mind right now. 

Now that they are older, I do have a little more breathing room. The preschool years are long gone. 


Sure, there are new challenges, but we're no longer in Base Camp. We've moved up the trail to slightly higher ground and can look back. Take in a view. 

A VIEW! Parents, I remember those days of being right in the thorny thick of it, up close and gross. Hang in there! You will one day get your view…and maybe even learn how to breathe again. Whew!

Here is one book I remember from those days: 

A  more recent book I just can't rave enough about is by Shefali Tsabary:

It has been a HUGE HELP.  It may have a somewhat different approach than what our culture is used to, but KEEP READING! Basically, you work on yourself first and stop trying to "fix" your child. Casting the beam from your own eye to see clearly. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

Lastly, I will leave you with a few parenting tips. I hope they help :)

  • LISTEN to your child with full attention (It's tough. I just had a delay yesterday when I was on the iPad. Keep practicing!)
  • SHARE your feelings (both good and bad) with them (When they see you open up, they see you respect yourself. They will learn by example - and maybe even open up to you)
  • TAKE IT OUTSIDE. Nature is a wonderful healing tool. Take advantage! (great for those surly teens, too)
  • Take time to REFLECT on your own childhood memories. Share those stories with your child. If it is a positive memory, maybe you could even recreate it in the present 💖


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Biopsy Update

All went really well. I was even released from ICU after just one night!

Dr. Holland, chief neurosurgeon at Providence Medical in Everett, is simply amazing. I thank him and his entire team for their professionalism, compassion, and overall outstanding care.

Lab results of biopsy will be in a week or 2. Hoping for low grade.

Now to rest, relax, and (as Dorothy would do) head into a good STORYSTORM!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Just a biopsy...

Today is the big day.

I'm going in for a biopsy. On a tumor. In my brain.

I remind myself that it is just a biopsy and not a complete removal where they open up the entire skull. Just a drill and a screw. And then just a needle inserted into that to swab around. Just 2-3 hours in the operating room. 

Could be worse…

Which reminds me of two great books, by the way:

The Yiddish Version (I LOVE IT!)


Since my diagnosis on December 7th, I have been very busy. Yes, they have me on a steroid.

I have finished 2 out of 3 of my winter quarter courses in Early Childhood & Family Studies. Only one more class to turn from an incomplete to a grade.

Speaking of grade, I'm really hoping the tumor is low-grade (1) and slow growing! But it could be intermediate (2). 

Could be worse (3 and 4). 

Back to business. Busyness.

I have organized the pantry.            

I have been making etsy purchases for the kitchen and home.
I have been up at all hours writing, nesting, and playing Seeker's Notes.
(I'm totally hooked on this eye spy game)

And let's not forget the kingdom…

I have enjoyed Christmas. I have enjoyed my family. I have enjoyed speaking with old and new friends. I have been amazed at my incredibly generous neighbors who have set up a meal train. I am forever grateful. 

I truly do live in Eden. 

Seriously. My next door neighbor is in the 501st Legion
PLUS…he and his wife are BREWERS.🍻

Heaven on earth...

I am taking part in STORYSTORM 2017, generating ideas for picture books (formerly PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month). It has been so INSPIRING!

I also began reading a gem of a book. It should be in every writer's toolkit. Truly amazing and inspirational.

I have even enjoyed a couple of outings into Snohomish (my little Stars Hollow) for it's library, antique shops, and eateries.

I have been smothered with gifts. My husband has been amazing. The kids have stepped up to help with laundry, dishes, etc. 

Here is my new Napa (FINALLY! Took a brain tumor to get one!) that is now my WIZARD ROBE. And my modified dragon cane, ahem, WIZARD STAFF.

I have some bling arriving in the mail soon that I will add to the robe.

I also plan on celebrating Mardi Gras. ALL SEASON LONG!

Let the good times roll, y'all.

Ready for all things


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Universe Provides (some book recommendations)

and this dudette abides…

Before and during my hospital stay, the Universe provided A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle. It was a great comfort, because I related to Meg's physical sensations (particularly the numbness, known as Todd's paralysis, on the right side of my body) as she traveled through space and time. I recommend for middle grade and up.

Moving on to the next book in line: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. 

I finally got around to reading it. It's been on my to-read list for years. But remember…

a wizard is never late!

From the very first chapter, we realize the main character, Arnold, had a childhood brain issue. And seizures. Crazy, right? Yet another character offering tremendous support. This is one of my favorite books. Thank you, Mr. Alexie, for listening to that call from the Universe! 

Note: This book is for grades 7-10, ages 12-17. I will be recommending it to my 13 year old son. I will ALSO be recommending it to my daughter when she is of age. I know I don't have to point this out, but just because the main character is male doesn't mean the book is strictly for boys. That would be like saying Harry Potter is only for boys…and that's just silly! Go for it, grrrls!

While I have always known the importance of literacy and the impact books make on children, this experience has given me an even deeper understanding. Books, and especially the characters, seep into our subconscious. They act as little guides. I can think of at least 3 books that were read to me in preschool that have stayed with me all my life. They continue to help me now:


Lastly, we cannot forget the villains. They are just as important. Just as helpful. The steroid medication I'm on to prevent inflammation keeps me up at all hours of the night. I have started to read Shakespeare's Richard III. You can bet I will be just as cunning and vindictive as the old Duke of Gloucester to help me beat this whole brain cancer thing.  [insert evil laugh]

Shine out fair sun, till I have bought a glass,
That I may see my shadow as I pass