Monday, December 18, 2017

Thanks for checking in!  I have not posted for over a year, but have just started up again and I am no longer using Blogger.  My blog has moved to: xoxo

Monday, August 8, 2016

On the Minneapolis Side of the Move

I think I'm actually positively loving our new house. The layout feels perfect.  And, for being in the city, in a lot of ways it is more private than our Iowa home.   The master bedroom is on the top level--all by itself with two doors to close--one at the foot of the stairs and the actual bedroom door.  It's quite a lovely little retreat.  It's a bit like a tree-house.  The boys (puppies) cannot disturb me when I want to rest.  They don't relish alone time as much as I do, and thus at our Iowa home when I'd close the bedroom door behind me they would press their adorable noses snuggly to the bottom of the door forcing lonely whimpers underneath.  This may still be happening, but I am blissfully unaware, poor pups!   My office is also located upstairs with all of its privacy and coziness.  Back in Iowa my office sits at the front entrance overlooking the yard and neighborhood.  The boys loved their perch at the front windows where they'd  keep diligent watch and noisily notify me of every single passer-by whether human or animal.  My office cove in our new home looks out at treetops and sky.  The boys lay at my feet peacefully with nothing to warn me of while Minneapolis is busily passing us by on the streets below.

There have been severel delightful suprises here in this old house.  It has been a treasure trove with antiques hidden under stairwells, beautiful planters buried in the forsaken landscaping, and oak flooring under filthy carpet!   I had been hoping that there was wood flooring on the second floor, but we were doubtful since we assume that the second floor suite was added on later.  However, there is gorgeous oak flooring that runs from the master bedroom, into our office cove, and all the way down the stairs! It needs some refinishing, but for now while we work on other things, it is charming and clean.

The girls:  The girls are doing well in spite of the mild to severe cases of homesickness that come on daily.  We are on day sixteen of our move, and it feels like we have been here for months due to all of the activity.

Sam:  Two days prior to our move,  Samantha applied on for a nannying position.  She had several interested parties and scheduled two interviews for the Monday after our move.  Both families were absolutely amazing, and the pay and benefits were spot on.  It was hard for Sam to disapoint the one family.  She was the top choice for both, and the nine-year-old cellist adored Sam from the get-go making it even harder to say "no."  She chose a three-month-old baby girl that lives close by.  She will head straight there after school for two hours Wednesday through Friday.  The baby's parents also requested that Sam practice her violin around their daughter for the benefits it offers the baby--being paid to practice, such a hardship!

Mak:  Makaela is thoroughly enjoying her freedom!  We are close to anything and everything.  She can walk, bike, and blade without relying on a driver to get her out of the house.  Fortunately for me, Makaela has also developed a deep, deep love of roller-blading--which is just simply the coolest thing ever.  I am thrilled to have a fellow human in my household who adores the feeling of flying feet as much as I do.  We are going to wear out the path around Lake Harriet.  ;-)  Yesterday afternoon she strapped on her blades and headed off to the library.  She had flip-flops in her backpack to use while there, but never bothered to put them on.  She went right inside with those bright green blades on her feet, requested a library card, picked out four books, and bladed home. She said that she received quite a few disapproving glances regarding her fancy wheeled footwear, but no verbal complaints, so I'm sure she will do it again!

Andrew:  Andrew is working on starting a formicarium.  We took many walks hunting for queen ants before our move and three beauties were transferred to Minnesota with us.  I have always detested ants--especially in my house.  But, for the love of my dear man, I coaxed myself into helping him catch them, and I now actually enjoy watching the tiny creatures.  They are fascinating and seem almost mammalian in their actions.  Andrew checks on his queens multiple times a day.   If he's not in the house, we all know that he's probably in the garage peering at them through his lighted manifying glass.  He keeps them in individual test tubes while they nest and lay their eggs.  It's quite a long process.  Queens can live up to thirty years, so they have no need to rush with their egg-laying.  The eggs also go through multiple stages of growth.  Andrew has not had any "births" yet, but it looks like he will have his first in about two weeks if all goes as planned!  He needs about twenty workers before he transfers them into the formicarium where their job will be to care for the queen.  I'll keep you updated!  ;-)

Thanks as always for checking in!

~xoxo Autumn

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The down-side of downsizing

Leaving this beautiful, spacious home is harder than I thought it would be.  Andrew said this morning, "we always new it would suck," but I didn't realize how much it would "suck."  I keep telling myself that "it's only temporary--if we want it to be."  We wanted to be moved into the school district we had chosen before school and orchestra season started (instead of waiting for our house to sell).  Plus, by actually living in Minneapolis we will have the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the area and see where we'd truly enjoy living the most.  But the frugal bug bit me, and I started salivating over all of the extra cash we'd have with a much less expensive property, and this thought pretty much sealed the deal in my mind, and I thought, "we should just live there forever."  My thought as of today, July 14th, 2016, is:  "I'm not sure it is worth it."  The size is pretty much perfect (I think), and we do plan to add a bathroom to the top level (the master suite). We are going from five spacious bathrooms, to two tiny ones--and only one has showering/bathing facilities.  The bathrooms do not have counters which is great for my three non-vain wash-and-go family members, but for me, it's a bit tricky.  When at the new house this past week, I used our oversized oak cutting board and placed it on top of the pedestal sink as a makeshift counter.  It did work well plus it stores nicely between the radiator and the sink base.  I find that the forced creativity of small-space living to be fun, for now.  ;-)

I am not sure exactly what it is that makes me sad about the new house:  maybe it is the the old carpeting--I positively detest carpet (but, we are planing on ripping that out Friday before we move in) or maybe it is the one stall dilapidated  garage (that we are planning to tear down next spring), or the green chain-link fence (that we are removing this summer and replacing with a privacy fence), or the dungeonesqe laundry room with the beyond disturbing wash tub (that we are replacing with a shiny new white one), or maybe it is all of the seemingly overwhelming to-do's combined.  As charming as this 1930's Tudor House is, the transition has truly been a culture shock that I did not expect.   O' well, we are not moving for the house, but for the opportunities Minneapolis holds for all of us.  As Andrew lovingly reminds me, "it does not need to be permanent.  We can to move to Spain if we so desire."

The girls have been in Tennessee for the past 3 1/2 weeks.  We drive down tomorrow to spend the weekend with them and will have the pleasure of attending their concerts in person.  And then Monday morning we will wisk them away from their violin focused days back to Iowa to pack up and load the truck.  They have enjoyed the Sewannee Summer Music Festival immensely.   It has helped to confirm that they are on the right track with their violin studies.  The days are long and hard, but they go to bed happy with that priceless feeling of contentment that only comes from working hard on something that you love and find valuable.   And, drum roll: they both were accepted into the top Minneapolis youth orchestra under the direction of Dr. Mark Russel Smith (whom we all admire). They are both anxious to move and are ready for new challenges--after all, they are my adventurous globe-trotting ex-pat kids.

Well, the glitz and glamour of moving has worn off and I am officially mourning this home, this life, and the friendships we are leaving behind.  It's hard.  But, as my good friend Delaine (my Friday walking buddy)  says "it's good to travel light, and be a gypsy."

xoxo ~Autumn

Friday, May 27, 2016

Nerves of Steel

I am sitting here drinking my coffee (French pressed) with heavy whipping cream (always), and thinking how grateful I am to my dear friend Laura for introducing me to the art of fine coffee making.  She swears by the aeropress method, but I lost the cap--probably tossed it with the coffee grinds last evening.  When I was new to the world of coffee,  Laura gave me a single-serving French Press with select coffee beans from a local roaster. The French Press method is still my favorite due to its full-bodied flavor.  I use the full size press to brew coffee for my gang and myself every morning.   Unfortunately for us, Laura and her gang are moving to Maine which is an exciting move for them.  While she is realizing her dream of a Maine life, we are soon to realize ours of returning to Minneapolis.  I won't say that "change is good," as obviously that is not always true.  But, some changes are really good, especially when they involve access by foot or car to fanatastic coffee beans--both of which Portland, Maine and Minneapolis, Minnesota have.  Cheers to the Larrsen family as they start a new adventure and to us as we begin ours.
A screen shot from the listing of the adorable small kitchenπŸ’ž

The house we are purchasing has been removed from Zillow, which has to mean it's offially ours! πŸ˜‰ I liken it to an engagment:  it is off the market, even though the deal has not been legally signed by the state.  Our ceremony (closing) is the second week of July.  We were hoping to close the third week of June when the girls are in Tennessee, but the current owners would be out"on the street" so to speak, and we are not quite that impatient.  We are going from 5,200 sq. feet to 2,200 sq. feet. We decided to either rent an apartment or buy a small house while we wait for our Iowa home to sell.  But, this adorable house may be "the one."  I sent my Aunt Karen (our dedicated realtor) a list of nine small houses last week that we wanted to see over the  weekend.  She checked them out, and sent me a response that six out of nine had offers on them, and then the next day the other three were gone too.  Yikes!  The larger properties we have been looking at over the past few months are still on the market, but the smaller homes tend to be gobbled up fast. When the little ivy covered English Tudor came up on Monday, I sent the Zillow link to Andrew.  Seeing how competitive the market is for small houses, it was too risky to wait until Friday to walk through. I texted Karen and asked if she would be willing to look at it for us. She generously was. Following her walk-through, she had the savvy of a seasoned realtor to contact the selling agent immediately. She notifed him that her buyers were putting in an offer that afternoon. Her quick action secured us first spot in the bidding line--thank you Auntie Karen!! She recommended that we offer more than the asking price as there were several people interested. We put in a generous offer that evening, never having seen it. We knew that we could back out if the inspector found something we didn't like.  Plus, we assumed that this was a "temporary" dwelling just to get the girls up in time for school to start.  However, we absolutely love it!  We are so in love with the house, the neighborhood, the walkablity to shops, restaurants, grocery stores, the lakes, trails's perfect.  *sigh*  We may never leave.
A snapchat pic before their audition. πŸ˜‰

We didn't walk through the house until Sunday.  Saturday the girls had orchestra audtions for "The Greater Twin Cities Symphony Youth Orchestra."  They were both miserable all day Friday and three-quarters of Saturday dreading the looming audition. "Do one thing every day that scares you," said the wise Eleanor Roosevelt.  And, the girls were terribly scared.  After an hour of recovery time following the audition and eating a fine meal at the "Holy Land Bakery," (one of our favs and who happened to cater for our wedding) they were feeling optimistic and chipper.   Honestly (and thankfully), the girls did not want to return home after being in Minneapolis.  They love the house, the yard, the lakes, the restaurants, the "Minnesota nice people," and simply the excitement and complexity that comes from the richness of city life. While swinging in the backyard on Sunday of our home-to-be, they both agreed that they wanted to kick the current owners out "now" so we could move in and not have to return to Iowa.  :-)  Six more weeks girls, and we will be urbanites again!! 😎😘 Thanks as always for checking in. ❤️ xoxo ~Autumn

During the high school's final concert, Mr. Swinney called the girls up to the front and thanked them for their leadership and contribution over the very nice of him.

My beautiful sister-in-law and nephew. Two benefits to look forward to in MN.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

April Greetings

Captiva Island:  Spring Break 2016
We SO enjoyed our time on this little bit of paradise.  We
swam with dolphins, talked to manatees, threw shells to the
alligators, jet skied, went on a dolphin spotting cruise,
netflixed, read, swam, walked, and simply enjoyed
the thrill of being alive and together.

Well, it’s April already--almost time to start planting which is bitter-sweet since we are moving this summer. We are headed to Minneapolis, the "Mini-Apple."  I’m not just a Minnesotan, I’m a “Minneapolisan.”   Our current neighborhood is park-like with spacious lots located about five miles out of town.  However, since I cannot drive, I have become a prisoner in a peaceful setting.

Living in Minneapolis provides numerous benefits for all.  For example, the girls appear to have reached the apex of violin talent here in Iowa, and require violinists their own age to challenge and invigorate them. It’s not that we do not have access to fine teachers, as ours are of the highest caliber, and we will be keeping with them, it’s that the competition among their Iowan peers is lacking. With that said, Andrew and I often lay luxuriously in bed at six a.m. as two violins send their haunting scales down the stairs into our bedroom reminding us that “yes” we must finally rise after having hit snooze twice.The girls are quite sad to leave their friends and teachers, but are looking forward to city life also.  Since it is only a 5 1/2 hour drive, they will be back often to visit. Here are three samplings of the girls' playing if you'd like to hear them:

The QCA Youth Orchestra with the QCSO conducted by the esteemed Dr. Mark Russell Smith
Playing Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev
This is the first movement that I captured on my iPhone.  It did not have sufficient storage
and thus abruptly cuts off after three minutes.  Thankfully, Andrew was manning the "real" video camera to capture the complete work. 
*The girls are seated in the front row chairs 3 & 4 

Samantha auditioning for the Youth Orchestra's concerto competition
A snippet of Mozart's Violin Concerto in A minor

Makaela practicing Mendelssohn's violin concerto in E minor
with her accompanist Ann Osbourne
and her side-kicks Theo & Mace

The benefits of Minneapolis for me can be summed up in one word: freedom, or maybe two words: freedom and healthcare, but I like to forget once in awhile that “healthcare” is a necessity in my life. Living in Minneapolis makes the Mayo Clinic a one day ordeal due to its close proximity.  We have moved my Mayo appointments to the end of June with the hope that we will be living there by then. Thus, I have no current updates on my health.  I do feel fantastic, and I am incurably optimistic!

The benefit of the move that I find the most exciting is freedom:  freedom to walk, bike, rollerblade, and use the transportation system to go anywhere I want and all right from our front door.  We are scouring the city for homes in the downtown lakes area--Linden Hills and Lowry Hill mostly.  We’d like to be close enough to walk to the “Chain of Lakes” and have the girls attend Southwest Senior High School.  It will be wonderful to live uptown again—where we started 18 years ago in our charming brown stone apartment.  It is surreal to be moving back to the beautiful Twin Cites with our young ladies and puppy-boys in tow.   Andrew will be tele-working for John Deere.  Deere has been uber supportive with our situation.  We are forever grateful for their generosity over the years:  living in Brazil, living in India, Andrew's University of Chicago MBA, and now allowing him to tele-work so my Mayo appointments go smoothly.

Lake Harriet

Thanks as always for checking in with my family and me!  We wish you all a lovely spring or fall and send all our love to you and yours.

xoxo ~Autumn

P.S.  To those who have sent me notes regarding more information on the diet:  I have not been 100% faithful to it, so I don’t feel competent in commenting on it.  I’d recommend purchasing Doctor Terry Wahl’s book, "The Wahls Protocol" to see if you think it's a worthwhile option for you.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Happy New Year to everyone!  We enjoyed an exceptional last two months of 2015, and are enjoying 2016 with all of its deliciously crazy weather fluctuations.  The girls especially enjoyed many successes at the end of 2015 of which Andrew and I were able to enjoy vicariously.  They both made it into Iowa AllState for violin, and were placed in the top 10 chairs.  Thankfully the auditions are blind, so no prejudice based on gender, race, etc. can come into play.  Their seats garnered them a spot in the select chamber orchestra that performs once piece with the AllState choir.  It was a thrilling concert for their parents and an exhausting weekend for the girls.   They were not at all interested in practicing at 6 a.m. the following week.  They both said that "AllState sucked all the joy out of playing," albeit an honor to be a part of.   Following that, "The Piano Guys" had a concert here in town, of which the girls were chosen with 6 other violinists to play a piece on stage with them. We had attended a "Piano Guys" concert last year at the Fox Theater in St. Louis, and this year we had the honor of watching our girls and their friends on stage with them at The Adler Theater here in Davenport.

The girls are now back into a nice rhythm of school, orchestra, and chorus along with a few extras that come with being a teenager.  Makaela is looking forward to earning her driving permit in May and practices with Andrew in the big black truck.  I have not joined them as of yet.  ;-)   Makaela being my youngest, feels permanently etched into my mind as a sweet toothless six year old, which I know is exhausting for her! Sorry Mak, I'm trying!!  Meanwhile Samantha is in the throws of college and university searches while preparing pieces for applications that will be due next fall/winter.  She is excited and scared about the soon-to-come changes, and will come fetch an extra hug at night when she has the remembrance that all too soon she may be living elsewhere.  They are both also working on applying to music camps for this summer.  Sam's camps will be 7 - 8 weeks long and Mak's 3 - 4 weeks long.  It will be practice for us all being apart for such an extended time:  mostly for mom and dad.  ;-)

For the first time since living in Brazil we are taking what the girls call a “white vacation.”  We are going to spend spring break on Captiva Island off the coast of Florida.  We have a beautiful little condo rented right on the bay with a 4 minute walk to the beach!!  So, instead of touring a new city and attending concerts and theater productions we will be sun-bathing, biking, swimming, dolphin and bird watching, reading, shell collecting, and relishing in the Floridian warmth and fabulous view.  We are all highly anticipating this “white person vacation.”

I'm feeling fantastic and stay that way as long as I respect my socializing limitations.  It’s challenging and quite limiting, and I do well with it emotionally when I keep it in perspective, BUT I find sometimes the loss of 2 days due to a migraine caused by over-stimulation is worth it!  I do miss the freedoms of my pre-tumor days, but I am enjoying life to my utmost ability, and truly relishing these last years with the girls at home. 

I am trying out a new diet that is purported to be beneficial for my two problem areas (brain and heart).  I had mostly given up the ketogenic diet, as it was raising my already insanely high cholesterol.  My neighbor, who is an internist, asked me if I had heard of Dr. Terry Wahls from Iowa City and encouraged me to look her up.  She apparently reversed her own MS and went from a wheel chair to biking due to this dietary change.  I found her Tedx Talk and from there her book (The Walhs Protocol) which I ordered.  I like that this diet is not simply fat, but includes a tremendous (6-9 cups) of veggies per day.  We are just starting, and will see how I do on it.  I have to say I am enjoying all of the produce!!! And, the bone broth is not too shabby either.  Science and medicine are in their infancy for sure.  I wonder what great advances in medicine and science will be discovered in this new millennium.  I have to say I am forever grateful for our continual march forward in every aspect of humanity whether it be the sciences or human rights.  Thanks for checking in!  

My brother Kris and his precious wife Tracy have had their first baby!  His name is Vincent Casey. We are eager to head up and meet their little man--hopefully very soon!

xoxo ~Autumn

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thoughts, Hope, and Much Love to You

The music I chose for Linda's memorial video reflects what she loved and the faith she believed in.   It is the music that she sang with friends and family, and then her boys picked it up which eventually led to the creation of their own Southern Gospel group, "Music City."  Even though I don't share in the belief anymore, I value the tradition and how Linda's beliefs influenced everything she did and who she was. My desire was to show her  heart in the way that I think she would have wanted it remembered. My leaning towards non-theism is not an emotional decision, not one based off of any injustice one may perceive in my life.  It is purely a causative reaction to an insatiable curiosity.  When I was a Christian -- I was a Christian -- period.   I read myself out of my faith.  When reading the Bible, I found parts of it tremendously morally offensive that could not have been written by a god of love, thus I wanted to know where the Bible came from if it was not from a loving god.  I needed to know how it was compiled, and by whom. And, thus with all of this unearthing over the past 15 years, I came to the conclusion that it's not something I want to be a part of--and, that that is okay.   "Be curious, not judgmental." (Walt Whitman)

Life is not fair.  We are born into cultures, religious systems, families not of our choosing, but of circumstance, and with that sometimes we can and do escape the negativity or poverty of our culture, social status, level of education, etc.., but often either we don't see the penury of our circumstances, or we are born into a country where it is next to impossible to pull yourself out of destitution and superstition.  

*Thoughts I wrote previously (while still in my 30's) (lol), but I feel are worth sharing in light of the recent terrorist attacks.  
I've been reluctant to talk about my beliefs for several reasons, but mostly because I have dear friends and family members I do not wish to offend who are devout in various religions ranging from Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims.  And, within the Christian community itself, I have dear friends who are Catholics and some who are members of various popular Protestant sects and some who are members of not-so popular-groups such as the Mormons and the Seventh-Day-Adventists.  I have little desire to convert anyone to my beliefs, nor do I want to cause hurt or fear to my believing friends who might worry about our "salvation,or maybe even their own.  In addition, this was a very arduous journey out of religion for me, and one I'd recommend only if you are unsatisfied with what you find in your system of faith, holy book, and or god(s).   I share Thomas Jefferson's view in which he stated, "I never considered a difference in opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friend."  With that said, I am going to share what I currently believe, with the hope you will not take it at all personally, and with the knowledge that my ideas will likely continue to morph with time as I continue to learn and discuss ideas with friends.  As Winston Churchill said, "To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often." :-)

Religions, as a rule, try to gain converts and as a result can cause painful rifts among friends and family.  I know every religion sincerely believes it has the "truth" and that the end justifies the means; however, as I approach 40, I see clearly the brevity of life and for my own benefit and my family's I need to speak openly and honestly.  Maybe my "coming out" so to speak will spark an honest discussion and more unearthing of truths.  The more I learn, the more I realize how desperately ignorant I am, and this ignorance frightens me.  What else do I not know that could possibly help me live a better life?  A healthier life?  A happier life--one with knowledge that will benefit our precious posterity?  So, I keep studying and talking and thinking and writing. I want to unearth as much knowledge as possible to share with my family before I die, so they can pass the torch on to the next generation, and to generations after that as we all keep learning and attempting to make this world a better place.  Because really, isn't that what life is all about--sharing love and knowledge that benefits our world? 

What I have observed is that in general religious communities tend toward selfishness while promoting inclusiveness and group-think.  When I would question the core doctrines of our church, or contradictions I found in the Bible, I would often receive hostility and rejection in response--not from our pastoral friends, but from lay people.  The ones who have studied the Bible in great depth, along with its history and textual criticism tend to know that it's not holy script sent from the hand of god, and therefore I have found them to be much more tolerant and reasonable. I believe most clergy do not hold their doctrines tightly.  I, personally, could not stay bound to the Bible--especially as a mother of two daughters.  The holy books are filled with sexismviolence, racism, and are overtly ignorant in science and history.  I do understand the cultural pull of Christianity and the comfort it brings to think that we won't truly die, and that there is a mansion waiting in heaven where we can live in a blissful state forever with our loved ones, but what I don't understand is why we cannot live a loving, happy life here on earth with the knowledge that it will simply end someday?  Doesn't the brevity make it all the sweeter and more precious?  It's the temporariness of things that make them exciting and pleasurable -- dessert, travel, roller-coasters, love-makingconcerts, reading a good book, movies, etc.  I think all of the longing for a better place "somewhere beyond the blue" causes extreme cruelties and unkindness's here on the only planet we know--the only life we know we have for certain.  If we keep hoping for something better we sacrifice the here and now, and may miss out on the only heaven we may ever have. 

For years I felt rejected by God when reading the Bible.  Women were missing, and if they were there, their names were often not included.  They were raped, mis-used, murdered, etc. It was horrifying.  Every morning, I'd start the girls' day with singing Christian songs and reading from the old and new testaments.   I often found myself, explaining to the girls "that our God does not feel this way toward women/girls--that it was the male author's opinions and culture of the ancient text" while at the same time teaching them that "anything is possible with God" and that "God is all powerful" which led me to wonder, if God is "all-powerful," why did he not intervene on behalf of women, and why did he not defend them in his holy book?  My heart broke.  I had been rejected by my biological father, and clung to the idea of a loving heavenly father who would never leave me, but through the reading of the Bible, I realized that half of the population was blatantly and cruelly rejected by our supposedly all-knowing, all-loving god--our "heavenly father." 
When the girls were 5 and 8, I remember reading to them out of the book of Esther for our morning devotions.  My memories of Esther were sweet and were of Esther's strength and pure devotion to God, but by the end of our reading I was raging with anger at the injustice and grotesque control of women.  In the story, Queen Vashti is deposed as queen because she refused to come and dance before the king and his drunk friends. The King's advisers encouraged the king to depose her as an example to all the women in the city so that they would not "despise their husbands" and stir up rebellion in the kingdom from Vashti's "disobedience" to her husband -- this was such a disgusting and disturbing thing to read to impressionable little girls. I told the girls that Vashti's choice was noble and brave, and that she was a wonderful role model of a strong, confident womanand that there is never a time when one should bow to anyone's demandespecially a demeaning demand such as Vashti was givenQueen Vashti gave up her title as "queen" and all her riches and freedom in honor of her self-respect.  She is an amazing example for girls to be reminded (by a beauty queen herself) that self-respect is infinitely more valuable than fame and fortune.  But, the Bible and our church (the Seventh-Day-Adventist) glorified gorgeous Esther, and how her submission to God and the king saved the Jews... 
I myself have lost much due to religion, but I did not realize how much I had lost until I removed myself from it. I mourn all of the wasted time and energy and feel terrible about indoctrinating my vulnerable children.  It was not fair to them--not fair to be taught "the truth."  I heard a great thought by a fellow free-thinker, paraphrased here: "if you want to indoctrinate your children, teach them one religion, if you want to inoculate your children--teach them all religions."
Take care of you.

Monday, October 19, 2015

In Honor of Linda Mae Hagel Foerderer

Linda Mae Foerderer left us October 7, 2012.  She was surrounded by loved ones when she breathed her last breath.    

We will miss you dearly, Linda--thank you for being you.

Be of love
a little more careful
than of anything.

~e.e. cummings

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Linda Mae (translated into Portuguese means "beautiful mother")

My mother-in-law Linda is not doing well.  We took the girls out of school last Tuesday, so we could travel to Minnesota and spend time with her at the hospital.  We drove home Friday afternoon, while the rest of the family (Andrew's two older brothers, their wives, and his dad) took her home with hospice care in place.  The cancer has spread throughout her body, including infiltrating her skull and brain tissue. The previous Saturday, while at church, she had piercing pain in her head so her husband Steve drove her to the ER where they learned of the aggressive growth.  Thankfully, she has a large support system in place with her kids, siblings, in-laws, hospice, and an aunt of one of my sister-in-law's (who is a nurse) has flown in to stay with Linda and help manage her care for the foreseeable future.  It's torture for all to see Linda in so much pain and suffering.  As the poignant saying goes:
Unisex Breast Cancer T-Shirt 
Here is the world. 
Beautiful and terrible things will happen.
Don't be afraid.
~Frederick Buechner
When you die, it does not mean that you lost to cancer.  You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.  ~Stuart Scott

 We picked up some ingredients at our local farmer's market to try a new fermented pickle recipe my in-laws made the week before Linda went to the hospital.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Mayo & the State Fair

We have been to Mayo and back, and now we are home with our girls to enjoy the long Labor Day weekend.  Sam is putting in her last 7 hours at HyVee this morning which concludes her career in the grocery business, and Andrew and Makaela are picking up some paneer to make our favorite Indian dishes.

The visits went well.  First we dealt with my heart. My cholesterol continues to climb (469) and since I already have some disease in my carotid artery at "the young age of 39" (so sweet of them to say that) they absolutely want me on statins.  Andrew and I have decided to adjust our diet, lower our cholesterol intake (i.e. add lots of veggies and low-carb fruits) and then have my blood retested in a month to see if it has any impact on my cholesterol levels before adding the statins to my regimen.  It does not appear that the diet is helping slow tumor growth, but it may be aiding in seizure control, so we will just play around with it and see what works best.  When I was on a vegan diet, my cholesterol was half of what it is now (mid 200's which is still quite high, but better!!  ;-)

My brain appears less worrisome to the doctors than my high cholesterol--at least to the cardiologists! ;-)  The tumor is still on its steady, slow growth as it has been since we started monitoring it in 2009, but the fabulous news it that only the front part of the tumor appears to be growing, and apparently it's growing into a part of the brain that is not used-- just empty space.  So, what that means is that I will remain asymptomatic in terms of speech loss, coordination issues, etc...this is such a relief!  My neurologist agreed that it will not benefit me more to do a craniotomy/chemo/radiation now as opposed to later, but to be fair, she does make it clear that she would prefer I act sooner than later.  She understands that I lost quite a bit the first time around, and thus understands my hesitation to treat due to the very real risks of losing more quality of life. 

After my appointments we headed straight to St. Paul to attend the Minnesota State Fair. As a child, I attended the fair every year, sometimes multiple times thanks to my energetic, fair loving grandparents.  When Andrew and I lived downtown Minneapolis we attended the fair almost nightly.     This time, 15 years later, we fully embraced our new self-imposed freedom to consume some carbs and throughly enjoyed the world's best cheese curds and buttery corn on the cob, rode the skyride with our legs dangling in the open air, and relished in the "Minnesota-ness" of the place.  It was pure fun and deliciousness.  

Thanks for checking in!  Take care of you, and I hope all is well.  

xoxo ~ Autumn