We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

               Merry Christmas to you and all of your family!  I'm not very good at Christmas cards.  I'm sorry.  We did get to make biscotti.  Pizzelles.  And raviolis...but did not leave time for cards.  I don't know how Kim did it! PS - Ravioli recipe has a typo!!  Should be 1 tablespoon of olive oil instead of 1 teaspoon.  That will make a difference!


We drove out to the San Xavier Mission...taking the scenic route after a stop by Viro's...straight out 22nd street.  I am blown away by the 'foot prints' Kim and I left and told the bambini story after story about how; a) We picniced at that park b) ate there often c) watched a white horse that lived there, across the street from a hotel we stayed at a hundred years ago d) watched the fireworks on 'A' Mountain from that empty lot (that now has a neighborhood on it) e) used to visit that Circle K  (Drexel and Mission) after Mass at San Xavier...and the one they liked best?  Joe Begay.  The old time Native American at the little placita just across from the San Xavier Mission.  It was our one year anniversary and we had just gone to Mass.  Joe made me a ring to give to Kim, etched with the Mission, a saguaro, a roadrunner and a sunset.  He regaled us with tales of the old west and had a huge photo album with pictures of him in various movies shot here in Arizona.

We went to the same shop where we got the St. Francis statue for the nitcho and picked out a flower for Kim.  And yes, we did hang Kim's stocking...from the couch, with care..

                                    The raviolis came out good.  Autumn ate the most!!

I let them all open one gift.
Much, much later...Reindeer tracks!

Cody helped me get ready this year.  He continued Kim's tradition of leaving reindeer tracks behind while I placed the presents beneath the tree...

Here's my gift;

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Thank you for the Kimmy's Kitchen cookbook orders!  I finally figured out how to attach a Paypal button, so you can buy online. 

As I baked, the last few days, I've come across some typos.

Pg 51 - Biscotti - forgot to include '1 stick of butter at room temp' and 1 tsp of vanilla, in ingredients!
Pg 52 - After your biscotti cools for 30 minutes, cut it in 1/2" to 1" slices.

Pg 54-Pizzelles - The baking powder should be 4 tsp not 4 tblsp.  I think that might make a huge difference, but, I've never been a baker!  In directions, I say to stir in baking soda, I meant powder.  And, it helps to place the pizzelles onto a cooling rack first, to allow them to cool, then transfer them to a container. Make sure that they are completely cool, and then put some powdered sugar on them.

So, Let me know if you find any other typos and we'll put them out there! 

And let me tell you...for me, just having this little blue book, sitting on my counter, brings me great comfort. Just as the Maria Bermudez' Mexican  cookbook did - you can often catch a glimpse of it in the background of the photo's in Kimmy's Kitchen.  Maria beaming at the camera...like Kim...inviting us to make something awesome!

I like to thumb through and just re-read the things she used to like to say.  True story.  I received Kimmy's Kitchen on 12/13, the anniversary of Kimmy's passing.  It was raining.  The first person I handed her cookbook to, flipped it open and right to the page that says "I love the rain.  The smell.  How different it is from our sunny days...".  Kim will surprise you like that.  I can hear her giggling...
I can hear her reminding me to use plastic utensils on the 'Nice Pot', too...so it will last longer...
I work in a bookstore.  I know that a book cannot change your life.  That's up to you.  But some books, can set us on the right path...
Try it out, let me know what you think.  Tell me what delicious recipe you tried and don't be afraid to innovate.  That's what Kim loved about cooking...'kicking it up a notch!'.  Above all, please enjoy these recipes with your family...we do!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lucky 13

          Sometimes, you need to go back to the beginning to get to the end...
          This morning...dark, cold, rainy.  I asked the bambini, specifically, what they would like for breakfast.  I wanted to start their day special.  We turned south on Houghton, the rain pelting the windshield, the gray/dark clouds swarming the area...I glanced east.  Towards the slowly sloping Rincon mountains and caught fire - there was the rising sun, framed by clouds and earth.  I shouted out "Mama's saying good morning!" Over top of Eminiem's "You're Never Over", Cody's new favorite and to be able to make myself heard to Aut and Tonio, arguing in the back seat.   They whipped their heads in unison.  Just the music playing and all of us staring...

             ...How do you begin to commemorate a friendship that lasted 33 years?
                    Well, after last night's delivery from Andrea of the poinsettia and angel night light, I received a text this morning from Ami and Mary that said "Look outside"...on the doorstep was a basket filled with candy, movie tickets, a starbucks card and a bag of rice krispy treats!

What a great way to begin the day.

Angie came by after I dropped bambini at school...

Angie told me this angel reminding her of Kim..I had never, in all of the years I have come here, noticed this angle!!!  I lit a candle below her for Kimmy.

  This little, Indian made manager, was at the front of the church.

                                We went to 8:30 Mass at San Xavier.  Angie got to meet Toni and Ivan, who take care of the Mission and keep Kimmy's picture clean.  We lit candles in the church and Mary's chapel, too.  A stray reservation dog wandered into the church, reminding me of our wedding day...
                                 Then, we had breakfast at Bruegger's and ran some errands. 
                                  I was contacted by Phoenix Publishing - Kimmy's Kitchen Cookbook has arrived! 

I hustled to deliver as many copies as possible before making a 3:00 appointment I had with Dave Williams of Tattoo Artistry.
                                  Dave and I worked together for at least 5 years at Toys R Us.  He had a desire to be an artist.  On his breaks, he would be sketching and drawing, instead of eating.  Finally, he saw his chance, to become a tattoo artist!

                             Coneniently, Autumn's birthstone is the emerald (5/10), Cody's is the diamond (4/23) and Tonio's is the ruby (7/11).  Coincidence?  Perhaps...Nonetheless, here's my tribute on this special day.
                            Lupe and Manny had picked up the bambini for me from school.  When I was done, I met them for dinner. Lupe made a wonderful tostado and green enchilada's!!  It was an incredible feast and a nice dinner on Kim's night.
                           A busy day, with great support!!

                          It's been a ride.  I guess I had to go to that place, to get to this one.
                          Now some of you, might still be in that place.
                          If you're trying to get out,
                          Just follow me.  I'll get your there...

                   That day, a year ago, went so quickly...I remember Kim going under, for the lung procedure...I remember sitting in St. Joseph's garden and Janene bringing me iced tea...and Wendy, hospital chaplain, staying close.
                   I remember saying our goodbyes, not thinking it could be true...losing touch with reality...I remember having to tell the bambini and Tonio immediately vomiting...in grief.  And poor Brian, our neighbor...it was his birthday - but now, looking back, what a great day to celebrate!  Kim was phenominal.
                  We had so much support that day, as we did this day!  Thanks Ami and Mary, Angie and Andrea, Lupe and Manny!!  And all of you who texted me throughout the day!
                 As she left, it occured to me that Kim was my miracle.  I had been praying for a miracle to save her, but didn't realize that she actually was my miracle!
                 I'll never forget her.  And how special she was.  How she made us all feel amazing.  I remember her telling me, as I gave her her Lovenox injections, that I was her knight in shining armor!  Only, I did not save the day.  I do not get to ride off into the sunset.  And, I do not get the girl...


Monday, December 12, 2011

The 7 Days of Kimmy

    Instead of the 12 days of Christmas, the bambini and I are celebrating 7 Days of Kimmy.  We started yesterday with her famous biscotti.  Today, being the 6th Day of Kimmy, Antonio was a big help in the kitchen as we re-created Kim's best dinner dish - chicken piccatta.  Tonio cut Italian parsley, squeezed lemons, set the table, seasoned the chicken breasts, got everyone something to drink and helped clean up!  He is amazing.

                     It is so hard to believe that a year has gone by already...Sometimes, it seems like a blink of an eye...others, like an eternity. 
                     I know I've told you about most of the memories...95% of them wonderful.  Our travels, time together, things we shared, accomplishments...

                          I couldn't have been blessed with a better life...I'd literally out run my punt coverage when I hooked up with Kim...

                          The other 5%...I've told you a little about...mostly about the size of the hole  left in my heart.  What do I miss most?  Her smile.  Her laugh.  The way she held me and the look in her eyes.  Having someone, somewhere, waiting for me.  The way she smelled.  Her jokes.  The way she accepted me exactly the way that I am...and yet, made me strive to be a better person.
                          The memories that I have of of later tonight, last year...I thought I'd be able to share...but I never got the chance to, and now, I don't think I can.  The horror, the dark terror.  Sometimes, when I'm driving down Old Spanish Trail, that fear comes back at me, tightening my windpipe - I can feel fear's hand, pulling up through my stomach, as it wraps its icy talons around my heart and squeezes...and the images all come flowing back, in slow motion...

                         And, as far as the person Kim worked to make me become...sometimes, that darkness beckons...sometimes, I do want to completely break down and just let go...but her memory is there...and there have been a couple of you that have also worked hard to make sure that I don't go scittering back down that icy road and hurtling over the edge into oblivion...For her and you, I've kept it together...and, of course, for the bambini, who have told me how much that they need me, love me and admire what I've done...

                        Last year, this day, Kim did break down.  Twice.  No, three times.  I only shared one of the times, previously.  For it was today, last year, that Kim and I were sorting through our lives in pictures to help Autumn create her 'Star Student' poster.  We were laughing and remembering as we went, when, suddenly Kim dropped her stack of photos, covered her face and began sobbing...I held her and asked her what was wrong...she looked up at me, those bright blue eyes shining with tears that had spilled down over her cheeks, cascading off her beautiful face..."What a wonderful life we had."  Actually, going back to look at our post from a year ago, I was mistaken, I did tell you that she cried in the morning when she discovered, despite her best efforts, that she still could not walk...
                      But, I can tell you, that she had a beautiful day...we got her out front, so she could sit and visit with our neighbors, Betsey, Amy, Brian and Tom.  Andrea had come and taken Autumn to a party with her and Christmas shopping, while the rest of the kids played out front.  It seemed, almost, normal...Betsey made Kim tortellini soup for dinner.  Later, Andrea and her girls watched Elf with Kim and I and the bambini.  We loved that movie.

                   Today, once again, it is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe...Mother of miracles.  I remember thinking, with the kind of great day that Kim had just had, that this was it!  Her day for a miracle!!  I prayed.  We all prayed.  Looking for an Advent miracle.  And again, I know my prayers were answered...only, it was a 'no', this time.  I know there was a good reason for that 'no'...I may never know why, but I'll always believe.

As I was writing, tonight, I got a text; "Quick!  Look outside!"...our family's angels had made a delivery...

Kim and I both loved poinsettias and I would get her one every year...I hadn't thought to by one this year.  This one is incredible - the photo does not do it justice.
I had plugged the Angel night light into the outlet just outside our bedroom door, where for years Kim and I had a nightlight.  Antonio saw it and gasped "how beautiful! It looks like the one we saw on the mountains today!  Can we put it in the bedroom?" Tonio asked?
Well, I forgot to mention that.  I was running late to get the bambini from school and ended up not making it out to Cienega to get Cody until 4:00 (he gets out at 3:20). He was waiting outside, in the drizzle and chill, with no coat.  As we were driving home, I looked to him to ask if he was warming up and if he was ok and caught a glimpse of the Rincon mountains.  The Rincons were blanketed in low hanging clouds, that were delivering rain and snow.  The mountains were completely covered except for one spot, where the sun impossibly was shining through...and it looked like an angel. "I'm going to crash the car trying to look at this." I told the awed bambini. 

Now, it's in our bedroom, lighting our path...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Beautiful Sunday

     It was a beautiful Sunday, just like it had been a year ago...Kim had a great day, helping us prep to make breakfast and lunch.  We rolled her in her wheelchair to the table's edge and she cut all of the vegetables that we needed...and truly enjoyed it.  Then, she directed the cooking from afar 'I don't want to blow up!'  she'd tell us...
     I know everyone misses Kimmy.  A lot of people, over the last few days, have stopped me to share their stories and memories of Kim.  Their favorite thing about her, like her laugh.  And the things that she used to like to do or say.  It is fun remembering how fun Kim was.

     Today, we celebrated our friend Kim's birthday (Angie's youngest daughter)!  No less than 30 of us converged on Fuddrucker's, taking up most of their back room.  I love when the kids get together, the things they find to amuse themselves, the 'prizes' they win from playing the games there.  The burgers are so big, that I don't even have to order one for myself.  Everyone asked me tonight "Aren't you eating?  What did you order?"  I told them that all I had to do was wait a little...sure enough, I was rewarded with half of Autumn's burger...followed by 1/4 of Cody's...and then half of Tonio's burger...
      Kim and Rashon's little girl, Maleah, is growing so fast.  She is such a pretty little girl and was well loved tonight!  She's two months old already and very alert.
      Angie had brought a Carvel cake - my Kim's Dad had worked there many moons ago, back when they had their own ice cream shops.  It was a good cake.  We all sang raucously.  The bambini had a great time...and it helped end our day on a high note.  Thanks for having us help you celebrate your birthday Kim! 
      Kim's husband, Rashon, invited me to join his fantasy NBA league...today was the draft.  I don't know much about basketball and will need some help.  My team name is 'Durden'.  A tribute to Tyler Durden of Fight Club.  Team highlight?  Kobe Bryant. 
       Today, we did start our celebration of Kim's life.  Well, I guess we do that everyday anyway, but officially kicked off this week by making a batch of biscotti.  We tried a recipe Friday and another one Saturday.  Armed with the experience and knowledge, we were able to make Kimmy's biscotti today and the bambini proclaimed it to be the best!  We'll do something each day this week to celebrate her.

        Thanks for being there,
   We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.  Not until the future eats the present, anyway. We know when it's too late.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Story

       Today, has been an invariable roller coaster...I kept the bambini as busy as possible - they have been bringing up the anniversary of Kimmy's passing more frequently - they have lots of questions and concerns...
       Julie Shivonanda, 6th grade teacher at Cottonwood, who worked last year at Rincon Vista with Kim, posted this YouTube video to FB.  I can tell you, that 2010 was without question the worst year of my life, but, viewing this young man's story, puts things into perspective. How courageous he is!


We made more biscotti...the bambini are getting good at it...

Then, we ran steps...yes, we were back at St. Joseph's to visit Aimee Snyder.  Aimee was a teacher at Rincon - Kim loved her.  She has been very inspirational to our family and has been very involved in helping to plan and promote Kim's Foundation fund raising events.  Aimee found that her leg was getting larger...and larger...and thought of Kim's blood clots.  She also remembered how much we have raved about the team at St Joseph's, so that is where she went when she decided it was time to get checked out.  Turns out she had blood clots up and down her leg and in her lungs!!  We went to visit her today and she proudly told us she had a vent put in, just like Kimmy's, to prevent any remaining clots from reaching her heart.  She has had a great experience at St Joe's and, like Kim, has left a legacy as a positive, upbeat patient.  She's on the 4th floor - Kim had spent a little time there - now, but had been in ICU.  Autumn wanted to run down to ICU to say hi to the doctors and nurses who helped Kim, specifically Vivian and Deborah.  We got to see Vivian, but, unfortunately, Deborah was off today.  When I told Vivian that we had come to visit Aimee, she lit up "Oh, she is wonderful...and funny!".  Inspirational!  We ran up the remaining stairs to the 5th floor, where Angie's daughter Kim is an RN, and got to say hi to several of Kim's nurses.  Autumn won all stair races today. 

Vito had live entertainment tonight, invited us down and the house was cold, shadows growing longer, so we thought it would be good to get out...taking Janene's son, Brendon with us, the bambini had fun and almost had Tonio talked into asking the singer to do some Dr. Dre.  He had a lady singer with him and they wanted her to sing some Rihanna.  The duo did sing some Louis Armstrong and Nora Jones, however.  And the Croce family helped us chase some of those shadows away.

          And I am grateful for the blessings that I have.  I think often on those five wonderful final days I got to spend with Kimmy.  And I am thankful for the family and friends who have continued to stand by us, even as we struggle and adapt, and who keep us smiling....

Friday, December 9, 2011

Guitar Hero

                   Last year, this day, Kim was having her third 'good' day in a row!  We were ecstatic, with renewed hope.  The one thing that really bothered us, was, that Kim still could not walk on her own...a foreshadowing, of sorts.
                  We did some more shopping together.  Ross was one of our stops.  Kim was so cute.  She picked out an outfit or coat for everyone and had seen a black Puma shirt that she liked for me.  I told her that we were not shopping for gift for me and that I really did not need a shirt.  She nodded, agreeably, and, I swear, she hung that shirt back up on the rack.
                   I hadn't given it another thought, until, the cashier had scanned each item that I placed upon the counter.  Suddenly, Kim reached into the fold of her wheelchair and produced the black Puma shirt!  "And this."  she implored the cashier.  She had clandestinely hidden the shirt until that last possible moment..all the while looking at me with those big, blue, laughing eyes...
                      Her and Cody ended this nice day by playing Guitar Hero together...

                                                       Degrazia Gallery in the Sun Chapel

Our neighbor, Amy, had cleared the way for Kim to collect supplemental sick time off pay!

"Here we go! I bet you get a huge response."

        Jenna Edwards, wife of Brent, assistant principal of Rincon Vista, is an RN and volunteered to come over and help me with Kimmy:

> "Hey Conca Family : )
> I would love to come over and visit with you! My schedule is pretty
> flexible... Let me know if it would be better to come over during the
> day, while kids are in school, or in the evening.
> It would be great to see you, talk and be of any service I can-
> Just let me know what works for you guys.
> Jenna"

        We made plans for Jenna to come over and help...but Kimmy did not quite make it that long...

         And my Dad sent me news that the Baltimore Orioles had acquired J.J. Hardy, shortstop, from Minnesota. 

          It was a good day...


                                                                    Holiday biscotti...part 1         

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Angel Tree

          Man, the days are just steamrolling along...It's amazing to me how in tune the bambini are and want to do more during these next few days to honor their Mama and to remember her...

          Today, that meant re-hanging all of the beautiful angels that everyone came an hung in our olive tree in the front yard!  Before I talk about that actual hanging of the angels, let me revisit the tree itself.
          Turns out, that the olive tree is one of Kim's favorites.  She loved their color and the fact that they do not typically drop their leaves, so there is no mess.  They are excellent shade trees and require very little water or care.  She would just have me trim them up a little to give them some shape.  The first thing she had me do, when we moved in here 7 years ago, was to tear out the mesquite and acacia trees planted by the builders. She hated the mess that they made, the thorns that they had and the fact that their root systems do not go down very deep, so the monsoon would knock the trees down.  The olive trees that we planted together 7 years ago have grown into the beautiful trees that she imagined they would become.
           So it was very fitting that well wishers chose to hang angels in her favorite tree!

                      We had picked up Lexy and Breanna at school today, and they were excited to help.  Cody was very into putting the angels back up - he, more than the little ones, wants to make sure we do something special each day.  Here, the bambini are choosing which angels to hang first, pulling them out of boxes, wrapping, etc and attaching new hangers where necessary.

Lexy and Autumn climbed as high as they could to hang angels and then found it was kind of nice to just stay up in the trees, like monkeys, for awhile. 

                                                  This simple act, of putting the beautiful angels back in the tree, was comforting, soothing...feel free to add more, if you wish...these guys had a fun time and the angels look pretty and have such meaning.  Many still have messages attached to them.  And Patti's and Jennifer Lofgren's angels, made it through the whole year hanging from the very branches from which they were hung!
                                                  Here they are, proud of their work and ready to go eat Italian Wedding Soup at Viro's...it is Thursday, after all.  I've come to realize, that, if someone were to put a hit out on me, I'd be a pretty easy mark.

                  I try to fill their days with meaning and memories...and to push away the dark.  We are all staying up until at least 10, Cody and I until midnight...and then, I do my best to get to sleep...I had asked Kim to haunt me, she promised she would and of course, she does.  But, upon reflection, I asked the question wrong.  I should have thought to set up signs, ways that I could be sure that Kim was visiting/communicating to me - like a hummingbird on campus at Cottonwood Elementary (I saw one this morning, despite the frigid temps, and thought 'dammit, why didn't we come up with some sort of code??')  There just wasn't time, but I am thankful for the goodbyes that we did share...

               "   On the first page of our story
The future seemed so bright
Then this thing turned out so evil
I don't know why I'm still surprised
Even angels have their wicked schemes
And you take that to new extremes
But you'll always be my hero
Even though you've lost your mind"
                    Kim told me that I was her hero...more than once.  She was so sweet...but I was out of my mind.

                             Here's some precious shots of Kimmy and Autumn on our last visit to Pennsylvania.  One of her with Cajun, who traveled well.                    

And the thank you's continued:

December 8th, 2010

To Micah Mortensen, principal at Desert Sky Middle School;
Thank you for the show of support last night at Chuy's! Kim was overwhelmed with emotion when I told her how many good people were there to cheer her on. We really appreciate all that you do for our family and for Desert Sky. Please thank Cindy and all of the front office girls who came out too! Cody was especially excited to see Coach Lee and Coach V - and Rayna, what a hard worker she is! Words can never express how grateful we are. Dave"
              Cody played on two championship flag football teams at Desert Sky.  Last year, being special, as he had incredible games during the playoffs and championship, at running back.  It meant a lot to him that the coaches came out to Chuy's.  And, I can still clearly remember, Kimmy insisting that I park her in the Expedition on Rankin Loop, so that she could watch his game...
             And to Rayna Krewszewski, who was Volunteer Coordinator at Desert Sky...
"Hi Rayna,
Just wanted to thank you again for last night at Chuy's! Thank you for all of your hard work in making that a success, we really appreciate it! Please thank Deanna for coming out too, it was good to see her and the boys. Kim was overcome with emotion when I told her about all of the good people that were there cheering her on. You guys are making a difference. Thanks again! Dave
PS Tell Rick that Kim is getting me a Juventus, Del Piero #10 jersey for Christmas! There's just not enough soccer fans in Tucson..."
     To Lydia Crain, principal at Rincon Vista, where Kimmy worked;
"Hi Lydia,
Chuy's! It was great to see you, Cindy, Brent and so many teachers and staff. I let Kim know how many good people were there to cheer her on and she was overwhelmed with emotion. We couldn't do this without people like you. Also, we appreciate all that you and the staff are doing to help Kim get sick pay and all of your team who have made us food. Amy has been so helpful in setting up the food schedule and working on the sick time.  Monica Christensen has been especially supportive, making us several meals. You guys are amazing! Thanks again, Dave"
       To Brent Edwards, Assistant Principal at Rincon Vista:
Thanks again to you, Jenna and your family for taking time out of your busy schedules to go to Chuy's to support our family! Kim was overcome with emotion as I let her know how many people from Rincon Vista were there - what a caring, generous community we are blessed to be a part of. I'm sorry I did not get more chance to visit with your family - I wanted to thank Jenna for her generous offer to stop in to check on Kim - that would actually be comforting, as she seems to run into complications, like blood clots, caused by the cancer. You guys have been so helpful, especially seeing that Kim gets sick benefits and all of the staff that have cooked us meals. Thank you again, Dave"
            And Kim had another good day on 12/8/2010...Janene came over and styled her hair in our kitchen.  It did Kim so much good to have her hair cut and cleaned - again, something we had taken for granted, meant so much to her.  Janene took alot of time to make Kim feel good that day...
            It was today, last year, that Kim taught Autumn and I how to make the marinara sauce.  Andrea, Lexy and Breanna were coming over and Kim wanted to make them pasta and make your own sundaes - she insisted on running to Fry's with me to get ice cream and all of the fixings.  Cody enjoyed going to see our neighbor, Alex, play basketball for Rincon Vista against Desert Sky...And Kim and I ran to Target to pick up some gifts for Christmas.  Even though she was wheel chair bound and on oxygen, she was up, alive, and glowing...As only Kimmy could...

"Far, far away; find comfort in pain,
All pleasure's the same: it just keeps me from trouble.
It's more than just words: it's just tears and rain."
                                                           - James Blunt


Wednesday, December 7, 2011


                   Last year, this night, Melissa, Volunteer Coordinator at Cottonwood Elementary, put together the most amazing fun raiser for our family at Chuy's.  Kimmy had a good day, but, of course, was not able to actually go to Chuy's.  Our neighbor, Amy, sat with her while I was there and cooked some of her famous chicken adobo - I'll have to get that recipe from her to post - it is so good! 
                  Chuy's was completely packed.  If it wasn't for Kim being where she was, it would have been one of the best bashes I've ever attended!  But what made it so incredible, was the energy and the optimism that emanated from everyone there.  That event helped us more than I can tell you.  Afterwards, Angie and Andrea came back to the house to visit with Kim for awhile and help me get her ready to sleep.
                Kim was really trying to feel 'normal', too.  She told me several times that she did not just want to exist.  When I went to pick up the bambini that day, she managed to get into the kitchen to make the kids soft pretzels and nearly knocked herself out trying to get the kosher salt down from the cabinet using a spatula!  She cracked me up!  And, of course, there was the shower.  Today, last year, was one of the first times in a month that she showered by herself, as I had placed a chair in the shower for her.

 "Melissa, Kim and I could never begin to find the words to adequately thank you for putting together such a wonderful fund raiser tonight! I wish Kim could have been there to see it - I did get some photos, but if you know anyone else who got some, please have them email them to us. I also wish I could have had time to sit with, speak to and thank everyone who was there - after I ate a little, I did my best to get to every table. It was overwhelming - there are so many good people in our community. Thanks for helping our family and all of the hard work you put into tonight. It was incredible. Love, Dave"
               You know, I don't think I ever did get anybody's photos they might have taken that night...if you saved them, please send me some!  Thanks.

                Chuy's is closed now, but this is a memory that I will forever keep...

                Culver's is open now, though, and we met Mary, Emilio and Brinley Montes there for burgers and custard (Autumn and Cody stuck with the lemon Italian ice that they sell).  We had an intriguing discussion over what 'cheese curds' might be (anyone from the frozen tundra of Wisconsin, help us out because we were not brave enough to try anything with the word 'curd' in it!).  The burgers were great!

Little Brinley was such a good little girl and entertained us the whole time we were there.  I bet she will be walking by the end of next week - she is so strong!

She even let me hold her!  Babies smell so good!  Brinley was thoroughly entertained by a little music box with flashing lights, gripping it and talking to it.  Mary will have her reciting the alphabet before long!  This little girl is blessed to have wonderful parents!  Autumn can't stop talking about how cute she is.
And then we watched the Arizona Wildcats push #12 Florida into OT and nearly come away with a victory!!  The 'Cats are exciting to watch.

Here we were, back when Cody was our baby.  Cody was fascinated with Kim's long hair...to the point where she started to wear it short!  I love her eyes in this photo - they are so bright and full of life!

Once again...Kimmy always made me feel like I was the funniest man on earth, and did I mention the luckiest?


Gospel, Mt 11:28-30
28 'Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.
29 Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls

...Lord knows I could use some rest...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Great Escape

              Before I go anywhere, let me say, that when we heard today about the birth of Jackson Rudzena, son of Autumn's teacher, Casey and Jack - it made our day!!

                                     Weighing in at 7lbs 4oz and 19 inches long!!  Nicely done Casey and Jack!!  These guys are going to be great parents!!

                             So many wonderful people in our lives were blessed with babies this year...all of them, Kim loved and admired so much and would have been so very happy for them, to welcome their little ones into the world...I know she is smiling down on all of you...I can see the small tears of joy that would be trailing down her lovely cheeks and that smile, the words of congratulations, in her heartfelt sweet voice...Enjoy your babies!!  They grow up TOO fast!!

                             We had news that brought us great joy on this date last year.  Kim was being released from St. Joseph's!!  We had a literal parade of Dr's visit to sign off on her and many techs and nurses came by with well wishes for the 'Angel of St. Joseph's'.  Kim was beaming and her appetite was so good.  Her appetite.  It may seem to be a weird memory, but, she so totally enjoyed each and every meal that she had over the 55 days of her fight.  It was so fun to cook for her when she did come home, because she appreciated every bite.
                            Andrea and the bambini worked so hard to make huge banners to welcome Kim home and they cleaned and decorated our home for her arrival.  We had bought Kimmy extra pillows and she couldn't wait to get into her own bed and prop herself up comfortably with them!  The bambini were so excited and optimistic.  Tonio told us that he knew Mama was home to stay for good.  He recited the Lord's Prayer for Kimmy, showing her how he had memorized it and was praying for her.  Andrea made her tortellini soup and her and the girls stayed late helping us celebrate Kimmy's home coming.  Kim slept pretty darn good that night!!

                      Tonight, we added a fun little twist to our regular Tuesday night dinner at Lupe and Manny's home.  Lupe had just made us fish soup last night, after the Expedition left Cody and I stranded outside of Catholic Social Services on Speedway and Main, and Angie had called this morning to ask us to join her, Janene, Bryson and Kason at Peter Piper Pizza.  I told Lupe, that this would be a great way to get all of the kids together and she wouldn't have to cook again tonight and there'd be no cleanup! 
                     It is still strange, being in the new Peter Piper, that used to be Linens 'N Things, the store that I managed for two years.  I still remind the kids, that the area where they have put a mini roller coaster used to be the sheet room in Linens 'N Things.  And, prior to LNT, it was the El Dorado movie theater.  Kim and I saw many movies there.  I have fond memories of working at that building.  It was close enough that Kim would stop down for lunch and we'd take the kids to Arizona Pizza and have one of their huge slices.  We'd poke our heads into Unique Identity Salon and say hi to Janene at her shop.  Kim loved to make a stop in Pier One, as well.
                   The kids tore through a ton of tokens tonight, ate nearly 4 pizzas!!  The kids love all of the 'prizes' they earn playing the games  and had us hanging out there for a couple of hours...they had a fun night.

                                                             Angel in Sedona

This picture was taken back in the summer of '95.  We took Cajun to Sedona and taught her how to swim here. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Thank you's

            Last year, this time, I was doling out thank you's.  Left and right.  I'm sure that I missed people out there, in my fog - I truly meant to thank all of you!

To our neighbors:


Hi Amy, Tom and Alex,

Thanks for your help with Bella today! And thank you for the wonderful chicken!! And thank you for catching me up on wash and dishes, that was such a nice surprise when I got home (it gave me time to clip Autumn's toe nails!). And thank you for the bottle of beer - that was very tasty and the label sure was fun!! Kimmy may get to come home again tomorrow!! She'd love to see you guys. Thanks again for everything, you guys are awesome! Dave
And Kim's cousin in Texas:
Hi Jodi, Please thank Sara for the check - that was so beautiful and sweet of her to work hard for our family!! Tell her that will buy us a lot of groceries and we so appreciate her thinking of us and helping us out during this challenging time for our family. Kim may get to come home tomorrow. We are praying she'll be home longer with us this time and that she can get back on track with her chemo. Thanks again for all of your prayers and positive thoughts. Love, Dave
  To our friends, Rachel and Mike:
Hi Rachael,
Thank you guys so much for the incredible soup! All of the kids thoroughly enjoyed it - it was delicious!! The cookies were wonderful too. Hopefully, we'll get Kimmy home again tomorrow...you guys will have to come over this week - she'd love to see you. Thanks for everything, Dave
        I've been going backwards in time, re-reading all of your emails, comments on the blogs, etc...coming up tears, a lot, especially these last few days...
        ...and, just when I think I've gotten a handle on our routine, or things, the bambini throw me the curve ball.  Today, they wanted to know what we were going to do for the one year anniversary of their Mama passing.  Through the year, we never really talked about anniversaries too much, so it surprised me.  We decided we will piece it together and each come up with a favorite thing, a favorite meal and a favorite memory...
          ...no surprise that they brought me to tears with this plan...they are so sweet and loving...and they have grown up so much through this year...I'm so proud of them, but so sad for them, feeling as if several years of childhood have been stolen from them in some way...and yet, happy for their happiness, their memories and the way that they celebrate their Mama each and every day...
            Yet, it was this memory, from last year, that brought back everything in a single flood:
 " So, Kim should be able to go home tomorrow!! That was the good news Dr. Namanny gave us to a large audience as Andrea, Brianna, Lexi, Cody,Autumn, Tonio, Jon and I cheered him...I think he was a little embarrassed by our overwhelming emotion - perhaps he felt we had placed him on a pedestal, our hero of the moment (Jon pegged Dr. Namanny as a Cary Elwes look a like). Kim says, 'despite his youth, I think he is a genius!'. Thanks for all of the prayers you prayed to make this possible!! Next, we pray that Kim can get her next round of chemo...soon!
Through Him, all things are possible!"

     It had been a very emotional day for all of us...And today, this year, was similar, in a lot of ways.  Kim had always been able to keep me so balanced -  over the last few days, I've tipped that balance.  Pushing. 

                              Here's some more random photos...I think this was at my sister, Sherri's wedding...

In which Kimberly makes me believe that I am the funniest man on earth...

 She fueled my inner funny....