We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

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

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kimmy's Blog

         I pulled up Kimmy's blog tonight, as I do everyday...if your computer is functioning properly, her song list automatically begins to play...Tonight (well, actually, it is already tomorrow), when I pulled it up, 'What a Wonderful World' began to play.  This is not the first song.  Typically, the player starts with what ever song I have lined up in the first position.  Which got me to thinking...

        10/19/10: Kim was sick, we just didn't know how badly.  I was calling and texting family and friends to let them know we were at St. Joseph's.  In the E.R.  My D.M. at Barnes & Noble,Tom, told me to hang up and take care of Kimmy, that he knew the store was fine.  Kim and I sat, side by side, in the stark E.R. waiting room, watching drama unfold all around us, yet, in our own little vacuum.  Alone with each other.  Me telling her we'd be out of here in no time.  She smiling and squeezing my hand, as if to say "I know".  She was so thankful that I dropped everything to join her - I wouldn't have done anything any other way.
        10/20/10:  We know it's Kimmy's gall bladder.  It looked bad during x-rays.  And I'm already struggling to keep up with calling/texting.
        Following her surgery, Dr. Atkinson delivers that news that sends our lives into a unstopping tailspin...
        Kim stayed in the hospital until 11/5/10.  Each day, it grew harder and harder to keep up, delivering the roller coaster replay of events that each day held for us.
        With Kim at my side, in our home, we decided to create her a blog (with the technical support of Ami Bunch and Jen Corbelli)...she was so touched, that I would do that for her.  I explained "Kimmy, there are so many people rooting for you out there.  So many people who love you and have to know.  They need updates, news...hope.  I can't keep up."  There she was trying to give me more credit than was due.
         She enjoyed helping me select those first photos that I posted - you have to scroll down for, like, half a day, to get to them - Kimmy's still smiling all the way at the bottom of her blog. She told me what to say about her in her bio.  What her interests were, favorite movies, favorite music and favorite books.  A snapshot of Kim.  Ami walked me through how to get the photos posted and taught me about the music player. I asked Kim, "what song would you like to start off with?"   We locked eyes while she thought a moment, then, a sparkle appeared and she said "What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong."  Perfect.
        And when I pulled up her blog tonight, and that song started in, it brought this moment in time back to me, as if Kim were sitting next to me, in her big, red, Lazy Boy recliner, waiting for my next question...
          ...I started my day with her, at San Xavier.  Today, I could see her coming down that long aisle.  Coming towards me with the absolute brightest smile I had ever seen on her - I waited at the altar for her to arrive, just soaking in the moment...
                                               My Angel...and the St. Jude candle that I lit for her today...

                   After selling some books, at Barnes & Noble, I scooped up the bambini, including Lexy and Breanna - these kids coming streaming out of school starving.  If I didn't spend so much time in their school, I would suspect they were not allowing our children to eat all day!  But they do.  None the less, they are famished, clamoring to please go get something to eat...
                        Breanna, Autumn and Lexy discuss the meaning of life over their Eegees!  Tonio and I shared our own booth.  He told me he had library today and about the neat books he got.  I remember when I was in 3rd grade (insert dinosaur joke here) - and had the double irony of having a teacher named Mrs. Hiney (say that with a straight face when you are an 8 year old boy!) and our librarian was a woman who was about 300 years old and named Mrs. Web.  I thought she reminded me of a spider and remember her halitosis was overwhelming.  Our library, at Calypso Elementary, where I went, was one of those mobile, manufactured home looking things...it got pretty hot during the warm months...
                    On the way home, I commented that we were near Angie's house and Breanna shouted 'let's go surprise Grandma!'...I gave her a 'courtesy' call, despite us being about 2 minutes away.  Her knee is recovering great following her replacement surgery.  The kids were excited to see her.  Angie asked how Mass was this morning and I told her how I'm getting to know some of the regular parishioners.  There are about 6 or 7 of the same people there each Friday - and we are always sure to shake hands during the exchange of peace.
                   We got home in time for me to make everyone some pasta (well, it was nearly 6 and they were hungry...again!) and then we picked up Cody at his friend, Jesus' house and went to see the Tucson Padres.
            We joined the Perrini's, Alyssa, Kirk and Annette in the outfield to enjoy the game.  The kids played on the jumping castle and inflatable obstacle course for hours, catching a little baseball between jumping, kettle corn, etc.  The Tucson Padres are the AAA team feeding the San Diego Padres - and we had the opportunity tonight to see a young man named Anthony Rizzo play.  He was with San Diego for part of the season.  In AAA, he is batting 370 and smashed a monster home run that came pretty close our way.  Kirk and I gave up trying to get it, when we noticed the maniacal throngs advancing on the ball!  The Padres won 6-1 and the kids went on the field afterwards to run the bases.
          I took my 6 kids to Circle K for after game drinks, which has become a tradition...and got them home near 11:00 p.m., sweaty, tired, but well fed and they all had fun!!
          Cody is staying the night at Jesus', and after we said goodnight to Mama, the little ones wanted to watch a movie.  It was close to midnight, but I told them go ahead.  Rango had barely been tossed from the comfortable back seat of his family's vehicle, onto the blazing hot tarmac of the stretch of highway running through the Nevada desert, while the Ave Maria is playing in the background, when I noticed they had fallen fast asleep! (if you haven't seen Rango, Red Box it!  It is one of Johnny Depp's finest and the animation is great.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011


          Well, I know the week is not quite over, although we did have 'Friday Night' at my house last night, to take the edge off, one more day!!  It's been a wild one, coordinating the bambini's, their schoolin', homework, keeping 'em fed and cared for...and returning, once again, to the book store - thankfully, Barnes & Noble (some people thought I worked for Borders, which, unfortunately, is closing its doors putting another 11,000 workers on the street.)

           Monday and yesterday almost drained me of my will to go on...and, once again, the Cottonwood teachers came through, as I raced at break neck speed to get back to school - Casey Rudzena kept Autumn until she had to go to class, as she works towards a 2nd MBA, while being 5 months pregnant and Jenny Rienstra kept Tonio and then watched Autumn, graciously staying late until I could get there, around 4:30...and Jenny?  She's nearly 8 months pregnant!!  These teachers work hard and continue to inspire me.  Once I got the little ones fed and settled, I put in another couple of hours of work, before officially kicking off 'Friday Night' a few days early...
            I should start paying attention to the miles I'm putting on...
             The teachers continue to give and give.  I spent most of the day in Casey's class, helping grade papers, file, etc.  It is incredible to watch her developing our children, teaching, nurturing in a structured, yet entertaining environment.  I am constantly humbled by their commitment and dedication, along with their passion.  I came across Jenny, several times during the day, who would give me updates on Antonio, knowing it would soothe my mind and just showing just another example of how much they care.  Couldn't do it without them...
             And some left some beautiful comments on the last blog I posted:
Rebecca said...

It is so interesting to see you write about inspiration- you are a huge inspiration to me... To be a better person, to live life fully, and to love wholeheartedly. Thanks Dave

Ami said...

Dave, I was going to say just what Rebecca said...there are SO many of us who draw our inspiration and motivation to do just about anything, from YOU.

          I cannot tell you how inspiring and humbling comments like this are - I don't see it this way, and, these two are a part of our school system, tirelessly working hard to provide a safe, caring, learning environment for our children.  Ami is not pregnant, but her sister, Mary(Aut and Tonio's K teacher) is - Ami was Cody's kindergarten teacher and we were blessed to have her come back full time at Cottonwood.  Rebecca was on of the 6th grade teachers at Cottonwood when Cody was in 6th grade there, and moved up to Desert Sky, working as a student achievement teacher.   I seem to have lost the ability to reply to comments, so, thought I would publicly thank these two for their enthusiasm and energy - THEY are the true inspiration!!

          Following volunteering at Cottonwood, I was able to come home, make some pasta to go with the meatballs I posted pictures of the other night - and actually share some with a friend, the highlight of my day...it was weird to slow down a little, and, I think it made me feel even more tired!  But, it was brief, as I picked up the bambini, fed them and we all went to Cienega H.S. tonight to meet Cody's teachers...I think I posted that he has Economics (took it twice in college, never in high school), Physics (never took it, highly allergic to it!), Geometry Honors (huh?  'Honors'?  definitely got that from Kim!  I told his teacher I would be unable to help Cody and we discussed tutoring options, although, I'm sure Cody will be fine - he is great with math), World History Honors (there's that word again, but, at least I may be able to help him some here...at least with Italian history : ) ) and English. English sounds so boring and tame compared to the rest of his classes!!  But, once again, as has become our expectation as parents in the Vail School District, all of his teachers seemed nice and top notch (we are blessed...and spoiled!).  It was a nice evening, the kids did good - I always wonder, at these events, where most of the kids have both parents there (in my mind, I held Kim's hand as we moved from classroom to classroom, as we always had), how they are feeling.  They stuck close, as has become their way...and kept their smiles on...God bless them, THEY inspire me, too!!
        And this year, it seems, that the bambini have been able to adapt back into school life quicker...they are getting it, the new routines (or lack of!!), that are part of their journey.  I'm pretty proud of them...

       James 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights...
        I believe this of the bambini!


PS Whoa!  and I just discovered the blog has spell check!!  I'll be delivering better posts for sure!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011


          On Monday, August 1, the Vail School District holds its annual 'All Staff Welcome Back'.  It is a huge event - every employee - teacher, administrator, custodian - everyone, attends.  It is so big, it is held in the auditorium of the Pantano Christian Church, as, no school facility is large enough!
         I was honored and touched to receive an invitation to attend this event this year, by Darcy Mentone, principal of the new high school, Andrada Polytechnic High School, as I was a part of its planning committee.
         Last year, our whole family was there - Kim, as Volunteer Coordinator of Rincon Vista Middle School - excited for the event, yet nervous about having to speak about Vail Pride Day...looking professional, yet beautiful, in her gray suit and lavender top - her blue eyes flashing with excitement.  The bambini and I manned a table to help raise awareness about the budget override vote coming in the fall. 
         We all had breakfast together, outside.  They had such a nice spread of bagels, muffins, danishes and fruit.  The kids played with other friends who were there.  There was no mistaking the buzz among the V.S.D. employees...this was something special - you could feel it.
          Kim was so excited to hear the district's superintendent, Calvin Baker, speak.  She loved his enthusiasm and energy. He makes you want to work hard and succeed!  And he did not dissappoint on this day, bringing in thunderous applause and shouts several times during his speech.
          We snuck inside several times to see Kimmy and hear her angelic voice, as well as, to catch some of Mr. Baker's motivational speech, kicking off yet another successful academic year in style. 
           The All Staff Welcome Back is a day in our lives that I will not soon forget...

             ....but sometimes I do forget - how to stay motivated and up.  Still on a bit of a roller coaster, I've found.  Although it is no where near as crazy - in the beginning, it seemed to flucuate from scared to sheer terror to collapsed.  Then, from sorrow to anxiety to collapse.  Then, from hope, to hurt, to happy.  Now, it is more like 'ok, I got this', to 'do I?'  and back.  Much more manageable.  Mostly. 
              The days start early, end late and get long...I try to squeeze it all in and make sure the bambini do not feel too rushed and get some love.  Our friends Lupe and Manny took care of dinner for us tonight, which was a relief - and, we got to watch some soccer - my favorite soccer team from the Italian league, beat Club America from the Mexican league 1-0 at Mets stadium.  I don't get that channel, either, so it was nice to watch.
              And when I do forget, I have been blessed to be propped back up - reminded - and it is as motivating as a Calvin Baker speech! Making me want to do better and be better. I am able to focus, give the bambini the encouragement and nurturing that they need and keep a smile on my face.  It can be a struggle, some days, to keep the negative element out and to stay inspired - but, I am learning ways to keep the sun's warming rays on my face...

                  Thank you,
                                : )

Monday, July 25, 2011

Giving Back

          I found myself mired in a philosphical conversation tonight about why we give back.  I don't have a great answer for that - and, at this point, my ability to stay afloat during any meaningful conversation is still extremely challenged.
          Although, I did find that my first day back at work, after 55 days with the bambini, went well.  Most of all, because of the strong, unselfish team that I am blessed to work with.  They continue to give, as I convalesce at my own pace.  Today, I felt more productive, than my first attempt at reentry, and was able to digest and break down business related numbers! My first attempt, led me to be an over glorified book shelver, which worked fine for me - again, my team was gracious enough to allow me to do what I was capable of doing.
          But, in the back of my mind, nagging...was, missing the bambini.  They had a rough start and a bumpy finish.  We'll work on that.  Once I gathered them up from afar, I took them on a walk with Bella through the desert.  And then I ran a mile.  We got back on the same track and I fed them dinner, that I had made the night before in preparation for my first day back at work (Andrea's stir fried chicken and rice).
           Later, we got the fountain in the back yard working again, thanks to our friends Joe and Jesus!  It was just one of those things.  I had dismantled the fountain back around the end of June to clean the pump filter.  It is an extremely heavy fountain, and I was able to take it apart by carefully wedging the outer bowl against my hip and sliding it down the lower bowl...nearly breaking my lower back.  But, I've been stuck since then, unable to raise the manpower to reassemble the fountain (which we bought in memory of Kim's Dad).  So it was nice to get it back together and functioning tonight.
            Suddenly, it is 10:00 and I have an urge to make Kim's meatballs...Tonio takes up his book, 'Graveyard Book' by Neil Gaiman (one of my favorite authors), pulls a chair into the kitchen, and begins to do his nightly reading to me.  He's getting good at pronouncing the big words.  I'm mincing garlic.  He's telling me about Bod, the main character, who is alive, but living in a graveyard and being raised by the dead.  I'm chopping onions and not crying.  Tonio's reading about a bad man, who killed Bod's family and is after him.  I'm folding in an egg, adding Italian seasoned bread crumbs and thinking 'Maybe I'll make brownies.'. I'm trying to nullify my personal purgatory through baking. Why not?  I've never made brownies.  So, while the meatballs are cooking and Tonio's finishing up a chapter, I get the brownies going.
                Right into the sauce, they came out great!  And, I made them from memory...Kimmy's recipe.  I missed her a great deal today...as smooth as work went, it was a challenge with the bambini and I still have a great deal of work to do there...she made it seem effortless.
                But, back to the brownies.  First try.  Don't know how they will taste, yet.
                         And I'm finally getting the bambini to bed at 11:00, reluctantly, as I missed them so much today and, apparently, they missed me too.  There was some anxiety there.  We'll get it worked out.

                          But why, why do we give back?  I don't think it was too important to me, until after Autumn was born.  It was almost as if someone flipped a switch.  Here Kim and I were, in a nice little house, in an awesome community, with our oldest, Cody, about to enter school (Cottonwood!) and it hit us like a proverbial ton of bricks 'we need to be involved to keep this community special'.  We wanted nothing more in return.  No awards.  No acknowledgement.  Just knowing that we helped a great community stay great and that we were wanting to instill that same feeling in our children. 
                          Of course, the other folks involved, make you want to work harder and become even more involved...but, I remember.  I remember Kimmy, freshly diagnosed, saying 'this is my wake up call.  God is telling me that I've become too involved.  I need to refocus on my family'.  I tried to tell her she never neglected us.  We knew she was busy, but she still baked and cooked everything from scratch.  We didn't miss meals.  She still kept our home looking so nice.  But, she was overextended.  We were.  She was right, in some ways. I try to make sure the bambini come with me to help.  To make them feel involved and a part of what is going on.  They are a big help.

                          We could finally see some stars tonight.  The last few, we have been blessed with rain - Kim's garden looks so nice.  The bambini were delighted, blowing their kisses directly at the Big Dipper, loving the little bit of cloud cover that highlighted the sky, and the cool, fresh smelling breeze that blew across our yard as we said good night to their Mama...


Sunday, July 24, 2011

I have writer's block

          I do.  Have writer's block.  Sometimes the memories, the ideas just flow...sometimes they get stuck...I have an idea what the trigger is, but I do not have any control over it...
         This weekend has been one of those times.  My catalyst hasn't come through.  I can't find the thread on my own right now...so, I turned to the bambini.

          'Kids!  I'm stuck!!  I need some stories...about Mama!'...Tonio said, "you could write about how I always asked you guys to sleep with me."  Ok, done.  He is sweet, and I know there are two trains of thought on this.  Some people say 'don't do it', some say 'it's ok'.   We've always leaned towards the latter.  As I know now, life goes way too fast to worry about wether or not a kid wants the security of sleeping with his/her parents...before long, they not only don't want to sleep in your room, but they also no longer want that hug or kiss in front of their friends...or to hold hands while taking a walk...or go on family vacations...

           Autumn had a zillion ideas...

         She loved the time Kimmy surprised her with tickets to go see the My Little Pony Tea Party.  A live performance at the Music Hall down town.  Just the two of them.  Girls night out.  Kim wanted to do more of these...but, as I pointed out above, sometimes life really does go too fast, and she did have the time. 
          Kim did not tell Autumn where they were going...they parked at the cathredal, across the street from the music hall and Autumn thought they were going to church.  As they entered the music hall, a man handed her a My Little Pony coloring sheet and then she knew!  She loved the show and the time to share with her Mama.  Afterwards, they had dinner together at Little Anthony's diner.

          Another of Autumn's fondest memories (and Cody seconded this one), was, the last time we went to Disneyland, six years ago, we did not tell the kids where we were going - just pulled them from their beds, at 4 a.m., loaded them into the car in their p.j's and kept them comfy with blankets, pillows and put blankets up in the windows to block the rising sun later and took off.
          They woke when we were already in California, but still had no idea.  In fact, we were able to maintain the element of surprise, all the way to the Disneyland parking lot, when, as we approached, they spotted the brand new ride "Tower of Terror".  Cody saw it first, but did not recognize it for what it was - he shouted "Omygosh!  That hotel is on fire!!!".  Autumn and Tonio strained in their car seats to see and began shouting crazily.  Then, we passed beneath the Disney archway and it hit them...we were at Disneyland and they began squealing with delight.
          That was a great time.

          I knew the bambini could help.  They always do.  Everyday!