Light the Night 2013 (and 2014)

Many of you know that my Dad was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, or AML, in September of 2007. Less than a year after his diagnosis, he succumbed to his illness. In five of the six years since (the exception being when I lived in Alaska where there is no Light the Night Walk), I’ve participated in the Light the Night fundraising walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It always makes me feel good and like I’m doing something proactive–not only does the LLS funnel a lot of money into cutting-edge research that will hopefully someday lead to cures for these cancers, but they also have many support programs, including patient education and co-pay support, among many others.

Seventy-nine cents of every dollar donated to the LLS goes toward the mission of funding research, finding cures, and providing services for patients and their families. Since 1954, the LLS has funded over $814 million in blood cancer research, resulting in standard therapies like chemotherapy, which has been used for many other cancers.  The LLS currently funds over 400 researchers the world over, and as a result, survival rates for some blood cancers have doubled or even tripled in the past few years. Since 2000, the FDA has approved 21 blood cancer drugs that came about by LLS-funded research, and of those, 12 treatments have been re-purposed for other cancers, solid tumors, and even diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

You may have heard recently on the news about new gene therapies that are being used to treat a type of leukemia known as ALL — the LLS was instrumental in getting funding to Dr. Carl June, of the University of Pennsylvania. Here’s an article about the therapy being used by doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York: http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2014/02/dana_farber_to_test_cancer_treatment

Last year my goal was to raise $5000 for the LLS through the Light the Night Walk–$1000 for every year since my Dad died. With the help of many amazing and generous supporters, I ended up raising $5,795, which was more than double my highest fundraising amount from any previous year I’ve Walked. With that total, I was the 2nd highest individual fundraiser for the Colorado Springs walk, up one place from 2012. This year, my goal is a little higher–I’d like to shoot for $6,000, in keeping with the $1,000 for each year without my dad idea. We nearly made it last year–together we can make it happen this year.

LLSAwards

The Walk isn’t until September, but last year I discovered that starting fundraising early was a great way to go. I’ve already registered for this year’s Walk in Colorado Springs and have set up my fundraising page. If you’d like to donate to my efforts this year, I’d be forever grateful, and you’ll receive a good old-fashioned hand-written thank-you note in the mail. Who doesn’t love some snail mail love??

My fundraising page can be found here: http://pages.lightthenight.org/rm/CoSprngs14/AHarrison, and if you’d prefer to send me a check, e-mail me to get my address.

Thanks, all, for your continuing support!

HappyWanderer…out.

Photo Friday: Monsters of Monarch

Last year for New Year’s (2012 to 2013, not 2013 to 2014), we had visitors in Colorado, in the form of our good friends Catherine, Hannah, and Jimmy. The ladies are my two besties from college, with whom I will be traveling through the Netherlands and Belgium for ten days before I go on to visit Austin in Germany this spring. So. Excited.

We all went to the “local” ski place–Monarch Mountain. It’s lovely. Rarely crowded, nice slopes, comparatively cheap food for a ski resort. We had an absolute blast skiing, playing board games, and being absurd. Witness the absurdity that reigns when we all get together:

MonarchMonsters

Jimmy, Hannah, Allison, Austin, and Catherine…some of us being more ridiculous than others…

HappyWanderer…out

OCPD

Well, hello, there!

It’s been…oh dear. OVER A YEAR since I blogged. Well. In that time, I’ve read tons of books, worked many hours, quit a job just to go back to it in a slightly different capacity, gotten a dog, given up said dog (the cat was NOT adjusting), gotten an awesome promotion at a different job, and that about sums it up. Life, man.

The fall was rough. Between realizing we were going to have to find a different home for the senior dog we adopted and finding out that Austin was going to do a temporary duty tour of six months (or possibly longer…?) in Germany, and then also all the emotions that go along with the months September – January (fall is just rough)…well, I think I’m still catching up on sleep from being emotionally exhausted.

We thought I’d get to go with Austin at first–find a little apartment in Germany, rent a car, have awesome European adventures, that kind of awesome thing. Then we were told “oh, wait, there’s no housing money, so he’ll be living in the barracks.” Well, then! And we weren’t ever really given a concrete date of departure, just “mid-January.” Ok, that’s of nebulous… not long after the new year, he got an e-mail to the effect of “How about next Tuesday?” This would be the Thursday prior to that. Uh, yeah, great, ok! It was a huge scramble to get everything (including my mental and emotional facilities) ready for his departure, but we managed and got him sent off to Germany.

Since then, I’ve settled into a comfy little routine with some OCPD…no, no, not obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (though if you move my cheese, I will know it). OCPD in this case refers to the urge to send care packages all the time to your person who is far away. My friend Sarah calls it “Obsessive Care Package Disorder,” and boy is it!

I’m enjoying finding fun things online to use as themes, decorating boxes (what? ME? Decorating the inside of boxes? Yep. It’s that bad.), and sending packages off to bring a little bit of home and love to my overseas husband. The people at the post office know me now. I usually get the same guy (mostly because he’s usually the only person working) so it’s become a bit like Cheers. It’s…well, it is what it is, I suppose.

The first care package I sent was earlier than I’d planned to start on the packages…but I woke up to a terrible racket one morning and the cat was sitting on the night stand, batting around something metal…on a chain…”oh, hey, Crookshanks, look, you found some dog tags!” Ahem. Yeah. So those needed to get sent off to their owner and I figured while I was at it, might as well make a whole big package out of it!

My first package theme was “Hot Stuff” so I decorated the box flaps like flames and wrote “Hey There, Hot Stuff!” on the flaps. I know. You might need an airsickness bag for my care package posts. Box decorating photos:

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Before this was over, I had glue stick glue ALL OVER my hands.

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Black backgrounds help the AWESOME FLAMES show up better.

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Flame waves!

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Nearly there…and you can see evidence of my sugar-binge in the bottom left corner. Ahem. Cutting out and glueing things to boxes is hard work.

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Ta-da!! Decorated box!

Now for the contents, because I know you are all SO VERY CURIOUS.

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We have: spicy Cheez-its, hot sauce, a can of hot chili, spicy salsa, chips, wasabi flavored almonds, chipotle beef jerky, chocolate with bits of hot chili in it, Hot Tamales, toe warmers (even if he doesn’t use them, I might need them when I visit! Europe in spring can be cold), a wi-fi signal enhancer (not “hot” technically, but requested) (EDIT: It DOES go with the theme! A former camper (you guys, stop growing up and being adults, it freaks Mama out) noted that it can be considered a Hot Spot, ergo it TOTALLY fits in with everything else. Thank you, Erin!!), and my favorite, nerdiest inclusion: a Hot Wheels car. Yeah. I went there.

In the weeks since, I’ve sent two other packages, have another ready to get decorated and sent out, and have ideas for at least two more. Prepare yourselves for care package posts galore. Or something.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to indulge my Secret Singles Behavior (a la Carrie Bradshaw) of drinking lemon zinger tea while reading a book, because apparently I’m approximately 85 years old. Maybe I’ll take up knitting, too!

Typing is hard…

…when you can’t use your left middle finger. I mean, technically I COULD use it. It would just hurt. 

This week, I’ve started putting slices of lemons and limes in my water bottle, thus having some naturally flavored water throughout the day. Sometimes plain old agua gets old, ya know? Well. Yesterday morning I was in a hurry, trying to make my lunch, make Austin’s lunch, make breakfast, pour the coffee, feed the cats, etc, etc. Mornings are hectic, especially when I oversleep. 

Not only was I in a hurry, but I decided I didn’t want to get out a cutting board because I didn’t want to have to wash it later, and I didn’t want it in my sink. Having dishes just sitting in my sink really, REALLY bothers me. (Yes. I am that person.) 

So I held the lemon way back toward its end, where I wasn’t cutting. I cut a few slices just fine, and was in the middle of cutting another when the cat knocked something off of some surface, and I startled, then looked in the direction of the cat.

Then I felt a horrible, searing pain as very fresh lemon juice got into my extremely fresh, deep cut, right on the pad of my middle finger on my left hand. I screamed bloody murder, panicking my husband, and ran upstairs to rinse it off & try to do damage control. While watching lots of blood running into the sink, I realized I needed stitches. Bah. I managed to staunch the flow of blood using gauze and elevation of the wound, and called my co-worker to let her know I’d be late.

Then started the real adventure: the on-post emergency room. So when you’re a military spouse, your healthcare is provided at little to no cost to you. This is lovely until you need relatively urgent care and have pretty much the option of the emergency room. It. Takes. Forever. 

After I arrived, the nurse took my vitals and asked some questions which were used to triage me. I wish now I’d told her that I’d had lots of trouble getting the blood to stop and that my pain level was a 12 out of 10, not a 3. Stupid being honest. I then made her give me a face mask to wear, because no way in heck was I intending on getting sick from sitting around with people who have the flu forever. 

I was in the ER waiting room for nearly 4 hours. During that time, six people got called back. SIX. Oy. I got some funny looks, sitting in my chair with my Kindle on my lap, face mask on, left arm up in the air, but so it goes. At least I wasn’t ill like the guy who was sitting looking distinctly green around the gills, with a bucket in the seat next to him. No, thank you.

When I FINALLY got called back, they decided I did in fact need stitches, so I got the most painful local anaesthetic of my life (and having had as many derm surgeries in as many places as I have, I know about local anaesthetic). It was horrendous. I suppose it was due to the fact that there are so many nerve endings in the tips of one’s fingers. At any rate, three stitches later, I was out of there. 

They told me to come back in seven days to have the stitches removed…uh, no. I’ll be doing that myself, thanks! Until that time, I’ll keep my wound clean and covered, and will type painfully slowly/with lots of mistakes.

HappyWanderer…out

New year, more blogging (hopefully).

2013 is in full swing, and I hope to get back into the habit of blogging. I really do have a long list of things about which I want to write…now I just need to dedicate some time to sitting down and getting things written out. 

I’ve wanted to write several times in the past few months, but I’ve had a lack of motivation to actually do it, a block, or sometimes both. The last few months of the year are always hard for me. September used to be a month full of celebrations–both my parents were born in September and they were also married in September. Now it’s a month of sadness and memories, as September is when he died. Then there are the rest of the winter holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas, and things are just never the same as they once were. I’ve actually taken to planning some sort of fun activity for January these days so that I’ll have something to look forward to throughout the holiday season.

This year, the thing I planned was a trip to Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I am super excited about this trip, as I’ve been a Potterhead for a long time now. Harry and I grew up in parallel (even if I didn’t start reading the books until I was a late teenager), and any time there’s a movie marathon on ABC Family, you can be sure my TV will be tuned to it. 

So this is just a little short, thrown-together, scattered post. I hope to get some fully fleshed-out posts put together and up soon. Preview of topics: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (obviously), the Couch to 5k program (I’m now on week 5), delicious and healthy meals I’ve been making, crafts I’ve worked on, and my bucket list. 

Stay tuned!

Crafting Day: Festive wreaths!

This was the first Saturday in a while I didn’t have something specific going on, and it was WONDERFUL. I dragged the husband with me to Kohl’s since neither of us had purchased fall clothing in about two years and I had a 20% off coupon. We managed to get lots of new sweaters, etc for a huge discount, which was a fabulous start to my day.

Then I decided to actually make the wreaths I’d been wanting to work on for a while. I’ve seen a variety of fun wreaths on Pinterest and went to Michael’s for some fun, sheer festive colored ribbons and a wreath form. I’d seen on Pinterest that someone cut their foam wreath form in half so that a) it would lay flatter against the door and b) you could make TWO wreaths out of one form. What a great idea, right? Well. It turns out this is not as easy as one would think.

 

Yep. I got one nice half of a wreath, and pieces of the other side. Fail. I also bent my knife in the process because it got so warm. Faaaaaail. So back to Michael’s I went for two new wreath forms. Don’t cut your wreath forms. Just don’t.

The kind of wreath I decided to do involved lots of pieces of gauzy ribbon and square knots. I used sheer red, sheer orange, sheer tan, and sheer green ribbons to make my pretty autumn wreath.

Tiberius was particularly interested in all my ribbons.

I had spools of each ribbon, and I used one and a half spools of each color, cutting them into 16″ strips. That took a while. If you plan on doing this, turn on something on your DVR and sit a spell. Then comes the fun part: tying it all on! I used square knots (right over left, left over right) and lined up all the knots in the front, fluffing out the ends. To finish it off, I used a shiny fall ribbon with maple leaves on it and hung it up on the door. I didn’t get a good picture of it on the door today, but I’ll try to take one and upload it soon.

Then while I was at it, and while we had more TV to catch up on (this season of Bones looks like it’s going to be GOOD), I went ahead and made most of a Christmas wreath. I say “most of” because I ran out of green and red when I was about 7/8 of the way through. Blast. Michael’s, I will be back soon.

For the Christmas wreath (which will be kept in a closet until December 1; I HATE having Christmas stuff out before Thanksgiving. One holiday at a time.), I used red, green, silver, and white.

I alternated two red, two green, two silver, two red, two green, two white, etc etc. I really like the way it turned out. Here it is when I was still working:

 

Here’s how far I got with it before I ran out of red and green:

SO CLOSE. Oh, well. I know it’s not the neatest wreath out there, and it’s not all sleek and pretty like some on Pinterest, but I think it’s fun and representative of my life: slightly crazy, but fun nonetheless.

Anyone else making wreaths this autumn? I’d love to see photos if you do!

HappyWanderer…out.

 

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Hey, guys. Sorry I took another hiatus. The past couple of weeks have been busy and also somewhat full of sads. It seemed like any time I sat down to write I was overtaken with sadness–last Tuesday was the 4th anniversary of Dad’s death–and I didn’t want to be the sad blog, so I just…didn’t blog for a time.

Right now I’m stinking exhausted…I’ve started working out again regularly before work and have been running errands after work, so it’s been long days. I also joined an awesome local choir–more about that later.

For now, it’s time for an episode of the West Wing and bed.

Happy Wanderer…out.