Friday, October 31, 2008


I always have the best time on Halloween giving out treats to the Princesses, firemen, Supermen, Tinkerbells, Pirates, Fairies, policemen, Little Red Riding Hoods, witches, goblins and ghosts that come to our door.

Reflection of cat carved pumpkin on inside of the front door.

I always get a kick out of some of the things kids say. I had a fake rock out front that is motion activated. When it goes on lights flash on the word BEWARE and there is a creepy laugh. A little girl, I would say around 3 told me very m,atter-of-factly when I opened the door "that rock scared me," and her eyes were big and round. She was so cute and so serious I felt bad, so I took the rock inside for the evening. No more creepy laughing rocks at our house.

Poopie sitting near the front door looking at all the goblins and ghosts when I opened the door.
Another young boy, I would say he was around 7 ran to his parents waiting on the sidewalk after I had given him and his siblings candy. As he ran he was excitedly saying loudly, "I said thank you because she was very generous." I burst out laughing. Too cute! I have to say how polite all the kids were, very young to teenagers, saying thank you and wishing me a Happy Halloween. Mnay chatting as I placed candy in their bags.

One of the Jack-o-Lanterns in our upstair windows.

Two young teens, I would say 13 or 14 came to the door. They were dressed very cute as 1950's girls. One said to me, "I like your design outside. It's very nice." That of course was very sweet of her to say, but I had to think to myself, even young teens must watch HGTV!

Jack-O-Lanterns ready in the windows.

There is a lighted sign in the little window next to the front door that says "Ghost Hotel. No Vacancy." A young boy around 8 asked me, "What does that mean?" "What does what mean Honey?" I reply. "No vacancy." I explain what it means, and he answers almost disappointedly, "Oh." and walked away.

Front porch ready and waiting.
Everyone seemed to be having a fun time tonight including me. They cleaned me out of candy again this year, thankfully. That is not something I want left around the house! Our friends Jeff and Kelli that live in the neirghborhood came by with their boys and we had a chance to catch up abit with one another. It's always great seeing them. Funny how you can live just a few blocks from each other but not see one another as often as you'd like.
Well, I think I am ready for a glass of wine and a good book to read. My chaise is calling to me. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Erin Update - 3 PM and HAPPY BIRTHDAY STAN!!!!

Just heard from my friend Kathy. She walked over to see Erin at the hospital form her office and she had so many good things to report! She said she looked SO much better than she did when she saw her Monday. She isn;t nauseated anymore so she is eating, though gets full very quickly. Her outlook and optimism as gotten better, and she showered and washed her heait today. We all know how good that makes us feel! I tried calling on Erin;s cell phone which Rob has but no answer. I will get the number to the hospoital (I have it somewhere arund here) and try calling again.

I want to say again what amazing friends and family we have. Kathy for spreading her angel wings when she can throughout this whole process, and last night my friend Sarah called to see if there was anything she could do, even financially to help Rob and Erin. (They are fine financially, do not worry.) You all have been amazing and I am so blessed to have you in my life as is my family. Sarah and I met in a private online foodie group perhaps 5 years ago and met for the first time face to face this year. We have become such good friends; she is part of our family now. For Aunt Vaden and Eileen who have been constants throughout this whole thing, commenting each day to encourage us all. To Erin's Aunt Becky for her medical books and looking things up for us when we were caring for Erin in Palo Alto as well as her music meditation CD which hekped considerably when Erin wanted music and not imagery as my meditation CD is. Deb and Ron's friends and co-workers who have been with Erin and family in spirit throughout as well. We all feel the love and we hope you do as well. Thank you! Thank you!

Hey Stan -- celebrate! We are with you in spirit! Hope your day is filled with everything you like the most. Cheers!

Erin and Deb Update - 11:45 am

Deb just called. She and the kids mad eit to Erin and Rob's house fine yesterday though it was a very long day for all of them. She made three rather long stops on the way to let Steven get out of the car and run around and play. They ate and feed Mackenzie on these stops as well. She didn;t get to the house until 6:30 that night. The kids are very happy being back in their own envoironment and Steven wants to play with his toys all at once! Deb got a great nights sleep last night and Steven went to pre-school today. They are doing Halloween and he got to wear his Steeler costume! He is a happy camper. Deb was busy getting laundry done and taking care of a few things for Erin and her own Mary Kay business.

Erin's doctors feel she has finally turned the corner. They are keeping her through the weekend at this point. It seems the last spinal tap they gave her releived the pressure in her temple. It's because she had slightly elevated CFS pressure and the spinal tap made it better, thank goodness. They also gave her a low dose of steroids which are an inflammatory. They have taken away other pressure and pain. The doctors think that the mengia got angry just like the facial nerve did in her face from all the stress of the surgery. Which by the way Rob reports is getting better! It looks like she is really on the road to recovery this time. Thank you all again for keeping up the prayers and good thoughts. Also for the love and support for Erin and her family. God bless you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Holiday Entertaining Tips

Tips For When You Are The Guest

We all want to bring something to give our host or hostess when we are invited to their home. And we have all experienced that pausing moment -- WHAT should I bring?
Don't bring your host cut flowers. They will have to stop what they should be doing, greeting their guests, to get out a vase and arrange the flowers. If you really want to bring flowers, bring cut flowers all ready arranged in a vase. Most likely your host has all ready decorated and set the mood for the party. The flowers might be place in another room, such as one of the bedrooms or the kitchen, so don’t be insulted.

Don't bring a dessert. Your hosts will have planned their entire menu. Two things can happen here. One, you will make your host feel obligated to fit your dessert in as well. Or, you might end up feeling hurt because your hosts didn't include the dessert you brought. If you do bring candy or baked goods, let your host know that it is for them to enjoy at another time. Don't bring something that has to be refrigerated. Their refrigerator can very well be full all ready with things for the gathering, and you will again put them in a position to stop what they should be doing to rearrange their fridge.

Do look for imaginative gifts. A few suggestions: A lovely container of Godiva's hot cocoa, unique shaped bottles of Balsamic, Sherry or other flavored vinegar, flavored olive oil, such as truffle, or pear, or dipping oils, unique bottles of cooking alcohol such as an Italian Marsala or a French Madeira or a California Sherry. Jars of gourmet mustards, imported olives, tapenades, marmalades, jams, or chocolate sauces. Or bring them something you have preserved yourself. A special bag of gourmet coffee beans from the best local coffeehouse. A beautifully shaped and/or scented candle. A bottle of fine wine or champagne is always appropriate.

When Entertaining - RELAX AND HAVE FUN

Entertaining is truly all about having fun and creating memorable moments. It's not about impressing people. It's about spending first-rate time together. Entertaining not only gives us the opportunity to spend a fun and relaxed time with out friends, but also allows us to reveal our own style and charm. You have all heard the term, "a gracious hostess"? I have always read that to mean relaxed and charming; one that has created an inviting, warm atmosphere where people are comfortable and feel at home. It's up to you to set the mood. If you are enjoying yourself and relaxed, your guests will be as well.

If you haven't done much entertaining before, don't take on a grand party at first, with a large guest list and an extensive menu. Have a few friends over for appetizers and cocktails or a simple dinner or brunch. We all learn by experience. So relax and give entertaining your friends a go!

Planning Your Party - SETTING THE MOOD

I read once that when entertaining in your home to be sure to appeal to all five senses. I agree wholeheartedly. I think many people get caught up in cooking when they entertain and forget all about setting the mood. MUSIC is very important in setting the ultimate mood for your gathering. For instance, if you are hosting a High Tea, stack your CD player with classical music. Mendelssohn is always a favorite of mine. If you're having a cocktail party, perhaps some jazz, such as Craig Chaquico or Peter white. Or oldies music, something lively to help conversation along. At a dinner party, go with music that is more relaxing and instrumental, such as George Winston or Nicolas Gunn. If you are having a Mexican fiesta theme party, go to Latino shopping areas in your city and buy some fun mariachi and Mexican fiesta CD's. Having dessert and coffee after the theater? Music from all-time classic musicals or some good 40's blues works well.

LIGHTING is important as well. If you don't have dimmer switchers, definitely get some. They are inexpensive and help create the ultimate mood when you are entertaining. CANDLES. I can't say enough about candles. Use them throughout all the areas in your home that will be used when you are entertaining. Nothing says warm, cozy, and inviting as well as soft lighting and the glow of candles. One thing to keep in mind about using candles.It is best not to use scented on your table or in the room you will be dining. Let the AROMA of the food fill the senses there. Don't attack the senses with a flowery or spicy candle mixed with the food aromas. Personally, if I use scented candles when entertaining, my favorite location to place them is in the bathroom.

Planning Your Party - SETTING THE TABLE

Most of us have the basics -- our fine china, crystal and silver. Don't stop there. Mix and match items that are unique to you. Create your own style. Express yourself. Try looking at setting your table as you would picking out the accessories for your wardrobe or finding the right pieces to accent the rooms in your house. Give your table the same consideration and creativity you give to those other areas in your life to make a personal statement. Don't be apprehensive about MIXING AND MATCHING. One of my favorite things to do is to use different patterned or colored glasses together on my table. When I give a high tea, my tea cups are all different shapes and patterns. So are my tea pots. Don't be afraid to use COLOR. Let the seasons be your guide. I am always on the lookout for fun and different pieces to use setting my table. Fun and unique doesn't spell expensive. It's Fall? Use your fine china, but for your soup bowls or salad plates, use ones in Fall colors. Different TEXTURES on your table help bring it to life. Choose whatever appeals to you and mix and match to personalize your table. Having a Mexican theme dinner or buffet party? You can find wonderful, inexpensive cloths in the Latino shopping areas of your city to use as table runners, placemats and as tablecloths. They are a wonderful combination of deep, warm colors and very bright, festive colors. The texture and colors are an appealing setting for your Mexican meal. Serving Chinese or Japanese? Oriental steamer baskets are fun and interesting serving pieces to use. You can find these very inexpensively in Chinatown areas. Fill them with sushi to fortune cookies.

Seven Tips for Setting the Perfect Table

Some suggestions for creating interesting tablescapes at your next party :

1. Several days before the party, plan what you will use on the table. Set out china, glassware, and silver, and then plan to coordinate flowers and floral containers. If you're hosting a buffet, gather together platters and serving pieces and match them to the dishes you will serve based on size and color.

2. Using collections such as porcelain figurines or architectural ornaments on the table is a good way to infuse your personal interests into a setting, but don't overload the table with too many extraneous objects.

3. To cover or not to cover? The answer is a personal one. If the wood and grain of your table are pretty, it is fine to forgo the white linen tablecloth.

4. Instead of a traditional tablecloth, cover a table with a patterned shawl or quilt. Drape it at an angle to create interest.

5. For a casual setting, use greenery such as palm fronds or magnolia leaves as place mats.

6. Get creative with napkin rings. Tie up linen napkins with organdy ribbons or raffia and tuck in sprigs of rosemary or small flowers such as pansies.

7. After everything is set and before the first guest arrives, sit down at the table. Make sure that nothing obstructs your view across the table and that the settings, as well as any serving accessories on the table, are arranged in a logical and attractive manner.

The Wine Cellar

I know that some of you know but others do not that I write a weekly e-zine "Diane's Home Kitchen." Every Thursday a new newsletter is sent out (or you can read it at the Diane's Home Kitchen web site at yahoo groups once a subscriber) and it is full of tried and true recipes I make in my own kitchen, a wine review and entertaining and kitchen tips. You can join and receive the weekly food and wine Diane's Home Kitchen here. Below are bits from upcoming newsletter relating to wine. The pictures in this post are views from my kicthen this morning.

Taken Out The Slider Window
When Talking About A Wine, Use the Words Experts Use

Acidity: Describes how tart or sour a wine tastes. The right amount of acidity preserves a wine's freshness.

Aroma: Refers to the smell of the grape variety used to make the wine. It can sometimes be described as fruity, floral, spicy, etc.

Balance: The harmonious combination of wine elements, with no characteristics being too dominant.

Body: The weight and fullness of a wine. A full-bodied wine fills the mouth.

Complexity: Determined by the number of different flavor elements and undertones a wine has.

Crisp: A fresh, young wine with good acidity. Generally used to describe white wines only.

Finish: The aftertaste or flavor that lingers in your mouth after the wine is swallowed. A long aftertaste indicates a good quality wine.

Mouth Feel: How a wine feels in the mouth and against the tongue. An important part of the total wine tasting experience.

Robust: A full-bodied, intense and flavorful wine.

Tannin: Denotes flavors of leather and tea in a young wine. It gives a wine its firmness and gradually fades away as a wine ages.

Consentino Winery 2005 Napa Valley "M Coz" Meritage 14.5% alcohol $150.00

Not that I am sick of all the sauvignon blanc I drank this summer, but my palate is ready for something heartier. The change of seasons to fall means its red wine weather, so here is one of my favorites. You have to get out your credit card for this one, but it is well worth it for a holiday celebration.

David and I have been members of the Consentino winery club for about 4 years now. We enjoy most of their wines, but our very favorites are their Cabernet Franc and "M Coz." While based on the traditional Bordeaux grapes cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and petit verdot, the 2005 "M Coz" is pure California in brassiness and muscle. There's plenty of sweet oak in the blend, but the power of fruit picked at its prime shoulders through with vital; flavors of raspberries, currents and cherries, seasoned deftly with a few flakes of lapsang souchong, clove and mint.

Peanut Butter Cookies, Soft and Chewy for David

Blackstone, 2006 Sonoma County Merlot $17.00

This is a big, rich, meaty merlot that is full-bodied with aromas and flavors of black plum and toast. Aromatic, firm tannins and a dry finish.

Another Batch of Applesauce

Allan Scott 2007 Marlborough Pinot Noir (13% alcohol) $20.00

This pinot is the way I like them with a bit of heft. If you don't mind a screwcap, check out this bottle from New Zealand. Fat expressions of strawberry and raspberries with a spicy kick that I love.

Spaghetti Sauce with Beef and Italian Sausage in Crockpot

Opus One Napa Valley Red Wine 14% alcohol $190.00

Neither Baron Philippe de Rothschild nor Robert Mondavi lived long enough to see their jointly produced Opus One reach its potential, but it's being fulfilled now in the newly released 2005 version, which is the 5th version of this Bordeaux-inspired blend. This wine combines grandeur with finesse. The tannins are understandably gripping -- give the wine 5 years to soften -- but the wine's real charm is how it continually evolves in the glass. It's aromatic from start to finish. opening with smells and flavors of cassis, anise and licorice, then moving on to more truffled and dustier and spicier flavors. The texture is supple, the finish persistent. It's dramatic and it's harmonious, finally fulfilling its ambitious name.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Erin Update - 4:10 PM

They went ahead and did another spinal tap today. The liquid was clear so that is good news. They are doing cultures on that. Erin is not feeling as well as she did yesterday, but Rob said she over-did yesterday. She doesn't have a temp this afternoon so that is even better news.

Deb has decided with the blessing of Rob and Erin to take the kids to their home in Fortuna. She doesn't see Erin and they are paying for a motel room for her to watch the kids which is silly and the bill is racking up as you can imagine. This way Steven can go back to his 3 days a week pre-school with all his friends and trick-or-treat in his own neighborhood in his Steelers uniform he has been so excited to wear on Halloween. Erin hasn't allowed him to play in it; he had to wait, so his excitment is high to wear it finally.

Erin is also starting to stress about paying bills which any of us would at this point, being gone from home so long. It has been 3 weeks for her tomorrow. Rob will show Deb what she needs to take care of it for them on the computer at home. That will ease Erin's mind as well. This way Rob and her can just concentrate on getting her strength back to make their way back home. They may need to come here for a few days when they start out and then continue on.

I think Deb's idea to bring the kids back to their own home is a very good and logical one. They will be leaving aorund 10 tomorrow morning.

I'm sorry, I forgot to ask her about Rob's mother when she called.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Erin Update - 9:30 PM

Deb called a while ago and Erin has had a pretty good day. She is doing good tonight. She was able to visit Erin a little bit today as well as Steven. He took his Mommy for a walk while he was there. They did do a CT Scan today and there is a very small CSF leak, but the doctor today didn't think they would need to drain it nor did he seem worried. Dr. Jackel sees her tomorrow I believe Deb said. They can't culture anything because the high doses of antibiotics given her at Sutter General up here really knocked whatever was there out. That is great news. Everyone is really pleased with the job they did here.

Deb brings the kids out to the pool each day and also takes them to a very nice local park. Steven has made a lot of new friends there and Deb sits and talks with the many Nanny's who take their charges there. She asks which one is your child and every one of the women have said, "No, I am the Nanny." She enjoys the women and their company each day.

That is really all the news. Deb and Rob are doing well and hanging in there. Deb and I were talking about Halloween and how excited Steven has been for it to get here. His Steeler football uniform costume is back in Fortuna, but if they are still there for Halloween, Deb said they will get Steven a costume and Rob can take him trick-or-treating. With everything else, especially not being with his mommy, missing trick-or-treating would be too hard.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Erin Update 8 PM -- Good News!

Deb just called. Rob called her and told her someone wanted to talk to her. It was Erin and she sounded real good! They changed her pain medications and they are working. Everything she tried eating today stayed down and she was even up walking and used the bathroom instead of the bed pan. Erin told Deb she felt like she has turned the corner and though she knows she has to take it slow to prevent another set-back, she is encouraged. Tomorrow Deb will go see her while Rob stays with the kids. I don't know about you, but I am so relieved I am laughing and crying at the same time! Here's to more good news tomorrow!! Thank God.


I am grateful that Erin is at Stanford with her husband and some of the best doctors in the world, and that her children are being cared for and loved by their Grammy.

For the strong parents I had and for them showing Ron and I through example what a loving family is and the importance of being part of a family. For showing me how to love, live, give, share, cook, rejoice in God, be a wife and mother, grandmother, that less is more, how to care for ailing family and friends and how to leave this world with dignity and grace.

For my daughters Jennifer and Theresa, their health, happiness, creativity and the joy they bring to David and I.

For being given the special gift of grand-parenthood and all the delights and joys that fill my heart through Justin and Jacob.

I am grateful for the special friendship and sisterhood Deb and I share. For being given the gift of a sister through Ron. And for a brother like Ron who certainly keeps us a;; entertained and loved. For my sister girlfriends Rose, Barbara, Verona, Averill, and Paulette who came into my life after moving from the SF peninsula. And for my long-time friends Kathy, Cathy and Donna; the bond we have will tie us together forever.

For two son-in-laws like John and Shawn who bring so much into our lives and the love and caring they have for our daughters as husbands. I couldn't have picked better sons myself.

For family and friends who fill our lives with love and laughter and who are always there in good times and in bad. For having been given the gift of true friendship. It is something we treasure.

I am most grateful for my husband David who came into my life 27 years ago at a moment I needed a real friend as he did. For being blessed to recognize that it was safe to believe in love again and to trust in a life together with him. For the past 25 years of marriage and all the joys and sorrors that has brought, and all the memories we have made together as a family.
For Riley, Poopie, Scruffy and Meiling and the entertainment and love they bring to our household.

Erin Update 11:15 AM

Just got off the ph9one with Deb. Erin's vitals are good but she is still in pain and can't keep any food down. She was dry heaving this morning, and her color is bad today Rob said. They are treating this as if it is meningitis. They are changing her pain medications because what they are giving her isn't working. The vitals being good is great news but they need to get a handle on her antibiotics and pain med's. Deb is at the motel with the kids and Rob stays with Erin. Deb talked to Erin this morning and she said she sounded like she felt -- like crap.

The updates may not be as frequent as they have been, but I will continue to post each time I hear from Deb or Rob.

Rob's mother is doin good.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Erin Update - 10 AM

I just talked to Deb. She, Rob and the kids are getting ready to change hotels. Though where they stayed last night is very nice, it is just too far away from the hospital to keep driving back and forth.

Rob spent the night with Erin at the hospital. The team of doctors came to see her and talk to him. He said they did not seem overly concerned. They also said that the ER doctor did everything and then some. She got her right on large doses of antibiotics which has made a world of difference for Erin. They are very pleased with the care she was given there. The "abscess" they saw at Sutter was actually the plug they put in during surgery, taking skin from Erin's tummy. Not knowing one was done, it's what they should have thought it was. So that is good news that there is not an abscess.

Possible other good news -- As to meningitis, the Stanford doctors have not said that yet. They know she has an infection, but they are not calling it anything in particular as of this time. When Rob and Deb hear anything more on that they I will let you know.

Erin did vomit more this morning.

As to Mackenzie -- she cut a tooth and us three gals never noticed. It took her Daddy to see it. It is not all the way out but you can see it on the bottom. She sure was good through it all!

Rob's mother is in the hospital now too! The dear has a perforated colon and is having surgery this morning. Poor Rob doesn't know if he is coming or going.

We Were All Fooled Eileen and Other Moments Since Returning Home

Stan and Eileen, Erin's Godparents sent these beautiful Iris to her at the house. Sadly UPS arrived just before 8 PM last night with them, and Erin was already long back at Stanford.

This is the enclosed card. Rob has a laptop so when Erin is feeling better, she will see both via computer. Love the technology these days! And Eileen thank you. I am sorry they didn;t get to Erin in time, but we are enjoying. They are lovely.

Deb feeding Mackenzie Thursday.

This was Erin Friday morning when she first got up after having the migraine and not feeling well. By the evening she was like a ragdoll she was so weak, and her coling was even worse.

You can see from this picture which was taken Thursday even after the drive from Stanford to the house how night and day her change was from one day to the next. Her coloring gives it away as well.

Begonias blooming in the garden. Such a nice surprise to see.

My Neighbor Deborah knit these little sweaters and made wine cork people for me. They make me smile when I look at them. It amazes me when people can knit, sew or make anything this tiny. It reminds me of my Nana who crocheted doll clothes for my dolls, including Barbie.

Preparing chicken for Friday night dinner. Deb said my chicken was into bondage.

Zucchini with butter and Paremsan ready for ther oven.

Halloween tablecloth.

I missed the annual trip to Apple Hill with my firends this year, but they picked me up 2 cases of apples which I wanted to cook with. Thank you! Thank you!

Lots of ideas of what to make with them...............
Stay tuned to see what I do end up making with them. Do you have any favorite recipes using apples? If you are willing to share, I would love to have them.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Erin Update - 8 PM

Deb and Mackenzie made it fine to their suite in San Carlos. She has the kids at the room and Rob is with Erin. Deb said she called Erin;s nurse and was rold Erin is doing fine. She hadn't heard form rob so that is all she knew. She hopes to see Erin first thing in the morning. Hopefully the kids get to sleep early so she can get a long nights rest.

Erin Update - 1:15 PM

When Deb came by the house to get their things and Mackenzie, she dsaid that Erin does have meningitis. That it is bacterial and not virial so they can treat it with high doeses of antibiotics. Good thing she recongnized the signs last night (she was pretty sure this was the problem). Etin had this when she was a little girl. Her concerns made for a qwuick decison to call 911. Deb said she will keep me posted so I can continue posting updates.

Erin Update - Noon

Deb is on her way back to the house to pack things up and get Mackenzie to make the drive to Palo Alto. Somehow in the quick calls back and forth Deb didn't mention to us that they also did the spinal tap on Erin and the fluid was cloudy which could mean meningitis, a very good reason for her surgeon to want her back at Stanford. They are waiting for a room in Stanford and then they will transport her there. Rob and Steven are driving directly to Stanford. Deb has secured a room in a inn and suites in San Carlos that will be much nicer and more comfortable than where we stayed before.

I am worried about Deb and Mackenzie making the drive down. She pulled an all-nighter and didn;t get much sleep the night before.

Erin Update - 9:15 AM

Erin is having the abscess drained as I type. Rob and Steven are on their way. Deb said the ER doctor who has Erin's case and has been dealing with Dr. JAckel told her she thought Erin would be going back to Stanford and they would transport her. I am sure Dr. Jackel wants her where he can care for her.

Mackenzie, David and I are getting along fine. More when I know it. Love to all.

Erin Update - 7 AM - Not The Good News We Hoped For

About a half hour or so after my update last night, Erin vomited again. Deb was going to drive her to the ER but with Erin still getting sick and not knowing what really was going on with her, I suggested she call 911 to send an ambulance and paramedics. She did and then called the ENT on duty at Stanford, who then notified Dr. Jackel. Erin was sick again on the way to the hospital in the ambulance.

She has gotten good care at the ER at Sutter General (the hospital of choice of my parents when they were here so I suggested it to the paramedics). They did x-rays and a cat-scan. They have discovered the problem, come up with a plan to take care of the problem and have been consulting with Dr. Jackel all along as well.

She has an abscess (not sure of my spelling)and it has to be drained. They are admitting her to the hospital. Deb has of course called Ron and she was going to call Rob at 6:30 to have him come down. I will update as I learn more. Poor Deb has pulled an all-nighter at the hospital and is still there. I got 2 more hours of sleep than she did.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Erin Update -- 10:30 PM

Erin's day never got better. She never was able to eat anything other than a little applesauce, and a few sips of chicken broth. She has been good about trying to get water and Gaterade down. The good news is she only vomited the one time, but she has been uncomfortable all day and feeling achy. Shje neded up with a fever tonight of 102.1. Deb contacted the ENT on duty at Stanford and talked with her. The ENT talked with another doctor on duty and they felt after asking a lot of questiopns of Deb and then Erin, that the fever most likely was unrelated to the surgery. We started her on Tylenol and I bathed her with cool washclothes for a few hours until she felt comfoitrtable and the fever started going down. The last time Deb checked it, about 15 minutes ago, it was down to 100.6.

Not to alarm anyone but one of the things that can happen after this surgery is meningitis. Erin had it when she was alittlr girl so Deb knows the signs to look for. If we see any of those signs, or if her fever hadn;t gone down or goes back up and won't go down, we are to take her to the ER and they will probably do a spinal tap. We are encouraged though that the fever is going down as well as it is, and that Erin seems to be feeling alright other than having no energy as we do when running a fever and achy. We just keep encouraging her to drink water and try as hard as we can to get her comfortable.

We brought the recliner downstairs for her but she neded up not finding it as comfortable as she thought she would. She didn;t want to go back in the bed she slept in last night, so she is on the couch. She prefers to be sitting up and we have mahed that quite well. It's her lower back and rearend that get sore and has to keep trying to get in a more comfotable position. If she could just lay down comfortably I think she would sleep much better, but when she gets down (by removing one pillow at a time) she gets stuck and can't get back up.

We are of course hoping that by morning Erin will be feeling much better and we can get back to getting some food into her. Erin always functions better when she has a satisfied tummy.

I hope I have something more positive to report in the morning.

Erin Update - 2:15 PM

After such an amzing day yesterday Erin hasn't started this one off good. She woke early this morning with a migraine and a lot of uncomfortableness in the left side of her face. She also became anxious which didn't help her relax. She stayed in bed sleeping late, and then came out to the family room, and got comfortable on the couch, where she immdiately vomited. It could be the vicodin made her vomit since it will, especially if she doesn't eat with it. She has been dozing since then (a few hours I would say) and was sipping water here and there. I went grocery shopping and brought home Gatorade so we can hydrate her and bring her electrolytes back up after the vomiting. So right now it feels like we have taken a step backwards to liquids only, but this is expected when recouping form a surgery such as the one Erin had. Please say an extra prayer to get her through this bout quickly. I will keep you posted. Love to all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You're Right Eileen, There's No Place Like Home......

Our drive to my home from Palo Alto went very well for Erin. She did great in the van and remained comfortable during the trip. She ate MacDonald French fries and drank a chocolate milkshake. We stopped once so I could put drops in her eye since it was feeling dry, and one other time for her to switch seats to one that reclined easier. At that time Deb fed Mackenzie a bottle since she started to melt down about 10 minutes before in the Bug. About a 1/2 hour out from home Erin became tired so she put her seat back and using a pillow to help support her neck slept until we were almost home. We were all excited that Erin did so well on the trip!

Needless to say we were all very happy to be here and out of the motel room. As Sarah Palin would say, I am not hoodwinking or bamboozling you. Okie Dokey? WINK (Couldn't resist) Erin settled herself on the couch and had a snack and rested. Mackenzie was excited to have new things to look at, Deb got their things organized in their bedroom and made phonme call she needed to make, and we all just kicked back for the rest of the afternoon, talked and watched CNN. Their non-bias politics central is great. It so so refreshing to see things presented that way so you can make clear independent choices without being bombarded with bias crap.

I gathered things from the freezer, what we had brought from the motel with us and the pantry and made a simple dinner of meatloaf, fresh zucchini baked in the oven topped with Parmesan cheese and mashed potatoes. Quick and comforting. It was very nice having Erin sit at the dinner table with us and not in bed, propped up with pillows and eating there as she was. She really has made wonderful progress in the last week. We are confident that this week before she sees the doctor again will also be filled with more amazing improvements.

We came home to find beautiful 80 degree weather and no wind. Mackenzie and I took a walk through the garden paths while dinner was in the oven. She loved the sound of all the water fountains in the yard and looking at the different plants and trees. She really loves the outdoors.

It was nice to be greeted by the love of my four 'babies' when I walked in the door, showing me how much they missed me. Funny how much I miss them too when I am away. They are such sweet kitties.

We are considering going out grocery shopping tomorrow. We do have the wheelchair here if Erin finds she gets too tired walking. I am just going to throw it in the van. Erin, Deb and I also want to check out the baby and childrens clothes at Mervyn's since they are going out of business and everything is on sale. It will be very nice for all if us doing something normal together. We shall she how we all feel in the morning. Right now Deb and I are exhausted and I am sure Erin is tired as well. Boy, getting old sure creeps up on you. On that note this old lady is making her way to her own bed (so long cot) at the early hour of 8:15. The way my body feels I would swear it is midnight....................

PS -- Thank you David.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Erin's Doctor Appointments - We're heading Home to My House

Erin had her appointments with Dr. Harsh and Dr. Jackel this afternoon. It was a long and tiring time for her, taking 4 hours including driving time. (Mostly waiting around.) Everything heard was GOOD NEWS!!!!

She can travel to my house tomorrow; lay flat, eat anything she wants, turn her head and start doing jaw and facial exercises. Her only limitations at this point are lifting and straining. They also removed her staples. She is having an x-ray early tomorrow morning so Dr Harsh can see if she needs the metal plate or not to hold her head up. It doesn;t appear that she does looking at her but he wants to check and will let them know. She will be having the injection to her vocal cords sometime soon. Dr. Jackel would like to get to that sooner than later. She sees both doctors again a week from today. Oh happy days!!!!!!!

Erin showered and dressed for her doctor appointments.

Cooking in the kitchen here has been a bit primitive -- above is our garbage disposal and there isn;t a microwave oven, so heating leftovers made dirty pots and skillets which wasn't fun. The sink would back up if you got anything other than water down it so I developed the place water in dirty pan put on hot burner, scrap up everything with a spoon or spatula, and then dump whole mess down the I mean garbage disposal. I have to admit I am looking forward to being back in my own kitchen. Erin said tonight she wanted to buy whatever I needed at the grocery store to cook my recipes for her. she is so ready for real foods, though she did eat mac and cheese tonight and two nights in a row had Acme bread herd slab and Brillat Savarin.

Views of our room......

Really not a bad kitchen for a motel room, but all the plates were melamine so they couldn;t go in the oven to reheat food, and the 1 skillet was huge and didn;t fit in the oven. The kitchen was stocked with what one needs to get by so I do give them that.

Dining table, office desk............

While Deb and Erin were at Stanford for the appointments this afternoon I stayed with Mackenzie at the motel. I snapped these shots of her......

Well, the next time I make a post it will be from home. YAY!!!!!!!! Erin will be traveling in my van and Deb will drive Erin's VW Bug back with Mackenzie. It's about a 2 - 2 1/2 hour drive to my house from Palo Alto. I know that all of us are going to feel so much better being at my home with more space to move around, washer and dryer, fully loaded kitchen, sofas to sit comfortably on to watch TV, and our own bedrooms. It's going on 10 PM and I am exhausted I have to admit. I'm off to get the cot down and made up so I can fall into it. And fall into I do. You sink into it, and my legs are so short it is a challenge to get out of it. It cracks Deb and Erin up when they watch me. Love to all nighty night.........

An Angel Visits and Other Moments

Kathy's visit last night was medicine for all of us. We had such a wonderful time seeing her and talking, and Deb, Erin and Kathy enjoyed getting to know one another better.

Erin and Kathy.
Kathy has been an angel to our family during this whole process, helping Erin and Rob when they made pre-surgery doctor visits by watching Steven, visiting in the hospital, and having lunch with Rob one day.

Sitting poolside enjoying a glass of wine and cheese and bread.

Last night while we sat in the kitchen talking she gave Erin a foot and calf massage. she is such a dear friend and so thoughtful and giving. Today Erin and I were talking and we both thought she would make such a wonderul volunteer in the Big-Sister foundation. She would be such an amazing mentor and role model for a young girl.

More of that wine and goodies.

I have alwasys known I was blessed to have Kathy in my life, and now my family feels the same way. How do you thank someone properly who has given so much of themselves to you and and then treats your family as if it is her own? I am not sure there are any words.

Erin eating Gerber Graduates Finger Foods Sweet Corn Puffs. We all decided we like them and they melt right in your mouth so they are a breeze to swallow.

OTHER MOMENTS -- This monkey is very special to our family. David had it with him when he had his major sinus surgery back in the early 90's. He passed it on to Erin when she had her first tumor surgery in 1997. She was going to send it back to her Uncle David when he had his heel surgery the beginning of June, but she was having her dizzy spells at that time and didn't venture out of the house much. Monkey is with her through this surgery and recovery as well. He is a special little guy and makes recovery just a little bit easier.

Deb checking her emails. This is where we blog from right now; the table in the motel kitchen.

My bed. Deb and I had such a time getting it together that we decided not to unfold it every night, but to just stand it up in a corner of the kitchen. It has worked well, and much easier getting the cot ready to sleep in each night.

A Mommy and Mackenzie moment.