Sunday, February 28, 2010


Warning: Braggy Mother Post coming up!

So this morning, after four months of practice and games around the state, Declan's Squirt C hockey team ended their regular season of play undefeated, with a record of 10 - 0, and at the top of their league. Yahoo! Very proud of the boys, and Katie--the lone girl on the team--for their hard work!

Check out the pictures I took on our really crappy little camera whose flash doesn't seem to work unless the subject is right in front of me thus overexposing said subject.

Here you can just make out the team, who has just run out of the bench, piling on top of Declan, celebrating their win.

Here is Declan coming off the ice at the end of the game, horrified that I'm making him stop to take his picture.

Here is a picture of Finn because he was jumping around yelling, "Take my picture! Take my picture!"

Declan coming out of the locker room. Mortified that I'm there with a camera.

Declan and his buddy, Zane, post-game. Zane wouldn't smile. Trying to look tough.

An actual good photo of the team, taken after the Denver tournament where they were third (the loss we had there didn't count as league play). The actual, good photo was not taken by me.

Now we move on to playoffs as the top seed in two weeks' time. If the team comes out on top at playoffs, we go on to states in Denver in about a month. That's a lot of hockey still to come. I feel weary.

And here are just two random and cute photos of Tara, Craig and Garvin's new puppy, Shep:

A friend gave us this stuffed horse. Shep likes to alternately chew on it, wrestle with it, and then snuggle with it.

Tara is calling Shep. She doesn't want to leave the horse.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

St. Baldrick's Day--Part 2: The Ask

Well, I warned you it was coming, and now here I am. March is nearly upon us, which means it's time for St. Baldrick’s Day--a day where people shave their heads to raise money for pediatric cancer research and in solidarity with pediatric cancer patients.

It's a good thing our local event is March 6th, because Declan and Eamonn are in desperate need of haircuts. . .

Look at the do's on those dudes! Actually, Finn might need a haircut worse than anyone, but he says he's keeping his. I'm fine with that. Happy belated birthday to Eamonn, by the way!

It's hard to believe it's been nearly six years since we heard the words, "Your son has cancer." Watching Finn go through treatment over the course of the next 3 1/2 years was hard, which, quite frankly, is the understatement of a lifetime.

It's still really hard for me to look at pictures from when Finn was in treatment without getting a little (OK, big) lump in my throat. Last week, Mary, whose son, Nathan, had neuroblastoma (a horrible, horrible pediatric cancer), told me that she doesn't have any pictures up at all from when Nathan was in treatment because she can't bear to look at them. I totally get that.

But the good news is that today, Finn is 2 1/2 years off treatment and doing well. In 2012, we hope to hear the words, "cancer free." Despite the hard times, Finn and our family are among the lucky ones. Countless others, including friends we’ve met along the way, haven't been so fortunate.

We’d love to think that one day, no parent will have to hear the word “cancer” and “your child” in the same sentence ever again. Will it happen in our lifetimes? We don't know, but we’re going to do everything we can to help. One way we've decided to do that is through St. Baldricks, which is dedicated to fundraising and research specifically for pediatric cancer.

This year, Declan and Eamonn have joined forces as Team Mighty Finn to raise money for St. Baldricks. No talking smack and trying to outdo each other this year--they're just trying to set a new record for fundraising! Shaving their heads for St. Baldrick's is fun, but it's fun with a purpose. Join us by donating today. Let's erase the word cancer from our children's vocabulary!

Now, we realize the economy has put a pinch, to say the least, on everyone’s budget. If you can contribute $5, $10, $100—great. If you can’t—we understand. If you would like to donate this year, you can link directly to the Team Mighty Finn page and view Eamonn and Declan's individual pages by clicking on “view all team members” from there. You’ll see the boys’ cousin, Garvin, and one of Declan’s classmates who joined Team Mighty Finn, as well. Kids fighting cancer for kids—very cool.

Our local event is scheduled for Saturday, March 6, from 1 – 5 p.m., so if you live in the valley, come on down to the Eagle fire station, hang out and join the fun! If you live outside the valley, come take a ski vacation and we’ll put you up for free. . .in exchange for a generous donation to St. Baldrick’s, of course!

2009--Before the shaving

2009--During the shaving

2009--After the shaving.

We are so grateful to have each and every one of you in our lives. You were (and continue to be!) there for us, in person or virtually, through the most difficult time we have ever faced. We couldn't imagine our lives without you. We are blessed in more ways than you can ever know.

Natalie, Eamonn, Declan, and, of course, The Mighty Finn!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

St. Baldrick's Day--Part 1

You know it's coming--that time of year when the boys in this house need a haircut so desperately because they grow their hair for about six months, paint it green, and then shave it all off to raise money for pediatric cancer research.

You're right--it is coming, and I'll be back in a day or so to beg for a handout, but first, I want you to meet someone:

This is Francis Feeney (along with the boys).

Francis is on the board of directors for the St. Baldrick's Foundation. He owns a home in the valley, which is actually how we indirectly became involved in St. Baldrick's. In a twisted way.

About five years ago, a local woman named Cindy, who works managing the community where Francis owns a home, decided to shave HER head for St. Baldrick's after hearing about it from Francis. Francis is BFFs with the guy who founded St. Baldrick's, Enda McDonnell, and they were planning their shaving for 2006 when Cindy jumped into the fray and offered to shave her head. They couldn't believe she wanted to do it, but she did, and the shaving event in our valley was born. Cindy organizes it every year. Our friend, Mark, who manages several of the homes in the community where Cindy works and Francis lives, knows the two of them and also shaves his head for St. Baldrick's. During March 2007, the second year for the event here in the valley, Mark told us about it and asked us to come. We did. We met Cindy. We fell in love with the concept behind St. Baldrick's.

And there you have our six degrees of separation from Francis Feeney. Got all that?

So Francis happened to be in town last week, and Cindy arranged the opportunity for all of the event volunteers and the honored kids to meet Francis.

I have to say that I was totally amazed by him and all that St. Baldrick's is doing for pediatric cancer research. First of all, I'm boggled by the fact that St. Baldrick's is just 10 years old, but has raised an astonishing $69 million.

One of the things Francis told us about was that in January, St. Baldrick's brought together 16 pediatric oncology researchers from all over the country to help prioritize where St. Baldrick's funding should be directed. Can you imagine? Getting 16 of the biggest names in pediatric cancer research to put aside their schedules, their egos, their own agendas, to advise a foundation that's only 10 years old? Amazing. This is one of the reasons, in my mind, pediatric cancer survival rates continue to rise.

Francis is this very quiet, unassuming man, who didn't even have children of his own when he got involved with St. Baldrick's. It was very cool to see him get down on one knee and talk to Finn and Nathan, another of our little local survivors, about how they were his heroes. His knowledge about the world of pediatric cancer is astounding, and it all comes from his St. Baldrick's involvement.

It was just a great evening and a great opportunity to meet one of the people who is a big part of St. Baldrick's, which remains very near and dear to our hearts.

I'll be back. . .get your credit cards ready. . .

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Miracle on Ice

After three days in Denver for Declan's hockey tournament, I was ready to come home for several reasons: a) I'm not a city person, and b) it's totally stressful to be a goalie mother and my heart had taken all the angst it could take. We had our own little taste of Miracle on Ice glory, but first, let me back up to the prior weekend. . .

We were also in Denver for hockey a week ago. It wasn't a tournament--we just played the same team, the Junior Eagles, two days in a row. It's common to do that when you travel or when another team comes to your town. We were anticipating two tough days of hockey because we were playing the only other undefeated team in our division. So we were somewhat surprised when our boys beat the Denver team quite easily both days. Denver is known for it's tough hockey teams.

So fast forward to just this past weekend when we returned to Denver for a tournament. Among the teams we had to play was the Junior Eagles again. Not too unusual, but we knew they'd be really fired up to beat our team this time.

And they were. It was like some kind of grudge match. To make matters worse, the game took place at 11:30am on Sunday morning, after we'd already played at 6:00am--yes, you read that right, 6:00AM, that morning. The Junior Eagles were playing their first game of the day. And our 6:00am game had been a tough one. So it was fresh legs (them) versus tired legs (us).

The whole thing was just surreal. There was a big crowd watching because our Squirt B team (we are Squirt C) was playing right afterwards. So all of their parents and players were there watching in addition to our players and parents.

So the grudge match began. We were up 2 - 0 after the second period. That's always good. And then in the second period (they play three 12-minute periods), it all started to come unglued. You could tell our kids were getting tired and you could tell the Junior Eagles were digging in. They scored two quick goals and our boys started to deflate--you could just see it. That's when you wish you could just open up the top of your kid's head and just pour a little energy in, but of course, you just sit there and watch and shout encouragement if you can.

Time ticked away and we finished regulation play tied at 2 all. I waited for overtime play to start.

But it didn't.

My friend, Leah, whose son is also a goalie for the team, came and sat down next to me and said, "I'm here for moral support."

"Great! Why?" I asked.

"Don't you realize it's going to a shootout?" She asked (probably thinking, duhhhhh, you ding dong). "Declan is in goal for the shootout."

I sat down really fast. My baby was in the goal. I couldn't handle the pressure. I was worried he couldn't handle the pressure. Which as I write that, it sounds silly. It's a kids' hockey tournament for pity's sake, not brain surgery. But it's important to them and therefore, it's important to me.

They shot on Declan first. The player approached in a kind of strange, slow fashion--usually you see the shooter race up and fire the puck in, so it was a weird-ish strategy. And it didn't work! Declan stopped it and the crowd went wild. I jumped up and down, probably squealed a little, and clapped.

Our first shooter, a kid named Zane, who is also the league high scorer right now, dashed up to the opposing team's goal and fired it in. We were up 3 - 2.

It was time for the second shot on Declan. Seriously. The anxiety I had for Declan was unbearable. Again, their player did this crazy slow approach. Again, it didn't work. Declan stopped it. The crowd went nuts and you could have cut the tension in that arena like a bad cliche. I doubled over in agony (it was just stress--I didn't have to go to the bathroom).

Our second shooter took his shot. And missed. It was still 3 - 2 to our advantage, with one shot each left. The stress. How could Declan stand it???? I was struggling to maintain my composure and I wasn't even in the game! My heart was aching for him because he takes goals scored on him so personally. People were screaming his name. How do you concentrate with all of that going on?

Their last shooter began his approach, moving faster than his teammates this time. He fired his shot. . .and Declan stopped it again, clinching the win for his team.

I screamed like I was being drawn and quartered in the stands and I think I bruised Leah's arm by pounding on her. Everyone went completely crazy. Declan's teammates all ran from the bench and piled on top of him. Seriously, I couldn't see him underneath it all. It was sheer and utter madness. You would have thought we'd just played for the gold medal in the Olympics.

It was incredible to see Declan have his moment in the sun. I'm in awe of his coolness under pressure. . .at the ripe old age of 9. I don't have near that composure at my much older age. I'm guessing I never will at this point.

In the end, the boys did not win the tournament. In fact, they didn't even make it to the final because the tournament director changed the rules and apparently didn't see fit to notify the teams. A team we had already beat went on to the final while we played against none other than the Junior Eagles, yet again, for 3rd/4th place. Yep, the same team they'd already beat three times in a week, they had to play again. Our boys defeated the Junior Eagles again to come in 3rd.

Ironically, we'll have to play them again at the league playoffs in March. Think they'll be hungry for a win? Sigh.

Below are a few pictures of the boys playing this weekend. Please note, I was so rattled during the shootout that I didn't take any pictures or video. Nice. Fortunately, a friend recorded the whole game, so I'll see if I can eventually upload the shootout.

And then I guess I'd better make sure the video camera is on my "don't forget" list for the next game.

It's 5:45am on Sunday morning. We got to play in DU's (University of Denver--as an aside, why are they University of Denver, yet called DU?) arena. DU is a HUGE hockey school, so this was a very exciting treat for the boys. Here's Finn posing in our box seats.

It's now almost 6am and the game is about to start. Wow--look at the crowd. Oh wait, everyone sane is still in bed. Here I'm trying to take a picture of Finn and two other hockey siblings (hockey siblings are fondly known as Rink Rats) waaaaaaaaay up in the top row of the seats. They loved this arena because it had endless entertainment opportunities. They ran up and down the stairs so much, I'm guessing they actually burned more calories than the players themselves.

Waiting to go out on the ice . They still go out through the doors during the game, but sometimes they go over the boards when they're at practice, which makes me laugh because they're still small enough that they get stuck halfway over.

Declan warming up in goal.

I think he just made a save here. But then again, I can never tell what the heck is going on when I'm trying to take pictures and watch through that little screen on the back of the camera.

One of our players takes the puck back toward the opposing team's goal.

PS: Does that P&G commercial showing little kids as Olympic athletes and ending with the tagline "To their mothers, they'll always be kids" make anyone else cry? Gets me every time.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Potty Mouth

I've got a post up at Rocky Mountain Moms today! Click here, go there, have a great weekend! How do you spell weekend in this house? H-O-C-K-E-Y-T-O-U-R-N-A-M-E-N-T!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Happy News

It's not very often that I use the words "happy" and "cancer" in the same blog post, but today I can do it.

Back in Finn's CaringBridge days, I wrote about Ben Brewer (we went to the same heme/onc clinic in Ohio and then they moved to Colorado shortly before we did in 2006), who had neuroblastoma. Ben underwent a stem cell transplant in fall '05 and showed no evidence of disease until July '09 when he relapsed. In fact, I think I blogged last summer about it. Relapsed neuroblastoma? Not good. Not good at all. So Ben started chemo again, and radiation. They've had a tough time. Holidays in the hospital. That just sucks.

But recently the Brewer's went to NYC to consult with doctors at Sloan Kettering and Sarah, Ben's mom, wrote this post that made me (and obviously her!), very, very happy. The bottom line, just in case that link doesn't work, is that the doctors feel they can cure Ben's relapsed neuroblastoma, which is incredible, incredible news! Ben still has a tough struggle in front of him, but to get such promising news has to give them a huge boost.

In other happy news, remember Ruth? She's the amazing librarian and the boys' school who is not only just an all-around amazing person, she also was one of the people who really helped Finn when he was struggling to adjust when he went to kindergarten. Again, Ruth's cancer was something I blogged about when she relapsed about a year ago. She has been undergoing chemo and really struggling, but also still coming to school. She is incredibly strong.

But in December, things took an awful turn. She had a blockage in her intestine that could not be fixed, according to the doctors, and just before Christmas, she was sent home from the hospital on hospice. Her daughter blogged that there would be no further updates on the blog until they knew when the memorial service would be. It was a terrible time. I, along with a lot of other mothers, spoke with our kids about how sick Ruth was. At one point, Finn said something like, "Well, can we tell her goodbye the next time we see her?" I had to explain that we probably wouldn't ever see Ruth again. It was awful and they were understandably very upset.

And then something happened.

Ruth defied the odds and was eventually discharged from hospice! Who does that!? Ruth, that's who!

So then I informed the boys that when they returned to school on Jan. 4, they would indeed be seeing Ruth. I work in the library shelving books one morning a week, and I tell you, the all kids' were so excited when they came in and saw her. This just tells you how much people love her.

Ruth is still battling her cancer, but she's not giving up. When I saw her that first day back to school, she laughed and said, "Give me an inch and I'll ask for a mile. Now I want to be cured of cancer, too!" Countless people are praying for the very same thing.

Now, on one final not good note, my friend Rachael's brother, Jack, was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma that has spread. He's got a difficult battle ahead of him. If you get a chance, could you drop in on his CaringBridge page, and give him a shout out in support? You'll see he's Mighty Jack Harris. That Mighty? It's in honor of The Mighty Finn and his success in beating cancer. We want that Mighty luck to transfer on over to Jack now!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Queen's English

Oh, hey. Look at that. I still have a blog. I just keep forgetting to post on it. I don't know what I've been doing. Um, maybe sitting in Denver's coldest ice rink ever watching hockey. Or having Facebook angst. Possibly both.

February is supposed to be a "lull" month for me--the calm between two magazines. It's not working out that way, much to my chagrin. I feel very unlulled and somewhat frantic.

So I'm trying to come up with something simple to blog about before I fall asleep while I'm typing.

When Eamonn's sister, Gerry, was here for the holidays, she gave me a deck of "knowledge" cards called The Queen's English. Labeled as "A smattering of seemingly nonsensical British words and phrases," the cards totally crack me up.

Because I am tired and lazy tonight, I'm picking out some of my fave words or phrases and posting them here. A few of these I already knew because Eamonn uses them. A few were new to me and just made me laugh.

Noun. Can also be used as an adjective and verb.

"You are talking complete bollocks!"

This word simply meant testicles until the mid-19th century. Since then, it has become a vulgarism for that part of the male anatomy, often used to mean rubbish or nonsense. Since the late 19th century, however, the word has been used generally as an exclamation, especially as a rejoinder (since 1969). It may occur as a verb, noun, or adjective, as in "I'll bollocks you good and proper"; "You've bollocksed that up"; or "That's a right old bollocky bollocks you've made of that!"

U.S. Translation

Bollocks! is a vulgar and ubiquitous as the U.S. bullshit, but unlike that expletive, has no refined variant such as bullshine or b.s.

Natalie's notes
Favorite line using this. In Bend it Like Beckham, Jess tells Jules that her parents won't allow her to continue to play on the football (soccer) team. Jules gets mad and shouts, "But that's bollocks!"

I kept thinking I'd heard bollocks in a song title. Sort of. Never Mind the Bollocks was the name of the Sex Pistols' one and only studio album in 1977. I was 10. I shouldn't have known of such things.

Finally, a funny story about another phrase, "The dog's bollocks," which means something is really great. One time we were sitting in a meeting with our financial planner and Eamonn used the phrase "the dog's bollocks." Our financial planner thought that was really great. At one point he said, "I can't wait to go and use that phrase down at the gym: the cat's buttocks." Here I was trying to be all serious and grown up, talking about our financial future and he comes out with the cat's buttocks. I laughed uncontrollably throughout the rest of the meeting. What a waste of time that meeting was. Except that it makes for a great story now.


"It's gone all wonky."

Unstable, wobbly, crooked, off-center, out of kilter, not very well put together (early 20th century). This description can be applied to a person, but more usually pertains to an object, as in "I've just spilt my beer 'cos the table's all wonky." It may originate from the Old English wancol, of the same meaning, possibly via the 19th century printing term wankey, to straighten and level printers' type.

U.S. Translation
It's all cockeyed, catawampus, out of whack, etc.

Natalie's notes
Eamonn's sister, Karen, uses this phrase a lot. Makes me laugh. I mostly use it when I'm describing when I don't feel well because that's what Karen does. I think. "I'm feeling a bit wonky."



"There's a right barney going on."

A noisy quarrel, a scuffle or slight fight, an argument, a rowdy party, or a crowd of people. The term derives from the proper name Barney, a contraction of Barnabus, common among 19th century Irish settlers and hence its association with the Irish and their stereotypical exuberant temperament. Barney is also used as an adjective meaning unfair or crooked, especially by prearrangement.

U.S. Translation
"There's a rumble brewing."

Natalie's notes
Again, something Karen says. "They were having a bit of a barney." Tee hee.

Belt up
Verb (intransitive--which I don't know what means in regular people's English, let alone the Queen's English--and me, a writer!)

"Oh for pity's sake, do belt up!"

To be quiet, especially when forced to do so; a request or command to cease talking. The phrase has numerous synonyms: shut up, shut your face, shut it, button it, cut your cackle, dry up, pipe down, and more recently, turn it up, leave it out, wrap up, etc.

U.S. Translation

"Can it! Give it a rest! Put a lid on it!"

Natalie's notes
I really like saying "Shut your cake hole!" instead. You can also substitute pie, as in, "Shut your pie hole!" for a little variety.

And my all-time favorite phrase, and it's not even in the deck of cards: Big girl's blouse. I can't even write it without laughing.

"Don't be such a big girl's blouse."

A weakling; an ineffectual person. The expression originated in the north of England in the 1960s and was popularized by northern-based televion programmes such as the sitcom Nearest and Dearest (1968-72), featuring Hylda Baker and Jimmy Jewel as brother and sister Nellie and Eli Pledge who inherit a pickle-bottling factory.

And now, after you read this, your assignment is to go out and use one of these phrases in your everyday life and report back here on what you said, how you used it, and how people responded. Eamonn used to do that to me when we first met. I'll never forget going into the office and using the term "kick up," as in a fuss was going to be made. "There's going to be a kick up if we don't get this pricing done by 3pm." People thought I was nuts.

And rightly so.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What Unemployed People Do When You're Not Looking

(I have no idea why the sound didn't upload.)

"Are you actively seeking employment?"

Um, yes?

As of yesterday, Eamonn is unemployed again. It's the nature of the beast in this economy when you're a carpenter. It seems to be causing me more angst than Eamonn. He seems remarkably relaxed.

In fact, with some new snow, we decided to go skiing today. As you can see.

This little clip is was taken in an area at Beaver Creek called Stone Creek Meadows. It's part of one of my favorite runs, Rose Bowl.

Anyway, about the unemployment. We were discussing different home projects he could accomplish while unemployed. I was getting kind of excited about some of them.

In fact, I suggested that he start some sort of demolition project in the house. That always seems to guarantee he'll get work--right after he starts tearing things up.

Then we got home and he already has some irons in the fire for work. Which is great and exciting and eases my mind about some purchases I recently made, but that are inappropriate for the wife an unemployed carpenter.

I think my Honey Do list is going up in smoke.

But that's a good thing.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Random Questions for the Day

With one small exception that I will complete tonight, I just finished a big work deadline. Now I'm pretty much mentally out of it. And physically out of it. I have the cold the boys had last week. Many times when one of them gets a cold I can keep the other one from getting it and can also keep myself from getting it. It requires a lot of obsessive compulsive handwashing on everyone's part, which also causes my hands to crack open and bleed in a very unattractive manner, but I'm a martyr like that and am OK with it.

So I was sitting here in the wake of my procrastination, which is what got me into this state to begin with, and I began pondering what I will tackle on my to do list now that I'm not frantically chasing a deadline. I then became distracted by my own wandering thoughts.

Happens all the time.

Because I'm simple that way. And easily distracted.

What was I saying?

I think I was going to talk about random questions for today, but frankly, I've forgotten what they are. Because over the course of the 5 minutes I've been sitting here trying to remember where they are, I've had to: admire Lego creations; endure questions from someone about why I didn't wash his hockey gear last night and I had to point out to this person that I told him to leave the items out to be washed, but that didn't happen so the result is re-wearing your hockey gear; take a moment to ponder how I put the same menu item on our meal calendar twice this week by mistake causing a logistical issue with ingredients for tonight; consider how mean it would be to make my son walk to hockey--I feel too sick and tired to get up go anywhere, even in the car. I don't think I can heave that heavy hockey bag into the car.

I then suddenly spent some time shopping for flights to England. Not that we're going. I just had the urge to window shop and daydream, and probably procrastinate folding laundry.

I felt lazy and didn't fix my kids a healthy snack. I let them eat Bugles (yes, they still make them and they're pretty darn tasty) that were leftover from a class project to make a topographical map of Colorado. The Bugles served as the Continental Divide. I would post a picture, but when I upload it, Blogger keeps turning it sidewise. Very annoying.

I thought about what we will be eating for dinner tonight and how I really haven't eaten very healthfully this past week. Hence, the cold, I'm guessing. I have no desire to force vegetables on anyone, including myself, this evening.

I tried to remember when the last time was I had a shower. I think it was Saturday. Maybe Friday. It's not pretty either way.

Became slightly overwhelmed at the number of school/sports/fundraising activities on the horizon that need my attention. They will take up all of my free time until the next magazine starts. Angst.

I'm about to doze off typing this--I'm that tired and this post is that boring.

Must run. I have to muster the energy to make Declan walk to the rink now.