Friday, November 27, 2009

Flip-side

On the flip-side of our misfortunate year, I have to admit that I have insert: gasp! learned an important lesson from the loss of our little girl.

I mean, I could have done without the lesson, and much rather be holding her, but hey, that's not the way things went..so, whatever.

What did we Zentils learn?

Good Question.

We learned many things, but most importantly, I learned that we, as a couple, have what it takes to survive a personal tragedy. We learned that life goes on ( although differently), and that we are, and always will be okay.

We're resiliant.
We're strong.
We're living.

The road of a babyloss parent is not an easy one. As I have blogged many times before, there's not always a rhyme or reason for why one day is one of acceptance, and the next, grief...Situations which we wouldn't expect to affect us, might..or might not...depending on the day. I've read and heard so many times about marriages crumbling under the stresses produced by the loss of a child, or loved one, and although I never put any stock into it before, I do realize that NZ and I have really worked together to understand and accept one another during the tough days.

I'm thankful for all the typical things we should be thankful for..food, shelter, family, employment....but most importantly, I am thankful for the lesson that we have learned fairly early-on in our marriage...We are a couple that can survive and trudge through the stress of life changes and still come out loving each other more than before.

I'm thankful that something heartwarming came from something heartbreaking.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kitchen's closed

Sorry Mr. Coon & neighbor kitty (yes Mimi, I'm talkin' to you)...

Kitchen is closed.


After a couple years of sharing Beav's gourmet Felidae, we've had enough. We already took the liberty of removing our indoor/outdoor cat door, thus making our beloved, Beaver...an outdoor kitty..which still breaks my heart. ( nevermind the other reason for his outdoor status being that he was using the sofas as scratching posts..it's much easier to blame you hoodlums instead).


We're now quite confident that we have you outsmarted.


Look what NZ found at Harbor Freight...the most amazing "coon proof" locks, ever.


So, I'd suggest you just give up the fight, and move on over to the East side...cause you're no match for these locks....suckas!!!...and don't even pretend you haven't tried to crack em...cause I see your claw marks everywhere.


Coons=Loss

Zentil's =Win

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My addiction


Thanks to my Sister and BFF's for fueling my addiction just a little bit more.


I celebrated my 32nd Birthday this week (if you call spending your birthday sitting in jury duty "celebrating"...) and received many nice gifts, cards and well wishes from friends & family far and wide.


Even though my day was spent sitting on my a$$ at the courthouse, I got a grand surprise by my grandparents, who decided to join my sister and I for my lunch break. Grams & Gramps got their first taste of a Jersey Mike's sub sandwich while we basked in the sun and caught up with one another.


My sister kicked off my Birthday "week" with a vanilla cake with chocolate icing and light blue fondant last Sunday, NZ baked me a sour cream coffee cake ( from scratch!!!!) thus continuing his tradition of baking my birthday cake every year...and one of my BFF's just ended my Birthday week by mailing me a batch of chocolate chip cookie bars ..which is quite impressive considering she just started Nursing school .


And apparently, my friends are enablers.


My gifts all revolve around feeding my addiction....
...to baking.



I can't wait to have a project so I can try out making gumpaste flowers, and modeling MMF ("marshmallow fondant" for the non-bakers out there), and dusting them with the edible glitter dust!



So, let this be a fair warning..if anyone calls the show,"Intervention" on me, all ya'll who bought me baking tools will be sitting on that couch with me and will be labeled"enablers". haha.




Love you all!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A family in need

I've already posted this on face.book. However, I know that my blog reaches many lurkers out there, and I would hate for Annie to miss an opportunity to gain some more leads on getting the treatment she needs.. Her husband went to college with me, and is the cousin of my ex-husband and also the cousin of my longtime friend John & his wife, Liz.

Please read and contact the emails listed in the letter if you know of anyone, or anything that could have potential to get her the help she needs.. since chemo may further compromise her lung capacity.

She & her family are interested in possible clinical trials or any additional ideas for treatment that may be available to her. Family has been recommended to research Annie's options and assist her in determining the best course of action. If anybody knows of any expert specialists in the field of Melanoma please forward. Time is of the essence.

Please contact Levi: lcodysftsi@sbcglobal.net or Perice: pericesibley@aol.com. Medical records are on hand & can be provided asap as needed. Thank you.

October 31, 2009

To anyone who can assist or knows someone who can assist:

My name is Annie Leinen; I’m 28 years old and have been married to Michael Leinen for 6-1/2 years. We have two adorable boys, Craigy (3) and Cody (18 months), and have been expecting our third baby boy, Colton Michael, whose due date was January 17th, 2010.

Back in early September I was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia in both lungs and my husband had to use vacation time and reduce his work hours to take care of our kids. Over the past two months I’ve been in and out of hospitals trying to find proper treatment for my lungs. My Community Hospital biopsied a lymph node under my arm and the diagnosis came back as malignant melanoma. Upon their recommendation that I transfer to a specialty hospital, my brothers drove me to Stanford Medical Center in Northern California for the best NICU care and diagnosis of my lung condition. It was there that a bronchio lung biopsy was performed and I was shocked to be told that my shortness of breath and persistent cough was due to stage four melanoma that has metastasized to my lungs. A significant portion of both lungs have been compromised making breathing difficult.

Our baby, Colton, who was just hit 28 weeks, was delivered early yesterday morning, Friday October 30, by c-section and will be in the NICU for some time. Meanwhile, I have been given a few days to recover and then I am faced with deciding what treatment options may be best to slow or halt the growth of melanoma that has spread throughout both lungs & has been cutting off my breathing.

My husband has flown back to southern California and is driving our two other children up to spend time with me over the weekend. I have been told that time may be short if my breathing becomes any more compromised.

I am requesting help from anybody who can assist my family with information on treatment options or clinical trials that I may qualify for. I wish to stay in Northern California to enjoy the time I have with my children and family but am willing to explore whatever option are available that may improve my condition and give me time with my children.

My most recent medical diagnosis summaries & records from Stanford Medical are on hand.

Thank you for any assistance that you can provide. And especially thank you for your prayers.

Sincerely,

Annie Leinen

Brie, the pretzel-maker


There's a cute kids book by Eric Carle titled, " Walter the Baker", in which he is ordered by the Duke and Dutchess to make a soft tasty roll out of one piece of dough, that the sun can shine through 3 times, or be banished from the Kingdom.


For all my friends with kids out there, this book is a must-have. My pre-school class LOVED it. We followed up by making pretzels, which of course, with 14 sets of little hands "helping", they turned out anything but pretzel like...more like 3 lumps of dough, but they were sooooo delicious!


My neighbor's daughter has been on my case to bake with her, and so last night while baking store bought cookie dough ( ick!I'm such a baking-snob) that she brought over, I showed her how to search recipes on goo.gle. She though pretzels would be fun. I agreed.


Well, unbeknownst to her, I dreamt about them last night and woke up and made them without her. shhhhhhh! I know, I'm terrible!


But before anyone jumps on me for not including her, I had to do a trial-run, right?? I mean, it's been 6 years since I last taught pre-school, so I'm a bit rusty in the 'ol bread making department.


Anyhow, I made the most delicious pretzels this morning, and am now confident in my abilities to teach lil Miss A. how to make them as well.


So, we'll make them next weekend, unless by then she decides that making carmel-something-or-0ther (her first find on her goog.le search) sounds like a better option.


I am excited to teach her the way around a kitchen. I think kids should learn how to cook, and do laundry, and iron. At an appropriate age, of course. Domestic abilities do not require talent, they're learned. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I find a lot of my self worth in knowing my way around an oven, ironing board and vacuum cleaner.
As requested..THE recipe..
INGREDIENTS:
4 tsp active dry yeast ( I used 2 packets of Fleishcman's rapid-rise)
1 tsp. white sugar
1 1/4 c. hot water (110' F)
5 c all purpose flour
1/2 c. white sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 TBSP vegetable oil
1/2 c baking soda
4 c hot water
1/4 c kosher or sea salt
1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1 1/4 cupswarm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
2. In large bowl ( I used my kitchenaid mixer with dough hook today). Mix flour, 1/2 c sugar and salt. Make a well in the center; add yeast mixture and oil. Knead till smooth (7-8 minutes). If dough is too dry, add water 1 tsp at a time. Lightly oil a large bowl. Put dough ball in oiled bowl and coat with a layer of oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 2 hours in a warm area.
3. Preheat oven to 450' F. In large bowl, dissolve baking soda in warm water.
4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 12 balls. Roll each piece out into a rope, and cross ends to make pretzel shape. Dip each pretzel in the baking soda bath and transfer to a greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt.
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until browned.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Blunt honesty vs. sugar coated

I've had a writer's block for the past week or so. Everytime I start to blog, I go back and re-read what thoughts have spewed out of my brain, and I come off sounding like a spoiled brat. Like, "it's-my-pity-party-and-I'll-cry-if-I-want-to" sorta posts. I have continually claimed that the last thing I want is pity, yet I am the biggest culprit of this crime. Yes, I am calling myself out.

These days I am two people.

I'm a lady in public and (noooo, get your mind out of the gutter) a heartbroken mother at home, or in my car, or the shower, for that matter. I'm doing better. I feel like ( and NZ may correct me if I am wrong) I have a better grip on my emotions, on MOST DAYS. Not all, but most. I feel like I am able to handle social situations with a stiffer upper lip than a month ago.

However, this being said, I still can not look at babies at the mall, grocery store, Doctor's offices...Those cute babies I used to give the "OMG, s/he's so adorable!" to, now get passed by with my blinders on. Seeing them just reminds me that our little girl is not here with us. Logically, I know that these babies and their parents have no personal vendetta out against me, nor are any of them responsible for my inability to seperate their luck from my misfortune. Let me tell you, it's a tough pill to swallow to come to the realization that I am the grinchy one.

I've always loved babies. I still do. The vice grip that is around my heart just needs to let off a little and I will come back around and be able to share my love again. I know the old me is in here somewhere.

But the blunt honesty of it all for me is that I am still sorting out my feelings and grief. There are days I don't know who I am...am I strong or am I weak? Survivor or a victim? I think it's a common feeling amongst us babyless mamas.

Sometimes I worry that I may never snap out of it. I worry I may lose some of my friends that have kids, due to my struggle to communicate. I whole heartedly admit to going M.I.A. on a few friends over the past few months. My friends care, they are the best. But some of them have very good reasons to be happy these days, and I feel like I have nothing to offer our friendship until I come out from under this cloud. Why rain on their parades with my ho-hum, don't-have- any-good-news-attitude?

Six months ago, I was expecting to be dressing a baby in her very own Halloween costume, and buying those cute little Christmas dresses..I thought I would have a 2 month old starting to smile & maybe even starting to hold her head up. My reality is anything but.

Instead I see 6 months as a lifetime. That joke about the biological clock ticking...?

Yeah, that's me. Tick. Tick.Tick.

It's been 6 months, and I wake up day after day reminding myself, I'm alive and well. Trying to be positive without getting my hopes up and peeing on too many sticks each month in anticipation as to whether this is "the month" we start all over again...Then, trying not to get down when only one line shows, and we have to pin our hopes on the next month.

Positivity is the key to success, or so they say, but will it open the door of opportunity for us ( screw windows of opportunity... we need DOORS..or what the heck, FLOODGATES)?

So I suppose I could have just written a post about how life is grand, and everything happens for a reason, and all those cliches that people seem to like to throw out there at we parents who've experienced the loss of our children...and act like I've accepted it all, and we're only looking forward, but that would be the biggest load of Sugarcoated $hit ever.

Instead, I choose to be bluntly honest and say that it is what it is, I am what I am...and someday I hope to be who I was again, before the loss of my babies.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cowabunga dude!

NZ's dad shot this a few weeks ago down at one of NZ's fave surf spots.

video

Friday, November 6, 2009

Something special


I have a friend.

An old friend.

We haven't talked in ages, but we attended the same elementary school, high school, and college. We grew up down the street from one another, and moving into Montecito as a 5th grade girl, I was thankful for a friend like her. Moving for any kid is never easy, but she and I had many afternoons of cookie baking, building bamboo forts , rollerskating in the burned down lot across from my house...and my favorite memory..shot-gunning cola cans on the rooftop of her parent's home.


This old friend of mine has come back into my life, in a very special way.


Re-united through Face.book ( who isn't on that thing these days?), we shared in the excitement of finding out we were both due in September with babies. As the months passed, I didn't communicate a whole lot with her unless I saw a new status update on her bun in the oven..


Imagine my surprise to see a Facebook update from her.. just after Independence day, that she had the same expectant mother's nightmare as I had just gone through.


How could it be?


I mean, I was supposed to be the one to bear the losses for all my friends. I am the person who is usually on the wrong side of the odds..you know, if there's a 1% chance of something happening, I am the 1% it happens to...


But, my dear childhood friend and I are now reunited through the losses of our daughters. We lost our girls within 8 weeks of one another. I can not say enough good things about how much of a support she has been for me.. She gets me. And pretty much anything she says, I know she 100% completely understands what we're both going through.


I decided that we both need to have something to keep around during the holidays so that our girly girls can be with our hearts...I found a couple of Ornaments at Kohl's one day and knew that this was how I was going to remember our baby at Xmas for years on out. It's simple, cute and very special to me. While standing in front of these cute little ornaments, sitting right next to "D" for our daughter's name, was an equally cute "E" for her daughter.


So, this Christmas, our little girls will be with us, and maybe one of these days we can climb up on her parent's roof and shot gun cola and talk about our babies without feeling like we shouldn't.


She really is something special.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Football fanatics

So, we have a group of friends who are also football fanatics..only... they happen to root for the wrong team ..I mean, is there really any other football team other than the Steelers?

Anyhow, we love them even though they're Broncos fans, and there's a bet riding on Monday's game.

Loser wears the winning team's jersey to work the next week.

Let's just hope Julie heads to work in a Polamalu jersey rather than NZ in an Elway one.

Here are the cakeballs I made to get the heckling started...these are headed to work with NZ tomorrow.






Let's go Steelers, let's go!