Thursday, December 20, 2007

Could be worse, Could be better

"Pink Tulip" -6x6 watercolor on clayboard

I waited, I worried, I stressed out, I couldn't sleep. It was 2 months of nerve-racking waiting to find out if Jimmy's Brain tumor is growing. Tuesday was MRI day and Wednesday we went to brain tumor clinic to find out if the 2 "spots" that showed up on his October MRI were tumor growth. Well the two spots were "stable" *WooHoo!* but they are still there. However, There is a new, large "area of concern" where there is a large amount of scar tissue that is changing in a way that scar tissue should not be changing. Jimmy's team of doctors are very concerned that it could turn into tumor *Ugh* So they Want to do another 3 months of WWW (Watch, Wait & Worry) before they do another MRI to see if things are growing or changing. I guess I had just better get used to this. I guess it could have been worse news, it also could have been better.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My Best Christmas Ever and My Worst Christmas Ever

Poinsettia 6x6" watercolor on clayboard

My WORST Christmas ever ... that is easy, 2 years ago Christmas 2005, My 4 year old son was battling brain cancer, gone blind and had just finished his radiation treatments 2 weeks before Christmas. I was determined to have a very happy Christmas anyway it was a wonderful day until dinner. During dinner my father-in-law said he was not feeling well and was going to leave, he then passed out and fell through a large window by our front door. Thankfully my husband was able to do CPR long enough to keep his dad alive until the ambulance arrived. My father-in-law died shortly after he reached the emergency room less then 10 minutes away. It turns out he had an abdominal aortic aneurism; It was not my cooking that did him in. I went to the emergency room to comfort my husband and found my dad in the ER in the room right next to my father-in-law, My dad had come to be with my husband while I was finding someone to watch my kids on Christmas night. He had not been feeling well so he did not come to dinner and was so sick with pneumonia when he got to the hospital the doctors insisted that he stay there.

My BEST Christmas ever was 2 years ago: Christmas 2005, we had found out my 4 year old son had a massive brain tumor in August. After the first attempt to remove the tumor we were told that the tumor could not be gotten out and there was nothing they could do for him. After a second surgery to remove the tumor we were told that he would be paralyzed on the right side. Three surgeries and 33 rounds of radiation later we had no more tumor and my child was not paralyzed, we had been so blessed. We were back home after practically living at the hospital for over 3 months. My parents were back after being gone for 6 months. We had very generous anonymous gifts left at our door including a Turkey with all the trimmings a few days earlier. I was so grateful for all the love and support of my friends, neighbors and family. Just as we were finishing dinner my father-in-law had an aneurism, thankfully the kids had just gone downstairs to play with their new toys and did not even know what had happened until later, I am grateful my father-in-law did not die far away, all alone in his home, and he did not die while driving; He died one of the few times a year when he could have been surrounded by his family. He died with his son by his side. My dad, who would never go to the hospital for himself went to the hospital to help comfort my husband until I could get there. Thankfully the doctors noticed he was so ill they were able to give him the treatment he otherwise would not have gotten. When I got home that evening I found that some neighbors had come over and done a very neat job of boarding up the window by my front door. They had given up their Christmas night to help without even being asked. It took me a few days to even find out who did it. I don't think I have ever felt so loved and blessed.

And so it happens that my best Christmas ever was also my worst Christmas, It is all in how you look at it."

Monday, December 10, 2007

The best things about Chicago

Alexander Calder's Flimingo

Sorry I haven't written for a while again, We went on a two week trip to Chicago, and I have been not feeling well. sometimes after I travel I have dizzy spells for weeks or even months afterward I have never been able to find out why.

My Hubby had a big RSNA (radiology) conference in Chicago for a week and we also spent many days visiting his family that live in the area (Thanks for the Thanksgiving Dinner, Uncle Butter & Aunt Margarine!). I was a good trip, his company paid for the hotel so all I had to pay to go along was my airfare.

There are some things I love about Chicago, I LOVE the Art Institute I spent two solid days there just looking around I could have spent more time there but I was limited to just 2 days *sigh*. Chicago is an art city they have lots of spectacular outdoor sculpture and fabulous architecture. My favorite is Alexander Calder's Flamingo sculpture. I love the way that the bright red color and the curves stand out in contrast to the dull grey-black boxes of the city. The food there is so good I even like the hot dogs at Portillos, the only hot dogs in the world I actually like. Pizzeria Due is delicious and cheesecake, need I say more!! yum

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Doctors consider small changes to be stable

"Fighting " 12x16 painting by my blind 4 year old Jimmy

Jimmy is doing pretty good right now, We are just waiting for his next MRI the second week of December to see if whatever it is in his head is growing or not. If they grow then they are tumors if they don't grow then they are just scar tissue.

Doctors are interesting people, they consider a change of 20% or less to be "stable" so you could actually have a slow growing tumor be "stable" and think it is not growing when it is actually growing, just very slowly. That is why we always insist that the radiologist check his MRIs against several scans that we have done in the past, not just the most recent scans. Well it seems to be the same with Opthamologists. Jimmy went to Dr. Hoffman last week and we were told yet again that there was no change in his vision. When I asked specifically what his vision was he told us that he still can't see out of his right eye and his left eve is 20/125 with peripheral vision loss and limited color perception. his vision used to be 20/200 I asked him why he considered this no change. He said last time his vision was 20/150 and 20/125 is not really much different. Jimmy's vision has been slowly improving over the past 2 years but not enough to be considered a change when tested every 3 months. The good news is that his vision is slowly improving when we were told that it would probably never get any better. I'm rooting for those optic nerves to grow!

Monday, November 12, 2007

You can have anything you want

Sailing 5"X7" watercolor

My husband took me to San Francisco a couple of months ago to visit some of his relatives. While we were there some of his cousins took us sailing on the bay. It was the highlight of the trip! It was so relaxing. I really needed the break. While we were sailing I took t little picture of a sailboat. I painted it last night.

While we were in San Francisco my husband, took me into a jewelery store and said "what do you want? I'll buy you anything you want." (he was either feeling really rich or he knows me too well) I looked around for a few minutes and told him I did not want anything. It's not that I don't like jewelery, I love it! I just at that I really didn't want anything more. I have all the important stuff in life and I am quite content with what I have. Sometimes possessions can seem like a burden. The gift he gave me is: now I have a real cool story I can brag about to my friends about what a cool husband I have.

Now if he had offered me art supplies.....

Friday, November 9, 2007

Work in progress - kitchen tile mural

Here is the beginning sketch for a tile mural to go above a kitchen sink, The client I am doing this for wanted a window over her sink that she could look out of, since that was not possible I am doing a tile mural of a window for the backsplash above her kitchen sink. Her kitchen is all done in fall colors, so I have tried to incorporate them as much as possible. I added a little finch on the windowsill looking out just for interest. and the mountains are the ones she would have seen from the neighborhood she grew up in. this mural will be very large - 35 tiles! It will take a long time to paint because of its size and how many times I will have to fire it in the kiln. as a result this will be a long drawn out work in progress. but I'll post more images of this project as it comes along.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Autumn Reflections 3.5"x2.5" Card

I can't believe it is November already! This time of year always makes me feel so melancholy. Fall is kind of a sad season smoshed in there between my beloved summer and wonderful winter. The leaves are falling from the trees that always makes me think of endings and goodbyes, the birds have flown away, and it is beginning to feel a little chilly, I even have to start wearing shoes again. On the bright side Christmas is around the corner! I usually try to hold back on the Christmas music & decorations until after Thanksgiving but I think I'll give in to my Christmas lust and play a few carols today, and while I'm at it I'll wish for a little snow.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Whats good about having a sibling with cancer

"Fort San Juan" -5x7 watercolor

Ok, so I read my last post, how depressing! Now I'll list some of the lessons my children have learned as a result of their brother having a brain tumor.

Compassion: my children have learned to be more compassionate since this all began. My sons all shaved their heads when Jimmy had to have his head shaved before surgery. My Oldest boy (then 14) has become a friend and comfort for three kids at his school whose parents were battling and loosing to cancer.

Giving: My sons have all seen how generous people have been to them with gifts and acts of service and it has made them want to help others in similar ways. They know how very much the generosity of others has helped them and they want to do the same for those who may be in need. They are more aware of the suffering of others and they want to do something about it.

Gratitude: they have learned to be grateful for the little things in life, instead of being jealous of Jimmy's new Game boy DS, his brothers are talking about how glad they are he has it and how cool it will be when they have enough money saved up so they have one and can play against each other.

Tolerance: My boys have seen their little brother unable to walk or talk after surgeries. They have seen him half bald from radiation with ugly scars and radiation burns criss-crossing his head. They have seen him having to wear a helmet all the time because half his skull was missing. They have helped him up after he fell down stairs because he could not see. I know my boys would never make fun of someone because of their appearance or disability.

I truly do think that the experiences that my sons have had with their brothers brain tumor has made them better people.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Why it stinks be a sibling of a kid with cancer

Yupo Hybiscus 8x10 watercolor

We got a call from Primary Children's Medical Center on Friday. Someone had tickets to the Hanna Montana Concert that they wanted to donate to kids from the hospital. They asked if Jimmy would like to go, of course Jimmy was excited and said yes! I was not even sure he knew who Hanna Montana was but he immediately started singing "Best of Both Worlds" and dancing around. He was given 2 tickets for the show (for him and a parent) he took his dad. while he was there they fed him very well and they gave him a Nintendo gameboy DS which is very cool for him, he is stuck on the bus to and from his school (Utah School for the Blind) for over two hours a day.

However, it is not so cool for his brothers. Jimmy's two oldest brothers have really been wanting a Nintendo DS for over year now, my 13 year old has even been mowing lawns all summer and saving his money and almost has enough to buy a DS, and Jimmy comes home from a free concert with one. It does cause a little resentment and jealousy. It also causes a little paternal distress. Thankfully Jimmy announced that this DS is for everyone to share, he just wants it for the bus ride and everyone else can take turns playing it. He is a pretty cool kid sometimes.

It just reminds me of how hard it is to bee the sibling of a kid with cancer. First of all when your sibling has cancer there is all the jealousy from the gifts and attention your sibling gets, when my boys go trick or treating people will give hand fulls of candy to Jimmy and just one piece to his brothers. My older boys can usually understand this but it is really hard for my younger boys. Then there is all the worry and sorrow you feel for your sibling you have to watch him suffer and there is nothing you can do about it. Also the extra responsibility, my older boys suddenly had to become "substitute parents" when their Mom and Dad where at the Hospital all the time and they couldn't complain to their parents because their parents were't home. When we were home we were so emotionally drained that we Were no good. My boys started making Jokes about mom crying all the time and I thought I had hidden it so very well. Then when your sibling has cancer you don't know what is going on, we thought we had been trying to keep our kids informed but we were also trying to protect them, so we didn't tell them when we thought Jimmy wasn't going to make it. My older boys somehow know we were not telling them everything.

How does a kid handle something like that? Well my oldest two boys, then 13 and 11 years old went from being straight A students to D and F students. My oldest started having migraine headaches from the stress and my second oldest started worrying about the future, constantly asking if there was there something we didn't tell him. My 7 year old went from being the most generous caring child to being mean, spiteful and angry all the time. Jimmy's brothers are finally settling back into their lives and getting back to normal. So when we are faced with this possible recurrence one of my first thoughts was to worry about what this will do to Jimmy's brothers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Finding Happiness

White Tulip 2.5"x3.5"

When Jimmy had his MRI last week the radiologist asked us to come into his office where he showed us images from Jimmys MRI. He told us as gently as possible that he thought Jimmy has had a re-occurrence of his brain tumor. I was sick and in shock, as I stood up to leave I said "Thank You" the Doctor looked at me rather strangely I suppose he had never been thanked for telling someone such devastating news before, I thought about it, did I say thank you because it is a habit? Yes, probably, but did I mean it? yes, I did. It has to be a very difficult job telling people what will be possibly the worst news they will ever hear in their life, and he took special care and made an effort to lesson the blow as much as he could.

So I have been thinking about gratitude lately. I believe it is one of the keys to being happy. every time I'm feeling depressed I start thinking about what there is to be grateful for and it changes my perspective. I'm grateful for the last two years I have had with my little Jimmy, when his brain tumor was diagnosed we did not think he was going to make it. I am grateful for the kindness of friends who are always there when I need them, neighbors who went grocery shopping for me when Jimmy was in the ICU, left anonymous gifts at our door, and babysat at a moments notice when I had to run to the emergency room. I am grateful for the kindness of strangers, people who we have never met who sent us on a make-a wish trip to disney world, people who donate toys and teddy bears to Primary Childrens Medical Center so there will be something for my children to play with. I am grateful that everything we have been through has made us a stronger, more compassionate family.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Attitude adjustment about life

"Fragrant Memory" 8x10 Watercolor

I have been totally depressed, I had that nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach, unable to sleep. My husband and I took the day off to go to the temple, I really needed some comfort. I was so filled with anguish and worry, not only for my little Jimmy but also for his brothers. Siblings are the silent victims of childhood cancer, but that is another story.

As my husband and I were talking he told me something that put it all into perspective, It was exactly what I needed to hear. (did I ever tell you that I married a genius) He told me that we have 2 months to wait to find out if this is a re-occurrence of Jimmy's brain tumor, If we spent the next two months worrying and scared and miserable and it is a re-occurrence then we had just waisted precious time with him. If it was not a re-occurrence then we have spent all that time miserable for nothing. He was absolutely right! We never know what the future will bring, any of our loved ones could be taken at any time, the trick is to enjoy what we have while we have it.

I am grateful for the last two years I have been given with Jimmy, there was a time when we did not think he would make it. I will remember to treasure all the moments with everyone I love and truly enjoy what I have been given. So today I will go and laugh with my children and bask in the joy of being their mother.

here is a poem from another brain tumor parent

To My child...

Just for this morning, I am going to smile when I see your face and laugh when I feel like crying. Just for the morning, I will let you choose what you want to wear and smile and say how perfect it is. Just for this morning I am going to step over the laundry and pick you up and take you to the park to play. Just for this morning I will leave the dishes in the sink and let you teach me how to put that puzzle of yours together. Just for this afternoon I will unplug the telephone and keep the computer off and sit with you in the backyard and blow bubbles. Just for this afternoon I will not yell once, not even a tiny grumble when you scream and whine for icecream, and I will buy you one if the icecream truck comes by. Just for this afternoon, I won't worry about what you are going to be when you grow up, or second guess every decision I have made where you are concerned. Just for this afternoon, I will let you help me bake cookies, and I won't stand over you trying to fix them. Just for this afternoon, I will take us to McDonald's and buy us both a Happy Meal so you can have both toys. Just for this evening, I will hold you in my arms and tell you a story about how you were born and how much I love you. Just for this evening, I will let you splash in the tub and not get angry. Just for this evening I will let you stay up late while we sit on the porch and count all the stars. Just for this evening I will snuggle beside you for hours and miss my favorite t.v. shows. Just for this evening when I run my fingers through your hair as you pray, I will simply be grateful that God has given me the greatest gift ever given. I will think about the mothers and fathers who are searching for their missing children, the mothers and fathers who are visiting their children's graves instead of their bedrooms, and mothers and fathers who are in the hospital watching their children suffer senselessly. And when I kiss you goodnight I will hold you a little tighter, a little longer. It is then, that I will thank God for you, and ask him for nothing. Except one more day...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bad News

Did you ever feel you woke up in your worst nightmare?

We have had some bad news. My little 6 year old Jimmy's MRI showed 2 "spots." His last MRI, 4 months ago, showed 1 teeny tiny spot they thought was scar tissue or something. His MRI this week showed the same spot still tiny, but bigger and another spot as well.

It is possible that this is just scar tissue and the MRI caught it just right to make it seem bigger and it is possible he got more contrast to make it seem brighter. The radiologist seemed concerned, the oncologist was very reassuring, but still wanted to do another MRI in two months instead of 4 months. His neurosurgeon Dr. Brockmyer, is out until Monday, I really want his opinion on this, he is almost painfully honest in his opinion but, I know he will tell me the truth and not sugar coat it. I feel that is what I need right now I need to know. That is one thing I can't have for at least 2 months.

If it is a recurrence it is very bad news. We can't do radiation, He has already had his lifetime maximum of radiation. And chemo does not usually have much of an effect on ependymomas.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Oh yeah, and the art show

Oriental Lilly watercolor on Yupo

Wow, I have been so busy and stressed out I forgot to mention I have my first solo art show!
Come and have a peek at my stuff!

Ruth Tyler Art Nook - 8280 S. 75 West, Midvale UT - From Sept 1 - Oct 31, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

How I spent my summer vacation

Now to catch you up on all the stuff we did this summer...
we never did take a family vacation this year but we managed to spend some time together.

At the beginning of the summer we looked at our calendar and discovered that we did not have one single weekend that someone wasn't busy, no time for a family vacation! What we did do is... Between our four sons age 6 to 15 we had 10 assorted overnight week long summer camps, scout camps, etc. (Camp Hobe: for kids with cancer and their siblings, was their favorite) a church family overnight camp out, week-long pioneer trek for the 3 oldest family members, Ducky Derby: fundraiser for Make-a-Wish, Ride for Kids: Pediatric brain tumor foundation fundraiser, A golf tourniment fundraiser for Primary Childrens Medical Center, a family reunion, our 25 year high school reunion that we were in charge of, My brothers wedding, I somehow got put in charge of the reception. Our flooded basement we have completely redone, and assorted summer school, swimming lessons, Dr. appointments, MRIs etc. The kids have been back in school for a month and I still feel tired.
Jimmy with the pirate eyepatch at the Ducky Derby
Jimmy with local sportscaster Rob Zundell and the Jazz Bear at the Golf tournament.

Monday, October 8, 2007

It's about time!

yeah yeah, I know I've been a slacker, I havent written for EVER. Sorry, but really I have a good excuse, or a good story anyway.

We went out of town in July to the middle of Wyoming to do a little handcart pioneer reinactment. We were having lots of fun camping in the dust and pulling handcarts in the 100 degree weather. When we got home there was a big surprise: the pipe under my kitchen sink had broken and it flooded my basement. My parents were checking on our house descovered the flooded home, they called a disaster cleanup company, and boy did they clean up. We came home to an extremely empty basement-the basement celing had fallen in, so there was no celing, all the carpeting was gone as well as some walls. Everything that was in our basement was now on our lawn, computers desks, all my art supplies, TV, all the clothes from the laundry room, everyting from the storage, furniture, etc. Because of this I was without a computer for about a month, and by the time I checked my website I foud that my domain name registration had expired and someone else had bought my domain name, so now I have a new studio, a new basement, and a new website:

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Here is a doodle I drew, I just started doodling and one thing leads to another. It is kind of interesting to see where my mind was going. I sat down during my sons swimming lessons and just doodled. as you can see my mind does not stay on one subject for long. It started with the dog, then he had to have a dog house, the tiles on the roof looked like waves in the ocean...there should be a fish in the water and maybe someone is fishing, but the worm escaped... you can see where it goes from there.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The War in Arizona

"Making Sand Angels" ACEO 2.5" x 3.5"

I was waiting in line at Wendy's with Jimmy at lunchtime yesterday when in walked two soldiers in full camouflage uniform.

Jimmy whispered to me " Why are those guys dressed like soldiers?"

I replied "Because they are soldiers"

He was very impressed. He thought for a moment and then asked me "If they are soldiers then how come they are not fighting the bad guys in the war in Arizona?"

~ I guess my kindergartner needs a lesson in geography

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Jumping Jimminy

"Beehive Hairdo" watercolor ACEO 2.5" x 3.5"

Jimmy just had his 4 month MRI to make sure his brain tumor is not growing back. The days before MRIs are so nerve wracking. It always reminds me of the day we discovered his brain tumor, not a day I like to remember. The time leading up to his MRIs are always filled with sleepless nights and stress filled days. So when we get the MRI done and they tell us it is "stable" we always take the kids out to dinner to celebrate.

Jimmy wanted to go to one of his favorite places, the Pie Pizzeria (He loves the fact that he can write on the walls without getting into trouble) Jimmy was "stirsty" (thirsty), I usually don't let my kids have drinks with caffeine in them, but I let him have a little of my diet coke to drink. We were about halfway through with dinner when Jimmy suddenly got up from his chair. I asked where he was going and he said he needed to jump. He proceeded to stand there and jump up and down about ten times then he sat down. My 13 year old son looked at Jimmy and then back at me and said accusingly "you didn't let him have caffeine did you?"

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Starting Summer

detail of "Jimmy" 12x16 acrylic on canvas

My little Jim is sad because now he is going to be in first grade. He says he doesn't want to be a first grader because "first graders have to do homework". I'm not sure if I should tell him he was already doing homework in kindergarten.

Jim came home from his last day of kindergarten he got off the bus very slowly, instead of being all excited for summer vacation he looked very unhappy. I asked him what was wrong he said he was "school sick" I was concerned and asked what "school sick" was. he told me "you know when you miss your house and your family, that is homesick, school sick is when you miss your friends and teacher."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mother's day breakfast in bed, kindergarten style

french carrots 6x6 hand painted ceramic tile

My little kindergartner has been counting the days until Mother’s Day, he has been telling everyone that he is going to make me breakfast on Mother’s Day. Early on Sunday morning just as I awoke, in walked my little boy with a big plate and a big smile.
In the center of the plate was a carrot. He then ran from the room and returned with a glass of water and a goldfish cracker that he had saved in his pocket from the day before. Then he sat down to watch me “enjoy my breakfast in bed”. As I munched my carrot and sipped my water he proudly bragged to his brothers “now mom won't have to clean up a mess the kitchen”.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

My Son's Brain Tumor Story

In August 2005, I noticed that my 4 year old son, Jimmy could not see very well. Upon closer inspection we discovered that he could see nothing in his right eye and could see very little in his left eye. His pediatrician told me it was probably lazy eye but I should take him to a pediatric ophthalmologist to be sure. I knew it wasn’t lazy eye! I frantically tried to get him into a pediatric ophthalmologist I called all of them in the phone book. But I was told again and again “if his vision loss was not sudden and if he was not having headaches than it was not an emergency”. No one would see him for a month or more. I knew it was an emergency! I knew something was very wrong! I begged for help, but no one would budge, no one would see him. My husband knew an ophthalmologist who was willing to see Jimmy the next day. He wasn’t a pediatric ophthalmologist, but I was willing to take whatever I could get. The doctor who finally saw Jimmy was surprised at the extent of his vision loss, he suspected that it might be something neurological and arranged for an MRI .

We had our bags packed for a two week vacation we were going to take with our four sons, the first two week vacation we have ever had. We were all very excited especially our youngest, Jimmy who loves to go places. On Thursday we had seen an Ophthalmologist about Jimmy’s vision loss. The Ophthalmologist scheduled an MRI for Saturday morning, we had been planning to leave Friday night but we delayed leaving so we could get the MRI done. We left the house and gave our oldest sons a list of chores to be done so we could leave as soon as we got back from Primary Children's Medical Center where the MRI was to be done. I didn’t really think we would be going on the vacation, I kept thinking Jimmy had a brain tumor. When I had asked the doctor he said it could be a thousand different things and not to worry, we could still go on our trip. But all I could think of was a brain tumor.

Jimmy was still in the middle of his MRI when they called us into a different room. As we entered the room there were several pictures of MRIs on the walls, I saw one in the middle of an obviously large brain tumor in a small child’s head and I thought “what ever they say at least I’m not the parent of that child.” I had been extremely stressed and scared all week, so I had been playing a little game in my head. As bad or as worried as I felt I would try to find someone worse off and say to myself “at least I don’t have it as bad as that person.” But, it turns out I was the parent of that child. The Neurosurgeon was there, I don’t know how he got there so fast. He said they would do surgery Sunday, tomorrow morning to try to remove the tumor. He seemed very concerned about it being so vascular. But it looked so easy to me, on the MRI it was just on the other side of his skull. How hard could it be? You just grab it and pull it out. They took Jimmy straight up to ICU they said he could “get real bad real fast” they said he should be having seizures and he should be paralyzed with a tumor that large.

It turns out that small children don’t always complain of headaches when they have a brain tumor, someone should tell all those ophthalmologists that.

Jimmy is a very charismatic child; I’m not just saying that because he is my child, even when compared to his extraordinary brothers, he has a remarkable way of charming all the adults around him. So he quickly became a favorite in the ICU. That night I went home, they don’t usually let parents stay in the ICU. But, Jimmy was doing well and really wanted his dad there so the nurse let dad stay. Jimmy can be very persuasive. My brother had taken my other kids to stay with him, so I came home to an empty house. I have never felt so alone and afraid in my life. I walked into the dark house and just collapsed on the floor sobbing. I did not think I would be able to sleep, but I was exhausted and fell to sleep. I had a dream that after two hours of surgery the doctor came and gave us bad news, when I woke up and it was all I could remember of the dream, I not remember exactly what he said I just remembered it was very bad. I got back to the hospital before 8am Jimmy appeared to be having a great time except he was hungry. He had not eaten anything since Fri. night and they still were not letting him eat. Before they took Jimmy into surgery he began to get upset. I think he could tell I was upset even though I had tried very hard to hide it. He crawled into my arms and fell asleep. They took him into surgery still sleeping from my arms.

The surgical waiting room is very large and very quiet and deserted on a Sunday. We sat there alone in the dark room next to the desk where the receptionist usually sat but there was no one at the desk that day. The surgery was supposed to take 4-6 hours. Someone would call from the O.R. every hour or so to tell us how the surgery was going. We got the first call to tell us that everything was going very well. We got a second call telling us that everything was going very well at about one hour and forty-five minutes into surgery. After that call I finally felt I could relax a little. Two hours into surgery the neurosurgeon walked into the waiting room and told us he could not get the tumor out the tumor was bleeding too badly and if he kept trying Jimmy would die. When my husband asked if Jimmy would live the doctor said “I can’t say”

We spent the next two days in just watching our little boy die. I felt like that is what we were doing, watching him die. 4 year-old Jimmy was being kept in a drug-induced coma. They told us that possibly they would be able to shrink the tumor with chemotherapy but I knew we did not have that kind of time. I kept thinking that there had to be some way to cut off the blood supply to the tumor. It is so frustrating to feel so helpless. We had been asking everyone I knew to pray for Jimmy I felt that was all I could do fast and pray, sometimes that is enough.

On Tuesday the neurosurgeon came in and said “we can’t leave him like this” and told us how he wanted to have a doctor come from LDS Hospital and put a tube through Jimmy’s leg, through his veins and into his brain to try to block off part of the blood supply to the tumor. It was extremely risky; Jimmy’s veins were so small. They scheduled the procedure for the next morning and another brain surgery for that afternoon. The surgery was supposed to take 6-8 hours and they had four neurosurgeons lined up for the operation Jimmy would probably be paralyzed on his right side it may or may not be permanent. It was all very scary stuff.

I went to bed that night and had a dream that the doctor came in after 2 hours of surgery again, only this time the news was good

The procedure in the morning went splendidly. There were two arteries feeding the tumor they were able to block one of the arteries and a bunch of veins coming from the other one. During the brain surgery I remember sitting in the surgery waiting room feeling more anxious than scared, waiting for two hours to be up. I just knew that it was going to be alright. I knew the neurosurgeon would be out in two hours. About two hours later the neurosurgeon was there with a smile on his face. “It was like night and day, I didn’t even have to touch the brain” he said. The anesthesiologist said “it was so easy it was almost boring” another doctor said “it was like the tumor just fell out.” I knew our prayers had been answered.

When we got back to ICU Jimmy’s nurse was literally jumping up and down for joy! she did not know the outcome of the operation, but she knew surgery was over in just two hours and they only used one unit of blood so she knew it had to be good. I told her what happened and she just cried. Jimmy was kept in a coma for 3 more days. I was getting concerned because he had not eaten for more than seven days. They weren’t feeding him I.V. because they were having trouble with his sodium levels. They weren’t feeding with a tube because they were afraid of moving him. I voiced my concern to one of the nurses and she said “It’s ok for them to go without food for a few days, I’ve even seen them go as long as week without food” I pointed out that it had been over a week since he had any food, they had only been counting since the last surgery. We got a feeding tube in and the next day they started letting him wake up. One of the first things they checked is if he could move both sides of his body. He could! Jimmy was not paralyzed! He only had a very small amount of weakness on his right side. When one of the neurosurgeons saw that Jimmy was not paralyzed he just shook his head and said ”how did that happen?” everyone was amazed at how well Jimmy was doing.

Just three days after Jimmy awoke from his coma, I was walking down the hall to Jimmy’s room when one of the nurses saw me and said “good news! It looks like he will be going home today” I thought she had obviously mistaken me for someone else’s mom. I was wrong! they sent Jimmy home that day, after 10 days in a coma and two weeks in the hospital we had him home. He could barely walk 2 steps, he could not remember how to talk but within a month you would not know he ever had these problems.

Jimmy has had two additional surgeries on his little head but is still with us he is doing very well*

*When people ask how Jimmy is doing I “say he is doing very well” I always feel as though I should put an asterisk there. If you had described how Jimmy is doing now to me before we discovered his brain tumor I would never have described it as “doing very well” He is blind, half bald from radiation, has some memory problems, cognitive problems and endocrine problems but he is doing very well considering everything, and we are very happy about it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Final? Harry & Patty

Ok here is the final watercolor, (I think) at this point I usually mat it and let it sit for a couple of days and then look at it with "new eyes" I'll probably make some minor changes, well see.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Harry & Patty Watercolor WIP

A little further along Adding more color and detail...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

WIP adding color

OK, here’s the scoop, I've never taken a watercolor class in my life so I always feel a little like I may not be doing things the "right" way. But, then again this is art and there is no "right way” right?

So here is my next step. I add some pinks to all the areas I need to warm up or where the fur is thin. I also color the eyes, just because I don't like to look at their empty eyes.

Color! I finally start adding color; at this point I am about half-way done. It is actually starting to look like something. The background may not stay this way about half the time I put another wash over it to change it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

More Harry & Patty

*Whew* What a weekend!

The kids were out of school ever since last Wednesday for Easter break. They finally went back to school today. They had three of their cousins at our house for two of the past few days so I had seven little boys running around. Plus Easter egg hunts and family dinners etc. I did not have any time to work on the painting of the cats "Harry & Patty" But I do today!
Here is the next step in the painting, I lightly draw the cats on Arches cold press watercolor paper and begin to place the darks. I can't find my frisket to mask the highlights in the eyes and I don't trust myself to not mess it up so this is all I'll do until I run to the store to buy more.
I sure hope this painting works out or I'll feel really silly having to start over after I have shown it to everyone.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Work in Progress

I’ve thought about doing a “work in progress” for a while so here it is my first installment of a work in progress. I am doing a commissioned portrait of 2 cats, Harry and Patty. Here are the photos I was given:

This is a sketch for the composition I will work from. It is a composite of three of the pictures. I like to work from as many photos as possible so I can get a feeling for the subject. Often I can see little details from the reference photos that I could not see in just one image.

I will post more photos tomorrow as the work progresses.

Friday, March 30, 2007

at least it's not brain surgery

thoughts from November '06

Jimmy is 5 now. He has already had some of the side effects from the radiation they did last year for his brain tumor other side effects will take years to show up. One of the side effects is that the bone on the side of his head has died and is being re-absorbed by his body, this means he has no skull on one side of his head. If that is what radiation did to his skull I don’t even want to know what did to his brain.

We need to do some surgery to fix his skull. They are going to take the bone from his forehead and split it in two and put half back in his forehead and put half on the side of his head. It will be the fourth time he will have surgery on the same spot, plus they will be cutting open the top of his head too.

I was actually handling this news pretty well until the Dr. mentioned that Jimmy would probably be in the ICU for 3-4 days. I just don’t think I can take the ICU again.

Jimmy lost half his hair from radiation, just on the side and back of his head, unfortunately 90% of the hair that he lost never grew back. So now Jimmy is bald on the left side and half of the back of his head. His hair was finally getting to be long enough to do a 6" comb over to start to cover his bald spots. Now they want to shave his head. Jimmy was just as upset about that as he was about having another surgery.

It is strange how we get upset about different parts of the same horrible thing. Oh well, as my husband says "at least it's not brain surgery".

Monday, March 26, 2007


"Lanie's Narcissus" - 5x7 watercolor Painted Friday 3/23/07

I am so motivated to paint today! I love to paint flowers, especially tulips! they are so simple and elegant! I went outside to and saw the crocus in bloom and the tulips ready to bloom. Oh, the beautiful bright spring colors whisking away the gloomy muddy whites and greys of winter. As soon as my tulips bloom I will be painting them, But for now I well have to just plan to paint my tulips.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What Do You Really Want?

"Tulip" 6x6 on clayboard

About 7 years ago, when my 3rd son was about 3 years old, he and his brothers were at my parent’s home being babysat. My little boy was watching grandpa mow the lawn and saw him empty the grass clippings into the garbage. Now my 3 year old was (and still is) the kind of boy who likes to keep everything, he never wants to throw anything away. He thinks everything is useful (a collage artist in the making). So he asked grandpa if he could have some of the grass clippings. My dad having the weird sense of humor he has gave him a bag of grass.

When my three-year-old showed his two older brothers that he had a bag of grass they of course ran to tell grandpa that they really really wanted one also could they pleeeeease have a bag of grass too. Of course when I went to pick my kids up I had three boys and three bags of grass to take home.

Sometimes some of the things that we want are really just bags of grass. We want them because someone else has one and they seem happy about it so we want one also, but what it really is, is more garbage to take up space in our lives. Now when my boys tell me they want something I often tell them to make sure they are not just wanting a big bag of grass.

Monday, March 19, 2007

How was your day?

"Winners Never Quit" 14x18 Acrylic on canvas

If you had today to live again would you make the same choices? Is there someone you could have helped in some small way but did not? When you look back on today are you glad that you lived it, or was today a waste of time? Did you take time to smell the roses, did you notice the beauty around you? Or were you so stuck in your rut that you didn't even lift up your head to look around. Make everyday matter! Live each day so you will have no regrets. Make each day joyful, but remember you can only find joy by looking for it, and sometimes it hides very well.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Journey

2.5" x 3.5" ACEO watercolor ink "Sego Lilly"

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be. -Douglas Adams

This quote pretty much describes my life and my art. When I start a painting I have something in mind but, the painting usually ends up as a surprise to me, a happy surprise, but not at all what I intended. Life is like that: we start with a plan but life takes you in other directions than you planned and you look back and say "that was a tough road, but I'm not in such a terrable place. I'm not where I intended to be but, not a bad place after all" and perhaps the journey and the struggle made you different than
you would have been.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

My First Entry

A little about me to begin with, I am basically a pretty boring person. I am a mom and an Artist, I have been a mom for about 16 years I have 4 sons and one husband. I have been selling my art for the last 7 years or so. You can see some of my work at I do custom hand painted ceramic tiles, watercolors and acrylics I also occasionally paint in oils.

My art is found in collections throughout the world. I am well known for my work on ceramic tiles and am rated one of the top ten tile artists on the web by