Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving at Winn Farm

Nancy wrote such a beautiful entry that there is little left to say, so I'll just repeat that it was a wonderful day full of family, food and fun...and add some photos (scroll down to read Nancy's post). Nancy outdid herself with the baking she does every year...three or four pies, homemade breads, her famous pecan rolls and, of course, her turnip. Dave made his famous cole slaw, Andi brought a beautiful relish tray, and Mom's creamed onions are now part of the family tradition...always so good. Wendy, Rob and the "Lawson boys" mashed 10 pounds of potatos, Hank and Taka made pumpkin pie, and Tomo's asparagus was "oishii" (delicious). Kristen and Taka made candied apples to put at each place. The only thing left for me to make was the turkey!

As Nancy said, we all have so much to be thankful for. We hope that everyone reading this had a healthy and Happy Thanksgiving!

Taka and "Grampy" carry in our 25 pound turkey

(L) Nancy, Dave, Andi, Kristen
(R) Brian, Hank's son-Rob Lawson

(L) Tomomi, Takanori, Brian, Robert &
Wendy Lawson
(R) Mom & Kristen

Rob & Toshinori Underwood

Toshinori Henry Underwood (18 months)
Takanori Robert Underwood (4 years)

Nancy and Toshi

Takanori's picture sums up what kind of day he had!

Three tired grandsons..all full of turkey!
(Robert Lawson, Taka, Brian Lawson)

So Much to be Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! What a great holiday-no presents to buy or wrap, no cards with those nauseating update letters, no expectations except to eat! How great is that? We went to Cheryl and Hank's place and had a wonderful time. We've probably tried every variation of preparations over the years for the meal--one year I cook, the next year Cheryl did, split the meal etc. etc. it still ends up a ton of work, but this year we finally hit a winner! Cheryl and I met in the secret clubhouse (otherwise known as the craft room), listed what we wanted to eat and assigned dishes to each person. We decided that we'd all bring everything in throw away tin pans, and cook them up at our own houses and bring them to Cheryl's just needing to stay warm,and presto dinner is served! Well-maybe that simplifies it too much, because there still was a lot of cooking done in advance. But it worked out really well-everyone made their "best recipe" of what they were assigned. There were 17 of us--Mom, Cheryl, Hank and Kristen, Robert (home from NYC) with Tomomi, and their precious babies Takanori and Toshinori, Wendy and Robbie Lawson and Robert and Brian, Andi and Dave, and Aaron and I. Of course we missed those who weren't there, Andi's kids, Joanne and Mark and Kit and Erin, who are spending a few days with the Shaw's and going up to the "county" to visit with her Nanas. The biggest missing person, of course, was Daddy-the founder of the feast--but we know he was there with us as his presence was felt by all. It's still hard for me to comprehend that it was 3 years on the 24th since he passed. We miss him daily. But it was a nice day--lots of noise, food, hugs, laughs and memories--just what the doctor ordered! And easy clean up too!
In these kind of crummy times I realize I really have so much to be thankful for-the past few years have been really tough but family and friends have hung in there to support me in so many ways. We live in still the greatest country on Earth, and have so much more than many people around the world and even here in Maine, and (for at least yesterday) our health. Quoting Kristen's annual grace, "Tom is good, Tom is great, let us thank him for our food." No I didn't mess up the typing-she really says Tom--we gave up wondering who Tom was years ago-we know it's God! Maybe Cheryl can add some pictures to this-I still haven't mastered the art of adding photos to the blog--
Hope your day was as special as ours--Love, Nancy

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dream When Your'e Feeling Blue

Well, one thing we haven't had on this blog yet is a book review so here goes... I finished this book last night and loved it...can't wait to pass it on to Mom to read asap! It is the story of the women of the "Greatest Generation", specifically three sisters whose boyfriends have gone off to WWII. Here are some reviews from

"The book tells the story of the tight-knit family living in Chicago during the later years of World War II. There are three older sisters and two younger brothers--and one bathroom that figures frequently and humorously throughout. The book focuses on the three sisters, all beautiful young women with the whole world at their doorstep. In the beginning, we follow the girls as they send their boyfriends off to war. In the following months, we watch them support the war by regularly attending USO dances, and corresponding with soldiers on the front. Much of the story is told through letters--letters of love, friendship, loneliness, hopelessness, homesickness, and terror. The telling is slow, which helps recreate the period; much time is spent developing the inner lives of the three sisters. It is time well-spent, for we really get to know these women, and care about their emotional well-being, especially Kitty, the independent sister, who wants much more out of life than the other two and is blessed with the sexy good looks of Rita Hayworth, to boot. In this book, Berg was able to create a remarkable sense of place and time. I truly felt transported. The more I got into this book, the more I yearned to buy it for those few older friends of mine who actually lived through this period. I have heard so many personal stories about this period, but with this one book, I felt like I was living it myself. "

"The author successfully transported me into another era. The language people used back then, the attitudes, the music, the fashion styles, the parenting styles, all this and more felt authentic to me, and made me feel like I had time-traveled back into the 1940's."

"As a child of the 60's, most of what I know of WW2 is from a historical perspective. Berg made the second World War come to life for me, and put it in human perspective. Coming from an Irish family, the accounts of daily life with the Heaney's struck a chord with me."

Some readers did not like the ending. I did. I only wished the last few chapters had gone on longer and offered more details about the sisters' lives after the war. But, as I sat alone last night, crying over this book in my craft room, I knew I had to recommend it on this blog...especially to my Mom and aunts who lived through WW2 and experienced these things first hand. Enjoy... but have your box of tissues handy!

Here is the link in case you would like to purchase the book, or read more reviews, on click on it to go to the page.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Taka's Busy Day

Taka spent a busy Saturday with Nanny and Grampy while Rob, Tomo and Toshi went to the wedding of Rob's friend, Zafra Whitcomb, where Rob was best man. We invited Brian along for the day to play with Taka. Taka loves buses and subways (he carries a stuffed subway car around wherever he goes) so we decided to take him for a ride on the #7 bus, the "Falmouth Flyer". We rode round-trip over the bridge to Portland and Taka loved it! When we got back to Falmouth, we went to the movies to see "Bolt" and ate a big box of Popcorn. Back at home, Taka, Brian and Hank made sea creatures out of PlayDoh and, as you can see, Hank entertained Taka by making PlayDoh snakes come out of his eyes...not sure who was having more fun. Then Taka halped make orange jello for our dessert. Everyone was very tired and, at bedtime, Brian read Taka stories until he fell asleep. It was a busy, busy day!

I just talked with Nancy and, aside from being tired, she is feeling better. She will be seeing the doctor tomorrow morning just to make sure that everything is OK. Joanne drove up yesterday and she and Mom went over to visit with Nancy for a little while in the afternoon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chemo Tomorrow

Nancy had her blood work today and her white blood count is OK again so she will be able to have her chemo tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. She was kind of hoping that the chemo would be postponed as it has been a very rough week since the last infusion on Wednesday. She has been really sick with fatigue and nausea as well as aches and cramps from the neupogen shots. She hasn't been able to eat, which has only made her feel worse. Sunday was particularly bad but she got through it. Her neighbor, John Mullen, stopped by late Sunday to bring her a casserole. That was well-timed as John happens to be an oncological radiologist, and he checked her out and sat with her until she felt better. Today, Nancy is feeling a little better; hopefully the side effects from tomorrow's chemo will not be quite so bad as she will have only one drug rather than the combination she had last week. Once she gets through this round, she will have a week off to regain her strength. The six rounds of chemo should be done around Christmas and then Nancy should be back in remission and able to resume her life.

We're looking forward to a big family Thanksgiving here at Winn Farm this year. Rob, Tomomi, Taka and Toshi will arrive this Thursday for nine days...we can't wait to see them! Toshi is 18 months old now and Taka is four so it will be a lot of fun. On Thanksgiving Day, we'll be joined by the whole Smith and Lawson clan for dinner...all 16 of us and a 25 pound turkey! Since next week will be Nancy's week off from chemo, I hope she'll be able to eat her share of turkey and pumpkin pie. I'll keep everyone posted on how she makes out tomorrow.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Getting Older

This was sent by a friend:

"Getting Older, I decided, is a gift.

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometimes despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that person who lives in my mirror, but I don’t agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I’ve aged, I’ve become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own friend.

I don’t chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying something I didn’t need. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant. Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 a.m. and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love…I will. I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get older.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one or a child suffers? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don’t question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.

I like being older. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day …if I feel like it."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Wicked Tired"

Well, this is an old picture but it seems to go with today's " Nancy Update". She had chemo yesterday (Carbo & Gemzar) and today sounds weak and said she is just "wicked tired". She has been sleeping on the couch all day and trying not to eat so that she won't get the nausea that often accompanies chemo. Unlike this photo, she still has her hair with her current combination of drugs but the other side effects this time have been nasty. Hopefully this will only last a few days and she will feel stronger before her follow-up dose of chemo next Tuesday. Hang in there, Nancy, we love you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans' Day

No school today so I picked Nancy up at 8:45 and we headed to the Maine Women's Cancer Center for her appointment with Dr. Small and, we thought, another round of chemo. Nancy had her teal LL Bean "chemo bag" all packed with books and snacks only to find out that, because of the holiday, her chemo is not until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. We did see the doctor though and Nancy got a good report; CA 125 is staying low. Her white blood cells are high enough for chemo to proceed as planned tomorrow. Because the repeated chemos will continue to decrease her white blood cell count, she will be starting shots of Neupogen to increase the production of them. She will have to go for shots on Friday and Saturday of this week. Dr. Small also talked to Nancy about participating in a clinical trial beginning after her last round of chemo is completed in December or January. The clinical trial is for women with recurrent ovarian cancer and the goal will be to extend the time of remission. It will involve her taking one pill a day and having monthly CT scans to monitor her progress for the research.

After the appointment with Dr. Small, we drove to Daddy's grave to spend a little time there on Veterans' Day. We pulled up the wilted summer flowers and spent a little time remembering a great Dad. Andi had left a beautiful Thanksgiving arrangement at the grave and Nancy brought a fresh American flag.

What to do with the rest of a day off? Well, some early Christmas shopping of course! I thought of Hank out in the woods in Unity today, freezing his butt off, eating soup cooked over Sterno in a tin can, and desperately seeking his deer. And I thought of how much better I liked our version of "the hunt"...stalking the bargains at Home Goods and Kohl's. Hank did not get his deer today but Nancy and I did manage to hunt down a few bargains. We finished our day at Panera's where we bought a huge loaf of cheese bread which we took right back to Nancy's to enjoy toasted with lots of butter. All in all, a good day with Nancy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
~Martin Luther King, August 28, 1963

"It's been a long time coming..." President-Elect Barack Obama 11-4-08

p.s. Dragging those trash bags full of door-knob signs around the streets of West Philadelphia, going out at night to phone bank, checking the poll numbers almost hourly for months, hosting the Platform meeting that no one attended, adding donations to the Visa card, driving friends, family (& especially husband) crazy since March...hearing the words "President Elect Obama"...Priceless!

Monday, November 3, 2008


This is the time to exercise one of the freedoms that my dad and all of the other veterans in this country fought for...we owe it to them to vote on November 4th!

Future Irish Fighter?

Couldn't resist posting this picture of my grandson, James Patrick Cagney about 3 months old.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

NYC Marathon

Congratulations to Rob for finishing in the NYC Marathon today! Rob's time was 5 hours, 12 minutes and 30 seconds!
"The New York City Marathon is one of the world's great road races, drawing more than 100,000 applicants. The race attracts many world-class professional athletes, not only for the more than $600,000 in prize money, but also for the chance to excel in the media capital of the world before two million cheering spectators and 315 million worldwide television viewers. As any one of the more than 700,000 past participants will attest, crossing the finish line in Central Park is one of the great thrills of a lifetime. The first New York City Marathon, in 1970, was four-plus laps of Central Park. In 1976, in celebration of the U.S. bicentennial, the marathon was moved to the streets of all of New York's five boroughs: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan. The 26-mile course unites dozens of culturally and ethnically diverse neighborhoods, passing over five bridges, and finishing up at Tavern on the Green in world-famous Central Park."