Sometimes You Have to Watch Movies

I have been plugging away at getting a flip finished.  This part of the flip always kills me and I never remember how hard it is.  You can see the end.  It is SOOOO close!

But to keep my sanity, I am taking time in the evenings to watch the Marvel movies in chronological order.  I found the image that accompanies this blog, somewhere on the internet, and am using it to guide my evening viewing.  I am not getting all of the TV shows watched, just the movies, but someday…

I have seen all but the Hulk movie before, so nothing is really new, but I am seeing new facets by watching it this way.  For instance there is a Mark Ruffalo (Hulk)  line in the Avengers, “last time I was in New York, I kind of broke Harlem.”  I had no idea what that was about.  Now I do.  Another example is Samuel L Jackson (Nick Fury) saying to Captain America, “”The last time I trusted someone, I lost an eye.” Lots of things I thought were just lines turned out to be jokes, who knew?!  Script writers, that’s who.

What does this have to do with being a real estate investor?  There are always more things to do.  There are always potential deals, that you don’t have time to vet.  There will be time later.  Sometimes you go through looking at a project or even investing in it and you don’t see the whole picture at the time.  Why did that one work?  Why didn’t the other one that was almost the same?

We need a wider perspective.  We have to go back through what was going on in the area historically.  What was the area like 5 years ago? 10?  What is coming down the pipeline for 3 years from now.  There is a city or county plan for that area.  If you don’t know what it is you are missing the inside jokes.

My most successful project was successful in part because one of my partners had an intimate knowledge of the history of the area: he had sued the city requiring them to clean up the local lake before it became permanently unusable.  The city had used the area in a primarily hispanic part of town as a waste management site, without proper cleanup.  It was then cleaned up and made into a wildlife sanctuary run by the National Audubon Society.  Without his knowledge of the broader history and the specific challenges we would not have been able to get the project off the ground, get city, county, and other governmental support.  With all of that backstory we built a thriving community that is continuing to grow.

We also paid close attention to the county and city planning maps that involved our project.  We heard about a large university wanting to open a branch in the town and helped to show them the advantages of our area.  We knew that the city was wooing a vehicle manufacturing company and helped to nudge it our way.  By doing this we did our little part to bring 2 major employers to an area that hadn’t had major development in over 50 years, and brought a high level collegiate experience to our residents and their neighbors.  We looked inside the screen writers’ heads and saw the possible directions for the future and nudged it so that our little project had all the tools and support it needed to emerge victorious!

So watch the movies in order,  learn the history and  get hints of what is coming in the future.  It can make all the difference!


Her 8 is your 10 or 11

“Let’s hope it’s just cancer.”

“I bet she’s just faking to get attention.”

“Well, some girls are just more sensitive than others.”

“She is fine.”

“On a scale of  1 to 10, she said her pain was a 7, so it’s not too bad.”

“Just spend more time outside.  Kids need more vitamin D.”

Those are just some of the dismissive things medical professionals said to me or my daughter over the years.  Dismissing what she was going through was routine for a decade.  It was maddening.  Being told over and over again that nothing is wrong, you doubt your sanity.

Maybe it is normal.  Maybe she was a throwback to the 1700s where girls and women fainted on a regular basis.  But surely that happened because they were too tightly laced.

Maybe her being in so much pain that she could barely leave her bed was normal for someone with arthritis.  Even when her joints were not inflamed.

Sometimes when she was having pain, her sister would put weighted blankets on her and make her warm, and keep the light low, because the light hurt her head.  Other times she couldn’t stand to have even a sheet touching her.  Was her level of pain normal?  It didn’t seem so.

Being told that I should hope it was cancer was one of the most surreal experiences of my life.  I am not violent, but I wanted to punch that doctor.  Who says that to the mother of a 9 year old child!?  Why would I hope she had a disease that could kill her and if it didn’t would result in her needing surgery, poisonous chemicals pumped into her blood stream or radiation aimed right into her, or more than one of those?  I didn’t have the knowledge of cancer then, that I do now, but I had been with my grandmother through her first several chemotherapy appointments.  How could you wish that on a child?

Perhaps though, there is something to that.  If they had been able to find something common wrong with her, we wouldn’t have been dismissed, and she wouldn’t have been made to feel that her reality was unimportant.  That her pain didn’t matter because it didn’t align with the easy diagnoses.

She had never been easy to diagnose.  As a toddler she had had her first medical “event.”  She was a perfect little chubby toddler.  Happy and silly and curious,  Then one day she started to cry.  A pain cry.  Nothing could console her. over the period of hours and then days her little body swelled up to the point that her finger and toe joints were purple, and her knees and elbows, red.  We held her and sang, and rocked, and cried as she cried.

It is so hard to not be able to help.  Just holding her in your arms & heart knowing there is nothing you can do.  It was hard then & every time since.  Seeing you child in pain.  It isn’t for the faint of heart.  Seeing her drop to the ground while going for a walk or while on stage, I don’t recommend it.  It breaks your heart a little bit each time.  Seeing her become more & more disillusioned with medicine, eats away at your hope.

When she “dropped” on stairs and was completely unresponsive, I called 911.  That is what they teach you to do in all the first aid classes, and God knows I had been to enough of them.  One a year since I was 16.  The squad arrived & because she was still unresponsive, they took her in the ambulance & asked me to meet them there.  In the squad she became aware of her surroundings, but still couldn’t move.  The techs were talking about their theory that she wasn’t actually having an episode, she was just a teenager pretending to get attention.  She didn’t tell me for years.  When we got to the ER they look at her temperature, heart rate, and hydration…they find nothing wrong.  “she’s fine.”

So, now when you go into the doctor or hospital with a pain complaint, they ask you to rank the pain from 1-10.  I don’t think I have heard her rate it above an 8.  An 8 was when all of her muscles locked up and she couldn’t move.  The pain had literally locked her into immobility.  That was an 8.  Remember the story about when she was a toddler.  Because of that, she knows that if she can talk instead of constantly crying, she can’t be at a 10.

How Vegas Flipped the Switch

I retired.  Well, I sold my third company and hadn’t started a new one.  I didn’t have enough money to live out the rest of my life, but I did have enough to take a break and think about what should be next.

I had sold the last of my daycare centers, years earlier, then my half of a training business, and finally the real estate development company (that I was just a minor shareholder in).  What would be next?  What could I do that would be fun, lucrative & play to my strengths & skills?

How about real estate on a smaller scale.  Not buying raw land, getting financing set up, bringing in utilities, building roads, and everything else that is part of developing raw land into a successful master planned community on 800 acres of land.  That was a lot.  I had acquired skills while working on that project, but to be honest, it was not a great fit.  Buying real estate did seem to be, though.

So, I approached my former general partner, who was also my mother, and suggested that we look into different types of real estate investing.  We went to classes, and workshops, read books, and watched TV shows.  One workshop really delivered the goods.  It was put on by Real Estate Education Group, which is associated with Amie & Scott Yancey, of Flipping Vegas.

We went through their entire series and learned a tremendous amount, and stayed engaged because they have such great presenters.  However, what was more important was that we IMPLEMENTED what they taught.  We went out and looked at hundreds of properties after having looked at thousands online.  We made offers.  We bought things.  One of the things we bought was a house to flip.

IMG_1789Flipping on TV is amazing.  Scott & Amie Yancey for Flipping Vegas, who I think of as my mentors,  are very clear that reality is quite different.  They have missteps along the way, the just have the advantage of the editing bay.  If their gamble didn’t work out…they can cut that footage out.  They actually don’t flip most of the houses they buy.  They fix them up and rent them.  But “Buy & Hold Vegas” isn’t as sexy as “Flipping Vegas.”

What we learned from the Yanceys and their training team, was invaluable in our process.  Actually in this whole new real estate venture.  Their training helped us to know what to look for in a property, where to look for them, how to run the numbers (which has led us to pass on some deals that seemed great, before the numbers), and gave us confidence.  IMG_0077

I have gone to their introductory event 3 times, getting new inspiration and tips each time.  I have gone to Vegas twice and plan to go again this winter.  On one of the trips to the Buying Summit in Vegas, one of our properties was recognized for it’s excellence.

Vegas flipped us into real estate investors who DO!  If you get a chance to go to one of their events, either in your area all the way up to the Summit in Vegas, I encourage you to go.  Learn from experts.  All of the staff I met with have real life experience.  They have been there.  They invest in real estate as their primary business.  They teach because they are so darned excited about it that they can’t help but talk about it.  If they are going to talk about it anyway, they might as well get paid as instructors, coaches and speakers.  I get it.  I am totally psyched about it too!

Making money in real estate can be hard, but it is easier with the Yancey’s behind you.



Creating Momentum in your Family Business

One of the problems that plagues family businesses is stagnation.  This is because those who started the business worked hard to get where they are, and know that what they are doing worked to get them this far.  Some people call it founders syndrome.

That is great.  But did you notice the tense?  WorkED.  That does not necessarily mean it is workING now.  I have seen this from both sides.  I have been the daughter questioning tactics and the founder who insists “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Having been on each side of this issue, I have to say we get stuck in ruts and sometimes we need help to get out of them.

I am a born and bread entrepreneur and as such, I tend to lean toward change.  I find it exciting.  I love trying something new.  Many people find it terrifying.  I have one friend who puts it up there with sharks and public speaking.  I get it.  There is no safety railing on the new path.  You might fail.  Scratch that- you will fail- sometimes.

But here is the real question: Do you want o be comfortable in a business that is falling behind, or do you want to move forward?

You have to evaluate your priorities or you will end up like Sears.  A once thriving company that has sold off many of its iconic elements (bye-bye craftsmen, and Kenmore), still limping along on the strength of its land holdings.

Identify the areas of your business that need some special attention.  Once you have them identified, pick the one that is at the center of the Gordian knot and attack it!  Decide that the need to change is more important than your desire to remain comfortable.

If one of your family members is always going on about a specific area, look at it. Really examine what the market is doing in that area.  Are you still a front runner? Or have you fallen to the middle of the pack?  Sometimes things look like a huge mess out there.  CLUE:  That means you are at the back of the race and you will soon be on the sidelines.

As a business leader you probably have high intrinsic motivation and drive.  You are more likely to go the distance when you are doing something for your business instead of trying to please others. You create a positive vision and let your enthusiasm show. You are a rock star!  Don’t let your honoring of the past blind you to the opportunities of the future. Build on the momentum that you have already created. Hold onto what works while experimenting with new approaches. Do your research. Figure out what resources you need to address the issue. Start small then break major changes down into simpler steps.

Submit your information below for 3 Things You Can Do Today to Wake Your Inner Champion.


Combat Empty Nest Syndrome Before it Happens

Waving your kids off to college is undoubtedly a bittersweet moment. You’re proud that your children are on their way to adulthood. Nevertheless, you’re saddened by the fact that they’ll soon be off in a dorm room with strangers rather than home in their beds.

Even though the moment isn’t here yet and you’re trying to soak up every second available with your children, it’s important to plan for what is to come rather than simply ignoring it. Your kids will be in college soon. Therefore, now is the time to develop a plan to help you cope with the sadness of the separation.

It is real.  For me it took a while to hit, but it did.  There are times when I longed for the sound of teen-aged bickering as odd as that sounds.

Try these techniques to help you prepare yourself for an empty nest:

  1. Look forward to enjoying your newfound freedom. While your kids are enjoying their freedom away at college, you too can rejoice in your newfound freedom away from the kids and their limiting schedules.

    You’ll be able to host dinner parties on weeknights, lounge around with your spouse without sharing the TV, take vacations during the school year, join clubs or become more active in your church community.

    This is the time to rediscover your interests. For so long, you’ve put your wants on the back burner. But now, you can fully explore your interests and find a hobby that helps you feel needed, appreciated, and offers gratification.Freedom

  2. Reconnect with your spouse. After raising the children for so many years, living alone with your spouse is something that may feel new to you again. Now is the moment to feel like newlyweds! Reconnect with one another on a deeper level than you have in the last twenty years or so.

    Every night is date night! Make something special for dinner a few times each week and then go out on the town on the weekends.

    Take the time to enjoy this milestone in your relationship. You’ve raised wonderful children together; you’ve succeeded as parents and have held a successful marriage. You’re living the American dream – have a toast to your success!soaring

  3. Plan a home improvement project. Properly planning a home improvement project takes time. Therefore, use the few months ahead while the kids are still at home to redo their bedroom once they’re off in college.

    Turning their bedroom into a gym may be too much of a change. So, take baby steps. Turn their bedroom into a guest bedroom. By doing so, you can comfortably accommodate both your adult children and guests.

    Add a home office area to the bedroom so your kids can have a place to study when they come home on breaks. In addition, a simple armchair for reading, fresh paint, new linens and accessories will make for a hotel-like retreat that guests can appreciate.

    Generally, most teens won’t feel as if they’re being slighted when their childhood bedroom is given a makeover. If anything, they’ll feel better knowing that their parents are just as excited about the change.

In addition to all of the tips outlined above, plan ways to connect with your children while they’re in college. Plan to send care packages, have weekly video chats, monthly visits, and holidays together. However, refrain from saying: “Call us every night” as this will likely cause your child to feel guilty when unable to call.

It’s vital to remember that this is uncharted territory for everyone involved; it’s certainly a mixed bag of emotions. All you can do is to try your best to look at the bright side and all of the benefits involved for your youngster. You aren’t losing a child; you’re gaining a college graduate!

Getting Myself Unstuck in Business

This morning I woke up and just didn’t want to do anything related to business.  The past couple of days have been hard on a personal level.  Actually my knees have been knocked out from under me.  This happens.  Our personal life comes up and whacks us on the head.

A member of my family has a terminal cancer diagnosis.  The diagnosis came this fall, and we have had some time to get used to the idea, but Tuesday it became REAL. Chemotherapy was withdrawn and the doctor’s office called hospice.  It shouldn’t have been a surprise.  We spend time together, and the increased fragility and decreased strength was very evident.  But it was still shocking.  I just wanted to wallow.

How can I run a business while wallowing?  Hmmm.  I took a minute to think about what my goals and priorities are.

  1. My number one priority is spending time with my family and being connected to my family.  My husband and children need to have space to deal with this loss.  How can I help them with that?  I can make sure the bills are paid, and that I have time to spend with them.
  2. My second priority is my spiritual life.  Taking time for my spiritual walk is key to handling times like this.  I need to exercise and meditate.  I did that and life looked a little less grim.
  3. My third is to those I serve in my business.  I need to be creating quality services and products for my clients.  They don’ deserve the dregs, just because my life is imploding.  Luckily I have processes in place, so on days like today, I don’t have to be at 100% for my clients to be getting good service.

When I get stuck, I take a short period to wallow.  Take time to feel the crap.  It is real.  We need to process it.  Having a daily routine can pull you back into life, for at least a few minutes.  My calendar is my anchor and helped me to recenter today.  I am slogging through the mess.

Having systems in place allows that to not completely derail the business when you have to hit the pause button.

More polished thoughts on this topic will come soon.

10 Personal Finance Tips That Will Change Your Perspective

You’ve heard all of the common financial advice at least 100 times. How about a few tips that you might not have heard before? A new perspective can generate new thoughts, ideas, and actions. A new perspective might change your financial future.

Some financial tips that can change your outlook:

  1. A car can last a lot longer than five years. It’s just a hunk of metal and plastic rolling around on four tires. If you can avoid attaching your ego to your automobile, you can save a lot of money by driving your car for several more years. Dings and dents don’t stop the car from working…keep driving the car.
  2. Know the five types of financial emergencies. Are you prepared for each of them?
  • Home-related issues, i.e. a furnace breakage or a leaking roof
  • Major car repairs
  • Funeral-related issues. Paying for a funeral or traveling to one
  • Medical issues
  • Job loss
  1. Spend five minutes on your finances each evening. A single TV commercial break can last five minutes. Review all of your financial transactions for the day. You’ve got 5 minutes to spend on this!
  2. Create small money goals. These should be doable.
  • I’ll spend less than $75/person on food this week.
  • I’ll save at least $25 each Friday and deposit it in my savings account.


  1. Acquire renter’s insurance. It’s only a couple of dollars each month but can replace your items in case of theft or fire. Even your old computer and milk crate shelves are worth something to you.
  2. Find ways to entertain yourself that are free. Much of the money you spend only serves the purpose of making you feel better. Instead of distracting yourself by purchasing things you don’t need, find some free forms of entertainment.
  • Books and videos from the library
  • Attend free concerts or listen to music at home.
  • Throw a Frisbee.
  • Play cards with friends.
  • Meditate
  • do craft projects with what you already have
  • Plant a garden.
  1. Pay off your small debts first. You’ll build momentum this way and feel a greater sense of accomplishment. The other alternative is to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first. It makes more financial sense, but it’s not as satisfying. Decide for yourself.
  2. Consider how much it costs to use an item one time. People often don’t like to buy an expensive mattress, but consider how many times, and how many hours, you’ll use it. Even an expensive mattress only costs a few cents each night over the lifetime of the mattress.
  • How much would a $75,000 Mercedes cost to drive each day? Assuming you keep the car for 5 years, that’s roughly 1800 days. You’d be lucky to sell the car for even 50% of what you paid for it. $37,500/1800 = $21/day. That doesn’t even include the cost of insurance or the interest on your monthly car payments.
  1. Avoid having too much in your savings account. Unless you need the money in the very near future, there are better places to store your money. Put your money to work for you with investments. Make a list of a few and choose the one that makes sense.
  2. Create a financial mantra that supports your financial goals. Use it each day.
  • I only buy things I need.
  • I bring my lunch to work.
  • I save 10% of my income.

A little unconventional advice can be a good thing. Open your mind to new ways of looking at old challenges. You’ll find solutions you’ve never considered.

Black Friday & TV

Small business marketing is frequently the responsibility of the owner or manager.  I have just finished my first ever time to run promotions for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, etc.  We have had them before.  I just wasn’t in charge of them.  I am not at all sure I did it well.  But I did it and that is a thing to be proud of.

Being a business leader means I have to do things I am not 100% comfortable doing.  I remember the first time I got in front of a tv camera.  I was SWEATING!  But it was free publicity for my business and they wanted to talk to someone with skin in the game.  I was very excited that they called me.  I had been courting the station to some degree for a few months.  Watching as many news shows as I could and sending in email comments about news items that related to my business.  I had a childcare center in downtown, so it wasn’t hard to find things that were relevant.  Anything that had to do with downtown, children or families was liable to get a quick note from me.  This was well over a decade ago, so they weren’t as swamped by email as they are now.  I stood out, so I got a call and people heard about my business.

How do we stand out in today’s market?  Sending an email is unlikely to do it.  We all get far too many to count now.  We need clients to know we are here and are relevant.  We can advertise.  Lord knows, I do.  Everybody does.  How much do you believe in the ad copy you read or hear every day?  10%?  You may be conveying 100% true information, but people filter it out.  Marketing is more than buying a well executed google ad.  It is getting in front of people in different settings, so your customers start to know like and trust you.

How do you position your self as a knowledgable and likable person?  Getting on the local news might still be a good way to get noticed, but how do you get the news to notice you?   I have had some success with hand written notes.  They are the rarity now that email was back in the dark ages.  Tweeting images also has some traction.  You have to engage with them, build a relationship.

I help a lot of my clients get into the paper.  Local papers need local content to stay relevant.  Having a great event that highlights a worthy cause or brings in dignitaries, is the key strategy there.  The images you send also play a central role.  Make sure you send both portrait and landscape pictures, because you never know what space they need to fill.  Your write up of the event should be as close to newspaper copy as you can make it.  The less work the editor or beat reporter has to do, the more likely you are to get in the paper.

The other time-tested way to get in front of your audience in a marketing capacity to build rapport is public speaking.  Half of you are shaking your head right now.  That is OK.  If there isn’t anything related to what you do that you can speak passionately about for 15 minutes you are excused.  Everyone else is still in this.  If you would rather poke your own eye out than talk to people you don’t know, then don’t talk to people you don’t know.  Talk to people you do know.  Do you have a book club, mother’s group, gaggle of gals you eat cheese cake with?  Those are your public.  Talk to them about your passion for your work.  Get comfortable with it.  Eventually one of those friends will say, “Hey, my friend Suzie was just talking about her problems in that area.  I need to put you in touch with each other.”  Voila.  Your marketing just worked!  Once you have done that a few times you might be ready to move on to  networking events.  I wrote about those on my other blog,

This type of marketing is much more in my comfort zone than running advertising campaigns.  That is why it was my turn to run one.  I had to stretch my wings.  It may take a while, but I will get the hang of it.  I may never like it, but it is important that I know how it is done so that I can talk intelligently with my team who focus on that area and with clients who have marketing challenges.  Let me know about something new you have tried and how it worked.  I look forward to hearing from you!



10 Ways to Deal with Stress

Being a leader is stressful.  We all have days that are considerably more challenging and stressful than others. Unfortunately, stress is hard on both your mind and body.  The holiday season tends to increase stress and tension.

Too many high stress days can really take its toll. And what’s worse, you could even become so used to being in this “high state of alert” that you start to feel like it’s normal! Don’t let this happen to you.  Your family and business need you.  More than that, you should take care of yourself, before you take care of others.  As they say during the preflight when you fly, “Put your mask on first, before helping others.”

It’s important to develop some techniques that help you relieve stress and strengthen your self-soothing abilities.

When you’re struggling to stay calm, relaxed, and focused, try some of these strategies:

  1. Breathe deeply. Breathe in for 5 seconds and hold it for 5 seconds. Now exhale for 5 seconds. Do this 10 times and focus only on your breathing. These breaths should only be slightly larger in volume than a normal, relaxed breath.  Takes less than a minute.
  2. Take a walk.  Practice the breathing technique above during your walk, focusing on your breathing, walking, and surroundings.Nothing else should enter your mind. If your mind insists on wandering to non-productive thinking, you might have to simply keep repeating, “Taking a step”to yourself over and over.  It will quiet your mind.
  3. Get some exercise.  Any time of day is a good time to exercise. Comfortably tired is what you’re looking for. Work out your frustrations by going for a run or swim. Hit the weights and show them who is boss. Any exercise will do as long as there is some intensity involved.  Shuffleboard isn’t going to cut it.  I suggest keeping a pair of hand weights or yoga bands in your office.
  4. Sit outside.  A little time in the yard or park can work wonders. Find a relaxing spot with pleasant scenery. Pay attention to what’s going on around you and keep your mind off your challenges. Talk to the squirrels. Even 10 to 15 minutes can greatly reduce your stress.
  5. Take a day off.  Everyone needs a break once in a while. The business will NOT burn to the ground if you are gone for a day.  However, on your day off, it’s important to avoid just sitting around and brooding about all of your current difficulties. Take your mind off of things and have some fun.  Lose yourself in activities that you enjoy.
  6. Read.  Find something engrossing to read. The ideal book would be able to take your mind off of things for a few hours. Ask your friends for some recommendations, or if you’re like most people, you probably have a couple of books on the shelf that you’ve never gotten around to. Now is the perfect time to read it.  If you need a suggestion, give me a shout and I will be happy to set you up with a few good reads.
  7. Listen to music.  Again, it should be something engrossing that really captures your attention. Don’t be afraid to get up and dance; no one is watching anyway.
  8. Disconnect.  No phone and no computer. Turn off everything that connects you to the outside world. Then you can really relax. Stay offline for as long as you can.
  9. Take a nap.  There’s no better way to start over than to take a nap.When you wake up, it feels like another chance to start your day over. What happened before your nap is in the past! Now you can deal with it and move on.
  10. Hang out with people that are fun.  Get the gang together and meet for a movie or a drink. Have dinner with the friend that always makes you laugh. It’s easy to get caught up in our own little world. Being with others can jolt you out of that perspective.

Don’t let high stress get you down. The key is to actively do something about it.Some people develop a habit of being paralyzed when things start going sideways, but this does nothing to make you feel better or solve your stressful issues.

Actively relax so you’ll be better able to tackle your challenges. Use these tips to minimize the pressure and anxiety you’re feeling and take control of yourself and the situation. Dealing with your challenges effectively is crucial to living the peaceful life you deserve.

I would love to send you a checklist for building Holiday Memories the Stress-Free Way, just enter your information below.


Life is a Beach Cake

Right now I am at the beginning of one of the hardest parts of the business of family.  Saying good-bye.

Just under 3 weeks ago my husband called a family meeting when he got back from class.  I was already in bed, my elder daughter was in another state and the younger one had been online and needed a moment to disengage.  Facetime engaged and all of us present, he told us that his mother had asked him to swing by after class to tell him something.  She had a mass on her pancreas and was going in for a biopsy immediately.

At that point we still had a lot of hope.  It could be benign.  It could be an abnormal growth that triggered her newly diagnosed diabetes.  There were possibilities.  Not endless ones, but some. We planned to bring the daughter back to Texas for a family beach trip that had been planned a little while ago, which now seemed much more important.

The next day my husband went with his mother and father to the hospital for the biopsy.  My daughter and I met them there. They can’t tell you there that it is cancer, but they can and did say there were growths on the liver, colon and glands and that the one on the liver was easier to reach so they would take the tissue sample from there.  We aren’t dumb.  We knew that meant it was cancer and that it had metastasized. A lot.

My mother in law did not want to call her other son who lived out of town.  This is the kind of news you want to deliver in person.  She didn’t want to interupt his and his wife’s day with this news.  But how do you not.  How do you tell them at the family beach vacation?  How do you make this choice?  Can’t we just not?  After all her parents lived into their 80s.  She called.  It was a speaker phone call with two folks conferenced in.  Sometimes the person talking ran out of words, or the tears were too much, so someone else took over.  To this point it is the worst phone call of my life and I have had some doozies.

Eventually there was nothing left to say and the nurse came in to begin the discharge process.  We dispersed to begin the process of processing the hole that had just opened up in front of us.  No little boys spending long weekends with Grandmama.  No Grandmother helping you plan your wedding.  No mother to cook for.  No wife.

Google is not your friend in these situations.  It brings no good news.  It gives percentage of those who get to host 5 more Thanksgivings.  Not what you want to read.  There are supposed to be 20 more, not a 30% chance of 5.  You rationalize that 5 years will allow all her grandchildren to remember her, but the obnoxious voice of logic says those numbers are for patients whose cancer is caught early.

They said 5-7 days for results.  Appointment on Tuesday.

We all went to the beach.  That was how we started to prepare;  making new memories as a family. We had a house with 2 grandparents, one aunt, two sons and their wives, and 5 grandchildren.  It was quite a rocking beach party:  drip castles, beach walking, wave breaking, fired up grill, beach buggy driving, beach cake (see picture above, photo credit to Chris Casey), fajitas, cuddle puddles, and pumpkin carving.  We have a ways to go in this journey, but I think we started it off on the right foot.