Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Prima DT Call - I could be a Flower Girl!

I love this part of the audition process... I have sent in my application... the work is done... the layouts are complete... I have done everything that I can do... and the waiting begins. It is the same feeling as purchasing a lottery ticket and waiting for the numbers to be announced. For a short period of time, I let myself daydream about how cool it would be to win the lottery... what Jeff and I could do with the money... I reorder my "bucket list"... you get the picture. :-) Same thing with auditions! Until the names of the new design team are released, it is fun to think about how cool it would be to design for a certain company, being a Flower Girl, and dream about getting "the call!"

So, while I slip back into my glorious daydream, paper flowers raining down on me while a rainbow of rhinestone accents glitter across the sky, I hope you will enjoy the projects that accompanied my Prima DT application. "Robbie" was created using a Prima 12 x 12 transparency sheet, pp and flowers. "Things that Glittered" was created on a 12 x 12 canvas, masked and sprayed with Glimmer Mist. The "Tonight" sign was made with a metal sheet, Prima pp, flowers, and felt accent and magnets to attach the "I'm Yours" or "I have a headache" sign. Thanks for checking this out and make it a WOO HOO kinda day!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas 2008

I hope you had a very blessed and Merry Christmas with your loved ones! We sure did! Our Christmas Eve started with Mom and Dad arriving at our house for the night. We went over to Aunt Sarah and Uncle Dave's house for the Schoeffel family party... good food, lots of love, gifts for the kids. Then off to mass... beautiful as always and boy did the kids look wonderful all dressed up!!! This year, Chris went to celebrate Christmas Eve with his girlfriend, Nicola, and her family. Jessica and Anna continued our family traditions... watching the original "Grinch," writing letters to Santa, putting out the cookies, egg nog and carrots for Santa and the reindeer, taking a few pictures, opening up one special gift, and getting into bed so that Santa could come for his annual visit. Jeff stayed up until 3AM following his favorite Christmas tradition... watching "It's A Wonderful Life" while wrapping gifts. :-)

Christmas morning started at 5:45AM, thanks to Jessica who can never sleep waiting for presents to start! The kids have to wait by their bedrooms until the lights are on, the fireplace is glowing, the music sets the mood, the quiche is in the oven and the cameras are ready... then the kids can come out and see what Santa brought for them. While they are waiting, we give the kids crystal glasses with egg nog or sparkling cider... whichever they wish... When it was finally time to start the celebration, Anna saw her Barbie Dream House, Jessica received a new pink IPOD and Chris tried on his custom OGHS swim parka!

We went up to Mary and John's house for the afternoon celebration... more great food, gifts, hot tubing and my new favorite game, "Rock Band 2." Hope you enjoy the slide show of the sights and sounds of our special day! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Basketball Season... WOO HOO!

I just had to share these darling photos of Anna and one of her girlfriends, Cami Kirksey. There are a few little girls at OGHS that had the opportunity to purchase cheer outfits that are exact replicas of the Varsity Cheer team! This is going to be a FUN basketball season! Anna is working on her cheers... "Patriots in the front, let me hear you grunt (and she shakes her little bumb!)... SOOOOOO CUTE!

TURN UP YOUR SPEAKERS!!! There is Christmas music and some of my favorite Christmas movie lines playing for your pleasure! Have a GREAT day!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

4 Years Ago Today... Our LIVESTRONG Story...

... was one of the scariest days of our lives! 4 years ago today, my sweet husband went into surgery...diagnosed with colon cancer just 24 hours before. As I sit here, I can vividly remember every sound, comment, smell... everything. Several years ago I wrote about those first few hours after diagnosis... some of you have read it and some have not. I would still like to write an entire book about our experiences, but for now, I thought this would be a perfect time to remember those first hours and reflect on how blessed we are to still have this incredible man with us!

Dedicated to the unlikely star of the story,
my love, my Sweetheart, my best friend,
my hero, my husband, Jeff.

Snickerdoodles, peanut butter, sugar cookies and spritz cookies…that should finish off our holiday baking. Go on a city drive of Christmas lights. Buy a pair of jeans to match the pink sweater for Jessica. Spend an afternoon in Julian and get hot apple cider. Finish wrapping gifts.

It was December 16th, 2004 and a week before Christmas. I was sitting in the waiting area of the Gastroenterology Department of Scripps Green Hospital writing my list of last minute Christmas ‘To Dos.’ Anna Grace, then six months old, was waiting with me for Daddy to be done with his colonoscopy. Jeff hadn’t been feeling well and hadn’t been eating very much. As he was preparing for the colonoscopy, he told me he was craving a Double-Double from In-N-Out. I promised I would take him there as soon as his procedure was over.

“Mrs. Locher?” Dr. Nodurft was standing in front of me. “May I have a word with you?”

He guided me through a door that led to the examination rooms. I walked down the hallway, pushing Anna’s stroller in front of me. All morning, the nurses that walked by Anna had stopped and made some comment about how cute she was or how happy. There were two nurses standing in the doorway of an exam room, waiting for Anna’s stroller to pass by in the little hallway. This time the nurses didn’t look at Anna. They looked me in the eye. They didn’t smile. They looked down at the floor. For a split second, things started moving in slow motion. Could there be a problem with Jeff? As the cold fingers of dread started twisting in my stomach, I calmly reminded myself that Jeff was 44 years old, in great health, and in good shape. I knew I was being led to the transition room where my slightly drugged up husband would be waiting for me, right? Everything would be fine! Everything would be fine!

I wasn’t led to the transition room, but a small exam room. There wasn’t room for the stroller, so I left it outside and carried Anna in. Dr. Nodurft entered the room with us and another doctor followed behind us. The room seemed to be filled by the exam table and I remember how white the paper liner looked on the table. Did I say the room was small? That feeling of slow motion was starting again and I had a bad feeling. There couldn’t possibly be anything wrong with Jeff. Don’t doctors give you bad news in their private office, or in a family waiting room…or in a private, small exam room…

NO! I was cuddling our beautiful baby girl…Jeff waited so long to become a Daddy…nothing could stop him from watching his children grow up…from walking his daughters down the aisle…to watching his son become a father and passing the family name to the next generation…why were they just standing there? But, I knew the answer, didn’t I!?

“As you know, your husband was here today for a colonoscopy. He has been bleeding internally and we needed to find the source of the blood. We found a tumor…” I tried to concentrate on the next words coming from Jeff’s doctor, but I seem to have gone deaf.

“I guess I won’t be taking Jeff to In-N-Out.” I told the doctor about my earlier promise. I smiled and was silent. He seemed to know that I needed a moment to process reality.

I was standing there, holding Anna. I was dizzy and darkness was creeping in from the sides of my eyes. Shouldn’t the doctor take Anna from me so I don’t drop her? I sat down in the only chair in the room.
I knew what my next question was going to be, but how would I ask it? I started my question several times, but only uttered a few disconnected words… “Is…will…it’s not…he can’t be…Jeff is not terminal…” came out more as a shaky statement than a question.

Dr. Nodurft explained we wouldn’t know anything without more tests and until the pathology was completed on the specimen that would be collected during surgery. We talked a bit more and I was told that Jeff was still out and wouldn’t be ready for me for awhile. The good doctor suggested a nice, quiet spot outside by the reflection pond where I could make some phone calls. He assured me he would come get me when Jeff was awake and ready for a visit.

I sat down by the pond. Nobody was around but the coffee cart barista. I don’t know what the temperature was, but I was cold and shivering. Anna was so quiet…almost as if she knew what was happening. She just looked at me as tears flowed down my face.

I remember thinking of a line from one of my favorite TV shows, Lost. Jack, the young doctor character, explained that in order to deal with the emotional situations related to his work, he would allow himself to give into his fear/pain/grief for a count of ten. Then he would take a deep breath and concentrate on what had to be done to rectify the situation. I slowly counted to 10, took that all important deep breath and called my Mom.

“Mom?” I could barely get the word out.
“What’s going on?” Her voice was shaking by the end of her question. She knew where I was.
“They found cancer…” came out in one gush of breath, as if I had been punched in the stomach.
Mom was sobbing by the time she finished her “Oh my God!”
I gave her the limited information that I had. “They don’t know how bad…Jeff is being admitted…surgery tomorrow…Jeff doesn’t know yet…”
I guess Mom knew the “10-second Fear Rule” because she was quickly down to business.
“I will call your Dad and get him home…”
“You don’t have to pull him out of work,” I inserted because I knew Dad had used all his vacation time for the year.
“I can tell you that he will not be able to work after he hears this news. I will pack while he gets home and we will be there as soon as possible.” She already had a plan for getting Anna from me at the hospital, picking up Jessica and Christian from school, and staying at our house with the kids as long as we needed. Isn’t that what Moms do best? They take care of business when their kids need them!

The next call was to our church. I knew Jeff would want Father Jim to pray with us before the surgery. I requested Jeff be added to the parish prayer chain. Both requests were granted.

Next, Jeff’s Dad. The receptionist was telling me Jeff’s Dad was out of the office just as Jeff’s doctor walked up. “Jeff is awake and ready to see you.” I would track down Jeff’s Dad after I had a chance to see Jeff.
Anna and I were led to the transition room. I knew my eyes were swollen from crying, but my “10-seconds of Fear” were over (actually, by that time, I was up to about 40 seconds) and I was going to be strong for my incredible husband.

I could hear the beeping of the medical machines from all the patients hiding behind their privacy curtains. I could hear the nurses’ shoes squeaking on the floor. I could smell that unmistakable scent of “hospital.” Our eyes met. I was strong. He looked like he was still out of it. Everything else faded away. My grasp tightened on Anna’s stroller. There was a long pause, smiles from both of us, and almost simultaneously we both said, “I guess we’re not going to In-N-Out.” He had been told. He reached for my hand. Our grasp was strong. Neither of us let go. So many questions. Not many answers. No guarantees. Yet, we both felt a slight feeling of calm, serenity, peace. The feeling was buried by the fear and sadness and questions and that “spiraling out of control” feeling, but it was there. You can call it what you want…denial, hope, naiveté…I call it faith. No matter how small that pinprick of a feeling was, we knew everything was going to be okay. Looking back, I can pinpoint that moment, that first look and coming together of husband and wife during a life-altering situation, as the moment that God stopped walking with us, but gathered us in His protective arms and carried us. Together.

Ironically, as I finish writing this story, I am sitting in a waiting room. Anna is asleep in her stroller. It is one year later and Jeff is having his first colonoscopy since going through surgery to remove the tumor, which came with a foot of large intestine, some small intestine, his appendix and 29 lymph nodes. He was diagnosed with Stage 2 colon cancer, has endured six months of chemotherapy, and two additional surgeries. He is still dealing with side effects from the chemo, but we know those will fade one day soon.

“You can come in now.” The nurse is standing at the recovery room door. I had been pretty calm until this moment. I thank the nurse and start pushing Anna toward the door. The nurse is smiling at me and commenting on how cute Anna is. Although I smile back, I think I have stopped breathing.

I hear machines beeping, nurses’ shoes squeaking on the floor, and recognize that antiseptic smell. There are five nurses walking around the room. They all smile at me and make cute comments about Anna. Jeff’s nurse leads me to his bedside. He appears to be asleep.

Jeff’s nurse hands me the report from Dr. Nodurft. The first thing I see is a happy face. The report reads, “Well done, Mr. Locher! Your colon is perfectly normal! Great news. Next colonoscopy is recommended in three years. Let me know when you get back to cycling and we should go sometime!”

A single tear is rolling down my face. “Thank God! Jeff is going to be fine!,” I enthusiastically say to the nurse. I look over at Jeff…he hasn’t moved…his eyes are closed… and he is smiling.
I love you, Sweetheart! Make it an INCREDIBLE day, Everyone!

Monday, December 15, 2008


HOLY COW!!! I can't believe that I have a layout on the cover of a scrapbook magazine!!! Cute little Anna Banana is on the November cover of Scrapstreet Magazine!!! Not only did they put my layout on the cover, but they also sent me an AWESOME package of Cosmo Cricket paper, stamps, stickers... THE WORKS! I am so excited I CAN'T STAND IT... WOOOOO HOOOOO!!! There was also an article about the layout... here is the link... http://www.scrapstreet.com/mag08/nov2008/features/oncover.htm


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Our Christmas Card...

So... every year I write a Christmas letter that summarizes our year... I digitally add some photos... and I insert the letter into special Christmas cards. I LOVE our Christmas letters! I have them all saved and enjoy going back and reading what we did in 2001 or in 1995... or last year! But, for years I have wanted to make my own cards... a hand designed card that includes pictures and letter all in one. To be honest, although the thought to create handmade cards was enticing, the thought of making about 80 cards during the busiest time of the year almost gave me a heart attack!!! So I made a compromise...

I designed one original card and took it to my FAVORITE printer in town, Printing Solutions. After some discussion, it turns out I actually designed the card just right to have it printed, double sided, on beautiful gloss coated cardstock!!! And the copies look AWESOME! So, I might have made a compromise, but I just LOVE the final cards! Here are a few sneak peaks...
And if you live in the San Diego area, a quick little plug for Printing Solutions. I have been taking my 12 x 12 layouts to them for the past few years because getting good quality copies at that size is VERY difficult and expensive. Their prices are AMAZING, they do an incredible job and they are soooooo nice! They even have a note posted on the wall by the printer with my copy specifics so anyone in the office can do it for me! :-)

Yes, Dad, I am getting the cards in the mail this weekend! You will have yours shortly. I hope our Aussie friends get them before Christmas, but I am afraid I have waited a bit too long... have a GREAT weekend, everyone!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


SERIOUSLY!!! Chris is constantly surprising us with his sports talent! Last night was the Football awards banquet. It was BEAUTIFUL and a fun and emotional night! Here are Chris' acheivements (as spoken by a very proud Mom!)...

* 2nd Team All Valley League Tight End! (The process to name the All League players is pretty interesting! All of the coaches from the league get together and discuss/petition for/decided who will be awarded the best (1st team) player for each position and the second best (2nd team) player. This is a HUGE honor and to be named an All League Player as a Sophomore... WOW!!!)

* Highest number of receiving yards on the team this SEASON!!!

* Chris, and the starting offensive line, were all named Offensive MVPs of the year.

We are so proud of Chris! We are already in the thick of Varsity Basketball preseason. The boys recently beat cross town rival San Pasqual HS and just placed 3rd in their first tournament (we missed playing for the Championship by 1 POINT!!!) Here is a fun picture of Chris, mid-air, going up for a shot and VERY OBVIOUSLY being fouled... they didn't call the foul... he made the shot even though his right wrist is being HELD and the two guys are both holding him by the waist. I guess it takes a lot to keep Chris down!!!
Lots to do around here... off to see Jeff's Oncologist, Dr. Miller, for the last time this afternoon. He is moving onto another project. Jeff is still part of a chemo study and will be meeting with the team for the next few years. He is part of the control group and the way we look at it, the more blood tests and reviews that they do, the earlier they will catch anything if it DARES to show it's nasty little cancer head again! :-) Have a GREAT afternoon!!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Jessica, the Christmas Angels are here...

Yes, a week late, but Jessica, the Christmas Angels have visited our house and they left something here for you! Let me give you one guess what it is... :-)

But first, one of my favorite things during Christmas... Jeff is in reading stories to Anna, Chris is already in bed asleep, I am locking the doors and turning off all the lights... except for the Christmas tree...

the silence of the usually bustling house...

the quiet darkness and the soft glow of Christmas beauty and magic in the corner...

almost shining right into my soul...

I love sitting there on the couch, watching the twinkling lights playing along the tree branches and bouncing off the glitter and gold...

Memories of Christmas past... laughter, love...

Excitement over Christmas future... blessings, family, butterflies fluttering in my stomach...


Yes, Jessica, your chocolate a day advent calendar is here... hope you can get it before Christmas is over! :-) Love you, Sweetheart! Love to you all at this miraculous time of year.