Steve Update #1


It's been one month since my husband's younger brother, Steve was diagnosed with brain cancer on February 28th and it has been our mission to see him smile everyday.
Steve's brain tumor is a little larger than a baseball and is located in the frontal and temporal portion of the brain. It is because of it's location, that the normally inquisitive and talkative Steve is much more subdued these days.

Despite a detailed conversation with him on the day after he moved in with us (regarding his diagnosis and prognosis), Steve's short-term memory has blessedly failed him. He vaguely remembers his hospitalization and believes he was diagnosed with "sleeping too much". We do not correct him. Although we've agreed to honestly answer any questions Steve may have - he's not asking any.
The Spotswood Siblings at Brian's Wedding: Sheila, Tim, Steve and Doug
Steve remains pain-free, continues to be able to take care of himself, enjoys good food, hot tea, 'The Simpson's', "Monty Python', 'Antiques Road Show', 'Nova', old movies  (Young Frankenstein, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, The Princess Bride etc.), our dog Duke, all things British and frequent naps. Doug and he take short walks on pretty days and this past weekend, Steve attended the wedding of his nephew Brian.
Steve stylin' with Duke in the woods

So far, our mission is being accomplished.

White-Spotswood Wedding


Mr. & Mrs. Brian Spotswood

Brian and Doug
Ben, Brian, Brent & Doug Spotswood with Best Man, John.
Very well-behaved ring-bearers and flower girl
Miss Annslee Mae Spotswood, cutting up with her daddy, Ben
Not the best picture of my bro-in-law, Steve but for those of you who wanted to see my step-mother-of-the-groom dress - here ya go...
First Dance
The lovely couple
 There you have it...The White-Spotswood Wedding...more pictures to come... 

A Rehearsal Dinner


The venue for the Rehearsal Dinner was Angelina's Mexican Ristorante in The Colony, TexasPurple (aka 'lapis'), lavender and gray were the chosen wedding colors.

                                                    A 'dividing wall' in this large public restaurant room was done                                                        by placing a row of weighted balloons along the floor to create a visual 'barrier'.

Lavender napkins adding a little table height.
Centerpiece wreaths surrounding  rose bowls with two floating 'heart' candles in each.
An absolute party-prep cocktails. He the one taking pictures.

The absolutely adorable, Miss Annslee Mae Spotswood

The Unfortunate Incident - Part One


The subject matter of this post is unpleasant but I feel strongly that this episode in my life be shared.

It was a sunny spring afternoon in Dallas, 1986 when the care-free, happy-go-lucky, "here-for-a-good-time, not-a-long-time", twenty-six-year-old, party-girl grew up.

I was at work when another nurse told me that I had a phone call... "It's the Dallas Police" she whispered with urgency as she covered the receiver with her hand.

I guess there was no way of candy-coating what he was about to say. The officer on the line identified himself and said "Are you Diane Smith's (not her real name) roommate?" I told him that I was. "Well Ma'am, I'm sorry to say, Diane's been raped and is at Parkland's ER" he said. When I asked if she was alright, he just said,  "she asked that I call you". I knew her ability to speak was a good sign.

Parkland Memorial Hospital was the only Trauma Center in Dallas County at the time and although they had not yet installed metal detectors, from the looks of things...they could have used a few. A consistently overcrowded county hospital, it was known for treating the hoards of indigent and President John F. Kennedy. When I finally found Diane, she was curled up on a stretcher in the hallway. Alive, alone and crumpled into a heaping mess of tears, blood and dirt.

Adult Lesson #1
Always listen to your inner voice.

Diane had been riding her bike around White Rock Lake. She told me that on her first loop of the lake, she saw a guy that "didn't look like he belonged there". "Everyone else was walking, running, skating, whatever, but they were doing something. He was just standing there". "I should have known". It was on her second loop of the lake that the same guy hid in a thicket of bushes, kicked her bike over and dragged her into a wooded area where he proceeded to rape and beat her.

With a hunting knife held to her throat, Diane's assailant threatened he would kill her if she made a sound. She said that she was stunned, shocked and could barely breathe with his weight on her. During the rape, she told me that her mind "went to another place. It was like I wasn't really there. I remember thinking of how my body would be found, what the newspaper headlines would say, how mom and dad would take it, when would you find out what happened to me" she said. "I guess I must have been moaning or something because he punched me hard in the face. That's when I 'woke up' and knew that I had to think of a way to get away." Eventually, Diane was able to talk her rapist into allowing her to sit up "just to get my breath" she said. It was then that she took the opportunity to "run like hell".

Bleeding, dirty and naked from the waist down, she ran out into an open area of the park. Screaming for help. She said, "Everybody ignored me. I guess you couldn't really blame them, because I looked crazy, but...a lady with a baby in a stroller literally turned in the opposite direction when I begged her to help me" she said.

Adult Lesson #2
"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers for by doing so, some have unwittingly entertained Angels." HEBREWS 13:2
"It was a Wino" who finally came to her rescue. He retrieved newspapers from a trash basket for Diane to cover herself with, then brought her to his "Winette" who stayed with her as he went to get help.

Free Advice: On Finding Love - Part Four


Every now and then, I reflect on myself as that single woman in her thirties, looking for love. Knowing what I know now, my advice to her would go something like this...
"Hey! Lighten up a little!"

Yes, it's true. When it came to finding love I was a tad too serious. Little did I know that a lot of (normal) guys kinda like lighthearted, fun, self-confident women. Who knew?

Picture this... you spend a decade looking for Mr./Ms. Right. You worry about how you look, what you say, if you eat  too much, if you laugh too loudly or dance like a duck. Mr./Ms. Right doesn't make an appearance. Sounds like you could have had a lot more fun in that decade, don't you think?

When I was about thirty-five, I was going out to meet a girlfriend at a local sports bar. I didn't really want to go. The place was known for hosting a younger crowd and I was feeling particularly old but on  'Oprah' that day, she had a guest who advised... "When you enter into an uncomfortable situation - walk in and smile as if you are a member of the personal welcoming committee". Yeah, right.  Well I thought about it some and decided that I could muster up a 'smirk' if absolutely necessary.

Later that evening, I walked into 'Stan's Blue Note', my head held high, shoulders back, and grinning like a nutcase. Then, out of the blue, a guy approached me and invited me to join he and his friends for a beer while I waited for my girlfriend (who never did show up). Did I meet Mr. Right? No. But I did meet a great group of people, one who continues to be a great friend, today.

So I guess the moral to this story is... while on the hunt for Mr./Ms. Right...have fun.



Steve at his 50th Birthday Party - Murder Mystery Night
Our family is experiencing a loss. Our loss is the fact that my brother-in-law, Steve, is dying. He's fifty years old.

Three weeks ago, Steve was diagnosed with an "astrocytoma". In his case, this is a rapidly growing brain cancer and due to its size and location, it has been determined, that he will not survive this disease.

Our blessing, is that my husband and I have the honor of caring for him until he dies. Steve has moved into our home with us and we wouldn't have it any other way.

For now, Steve is comfortable and pain free. With the exception of sleeping for 12 to 16+  hours a day, it's hard to believe that he will be gone soon.

I'll keep you posted...

Free Advice: On Finding Love - Part Three


The Family-Wedding Test

I was never great at choosing the right guy and couldn't quite figure out how I would end up in nowhere relationships until I decided that in order to date someone, they would have to pass my Family-Wedding Test first. My theory was that if I felt comfortable taking him to a family wedding, then I was on the right track to a healthy relationship. My advice may not be rocket-science but it does help to ferret out those with whom you should not even think of entering into a relationship with. 

Think about it.

A family-wedding requires that you feel confident that your date ...
  • be able to carry on some sort of normal conversation, even they are shy and can only talk about the weather.
  • have basic table manners and can deal with the fact that your cousin "It" may not.
  • will just laugh if your drunken uncle Bob repetitively asks him, "So, when are you going to pop the question?".
  • will behave in a gentlemanly/ladylike manner.
  • will not get totally wasted during the reception.
  • will ask your grandmother/grandfather to dance.
At no point do I even mention what your potential wedding date might look like. It's because it really doesn't matter. Believe me when I sincerely say that once you love and are loved by someone, they become beautiful - despite their physical flaws.

"Yeah...right" you might say to me..."That's all fine and good, but what about feeling physically attracted? What about chemistry?" And I say to you... "Who cares? You're just looking for a decent date for a wedding (or whatever)". See...Free Advice On Falling In Love; Part Two

So, the next time you need  (or just want) a date - think about asking out the guy/girl who could pass the family wedding test first - so what if they look a lot like Lyle Lovett? You're not marrying them, it's just a date.

Then see what happens... you might be pleasantly surprised.  Finding Love:Part 4

Free Advice: On Finding Love - Part Two

A few (ahem) years ago, as a single, thirty-something, I was convinced that 'normal' guys were non-existent.

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't one of the women who had created a list spanning an arm's length of all the qualities I needed in a perfect mate. At thirty-five-ish, I was just wanting to find a guy that had already dealt with his 'issues' and didn't need me to be his full-time mother, therapist or banker.

Little did I know that a girl like me, was a magnet for a guy like that.

And then I put my foot down. If it looked like someone I was dating needed me to cook for him, do his errands, help him with his substance abuse problem, talk about his marriage troubles or could use a was over before it started.

You might be thinking....Oh, c'mon, I would never get involved with a guy/girl like that. But, it happens. All the time.

I have learned that just because you may be pleasant, kind, caring and/or drunk, some people (whether they know it or not) may view those qualities in you as an opportunity for their gain.

I call them "Relationship Vampires".

Oh, they're probably not intrinsically bad - but they are manipulative and self centered people who have most likely gained from this behavior throughout their lives and once you are lured into their web by their big, soulful eyes and sweet smile, it can be difficult to remove yourself as you may have already become emotionally entangled.

Be aware that it's never too late to kick a Relationship Vampire to the curb (so to speak) but it never ends well and it will always have been your fault. Just sayin'.

As we say in nursing circles...the faster you rip that bandage off, the better.

If you are out there looking to find true love, beware of the Relationship Vampire. In the long run, you'll be glad you did - even if he/she had the biggest, most soulful eyes and/or sweetest smile ever.

The goal is to share your life with someone who considers you as highly as you consider them. Finding Love: Part 3

Paranoid in South America

Anticipating travel to South America was both exciting and scary. Admittedly, reports of muggings, kidnappings and police corruption go...