Ring Master MomNovember 4, 2015Leave a comment

My Mom’s Celebration of Life

Thank you all for your calls, texts, emails, cards, hugs, and comfort sent to me and my family. My most fabulous Mommy passed away on October 20th after a 2 year battle with aplastic anemia. I wanted to share a few memories from her celebration of life we had a few days ago.

My cousins and their children


My family


I was lucky enough to have the best Mother in the entire world. There’s no way I could have said everything I wanted to on Sunday, but here’s what I did share.

I don’t think that one would describe me as a person of very few words. Like my Mother, I am blessed with the gift of the gab. My Mom and I were best friends – something she made clear that would happen after my childhood. “Jeannette,” she said, “I’m a Mother first, friend next.” I could be up here for days thinking about all of the memories of my favorite lady. I thought I’d share a few stories that really define Mary Ann.

First off, a totally incomplete list of my Mother. She was a lifeguard, swim instructor, teacher, coach, avid reader, synchronized swimmer, painter, dark chocolate consumer, french language attempter-er, sassy housewife, baker, volunteer extraordinaire, voted most athletic in high school, cal grad and sports fanatic, president of the local alumni group, Hostess with the Mostess, most fabulous witch at Halloween, team mom, room mom, Grandma, Auntie Mimi, and as Erik and I called her as toddler, “the best mommy in the world of London”

As the nursery rhyme goes, “Mary Mary, quite contrary!” She wore red in her wedding dress, which was definitely “not done” in those days and she claimed that since she was part Russian and Russian brides wore red, it was totally appropriate. My Mother also sported Cal beads and wore her “Beat Stanford” shirt any time she could at Stanford Hospital.

My Mother had a heart of gold. A self proclaimed “dog person” who on more than one occasion was attacked by a cat. A stray came in her backyard and the lady fed it and named it! To this day, I don’t know where this cat lady side came from.

She wanted to push people to their full potential by showing them how to do the work themselves. She completely prepared me for motherhood with this next story. When I went into labor with Patrick, he was about 2 weeks early. She rushed over to my apartment with my Dad to build the crib and changing table, but she told me when we came home that she wasn’t there to do my laundry, dishes, or shopping. She was there to teach me how to rock him to sleep, bathe him, take us out for walks and enjoy being a Grandma. This helped me tremendously when I had Alice. I checked myself out of the hospital early and went home and cooked french toast while nursing Alice. She wanted me to enjoy motherhood with all its crazy moments and not expect her to be the maid. And that made for a great attitude and expectations I have with my own children.

Mary Ann was a true kid at heart. At our last Disneyland vacation, Alice and Patrick wanted to go on the teacups over and over with James and my Dad. My Mom and I bailed (delicate tummies don’t enjoy that ride over and over) and we had the park to ourselves! We could have picked any ride, but we ran to the carousel and giggled and waved at everyone and shouted, “Woohoo!” as we went around and around.

This lady was always ready for an adventure – taking Erik and I camping as infants. Going back each year even though there were horror stories from the previous year when Erik had to get stitches in his finger or we had to locate the ER when I thought I broke a bone in my foot. When she was about to go in the hospital for the first time, we sort of snuck in a trip to Pinecrest for the week with my Dad and Alice and Patrick. Her doctors said, “Weeeeell, we’re not exactly saying no, but we’d like it if you weren’t around dirt.” She of course took that as a heck yes! She was about making memories as we went for walks every day, learned about nature, and then painted while enjoying a wine and cheese plate.

She also planted the travel bug at a young age. When I was 12 and Erik was 10, my Mom and Dad were thinking about a trip to Europe for the Olympics in Barcelona. We were there for 5 weeks and then she sent us on our own when I was 17 and Erik was 15. This summer we took Patrick and Alice to France and England. Not once did she say, “Oh heavens, that’s too young – they won’t remember a thing!” She knew it would plant seeds in them to become more aware of the larger world. After our trip, I took Alice to visit my Mom at the hospital. There was a large picture of the Mona Lisa near the front door and Alice was pleased as punch that she remembered seeing that at the Louvre and told my Mom immediately when we walked in. My Mom winked at me and said, “See, she gets it!”

One of her favorite sayings was about character. She defined it as, “What you do when nobody is looking.” She taught this to me near the end of high school and always reminded it to me in college. I think this truly defined my Mother; as most of the wonderful stories I’ve heard from others seem to have a theme of her giving soooo much while nobody was looking.

My Mom loved coaching the IHS tennis team. She did this not because she enjoyed the sport, but out of necessity. Erik didn’t have a coach one year, and the team couldn’t play without one. As an ex-physical education teacher, she knew she could get by and help keep the boys playing. She did this for several years after Erik graduated also. I will never forget one day when she was talking to my Grandma and I about the team. Kids weren’t turning in forms on time, lots may not play because of their grades, and there were a few pre season matches that may not take place because of scheduling problems. My Grandmother and I both asked her why she was still coaching. She said there was still nobody to coach and that she wanted to be there for her boys. Her kindness and thoughtfulness towards others is always a gift I will treasure.

Speaking of the tennis team, my Mother of course had to show those boys who was boss. One day when the athletic director drove over and shouted at her from his car while she was on the court to come over to talk, she replied with, “I ain’t no holla back girrrl!” My Mother, the feminist who wants you to speak to her like a real person!

She once told me that her biggest fear was dying while her children were young. She said she always wanted us to have memories together. Not only is her fear something that didn’t happen, but as you know, her kind and giving spirit lives on with my family, and all of you. When you see a rainbow, think of my colorful Mom. When you are at a Cal game, shout, “Go Bears!” When you see some chocolate, do what Mary Ann would do. Enjoy it all at once!

I wanted to end with a sunny memory because my Dad always called her his sunshine. My Mom believed in God. She knew His teachings would bring her peace and understanding in her toughest times. She joined Pinterest several years ago and didn’t have many things pinned, but loved finding new holiday ideas and commenting on what I found. This is a quote from her inspirational board from C.S. Lewis “I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun – not because I can see it, but by it I can see everything else.” Thank you for letting me share my sunshine with you.

My brother wrote a great poem for her to the tune of Green Eggs & Ham.

That son-I am.
That son-I am.
I am a happy son-I am.
I have a mom named Mary Ann.
I am the luckiest son-I am.
I always felt comfy in the house.
And watched the cartoons, Mickey Mouse.
So many amazing books to read.
That mom of mine she’s great indeed.
I will play outside today.
Any sport, my mom will play.
Let’s go swimming, learn to float
Or on the lake out in a boat.
What’s that amazing smell?
I think I just heard the dinner bell.
Wow, mom, this is amazing food.
The food the food…puts me in a good mood.
Have a Fenton’s sundae or two.
It’s huge! It’s huge! We’ll make it through!
Would you come to the Cal game?
If you don’t, it’s a shame.
You may like them, you will see.
You may like them, but not the tree.
Say, on the courts!
On the courts.
Would you, could you win your match on the courts?
Yes, coach, I will persevere.
You taught me so much, I have no fear.
Looks like you like the watch, my treat.
You’ll need shoes to match, don’t miss a beat.
Zip Line! Zip Line!
Could you, would you do a zip line!
I know your fear of heights.
But would you give it a try?
Grandkids come here and come and play.
Remember the game we played yesterday?
We play and play and play all day.
We jump in the pool and have some fun.
We never ever want to say we’re done!
Blood disease..Blood disease?
I’ll get over it, you’ll see.
Let’s try this, and let’s try that.
Chemotherapy and transplant.
I am strong. Bryant’s never quit.
I’ll get through this, won’t hurt a bit.
I like these things that I was taught.
Caring, sharing, giving a lot.
Read to children, show them art.
Raise them with a Mary Ann heart.
Thank you!
Thank you, son-I am.

We had so many fantastic people come up and share what Mary Ann meant to them. My Dad hired the Cal women’s octet as a surprise for the end. Here is a link to the entire service:

One memory of camping trips is listening to wonderful music in the car like John Denver. My Dad always called my Mom his sunshine, and this song is for her:

Big thanks to my brother for recording and to my Auntie for these pictures. She also spent a tremendous amount of time collecting all of the pictures for the video of my Mother’s life. I truly have the best family.


Ring Master MomJanuary 20, 20142 Comments

Welcome ALT SLC friends!

Yay – you made it to my blog and I’m 100% I’m excited that I met you during Alt!

A little about myself – I’m a stay at home Mom with two kids (maybe three if you count my hubby…I kid…kinda) and four chickens and we live in Mountain View, CA. Patrick is 4 and Alice is 2 and we love doing crafts, going for nature walks on the way to the park, cooking, eating out, and traveling. This blog is where I post all of that and then some.

For example, today we all helped plant a ton of flowers, cleaned out the chicken coup, dug holes for bulbs, and tried to figure out exactly where to plant all the fruits and veggies for next season.

It was a lot of work with finding a LOT of roots in one section of the yard (oh, right next across from the sequoia tree – what a surprise!), trying to work with soil that has lots of clay in it, and still finding shards of glass from a ginormous glass window that shattered a few years ago when we renovated our home. Phew!

Please check out my About Me link.

Leave me some love.

And to my friends and family who follow my blog – I am about to head off to a conference in Salt Lake City and I’m really pumped because I get to relax for 3 days, learn new things about blogging and design, and party it up with the most creative people around!! The nerd in me is already looking forward to blogging about everything and I haven’t even packed yet!


Ring Master MomNovember 30, 20131 Comment

Blood Drive for my Mommy

Hi Friends – Thank you for your kind emails, calls, letters, gifts, and support to my Mom during her time in the hospital and at home. Many of you have asked what you can do to help. Here’s some info for you straight from my Mommy.

Calling all friends! Save the date! Saturday, January 4th from 9:30-3:30 there will be a Red Cross blood drive in my honor. I won’t directly benefit from this drive, but there are many others who will. It will be held at the CSAA building at 39600 Balentine Dr. in Newark, CA. for which I thank them kindly for their space.

As many of you know, I came down with a rare blood disease called Aplastic Anemia. (only 600-900 cases a year in the U.S., my doctor says I’m “one in a million”.) My bone marrow shut down and my white blood cells started to attack themselves. I had a special treatment to kill off my bad white cells, so I currently have a very low immune system as I need to wait a few months for that to start up. My platelets are so low that my blood doesn’t clot well. This makes cuts and bruises dangerous.

To help me get through this disease, I have been having platelet transfusions every 4-7 days, and the blood transfusions every 2-3 weeks. I absolutely had no idea about the demand for blood other than for accidents or surgeries. Sitting in the Transfusion Center at Stanford with all the people with blood disorders and other problems, made me so aware of the need for blood. I can’t thank the donors enough for their gift of allowing me more time with my family and friends. I have occasionally donated blood, but I sure do wish I had donated more often. I am no longer able to donate blood, but I would love to give back.

So… I am asking for your help. My good friend, Rita Rosen, has set up a blood drive. It would be great if you could donate blood. If not, send a friend, child, sibling, or spouse to the drive. Posting this note at work, or passing it on to friends would be great. I’m not picky! Please let me know soon if you can make it so I have enough Red Cross people at the drive. And don’t worry… the only bowl game that Saturday is the BBVA Compass Bowl.

Happy Thanksgiving to you. I know that I am thankful for the generosity of strangers who made their blood donations so I can overcome this disease.



Ring Master MomNovember 10, 2013Leave a comment

I’m still here!!

Hi friends!

I’m sorry I’ve been M.I.A. as of late.  My poor Mommy has been sick and as much as I like to think I can do a quick post here, it’s often time consuming.  With everything going on, it’s also the last thing on my to-do list for the day so it never seems to get done.

My Mommy started training with my Daddy for a 65 mile bike ride in Chico the end of April.  Around that time, she had a bruised/broken rib and from then, never really felt better.  Her doctors performed every test and the poor dear was submitting blood tests every few days while getting no firm results.  About a month ago, they noticed that her white and red blood cell count was low – so low that if she got a bruise or cut, she was to immediately go to the emergency room.  We were able to go out a few times, and luckily I was able to keep her safe.  But a week later, she somehow hit her hand and it began to swell right away, so off to the emergency room she went.  The doctors were still unsure what was causing her blood counts to drop, and they kept her in isolation in the hospital while trying to treat the symptoms.  This was the toughest part for me.  Not being able to see my Mommy.  It’s very selfish, but once I heard she was in the emergency room, I got the kids dressed, and started driving over.  I hadn’t thought about the possibility of not seeing her.  I understand why I and others weren’t allowed in, but it made my heart so blue to not be able to hug her, talk to her in person, or squeeze her hand.

After about a week in the hospital closest to her home, she was transferred to Stanford to undergo more testing, and blood and platelet transfusions.  She was in her own room, but able to see visitors, and wouldn’t you know it, I believe I was there every night to bug her!!  She was only able to see close family, and no grandkids yet.  Finally, the doctors were able to diagnose her with aplastic anemia.  Right now she’s back at home undergoing treatment that could take 3 months to show any effect of working.  My Mommy also has to deal with drugs, steroids, and more blood/platelet transfusions.  She is in isolation for 3-6 months or the soonest her body can make blood and platelets again – only close family may visit and I’m at home with a cold.  She still can’t see her grandbabies, so I’m hopeful that soon her numbers will go up and she can venture out again.  I was hopeful that she’d be able to receive a bone marrow transplant since my brother and I were ready to donate, but it doesn’t look like that’s the treatment option for someone her age.  She’s also been a trooper with the lack of sleep from one of the medications, pain, weird bruising, etc.  And is always there to listen to me blab on about my day.  <3

What can you do?  My Mom still would love to hear from you if she hasn’t already.  You can send her a message on her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/bestmomwol), and donate blood, platelets, and sign up to be a bone marrow donor if you haven’t already.  I am so hopeful that this treatment will work for her.  We’re not allowed to get together for Thanksgiving this year, but we’re already making some grand plans for Christmas.  Thank you for all your wonderful notes/calls/texts/emails.  They have meant the world to me, and I appreciate the time you’ve taken out of your day to help out.  XOXOXO!!


Ring Master MomNovember 9, 2013Leave a comment

Quick survey

I have one kickass Mommy friend who along with another friend are starting a new business.  They’re going to be hosting educational playgroups in homes for an hour and a half while Mommies (or Daddies) run errands, go to the gym, or hang out together – whatever!

They’d love your feedback here (we know we all have some!!) – and it should only take a minute or two.


Thanks for your time!!