Saturday, September 30, 2006


Wow...for those of you who didn't get to watch the game tonight (the KU/NU game, that is), you missed an exciting one! Our quarterback Adam Barmann threw 3 INTs and had one fumble in the first half (the fumble was at our goal line and one interception was in the end zone), but our Jayhawks didn't give up! We were only down by 14 at half time, and our offensive line and run defense really stepped it up in the second half. We came back to tie the game in the final seconds, but unfortunately couldn't score to match Nebraska in O.T. If only, if only, if only we hadn't had so many turnovers or given up 3 long bombs for touchdowns, we could have actually won in Lincoln, which hasn't happened since several years before I was born. What a bummer. At least we made it respectable, but how heartbreaking that our only two losses on the year were both in overtime games! Oh well, at least our program seems to be heading in the right direction--and at least our coach could eat your coach!

For the hot-off-the-presses story from the Lawrence Journal-World, click here.

Friday, September 29, 2006


Last night, Chad and I went to the weekly meeting of our "Journey Group" from church. Over the last year or so, we've been so blessed by this wonderful group of friends! We have so much fun at our weekly gatherings, where we usually spend about an hour doing a group Bible study (right now we're working on John Calvin: Sovereign Hope) and at least another hour socializing and laughing our heads off. Last night we were sharing about our best/worst Halloween costumes as children, and we were in hysterics hearing about how our friend Beth's dad was a slavedriver when it came to trick-or-treating. He would map out routes to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the candy acquisition of his children, only allowing costumes which provided the kids with superior maneuverability. Beth says that several years she remembers crying from exhaustion while her dad forged ahead on their candy gathering mission. Apparently the hard work paid off in the end though, as the kids would gather enough candy (sometimes over 10 pounds each) to last them well into the next summer.

I am so thankful for the laughter we shared last night with these wonderful friends. It was the first time since Steeler's death that Chad and I had been really social and the first time we'd laughed really hard. It felt really good. :)

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Someday soon I'll finally get to a synopsis of day three of my walk, but today I had to share an amazing story about a friend of ours. Yesterday at the UCLA Medical Center, our little 4-year-old friend Gibson Huston underwent brain surgery. Not just any brain surgery--Gibson had a hemispherectomy, which is a removal of one hemisphere of the brain. In Gibson's case, a portion of his left hemisphere was completely removed, and the remaining portion was completely disconnected so that it will no longer be functional. This dramatic and extensive surgery was necessary because Gibson has suffered from severe seizures since he was 3 years old, despite being on several anti-seizure medications. His seizures are caused by a very rare brain abnormality called hemimegalencephaly (H.M.E.), which more or less means that one half of his brain is much larger than the other. His H.M.E. is caused by a rare genetic disorder.

His parents, our friends Saasha and Dan (Saasha is my good friend Heather's sister), researched many options, but finally made the decision that would be best for Gibby's future well being. If the seizures were left to continue, Gibson would start to lose his cognitive abilities, since each seizure he has causes minor brain damage. While he will have some minor physical impairments after surgery, children who have a hemispherectomy early in life usually go on to lead very normal lives, since the remaining half of their brain learns and absorbs the functions of the half that was removed. The human body is so amazing and complex is absolutely astounds me!

Gibson's surgery lasted all day yesterday, and he was wheeled into the pediatric intensive care just before midnight. The surgery went just as planned and expected, but Gibson will have at least 4-5 days of recovery before he is allowed to leave the hospital. If you'd like to read more about Gibson, you can check out an article from the Lawrence Journal-World a few weeks ago, or you can go to Gibson's Caring Bridge site where you can read the details of his story and get updates from his family.

Hang in there Hustons! You're in our prayers!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Menu Makers

Tonight I went to Menu Makers for the first time with my friend Lindsay in Topeka. For those of you haven't heard of Menu Makers, it's kind of hard to describe. There are different Menu Maker type franchises in different cities, but for this particular one in Topeka (which is officially called Menu Makers USA) you go to Chef Alli's demo kitchen in the Factory Direct Appliance store, where Alli and her staff have 12 different recipes with all the ingredients right there for you. All you do is mix them up and throw them together--they provide all the baggies and pans to take them home in. At the end of the evening (it's supposed to take two hours, but I took 2 1/2 since it was my first time and I was rather slow) you have up to 12 different meals all ready for the freezer. You just take them out when you don't feel like preparing anything, throw them in the oven or on the grill, throw together a side dish, and voila--dinner is served. After we actually eat some, I'll let you know if the recipes are any good! :)

Monday, September 25, 2006

One More Amazing Detail

Someday soon, I promise that every post won't be about Steeler, but there was one more thing that I just noticed that is too amazing not to share. I was looking at our website, which I don't update very often, pondering how I was going to change the site to reflect Steeler's passing. On the front page I'd written how Steeler and Celtic came to live with us on September 20, 1997. Steeler died on September 20, 2006. I think this amazing coincidence is just more proof that he was an amazing dog.

Memories of the Steely Man

Since Steeler's death, Chad and I have been pretty unmotivated. I haven't had much of an interest in anything--not socializing, exercising, cooking, housecleaning, or blogging--so I've pretty much done nothing all week. We've lavished Celtic and Hope (especially Celtic) with lots of attention, cried a lot, and eaten a lot of fast food. We've received an outpouring of love and concern from our friends and family, which has been so comforting. I know that many people probably think we're insane for taking this loss so hard, but as a childless couple, our dogs mean everything to us. Steeler and Celtic filled a void, at a time in our lives when we were devastated about not being able to have children of our own. They made our lives so complete, we eventually lost the desire to have human children at all. Although we've obviously always known that we would outlive the boys and Hope, they all seemed to be in such great health, we expected to enjoy Steeler's companionship for at least another 5 years. I still have such a hard time accepting that he's really gone.

Last week I stuggled with whether or not we should have noticed that something was wrong with Steeler. The vet assured us that Steeler didn't want us to know that he felt badly, because his instinct is to not to show any signs of weakness to his "pack" that might cause him to get picked on. Regardless, I just felt like because we're so much closer to our dogs than many people are, somehow we should have sensed his discomfort. I went online to research canine spleen cancer, and found this website about canine hemangiosarcoma, which describes Steeler's cancer perfectly.

Hemangiosarcoma is a very aggressive, high-grade soft tissue sarcoma with the most common areas affected being the spleen and heart. A highly malignant cancer which preys on blood vessels, it can spread rapidly, causing tumors almost anywhere in the body. Hemangiosarcoma is insidious, as it attempts to build it's own blood vessel network, making blood blister like formations which disrupts normal organ function. It is commonly in the advanced stage before detection, making it virtually a silent killer.

When the vet showed us pictures of Steeler's spleen that he had taken during the autopsy, it was almost completely covered in blistery lesions. The vet indicated that he wouldn't have had long to live even if the cancer had been found earlier, and the webpage regarding hemangiosarcoma indicates that dogs often die weeks (rather than months) after diagnosis, with surgery and chemo extending their lives 4-6 months at the most. We certainly wouldn't have wanted to subject him to the pain and discomfort of such treatment to extend his life such a short time, so for his sake, we're so thankful that he only had a few hours of severe discomfort before leaving this earth.

With that said, we still wish we could have had even a few more weeks with Steeler. As my friend Amanda so perfectly put it, no matter how long we have with our pets, it's never long enough. I wish I would have taken more pictures of Steeler, Celtic and Hope together, and more pictures of us as a family of five. Although we've taken lots of pictures of Hope in the year that she's been with us, there are only few pictures of the three of them together. I wish we would have taken the dogs on more trips and outings as of late, since we've been reluctant to do so since becoming a 3 dog family. Toting around over 150 pounds of hound just seemed a little overwhelming. I wish I would have taken more video clips with our digital camera, which would have done a much better job of capturing the essence of Steeler--the way he would slather you with kisses the second you walked in the door; the way he would curl his whole body around and tuck his nose into your side when he wanted to snuggle; the way he would sneak into the bathroom trash, take out the tissue, and tear it into a million pieces; the way he would stretch his back legs straight out behind him, with his "arms" straight out in front, earning the nickname "Long Dog"; the way he would pant nervously in the backseat of the car, fighting off the carsickness he so often succumbed to as a puppy; the way he would hear a noise in the distance and start howling with his eyes closed, getting lost in the moment, forgetting what he was howling about, until you quitely spoke his name; the way he would let his littler brother chase him around the yard, never running at full speed because he was always looking over his shoulder; the way he ran like the wind and bayed his little head off when there was a rabbit in the yard; the way he never gave up the search for Chad or I when we played hide and seek in the house, and would diligently look for us in every nook and cranny (including the toilet) while his brother excitedly waited for him to do all the hard work; the way he always managed to get tripped over while he awkardly tried to avoid being tripped over; the way he always wanted to roll on your wet towel or wet hair when you came out of the shower, or on the dirty clothes pile on the floor while you were sorting laundry, the way he did less than 12 hours before he died. These are the wonderful things we want to remember about our boy Steeler.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Words really can't express my sorrow, but since I guess blogs are for expressing yourself, I'm giving it a try. This morning at about 3:45 a.m., we lost our beloved boy Steeler. He was 9 years old. We had no idea, but apparently Steeler had been battling cancer for at least the last several months. He showed no signs of being ill at all until Tuesday evening, when he seemed to have some mild stomach discomfort after dinner. Since intestinal issues were nothing new to Steeler, we thought nothing of it and went for our normal evening walk. He seemed fine until bedtime, when he became unusually lethargic. We debated on whether to call the vet, but there weren't many clear symptoms, so we decided to wait until morning. At 2:00 a.m., I awoke to Steeler's rapid breathing as he lay next to me in bed. Our vet wasn't taking emergency calls, so we took him to a 24-hour clinic in Topeka. He walked into the office under his own power, but his lethargy was completely out of character. Within minutes of starting the exam, the vet already knew what we couldn't even begin to comprehend. Just after the vet started an IV and was preparing to do an x-ray, Steeler's breathing stopped. The vet was able to restart his heart momentarily, but the effort was futile. Our dear canine son passed away as we watched helplessly.

We asked the vet to do an autopsy, which found the cancer throughout his spleen and into his liver. The cancer had apparently caused a lesion on his intestines, which caused peritonitis, which is generally fatal in dogs and often fatal in humans. We were comforted somewhat by the fact that had we brought Steeler to the vet at bedtime 4 hours before, the ultimate result would have been the same.

The vet suggested we bring Steeler's body home so that Celtic and Hope could see him and understand why he wasn't coming back. Hope inspected him carefully, but surprisingly, Celtic took a very quick sniff and then darted away from his body. I suppose he understands that Steeler is gone, but I'm sure he is confused as to why he left the house alive and returned in such a different state. Chad thinks maybe Celtic already sensed that Steeler wasn't well, which may be true since Celtic is a very sensitive boy. Regardless, every time we walk in the door, Celtic sits and watches it, as if waiting for Steeler to come in behind us. I know Celtic will miss his brother every bit as much as we will. In their 9 years on earth, they never spent a night apart.

The pain is so great right now I feel as though my heart will never recover. I know our lives will never quite be the same. We are trying to be thankful for 9 wonderful years with Steeler, and that we were able to give him such a loving home and pampered life. We are thankful that his battle with cancer was not long and agonizing, and that we weren't left to make the decision to have him euthanized. We are so amazingly thankful for Hope, since without her companionship, I'm not sure that Celtic would survive without his brother and best friend. Finally, we are thankful for each other and for our faith. Even though we don't understand it right now, God has a purpose and this is all part of His perfect plan.

In Memory of Steeler Swann Luce
June 26, 1997-September 20, 2006

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Day 2 in Review

Day Two
Day two began at around 5:15 as I heard Cindy and Carla stirring the tent next to me. After a wash of the face and a hearty breakfast, we put on our walking gear, repacked our things and started off on a new day. I think we left camp somewhere around 7:15 or 7:30. Carla's hip was really hurting after sleeping on the ground, so we started off at a pretty slow pace that just got slower. The morning was nice and cool, and we continued to walk through the scenic, wooded areas of the hike/bike trails, enjoying lots of shade, but also lots of hills. I started to feel a hot spot (future blister) on my pinky toe, so I stopped at the next pit stop (pit stops contained snacks, a "hydration station" and potties) and pulled out my Body Glide (an anti-friction agent that looks like deoderant), and applied it liberally between my toes. My toe didn't bother me the rest of the weekend--yea Body Glide!! We were back on the road soon after, but the slow pace was killing my back, not to mention that my competitive nature was very frustrated by the fact that we were being passed by elderly women and very unathletic people. I was also anxious to get to the first cheering station, where I knew Chad would be waiting for me. At the 7 mile pit stop, I started walking without my team, and it felt so good to finally start walking fast! For several miles, I walked with a 25-year-old college student who had forked over $1500 of her own to reach the $2200 minimum so that she could participate. She knew no one with breast cancer, but had been in a near fatal accident a year and a half before, and she just felt like she needed to give back, since so many people had given so much to her when she was relearning how to walk and talk during her recovery. It was amazing to me that 12 months ago she couldn't walk at all, and here she was paying money to walk 60 miles!

Anyway, soon after meeting up with my new walking buddy, I made it to the first cheering station, where Chad was waiting with our nephews Miles and Quinton and his mom Joan. The cheering stations along the route were absolutely wonderful, where sometimes hundreds of people would be standing around clapping and thanking the walkers as we went by. They handed out popscicles and kids gave us candy, and it was really quite touching. Often there were people just sitting along the route cheering us on even where there wasn't an official cheering station. One mom sat in her yard with her kids and gave them squirt bottles to spray all the walkers, which was great since it got into the 90s on Saturday!

The rest of the day was a bit grueling, as the temperature rose and we walked on city streets with no shade. After a few more pit stops and another cheering station, we finally saw the sign telling us there was just one more mile to camp. As it turns out, there was just under a mile to the Shawnee Mission Park entrance, but then at least a half mile walk around the park to get our camp entrance! I'm not sure who was measuring this course, but they certainly didn't make it very accurate! I lost my walking partner in the last half mile of hills, but I felt great as I walked into camp about 3:15. I soaked my feet in the ice tub and used the electric foot massagers before enjoying a nice dinner and a long hot shower in the mobile shower units. When Cindy arrived at camp, her GPS again read over 24 miles!

That night, a severe thunderstorm was supposed to hit KC, so we all put on our PJs and grabbed just our sleeping gear for a bus ride to a nearby warehouse. Thank goodness for our camping pads, since we were sleeping on concrete. Again, we were asleep way before 10 p.m., but since buses were supposed to send us back to camp at 5 a.m., this was none too early!

Tune in tomorrow for the final installment of my 3-Day adventure!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Walking, Walking and More Walking

My big adventure has come and gone. For those of you who've been following this journey, I wanted to give you a synopsis of the last 3 days.

Day One
We left the house at 4:45 (hence the very tired look in the picture from Friday) and picked up my teammate Cindy before meeting Cindy's sister Carla at the Kansas Speedway around 5:30. After standing around for over an hour, the (slightly cheesy) opening ceremony started, while we stood around for another 30 minutes. My back was killing me after standing around for almost 2 hours, but around 7:15 we finally started walking in the chilly morning air. We walked around the Speedway to the car entrance and then made a lap around the track, which was pretty neat. After leaving the Speedway, we moved on to some pretty rough terrain, where we expended some extra energy for several miles trying not to twist ankles on the uneven ground. We walked through a park and through a scenic rural area before moving on to K-7, where a lane was actually blocked off for us to walk in. Between the truck exhaust and the 30 mph wind, this wasn't exactly a pleasant walk, to say the least. The winds apparently stirred up all the allergens in KS, so I was pretty miserable because I just couldn't stop sneezing! We finally got off of K-7 and had a good lunch, then headed out and walked the rest of the day on the very scenic (but no less allergic) hike/bike trails in Johnson County. There were lots of hills, so by the time we arrived at Shawnee Mission Park just before 3 p.m., we were pretty much exhausted. We were supposed to have traveled about 21.6 miles, but according to the GPS devices many walkers were carrying, the mileage was actually between 23 and 24 miles. To top it off, our tents were more than a quarter mile from the dining tent and showers, so we walked another mile or so in the evening just getting around camp! Needless to say, I was asleep in my tent as soon as my head hit the pillow at 9:00, and thanks to Tylenol PM, even though I woke to gusting winds all night long, I was able to fall right back asleep.

Tune in tomorrow for the details of day 2!

Friday, September 15, 2006

I'm Off!!

The 3-Day is here! We are loading up the car and picking up Cindy in a few minutes. Dad and Mim are on their way to see the opening ceremonies. I'm hoping for good weather and happy feet! :)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I'm So Excited...

...and I just can't hide it! Sorry for the cheesy 80s music reference, but I've just been so unfocused and unmotivated at work today because I'm so excited about this weekend! If you're just tuning in, I'm participating in my first Breast Cancer 3-Day, a 60 mile walk over the course of 3 days that raises an amazing amount of money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. I am walking in honor of my mom Sherry (sporting her 3-Day survivor hat in the picture with my bro) and my friend JoAnna, who were both diagnosed with breast cancer last December, as well as for my Aunt Merry, who was diagnosed late last summer. In the last 6 months I've walked approximately 580 miles, diligently following the suggested training schedule, preparing for the 3 days that will finally arrive in 2 days! Yesterday morning I did my last training walk (just 5 miles) and yesterday evening I started packing. I've raised $4,750 as of today, thanks to the generosity of over 100 wonderful friends and family members. My dad and his wife are coming to visit tonight, and they'll be there along with Chad at the opening ceremonies on Friday morning. People who've participated in the past say it's the experience of a lifetime. I can't wait to share more after the event next week!

If you want more information about why I decided to embark on this journey, checkout my personal 3-Day website, where you can also find links to my newsletters and my personal fund raising page.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

My Brother's the Best...Buy Pitchman

My brother Eric is the best brother ever, because he sent me two wonderful gifts for my birthday recently. First, he got me the 3rd season of the sitcom Arrested Development on DVD. If you missed this short-lived comedy on Fox, you totally missed out. It was hilarious. It won an Emmy for best comedy its first season on the air, and then Fox cancelled it less than 2 years later. Brilliant. Sadly, although fans were hoping it would get picked up by Showtime or HBO, I guess that's not going to happen. Wikipedia says the producers had an offer from Showtime and declined! UGH. It wasn't just me who thought it was's a blurb from Wikipedia:

"Since its debut, the series earned six Emmys, a Golden Globe, and a cult fan base of perhaps four million American viewers. It was also recognized with the "Future Classic" award at the 2004 TV Land Awards. Despite the critical acclaim, however, the show struggled to find a wide audience throughout its run."

So sad...but
I digress. I was just saying that my brother was so awesome because he got me the DVD for my birthday, and he also got me the brand new Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix3 on Xbox. If you've never seen this game, it's an absolute riot--picture Tetris meets aerobics. Check out the picture of our friend Danny playing at our end of the softball season party a couple of years ago. You watch the arrows on the screen and then try to step on the arrows on your dance pad in time with the music. It's such a blast and I'm so excited to start playing it! I will use it for my cardio workout since after this weekend, I won't be walking long distances anymore.

So my brother is awesome...we've established that, but he also recently landed some Best Buy commercials which you've probably seen on T.V., so he really is the best and the Best Buy guy. He's in a couple of different spots where you'll see him say "I set up your HD right." I'm really proud of him, just in case you can't tell!

Monday, September 11, 2006

I'm Late...On a Very Important Date

I was a little late to work this morning because I got caught up in watching the 9/11 ceremony at Ground Zero. There are so many other things I wanted to blog about today, but after listening to people read the names of their loved ones who were killed in the WTC attack, I'm in a rather somber mood. It's amazing that after 5 years I still cry when the people reading the names of victims get to the part where they read the name of their own husband or wife. I can't fathom how hard it must be to lose a spouse, let alone in such a hideous and unexpected way.

The image I included today came from the University Daily Kansan (the KU student newspaper). It's a mosaic of over 2,000 images of students on campus wearing red, white and blue t-shirts. It reminded me of how patriotic and united the country was immediately following 9/11. How sad to me that in five short years, the U.S. is now as divided as it's ever been. I was struck this morning by some interviews with New York firefighters who volunteered for the armed services immediately following 9/11, with every intention of fighting against the enemy who attacked us. While some of them still believed they were helping to prevent another attack of the same sort, I still sensed a frustration that they had been sent to fight in a war which was completely unrelated to the attack they were hoping to avenge. A war, which according to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, has cost us the lives of 2,669 U.S. soldiers to date.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Smells Like Wet Dog

So this morning I am supposed to do a 10 mile training walk, this being the last weekend before my very long walk for the Breast Cancer 3-Day. When I awoke at 7:00, it was wet and rainy, so I got together my rainy day gear and checked the radar on It looked like I might have a small window of opportunity to get in a few miles before the next burst of heavy rain came along, so I leash up the dogs and we set out through the sprinkles. Four miles later we are home, and I just finished the arduous task of cleaning off 12 wet feet and legs and 3 wet bellies. They are now pooped puppies, and they'll snooze the rest of the morning away while I head out for my remaining 6 miles. I think the rain is pushing to the north, but I'm bringing my rain jacket just in case!

Friday, September 08, 2006

In Memory of Gregar

I know it's only day two of my blog, and I hate to start things off on a sad note, but I have to share my distress this morning because I found out that our friends James and Beth had to put their cat Gregar to sleep yesterday afternoon. Although I'm not generally a cat person, I really liked this little guy. When we were at their house for bible study, Gregar would come lay on top of my bible when it was sitting on the floor. We used to joke about what a spiritual cat he was. Gregar was a friendly, affectionate little guy who even had his own myspace page. I'm very sad for James and Beth, but I'm trying to be thankful that Gregar is no longer suffering. We'll miss you, little Gregar.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Blog Beginnings

Okay, so I've been thinking about doing this blogging thing for a while now. First my brother started a cool blog...then another couple of friends started blogging...not to mention our friend Jake's dad started his own blog too. If my dad's generation is blogging, shouldn't I be blogging as well, I mean really? My mom got me a journal for my birthday that I can't seem to find the time to maybe I can get the same benefits of journaling by blogging instead? Not that my life is that interesting or exciting...but maybe it would be a good way to keep family and friends informed about what's going on in our household? Maybe it would be a good way to document the important milestones and activities of our lives? I mean really, when we get to be 80, we want to be able to remember these younger years of our lives in detail, don't we?

As I've been pondering these important questions over the last few days, I've been contemplating what I would call my blog if I started one. I had lots of ideas--but none that really stood out from the others. Then today, I logged onto a friend's blog to post a comment. I had created a username/account over a year ago in order to leave a comment on my brother's blog, but hadn't given the account a second thought since that time. Well, low and behold (I know--that's totally something my mom would say), when I logged onto my account this morning, there was my blog--already created and named. Apparently, I had the brilliant idea to start blogging last summer and just forgot about it! Since my blog was already created, ready and waiting for me, I've decided I'll just stick with it. Luce Chatter. That's it. Welcome. :)