Thursday, October 31, 2013

Welcome To 28 Years Of Livin' & Learnin'

How cool is a Halloween birthday? I'm beginning to think it has to be one of the top birthdays. 
People dress up for your birthday, you can eat a bowl full of candy, give some to kids yelling trick 
or treat, and have themed course meals with friends. Today we celebrate another year for Ty as 
this wonderful man turns the big 2-8! Yes, I say that for every birthday. It's always "the big ___". 
It doesn't matter the age. I'm pretty sure I need a new saying.

Cheers to this guy who tends to look half gone before he even starts!

How This Guy Celebrated
We spent last weekend in Sunriver with the Stanley/Sparrow crew celebrating the birthday
boy doing stuff like taking naps, jogging and biking the path, and having power walking 
races at the ball field. It was great. Check it out below. Then we had a nice dinner on Tuesday
night with my family plus Grandma at a tasty Hawaiian restaurant in downtown Vancouver.
And guess what...he gets to celebrate all day today too! What a lucky guy he is.

Beautiful Sunriver, great for all seasons...
especially when you want to have power walking races
or end up being the big kid no young kid wants on the playground.
"Uncle Ty, you're too big for that"

On the "HBD Ty" agenda...
*a morning with his wife (best part about the day, right?) over
homemade paleo maple scones and eggs

*a favorite meal and dessert requested by the birthday boy himself (paleo sweet pulled pork sliders 
with a non-paleo ice cream-brownie sandwich with peanut butter cup ice cream in the middle)

*passing out regular sized candy bars to all the neighborhood kids...yes, regular size.
We're about to be that house on the block this year!

*having our fun little neighbor family over for a mini hangout

*and seeing some adorable visitors...the big, bad wolf and red riding hood...aka Casey & Evy

I'm looking forward to many more Halloweeny birthdays and 
celebrating your old age year after year!

Happy Birthday love!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Special Thanks To Two Special People

I left two people out of the blog yesterday on purpose. Not because they didn't play a role in the 
Cosby Clan, but because they each had a huge duty that the Cosby Clan couldn't have done 
without. One of these individuals played a big role on the last two nights of Papa Joe's life and 
the other stood by my side, let me cry after holding it in all day, and never thought twice about 
letting me go each night to be at my Papa Joe's side. I felt that these two special people in 
my life deserved a blog post specifically devoted to them for reasons I'll explain below.

Papa Baehm
So Papa Baehm, I start with you. And for those of you who don't know PB, he's my mom's dad. 
I'm not sure who started calling him Papa Baehm since it's his last name, but it has always stuck. 
He's a super hip, active guy who will jump right on anything he's asked to do. He never questions 
and he is always happy to help anybody who asks. So when the time came last week, we had 
no doubt in our minds who we needed to call to help Papa Joe through the night. You all can 
probably guess or at least I hope so...Papa Baehm came to our rescue! He not only stayed the 
first night, but he stayed for the next half of the day and then returned for a second night. 

That second night was the one that took Papa Joe from us all so suddenly, but as the Cosby Clan 
looks back at the situation over and over, all we can think is...we are so happy that Papa 
Baehm was with him for not just the support, but because Papa Joe knew that when his 
death was coming upon him, Papa Baehm could handle it. Papa Baehm, I think that says a 
lot about you, your ability to handle a sudden death, your relationship with Papa Joe, and then 
to have one of the hardest things I think anybody would ever have to do: call your son-in-law 
and break the news of the loss of his dad & someone we all have loved so dearly. Some may 
say it was just the timing of his death, but we have no doubt that Papa Joe knew who 
would be the best by his side at that time and who would have the ability to 
make such a hard phone call. He chose you.

I say this for not just myself, but for the rest of the Cosby family...we are so happy and very 
thankful that you were there as he passed and we are so glad we were able to receive a 
personal phone call to hear the news rather than hearing it from someone who didn't know 
Papa Joe. We can't thank you enough for spending that time with him on his last two days.

My Ty
Mr. Tyler Stanley...where to start, where to end. And how I've gotten through this blog so far 
without a tear, I'm not sure. But for all you reading this, you would just be amazed at what both 
these men did for myself, Papa Joe, and the rest of the family. Ty not only had to hear me 
talk medical terms for hours, try racking my brain for answers, figure out what's best for Papa Joe, 
what's not, the ups and down to the medical care, and so on...but he also had to hold me while 
I'd be in tears every night I was home. Somehow I managed to get through the days (well, most) without a tear, but Ty got the buckets full at night. He listened, loved, and took care of 
EVERYTHING so I did not have a single thing to do at home. I didn't have much of an appetite 
the first 1-2 weeks, but Ty still packed breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for the days I'd work 
and then the nights and half the days I'd be with Papa Joe. I never had to worry about going 
hungry and Ty knows especially to not let me reach that really hungry stage anyway!

Beyond the holding, the listening, and doing everything else, that wonderful guy of mine never questioned, was never selfish, and was always supportive of me being away from our home 
and our bed night after night to be with Papa Joe. There's nothing better to have than an 
amazing husband and someone who will stand by you through it all! I'm blessed to have found 
that guy and for all those who have found him or her, don't ever let them get away. For times 
like these, they will be your backbone, always love unconditionally, and be 
strong when you need it most.

The night my dad called me to tell me Papa Joe died, Ty said he could hear it in my voice.
I was a bit stunned for a minute as it caught me off guard, we had hung up, and because Ty 
knew, he was right there to catch me as I went to the ground. The body weakness, the chills,
and the tears for a short while all became a wave that settled and suddenly, 
I felt at peace. Ty never let go.
Ty, I thank you for holding me every night and especially on that particular night, listening,
preparing me night after night to stay at the hospital, and standing strong for me.
That is why I love you EVERY DAY!

To All The Others
I know I just said I was devoting this to just two special people, but I figured I should make
a general thank you to all those who listened to me and got to hear all about Papa Joe's life.
It's amazing the support that comes out during these times and we could not be more blessed to
have wonderful people in our lives that truly care. To the Stanley/Sparrow family, my Grandma Baehm, all our friends at Crossfit Epiphany (especially those who kept close eye on me for those 
three weeks and continue to do so...Cindy & Eric, the McCarty's, & J&A!), my close coworkers, 
and my best friends Kari & Meg, you have treated me all too well! I kid you not, I'm not sure 
what I would've done without any of you during this time. I thank and love every one 
of you for every ounce you gave!

Here's to Papa Joe, Papa Baehm & Ty who filled big shoes during this time, and 
all the others who loved and cared for Papa Joe & the Cosby Clan!
We hope to see some of you on Saturday to continue celebrating 
his life and all the love he spread to others.

♡Cori Lou

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Cosby Clan

We've been known as the Cosby Clan or the Cosby Nation. There's no doubt we've been seen 
as a "very close family" or an extremely "tight knit family" by many. And for the last three 
weeks, I also have no doubt that we somehow became even closer. Not sure if that was 
even possible, but it happened. What I have found so neat is that all while I was very
 much in the middle of Papa Joe's care and growing closer with my family, I took 
various moments to step out of the picture and peek in on the Cosby Clan in action.

Papa Joe and his boys!

Stepping Away
When I took a step back, I looked in as a nurse. It only seemed natural to do so ;-) I know every 
one of my nurse friends would agree...The Cosby Clan couldn't have done it any better! We 
all came into full force from day one of Papa Joe's diagnosis and held strong until the day 
he left us. Each member of the Cosby Clan assumed important roles and I can assure you, 
Papa Joe was nothing less than proud of each of you!

Family Roles During A Difficult Time
While I was at his bedside through many of those nights, Papa Joe had his own kids or wife 
at his bedside every day. Dad, Uncle Rob, Aunt Sue, and Aunt all became his 
rock, his support, his opportunity to share life as he knew it, and insights into the dying 
process. You should feel blessed he was so willing to share so much with you all. I 
always told him he was getting royal treatment by you four and he wished, that 
guy never had a moment alone! If anybody left him for 20 minutes he'd say we left him for 
2 hours! It goes to show that if you have one laying in the hospital bed, what time is 
like for them. Something to think about when you find you're crossing this bridge in your life.

Then there are the spouses of Papa Joe's kids...Mom, Aunt Brenda, Uncle Lance, and Uncle
Johnny. Credit is due to each one of them because if it weren't for you 4, the real Cosby unit 
of 4 would not have held up so strong. You became their solid support as they walked 
through the process of losing the one man they have always known as "Dad." Papa Joe was 
so proud of all the spouses his kids once met, then married. He raved to me every so often 
about how organized and a good mother you were Mom, how crafty and a wonderful 
cook Uncle Rob is so lucky to have-Aunt Brenda, how Sue was so fortunate to find 
a man who has loved and devoted his life to her children-Uncle Lance, and how 
wonderful a dad and hard worker you continue to be-Uncle Johnny. Mom, Aunt Brenda, 
Uncle Lance, & Uncle Johnny, you all have given up much of your time to allow the original 
Cosby 4 to spend with their Dad. I can only imagine how thankful they were to marry 
you, whether they've told you yet or not! ;-)

As for the grandkids, I never truly thought about where they fit in the picture from a nursing 
standpoint. I guess I've always assumed they were the ones who just came to visit. Not 
Papa Joe's grandkids...give Steve, Curt, and Staci a job and they tackle it with all their hearts. 
They not only became Team Papa Joe, but they had no problem caring from Grandma Nu. 
Nothing like watching Grandma's favorite late night TV shows and keeping her 
company in the evenings while her love was in the hospital. You three played a huge role 
and as we know, Papa Joe was happy you could fill those shoes. Samantha, your timing for 
Grandma could not have been better and how great was it that you had the chance to say 
goodbye to Papa Joe on his last day in this world. If it weren't for you, Grandma may 
not have had those early afternoon moments to spend with her love. Callie Jo, Jake, 
& Danielle, we could feel your love from afar and that's something Papa Joe 
will hold close to him. He was so proud of you all!

Suggestions For Families During A Time Of Illness & Death
I've had several people express their condolences all while they've made it clear they've never 
lost someone so close. I, too, was there one week ago. Of course, I knew all my great grandma's 
but not as closely. And I knew of my great Uncle Fred, but again, I was not close like 
the rest of my family. To this day I can sense that feeling of loss in all those that were 
much closer to those certain family members. Cherish those moments and be there for those 
people because when there comes a day when you lose that individual so close to you, 
they are the ones who can help get you through it from their experience. And if you've had 
neither, then take a peek at what I came to find in our Cosby Clan experience...

*Take on a role
sometimes we end up in a role naturally and sometimes we need to be given a role. Trust me, it 
makes the process a whole heck-of-a-lot easier on everybody! They can be as caregivers, 
listeners, long staying visitors in the home or in the hospital, the spouse watcher (idea 
behind it being that you help them keep their mind of everything for a short while, give them 
time to step away), freezer dinner maker (prepare meals so the individuals can spend less 
time cooking and more quality time together),  decision maker (obtain the knowledge, 
help make big decisions), or as an advocator (nothing better than having a strong willed and 
well spoken family member to speak up). There are many more that we can all fit into...
just find yours when the time comes!

*Spouses of those losing their Mom or Dad
be their rock. When your spouse needs a place to come home to, make it available for them to 
just talk, sit & relax, and put a little extra time into making their life a bit easier so they have 
extra time to spend with their loved one. If you don't clean, then clean. If you never cook, well 
it's your time to cook now. If it means it's your time to be a set of ears, then keep that 
mouth shut and just listen. Easy as that.

*Take the time off
easier said than done in some circumstances, I get it. But, if there's a chance you can get time 
off then do it! Nothing better than looking back knowing you had all that time to be with 
that special person or offering your role in another way.

*Spend moments alone with the one you're losing & spend them as a family
the moments you get alone with your family members are ones you'll cherish for the rest 
of your life. Plan a time to visit with them, prepare questions you've always wanted to ask.
Write them down, take notes, let them share their life with you. Then share them
with family.

*Take a moment away from it all
i'm most guilty of this, I know it. It's been a problem in life for me as is. When I'm into one thing, I 
will dive right in and forget to take a moment away. I found during this time how important it 
is for each and every one of us to take that time for things like taking a stroll alone if you 
need time to yourself or head out with some friends for a coffee date to put your mind 
elsewhere. It's ok to enjoy life outside of this process of losing someone important to 
you. There should be no guilt or shame in it.

*Never judge the way one copes with the situation
we all cope differently. There's no doubt about that. Some of us have bad habits return to 
our lives, some of us are more dramatic, some very quiet while others cope with humor, 
some angry or upset, some shed tears and some don't shed any at all, some may want to see 
the body after he/she has passed and others have no interest, some dump all their energy 
and effort into the situation while others put no effort into it whatsoever, and some don't know 
how to cope at all. Guess what? That all happens. It's life, it's family and friends, and it's all 
about supporting each other during that time. Don't judge, just be there.

*After the death, don't let the spouse have too much time alone
plan visits with whoever it may be, take them to lunch, have family stay with them for
the first week or so to keep them company at night, and plan family calls to
check in with them. Keep them semi-short so they can get back to their busy life, but make it 
a ritual that you call them at 9pm every other night or noon Mon/Wed/Fri. Pick and day 
and go with it! At the beginning, they will have lots of processes to go through. If
you can, ease their way...make some return phone calls for them, help them plan activities, 
or clean their house.

Advice from the novice is what all that was, but take it or leave it. For the Cosby Nation,
Papa Joe was surrounded by love and support every day, all day just as he wanted
it to be. I've told you this before, but as family I was impressed but as a nurse
I am proud, I am amazed, and I have a feeling of comfort for good ol Papa Joe!
Cosby Clan, you did a wonderful job and I can't begin to share all the
praises you have all received from the rest of the outsiders looking in.

♥Cori Lou

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A True Blessing & A Wonderful Gift, Thank You Papa Joe

I disappeared from this blogging world I've put at the top of my list for the last 10 months. I went MIA without any forewarning. But as we know, sometimes life situations come at us without any forewarning. A new diagnosis for Papa Joe, a quick admission to the hospital, a discharge home, a celebration of life party Papa Joe had for himself while still alive, piano playing for the last time in front of his family and friends, another admission to the hospital, a discharge home, and then one last admission to the hospital before he left us. Three weeks, Papa Joe held on. He held on strong and I think not so much for himself, but for all of us he left behind. He gave each and every one of us those wonderful moments of stories, laughter, tears, and his still-living celebration of life party. And on top of it all, he gave me a true blessing and a wonderful gift.

A True Blessing
Up to this point, I had always feared the first death in our family. What role would I take on? Would I be the one crying all the time, upset, and unable to be around everything? Papa Joe showed me that I underestimated family gave me the opportunity to be the nurse as well as Papa Joe's granddaughter. The true blessing in it all was that I got to provide assistance for all his cares so he could maintain as much independence as possible, help the family make big decisions based on my medical background, prepare Papa Joe and family for the best and worse situations, walk everybody through the chronically ill/dying process, and spend hours after hours with Papa Joe whether it be sleeping beside him in a little cot majority of the nights he was at the hospital or in my grandparent's own home. We'd stay up until midnight chatting about life and wake up every couple hours at a time until morning where he'd share so many neat things with me. Sometimes it was jokes, sometimes it was a history lesson, at times he shared WWII stories, expressed his love and proud feelings to specific family members, prayed, and of course, we shared the idea of death and the dying process. I was blessed with those wonderful moments where I learned, I cried, and I began to understand Papa Joe on an entirely different level. He shared three weeks of the dying process with me, something in which not too many people get to experience that closely.

Just a few things Papa Joe shared with me...
*He could remember every possible invention in his lifetime. Take nylon way back
in the late 1930s. It was made out of coal, water, and air. That's it. Crazy, huh?
It's amazing how many inventions he saw in his lifetime. Pretty cool!

*Cereal...he could take it or leave it. The cereal tasted as good as the box. And it was
probably just as healthy as the box. (I think he had that right)

*WWII: he ditched his sleeping bag due to weight and shape. Instead, he dug foxholes just 
big enough for a couple people to share and use body heat for warmth instead.

*WWII: he earned a purple heart for being shot in the leg and yet another medal because he
hid a man under his black rain jacket, waited until the end of the battle,
and then went back to get him.

*Professional pianist: lots & lots of tunes. He knew them all. In fact, he could tell us what 
chord to play the song in, which keys to hit on the piano, and who initially wrote the piece.
It is something we will all cherish, but we will all miss so much...his piano playing!

*He was given the name "Joe" because his dad thought there could never be
enough of "good ol Joes"...and his dad was right, my Papa Joe was one amazing man!

*Favorite joke:
A man went to his doctor and said he wanted to be castrated. The doctor said that's a
big procedure and sir, I'd need you to read all these documents and sign your
name in several places so you don't come back to haunt me later in life. The man said
it'd be no problem, he wanted to go forth and sign away. The doctor got him in right away
and when the man got out of the procedure he looked down and saw all the bandages. He
looked over, saw another man with the same bandages, and asked what he had done. The other
man said he was circumcised. Then the castrated man said, that's what I meant to tell the doctor!

*Matthew 9:20-9:22. Cloaked in God's love. A daily reading we found in a magazine
that touched so close to home that night.

A Gift From My Papa Joe
Something I will never be able to thank him enough for and truly an amazing gift he gave me at 
the end of his life was understanding what it's like to be on the other side of that hospital 
room & knowing how to become the best nurse I can be to others. If you're curious, I'll 
explain later. Right now all I will do is cry. I'll leave you with the idea that it has 
been one of the best gifts I have received in my lifetime.

When Asked How He Wanted To Be Remembered...
One night at the hospital, my cousin had asked me to find out from Papa Joe what he
wanted to be remembered for. The rest of us would've assumed it would be for his piano
playing abilities, maybe his medals from the war, or the usual "a good person" or "good dad/papa."
Well he didn't say any of those things. Ty and I asked Papa Joe and his response was this:
"I'd like to be remembered for something like one of my favorite poems called
the Bridge Builder." For all of you interested, please read it. For those of you who don't,
it in essence is saying that he wants to be remembered for laying down the bridge for all those
behind him. He wanted to make their lives easy by laying down the path from the beginning. 
That way, they don't have to struggle. Papa Joe wanted to ease everybody else's life and lead 
them in the right direction in life. We can't thank him enough for everything he has 
done in not just Ty and my life, but for all our family, his friends, and all those he's touched.

A Neat Coincidence
In the last couple days of Papa Joe's life, he played what he called "Hum That Tune." He'd
either listen to songs on the TV and guess them himself or he'd "hum" songs and have
people try to guess them. Well the morning after he passed, I looked outside our front window 
and saw a hummingbird feeding on my favorite lavender plant. I find it coincidental that Papa 
Joe was "humming" on his last days of his life and that a "humming" bird came to visit 
me after he died. Call me weird, but I'm pretty sure Papa Joe just paid me a visit to say, 
"I made it! I'm humming songs, playing my piano, and enjoying my view from above!"

Papa Joe, you have eased our way in life, shared your life journey with so many, blessed
us with a wonderful future, and I can't thank you enough for playing me down the aisle at my
wedding, sharing your last three weeks with me so closely, and giving me a gift I can carry
in my heart the rest of my life.

We love & miss you so much Papa Joe!
♥Cori Lou & Ty

As we will always remember him...
the piano man himself playing at his "celebration of life party"
he threw for himself while still alive!

An emotional celebration of life, but he sure had quite the turnout on such short notice he said!

Enjoying one of our last family nights together with Papa Joe at home!
Papa Joe & Gramma "Nu" with their children...

And with part of the rest of the family...missing Curt & Ty!

Every night I went to bed at the hospital with Papa Joe, I was amazed by how much
my dad looked like him. To show proof, I had to get the photos...

Like father like son. I'm so fortunate to be so close to Papa Joe, knowing
how wonderful of a man he was...and now to be even closer with
my dad, realizing how much he takes after his amazing father.

I was so fortunate to have him play me down the aisle for my wedding. One night
he played song after song for me until he decided he'd choose the song I would walk down 
to. So that day I walked down the aisle, he surprised me and I will never forget how
amazing the piano was played that day. I was so proud!

Ty & I only have a year under our belt, but these two had over 61 years of marriage!
Hard to believe that they won't be walking hand in hand any longer when they come into the 
room. I'll miss those moments that Papa Joe would hear Grandma's voice coming 
into the room and the way he lit up EVERY SINGLE TIME! He'd always say,
"Hello Mama" in his sweet voice and give her a kiss on the lips.
To have this kind of love is to nearly have the whole world!

And on his last days, there was nothing better to do than to do what he loved to do...
play that piano. If we all wanted to live, we'd want a life like his. When we all
die, what better way to go then how Papa Joe did.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Siem Reap, Cambodia

It's hard to believe we even went to SE Asia and not only that, but looking through these 
photos seem like forever ago!

*Scope out the streets, the people, and the way of life here in Siem Reap

*Take a river boat tour to see those who live on the river
(normally the river is quite high and the homes are floating, but at the time
we were there things had dried up leaving the homes way above land)

how cute are these kids?! They were "racing"

*Eat at a random Western restaurant
We ate primarily at places with traditional food, but after 4 weeks we
decided to splurge at Viva, somewhat of a Mexican restaurant. It worked,
especially since I was just getting over being sick. Otherwise, Blue
Pumpkin has decent desserts and fresh juices and smoothies &
the Indian food is quite good as well!

*Try out traditional restaurants
Sugar Palm is one...It's a spiced up version of Cambodian food with great flavor!
Street food is always another choice.
BBQ frog is a hot item and finding a cashew nut shake is well worth the hunt!

*As always, take a tuk-tuk 
They are different in each country, but very catchy in Siem Reap!

*Find this guy!
He makes these specialty fried rice patties with herbs in the middle, topped
with a homemade sauce. He prepares them at home, then come to the
market in the evening to fry them on his wood-fire wok.
Don't miss the chance in trying one out!

*Bat Watch
Head to the park near the royal palace and check these massive
bats out. They don't even compare to the ones we have here at home!

*Check out Pub Street
You'll find food, cheap goods, interesting people and services, and for fun
try on the variety of clothing options they have available!

*Go to the Phare Cambodia Circus
this circus is a nonprofit which help get kids and adults off the streets.
They teach them dance, acrobatics, art, and theater all while educating them as well. 
They make some money from their performances which is used for not only 
themselves, but to send extra money back home to help their families.
All the performers have amazing talent and every story line is different 
with each show!

There ya have it. Well until next week. We'll check out the rest of
Cambodia and all the monks we came across over the next
few weeks. Then we're done. Crazy!

♥The Stanleys