Posts Tagged ‘love’

Relay For Life 2013 – and remembering Susan

February 6, 2013

A year ago on this day, 6 February, my good friend Susan Niebur (WhyMommy) died of inflammatory breast cancer.

Susan Niebur, 1972 - 2012 (photo credit: Kristen, @mommy4cocktails)

Susan Niebur, 1972 – 2012 (photo credit: Kristen, @mommy4cocktails)

Since then, another friend, Jenny, a fellow New Zealander whom I had “met” online through Susan, also died of inflammatory breast cancer.

My own family has also been touched – no, not touched, smashed into – by cancer.  Cancer doesn’t visit lightly.

As you may know, for the past couple of years Pearl and I have taken part in the local Relay For Life to raise funds for the NZ Cancer Society.  We can’t run this year, but we are still supporting the Relay.  My sister – The Fabulous Auntie B – and her children are still managing a team.  We will help them raise funds and cheer them on from the sidelines in March during the event.

I hope you will continue to support Relay – whether it’s our team in our event, or another team, or your local event – in whatever way possible.  If you know me in real life and would like to donate to our team, please contact me for details.

If you don’t know me in real life but would still like to donate – hooray! Please go to the Relay For Life website and donate to any team you like.  Or find your own local Relay For Life or Cancer Society webpage and donate there instead.  The important thing is to help these societies support people with cancer and their families.

Celebrate – Remember – Fight Back!

For Susan, for her family – Curt, Widget, Little Bear.  For her friends, too many to number here, but including Marty, Stimey, Kristen, Jessica, Kelley.

For Jenny, and her family and friends.

For my family.

For your family.

For ourselves, should we ever need it – they’ll be there.

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

OK, Mum?

January 9, 2013

Fainjin and I were out together.  Babess had started back at daycare, and Pearl was at a friend’s house, so we were enjoying some “just the two of us” time.  We went to the library and had morning tea at the cafe there, then wandered the shelves and I told him what all the books were about in the children’s non-fiction section in an attempt to demonstrate that the library is not just a place to borrow DVDs.  He found a dinosaur book to take home.

We went to the museum and he took some photos with the camera his friend gave him for his birthday.  We explored the bits of the museum that interested him, and didn’t have to stop to look at anything else.  He told me all about dinosaurs, and speculated on what it would feel like to be eaten by a whale.

We went to a playground, and I sat down to watch while he climbed in and out and up and over and made friends with the kids already there.  All of a sudden his head popped out of a tunnel and he called out to me.

“Hey, Mum!  Are you ok there, all by yourself?”

Lovely boy.

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

Happy Birthday Daddy

May 1, 2012

There was great excitement this morning, as the children presented The Dad with his birthday presents, which we had shopped for at the weekend.  He was duly appreciative, and we went on with the day.

When Babess got to daycare, she announced to one of her teachers, “It’s my Daddy’s birthday!”  The teacher said, “Really?! Perhaps you can make him a card today.”

When The Dad went to pick her up at the end of the day, he was told Babess had spent all day making him things.  I can believe it.

First there was the card:

Front of the birthday card

To Dad, Happy Birthday, love from Babess

Is it just me, or is that amazing handwriting from a not-yet-four-year-old?  (Not the “love from”, that’s clearly a teacher’s hand, but the rest of it would have been copied by Babess).

Then there was a beautifully-wrapped parcel:

Bespoke wrapping paper

and inside was a book!

The book cover. I love the pictures of "Dad" and "me".

with more lovely writing:

I love you

and more pictures:


What a lucky Dad!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


April 12, 2012

Susan Niebur, 1973 - 2012 (photo credit: Kristen, @mommy4cocktails)

Every time I look at the stars, I think of Susan.  We used to talk about the different constellations we could see in our different parts of the world.  She longed to see the Southern Cross one day.  When I look up and see it, I like to imagine her standing next me, looking up too.

Every time I read about advances in cancer research, I think of Susan.  How she tirelessly advocated for new, better, different research, especially into metastatic cancers.  How she participated in clinical trials, and encouraged women to join the Army of Women for further research.

Every time we read a “The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That!” book, I think of Susan.  Her love of science, and her skill for communicating that, especially to children, and how she inspired so many mothers to encourage their children’s questions and help them find the answers.  She gave my kids a Cat in The Hat book, and it’s one of our family favourites.

Every time I hear of a new planet being discovered, I think of Susan.  For all my own interest in science and astronomy, I hadn’t really thought about what a planetary scientist might be or do until she taught me.  And now I can’t think of a more fascinating job.

Every time I taste Whittaker’s Dark Caramel, I remember the first day we met, when I gave her a block as a gift.  She offered to share it, but I told her to taste it first – after all, I can have it any time at home, but it’s not readily available in the US.  She did, and the most incredible look came over her face.  “You’re right,” she declared, “this is not for sharing!” and she tucked it into her handbag.  We both laughed.  I sent her a couple of “care parcels” later, and I know she did share them.

Every time I see a beagle, I think of Susan.  She loved beagles, and fostered rescued beagles.  If I ever get a dog (which admittedly is unlikely), I think I’d like to call it Kepler, after her beloved pet.

Every time I write a blog post, I think of Susan.  She was my very first, and closest, blog-friend.  She wrote a guest post for Kelley which sums up the sort of relationship brilliantly.  She also introduced me to lots of my other blog-friends, including Kelley, Stimey, Jenny, Marty and plenty more.

Goodbye, dear friend.  Thank you for all you taught me, and the friendships you have gifted me with.  You are always in my heart and mind, and I will never forget you.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Relay for Life 2012

April 1, 2012


Last night, Pearl and I slept rough in a local park.  Although, to be truthful, there was very little sleeping.  There was quite a lot of walking, and some running.  Pearl was very excited to be up and on the Relay track at midnight, walking with her cousin and young friends.  We each did our assigned three 30-minute shifts, and walked alongside our team-mates at various other times as well.  There’s something very special about walking the track with friends in the small hours of the morning, looking up at the stars, chatting, listening to the music.

Pearl & her cousin run a lap in the Relay For Life 2012

We decorated candle bags in memory of family and friends, and stood sombrely with all the other relayers during the touching memorial service.

Candle Bags

There were 13 hearts on my bag this year, 13 precious people to remember. That's two more than last year, and thirteen too many to have lost.

Our team had set a fundraising goal of $200 per team member.  Thanks to family, friends, Pearl’s badge sales, and my sweet-toothed colleagues who ate as much white-chocolate fudge as I could provide them with at $2 per bag, the two of us raised over $570 – thank you, everyone!  That money will help the NZ Cancer Society to:

  •  provide people affected with cancer with important support and resources
  •  fund the volunteer driving service (free service to those undergoing cancer treatment – they are picked up by volunteer drivers, taken to their appointments and the volunteers wait for them and take them home again)
  • operate the free phone line 0800CANCER – any cancer any question
  • offer counselling and support to people with cancer and their caregivers
  • help make schools SunSmart and work towards a smokefree NZ
  • support people with their accommodation when they have to travel for treatment
  • fund vital cancer research into the causes and treatments of cancer

(Info above provided by the NZ Cancer Society).

You can still donate here.  If you know our names in real life, sponsor us! If not, sponsor anyone, make their day!

Of course, Relay is not all sombre.  Far from it!  There were laughs and hijinks, entertainment and giveaways, impromptu performances and some truly execrable karaoke about 1am.  There were free massages provided, and a very welcome hot breakfast served by volunteers.

We came home exhausted, footsore, chilled, and feeling a bit grimy… and well aware that anyone undergoing cancer treatment feels a whole lot worse, for a whole lot longer.  But we’re also proud of ourselves and our team, and grateful for the support of friends, family – and blog readers! – for such a great cause.

Susan remembered on the big screen at Relay For Life 2012.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


March 8, 2012

I got a phone-call at work today, from daycare.  My heart sank.  Usually these calls mean someone is sick.  But the teacher hastily said, “There’s nothing wrong!  I’m calling to tell you about something sweet that Babess did today.”

Babess was with a small group of children on a trip this morning and they were walking through town.  A woman was sitting on the footpath with a sign in front of her.  Babess and some of the other big girls are getting quite interested in words and reading, and they asked their teacher to tell them what the words on the sign said.

They said, “I have no income and no food.  Please help me.”

Babess was quite concerned by this.  She thought for a little bit, and – knowing that they would have morning tea when they reached their destination – asked the teacher what food they had.

“Well, we have some crackers…” replied the teacher.

“Can we please give the lady some crackers?” asked Babess.  Touched, the teacher gave her a bag of crackers, and Babess took them and gave them to the woman.  “Now she won’t be so hungry for a little while,” Babess told her friends.

Apparently the look on the woman’s face was priceless, too.

Afterwards, the teachers had a little chat with the children about approaching strangers in the street, and how it’s ok as long as the adult you’re with has said it’s ok (which is what had happened in this case) but you do have to check first.

Then the teachers called us to tell us about Babess’ charitable nature, and wrote it up for her profile book.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Anniversaries and art

February 22, 2012

A year ago today we were reeling in shock.  It’s been a hard twelve months for the people of Christchurch, and their friends and families too.

We remember.  And not just on the anniversary.


Fainjin had his first “art day” at school today.  He did a very good sketch of a sunflower, and a lovely picture of himself driving a spaceship.  The kids drew vehicles of their own choice, and stuck photos of themselves “driving” in them.

His picture really stands out among the others… because his photo is upside down!  We asked him about it, and he explained that in his spaceship, the driver rolls around (a bit like a hamster wheel, I gather).

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Bye Daddy

February 21, 2012

Yesterday, The Dad was leaving with Babess a few minutes before the rest of us set out for school.

Fainjin was in a world of his own, lingering over his breakfast, seemingly unaware as people rushed to and fro around him.  Babess said, “Bye, Fainjin!” and he didn’t hear her.

I said, “Say goodbye to Dad and Babess!” and he didn’t hear me either.  I don’t know what it was he was concentrating on, but it must have been a fascinating daydream.

Babess said goodbye again, and wandered off to the front door.  As The Dad followed her, he said, “Bye, Pearl, bye, Fainjin!”

All of a sudden it penetrated, and even though The Dad was still right in front of him, Fainjin must have subliminally absorbed the message that they were on their way out the door, because he straightened up and shouted, “Bye, Daddy!  I love you!”

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Farewell, friend

February 7, 2012

Today was Fainjin’s first day at school.  It was a good one, but I can’t blog about it tonight.  I am too sad.  Susan Niebur, Whymommy, died today (6 Feb in the US).  She was a wonderful person, and a great friend.

I will write more another time.

My deepest sympathy goes out to Curt, Widget, Little Bear (the same age as Fainjin), and to all Susan’s many many friends in “real life” and online.  We have lost a treasure today.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Relay for Life 2012

January 29, 2012

We’re doing it again.  Pearl and I will run (walk) in our local Relay For Life event on 31 March this year.

The funds we raise will go to the NZ Cancer Society, to support cancer patients, survivors, and their families.

If you know us, and would like to sponsor us, you can donate here: Relay For Life.  If you don’t know us but would still like to donate, feel free!  Where it says “choose a team”, just pick one you like the sound of – the donations all go to the same place and that’s the important thing.

Other things you can do:

– join a team in your local relay – it’s a world-wide effort

– donate to your local Cancer Society

– think of a friend who has been touched by cancer (everyone knows someone), and send them a card telling them you love them.

This is a cause dear to my heart, and I’ll be blogging about it a bit in the coming months.

Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

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