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Monday, December 30, 2013

Ugly Duckling...or Beautiful Swan?

I received this swan for Christmas from my son.  Look!  It matches my carpet, and yes, it will be displayed in my house.  All by himself he found this in the music room tag sale at Arthur when we were there for conferences.  He worked it out with his teacher because he thought I would love it in our new house.  I haven't picked out where it will be displayed, but how can one not include such a thoughtful gift in the new house?  I love these kind of rare gifts.  The ones that love and thought go into and not just a gift you get to fulfill your Christmas obligation off of your gift giving list.

Merry Christmas to me from the heart of my son!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

"Music" to My Ears

The house is filling up with music.  This is something that we have been looking forward to for many years.  The kids are filling up the house with music and it is great!  Christmas brought three new instruments to our home.

Ryan got an electric drum set.  He can follow along with a few of the rhythms that came with the program and does pretty well.  Everyone has tried it.  He is also going to start with the baritone in the 5th grade band when they go back to school.  He is hoping to get into the percussion as spots open up.  David did go out and pick up a couple of sets of headphones after the first day of playing.

Stacey opened up a new electric guitar.  She was very surprised to see!  I know she didn't expect it as you can see in her face!  Her dad is going to be giving her lessons.  She is excited to get started.

We also went out to West Music to buy books for the two beginner band students.  We walked out with a "new to us" clarinet as well.  Now Dawn is ready to get going on her music lessons.  She is making some pretty good sound from it already and has watched the beginner clarinet YouTube videos!

I am excited that it all hasn't all just been noise coming out of these instruments.  It is a new sound in our house, and I hope that it continues on for many years!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Super Mario to the Rescue!

Mario and Luigi are coming out my ears!  The boys are well on their way to having their Super Mario Brothers bedroom!  They are excited that last week we were able to put the Mario character clings they got from Auntie Chelle on their wall.
Giving Luigi a bath!

Now that my Christmas projects are done and I have an area set up downstairs for sewing and crafting, I have been working on Mario Brothers squares for the boys beds.  Over the last few days, Zachary has not gotten a lot of sleep and his ability to deal with frustrations and transitions has been less than stellar.

Yesterday since I can't lift him, I had to drag him by his feet to his room in the middle of a melt down.  If he gets to his room to take a time out it takes less than five minutes for him to get a grip on his emotions.  He just needs to be removed from the situation to settle down.  Today, I was working at my sewing machine and he lost it again.  Not being able to take him upstairs, his dad intervened and got him to his room.

About 10 minutes later when I got up to his room, he was ready to talk.  I am using some stick and wash away stabilizer to put the Mario blocks together and have about seven together.  I had brought them upstairs with me and told Zach I would love for him to help me give the Mario squares a bath and get the sticky stuff off so we can design and start sewing them together.  Zachary has been the most interested in the project the whole time so he gets the first finished quilt on his bed.

Of course, when Matt heard what we were doing, he wanted to get into the action too.  I love my laundry area at the new house.  I have never had a sink in the laundry area of a home.  We were able to fill up the sink and lay out the squares on a towel and get them pretty dry before hanging them.  It was so great.  The first seven are hanging to dry and I am pretty excited to get more done.  I just wish the sticky stuff didn't cost so much!

The funny thing is that I have had these seven done for awhile while I have been getting the next seven or so ready to sew together.  (Cancer, packing, moving...a few things have kept me busy around here).  I have been putting off soaking the squares because I wasn't sure how to do it and I can sometimes procrastinate when I get an idea that something is going to be a bigger deal than it really is.  Many times I have tackled something that was much easier than I thought it would be and then thought I was stupid for waiting so long to do it - same thing this time, you would think I would learn!

The Mario quilt has become my next project to complete.  I am definitely going to make it a top priority, especially with this great sink to soak and counter to roll & hang them dry.  My crafting doesn't have to take up any space in my kitchen anymore!  LOVE IT!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Five Pairs of Skates

It looks as though some work will finally be done in the garage!  We have been going through boxes and unpacking as we can in the last couple months.  Occasionally we have to dig in the garage for something, but for the most part, the garage hasn't been a focus yet.  I have been ready to dig in for awhile but with a surgery on the schedule and Christmas celebrating, it wasn't to be, at least not yet.

Move forward to Christmas 26th at Mom and Dad's.  The kids all got roller blades or roller skates from their cousins in the exchange.  Well, Stacey got a pair from her mom and dad but needless to say, they all have a pair.  I can't tell you how many hours have been spent down in the basement roller skating in the last couple days!

So far, no one has gotten anything more than some bruises and the little boys - wow!  They are getting so good!  No more holding on to the sides when we go to the skating rink the next time!  There hasn't been nearly as much time asking to play Wii, it is kind of cool.

Another great thing about the skates is that there seems to be an interest in tackling the garage mess so that the skating rink can move from the basement to the bigger garage!  I can't tell you how excited THAT makes me!  Indirectly I can get done what I can't do myself...move all of these boxes where their contents belongs!  I say a WIN-WIN situation for all!

Making progress

Still a ways to go

Grand Central Christmas

Christmas at Grand Central next door has occurred the day after Christmas for quite a few years now.  This year was no different.  We eat appetizer type food and open presents for a good part of the morning and afternoon.  Then my brother Johnse cooks up the prime rib that Dad bought and Mom makes all the fixin's and we have supper.

Zachary opened the first gift this Christmas and it was a Perplexus 3D maze.  There is a marble and three tracks (mazes) to get  the marble through.  With help from Jake, he got it opened and started working on it.

For about half of the present wrapping time he was working on it.  There has been nothing since he was about two that has kept his attention that long unless it was a video game.  Seriously, he was sitting there for probably and hour and a half or more while cousins, aunts and uncles, along with Grandma and Grandpa opened presents all around him.

After completing maze one and part of maze two, he was a little frustrated because he was having some trouble getting it.  We talked him into taking a little break and trying again later.  He is not very fun to be around when something is frustrating to him.  Zach is going through a rough time right now.  Maybe it is a little too much caisen in his diet (we are a little lax sometimes where cheese is concerned), or all of the transition that has happened this fall, or, he could be growing.

Any number of things could be the cause.  Could simply be that he has been staying up way to late and getting up way to early lately.  All I know is that the Perlexus had him sitting in one spot focused on one thing for a long time today.  Great gift!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cancer Files: So You Had a Bad Day

I wouldn't call it the worst day ever by any means.  I stayed in bed sleeping until 11:30 a.m., then I got up and went out and sat in my recliner.  My wonderful husband brought me my warmed up breakfast and I ate it.  Before I knew it, he was handing me my lunch and I ate that too.  I sat there in that recliner until about 3:30 when I came out to the kitchen and planned some baking for the next couple of days and made a list of a few things that I need at the grocery store.

After we made supper and ate that, I spent a little time down in the vault wrapping a few presents.  Kids took showers and Stacey did some wrapping before I met the boys back in their bedroom for night time stories.  They got into bed and I was back in the recliner.

I do have to say that Zachary and I read three chapters of Charlotte's Web from that chair and Matthew and I snuggled while we watched some Clifford so that was no time totally wasted.  I am looking forward to spending some time in my kitchen baking tomorrow and Monday.

I am a week out of surgery and this recovery has been a little different.  The majority of the work was done on the top which means every time I move my arms I get pain across my chest.  It isn't that bad but after doing one or two small chores I feel like I need to sit down and let everything rest a bit.  I hate that!  I know I am feeling sorry for myself and I need to be thankful and I really am.  I am thankful that it is break and that all of my loved ones are here in this wonderful new house to spend time working and playing together.

I just want this recovery to be over, I am not very patient or a very good patient!

Friday, December 20, 2013

I LOVE this man!

There are so many things that I just don't know how to do, I supposed I could figure it out but who wants to with everything else I would rather do!

I love that this man will tackle a string of lights and find the one that isn't working and get it all back right.  It is not his favorite thing to do, but he does it for me, because it means a lot to me to have everything just so, especially at Christmas.

So tonight, he borrowed my reading glasses (and reminded me that I need to schedule an eye appointment for him - because that is something I am good at) and found the bad bulb.  The tree is lit and tomorrow the last of the decorating will be complete!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cancer Files: DRAIN OUT! (Again)

Jackson Pratt Drain Instructions...I remember a week ago when I was in a groggy daze trying to get ready to be discharged and the nurse was wanting to know if I am familiar with the drain that was coming out from under my right armpit.  "OHHHH yes!" was my answer.  I mean, this one is the sixth one I have had since August 15th!  I am a little familiar with what I need to do!

Being one of the least favorite things about this recovery, imagine my JOY to go in today and have the doctor remove it!  I have been a little less enthusiastic about getting up and moving around during this recovery because hey, I know what it means to be in pain and well, if sitting still is more comfortable, I am going to sit still.

I don't like sitting still but if you knew how to read the chart that I not quite so diligently filled out this time around, you would see that I COULD have had the drain taken out by Sunday (Monday since they don't see me on weekends).  Why is it Thursday before I make my way into see the doctor?  Well, there are a number of reasons being the seasoned patient that I am.

  1. As I said above, it was just more comfortable to sit in my recliner than get up and drive myself to the doctor to get the drain removed.
  2. My doctor's nurse transferred to another department so she could have better hours and be more available for her kids.  She was a ROCK STAR at removing the drains with very little pain.  Doc is currently training a new nurse and is removing the drains himself...can you say RIP THE THING OUT WITH NO WARNING?  I think he sometimes forgets that I am not under anesthesia and am wide awake.  Abdominal drains aren't as painful, but on top, they wrap around inside, and well...not fun!
  3. Thursday is a week out from surgery and I can medicate myself with ibuprofen, the best pain fighter for my body, so I took three this morning and I was ready.
  4. I was going to have to have a post op appointment anyway at the end of the week and who wants to go into the office more than once a week (if I could skip a week it is even better!)
The only reasons I can think of to go any earlier is that the most pain comes from the friction that is created when my arm moves across the entrance site of the drain under my arm (but if you pack enough gauze in your armpit, it isn't nearly as bad).  And, the other is that showers are a LITTLE less convenient with drains but with only one it isn't that bad.

So, that is my reasoning.  Tonight I am enjoying almost pain free movement of my arm and those bruises are more of a yellow color now so they are healing too.  I made my family an entire dinner tonight and cleaned up the pans (no one likes to wash pans so when I am down, they kinda pile up).  My kitchen looks nice again!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Little Givers

I love having a preschooler who is holding a pen and trying to write his own gift cards.  Today was Matt's gift wrapping day and we worked hard while the kids were in school to get everyone's gift under the tree.  I remember each of my children wanting to wrap and write gift tags themselves and how sweet it is to watch them give.  

I will miss this! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cancer Files: See the Pretty Colors!

It seems to have become quite the "norm" for David and I to spend time waiting in a pre-op room.  He with his phone, I with mine.  The usual suspects come in to check with us and get me ready for the surgery with the IV, the anesthesia, and the doctor with his dark purple marker (that leaves marks on me for weeks with ink that bleeds off on my clothing.)

This time was not unlike the others and thankfully, went off about as smoothly.  I was a little shocked however at the amount of bruising that I saw when we were able to get a good look at things when we got home.  The pictures are of different areas where he either lypo-suctioned to get what he needed to fill in the areas that were sagging, or they are pictures of areas that were sagging and are now filled.

All of these pictures could be taken with me in my swimming suit, so nothing is indecent here, just a little sampling of the different colors that can come from such a surgery.  Thankfully it is winter and I can cover all of these areas up nicely so David won't be questioned about his treatment of his wife!

There is a good bit of pain this time and one drain on the right side where he worked a lot on the infected spot to get it cleaned up and closed.  All and all, I know that I will feel good once again someday, but I am in that fifth/sixth day out and I just want to do something useful.  Roller coaster riding is my life this year.  For now, I will ride (I just can't raise my hands above my head for four weeks)

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Piano Recital!

We missed the piano recital!  I am going through some pictures this morning and realize that I had big news to report for our three piano players!  The weekend we moved into the new house (November 2nd to be exact), Ryan, Stacey and Zach had their very first piano contest/recital.  They all did wonderfully.

What can I say besides they all did great.  They all got top scores on their contest pieces and then did well when they performed for us.  We have been scouring Craig's List to find a baby grand piano because in the new house we have the perfect place for piano practicing.  Since David and I both play too, that leaves only Dawn who isn't a pianist in the house.  She has her eye on a couple different instruments now though and she loves to use her voice!

Matthew has his pre-reader piano books that I have been working with him on and I know that he will jump right in with everyone when he gets a little bit older.  I love having piano players in the house!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Back Up A Week...

Lets back up a week to the time we were having fun.  Sometimes focusing on the more positive things in life help to lift our spirits!  We were still in Gatlinburg a week ago enjoying the activities there.  At the Ripley's Believe it or Not museum they got stopped for awhile at the over-sized lite brite display.  Ryan worked meticulously to make an American flag.
Stacey is writing names on her side.

Ryan starts devising his plan
Figuring out the pattern.
I pledge allegiance to the flag.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cancer Files: What a Husband Should Never Have to Do

There really is a different version of "love, honor, and cherish" than you think of when you are in the romantic attraction of a new marriage.  When we stand there on our wedding day with so much hope and excitement for a future different than it has been before.  That version includes things like blood and ooze, fear and uneasiness.  No husband signs up for that on their wedding day!

This version of love is so much more than I ever knew I was getting that day long ago when I was just worried that everything that was planned for my big day was going to "go off without a hitch" so to speak.  I have said it before, if any of us would have known what we were really getting into in marriage, I am not sure there would be as many married people.  That is why in God's grace, He doesn't give us the whole story about marriage until we experience it.  On the flip side though, there are amazing and wonderful things you can't even imagine on that wedding day that you get to experience too!  Which is a fun little bonus!

And here is the truth...love is patient, and kind, it doesn't envy or boast.  It does not seek its own, not easily provoked and thinks no evil...love bears ALL things, believes ALL things, hopes ALL things, endures ALL things.  Love never fails.  This makes a nice little saying in the wedding program that you hand out to your guest on the big day, but does anyone REALLY know what that means?  I am thinking with divorce statistics as they are today, probably not.

So, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised when I am going through life thinking things are going pretty well and I find myself on my bed while my husband is packing three feet of soaked daikon strips into a dime sized incision on my right breast right after looking at me with an unfamiliar expression and saying "I really don't think I can do this!"  Yes, I am bawling - IT HURTS, all the while saying to him "this is not your fault that I am crying, you are doing GREAT!"

The facts are, a week and a half before my "final" surgery to finish up the cosmetic things involved in the reconstruction, I develop a hemotoma on the right side (which had been healing wonderfully and not causing me any problems since the cancer was removed on August 15th!).  Within two days, infection had set in and gave me what I thought was the flu.  Not so, after the wound was drained and I woke up today, I felt GREAT!

So, not final surgery coming up next week.  Instead he is going in to see why I started bleeding, clean out the wound and stitch it up.  He says this happens.  Funny, I didn't see it in the breast cancer manual (and that thing is THICK!)  Doc did tell me that he will still be able to work on the left side and "tweak" there so all is not lost.  Then, if all goes well there will be one more surgery.

Thank you for all your prayers, there are so many great people who I love so much who have come beside me and encouraged.  Sometimes it is just that kind word of encouragement that lifts your spirits.  Lifted spirits are more important than I ever knew before this whole experience.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Matt Loves Mom

We were at a steakhouse the other night that provided these Wiki sticks for the kids to play with while they waited for the food.  One by one, Matt handed me one and asked "can you make an M...can you make an A...?"  I wasn't really paying attention to what he was doing until he had asked for M A T T M O M, and he asked for an L.  After the L I heard "Mom, how do you spell love?"  That is when I looked down and he was working on the word "love" in between Matt and Mom.  One of those "Awwww" moments!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

World's Tallest Man and Other Odd Things

The world's tallest man...the kids thought it was pretty neat to see a life-sized replica of the world's tallest man.  We thought we would pause for a picture just for fun.  There was a lot of things in the Ripley's believe it or not museum that was interesting and exciting to see.

There are a few visual learners in our family and to see the actual size of a man who was 9 feet tall really made an impact on us.  We also got to see things like art made out of rubix cubes and cool optical illusions as well as getting to play with giant Lite Brites!  There was a little something to interest everyone.  I was even able to read a few of the interesting facts as we walked along the way...my kids are growing up!

One of my favorites was right at the beginning of our journey through the museum.  I have very vivid memories of gum wrapper chains.

I turned the corner yesterday during our tour and there was the world's longest gum wrapper chain.  That brought back memories from my childhood.  My mom made gum wrapper chains when she was in high school.  She still had one she was working on when I was a little girl.  She kept it in a light blue bucket the size of an ice cream pail.

She would get the chain out and let me look at it and show me how each link was a gum wrapper.
Imagine my surprise to have those memories jogged by the worlds LONGEST gum wrapper chain!  My first thought was "man, I wish that Mom was here to see this" and I took a picture from every possible angle so that I can show her when we get home.  It is a memory that may seem silly, but was surprisingly vivid to me.

Family Time

It has been a great day.  A great week so far actually.  We are celebrating Thanksmas with Auntie Chelle and it has been a long time since we have been in Gatlinburg.  In fact, the last time we were able to book a condo here, I was in my first trimester of pregnancy with Zach.  (Eight years!)

The last three weeks have been so busy at the house, and I have a lot to catch up on and I have all kinds of pictures and blog posts in my head that I haven't sat down and typed up.  I am hoping to share some of the moving moments and new house adventures as I get a chance but for today, we played mini golf!

As the kids get older, the family dynamic is a lot different.  Going mini golfing without a stroller, this mom was able to hold a warm cup of coffee and take some pretty fun pictures.  Zachary has improved tremendously since last trip and Matthew is learning how to hold the club.  Ripley's believe it or not was pretty great too.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cancer Files: Surgery #4 - Hopefully the Last!

I am having a hard time keeping up with the blog lately with all of the things that are going on around here! The new house has been wonderful this past week as we have gotten used to new things and figured out which light switches go with which lights.  I could do without all of the boxes but I know that it won't take too long before they won't be here, at least in the main living areas.

Doctor said this week that we can try to schedule the last surgery before the end of the year to save the deductible once January hits.  I am all for that!  Who wants to drag cancer treatments into a whole new year?  I am ready to get this behind me and move on in 2014!  So, December 12th will be the next and final surgery to get the cosmetic aspects taken care of.  Not super thrilled when he said it would be a 3-4 hour outpatient surgery, but if it is the last one, it will be good to get it behind me!

I have some fun pictures to share from the last week or so, and our moving experience so I will get to those fun posts over the weekend, but for now, this is where I am on the journey.  Grateful to be here and that the cancer was found when it was.  I will deal with the new me and find the new normal.  Maybe this upcoming surgery will move me closer in that direction.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Suppertime at the New House

Last week was such a whirlwind.  In 36 hours we went from living in one house to eating dinner in a new house on the other side of town.  Lots of things happened that I would like to document but I have not had time to sit down and make that happen.  This coming week when I need some down time, I will get a more detailed update.  Life is a little crazy right now but God is oh so good!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fall Fest 2013

Here I am about an hour before Fall fest last Wednesday.  I spent the morning in my recliner with the urge to throw up every time I moved.  I was a little frantic about how the kids were going to be ready with costumes for the big event later in the evening.

It was about 1:00 p.m. when I was finally able to eat a little bit of yogurt and move around a little bit.  It was an early dismissal day and after the kids arrived home, we all got into the car and made a quick trip around town to the places where we usually have luck finding costumes that we need.

This year, I was looking for a Robinhood or a Peter Pan costume for the little boys.  Matthew wanted to dress up like "Little Link" from the video game Zelda and Zach decided being "Big Link" would be fun.  It made me smile so that is what we set off to find.

The only thing I could come up with in the three places we stopped was a Robinhood outfit for Zach.  We bought a couple of swords to make Link complete and went home.  Matthew was beside himself because he didn't have anything.  I couldn't believe that something as classic as Peter Pan wasn't in a little kid size.  Funny how you can find all of that stuff in adult sizes, I don't get that.

After dropping the kids off (the girls already knew what they were going to dress up to be, and I told Ryan I would find something for him, he was having trouble making up his mind), I went back out to JoAnn's.  Thankfully I still had my sewing machine at the house.  I bought some brown and green fleece and traced around Matt's top so that he had a tunic.  The hat was a little trickier but it came together just great.  David helped the big kids with the cardboard shields and we were set to go.

Still feeling somewhat green, I tagged along and everyone enjoyed an evening of fun at Fall fest.