Button Banner

Button Banner

Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday From the Heart: I Don't Feel Good

I have some favorite Psalms that I go to when I am wanting to really pray praise to God, not only for what He has done for me, but mostly for who He is, and His character.

It was yesterday when two different friends who I trust and love, at different times pointed out to me that if I am NOT fine, don't say I am FINE! I hate that, I want to be fine, I want to uplift and encourage people. Reports on chemo and what this whole struggle is doing to me and my family is not the best and most uplifting thing to put out there.

I got into my bed last night with the Psalms and searched for some others. David, the Psalmist and "man after God's own heart" has many other Psalms recorded in his book. Many of them are during times when he didn't feel God's presence and he was looking and praying, and PLEADING for a way out.

  • "Lord, I cry out to You; make haste to me! Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You"
  • "Deliver me, O Lord from evil men; Preserve me from violent men"
  • "Oh Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure! For Your arrows pierce me deeply, and Your hand presses me down,"
  • "May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble, May the name of the God of Jacob defend you."
Those are just a few. Is it okay not to feel good, or to at times feel like God is far away? Well, I think that "the man after God's own heart" has shown me that this is true right there in God's word. I don't feel an absence of God so much as I just feel physically and mentally drained.

Round four, and they told me that it would be rough by round four. I think the main problem with me is that I just don't want to slow down. I want to keep up with my life and my family and my activities. So mentally, I think if I were to be truthful, for those who won't settle for "fine" I would say the daily ins and outs of this is weighing. The activities, the people I don't see regularly, the burden of finances as there are less dollars and many more bills, all of the little side effects that may not get me flat down in bed everyday but make me everyday "mental". 
  • eyes that are irritated
  • random tears and drippy nose
  • taste buds that are either numb or not tasting (I posted on Facebook yesterday that I couldn't even drink a whole coffee on National Coffee Day - okay, that is a pretty lame thing to complain about, but there it is)
  • tummy troubles - all kinds, take your pick
  • fatigue, falling asleep when I really would rather do something with my family
  • not being able to work
  • fear of upcoming change in protocol and the NEW side effects
  • headaches
  • heaviness in my chest and legs
  • bone pain
  • constant feeling of shakiness all over when I move
  • getting winded when I get up from a chair or walk down the hallway
So I admit, when I say "fine" I am just leaving out the above list. It was my son who asked me last night "Mom, are you feeling okay today"? After hearing from my friends earlier in the day that I shouldn't tell people I am fine if I am not fine, I answered him with "No, I don't feel very well today". He told me that he knows because when I don't feel good I snap at everyone more and I seemed a little stressed today.

BUSTED! By my kid. Because on top of all the chemo, I still want to be a good mom and because life doesn't stop for chemo, I still spend time contemplating my parenting and where David and I are leading our kids on their way to adulthood. Unfortunately in my weakened state I have been pondering my parenting and focusing on a few negatives. I know...grace, God will fill in the holes.

So this Friday from the heart, I will be honest, and truthful and nitty-gritty. It is what it is and I am still thankful that I get to worship a God who thinks this is the path for me. I do not love every minute of it, but I can say that I am learning to be more honest and more compassionate as I have to become the receiver. I like being the giver much better.

I can give a little of myself away here and maybe that is where I find comfort in the whole blogging experience. So thank you, those who have been reading and keeping up with what is going on. We are never truly alone in our struggles.
Psalm 139:1-14
"O Lord, You have searched me and know me, You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? if I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall fall on me', Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well." 

This is why I stand, even when I am shaking inside. This is why I smile when I feel "not fine". I may not be feeling fine, but if I have to be still, I can KNOW! (Psalm 46:10)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Small Things Are Sometimes Big Things

Look at my van key! It is hanging on a key chain and I am BEYOND thrilled! I have to send a HUGE shout out to my friend Emily Hoffman who read my blog back in July while I was recovering from surgery and offered her assistance.

It took me a few months (and two more times of locking my key in the van) before I remembered she had told me she thought she could help. See, these silly new keys with the chip and the fob built into the actual key cost around $250 to replace at the dealership and the plastic ring part of my old key had broken so I couldn't put it on a keychain.

When you are trying to keep track of just one key, it drops without hearing it (which was the case in the blog I had written), or, I will think I slipped it into my pocket when I had actually put it in my purse and then decided without thinking to leave my purse and take just my phone while I watch soccer (yea, you probably read that post a few weeks back!)

I stopped in at John's Lock and Key where Emily works and she showed me that they have the skeleton part of the plastic fob and can transfer the "innards" from the factory key into the plastic. Maybe some people knew about that but I didn't. Cool! As long as the chip and everything is in the new the key can be used to start the van. I am not paying for the expensive insides because she could transfer that into the new case.

She also made me a flat key that fits into the case of my phone, just in case one of those days come when I am distracted and the van key is in my purse in the locked van. That just made my day and I wanted to be sure you all knew where you can go if you need some help like this! Thank you Emily and John's Lock and Key!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Survivor Files: Chemo #4 - DONE!

I have a confession to make...I have been fearing that I am losing some of my ability to write my thoughts down coherently. I have skipped a few days. Mainly because I have been feeling bad and don't like how those thoughts often come out on paper (although one of my goals is to be honest and share honestly). Sometimes the sentences don't come together...like maybe chemo fog has set in.

Maybe the way to overcome this fear is to just type it out and see how it sounds. Today was chemo day #4. The girls were going to come with me and I wish that they could have but then it ended up being picture day at school and so I told them to go to school. That left me going to chemo by myself. And that isn't bad. Obviously, a different dynamic because it is just me interacting with the nurses who are always so great!

Hand massage today again which I love...I wrote awhile in my journal, caught up with my Dice with Buddies games and crocheted a couple rounds on a new hat. Oh...and my HAT! I was torn this morning about what to wear because Betsy and her mom had blessed me with a couple new outfits at her LuLaRoe party a couple weeks ago. (talk about comfy!) But, since I was going by myself and I had just finished sewing this fun new hat, (see the picture) I went with the hat and my most comfy pair of blue jeans. Got lots of compliments, that lifted my spirits for sure!

The last couple of steps to the pattern didn't really make sense to how the hat is supposed to look so I improvised and I think it turned out good. I will have to write a post one of these days about my observations going out with my wig vs. a hat or scarf. I am more comfortable usually in a hat or scarf because it is not as warm as the wig, but the reactions I get from strangers in public is totally different. We will save that for another day.

Nothing really to report, other than it was a peaceful morning and I am THRILLED that I made it (or I should clarify...I am making it) through the roughest stuff. The next 12 weeks starting on October 11th will be one drug and the side effects will be different. I think I mentioned before that the main concern for this new drug will be neuropathy. Losing feeling in my fingers and toes first. They want me to keep them posted on the littlest changes. It is a cumulative thing so week by week could change. And, some people can have permanent issues. So, there is a prayer for the prayer warriors.

I do think that with my level of crochet and knitting, I could keep doing that without feeling it, but I certainly don't want to. One other thing that my nurse told me is that some have a reaction to the first time or two they get this drug. The nurse will be monitoring me for the first half hour or so. If I was to have a reaction they know exactly what to do but I may not want the girls to come until week three or four til we see how I handle it. David said he is my date for October 11th. I am glad, we have gone through a lot together. So reaction or no reaction he is my first choice.

So specific prayers:
  • Miraculously NO neuropathy (lets pray BIG!)
  • No reaction to the new drug 
  • PRAISE...Ryan asked to see my bald head for the first time and gave me a thumbs up!
  • PRAISE...great conferences for the children last week!
  • PRAISE...ONE teenager has a learners permit (we celebrate every one if it is only one today!)
  • Please pray that two more teenagers will pass the test this week...this whole permit thing is turning out more stressful than I thought it would be. (a little more emotional) But I understand.
  • Please pray that these last two weeks of the double whammy drugs will work their way through me without too much interference.
  • Please pray that I will rest...somewhere in my schedule. I need to get back to my afternoon nap for a few days.
  • Pray that the new eye ointment will help my overnight dry and tired eye problem.
  • Praise for the book of Ephesians and the new fall Bible studies!
  • PRAISE that the flood in CR has not been as bad as they were predicting. David may be back in his office tomorrow to get things back up and running!

"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throught all ages, world without end. AMEN"  Ephesians 3:20-21

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Update On My Arm

I went to the surgeons office on Friday morning so that she could see how the antibiotics have been working that I started on Sunday. The doctor in the walk in clinic said that it looked like the start of an infection. In an arm with missing lymph nodes I was glad that we took action quickly. Now instead of bright red and warm, it just looks like there is a bruise on the inside of my elbow. It is still painful but not too bad.

The surgeon took one look at it and told me that it is what is called thrombophlebitis. She assured me that it is most likely superficial which is actually a real thing. You can read about it here if you are so inclined. This is something that can happen after lymph node removal. Since it is superficial there is no need for blood thinners but I need to take Tylenol or ibuprofen and use cool or warm packs depending how it feels.

I have developed cording which is described in more detail when I looked up Axillary Web Syndrome. I had read about it after the surgery when I had these type of pains and when it felt like they had taken the lymph nodes out and inserted a rubber band along the armpit and inner arm all the way down to my wrist and then tightened it as tight as they could. I have gotten almost to full range on my right arm but there are times when the pain returns for a day or more.

I am happy that whatever is going on shouldn't affect my last round of the "bad stuff" coming up on Tuesday. We certainly don't want to drag this out any longer than we have to! There is also a little confession I have to make. I posted this nice and restful looking picture of me but I haven't been very restful. I have had FUN but I haven't been sleeping as well. Time to slow down for a few days.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Musical Update

So, this happened about 20 minutes before I left for the cross country meet yesterday! Zachary got his trumpet! He got it right out and showed me the mouth piece and repeated everything he learned about how to take care of it and how it goes in the case!

It just goes to show that if a kid is interested in something, they will remember everything they need to know. He showed me how to warm up his lips with the mouthpiece, and then how to hold it and where his fingers go on the valves.

Then he gave me a little demonstration. I will have to say, there were some rough notes, but he did not let that stop anything. There were many very good clear notes too. He actually went up a scale three notes and looked at me with a surprise!

He had it out a few times tonight working on making some good sound. I am sure that I am going to love hearing him practice and learn on this another new adventure.

Meanwhile, I will have to get to the music store because two eighth graders are going to be trying their hand at marching band at the Marion Invitational this weekend. The eighth graders are doing an exhibition on Saturday. They are both excited to try that out and I am excited to see it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Little Cross Country

I had a busy day yesterday including a dentist appointment, a massage at the clinic (which did wonders for my arm and shoulder that has been fighting this infection). I visited with a friend in the afternoon in my living room for some down time too.

Marion was running at my favorite cross country course after school and this meet the high school would be there too. So, my mom, sister, niece and friend jumped into the van and drove up to Center Point. I donned my long sleeve shirt and brimmed hat (it was sunny) and we tootled on up to watch Ryan (middle school boys) and Bri (varsity) run. I also got to see the middle school girls before we left.

I think it was the strongest I have seen Ryan run and I am so proud of him. He keeps working and taking a little more off his time. It is also good for him in basketball season keeping up his endurance. You can really tell during basketball season which boys/girls also run. I love the Center Point course because there are so many good places to cheer the runners on without having to move too much. For me these days, that is a huge plus.

He was the fifth Marion finisher in the 7th/8th race. Varsity girls took first place in the meet, they have an incredible group of runners! We are proud of them all!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Taste of Parenthood

We had a new member of the family for an overnight visit last night. Stacey named her Addylin. The first of three eighth graders in our house brought home "the baby", and to think we get to do this two more times this year!

Stacey had her little overnight area set up in the living room and didn't want anyone else to do anything in case we might bounce her too hard or cause anything else that would take away from her grade. (She has always been a little nurturer and I am glad she was able to smile this morning when she turned the baby back in).

The evening was difficult and one of my favorite quotes I heard from her was "Mom, how did you do this with three babies?" I decided I kinda like this assignment. There was one time in the middle of the night where the baby ate for 45 minutes! I just nodded and smiled.

I believe that Dawn will be our next "overnight parent". Ryan's turn will come later in the year. Good life lessons.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Set Backs

I have to admit it...I overdid it this weekend. Sunday morning I woke up with a very bad pain in my right inside elbow. Upon more investigation, it was red and very sore to the touch.

I was looking forward to getting to church because otherwise, I was feeling pretty good to have a normal kind of day. As the morning progressed the pain increased and then there was a little bit of swelling around my wrist when I compared it with my left one.

I didn't know who to call about it when I got home from church because the lymphnode stuff was related to the surgery back in July and not the chemo/oncology stuff I am doing now. I made a call to the oncologist and explained what was going on. He said he would feel better if I popped into the walk in clinic and had someone actually look at it. Yes, it looks like the start of an infection. So, antibiotics for me.

The doctor was so nice and helpful. She asked me what I had been doing over the weekend and any symptoms I was having with chemo and I had to admit that I made four birthday cakes Friday, went to three soccer games on Saturday and orchestrated birthday parties for four of my children in the afternoon.

I hadn't really thought of it when I came in, but that is probably a bit much in my condition. She told me that with lymph edema it could be any one of those things, a combination or something as small as a hangnail from my newly brittle and cracking nail beds (a chemo side effect that has begun to cause some grief this third round).

Getting used to this new antibiotic has been rough. So much other stuff is in me to keep symptoms under control. It was a long walk home from dropping Matthew to school Monday. By the time I turned to walk home, I didn't know if I would get there. Thankfully, my sister lives half way so I stopped and sat down until the nausea subsided, crossed the street and sat on the neighbors driveway for a bit when I felt I might pass out, and then made it to my own backyard where I sat on the slide for a few more minutes til I could make my way across the yard to the back door.

I rested most of Monday and I think I am getting the hang of the antibiotic...water, water, water! Tuesday I get to have a massage!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Long Time Coming

There was a restaurant in town that Ryan used to love to go to until it closed down awhile back. It was Green Leaves. In it's place a new restaurant opened called Mandarin Spice Asian Grill. Ever since it has opened (well over a year or more) Ryan has said we should have a special date and try it out. He and I drove to church together this morning just the two of us because we needed two vehicles and he suggested lunch together after church. That sounded great to me! 

Checking with David and the rest of the plans for the day, it looked like it was going to work. The triplets were being celebrated at Grand Central tonight and Dad and the girls had a plan about what was on the menu so we got to finally go on our date.

It is fun to spend time one on one with each one of the kids. We hashed over the party last night and talked about the high lights. The discussion was just high lights and hearing about it from Ryan's point of view is always a treat. I have never been a 14 year old boy so I like hearing his thoughts. They have sushi at the Mandarin Spice so Ryan picked a couple he had never tried before. There is nothing much better than teenage conversation over sushi!

We were surprised at how much sushi came out on his plate. Most sushi he has had comes with six pieces and here each roll came with eight!  He wasn't expecting that much. But, because he didn't want me to miss the experience, he gave me a couple bites of the "new" rolls he ordered. He traded once but told me that I could just have some because he had plenty. He actually boxed up six pieces and told me he was going to take them for lunch tomorrow! (I told him as long as he made sure he put in an ice pack!)

It sure was worth the wait. He was more than happy with the "new" restaurant and we think the rest of the family might like it too. The booths are probably big enough to fit our whole family which was a big selling point and who can argue about eight pieces of sushi instead of six!

Sometimes around here we have to fit things in when they work into the schedule. Impromptu can be really nice!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Birthday Party Day

Today is birthday party day. With four birthdays in one week, we have learned to a thing or two about birthday parties. The 14-year-olds still like bouncy houses so that is what we had today. A 7-year old party this afternoon, and then this evening, the older kids came for their party.

I won't have time today to go over all of the party pictures so I will post the result of yesterday's work in the kitchen. Four cakes, four happy party kids!

First, there is Matthew's cake. He is becoming a Pokemon fan with a little help from his friends (since none of us in our house really know much about it, although I am learning fast), I told him I wasn't going to make a creature but how about a pokeball? (whatever that is!) So, for those of you who don't know either, this is what it looks like!

Ryan is still a big Zelda fan so here we have Link (with a sunburn since I didn't have any tan M&M's...didn't they USED to make tan?) I was hoping there would be a little space on the side to put a piano keyboard since Ryan has been learning many of the songs from the Zelda game. I love the music and so hearing him play has been a great source of happiness for me!

I had a wonderfully easy idea for Stacey's cake until she asked for a vanilla and strawberry checkered cake. (Not nearly as quick) So, I made a deal with her. I told her that if I make the checkerboard cake (which you can't see until you cut it I know so sorry that the full effect can't be seen here), she would have to let me decorate it however I want. She agreed. Since she hasn't been a "girly-girl" I took advantage and made a princess cake. She actually loved it!

Dawn loves chocolate and she has been a big Zelda player this year too. She has also been sending Pinterest posts of Zelda cakes. (Hmmm...so this is what I came up with) I just tried to make it as close as a couple of the ones she "submitted". She is thrilled to have a chocolate cake all her own.

Party days are fun, the kids have a blast and they make memories. For me, it is just a little bit of normal that makes me smile.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday From the Heart: Your Heart's Desire

I received a sweet gift from my sister-in-law down south this week. Michelle has been such a blessing to my life for so many years. I still have the very first letter she wrote me while I was in college. She had figured out that I may be a serious contender for her brother and wanted to introduce herself. I just love her!

She sent me a beautiful devotion book and a great card (she knows how to pick them!) Well, to be truthful, there was ONE problem. I am a firstborn rule follower and this devotion book is dated starting with January 1st. Now if I had received this for Christmas, it wouldn't be so bad, but this is September! I really had to go against my natural tendency because I wasn't going to wait til January to dig in.

It helped that the package came on September 13th. Okay, it was the triplet's birthday. I wonder what this devotion will be. Can you say "God Moment"? Instead of typing it all out, I took a picture of the page because I got shivers.

You see, for almost ten years we wanted to be parents and weren't given much hope that it would happen on our own. During those years as I look through journals and journals, I looked up and studied EVERY verse in the Bible that talked about prayer, how to ask, how could God answer? Would he answer? The best and most hopeful place I would always fall back into is Psalm 37:4. I learned it "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart."

I wanted to know the delighting. I spent months, even years sharing with God how much I wanted to delight in Him. After awhile though, thinking I was delighting in Him, I changed my focus. I started praying "Lord, if children are NOT your will for me, then PLEASE (and I begged Him for years) PLEASE take the desire away. If I am not to be a mother, take away the desire. I want to delight in You, I want to know your word and how to live in your will but if parenting is not in my future, TAKE AWAY THE DESIRE!

More months and years went by and it was STILL a desire. It was then slowly, that He unveiled his plan for us, and each step of the way, through the waiting and through the prayers, the tears, the heartache and the fear, we knew it was Him, it was His plan. Infertility is such a hard road. It is even harder on the other side to reach out to those who are still traveling that road. Oh boy, could I share some stories.

So, when I started reading (on September 13th, the anniversary of the day we became parents times three) "What did you want more than anything else in the world when you were a little girl? Maybe having a pony or being a princess..." No, THIS girl wanted to be a mommy. That was it, a wife and a mommy.

What a very fitting start to my new devotion book, my hearts desire...just a reminder again that I am still living this miracle every. single. day.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


I have been blessed in so many ways through this illness that there are no words to express how grateful I am. To those people who have blessed our children in amazing ways I want to say thank you! I won't name names here because I know they do what they do from their heart and because the children have bad days too, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Whether it has been time spent with them or gifts that are so special to them, thank you, thank you!

For ME yesterday, I was given such a treat. My brother Johnse had heard about the group called "Cleaning for a Reason" who partners with local house cleaning companies that come out and clean for patients going through cancer treatment. They come once a month for four months. Today was the first day they came and they had their work cut out for them.

The local company is All Season's Cleaning who sent two angels out to my house. I have to brag on these two who had the wrong address to our home and got here behind but despite the confusion came and gave three hours of their time to make my house sparkle! I told them selfishly that my priority was my master bathroom because it is the last place I spend my time on since it is one of the places not everyone sees. Oh boy does it look wonderful!

I included here a picture of my master bath shower doors. We have extremely hard water and since we have moved in here almost three years ago I have been on Pinterest and Google and have tried all kinds of products and combinations to get the scum off of my shower doors with no luck. LOOK AT THOSE DOORS! I told her I couldn't thank her ENOUGH! She even gave me the secret! (as long as I promised not to give it away)!

What a treat! I was able to use my energy today on other things, like catching up with the garden and preparing for some canning tomorrow. The kitchen smells much better when there aren't tomatoes that are getting overly ripe! (or maybe I should be truthful and say some were rotting)

I was able to rest some today too which was nice. Tomorrow my brain work will be thinking birthday party plans for Saturday. We will be having two parties in one day. 7-year-olds from 1-3 p.m. and 14-year-olds from 6-10 p.m. around the fire pit. I love normal life, I am thankful for the things like people who come and clean so I can use my energy on keeping life normal around here.

Stacey was a little confusedTuesday night as I was trying to explain why the kids needed to clean up their stuff from every room of the house so the cleaning people could come. She finally got it "OOHHHH! So they are coming to do the things we do before Christmas Eve and Easter when everyone comes over to our house!" Yes! (so now the truth is out!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

More Birthday Fun...And a Little Good News

Much better birthday present!
It is hard to pick one topic to blog about on some days. There are so many good things to write about. I have to start by catching up on the rest of the birthday celebration! Poor Ryan, when he opened his birthday present yesterday morning I knew he was disappointed. David and I really didn't know what to present him with since I couldn't pick up his real gift (we had the screen on his iPad fixed) til after he had gone to school. (Special thanks to Nathan Longwisch who did an amazing job fixing it!)

So, David decided to get him a couple of nun-chucks (or however you spell it) for our Wii since the boys have all but rendered the four we had unusable over the years! Well, thing is...Ryan plays most of his games on the computer or his iPad and even the Wii games he likes don't really use those, so when he opened his gift, Matthew and Zach cheered but I knew that he was probably disappointed.

Chic-Fil-A supper celebrating at Matt's
favorite restaurant!
I couldn't wait til he got home from school and it took longer because he has cross country practice every day. There was a small window between when he got home from there to when he had to be at soccer practice so we were able to give him his gift. He was very happy with that! I asked him why he hadn't asked where it is for two days and he said he asked Matthew and he said it was broken and we couldn't use it!

There was a lot of activities for the children so we taxiied a lot. We were all home by 7:30 except for Dawn who was babysitting til late. We decided since there wasn't time to make supper when we hadn't been home, that we would go to Chic-Fil-A for Matthew's birthday (Thanks so much to the Funck family for the giftcard!) We ate there and then dropped Dawn's dinner off at her babysitting location. It was a fun end to the day.

I waited to post a little later today because I had my follow up with the doctor about my thyroid. Good news and not so good news I guess. The good news is that both of the large nodules are still benign! The doc showed me the PET scan where there was uptake on the left side. He told me that the biopsy doctor took samples from the reddest area on the left nodule so he was pretty confident that there is no cancer there at this time. WOO HOO!

The not so great news is that the nodules are still growing and there are more of them. So, good that I don't have to worry about questionable thyroid nodules again til breast cancer treatment is done! We will visit again in six months for another ultrasound. I asked him if the ultrasound would warrant another biopsy could I opt to just have the surgery and he said I would be in charge at that point. So far my symptoms of the enlarged and nodulated (I think I made that word up!) thyroid are not unbearable. Another good day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Survivor Files: Chemo #3 (With a Little Birthday Fun Too!)

Had to wear my triplet birthday shirt!
I heard at least one "Oh MOM!"
Fourteen years ago today at 9:46, 9:47, and 9:49 a.m. I got to hear the cries of my babies for the first time. After all of the months of doing everything the doctor said to do, one emergency trip to the hospital and one week hospitalized at 30 weeks, I was more than ready to hold them in my arms. What a great day that was! I wrote in their baby books "it sounded like a big party in the delivery room." We had the best doctors and nurses with us and it still today is one of my favorite memories. What a day.

Today, fourteen years later, the morning started with a celebration of three 14-year-olds. (I included some of my favorite pictures from their morning below). It was a great way to start the day! They were in the van on the way to school wondering if any of them would be able to pass the DMV test to get their driving permits. The jury was still out by the time I dropped them off. 
Dad is keeping up with his work emails

My dad joined me during chemo treatment #3 once I got the kids off to school. Like I told my mom this afternoon, it is different having Dad with me, but we certainly did have a nice morning even if it was getting chemo. I have thought a lot about these two days fourteen years apart. When you trust God, both days are equally important in my walk with Him. Before I get a little too "hearty" on a Tuesday, I will just say that I will go a little more into that on Friday and stick to the details of the day today. Still doing everything the doctor tells me to do, I am working my way through the worst of it.

It was a rougher time this past round having a couple days where I was pretty much down in my bed/recliner. We are going to ease off of the steroids instead of going from four pills Friday down to none on Saturday. Seems my low times are when the steroids are done. I hope that gives me a little more energy. We will see.

I got to talk with my nutritionist today. I had met with her back three years ago to talk about meals and how to make positive changes in our eating habits. Today she came with a cookbook with easy and healthy recipes. I am excited that we are heading into soup season soon. There are some very yummy options and all of them are quick and easy recipes.

The time went quickly. I have to suck on cold popsicles while the one drug goes in because it helps divert the drug away from my mouth and cuts down on mouth sores later in the cycle. That keeps me busy talking to the nurse (who has to administer that drug through a series of syringes to make sure it doesn't go in too fast) and dad and I were recalling all of the '73 Chevy accidents that me and my brother got into in the car we called "The Hoot" when we were teenagers. Like I said, the conversations are different with Dad but still very fun and we laughed a lot too! 

And she hugs him!
Dawn opens her gift from Ryan
Stacey likes her gift too.
The second drug hangs in a bag and takes about 45 minutes to get in. I think I managed to get about 15-20 crochet stitches in my project I brought along. I love my dad. He shared some of the things that his dad went through with his health at the end when he had multiple myleoma. We lived in Georgia at that time and so hearing more of the story was nice. Dad took a few emails from work and I got a hand massage from one of the massage therapists who was making the rounds today.

All in all it was a great morning. We met Mom for lunch after she was done working and it was a great end to chemo morning. I remember as a kid wanting to get Mom and Dad alone and having their undivided attention. In a house of five kids that was a luxury back in the day. It still feels a little like a luxury even though this is not any way that we would pick to spend time together. I have done better lately at picking out the best parts of my days and forgetting all of the rest. Then, if those bad things linger, making sure that I have given that worry and care to God for good. He has been blessing those efforts because what you see is what He does!

So can I say it's been a great day? Yes...I really can.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Survival Files: He Still Makes Me Laugh!

People who have been married awhile can relate to real life and how marriage sometimes goes through stages where the busy-ness of life doesn't leave as much time for romance or laughter.

Sunday morning my husband and I were in our bathroom getting ready for church. I had showered and was sitting looking into my mirror while putting on my make up.

I mentioned to David that every morning when I sit and look at myself, it makes me think of the scene from "Return of the Jedi" when Luke helps Darth Vader take off his mask. Don't worry, I know I am much cuter than Darth Vader, it just was something that I thought kinda funny and I thought I would share with him since it was one of those rare times we were there getting ready at the same time.

My head looks a lot rounder without hair and it is just something that has passed through my brain. He laughed and went back to what he was doing. Not ten seconds later I hear KHEEEE... WHOOOO... KHEEEE ...WHOOOO with his best Darth Vader asthmatic breathing. (and he is a does a pretty good imitation) This cracked me up! I laughed with him and we went on with our day.

I have thought of that moment quite a few times since Sunday morning. I love that we can find something to make us laugh. And in this particular case, it has made me giggle every time I have thought of it since.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Give Me An "M"

This was us, seven years ago, still in the hospital new and still not much more than acquaintances. The beauty being mother to my children is not so much the newborn baby, but getting to know them as they grow and become the people that they were made to be.

Matthew and I have talked about his first few months and how it was hard for him to get used to the world. I had to intervene in the hospital his very first day because I could tell the nurse who was taking care of him was getting annoyed with the fact that he came out crying and just didn't stop.

I remember later in the afternoon when Grandpa came to visit and Matthew finally settled down in his arms while we visited. Those days and months in the beginning are but a memory today because I look at the boy he is today and how many of my days he has brightened. As of late he has become interested in Pokemon characters and the stories and I told him I wasn't going to be able to make him a Pokemon cake because I am not that good of a cake maker. I asked him if there was anything else that he would like on a cake to celebrate at Grandma and Grandpa's tonight. He wasn't thrilled to have to think of something else but he finally said. How about a blue cake with a big "M". So a big "M" it was.

We will keep celebrating as his birthday is tomorrow and then there are sisters and a brother to celebrate on Tuesday. It is what is known as "birthday week" at our house. Four birthdays in two days time. I am sure some may say "chaos" but I like to call us blessed.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Handsome Cub Scouts Selling Popcorn

The Cub Scouts are selling popcorn! It is that time of year again and so if anyone has been craving the yummy popcorn that only comes in Boy Scout tins, let me know because we have an abundance and two eager Cub Scouts.

I told Zachary when he got home from school yesterday that he had an opportunity to go sell in a booth sale later and he got a little whiny and said that he didn't want to. I kinda forced him to go since usually when he gets out there he remembers how good it feels when people buy popcorn. It was definitely worth time spent selling.

If you have a craving for scout popcorn and live within a two hour radius, we have included the descriptions of all popcorn flavors below. Tell us what you would like and we will get it to you! If you live far away, check out our selling links:

We have received a lot of rain this summer and when I say a lot I mean A LOT! Yesterday was rainy off and on and about thirty minutes before sale time it was down pouring. Just in time to start the sale it had stopped so that was promising. Then, the very first guy they asked bought three tins and a box of microwave! There is nothing like a good first sale to get the boys excited about being there!

Pick your favorites!

With about forty minutes to go the dark clouds rolled in and we knew we were going to see more rain. Sure enough, the last thirty minutes or so was pouring rain. It was surprising though that there were still plenty of sales during the rain fall. We were under just enough of an overhang to stay dry and people could shop without getting wet.

I love the things that the boys learn from selling popcorn. Thank you to all of you who support our scouts in this way!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday From the Heart: His Appointment

I won't lie and say that when I found out on Wednesday that my ENT doctor wanted another biopsy of my thyroid I was not a little disappointed. I was a lot disappointed! Especially when I was dealing with the fatigue and pain of earlier in the week. I am pretty sure that if I didn't say it out loud, God heard my heart cry "what next?"

That is when I ran across this poem. I remember how I used to love reading and writing poetry. Why don't I do that anymore? This is one I have saved over the years for encouragement and it did settle my heart just a little bit to read the rhythmic verse. I hope that by sharing it, it will encourage you too.

"Disappointment - His Appointment",
change one letter, then I see
that the thwarting of my purpose 
is God's better choice for me.
His appointment must be blessing
though it may come in disguise;
for the end, from the beginning,
open to His vision lies.

"Disappointment - His Appointment"
Whose? The Lord who loves me best,
understands and knows me fully,
who my faith and love would test.
For like loving earthly parents
He rejoices when He knows
that His child accepts unquestioned
all that from His wisdom flows.

"Disappointment - His Appointment";
no good things will He withhold.
From denials oft we gather
treasures of His love untold.
Well He knows each broken purpose
leads to a fuller, deeper trust,
and the end of all His dealings
proves our God is wise and just.

"Disappointment - His Appointment";
Lord I take it then as such,
like clay in the hands of the potter
yielding wholly to His touch.
My life's plan is all His molding;
not one single choice be mine.
Let me answer unrepining,
"Father, not my will, but Thine."

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Getting Things Done

It is amazing how awful you can feel one day and then just a couple days later how you can be tootling around town running here and there and almost forgetting that you are a cancer patient on chemotherapy. At least until you start sweating like crazy in the middle of a warehouse where you are picking up boy scout popcorn. Then you are just hoping that your wig doesn't slide off in the middle of loading boxes in the car!

Before Bed
I woke up and decided to try wearing my wig all day. I can't really feel confident to take a sub job until I know I can feel like I can get through a day with hair. The morning started slowly at home after getting the kids off to school. I was reading in Philippians over coffee and then headed downstairs to sew on some of the scarves and hats. The scarf I had cut out last week went together very quickly and I was able to cut out three more hats and get them ready to sew. I am supper excited that the new stretch needles are doing their job beautifully since knit and stretch fabrics are not what I love working with.

There was an oral surgeon consultation for one of the kids this afternoon and then I had to go pick up the popcorn for our scout pack. (Same kid got to help Mom load popcorn too!) Since the temperature wasn't supposed to get too high today I thought it would be a good day to try a "good hair day". Except for that little bit of time in the warehouse, there was about ten minutes watching Matthew on the soccer field that was a little warm. Besides that all went well.

The day ended with a wonderful girls night out with some friends. I think girls night out is the only time I arrive somewhere on time! It was a full day. I have still had some bone pain and it throbs a little more as the day has gone on, but it hasn't kept me from the things I had to do today and for that I am so very grateful.

I look forward to some time tomorrow down in my sewing room. Soon I can model some new head wear for days I don't really feel like "doing" my hair!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Survivor Files: Extreme Fatigue

I hit a low on Monday night. I got to enjoy my day with Dawn and some movie distraction but there was a point when my brain went a little wacky and I would say I was feeling a little "mental". Over the years I can tell when I am starting down that road with my thoughts but experience has taught me how to divert my attention to something outside of myself and move past that feeling.

I got myself to bed and laying there wanted to read to get my mind off of my extreme fatigue. It was almost like I was in disbelief that I could feel so wiped out. I couldn't even get myself to turn over. My brain was tuned in to how extremely tired I was and that there is nothing I can do about it. I remember telling David when he came in to check on me that I could use about three more Labor Days in a row. The idea of getting back into real life after the long weekend was very overwhelming.

I was surprised that 6:45 a.m. came and I was up and getting the kids going. A shower helped this morning and I got the middle schooler's out to school at 7:30 and kept telling myself what the doctor had told me when I had days like this. My doctor and trainer have both said even when you have really low energy days if you can just get up and go for a short walk in the fresh air it will do you good.

Matthew and I walk 2 blocks to school every morning. I kept telling myself as we were getting ready that there is my short walk for the day. I got there, watched him walk in and caught all of his thrown kisses and turned around and walked slowly back home. That is when I promptly walked through the house, to my bedroom and climbed right back into bed. I was so hoping for a little sign of energy returning today but that was it. I slept til 11 a.m. when I forced myself up.

I slowly worked on the boys' laundry load by load and got it folded while I distracted myself with some quilting shows I had DVR'd. It was a little after two o'clock when I got a phone call that I certainly wasn't expecting. It seems that my ENT had a chance to look at my thyroid ultrasound. The nodules have grown and he wants to do another biopsy. I really had to try hard not to cry on the phone with the nurse. She said they will get it scheduled with the hospital and get back with me. Two biopsies of my thyroid nodules in the same year. I am praying that I get the same doctor to do my biopsy as I had last spring. My memory of the experience was compassion from everyone in the room. At least I have met my deductible!

With this day almost behind me I think it was for days like this that I purchased a ring on sale a couple of weeks ago. With it on my finger, I well remember:

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity 
To accept the things I cannot change; 
Courage to change the things I can; 
And wisdom to know the difference. 

Living one day at a time; 
Enjoying one moment at a time; 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
Taking, as He did, this sinful world 
As it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right 
If I surrender to His Will; 
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life 
And supremely happy with Him 
Forever and ever in the next. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Down Time With a Classic

Dawn and I spent some time on Labor Day watching a few movies. I was thankful for the company since I wasn't feeling the best. She has been more willing to "try" watching a few of her mom's favorites to see if she can appreciate the good entertainment of previous generation(s). I say generations because many of my favorites were introduced to me by my mom. She gave thumbs up to "It Happened One Night" just last week and also liked "Move Over Darling" with Doris Day and James Garner.

It started earlier this spring when we hung out at my parents' one Sunday night when there weren't any other families in town. Mom and I introduced Dawn to "Sense and Sensibility" and she fell in love with it. That night I borrowed Mom's copy of the A&E version of "Pride and Prejudice" which is a two DVD set.

Because of the length of the movie, we hadn't had a chance to watch it. Labor Day afternoon we found "Sixteen Candles" on Netflix and we watched that one. I can't say that this was ever one of my favorites, but it was the pop culture of my growing up years. After that was finished, I remembered the "Pride and Prejudice" that we still had borrowed from Grandma. I told her it was long but I was game if she wanted to start it. The rule is we watch for 10 minutes and if she doesn't like it we can stop. (We have yet to stop a movie that we start which makes me smile).

Unfortunately, we had borrowed the movie "God's Not Dead 2" from Sy and Betsy and planned to watch it at a family in the evening to end our long weekend. I don't mean unfortunate in that it was bad, because we really enjoyed watching that one too. The only problem was, we ended "Pride and Prejudice" after the first DVD because we didn't have time to finish before family movie time started.

For any of you who have watched that particular version of the movie, the first DVD ends as Darcy walks out after admitting he has loved Lizzy since he met her and she rejected his offer of marriage. Dawn was beside herself not being able to see the rest of the movie but I loved that she loves it! She had to sleep and go to school before we could get back to the story today.

When she got home from school she did a few chores and was ready to put in DVD two. We finished it up after she was done babysitting tonight and it certainly did not disappoint. She watches movies like this like some people watch ball games. She jumps up and cheers or crouches behind a pillow with the "daunting" music starts playing.

I am glad for these times of bonding. It has been a rough couple of days this time around as I have felt for the first time in my life this kind of fatigue that won't let me complete any one task, no matter how small without needing a rest. It is hard after a day or so to remember that these are cycles and that my body will build strength up again. While I am struggling with strength, it is nice to have distraction.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Some Good Ol' Fashioned Hard Work

Although I have been lacking energy over the holiday weekend, things have been getting done around here. I am proud of my family for taking on the great task of pulling up the poles that held the clothes line in our backyard. I tried the first year we lived here to use it and it was definitely doable but putting clothes out on the line just hasn't become a habit of life for me. I guess I still love the conveniences of modern life.

We have had one "bonfire" party here this summer with the teenager friends, and their birthday is coming up so in order to prepare the backyard, I suggested taking down the clothesline so when it gets dark we won't have kids running through the yard getting hung up in the clothesline.

Well, one thing I can say about our house and the man who built it is that there is no shoddy workmanship anywhere! (Including the installation of the clothesline.) I took my spot to watch as the rest of the family took on the task of the day.

I didn't get out in time to get a picture of Zachary unscrewing all of the bolts that held the "T" bars into the ground but I hear that he did a magnificent job getting that part of it done. Once David sprayed them they came right out. I always love when there is a "not so tough" part of a job so that the kids of all ages in our house can lend a hand!

Ready with long pants and safety glasses, Stacey started working on the cement piece with Grandpa's borrowed sledge hammer. Dawn took a turn later as well and it was coming off pretty well until they hit the rebar! Ugh...we were all secretly hoping it was just cement to contend with, but no such luck this time. David and Dad worked on trying a couple of different things to speed up the process but there really isn't anything besides old fashioned hard work. Long after the kids gave it their all, David was out trying to bust as much of it away as possible. There is still more work to do on it, but we will keep at it. After we buy Grandpa a new sledgehammer (which is so far the only casualty of the project I have to report).