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Wednesday, November 30, 2016


How many times have we been to Gatlinburg? I had to take a minute and try to count. I do know that it all started with David and I looking for a place to celebrate what I originally thought was our first anniversary but I think it was actually our second. We didn't have a camera and well, no cell phones were really available for the general public at that time. (Yea, we are old) Kinda makes me sad because I would have loved some pictures. But none exist.

Whether it was our first anniversary or our second, we fell in love with Gatlinburg and began making it a tradition to spend the first week in December there. And we did it through the infertility years enjoying the "romance" of the city just the two of us. The Christmas lights are up and it is a beautiful mountain drive around town. I don't know the status of that first cabin we stayed in but I do know most of the cabins in that area burned to the ground. Sad. 

We didn't go in 2002 with 2-month old triplets but I remember the first trip in 2003 with the just-over-a-year old triplets. It was overwhelming but magical in their eyes too. We had a terrible condo that we have never returned to and always talk about that terrible condo when we reminisce about our Gatlinburg experiences. We heard today that there is nothing left standing on that road.

It makes us sad because the condo we LOVED and stayed in last year is over on that side of the city too. We found out this morning that at best report building A, the office and the pool house are gone for certain. (Several eye witnesses saw them engulfed in flames). Not sure about the rest of the property but it doesn't sound good.

Here is a good video of the aerial view of fire damage for anyone who wants to see. We also have heard this morning that our other very favorite resort Tree Tops has lost some buildings. I am thankful for the local news in the area because the post their reports online. Unfortunately since it isn't California, there isn't much coverage in our national media.

Please indulge me while I share some of our Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge memories because these kind of events make us all a little sentimental. We are going to make it back there as soon as we can. We are sad about our favorite resort spots, but are sad too for the people whose homes have been totally destroyed. That is where the real damage is. Up in the mountains, all those beautiful homes that are no more than foundations. We are praying for more rain to end this dry spell.

The kids were just devastated last night at the report that two people so far have been charged with arson in these fires. We just don't understand the minds and evil hearts of people who would purposely start a fire like this. Hopefully the judges and jury in their cases are a little easier on them than our kids would be. They weren't calling for the death penalty but life in miserable prison. David said we should just throw them into the fire and the kids were okay with that too.

Of course we know that that is all just talk and raw emotion when we are terribly sad about what has happened. It just goes to show how much we love this place and are sad that someone would think to do such a terrible thing. It is one thing to be careless with matches and start a fire on accident but an example of pure evil to do it on purpose.

We are praying for Gatlinburg and all of the people who will now slowly be let back in to see for themselves the destruction of their homes, many of them with very little time to get out with anything but the shirt on their back. We pray for the families of the 3 that have died and the ones who are still looking for missing loved ones.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Chemo #11

I started out this morning dreading chemo...I just hate the way I feel about 30 minutes in and I had been praying last night for our beloved family vacation spot Gatlinburg as the forest fires had become a huge threat to the place we love. I thought it only appropriate to wear my Gatlinburg sweatshirt because my prayers continue as the pictures of the devastation have started to surface online.

Mom joined me and as I look back on this last week (remembering that last week Michelle was with me) it feels like forever since I had been there (thankfully there have been no iron infusions or sick germs that have brought me back before today). We had such a great visit this Thanksgiving.

Chemo itself was pretty uneventful since about 15 minutes into it I got pretty droopy. Mom and I had both brought our JoAnn's fliers and we had been looking at all the sales coming up on Thursday and if anything we needed was included. Seriously...one minute I am talking irons with Mom and then the next I am staring at the flier and can't for the life of me get my brain to process what I am seeing on the paper. At that point I just reclined back and fell asleep. It is weird because the last couple of weeks I have been able to have full conversations with people and stay awake the whole time. I felt flush when the steroid went in the last couple of weeks but didn't today. So I guess I won't really ever know what to expect.

Pleasant surprise when I woke up hearing a familiar voice talking to Mom. Beth (Ross) Dunkel was in for some tests and has taken the seat next to me. (Praying for GOOD news tomorrow when she gets results!) That was nice to get caught up on how her treatment is going and chat about life for a bit. I still was a little groggy so I was not the best conversationalist. She isn't normally in on Tuesdays but again, a nice diversion.

So, I really thought I was going to be able to post yesterday but by the end of the day I was wiped out. I would have called it "I LOVE Mondays" and tell you all about what I accomplished on Monday in preparation for being down for 2-3 days after chemo.

I was able to go to Stacey's away game and she played amazingly so it was worth the trip. I did some laundry, darned a Zachary sock, cleaned up the rest of the weekend dishes in the kitchen and got supper ready to eat for our Monday "eat in shifts" schedule. I always feel better about leaving when they all have something to eat ready for them. I made up my 3 lb. tube of ground beef into meatballs and that felt wonderful. Then I mixed up gluten free and regular spaghetti (all the meatballs are gluten free because I had a ton of ends of gluten free loaves of bread to grind up into crumbs). I put the regular spaghetti into the crockpot on warm and the gf spaghetti into the oven after I finished the gf and regular cookies I baked when the spaghetti was done. (The cookies were frozen pre scooped fundraisers so not much work on my part).

It felt good to have a relatively normal day yesterday and as I went to bed I was smiling about my accomplishments. Kinda dreading Tuesday morning but it is done again for another week and we move on.

Here are a few things that have changed if you all are keeping up with me:

  • I will be increasing my tummy medicine because it seems that I may have been eating a little too much rich food this past week and got me a case of gastritis (hmmm...wonder how THAT could have happened). Although common in chemo treatment, I think the yummy Thanksgiving food may have had a little bit to do with it, not to mention the increase of sugar intake with all of the scrumptious desserts that weren't all gluten free. I will let you know how this week goes getting that under control. It may have been totally worth it when all is said and done.
  • I also have had a pretty big change in my neuropathy side effects this week. Waking up with numb feet, finger tip pain and my left toe is almost constantly numb and sometimes random pain shoots through it. We are bumping from 1 pill at bedtime to 2 pills at bedtime and then on Friday increasing to 2 pills at bedtime and 1 pill mid afternoon. Crochet has been hard because of the fingertip pain but because knitting uses mostly the forearm muscles I am able to do that much easier. I have been preparing Christmas cards and writing has become problematic. I am not great at keeping a pen in my hand and so I am hoping that with the increase of the meds I can get some relief.
  • Sleep is not so easy to come by. Sometimes because of the neuropathy and sometimes because I don't feel sleepy. I haven't been napping in hopes that it makes a difference but sometimes it doesn't. I am a lover of bedtime and of sleep. I have struggled with this in other phases of life so I hope this to will pass and quickly!
Thank you all for your love and prayers. I need that to push through the next five weeks. FIVE more...I can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel your prayers and they aren't wasted on me! I appreciate you all SO much! 

And a little p.s. note to my friend Todd...prayers are going up for you throughout my day! Praying for peace as you wait for good results! Our God is SO much bigger than all of this earthly junk!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

All Around the Barberry Bush

About a month ago as I pulled up my driveway I was overwhelmed with the fall task of trimming the barberry bushes. The barberry bushes came with the house when we arrived here three years ago and I have had a love/hate relationship with them since. Being a diligent owner of this new home, I researched the proper care for the bushes which were at the time of move in (November), overgrowing into the sidewalk that led to the house.

The problem with barberry bushes is that the are pokey. We did not want our guests to be accosted by barberry barbs as they made their way to our front door.  It was spring before I really got to the research so when I saw that the best time to trim the bushes was fall, I was a little disappointed. Then I decided that I was just going to trim them in the spring because I couldn't have them "attacking" the people that come to the door because there are a few that we actually WANT to come see us.


Once I trimmed them I was surprised at how fast the grow! How in the world do we get by trimming them just once a year? This summer I decided that barberry bushes aren't the best choice for the walkway leading to the front door. That was when we started talking about moving them to the far side of the property where they could be allowed to grow to whatever size they want without hurting anyone.

I started annually trimming the bushes. The first year, dad gave me his electric trimmer to use and I trimmed them that way. I didn't like that much because it was pretty messy and the clean up took a long time. They had the very nice manicured look but I wasn't sure that it was worth all the time it took the clean all the trimmings off of the ground. After that I started to trim with my hand clippers and the time it took was not as much. It didn't have the manicured look but I still liked the results good enough.

The only problem after that was the barbs. I was having to take a tweezer to my hands for about 3-5 days after because the little tiny ends of the barbs were stuck in my fingers and hands. It was then that I looked on Amazon for leather gloves. I found a great pair of rose cutting gloves and put them on my wish list. To my pleasant surprise, last year at Thanksmas, Michelle got the gloves for me!

Stacey tackles the leaves
Having already trimmed the bushes for the year last year, I have waited til fall this year to try out my new gloves. My dear husband has said he would have the kids trim the bushes this year and other friends and family members have offered to trim the bushes for me but this is one thing I have wanted to do myself since last year! So, I made a plan to trim 4 bushes a day (which seems doable on my good days) and before long, the job would be done.

Today was the day! My bushes are trimmed and the front of the house is ready for winter. I got a little extra bonus too. I have been raking out the leaves that keep getting caught it the bushes and stuffing them in the yard waste bags. Today though, Dad was next door working on leaves in his yard with his tractor. He drove on over and motioned me to rake them all into the grass. His tractor sucks them up and makes mulch of it all.

So, today I got the last four bushes trimmed and in the yard waste can and the leaves are all taken care of too. Stacey came out and joined me so we got a whole lot more leaves out of the way than I would have on my own. This will make the spring clean up a lot easier.

It has been a wonderful week and I admit I have overdone the last two days for sure. Getting out and doing this little bit to finish off the yard has been great "normal" life activity and makes me feel good to just sit and rest for the remainder of the day.

Nothing like enjoying the feeling of a completed job.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday From the Heart: Sometimes Christmas Makes Me Cry

When I told Stacey it was okay with me if she took the earbuds out and play the Christmas music so we all could hear while cleaning the kitchen I didn't realize what I was saying. She has all of my Christmas favorites in her playlist too. There is a song I always like to start out with when I get the Christmas music out and it is Matthew West and Mandisa singing "Christmas makes me Cry".

It was released not long after my grandpa died and when the first line starts off "I think of loved ones who passed away...and I pray their resting in a better place". But the more I listened to the song, it is the whole message. My favorite (and therefore where the tears flow freely) is the last verse "I think of Mary and the virgin birth...and I'm amazed at how much God thinks we are worth...that He would send His only Son to die...and sometimes Christmas makes me cry".

There is something about Christmas music that we pull out once a year and listen to straight for a month and a half or more. For me it is like going through my journal entries for the last year and looking forward through the lens of the last year. Each year there is something(s) that I never would have imagined we would be experiencing just one year earlier. Needless to say, I have shed some tears as the Christmas songs we love have played in the last week in preparation for our celebrations this week.

There are so many other favorites and I know that I have blogged about them all before because that's what happens when Christmas comes every year. My heart is linked to music that inspires me. I have to admit, most of my favorites are sung by Christian musicians but I also have to admit that one of my top five albums is Chicago's Christmas album and my favorite song is Child's Prayer. When I was little I had always been a little fearful when I heard "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take."

As an adult, I certainly would want that but as a small child it was a little morbid and scary. I would prefer just to pray that I would wake up in the morning. So years ago as an adult when we started collecting our favorite Christmas music and are huge Chicago fans we could not pass up purchasing the CD whether we had heard the music or not. Who doesn't love Chicago style Christmas music with the full brass section and harmonies.

I sang "night night" songs to my kids and still do to two of them. When the triplets were babies during December I would always sing "child's prayer" to them and when they grew into preschoolers the girls would beg for it well into January. "Now lay me down before I sleep, pray the Lord my soul to keep. Stay with me Jesus through the night til I wake in the morning light" Now those were lyrics I could sing to my kids.

There are so many other songs that I love and if anyone has some great favorites, I am always open to hearing what inspires others. I will have to share the story on one of the coming December Fridays about the Christmas song that God used to call me to Him. I was five it isn't your typical Christmas or salvation story but as I grow older becomes more and more sweet. It is the reason that at every Christmas Eve service when I watch my children singing "Away in a Manger" there will be tears on this mama's cheeks.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksmas From the Sloans!

Today is the day...

Let the thankfulness begin! Ryan has been playing some piano from his new John Williams piano book. Dawn is decked out in her new "short girl" t-shirt and Zelda lounge pants, Stacey is now doing her annual baking bonding with Auntie Chelle in the kitchen. Matthew has borrowed his sister's DS so he could play his new DS Mario Kart game and is now trying out his new Skylander on the Wii. Zachary is putting together his new Doodle Robot and they have all been playing Apples to Apples and laughing their heads off. David just delivered me a plate of jalapeno poppers to try as I finish typing here. These are the kind of noises that a mother loves to hear in her house as she takes a rest day after chemo yesterday. These are the moments that give me reason to endure chemo for six more weeks. Happy Thanksmas from the Sloans!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Chemo #10

Today was relatively uneventful in the infusion room. It was very busy with Thanksgiving week. Some were moved to other days since no one will be there on Thursday. Michelle has been here to visit and offered to keep me company.

Again I didn't remember to take a picture of myself during treatment but Michelle had her phone and took a picture of me.

Looking at the picture I laugh because I had some knitting with me. The problem with this chemo drug (and I think it is the Benedryl and steroid that I get beforehand) is that I get a little sleepy or zoned out.

I started strong with my knitting needles but seriously only had about 16 stitches to show for my two hours of being there. See the purple gloves? That is the wonderful massage therapist that works in the infusion room in the mornings. She goes around and offers either hand or foot massages while we get treatment. If I would have chosen a foot massage I suppose I would have gotten more done on my knitting but today it was a hand massage and by the time it was done the sleepy stuff kicked in.

Michelle got to meet most of the great people who take care of me there and we had some good conversation too. They got to meet her too after hearing for the last few weeks about how she was coming to visit. It has been a fun visit all around and we didn't let occasion dampen the fun. This week chemo was just on the to do list, there are many more things to do as we enjoy this week together.

My hemoglobin is up in the 11s thanks to the iron infusions. Liver levels were a little up but not enough to be a concern. I should just watch my Tylenol intake while I deal with a sinus headache this week.

I did have a stubborn port. I had to get a special dose of a medicine that breaks down a membrane that sometimes builds up in the port. It is flushing but they weren't able to get blood back out for the blood draw. So I got the medicine and then we attempted a blood draw out of my arm which is always a nightmare. The medicine needs 30-40 minutes to work so with the draw out of my arm we could still get the results back and do the nurse visit while we waited for the port to clear up.

When I got back to the infusion room, all was ready to go and it was working wonderfully. It wasn't even really a delay. They all know what they are doing there and I appreciate that.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksmas is Coming!

Stacey gets to help Dad
with the tree and lights.
I love that I still have one that love
to "play" with our nativity scene.
As some are still debating their strong political views regarding the recent election, we have moved on in our house where the focus is the debate over when to put up the Christmas decorations. It happens every year, Thanksmas with Auntie Chelle. The problem with seeing Chelle for Thanksgiving and not Christmas is that sometimes we decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving.

Stacey gets some help putting the
"snow" under the television.
We would usually travel to celebrate Thanksmas with Michelle. We have celebrated in Branson, MO, Myrtle Beach and many many times at Gatlinburg, TN. Since we were away from home there was no need to decorate, but Michelle has come to our house a few times now for Thanksmas too. The dilemma is always decorating for gift opening because everyone wants to have the "Christmas" experience since there isn't the excitement of a condo or place that is away from home.
Ready for Thanksmas morning!

Each year is a little bit different depending on when Michelle is with us. Last year in Gatlinburg we actually had Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday because Chelle could get a better deal on her condo if she checked out on Wednesday. This year she planned her flight so she could stay here a little longer than she normally does and we are thrilled to share a couple of extra days.

The stockings are hung even with no chimney.
But, she still is flying out on Saturday and there would really be a rush through the "mas" part of Thanksmas (including the decorating of the house) with just Friday to work with. So, we have had the house decorated inside since Sunday afternoon. The pumpkins are still on the porch and the fall wreath is on the door along with the thanksgiving table runner for the Thanksgiving table.

Wednesday morning will be Thanksmas this year because we celebrate Thanksmas when we are together as a family and excited about giving and sharing with the ones we love.

There is really no more dilemma for us, it is just the logistics that we have to work out with each year when Thanksgiving week comes to usher in the holiday season. It always begins with being thankful. Some years in a new and different way, and this year is one of those years.

We take nothing for granted. Life's tough struggles make the times of celebration that much more sweet!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Chemo #9 - Starting Down the Hill

I got out of the shower tonight before I realized that I hadn't taken a "selfie" of myself on this the ninth round of chemo day. I was bummed a little bit because I purchased this great Captain America sweatshirt yesterday when the girls and I went shopping at Plato's Closet.

It doesn't really matter. Today I haven't really had the brain power to write a post but I would like to update. So, maybe in the form of a list so that those who like to pray about specifics for us, you get a little better idea of what is going on.

I found a better picture that I am including from the photo shoot we did on chemo day one because it reminds me of what I looked like before I started seeing the "sick chemo patient" every morning in the mirror. Plus, I always look better with David.

Chemo day number 9 marks the first week on the down hill side of this mountain. Here is what is going on.

  • I have been well enough for long enough that I was able to get my flu shot today. I haven't in a few years because it always made me sick. Praise for the good health and prayers that I stay that way!
  • I remember the discussions early on about loosing my hair. I was told that many people experience pain on their scalp. I hadn't had any of that until the last couple of weeks. There is a lot of tenderness and some hats/wigs for too long are aggravating.
  • Speaking of loosing hair. My eyebrows and eyelashes are slowly becoming non existent. They gave it a good fight, but tonight Zachary said "Mom, I have noticed that you don't have many eyebrows". It hasn't been quite as emotional as the initial hair shaving but it does kinda stink.
  • I started a new medication tonight. The neuropathy has gotten a little more consistent and so this is supposed to help. I am hoping to report some good news on that front in the next week or so. The number one side effect is drowsiness so hopefully I type fast! On the bright side, I should sleep well!
  • Zachary made the honor roll his first quarter of his middle school career! Woo Hoo!
  • I have made dinner for my family twice in the last week. (it is the little things) AND I baked three entries for the family pumpkin bake off contest last Saturday! (I won third place)
  • I trimmed five of my barberry bushes last week (my goal is 3 a day). Doing "normal" things in small doses has been very good for my morale.
  • Ryan sings at Ames on Thursday in the Opus Honor choir. We have had a representative at Opus in our family for the last three years. I love getting to go and plan to on Thursday. Prayers for strength and health to travel there and back.
  • Stacey is deep into basketball season and has been playing incredibly well considering her hernia. Unfortunately so far, the pain has not been helped by the steroid injection last week. Prayers for TOTAL healing of this for her would be great. A successful plan moving forward would be good too.
  • Thanksgiving is coming and Auntie Chelle is arriving FRIDAY! We are praying for safety as she travels here and home.
There are a few things that have been on my mind this week. I am feeling extremely blessed this year as I look at all of the things that have become my life, even during this difficult year.

"Prayer and praise are the oars by which a man may row his boat into the deep waters of the knowledge of Christ." -Spurgeon

Monday, November 14, 2016

Fabric Therapy

I would describe how I feel this week as "good enough to overdo it." I am happy to report that because I haven't felt like doing much let alone too much in the last couple of weeks.

By Friday was when I realized I may be doing a little too much. I really can use a nap every day and so I am going to try to keep that in mind moving forward.

I took a lovely trip to Waucoma on Saturday where we had a holiday gathering of sorts. I will have some more to say about that day in another post. As much as the trip tires me physically, the emotional and mental morale boost is totally worth it.

Sunday was a quiet day. I have challenged myself to get down in my sewing room every day that I can, even if only for a short time. It is very good therapy to plan projects, cut fabric, or just straighten up a bit down there. I have so much fabric stashed that I feel it is time to quilt some of it up! I am curious to see how many quilts I can put together using only the fabric in my stash. I started by tagging a few quilts in the magazines I have that look like fun.

Not being a fan of cutting, I started on pieces for one of the quilts last week and I was able to get all of the blocks pieced together on Sunday afternoon. It was fun, it felt like real life and I will do more of this kind of normal to keep myself sane. I can't wait to see how it will look when it is all sewn together. I like what I have so far.

My aunt posted on her blog about our trip on Saturday and I come from a long line of busy handed people. It really is therapy for me to create things and as many people "ooh" and "ahh" over things I have made it is easy for me to forget that we all have our talents that God has given us. I have to realize that my gifts don't come easily for others and as I have gotten older I am more and more thankful that I was made the way I am. God has so many ways to make us "fearfully and wonderfully" and as much as I have a family of people who keep busy with projects of all different kinds, even our talents span across all kinds of interests. I won't take for granted the talents God has given. I sure am thankful for some built in therapy!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Little Help With a Hernia

Stacey has been a trooper. Last spring some who have kept up with us may remember that we found out she has a hernia on her right calf muscle. She was very discouraged at the time because the orthopedic doctor in town said she could continue to play sports like she does as long as she can stand the pain. The only option he said for "fixing" it would be surgery. That was daunting.

Fast forward six months and she is in a great deal of pain. She decided to manage the cross country team instead of run this fall because she wanted to save her leg the pain so she would be stronger for basketball season. Now that basketball has started, she has already had to ask to be pulled out of games because of the pain. This is not acceptable for her or us.

We got a referral to the University Orthopedic Sports Medicine Department where we were hoping they had seen a few more of these and had some better options. Yesterday we took a trip down there. What an answer to prayer! 

The doctor there told us we don't want to do surgery because it isn't very successful. BUT there are treatments that we could do. The first one he suggested is a steroid injection around the hernia. He said that it is a one time deal for most people. He told us if we could wait for just a bit, he could get the ultrasound machine in and they could do it right then.

It wasn't too bad Stacey said, felt weird and will for a couple days is what we were told. If after a week she still has pain, we are supposed to call back because there are other tests he would run if there is something more going on. Please pray that this will relieve the pain for Stacey. It is so frustrating for her to be active and hurting. This afternoon is the first basketball game and the doctor said she can play so we will see how it goes!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Chemo #8...and voting day too!

Today I started my day with a posting on Facebook of the "I voted" sticker in my profile picture. I commented "First time voting ever that they didn't have "I voted" stickers after the machine sucked my ballot in...I feel after this election season I should AT LEAST get a sticker for voting! A t shirt or paid vacation to a destination of my choice would be more fitting, but I should at least have gotten a sticker! Oh well...it is done. Now off to chemo." About ten minutes after that I met Mom and we went off to chemo. I have now had 3 of the new infusions in a row and can report a little better about how my week goes on this new protocol. 

Before I do that though, I am happy to say that after chemo we stopped by our voting place so Mom could vote. Seems that they were giving out stickers in the "B" line whereas this morning in my "S" line he didn't offer me one. Mom got an extra and now it is official!

I haven't been on the blog much this week. There has been a lot of activities and when there are a lot of things going on it is hard to keep caught up with the blog because I really just want to crash during down times.

So, how is the Taxol affecting me? Thankfully it isn't the terribly awful fatigue that I experienced with the big bad red stuff. I have a steady "vibration" inside. When I am still or sometimes not just when I am still, I feel somewhat of a buzz or vibrating feeling. It is especially bad when I have overdone it. I have found that knitting or doing things with my hands has helped focus my mind in a different part of my brain and it is helping.

On chemo day (Tuesdays) as well as Wednesday and Thursday I find myself constantly looking for something to eat. Not because I am hungry or feel like eating but there is a very annoying taste in my mouth and having something to chew and swallow, or suck on helps. But of course once you swallow it doesn't take long til I feel like I need something else. I almost called for an intervention at lunch today when I just couldn't put down the Jalapeno Cheetoes! (Those are awesome to fight the yucky mouth problem, they just don't last very long in my mouth)! Thankfully, I left enough in the bag for lunch tomorrow! Cold and creamy is another good remedy, but then most who know me ask "what is so new about that?"

The only other side effects that are bothersome are nausea (which can come and go through the whole week) and the neurapathy (I don't think I have spelled that right but spell check doesn't know either). A couple times now I have had one foot numb and the opposite fingers, then another time it was the other foot and the other hand at the same time. I was pretty strange. Usually it happens when I have kept a foot or hand in the same position for awhile. It is weird. It also seems to be a little bit cumulative but nothing that has been too terrible.

I got some results back today from the second culture they did on my port last week. Nothing is growing in my port! WOO HOO! The two different antibiotics have done the trick with whatever it was! I am thrilled with this news because we can continue on. Today marks four down of the new chemo and eight to go, still feel stuck in the middle a bit, but the end is moving closer with each week.

My hemoglobin has steadily gone down and has hovered back and forth between the 9's and 10's. Back down today so I will be going in on the next two Friday's to get another iron infusion. This may help my Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, I will report on that in the weeks to come.

Overall, this is a better protocol. Just being sure that I am resting and not overdoing it is my goal because it isn't easy to rest when I have overdone it.

Thank you all for the prayers! I really am fueled by them.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Piano Recital

Waiting for the recital to begin
I am pretty proud of my piano players but this fall, I am especially proud of our newest player who got to experience his first contest/recital. It was so cute how Matthew was pacing minutes before his turn. He told me "Mom, I think I am really nervous." It was fun to watch him experience this new feeling. He has always been quite a confident kid.

As it turned out they all got Superiors after the contest and we got to enjoy hearing from them all at the recital. Matthew looked tiny compared to the piano but he did awesome!'' Everyone did.
Matthew playing at his first recital
Zachary's turn

Dawn's turn
Trophy kids and cousin Thomas who
got to tag along
I have to say, I was so into Ryan's song that I forgot to take a picture of him playing. He has improved the most over the past year and I love to watch him play. He has been working his way through piano music from the Zelda video game and he played the theme song. The music is tough and we are proud of his work at the piano.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Chemo Day #7

Today was chemo day and there really isn't too much to report. This drug is definitely different and about 15 minutes into it I end up getting very sleepy and usually have a nap. Doesn't make it very interesting for Mom who still likes to come and keep me company.

I find myself about a quarter of the way through the process wanting to yank everything out and just go home to my bed. I find myself very antsy. It takes about 30 minutes for the pre chemo stuff like the Benadryl and the steroid along with the acid reducer that helps with the nausea. The chemo itself takes an hour.

After we finished I came home about 11:15, got into my bed and slept til about 2:30. The rest of the day was laying low and resting. I can't say it enough how much of a blessing it is to have people bringing food on chemo day. We all appreciate it so much!

I have been a bit busy this week and not able to blog as much. We found out last week at Dawn's well check up that she has had walking pneumonia! She has now finished her antibiotics. Hmmm...so there have been germs in my house. Matthew woke up on Monday with a sore throat and cough so I took him to the doctor since there has been strep in his class, other extended family members and walking pneumonia in his class and obviously in the house. Doc gave him antibiotics since the germs are in the house. He has been home with me Monday and today.

There is a lot to learn when you are diagnosed with cancer. I have learned this week that one of my favorite things to do as a mom is snuggle my sick ones - as long as they let me. It has been rough for Matthew as I have had to keep my distance as much as I can. I am still on the last of my antibiotics for the port issue I have been dealing with. (Today they cultured another batch of blood to see if that has helped at all).

Me on the front porch of Grandpa and Grandma's house
with my uncle Jay, Jim and aunt Jo.
Matthew and I love to read together before bed. We have still been doing that. With a king-sized bed it is easier to "keep our distance" but still be together. Tonight was so precious to me. Every time I read a book or story that is set on a farm I picture it on the only farm that I have been intimately connected to as a girl, my grandpa's. I picture the barn, the pig house, the chicken coop/goat barn, the house, the machine shed...it is all in my head as I remember it.

Grandpa takes a break and shoots some baskets with
my aunt Jo and I.
I will be honest, we only got one chapter read. This particular story is about a boy who is sent to his cousin's who lives on a farm. He has many life experiences (with a lot of humor sprinkled in) and learns a lot of lessons through a little hard work and no couch sitting and video game playing. This farmer drives Allis Chalmers and the baler was red. Chapter 9 was the day his cousin got to learn to drive the tractor during baling season. Funny stuff.

Like I said, we only got one chapter read, but Matthew got at least two chapters of personal stories of baling days when I was driving the Allis Chalmers and a lot of other stories of his great grandpa and grandma, the farm and his great aunt and uncles. He loves that and didn't even complain that he only got through one chapter (I think he knew that he really got a lot more than that!) He loves when I tell him how his great grandma Johnson taught me "Jesus Loves Me" because it is his favorite song for bedtime.
I am thankful that I can recall those stories. He is too!