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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Camp 2017

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength"...Philippians 4:13 

That was our camp verse this year and we were given many opportunities to watch it learned in front of our eyes this year at Kids Camp. The last few years, I have loved going and serving with my kids. Well, Zachary and Matthew were campers, but the rest of us got to hang out with them and the rest. 

Unfortunately I didn't think much about taking pictures with my own phone, but I did find a few good ones of the boys on the camp picture website. Since I was a counselor this year I didn't get to hang out with my gopher teenagers much this year. But it was nice to see them all over camp!

I got to be on a counselling team with Whitney again this year so I knew right away it would be awesome. We got to be the yellow bunk leaders which is usually 2nd graders. The easiest way to share is to caption a bunch of pictures so, here you go...Kids Camp 2017 (Session 1):

Our YELLOW bumble bees...sunflowers...minions...they never really couldn't decide what they should be!
Zach and the BROWN bunk doing their skit for morning chapel. (I LOVED his camp hair)
Matt and the CAMO bunk doing their skit for morning chapel.
Pond time and a little canoeing for me and a little friend.
Matthew gets to canoe - standing up so it seems.

Zach enjoys the paddleboat
LOVE this face!
Matthew takes it for the team and helps in the scripture challenge!
Then there is this. Apparently, G2's bunk light was on after curfew so senior counsellor Jody got to be "flippered" on day 3 as punishment for her inability to get her 2nd graders to bed so they could get their much needed rest. Thankfully Marissa and Taylor both messed up and committed some flipperable infraction too so we got to go together off the diving board fully clothed as the kids watched (and cheered).

I do love camp. It is a few days away from life to enjoy some fun and help the young ones learn some good life lessons while we do it. Seriously, we all young and old witnessed Craig's message on night three chapel change some lives and that is what it is all about, knowing that we can't do what God wants us to do by ourselves. We learn to rely on Him one day at a time.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

My Boy

This boy will be gone half of the days in June to various camps. I asked him at the end of May to look at the calendar and see how much he would be gone. I asked him if he would be okay with being gone all that time (secretly knowing he would) and he said yes he could.

Smack dab in the middle of week two of him being gone was family night out at the scout camp where he happens to be this week. So, we get to go out and eat dinner with him and theoretically stay until the campfire. It was pouring down rain on Wednesday and so we ate quickly and headed up to the scout shop to put more money in his account.

He came with fifteen dollars not realizing that the merit badges he was working on would require him to purchase some things (that were not candy bars or ice cream) and he was broke before he started. So, I hiked up with him under the umbrella and he practiced how to hold an umbrella for a "lady".

As we ate together I asked him if he remembered me asking him if he could handle being away from home that many days. He said he remembered. I told him then that I forgot to ask if I could handle it. I really miss having him around. Saturday he comes home, dumps his bags in the washing machine, dryer and then repacks to head off to overnight came for three nights and four days with our church kids.

I get to go too this time and although I won't see him for long periods of time, we will cross paths often. It is one thing that I am getting used to with teenagers, the older they get the more they venture off and do things on their own and in their own world. I love that and am so proud of the man he is becoming. He really is a great example to his little brothers. The great thing though is that he still has a big heart. When I told him I hadn't expected to miss him so much he said "Awww Mom!" and he put his arm around me and kissed my cheek.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

An Interview in Tricky Weather

I took this picture from the window of my kitchen. We were set up under the tree in the backyard for an interview. I was in the kitchen to grab a drink of water before we got started. As I walked out and talked to my two new friends Gretchen and Nicole we heard an airplane overhead. Nicole asked "is that thunder?" I assured her that it was not, airplanes fly over our house all the time.

Not a minute later the camera guys walked over and pointed to the cloud coming over the roof of the house. We all checked the radar on our phones "was it supposed to rain today?" None of us remembered that forecast. Sure enough, the thunder started and after a few minutes of debating we decided to move the interview into the house.

What interview you may ask? Well, a few weeks ago I got a call from Gretchen with Strands of Strength. She told me she was given my name as someone who has used Strands of Strength and would I be willing to sit down and interview about my experience so they can use it along with interviews with a couple of others for a promotional video they want to make? Seriously, that was a no brainer to me. Strands of Strength turned me into a "wig" person!

Let's face it, we have all seen a bad wig. My mom still gets teased that back in the 60's and early 70's wearing wigs were the thing. You could have blonde one day and wear your brunette wig the next and people didn't think about. But when you stop and ponder, wouldn't the success of a "good" wig be that none of us could tell you were wearing one? So, how many good wigs are out there that we never know about? After my experience I would say probably more than we know.

When some of us have to go through the ultimate bad hair day, it is wonderful to have places like Jeffrey Scott Salon and others who partner with Strands of Strength to help people see how a wig in the right situation can really change the way a person goes through their treatment process. If I didn't want people to give me the sad eyes when they looked at me out in public I would wear my wig to the grocery store. When I had a child who didn't want to see me without hair, I wore my wig. It really truly changed the way I went through my chemo hair loss experience for the better.

The crew was so great and we laughed a lot. Once inside with microphone set and lights shining, Gretchen asked questions and I was able to share my experience with my Strands of Strength wig. I got to put it on again after a couple of months of regrowth. I am still so thankful. We hope that by sharing, people will hear how something they may not have thought about can make such a positive difference in their cancer treatment experience.

I am always willing to help this great group to raise money for this great great cause. That is why they set up the cameras...twice after the threat of thunderstorm to get my story on tape. It was very fun to have these great people in my home to let me share what Strands of Strength has meant to our family. After all was said and done we had to laugh as they left. It never did actually rain!

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Day With Dawn

Every so often I get to spend some time alone with a single kid. Dawn and I went out shopping for a few things last week and ended up with lunch at Chic-fil-a and a stop to our favorite second hand shop for clothes.

Dawn is a little bit like me. We both try on lots and lots of things that look good on the hanger but then just don't look that great on us. So...imagine our surprise when we loved every single thing she tried on! It was a strange experience.

She did decide that two of the items weren't her favorite but everything else came home with us. Score! I love this girl. Those of you who have kids know just how different each child can be and I will tell you in our house there is no lack of differences. I love spending time with each one and we enjoy time in different way

She went off to show choir camp in Nebraska this week. I think that she will say when she gets home that she had fun. It started off rough for my "non-peopling" girl but I know as every other time that she tries something new that she will make me proud. I am always proud of her and her beautiful voice. And just like this show choir singing girl who tolerated dancing in her day, she will too.

As our kids grow we get to know them better and better. As much as she has always been so much like me, I admit there are a lot more things different than we first thought. I love getting to know her for who she is and I love hearing her perspective on life. It is good but sometimes very different than mine. I am good with that.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Little Bit of Spittin'

A few weeks back I received a call from the genetics department at the cancer center. It seems that there are quite a few genetics tests that have become available since my last go round with cancer. We didn't even really think about genetics testing because the cost was just too high.

Now though, there are other tests that can be done inexpensively to help determine if there is a genetic link to all of this. As you can see, it was fun. I got to sit in the doctor's office spitting into a little tube until my saliva reached the fill line! As soon as I was given instructions on what to do, my mouth became abnormally dry of course!

I was pretty proud of myself when I reached the fill line and got to be done. The nurse packed it all up and sent it off to have it tested. They look at the DNA and determine certain markers at different chromosomes. I often think that genetics would be fascinating to get into but as of now, I have no idea how it works, just that we are testing for 23 different things to find out whether or not there is a genetic element to all of this. For example, they can now connect certain breast cancers to colon cancer through checking for a certain marker on one of the chromosomes. If that comes up positive that would mean more frequent colonoscopies to keep an eye on my colon.

Thankfully, on Friday I got a call from the genetics office and was told that every single test they ran came back negative. There doesn't seem to be a genetic component to my cancer. All of this is nice to know for my girls because there are some things concerning on the other side of the family through David as well.

Easy test that isn't supposed to cost me anything with the help of insurance. And good results. I like that!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Shovels and Safety Glasses May Be Required

The boy's room! With Stacey, Zach and Matt's help we rearranged the furniture, filled an entire garbage bag, got them a new system for dirty clothes and rehung all of the wall stuff in it's new places. Once again, I did not take a before picture...Grr! We are hoping that Ryan will like it when he gets back late tonight. I now just have all of the things that really need to go in other places to sort through. I am looking for a way to organize storage on the top shelf of their closet and books they love to read. Everything that I pulled down from there had been just tossed up there in hopes it would stay.

I would like to report a HUGE breakthrough while cleaning for Zachary. He has had a shelf up by his top bunk that has been FULL of his gymnastic trophies. He was in gymnastics for four years until we had to take him out because of yea, my cancer and the cost. He has a very hard time throwing anything away and an equal amount of difficulty boxing something up and storing it. Trophies (and these I do say he earned and didn't just get for participating) when I moved the shelf over I asked him about the trophies. I about fell off of the top bunk onto the floor when he said it would be okay to box them up and store them downstairs. Now he has room for other things up by his bed. (And I am no longer worried that in the middle of the night one or more of them won't fall off the shelf and take out his eye or worse!)

I will have to write on a different day how I feel about our trophy "earning" children. Starting with my wrestler whose biggest trophies of the year (and bigger than any other trophy in the boys' room) is fourth place out of four. Twice. What do we do with all of these trophies? Ryan has soccer trophies and piano trophies, Zach has gymnastics, piano and pinewood derby trophies, and Matthew has wrestling, piano, and scout trophies too. Is it all necessary? Half of them aren't really awards, but participation. Maybe another day to ponder all of that. Today though, I have a box of gymnastics trophies that have sat very dusty on Zachary's shelf ready to go into storage. So you can see, on the way to our new normal we have a few minor victories. I think the boys are going to love their new room arrangement. I know I do!

Next up...my desk! (Ugh)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday From the Heart: A Year Ago Today

Invasive breast cancer recurrence. It was a year ago today that I got the news over the phone. The summer plans were changed once again as I was blindsided by a cancer that was supposed to be 98% sure to never come back. A year later and I am working my way back to normal.

I was in the oncology office this week getting set up for the clinical trial for the drug Ibrance. Funny, I saw a commercial last night on television for the drug. If there is one pet peeve that I have when I watch live (or DVR'd) television it is that drug companies have commercials. David and I were watching some Colombo on the ME channel that I had recorded. It is amazing how fast your thumb hits the stop button while you are zooming through commercials once you see a word that is newly familiar to you. Yes, there it was Ibrance...the name of the drug I am now taking. I hit play and watched the whole commercial. It is given to people who have had metastasized cancer as a treatment to stop the cancer growth. They are now testing it on people like me who have had a recurrence that was caught before metastasis to help stop the growth of anything that might have been too small to detect.

Wednesday morning they randomized me and I am taking the drug in this trial. There was a lot of education for me as this is a chemotherapy drug. No grapefruit or grapefruit juice for me, take it at the same time every day and wash your hands with soap and water after you take it. I will be honest, I have been perusing the packet of information on the drug since my first day of chemo last fall when the very friendly and fun nurse that works with the research group came and told me I qualify for a trial we will talk about when the chemo and radiation are done, here's some information.

I do remember once while reading thinking "wow, these side effects seem a lot like the chemo, I am not sure I want to do this. But then the other part of me says, "well, the trial will keep me under close watch of the doctor if anything were to happen in the next ten years". I was good with that. It wasn't til this week when it hit me, oh my, this IS a chemo drug! (I am a little slow, I know...I guess I wasn't paying much attention to the drug commercials before!)

My blood counts will be looked at closely as they have a tendency to go down while taking it. I have already had some lightheadedness and fatigue after two days. If I don't run into any complications I will be taking this for two years on 28 day on 7 day off cycles. Many of the typical chemo side effects can occur except I won'd lose keep my hair, it could thin some.

I am also getting used to a new hormone pill. The one I have been taking for the last three months made me feel like I had 90 year old joints. Shoulders, hips, knees, fingers, everything ached and it was hard to get anything done with all of the pain. So far I have been taking the new one a little over a week and although it takes a bit to get the old out of my system and the new working like it should, I have had a few better days as far as moving goes.

I am thankful to people who still ask how I am doing and sincerely want to know how they can pray. I don't necessarily love when the main topic of conversation becomes my hair. It is growing back nicely although I would love my bangs to speed up to the rest of my head. Time, it will just take a little more time. My main problem is mental right now I think. Life can be a little overwhelming and I know that is true cancer or no cancer. I am thankful for things to do.

So that is just a little look into how life is going a year later. As the "from the heart" part of this I have to admit I went through a few of the first posts I wrote the first week after hearing the news. I was reminded of some things I feel like I have forgotten or not pondered for awhile. That always helps me, going back in my journals or writings. Sometimes I feel like I was stronger in those early days than I feel today.

Mental...last time I went through treatment for my cancer, I was given a 98% chance that cancer is gone and won't come back. I didn't waste any time thinking about cancer coming back. That thought didn't cross my mind once. Until a year ago. Now that it has returned and been treated, I do think about returning cancer. It could. It did. I don't obsess with it at all. I know still to this day that God is sifting the things of my physical existence through His loving fingers. He has promised me so much. Long life though isn't necessarily one of them.

I am still doing everything that I can physically to be around for many more years to be with my loved ones, but I am also aware of who He is and how He loves me. I will always go back to a song I remember my grandma loving..."one day at a time, sweet Jesus. That's all I'm asking from you". I only need to ask for daily bread to face today. He is a faithful Potter who shapes each day of my life if I let Him. Strength for today with bright hope for tomorrow. I do want to make each day count and if this is the way that God uses to give me that perspective I will be thankful in this...all of it.

Pulling from a year ago...I share again:

I Corinthians 4:7-10 "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body."

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Amusing Ourselves in the Sewing Room

So, lots of projects have been cranked out of my sewing room this spring with graduations and new babies. I perpetually have some kind of quilt going as well. After my niece's grad party and finishing up the things for her I took my Bernina into the shop to have its annual (or for me more like 18 month to two year) tune up. I probably wouldn't have then either but something a little problematic came up and I thought I better have it looked at.

Out came trusty number two. For those who haven't followed long, Trusty 2 is my Singer machine that Mom and Dad had refurbished as a high school graduation gift. The machine has sewn miles and miles and miles. It is a Touch and Sew from the 70's back in the day when Singers were good. Thankfully, I could sew because I had a baby blanket that needed binding.

I had it in my mind that I would be doing a decorative stitch on the front side of the binding. So when I got to the machine I sewed the binding on the back so that I could turn it to the front and do the stitching. All was going well until I was pinning down the front of the binding preparing for the decorative stitching. Yes, that is when I realized I don't have my Bernina and my decorative stitch idea would not work. Or would it?

I opened up the top of my Singer. There it was, the zig zag disk. The only disk I have used on this machine since I got it! Are there more? Yes, but I have not ever tried to sew the decorative stitches on my Singer. I looked through the disks and found one that was fairly simple but still cool. Then I had to get out my manual for the machine and figure out how to get it to stitch like it looks on the disk!

I took some doing, and a lot of practice on a separate piece of fabric, but I did it. The decorative stitch turned out great and I learned a new thing on my old machine!

Stacey has been wanting to sew the last few times I have been down in my sewing room. It has been nice to have some company. She has made two covers for pillow forms to decorate her bed and we started on an apron that we have had the fabric and pattern for since she was probably 11. We worked on getting all of the pieces cut out on Sunday afternoon. She was able to get the front pockets sewn as well. All was progressing as it should when she asked me if the fabric has a right and wrong end.

At closer inspection, yes indeed, the fabric did have a top and bottom. The problem is, we cut it out so that now on her apron she will have owls with wine bottles flying upside down and kitchen mixers and bowls floating upside down when she wears it. Ugh! We did laugh about the drunk owls and she thinks she will finish it and wear it. I am just asking myself "how long have I been sewing to have known better than to just cut without paying attention to the pattern on the fabric"?

I think in my defense I was just happy to spend time with my girl and wasn't paying that much attention. We both decided in the end that it was a a funny thing and we doubt anyone would really look that close to notice the upside down owls. And, if they do, it is a funny story to tell!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Someone is eleven today! Happy Birthday Zachary! I remember the day you came so very well and we have celebrated ever since!

Last night we started the festivities with his chosen meal at Oyamas...SUSHI! Everyone was in favor of that of course since we have a houseful of sushi lovers. After dinner we ended up at Dick's sporting goods to pick Zach out a pair of hiking boots. He has now been on three boy scout camp outs and last weekend he told about a five hour hike and how tired his feet were. He will be excited to have his boots for scout camp next month!

This morning he had cinnamon roll cake for breakfast and we sang happy birthday. He said it was a little weird since it didn't really look like a birthday cake. He blew out his candles anyway and had an extra piece after he ate the first. It was yummy!

For the rest of the day he plans to go bowling and watch "The Secret Life of Pets" which brings with it arguments from almost every other member of the family. You see, he has watched it close to a million times. Matthew says it has been a million. Well, it is his birthday.

The hardest part was waiting to open presents until Stacey got back from basketball practice! We knew she would be made if we opened without her here. Zach is really good at waiting! He just spent his time writing some music. He is a composer you know. Thanks to Note Flight software we have found something he enjoys just as much as video games. His songs are good too. Just another little insight into his awesome mind I get to see/hear every time he says "hey Mom, wanna hear my new song?" Of course I do...and I love it every single time!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Last Day of 8th, 8th, 5th and 2nd...

...and one 8th grader in Florida (the title should have read). I am a little behind on reporting in the house. It seems that summer activities have kept us about as busy as the school year these last couple of weeks. We are well underway with summer vacation but didn't want to leave out those great end of the year smiles!

The oldest three who were in the house left first for the middle school (two of them for the last time) and then an hour later, Matthew finished up his career in 2nd grade.

At his elementary they have kindergarten through 2nd grade so he will be in a new school next year for 3rd. I included the last picture from the fence as he walked in on the last day of 2nd grade.

.We missed a last day of school picture for one of the 8th graders. She was invited on a trip to Florida with a good friend and her family. Since the last day of school was just a half day - a few short hours the Tuesday after Memorial day we were happy to have her go and start her summer vacation a little early.

In the fall we will be back to three schools again, three will be in high school, one in middle school and one at intermediate.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday From the Heart: Good at Being Well

Okay, so I have some pretty good blog posts lined up to share in the next week or so as we closed out our school year. I am excited about summer because I am one of those moms who love my kids around. The hum of activity makes my heart sing.

I need a heart that sings. Lately I have been working hard and making my way back into my life. I finished the book called Life After Breast Cancer and was surprised to find a chapter on hospice? There was also a section that said statistically with the type of tumor I had that there is a 50% chance that I will have a metastasis recurrence within five years. Just to let you know, that was not why I picked up the book Life After Breast Cancer to read all of that.

I suppose there were a few good things to read in it but after I finished it (I skipped the hospice part since that is not my immediate goal), put it down and decided that was not what I needed to help me get back into life after cancer. To be honest, the first time around once the surgeries healed, not once did I think of recurrence, not once. I can say after the second time around I think of it probably a couple of times a day.  I kid you not, I have been blue, to shady gray to dark gray these past couple of months. Mental yuck.

That was, until I decided to take a few half-day sub jobs to see if I had the energy. Well, I did.  Then, two of my kids made high school show choir and had the opportunity to go to Lincoln, NE for a show choir camp. For a hefty price tag.

Praise God for the opportunity to make money. Praise Him for opportunities for my kids and that I had two months before the end of the school year when I was hit with an idea. What if I took all of the available sub jobs until I had made enough money to send both kids to Lincoln if they wanted? Yeah, that did it. It gave me a goal. It got me out of the house (which had been way too much my view for the last year). I started feeling normal. Drum roll...bus leaves June 11th and my kids will be on it! Woo hoo!

Mentally though is harder than I thought it would be. I have shared this with a few people close to me and it sounded good when it came out. My fear is that for the last four years I have been sick. From what I hear from people here, there and everywhere is how much of an inspiration I have been to them. I feel like I am using the word I way too much because the inspiring part has not been me. On my own it isn't that much to cheer about and there isn't supposed to be. So, with His help it seems I have been really good at being sick.

What about well? It may seem strange to think about it this way but mentally I ponder, can I be good at being well?  Do I always have to be sick to write a blog post that makes people glad that they logged on and read it? Can I be well and inspiring in my conversations and daily people interactions? What does that even look like? Hmm.

There is a lot to think about and a lot to get used to. Life,the real life that is going on all around me, kids growing up right before my eyes, dishes to be done, taxiing to do. The countdown now is four years. Like I told David tonight, in four years they start leaving. What are we doing while they are here? Wow, it was just yesterday that I was praying for them to come into our lives.They arrived and things have never been the same.

So, I ask myself this question...can I be good at being well?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Musical End to the Year

Of course a choir concert wouldn't be
complete without a Stacey photo bomb!
I just didn't know how very emotional I would be at the end of this school year. I haven't blogged much because I have actually been at a loss for things to say. I know...for those who know me that seems a little far fetched.

Actually, I am glad that I waited to share this little bit of life. This week the kids' choir teacher posted the kids' Spring choir concert on her YouTube channel so it makes it much easier to link without me having to get my multiple videos loaded on the computer. I am so proud of what Zachary, Ryan and Dawn have accomplished this year and for the 8th graders, the last three and a half.

And strangely as I typing, am tearing up. Middle school is behind for three of my kids. Just like that. Two of them you will see in the first link below and Zachary, in the second link in band, choir, and his debut in show choir. You can totally feel free to watch the whole thing, but in case you just want the highlights I have listed my favorite parts! There really is so much talent and I wish that concerts in middle school could be held somewhere more acoustic than the gymnasium. Just click on the links to watch (you certainly don't have to but I know some of you far away will want to)

VMS 6-8th Grade Spring Concert
1:07 - 8th Grade Jazz Band...Dawn and Ryan both sing, Ryan has the first solo.
11:14 - Voltage the VMS prep show choir has a great drummer...Ryan
22:00 - Velocity - VMS's competition show choir does four songs. You will find Ryan usually in the first or second row a little to the left of middle. Dawn is usually found in the back left
25:25 is my favorite Velocity song. Unfortunately the vocals get lost in places for the show choirs in the gym but I LOVE the choreography in Top of the World
1:01:30 Begins the 8th grade concert choir (Ryan and Dawn both sing)
1:04:27 Dawn solo
1:06:17 Ryan solo
(I have to admit the song Glorious is such a perfect song to end middle school choir...I have always loved middle schoolers...especially mine. They are all glorious and there are so many great voices in this group. I CAN NOT WAIT to watch what high school brings for them all) sniffle sniffle

VMS 5th Grade Spring Band / Choir Concert
Beginning - 5th Grade Band...Zachary is in the trumpet section
25:35 - 5th Grade choir sings (Zachary stands in the front row to the immediate right of Mrs. Scherbring - in the khaki pants)
41:04 Vibrance is the fifth grade show choir (Ryan plays drums for Vibrance) Zachary starts in the front right

Okay, so this happened after the concert...it seems to be a little bit of a tradition to meet at Orange Leaf after a good concert. Some arm wrestling ensued amongst the 8th grade boys. Go figure.

Just as a reminder...they used to do this! Sigh.