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Monday, May 30, 2011

Thousand Gifts 261-296

To put it simply, Cycle #2  is kicking my tail. Friday I didn't feel too bad, just had no energy. Saturday I managed to get out of the house, but Sunday and Monday, I am camped out on the couch battling nausea and fatigue. I've never felt this way in my life, and I am really hoping this isn't the new normal because it's just bad. I feel guilty that I can't take care of the kids; honestly, I can barely tolerate their chatter and giggles because I feel so sick, and I hate it. I am determined to wake up better tomorrow.


261. finding square scarves in the $1 bin at Walmart
262. Camden and Rory both being fine with my bald head
263. calm in the midst of it all
264. the reminder that life is full of seasons and that seasons are God's reminder that things change,  that there will be trials, and that out of trials come beauty
265. blue, blue sky peeking through heavy clouds
266. that losing my hair wasn't as bad as I thought
267. for extra time in the mornings
268. for 4 good days in a row
269. Java Chip Frappucinos
270. for my dad being here
271. for carry-out and date night
271. for grandparents that enjoy a field trip with an almost-8 year old
272. for friends showing up at church unexpectedly
273. for security
274. for the sound of Camden and Rory singing in the back seat along with Lincoln Brewster
275. Getting to spend time with Becky
276. Good blood work results
277. The peace and quiet that comes when the kiddos spend the night at Gram and Gramps house
278. Watching the little curly blonde-haired cherubic boy try to figure out how to buy a newspaper using money from his leather man-bag
279. prayers from Brian's school family
280. Watching the rain fall from the 4th floor chemo room, and seeing the sun return
281. tears and laughter with Becky
282. Camden's sweet, sweet spirit lately
283. new friends in the chemo room
284. Rory sitting on the couch, picking up my hand, and asking to pray with me
285. Staying up late dreaming about redecorating projects and measuring fabrics with Becky
286. lemonade
287. fresh flowers
288. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
289. Camden's excitement over reading the Bible on his own
290. Carried Away Bath & Body Works lotion
291. new scarves from a friend
292. the opportunity to help someone else
293. for Brian's patience
294. for the opportunity to declutter
295. laundry done, clean bathrooms, and meals in the freezer thanks to Becky
296. for my iPad (I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but it's such a lifesaver in these down days)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hurray for Unexpected Play Dates!

Camden and Rory just spent the last 4 hours playing outside with some church friends, and they have had the best time. It was also perfect because it allowed me to have a quiet morning/afternoon, which I kind of needed. 

Becky and Rory are getting ready to make homemade fudge rounds, which sound pretty awesome. Other than that, my day consists of laying around and trying to avoid being too nauseous. :) Oh, and I should definitely mention that summer has officially begun - today was Brian's last day of school!

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Treatment #5

Writing this from my chemo room today. Yesterday was pretty good, today's not so much, but that's okay. I met with my doctor for the first time today since my treatment plan appointment (Becky came along with a whole list of questions, of course). Dr. W is really pleased with my progress. So far there's no change in all my bloodwork, which is really good. I also got the genetic testing back, and I tested negative (again). I have very mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I'm very glad it's negative because that's better for the rest of our family. On the other hand, I was really kind of devastated to not have a *reason* for my cancer. Dr. W feels strongly that it is genetic, but it's just a link they haven't discovered yet. Becky also got to meet Sara, my chemo nurse, and we all three had a good cry when Becky thanked Sara for taking good care of me and Sara hugged her. Yes, they are both pretty great.

In other very important news, I loved Hines Ward on DWTS this season and loved that he won. Less impressed with AI the last few weeks, although Scotty seems like a very talented and sweet kid. And I still haven't finished Survivor yet. Maybe this will be the week I finally make it through. :)

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cycle #2

Today I head back to Nashville to begin chemo #4, which officially starts my second cycle. In many ways it's easier this time because I know what to expect. It's also harder because I know what to expect, and believe me; despite the fact that I did better than expected, it's still not fun. I am hopeful that I'll manage this cycle as well as last time, but also trying to stay realistic as well.

My mom and dad went home Saturday, and I thought I was ready. I was ready for my mom to be able to go home to my dad (she's been here 5 out of the last 7 weeks) and I was ready to have some time with our family of 4, but I cried like a baby. There's something just so comforting about having your mom around, and it also struck me that despite the fact that it feels like forever, I'd only made it 2 weeks at that point. The thought of 5 months overwhelmed me. I quickly was able to return to only thinking of one day at a time, but it was a little bit of a breakdown.

Becky drove in yesterday, and I'm very happy to have her here for a couple of days. Rory is excited because Becky has promised to let her help cook, paint her toenails, and let her fix Becky's hair (I discovered this was a main reason she was so opposed to my not having hair LOL). We had a moment of crisis when Becky realized she'd forgotten at home the green nail polish she'd promised Rory, but maybe she'll be satisfied with the new blue polish I just bought. :)

Yesterday I sat and went through the cards I've received since my surgery. So many of you have sent not one or two, but several cards through these last 8 weeks. Tears streamed down my face as I read your encouraging words, and I just kept thinking how blessed I am to have friends like all of you. There just is no way to convey what it has meant to me.

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And just as I was recovering from my weepiness from the cards, Brian came home from school with a package for me from his school family. It had 4 gifts inside to be opened with my next few chemo treatments, plus several notes. One of those notes had what has been my favorite scripture since a moment of personal spiritual crisis in college (crisis probably complete with high drama because it was college, after all). "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33

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And not only did they send gifts (which they have done regularly), but the faculty and staff had prayer for me after school (which they have also done regularly). I am seriously blessed.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday's Tidbits

Everyone's been asking about my bag from here. I actually bought mine from Zuilily and got a great deal, but here is the website. And I'll just warn you, the bags are VERY cute (not to mention expensive).

I've made two fresh fruit smoothies in the last week, and neither kid likes them. What is that? It was all fruit, with a little sugar, milk, and ice. It's not like I tried to sneak in extra veggies or something healthy!

Camden thought that I was literally not going to leave the house until my hair grew back.

I've got a little photography tip post up on The Lily Pad blog if you want to take a look. And, yes, there are new pictures.

Rory just climbed up on my lap and said, "mama, I think my taste buds have changed." And, no, she does not have any idea what that means.

We're starting off our summer with a bang. After staying up late last night and getting up during the night, Rory was up and jumping on her bed at 6:00 a.m. this morning.

Both kids have developed raging colds with sneezes and snot flying everywhere. I am trying to still be a good mama and take care of them while avoiding contact whenever possible. :) Thank goodness Rory is still on Flovent (a preventative steroid) from her last asthmatic cycle. I'm hopeful that will keep this at just a cold. It has not, however, stopped the everflowing tears that happen when she's sick.

I had a hard time choosing between the color and b/w so you get both versions today.
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Credits here
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Monday, May 23, 2011

Mission 1st Grade: Accomplished

Today was Camden's last day of 1st grade. I find it so hard to believe that he's going to be 8 this summer. As usual, I took a quick picture before he headed off for his day of fun (literally - it was their Fun Day). It was raining outside so I made them both just step outside under the awning on the deck.

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And for reference sake, the first day of school. Look at how much of a difference there is (and how brown they both are after a summer outside).
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On the way home from school, Camden was in a very bad mood and I eventually got on to him about it. He completely broke down and sobbed because it was the last day of school. I cried with him. He was so distraught that it broke my heart. He really, really loves school and all his friends there. Even though staying in TN wasn't our plan for this year, I am very glad that one of the by-products of this new plan is that he gets to spend one more year at his school with his friends.
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Photo Dump

This post is what my friend Elizabeth calls a photo dump. Lots of random pictures that don't necessarily deserve a post of their own.

He's just so darn cute.
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This blooper picture just completely cracked me up when I saw it.
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I received a package in the mail from Christine on Friday, and I just smiled the entire time I opened it. This is her long distance version of a homecooked meal - everything we need for Korean BBQ. Is that not a clever idea? And it was even packaged in a cute box, which doesn't surprise me in the least.
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Brian's grandparents have been in town for a visit this past week. We haven't seen them for several years so the kids have grown quite a bit since the last time they were here.
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Brian's Uncle Larry with the kids.
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And Grandma, Grandpa, and Camden after his field trip Friday. Camden came home tired, but very happy. Notice the red lips from his 24 oz. cherry slushy that he refilled at least once. Grandma and Grandpa came home very tired and sunburned. I think the entire first grade class spent the 5 hours at the zoo running at breakneck speed while the adults tried to keep up.
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Camden's baseball team has had a fantastic season. They are undefeated except for a certain pesky Cub team. Camden's good friend Dawson (and his parents are our friends from church) plays for the Cubs. The Cubs are undefeated 2 years in a row and we played the Cubs for the last time Friday night. It was a really fantastic game and Camden's Mudcats almost won. In the end we lost, but the kids, coaches, and parents were really happy that they had played so well and that they had so much fun doing it. The Cubs coach gathered both teams on the field and told him how proud he was of them and that we'd given them a run for their money. I thought it was quite classy of him. He even handed out a game ball to one of our players. Makes for good childhood memories. Camden is #15, almost center in the picture.
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And one final picture. Camden and Rory played together SO well Saturday. They laughed, cuddled, screamed with glee, and in general acted as if they loved each other. Camden even tucked Rory in for her nap! I'm not naive enough to think this is what the whole summer will look like, but maybe it will last for a few days anyway.
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

2011 Project 365, Week 18, 19, 20

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Date Night

Last night was supposed to be date night for Brian and I (first time since Christmas I think), but after having 4 good days in a row, yesterday wasn't all that great. By the time Brian got home, I was worn out despite having done n.o.t.h.i.n.g. all day. We decided to grab some carry-out and try to catch up on Survivor. It's a well-known fact that I LOVE Survivor. I mean, seriously love Survivor. I know this is ironic considering the fact I could never actually participate in Survivor. You know Day 1 when they tell you to jump out of the boat and swim to shore? I'd quit right then and there. And I love Survivor the most when Boston Rob is playing. Yes, Brian is aware of my obsession and even enjoys him as well (although he doesn't get quite the same joy out of it that I do). So anyway, all that to say date night turned out pretty well after all. It was nice to have a few kid-free hours, relax, eat, and spend time with Brian. My parents had already planned to take Camden and Rory on their own date so we had the house to ourselves.

Oh, and if you're a fellow Survivor fan, please don't give me any Survivor finale results. I'm still under the false assumption that Boston Rob is going to win the whole thing. :) We have a couple of episodes left to watch.
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My parents are on a field trip to the zoo with Camden and his first grade class today (heaven help them!) while Rory and I are enjoying a rare day alone. I've got the treadmill, cleaning the bathroom, making a fresh strawberry smoothie, and installing my new Photoshop Elements 9 on the agenda today. I find it funny that I just said Rory are enjoying a rare day alone. Two months ago, enjoying a day alone is all we did and now it feels like an occasion. Life sure can change quickly!

And look who's been scrapping this week!

Gina Miller Farmer's Market
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Jenna Desai I Love Reading
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Sahlin Studio My Happiness
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Almost 8

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So this boy of ours is somehow almost 8 years old, and I've just got to say that it's not the easiest of ages. Almost 8 year old boys are pretty obnoxious (just in case you haven't been around one recently). He still has sweet moments, and he's still pretty darn funny, and definitely too smart for his own good, but those obnoxious moments have been outweighing the others recently. I feel like this is one of those times as a parent that I really, really need to work on being more patient and accepting and loving him just as he is right now.

We've been growing his hair out since January, and one day before school I fixed it for him (most days, there is no "fixing" allowed) and thought he looked so handsome. I grabbed the camera and in about 30 seconds had these pictures, which are pretty representative of him right now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's Official

My cancer is not any more serious today than it was yesterday. I do not feel any worse today than I did yesterday (better, in fact). I am not more sick today than yesterday. But today I officially look like a cancer patient. Which I guess I am, but so far it's been fairly easy to conceal my scars and diagnosis from the outside world. I have shed alot of tears over the loss of my hair over the past 6 weeks, but today when I finally went to see my stylist and had her shave it off, I didn't cry. My sister says that the dread of being bald is actually worse than the reality, and although it's only been a couple of hours, I think she might be right. I'm not gonna say that this is fun. In fact, it's kinda ugly to be a 35 year old woman with stubble on your head (here's hoping that will go away), and it's actually really, really cold. But as I keep telling the kiddos (and reminding myself in the process), it means that the chemo is working its way through my body and that same chemo that made my hair go away is also going to make the cancer go away.  I'm not gonna promise that I won't shed more tears over my hair over the next year or so, but for today I am mostly okay.

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And because Brian never makes the blog, but helped with the picture. :)
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Monday, May 16, 2011

Thousand Gifts 237-260

Despite my chemo treatment and discomfort on Thursday, I've felt pretty good the last several days. Friday we got out and did a little grocery shopping as well as resuming our Friday night at the Mexican restaurant tradition with the kids (yes, I paid for that little escapade later LOL). Saturday was very cold and rainy so we stayed inside (and napped) and then my mom and I met Liz in Nashville and shopped for scarves (for me) and purses (for mom). We then had supper at The Cheesecake Factory, which is SO yummy if you've never been. Sunday was church, and I was able to attend all 3 services for the first time in several weeks. I continue to be so grateful that I am handling these treatments so well. Many of the others who are undergoing the same treatment seem to be having a much harder time in terms of fatigue and being able to function. Granted, my mom is here and has been wonderful to take care of housework and laundry. I know our household would not be functioning so smoothly without her.

And say farewell to my new short hair because it officially started falling out this morning. I have an appointment with my hairstylist tomorrow to do something drastic.
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237. chemo treatments
238. no allergic reaction to chemo drugs
239. the sweet spirit in the chemo room
240. comfortable recliners
241. wireless internet
242. my pink purse
243. Mother's Day with my mom
244. homemade cards from the kiddos
245. an annual park trip on Mother's Day
246. bowling
247. new dresses
248. breakfast with a friend
249. orange scones
250. Lamentations 3:22-23, Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
251. an unexpected evening of beautiful music
253. magnolia trees
254. Krispy Kreme donuts
255. girl's night with Liz and Mom
256. Sunday School, church, and Sunday night all in one day
257. Camden's whispered "please help me, God"
258. fresh strawberries
259. the bank lady who said she was praying for me (there are certain advantages to living in a small community where everyone knows your business)
260. my hair 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Family Night

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What? Doesn't your family wear super hero costumes and wigs every night? Okay, actually we had a family night before chemo started and let the kids each choose an activity. Rory chose a parade for her babies (insert a whole bunch of Camden's eye-rolling here) and Camden chose a Wii bowling tournament. Ton of fun and hopefully a good family memory.

Friday, May 13, 2011

This . . .

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. . . kind of sums up how I felt yesterday when I got out of bed, stopped a moment, and realized I felt normal. Seriously normal. No nausea, good energy, no sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, no medicinal taste in my mouth. It was amazing!

I was quickly tempted to feel discouraged since yesterday was a treatment day and I knew that this normal feeling couldn't possibly last, but I decided to instead just take hope that I could feel normal again. My good energy level continued, despite my treatment yesterday, and I celebrated my first nausea-free day with a Krispy Kreme donut for breakfast (eaten during treatment, no less), 1/4th of a Qdoba chicken quesadilla (with guacamole) for lunch and ice cream at 9:00 last night. Now, that's a good day!

My treatment yesterday went well, although I have to just say that having 3 liters forced into your stomach (and gaining 6.5 lbs in one afternoon) is not fun. Full, stuffed, beached whale, all come to mind, and it is quite physically uncomfortable. It's as if my body is so full that everything is crushed together. It's hard to breathe, hard to move. And apparently, there's such a thing as so full that it starts to come back out because my port leaked, which is not ideal and they're going to have to adjust my fluids yet again next time (we've already adjusted once). I'll still get the same amount of chemo, but it won't be as diluted which means it can be even tougher on my stomach. Not gonna worry about it!

My mom and Rory came to pick me up from chemo yesterday, and Rory was able to come back with me in the room for a while. She wasn't scared, and I think it was good for her to get to see where I'm going on treatment days. Ever since my unexpected 9-day hospital stay, she is very wary of me leaving the house without her. The other ladies thoroughly enjoyed meeting her and chatting with her. In typical Rory fashion, she's already played make believe chemo patient, which is kind of sad, but she copies everything she observes in real life so I'm not surprised. As I watched her yesterday, it crossed my mind that when this is over, I hope it's not the "scawy" scars she remembers; not the sickness or the times that I miss activities. What I hope is that she'll remember her mama tried desperately to stay positive, despite her natural pessimistic nature; that she learned the lessons God had for her in all of this, and that God was somehow glorified. Because if those things don't happen, then this whole experience is just not worth it.

Oh, and I feel compelled to let you know that the steroids actually did not keep me up Wednesday night (probably thanks to a new sleep drug) and the nurse said it's those steroids that made me feel so good yesterday. :)

And I felt so good yesterday that I scrapped!
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wednesday's Recap

Mother's Day was good.

Monday was not.

Tuesday was better. Had a friend over for a couple of hours and even took a few pictures. Was able to enjoy Camden's baseball game Tuesday night.

Wednesday has been both good and bad.

I'm learning there is a fine balance between hunger pangs, nausea, and anti-nausea medicine (I've gone through an entire bottle in the last week). I don't quite have the balance quite down yet.

Tuesday and Wednesday the nasty chemo taste was completely gone from my mouth, which is wonderful.

Naptime is my friend.

Rory has decided "scabetti" is her favorite meal, despite the fact that we have not actually eaten "scabetti" recently.

Although I know it's a figment of my imagination, my hair feels shorter every day.

Today we (okay, my mom) went through my closet and many, many rubbermaids of clothing that I hope to never wear again. I have now officially lost enough weight that nothing from my previous life fits, and my closet and dresser are empty.

Gearing myself up for treatment #3 tomorrow. Mostly dreading those 5 steroid pills I need to take before bedtime. They make me feel as if there is a circus going on inside my body.

Looking forward to seeing my friend Tina who is driving out to take me to my treatment.

These two kiddos had a seriously good time playing in the dirt Monday night.
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    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    Bowling

    Both Camden and Rory love to Wii bowl, and Camden has been asking to do it in real life, so Saturday morning we headed out with Grandpa and Grandma for some "real" bowling. I did not participate, but sat and watched the festivities.

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    Rory was a winner for her sheer enthusiasm.
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    My favorite picture of the day. My mom got a strike her first time out, and Camden was congratulating her.
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    Camden expected it to be as easy as Wii bowling and wasn't quite as successful as he wanted.
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    Sunday, May 08, 2011

    Happy Mother's Day

    Well, from a photography standpoint, today was an epic fail (see unfocused pictures below LOL). Why do I always place so much pressure on getting perfect pictures for these occasions? I really wanted beautiful pictures, because let's be honest: I'm not going to have hair much longer. BUT. It was a lovely day with church this morning, warm weather, bright sunshine, homemade chicken and dumplings (which are one of my favorites) for lunch not only with Brian's mom, but with my own mom, as well as my sister, a trip to the park, followed by an early bedtime for the kiddos and an episode of Top Chef with Brian and my mom. 

    And I felt well enough for all of it. Seriously, seriously thankful for that. And seriously thankful for the blessing of having my mom with us today and the fact that I get to be Camden and Rory's mama.

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    Friday, May 06, 2011

    Friday's Update

    I promise that one of these days this blog will get back to regularly scheduled programming full of cute Camden and Rory stories and pictures. For now, you'll have to settle for an update on me.

    I actually got some sleep last night, not a full night, but alot more than the previous nights. I don't feel good this morning, but I don't feel nearly as bad as I thought I would. Even managed to sit at the computer and scrap a page. It was so good to create something and find a distraction.

    Rory had a sobbing episode late last night worried about me and just crying that she doesn't want me to lose my hair. She has become very fixated on this, and I would appreciate prayers for her to calm down and not worry.

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    And one last thing: Christine has created several new cards, and I think they are just BEAUTIFUL if you want to take a look. I've already downloaded the free Children's Day cards and printed them for the kids.

    Okay, one more last thing. I posted a new sneak peek up on the photography blog earlier this week, and it's one of my favorite pictures ever if you want to take a look.