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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye, 2011

I know this is going to sound wierd, but when I look back at 2011, I think of alot of good things. I also thinking of being bald, hospitals, unmeasurable tears, seeing my children struggle to understand what's going on, but mostly I think of all the extra time with my parents and sisters, all the friends who made us feel so loved, new friends, a sweet new niece who is here much too early but is doing well. Before bedtime tonight (which was an early 7:00 for the kids, thank goodness) we sat in the living room and asked the kids what they were grateful for this year. And as we all sat and listed thing after thing, I was struck again by how good God has been to us.

Not sure why I thought I could pull together my favorite pictures of the year, but here are a few anyway.

January 

(this picture won a contest and Jasmine Star chose the winner, so definitely my January favorite!)
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February
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March
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April
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May 

(I cannot believe how much he's changed this year)
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June
 
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July
 
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August

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September

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October

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November

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December

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Addison Elizabeth, Day 2

Because Addison is in the NICU and will probably stay for 4-6 weeks, she cannot have unlimited visitors. In fact, Michael and Liz had to choose 4 people, and only those 4 people get to visit. How fantastic is it that I'm the oldest sibling who happens to live in town and also happens to have a camera? :)

So here is Miss Addi on her second day in this world.

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See that pacifier and how it's almost as big as her head?
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Look at that hair!
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I seriously adore the hair.
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There is no way to describe how tiny she is until you actually see her, but here's a small indication.
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That is one tiny tush.
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Prepare to see a whole lot of Addison from here on out. :)

What a Crazy 48 Hours

After not sleeping Wednesday night, I woke up on the couch Thursday morning at 5:18 to the news that my youngest sister Elizabeth was in the ER with preeclampsia and would be having an emergency c-section at only 31 weeks into her pregnancy. We woke the kids up, packed an overnight bag for them (because I also had an appointment for my gallbladder that day and we weren't sure what would be happening), rushed out the door, dropped the kids off at Brian's parents, then made it to the hospital. Elizabeth and baby Addison were doing well. Addison came out crying, was breathing on her own, her kidneys were working, but she was only 2 lbs and 13 oz.  Elizabeth was still having some major blood pressure issues. We stayed with them for several hours then walked over to my doctor's appointment.

Now this is a new doctor to me. The surgeon I've used previously was out of town for Christmas, but God was certainly in control of this situation because Dr. T was absolutely amazing. Now, he didn't have good news for us, but he was amazing. He told me that surgery would be an open surgery and require 4-6 week recovery and an extended hospital stay. He sent me for bloodwork, x-rays, and a nuclear medicine hydro scan. Not only did he come to the hospital to read all of my previous CT scans with the doctor who took them, but he came down to see me while I was in the nuclear scan. He was unbelievably kind and attentive. He and his staff then spent 3 hours on the phone with my insurance company (and stayed in the office until nearly 7) while they tried to get a contrast CT scan approved. I finally had the scan and we got home about 8:30 Thursday night. He gave me his phone number and said to call if I needed anything.

There were some concerns that there was a new tumor on my gall bladder, and we were very discouraged as we left the hospital Thursday night. It was such a long day of nasty testing, I was worried about Elizabeth and Addison. We hadn't seen the kids all day. My parents drove all day from Oklahoma to be with all of us. I told Brian as we walked out to the car that I didn't know what to worry about first.

But then came some good news. Dr. T called me while I was waiting for the scan and told me that my CA125 level was 16. SIXTEEN! This is the lowest it's ever been. He was so kind to me, kept asking how I was feeling, asked how I was emotionally. He later told me that he has a daughter my age who had been through cancer, which I think explains his amazing concern and care for me. He called and talked to my oncologist as well as to my previous surgeon. I had an appointment to see him at 12:15 Friday, but he told me to come in as soon as I could and he would see me before everyone else.

I somehow managed to sleep well Thursday night. In fact, I don't even remember going to bed I was so exhausted. When we arrived back at Dr. T's office bright and early Friday morning, he caught up to me in the hallway, put his hands on me and asked how I was doing. Surprisingly enough, I felt SO much better Friday morning. We went back to the exam room, and basically he told me I was fine. All my bloodwork came back normal, liver, platelets, white blood cell counts, everything. The CT scan showed everything was fine. He was much more positive about my cancer progress than Dr. W has been. I cannot even tell you how relieved we were. This doesn't mean that I won't ever have surgery because obviously I do have gallstones and I've been in pain, but for now I don't need anything except to continue with my next appointment with Dr. W. He again gave me his phone number, talked to us for a while and said he'd see me in a few weeks.

I'm sure you can imagine the relief we feel. To know that I don't have to have major surgery, for there not to be a tumor on my gall bladder, for Addison to be doing well, for Elizabeth to be improving. It has been such a roller coaster for my family the last few days. I appreciate all the prayers so much. God is certainly good to us.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Photo Shoot

While I had big plans to do some sort of official photo shoot with my kids, the reality is that chemo kicked my tail and I wanted to watch Tim Tebow play football so the photo shoot was kind of rushed. Okay, alot rushed. As in throw the kids in their clothes, drive down the road and stand them against an old barn. Fix my settings, press shutter down. Hope for the best. Good thing my kids are super cute!

And you should maybe count yourself lucky that I didn't have time to edit and publish all of my favorites (coughcough a mere 33 coughcough).

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And for my photographer friends, if you're interested, I used my 70-200 lens. Settings were: f2.8, ISO 800, 1/200 SS. I decided to go with a little different feel so I processed them with Florabella Luxe II Milk action, reduced opacity to about 50%.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas books

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is wrapping up seasonal books every year, then letting the kiddos open them up one at a time each night leading up to Christmas (and they LOVE it). Here are the ones we have:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (this one just might be my favorite)
God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren
Christmas in the Manger by Nola Buck
Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett
The Christmas Play by Clare Bevan
Shaoey and Dot: The Christmas Miracle by Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman
The Snow Must Go On by Molly Wigand
Angelina Christmas by Katharine Holabird
Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera
The Berenstein Bears and the Joy of Giving by Jan & Mike Berenstein
This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten
Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O'Connor
The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
The Story of St. Nicholas by Voice of the Martyrs

This was our third year to do this, and as you can see, we don't have enough for the whole 24 days leading up to Christmas, but my goal is to get there. Soon. Any suggestions?

Better

Well, either hydrocodone works better than Percocet (despite what the doctor tells me) or I'm feeling a bit better today. Either way, I feel a little more like myself and less like a burning ball of pain. (how's that for a description LOL) I actually talked to my nurse about some different pain meds yesterday because I felt so awful, but apparently a doctor can't just call in a prescription for stronger pain meds so she suggested I come into the ER and ask for it. And if that doesn't make you feel like a druggie, I don't know what will. Well, the look the pharmacist gives you when you ask if it's okay to take a sleeping pill along with the Percocet just might do it too. What can I say. The Percocet doesn't make me sleepy or even give me a little slur in my speech. LOL

I've been spending my days rewatching Downton Abbey in preparation for the new season starting in early January, reading this new YA book, trying to catch some on-line sales, and watching the kids play their new Just Dance Kids Wii game. They are hilarious! Camden is such a perfectionist that he tries his best to get it all right while Rory just giggles uncontrollably through the entire thing. I love it.

Brian's goal was to take each kid out individually for a little on-on-one time during his break. Last week he took Camden out for Target practice. Not only did I miss a picture of it, but according to Brian and his dad, Camden was quite good at hitting targets. Today he asked Rory what she wanted to do and she chose going out to eat Chinese so they're out for a few hours. I wonder when he's going to take this girl out for a date.

Camden giving it his all on Who Let the Dogs Out
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giggling while watching Brian give dancing a try
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ready for their date
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tuesday's Tidbits

I learned the hard way that Trader Joe's does not replenish stock in their holiday items (think Candy Cane Joe Joe's and the European Sipping Chocolate I've been raving about). Note to self: buy them in bulk next year.

Anyone else completely irritated by all the spring clothes showing up in stores and on-line? It makes me feel pressure to start working on a spring/summer wardrobe which is ridiculous since Rory has many winter clothes in the closet still with tags on them!

While watching Cupcake Wars, Camden says, "there's nothing better than your cooking for me. I mean nothing. Well, except fried chicken."

At church on Sunday, Christmas morning, Brian let Rory come up and help lead in our final song: Go Tell it on the Mountain. It's her favorite, and she was so cute singing it out. I think I've mentioned before that she can't carry a tune to save her life, but she definitely does it joyfully.

This is totally random, but I love Stacy and Clinton from What Not to Wear.

The kids took the news we wouldn't be traveling to Oklahoma hard. They both cried, although Camden tried valiantly to hide it.

Talked to Dr. W today and he got me in with a surgeon, but not until Thursday morning. Not too thrilled about living with this pain until then, but it's the best he could do the week after Christmas. Unfortunately, this surgeon isn't my favorite Dr. H because he's out of the office this week, but it's someone in his practice so hopefully he's good. Not a big fan of using random surgeons I've never met before, but I'll take what I can get.

And a few scrap pages I haven't shared yet.

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Lauren Grier: A Month to Be Merry
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Happy Tuesday!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Decorating

I realize this is a little late to the game, but I never got around to posting this question.

How often do you redo your Christmas tree decorations? I've done sort of a rustic snowman theme for about 8 years now, and it's not that I don't still like everything, but I'm itching to go in a whole new direction with big beautiful ornaments and ribbons. I'd probably let the kids put up their own tree so that the inner decorator in me could be happy. So is my tree due a remodel or do you just let it all go after you have kids and let your inner designer go until after they're out of the house?

My aunt makes these cute dough art ornaments every year for us.

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I'm thinking after Christmas sales might give me a good opportunity for redecorating. :) I'd really like to go with teal, silver, and red.


Not What We Planned

Instead of getting up early and driving to Oklahoma today, we got up really early and went to the ER where we spent most of the day. I had a CT scan, chest x-ray, and ultrasound. The official diagnosis is gallstones, although my liver enzymes are elevated so the ER doctor doesn't think it's quite as "simple" as that. He was unable to get in contact with my oncologist, so he sent me home with pain killers and strict instructions to return tomorrow morning. Our only option really is to have my gall bladder removed, but surgery while undergoing chemo is always a bit tricky because of a compromised immune system not to mention the fact that your body heals much more slowly. Oh, and the new drug I was supposed to start January 10 will have to be put on hold because of some of those serious side effects I mentioned previously. I kind of want to scream in frustration right now.

If you've read my blog for very long, you know how important our family get togethers are to us, and I am more sad than I can say to be missing out on Christmas with my family. Poor Brian has to break it to the kids, and they are going to be devastated. I am glad that this seems to be gallstones and not something cancer-related, but they hurt a whole lot! And not being able to travel is even worse.

I had a few Christmas related posts already scheduled and ready to go so I'm going to let those take over for the next few days. The pain killers are fairly effective as long as I don't move so I'm off to lay down and not move.



Headed to the ER

After being up all night with pain in my side that only got worse as the night progressed, I'm headed to the ER. I would appreciate prayers.

Will update when I know something.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas photos

Just a couple of my favorite pictures from today.

Camden reading the Christmas story from Luke 2 - we always do this before opening presents, but it was the first time that he has read for us. I loved hearing it from his 8 year old voice.
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And this would be the pose you get when you ask an 8 year old boy if they're excited. I promise it was a good thing, despite what you might think.
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Rory hugging her stocking.
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Quick family picture after church; excuse the fact that only half of us are in focus.
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And this pretty much sums up the day.
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Sidenote: could she be any cuter in that dress and hairbow (and the ruffle pants that you can't see)? I feel as if the outfit needs a complete photo session.