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Sunday, July 29, 2012

God's Not Dead

This is Rory's favorite song right now. I'm kind of a fan as well. Actually, the whole album is pretty fabulous and has been on repeat at our house.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Stella and Dot Jewelry + Ovarian Research = Fashion Friday

Stella and Dot, the jewelry company, is donating all proceeds from their Tribute bracelet to Ovarian Cancer Research this weekend. My sister, Becky, is hosting a trunk show. If you'd like to contribute to Ovarian Cancer research plus get a great bracelet, now's your chance.tribute bracelet
To shop, click here. If you have trouble with the link for some reason, you can search for a hostess name (my sister Becky Derby is the hostess).

Only sales from this weekend will benefit ovarian cancer research, but you can shop using this link until August 9.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cute Babies (all 3 of them)

When Addison was visiting last week, I opened the door, plopped her right down in front of it so I could take advantage of the light, laid on the floor in front of her and started shooting. Our house doesn't have great natural light so taking advantage of an open door in the morning is about the only way to get decent indoor photos (notice the pretty lights in her eyes?).

35mm lens, f2.0, 1/250SS, 800 ISO
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Seriously. Could she be any cuter?
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Maybe only if you add one cute Korean boy in there with her.
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And then top it off with a Korean girl.
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We're headed to Illinois this morning (well, all day really since it's a solid 9 hour drive). Rory could probably visit another week, but Camden is homesick. ;) Becky and her boys are going to be there so lots of cousin time is going to happen. My mom, Becky, and I are attending a Beth Moore conference over the weekend and plan to spend every spare moment not otherwise taken up by taking pictures or eating great food by plopping ourselves down with the DVR and Olympics. The Olympics were a very big deal in our household growing up, and I'm more than a tad excited to get to watch a portion of the Games with my family.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Headbands

I've become a little obsessed with headbands for my short hair, but I kept thinking that they were too young for me. I mean, my 5 year old wears them so why should I? Anyway, when I found out my hair was possibly going to fall out, I decided that it was now or never. I've bought 3 (and worn all 3) so far, and I want more although it might be overkill to wear them every day. ;) If you know of any Etsy shops that sell adult-appropriate headbands, link me up. Natty Bratty is my favorite so far.

Hello, ginormous head.
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And I may not have had TV, Internet, or cable for 4 days, but my computer still worked so I did some scrapping. I don't often re-use kits or templates, but you can see in this group that I used the same template twice and the same kit twice. They seemed to fit, and the pages are using pictures from different years so it's not like they'll be in a book side by side.

Valorie Wibbens: The Little Things
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Valorie Wibbens: The Little Things
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Karah Fredricks: Alive and Kickin'
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Karah Fredricks: Alive and Kickin'
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Kaye Winiecki/Studio Basic: Sun Kissed
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My favorite, mostly because I love the pictures so much.
One Little Bird Designs: Scenes from Real Life
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Brian and I may have had a slow start to our time without kids, but these last 3 days before picking them up have been very busy with unexpected meetings, work days, etc. We had big plans of doing lots of furniture window shopping, eating at food trucks, etc. Unfortunately, most of those plans have not happened, but we did get to see The Dark Knight Rises last night. I have to admit that while I wasn't expected to be creeped out, I most definitely was. I found myself wondering at what point in the film did the shooter start his rampage, realizing how dark the movie actually is (although it is violent, there was very little blood or gore and ultimately it was a fight of good vs. evil and good won). Definitely found myself uncomfortable during most of the movie. And there was a small child, maybe age 4-5, in the theater which I thought was completely inappropriate, but I'm not his parent. ;)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Getting Caught Up

Ready to get caught up to speed? Here we go.

Tuesday, July 17 - Celebrated Camden's birthday by taking him to the free summer movie at Opry Mills theater Spy Kids All the Time in the World (absolutely the dumbest movie ever, but he's a big spy fan and ADORED it), lunch at Chuy's, then we let him shop at The Lego Store. Pretty much a 9 year old's dream. ;) Michael, Liz, Addison, my parents, Brian's parents and our family had supper, presents, and ice cream cake for his birthday. How did my sweet boy make it to 9 years old already? Next year he'll be in double digits! I also started pain meds for that stupid gall bladder pain. No fun.

Wednesday, July 18 - Liz had surgery; Mom and Addison spent the day with us. I continued to feel worse.

Thursday, July 19 - My scalp started tingling. Not a good sign. Ironically enough, I had a hair appointment that I decided to keep. Just in case it doesn't let loose. Chemo was canceled because I was too sick with the unexplained pain, and I saw Dr. T who promptly admitted me to the hospital, hooked me up to a morphine pump, and ordered every imaginable test.

I had a ton of bloodwork, dozens of x-rays and a more extensive CT scan than normal. As usual, my veins did not want to cooperate and at one point I literally had a CT tech on either side of me poking my arms trying to find veins. Needless to say, my arms currently look like I'm a drug addict based on all the bruises and needle marks. CT scans are always serious business because they're looking for cancer (not to mention that horrific contrast solution I have to drink), and during a scan is the closest I ever come to having a breakdown. Thursday night as I laid underneath that rotating tube with tears rolling down my cheeks, I kept praying over and over in my head, "God, why can't You just make this stop?" I had pretty much convinced myself that they were going to find a whole bunch of cancer. I'm assuming they didn't since no one informed me, but I was too chicken to ask.

I had not one, but two male nurses Thursday night. Brian slept through all the excitement of extra drugs and some vomiting sessions. Good times. I rarely enjoy thunderstorms but I have to admit that it was kind of fun to watch the lightning from the 8th floor hospital windows.

Friday, July 20 - I am feeling significantly better except for the vomiting. I had a new kind of MRI - the poor tech had to stop his instructions so that I could vomit. He was kind enough to send the basket of vomit back with me to my room. So not kidding. He also explained that this is one of the worst MRI's they do, and I really struggled not to feel claustrophobic!

All my tests came back just fine so Dr. T sent me home about 3:00. He thinks I probably had gallstones stuck in my bile duct, but because surgeries are an absolute no-no with this new chemo, here's hoping they'll stay gone.

We arrived home to no TV, cable, or Internet. After 24 hours in the hospital, this felt like adding insult to injury. Yes, it's clear I enjoy my TV/DVR and Internet a little too much.

Saturday, July 21 - The kids woke up about 6:30, made their beds, and were sitting on the edge of their beds waiting for us to tell them they could get up. Want to know why they were excited? Because they were heading to Illinois with my parents.

With no kids, no TV, no Internet, a house in the middle of nowhere, and nothing to talk about but our troubles, we spent Saturday and Sunday in kind of a wierd place emotionally. As Camden said to us on the phone, "it sounds like you are not having much fun at all, but we're having a BLAST!"

Sunday, July 22 - Church twice and I read The 500 all in one day. So quiet around here!

Monday, July 23 - Brian couldn't take it any more and got up super early to get some work done at Starbucks before his chiro appointment. I spent the morning babysitting Addison. Our friends Jon and Carrie rescued us from another boring evening, and we had a lovely dinner with them at Coco's. And surprise, surprise, TV and Internet are back! Clearly, we have no life because I can't even explain the joy I feel at having these two luxuries back. LOL

So there you have it. My hair is still on my head, and I've made it past that crucial Day 14. My scalp is doing some tingling, but not nearly as bad as when it fell out before; the texture is a bit like straw, but I still have to shave my legs so it's possible that I might fall on the positive side of the statistics this time. We'll see.

How about just a couple of pictures.

I have thoroughly enjoyed all the extra time I've spent with this girl the last week (and lots more pictures to come).
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Rory reading to Addison.
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Eating breakfast on the deck. These two are currently going through another good phase, which makes me incredibly happy.
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Welcome to the world's worst family picture. I accidentally changed the settings when I used the timer for this, and not only are we out of focus, but I can't seem to get the white balance set to save my life. Most important is that I took the picture, right? Also. Totally high on pain killers here. Cute headband, though, right?
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Thank You

I don't know what I expected after pouring my heart out in all its ugliness and despair earlier this week. I'm not sure I had any expectation at all. I mostly thought that (a) it would be ignored because there's nothing really to say to a big complainer or (b) alot of cliches or platitudes would be thrown my way.  As I'm sure you can imagine, after dealing with cancer for over a year, I've pretty much heard it all.

What I didn't expect, however, was the overwhelming support (I received almost as many personal emails as I did comments) and appreciation for my honesty. Thank you for not making me feel like a complainer or a melodramatic drama queen. I am always so worried that I will just be a big Debbie Downer and have placed alot of pressure on myself in these past few months to always have a positive spin on things. Isn't that what a Christian woman should do?

I don't think that I've been dishonest with you in the past because the truth is, despite some scattered bad days, I have overall managed to stay positive and thankful and joyful in spite of our situation. I've also become an expert at shoving all that grief and anger and sadness into a closed box that resides in the far corner of my heart. I think that the large dose of reality I received several weeks ago when I returned to chemo was just too big to shove into that box, and darkness from the previous 16 months came rushing out all at once.

Despite the development of a major health issue (more on that in a minute) I have felt so much more like myself in the last 48 hours, probably as a result of the collective prayers going up for me, and I really can't thank you enough. In an effort to avoid an emotional crash as destructive as the one I just went through, I am going to do my best to let Brian (first and foremost) and friends and family share my burden instead of struggling to hold it together on my own. Like many of you mentioned, you can take it. And you know what? So can God. It's not like He can't see those fears and questions in my heart already.

While there have been a couple of fun things happening around here (celebrating Camden's birthday and my parents coming into town for a visit), I'm also facing a new health situation. I've been in severe pain since Monday night with something similar to the gallstone issues I had in December and again in May.

Except, you know, I DON'T HAVE A GALL BLADDER. 

I was supposed to have chemo tomorrow, but I'm seeing my surgeon first to see what's going on. Kidney stones as well as problems with my Bile Duct (which I also had a procedure done for in May) have both been mentioned. Complicating matters is the fact that the chemo I just started makes surgery impossible for 4-6 weeks because of blood issues. Prayers about this are definitely appreciated. I've avoided the ER simply because I had prescription pain meds in the house already.

And how about extra prayers for the hair situation. 49% of patients receiving this chemo lose their hair. It should start happening about day 14, which is today. While I thought that the texture had definitely changed over the weekend, I am having no tingling, no thinning or hair loss as of yet. Yes, this is vain. Yes, this is superficial. But I would love prayers that my hair holds on. I really, really, really want to be part of the 51% who get to keep their hair.

And one picture of the birthday boy. I've been a very bad family photographer the last couple of weeks, but I do have a few birthday pictures to share at a later date.

Happy 9th birthday, big boy!
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Taken way too late at night. Settings are f2.2, ISO 800

Monday, July 16, 2012

Not Okay

In the past 48 hours I've received 9 emails asking how I'm doing. I've been debating writing this post for more than 48 hours, and I may regret it later, but I'm tired of pretending that I'm fine so I'll just answer you all here.

While I don't feel well physically, emotionally I feel completely battered. I knew this was going to be hard, but I clearly underestimated how hard it would be to face the reality that chemo is now my way of life. That I'm never going to get to quit. That there is no hope of a cure. That I am probably not going to see my children grow up or grow old with my husband. That physically, this is as good as it gets.

I know I should look at chemo as a gift. It's supposed to kill cancer. But chemo hasn't proven to kill my cancer; it just makes me sick.

I'm tired of being an "inspiration." Tired of choosing joy, choosing gratitude. Tired of not knowing where we'll live or work. Tired of waiting on God to speak. Tired of crying. Tired of waiting for my hair to fall out (something the nurses neglected to tell me about this chemo even though it was the first thing I asked). Tired of being the girl with cancer, putting on my brave face when we go out in public, worrying about how everyone else feels.

I am overwhelmed with grief. And fear of the future. I don't know how to get past these feelings. I want to be a normal 36 year old whose children don't have to worry about their bald mama and cancer. I want to plan a life for us. I want to actually CHOOSE what happens to us next. I want to celebrate my son's 9th birthday and not worry that I won't be here for number 10. 

I think a blog break is in order because it is exhausting keeping up the facade that everything is okay. Everything is not okay. Becky mentioned on Facebook the other day that she was looking at pictures from our trip to St. Louis 2 years ago and longing for those carefree days. I spent the rest of that day crying because it feels like our family will never have another carefree day. And that's not okay.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

I forgot . . .

. . . how lightheaded the IV steroids make me

. . . how those steroids make me feel on edge for days, so snappy with my family

. . . how ADHD I am in the days following chemo, switching back and forth between activities, unable to sit long enough to finish a chapter in my book or watch a TV show from start to finish

. . . how the nurses cheerfully chat us up about anything and everything other than cancer and how I can't decide if I hate them or love them for that

. . . how hard it is to pull it all together and go out and face the public

. . . how I lose complete track of the calendar (I was shocked to see that Sunday is Camden's birthday!)

. . . how much of a true introvert I am

. . . how looking my best on chemo days is completely out of proportion to how I feel about my looks on other days

. . . how Brian and I have this strange tug of war about how he wants me to never move from the sofa while I have a strong desire to help out during bursts of energy and we become almost angry with each other over silly things like who empties the dishwasher

. . . how there is never any rhyme or reason to the good and bad days 

. . .  how, ironically, when I should be craving the attention and noises of my children the most, they drive me crazy

Today is chemo day. While I have certainly not felt well at times, I am pleasantly surprised by how mild this last week has been. I'm hoping the next 2 weeks are even easier since I'm only receiving one drug today instead of 2. The kids are going to go on a library trip with my friend Kari, then we're meeting for lunch, followed by much-needed haircuts this afternoon.

By the way, thought you would all like to know that Brian did not get the teacher job in Texas he interviewed for a couple of weeks ago. We're secure in the knowledge that God has our best interest at heart, whether that be in Texas or Tennessee.

How I spent the last 2 days:
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Credits here

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

P365 - June 2012

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And a bunch of miscellaneous pics that did not make it to P365 and aren't going to be scrapped.WW_EL365_jun7_misc1-web



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Vacation Photo Dump

In an effort to finish up the never-ending vacation posts, here are just a few of the pictures and stories I haven't gotten to yet. Life has got to move on because if I wait until there's time to edit, it'll never happen.

First thing the kids did when we arrived at Hotel Texas (as Rory calls it).
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Dinner at Twisted Root Burger (a Diners, Dive-ins and Drives spot) on Thursday.
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I can't even tell you what a big deal these days at the pool were for Camden. He has been TERRIFIED of water his entire life, but for some reason it all clicked for him. He was doing flips, jumping into the deep end, swimming from side to side, going underwater, doing handstands, etc.
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Brian was so busy with Clearview stuff that he only made it in the pool once in the 5 days we were there.
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Rory and I were late to the event Saturday because she slept for 3.5 hours in the hotel room. Girl was tired!
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I cannot stress enough how hot it was. Her face says it all. ;)
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Leah and Rory - can you tell they both spent the day in the pool?
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Speaking of the pool
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She is "bap-a-tizing" herself here.
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Our last night after church events were finished and cleaned up, the weather cooled off and we were able to relax with the Wright family. We ate at a wood-burning pizza cafe, ate outside and enjoyed the breeze. We walked over to a little play area for the kids, then went back to the Twisted Root Burger for a great home-made milkshake.

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Camden is clearly excited about this picture.
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This picture is important to me because we don't see Brian this happy very often these days.
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Randall - Brian's partner in crime.
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We managed to eat here twice in 5 days.
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Such a sweet time with good friends.
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Sheesh. We both look like it's been a very long day. Or possibly the end of a 11 day trip.
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Whew! I feel better now that's out of the way. Life can now go on.