Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chemo Brain

I frequently stop in the middle of a sentence because I can't remember what I was talking about.Of course, my friends tell me that's old age, not chemo brain.

I watched the ending to a current episode of Beauty and the Beast THREE days in a row because I could not remember what happened the next morning.

I received responses Sunday from 3 emails I sent Saturday night. Unfortunately, I do not remember sending those emails.

I recently ordered duplicate sets of hair products. On the same night. From different retail stores. And didn't remember until they showed up.

I ordered Lush bath bombs for Mom, Becky, and Liz. Too bad I have no memory of placing that order, but it was a nice mail surprise.

Notice a shopping theme here?

I've stopped playing Draw 4 Free because my drawings were so bad my mom was taking pictures of them with her phone so she could remember and laugh.

So if it weren't so scary, it just might be funny.

Week 4



Monday, January 28, 2013


Our weekend was very uneventful besides game night Friday, Pooh day with Rory Saturday, and the stomach flu Sunday. Hurray for me. Thank goodness for leftover anti-nausea chemo meds.

This morning starts a new week, and I'm determined to get some kind of schedule going in the cooking, exercise, cleaning, laundry departments. I've been in (low) maintenance mode since (before) Christmas, but now it's time to get serious about getting things done around here. And with no chemo until at least February 20, I've got several weeks to develop some better habits.

And I'm just writing it here in public to help keep me accountable, but I'm trying to get back down to 1 cup of coffee a day and no soda (diet caffeine free Mt. Dew is my drink of choice) except on the weekend. So far, my weekends have started Thursday night so we'll call that both a win and a lose. Also trying to get in some exercise 3 times a week. All left-over sugary Christmas items and candy are finally out of the house and I'm back to regular grocery shopping (generally includes mostly boring healthy, clean, non-processed items) which makes it a little hard to satisfy my sweet tooth, but I guess that's the idea.

A cute Rory story. They're reading all about Pooh at school (her teacher is in love with bears) and this was her weekend to bring Pooh home. She had to write a Pooh adventure, and she took her Pooh duties very seriously. She acted as if he were a baby. She fed him, burped him, made him take naps, read books to him, even changed his imaginary diaper. So cute. She also kept calling him Pooh-Pooh and saying she was having a Poohrific Day, which made us laugh a whole lot since we have the maturity of 9 year olds.

As soon as she got home Friday.

And then she asked me to take a picture with my big camera so I could give her "one of those strip thingies that has my face on it." My child did not know what an actual 4x6 real-life picture was. Seriously. I guess I can't blame her too much since she's only seen them on the computer or on the wall.

So, yes, we took a picture to put on one of those strip thingies. These are the 2 she chose.


I chose this one. ;)

Saturday, January 26, 2013


I've been resisting posting these pictures because I know Becky will want to kill me, but every time I open up my December 2012 picture folder, they are just taunting me and make me laugh every. single. time. So I have to share, right?



My personal favorite. ;)





Friday, January 25, 2013

The Night I Scrapped

When I got the news at 10:00 last night that Brian had a snow day and the kids had a 2-hour delayed start, I headed right upstairs to scrap. I typically stay off the computer that time of night, but I knew I could take advantage of having another adult in the house and sleep in. ;) I haven't scrapped in forever, and I have to say it felt good to make something pretty.

Go ahead and laugh, all my northern friends. Yes, this is what we have snow days for in Tennessee.

Traci Reed/Emily Merritt: Look at You Grow
123112_then now

Gotta love these bright colors, right?
Lauren Grier: Silly Little Monsters
120112_silly monsters

Traci Reed/Jacque Larsen: Love is in the Air
010813_heart happy

And Week 3 of Project Life.

Left side

Right side

Emily Merritt/Lauren Grier: I'm the Princess

My Big Girl Lens

So my beloved big girl lens (this 70-200 2.8 lens - Nikon mount) is up for grabs if you happen to be in the market for a fabulous zoom lens in great used condition. I'm sorry to let it go, but I am just not using it enough to justify keeping it, not to mention both our cars are nearing death and we could use the money. It's tough being a grown-up sometimes. ;)

Email me at if you're interested.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


At 10:58 this morning, I looked at the clock and realized that I had done absolutely nothing today. Nothing. And I liked it. :)

I had arranged this week's schedule around two things: (1) my doctor's appointment on Tuesday and (2) the "fact" that I'd be starting up chemo again today. Well, there's no chemo, and I could not be happier about that. I woke up not feeling particularly well this morning. Honestly, it kind of happens alot. And on the days I do feel well, I can almost guarantee that by suppertime I will feel as if a truck has run over me. Repeatedly. Dr. W says it's normal since I've had poison running through my veins for 14 out of the last 20 months.

So this morning I feel very grateful that I am not sitting in a not-quite-comfortable recliner hooked up to chemo, but instead have had the privilege of laying on the couch with my snuggly body bean catching up on last night's American Idol. (And can I just say Nicki Minaj =  train. wreck.)

We've had some cold(er) weather the last couple of weeks, and I snapped this picture while the kiddos were outside playing. I happen to love me a good hat picture, but these days they're not really into photo props. When they each came outside wearing one without any prompting from me, I knew I had to grab the camera.


And now I'm headed back to my couch with a bowl of hot soup. Hope your day is as quiet as mine!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


How about a quick history lesson on my cancer.

March 2011
diagnosed with stage 3c ovarian cancer; surgery removed all but very small pieces from the peritoneal wall and a small spot on my liver

September 2011
completed 6 rounds of platinum-based chemo (a.k.a. the best there is for ovarian cancer)

September 2011
discovered there was absolutely no change in my cancer after chemo; resumed chemo

January 2012
after a day in the hospital and gall bladder attack, CT scan shows that cancer appears to be calcified/dead and we suspend chemo on a month-to-month basis

May 2012
big surgery and 7 day hospital stay for gall bladder; cancer biopsied and found to still be active

July 2012-December 2012 

January 2013
CT scan shows there is still no change in cancer

(I should get some kind of reward for being able to condense the last 2 years down to just this short list.)

So after hearing my latest CT scan news and that Dr. W wanted to see me in person, I definitely went to worst case scenario in my head. Despite feeling pretty emotionally stable over the last 2 weeks, the kids were devastated, and we cried alot of tears together. Brian and I had some very frank discussions about what our family's future looks like. It was hard.

But when Dr. W met us at the door (literally) with a smile on his face and proceeded to tell us that the cancer continues to look calcified; there is absolutely no new growth; and that he recommends I continue on this "chemo holiday," I felt the knot inside my stomach start to unravel.

This is not remission or NED (no evidence of disease) as is the more common term these days. But it is a reprieve and is probably the most positive news I could hope for. Dr. W mentioned many times how unusual my case has been so far. Ovarian cancer is typically very aggressive, especially when platinum-based chemo has not worked. No growth in nearly 2 years is fairly remarkable. 

So we're going to enjoy a little time off. I will have monthly blood work and if the CA125 stays stable, then a CT scan every 3 months. If my CA125 number starts to double, then "all bets are off." And let's not forget that while they are small fluctuations, my CA125 has gone up 2 months in a row. If/when my CA125 starts to double, the next chemo I have will be easier in terms of day-to-day side effects, but it does have some more serious side effects for my body (not to mention it will make me bald again).

I also want to point out that Dr. W told us specifically that if I were his wife, he would be recommending a break. He says my body needs this time to heal and that I should enjoy myself. As he said that, I remembered how he rubbed my shoulder and told me to enjoy my Christmas break back in December (as I cried because my CA125 had gone up). I've tortured myself with the thought that he was encouraging me so strongly to enjoy my holiday because he thought it would be my last Christmas. 

I'm telling you, controlling fear is not easy.

So this morning I'm having a second cup of coffee (I try to just have one but have failed miserably the last couple of weeks), take a few hours to catch up on some scrapping, jump into carpooling, and fix supper for my family (along with a few extra members tonight).

After running errands yesterday morning (and before my doctor's appointment so I guess you could call it stress eating), Brian and I went to The Perch (a crepery in Green Hills for my local friends) and had a lemon sugar crepe. Oh. My. Stars.
Lemon sugar crepe

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's D Day

Brian is off work today so he's in charge of carpool, and he and the kiddos are gone leaving me snuggled on the couch with an extra cup of coffee, my body bean and the morning news (something I rarely watch).

I've taken a little unintentional blog break. I sometimes feel (especially the last few weeks) that it reads a bit like a roller coaster. I feel good; I feel bad; I feel calm; I feel depressed; I'm crying through it all; I'm brave. Well, if it reads like a roller coaster, you should try to live it. ;)

The truth is that surprisingly enough I've had a good 7-10 days and have been able to mostly put thoughts of my doctor's appointment this afternoon out of my mind. Between a snow day and now a 3 day weekend, we've gotten some work done around the house, I've cooked some meals, we went bowling with a church group Sunday night, had supper with my brother, watched some football (yet again, I always choose the wrong teams). And last night my brother took the kids for a couple of hours so Brian and I headed to Cold Stone Creamery, ate a bowl of soup, and watched an Office marathon.

I don't know what this afternoon holds for me, and I'm doing my best not to speculate. But this morning we're going to run a few errands and even make a trip to Good Will (not something I ever volunteer to do). I appreciate your prayers.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”
Lamentations 3:22-24

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Snow Day

So yesterday the kids (and Brian) had a snow day. I have to say that it wasn't the best day . . . for me, not the kids. I was a total cranky pants all day. Not exactly sure why, but I'd like a do-over. I think a small part of my crankiness is that as a stay at home mom, a snow day really isn't any different. There are still 3 meals to be fixed, house to be cleaned, clothes to be washed, etc. But it feels like it should be a break and when it's not, I don't react well. Anyway, maybe the crankiness is out of my system for a while.

I did finish up a little DIY project, and I'm very proud of myself for doing it. Trying something new not to mention tackling a craft project on my own is not really my style. I'm a big wuss, but I kinda like how it turned out. Here's a little peek.


And this girl is getting sassier by the day. She asked if she could pose for me. ;)
This was Sunday afternoon, and she spent the afternoon changing clothes, adding layers, switching shoes, fixing her hair, asking for make-up, etc. Cracked me up.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

House Pictures

I've had lots of requests for house pictures, and the truth is that I wanted to wait until it was all decorated up and pretty. But let's be honest here. That just might never happen!

So after spending Christmas Eve making everything all sparkly and clean in preparation for company, I snapped a few pictures. And then never shared them. ;) And now we've spent the last several days actually hanging pictures on the wall and making some changes so I thought I better post them now as a kind of "before" and then in the next couple of weeks I'll hopefully post "after" shots.

And just a general disclaimer: we clearly don't have things decorated, and the poor kid rooms still have boxes because Camden doesn't have a dresser and poor Rory doesn't have a toybox or bookshelf. We have a 3 day weekend coming up, and we're hoping to do some rearranging and more unpacking. Oh, and the house is not nearly as dark as these pics make it look - it was after dark and I just used my iphone and did no editing.

Our unfinished bedroom, but the first room to have something up on the walls.

The kitchen (standing in the hall outside our bedroom); there is a bathroom/laundry room camera left.


Living Room (view from the dining area). Until 2 days prior to this picture, we didn't have end tables, but Brian found two mismatched ones at Goodwill that are solid wood and fit exactly into the open slots. We're currently painting them an incredibly bright color.


Looking down into the living room from the stairwell.

My first attempt at decorating a mantle.

Camden's room, which is much larger than it looks here.

Tiny bonus room area that houses the desk (a.k.a. where I live).

Rory's little room. She's the only one with curtains hung; and I actually have everything to decorate her room, it just has to be done.

And that's it! I am full of decorating ideas, but my budget is nil right now so we're living with clean and simple. Hoping to finish up a few simple projects this week that I'm really excited about.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"A Real Breakfast"

The kids had a 2 hour delay this morning due to some icy roads (which doesn't mean a whole lot in Tennessee). Basically they had an extra 2 hours to argue. Mornings aren't our strong suit. After dropping them off, I headed to Hobby Lobby and aimlessly wandered around putting things in my cart and then removing them. In the end, I came home with a couple of things for a little DIY project that Brian is none-too-excited about. ;)

Since we had extra time this morning, I actually cooked breakfast instead of sending the kids out the door with a granola bar. Camden asked if we were going to have "a real breakfast." These pancake muffins were good, and as I looked over the recipe, I realized they aren't too much of an indulgence. I'll definitely make them again. You can serve them with butter and syrup, but we ate them plain. Oh, and I forgot the sugar and they were just fine without it.

Chocolate Chip Pancake Muffins
1 cup wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg
2 tablespoons syrup
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Sift together with a wire whisk. In another bowl, stir buttermilk, egg, maple syrup and melted butter until just combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Reserve a few chips to sprinkle on the tops. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Made 11 (smallish) muffins.

And my week 2 PL: left side

right side

Monday, January 14, 2013

Our Weekend

Our weekend got off to a rough start when the kids asked me on the way home from school if I had scan results. It is so hard to deliver news that is not what they've prayed for. Rory cried and cried. It is beyond difficult for their little hearts to understand why God doesn't answer their prayers in the way they want. And while I certainly did not bring this up, Camden quietly said, "losing you would be the worst thing in the world that could ever happen to us." Sigh. And tears.

In typical kid fashion, by the time we got home they had moved past the bad news and were planning what to play (temps were in the 70's Friday) so it was definitely outside. We ordered a pizza for supper, played a 3 hour game of Monopoly (oh. my. stars.) and enjoyed a renewed sense of staying in the moment.

Saturday was just lovely. Brian typically spends the majority of Saturdays doing church prep and/or grading papers. And because chemo is typically on Thursdays for me, I'm generally a couch potato and we rarely actually have Saturday plans or leave the house. But I woke up feeling great Saturday morning, and so the four of us ran errands, took a trip to the library. The kids played together literally all afternoon while Brian and I hung curtains, painted an end table (Annie Sloan chalk paint - satisfaction with results still to be determined), hung a gallery wall in our stairwell, and watched 2 football games. (Of course, both teams I was rooting for lost because I have the kiss of death when it comes to choosing play-off teams.)

Sunday I struggled to control my thoughts, maybe in part due to the crazy rain, thunderstorms, flood warnings, tornadoes, etc. that swept through the area. My goal is to not need help via medication controlling my fear on a daily basis, but some days are harder than others.

This is Homecoming Week at school so the kids are dressing up each day (or most days depending on how creative I can be). Today is Hillbilly Day and Rory was super excited, of course. Camden, who is my little rule-follower, gets freaked out on days like this. He goes into a panic worrying that he'll be the only one who shows up out of uniform. This morning he couldn't handle it because I had misplaced the actual note the school sent home outlining the days, which meant he couldn't double-check the plan over and over. Yikes. We managed to make it out the door in the nick of time, and here's hoping the rest of the week's early mornings will be a tad easier.

And a few iphone pics.

Ironically enough, this was my fortune at P.F. Chang's after my scan last week. If only that were true!

Camden has always been a huge Lego fan, but with the Lego Idea Book Aunt Becky gave him for Christmas, he is spending HOURS a day putting fun things together.

Doubting this paint choice, although I *did* say I wanted happy colors in this house.

Rory's choice of comfy clothes for Sunday afternoon.

And then she moved on to a t-shirt and old upside down goggles.

Hillbilly Day. Camden would have none of the painted freckles. I wanted to black out a tooth, but no dice.

Addison is keeping me company, and is this 13 month old ever busy! Cannot. Keep. Up.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Little News

Talked to my nurse today and Dr. W wants me to come in so he can discuss my scan. This is a little bit of new territory for us because he's never discussed before - just put me on a new treatment plan. The nurse said there was a note on the scan saying that there were no new masses and my original nodules remained unchanged, but my CA125 was 19.4 this month so that means an increase 2 months in a row.

If I had to guess, I would say that Dr. W is going to tell us that he's got nothing left in his chemo arsenal to try since I've now had a total of 6 different chemo drugs and they have had no effect. I suppose I should feel lucky/grateful for a slow-growing cancer. I would rather feel grateful for no cancer, but that is clearly not going to be my story.

Unfortunately, because of the office/hospital switch, his earliest "discussion" appointment isn't until January 22. The nurse is going to try to fit me in so I don't have to wait for 2 weeks, which I appreciate. Another 2 weeks of waiting does not sound appealing. At all.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

5 Things

1. Why would I ever, ever, ever make the decision to give up caffeine and sugar the week before I have a CT scan to find out, you know, about CANCER. 

2. I have cheated more times than I can count.

3. I still haven't heard from the doctor's office, and I'm pretty sure that waiting 4 days for test results is cruel and unusual punishment.

4. I'm putting on my big girl pants and making myself call tomorrow morning and demand ask very sweetly for answers.

5. Seriously. I've cheated alot.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Documenting 2013

*For those of you waiting on an update from my CT scan, I have no real news. I had an appointment with Dr. W scheduled for tomorrow morning, but the nurse called me this evening telling me not to come in because my scan results weren't available. She also mentioned Dr. W has been on vacation so I think that's probably a better explanation for the missing results. She said hopefully someone would give me a call tomorrow with more information. I'm sure I should be upset about this, but mostly I feel a little sense of relief. At the very least it means no chemo tomorrow.

For the last 3 years I've participated in Project 365 - a photo every day of the year. I decided to take this year off and use Project Life (and the blog, of course) as my way of documenting 2013. Because I am slightly OCD, the thought of not taking a picture every day has driven me slightly crazy and while Project Life is supposed to be a much easier and low-stress way of documenting life, so far I have just been plain obsessive about it. Hopefully it will become a little easier as I not only stop comparing my pages to others, but become accustomed to the new system.

2013 cover page (these pictures have a story I'll tell sometime soon).

Week 1 spread

Week 1 - left side
week 1

Week 1 - right side

In case you're interested, I am using the Project Life Olive digital kit and binder, Emily Merritt's This Week cards for my week-in-review, Gina Miller's Basic Kraft paper for the background, and then a variety of other mish-mashed elements and journaling cards (alot of Ali Edwards and Cathy Zielske brushes are in my stash). While I would really like to do hybrid (which means print out the individual pictures/cards and use the fun page protectors), I know myself well enough to know that I would never, ever, ever actually go to all the extra trouble of printing out individual pieces and then compiling it together so I will be printing these as a 12x12 page as usual.

For inspiration, I used several designers who kept things simple since that was the most important thing to me: Emily Merritt, Cathy Zielske, Jennifer Woodbury, and Jessica Sprague to name a few. Here's to letting go of the comparison game and just document our family's memories with no pressure. ;)

And because it didn't seem right to not include my finished pages for 2012, here are the final installments.