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Thursday, February 28, 2013

5 Years

Since I've now had two significant cancer-related tests in a short period of time, I am learning that there is an inevitable post-result crash. It's almost as if I'm not aware of how hard my mind and body are fighting against the anxiety until the results are in (and thank heavens for good results two times in a row now). I feel such a sense of relief at the good news, but to be perfectly honest, what I mostly feel is exhaustion. I felt so good at how I was handling the wait this time around. But then Tuesday morning hit, and I could feel the worry creep in and start to bubble up inside. I finally resorted first to a frantic call to my sister, then chocolate, a bubble bath, and Xanax Tuesday night.

Even after I got the results yesterday morning, I couldn't relax. In part because of the knowledge that we'll do this all over again in 4 weeks, and in part because I have several friends either beginning chemo again or waiting on their own results.

But 24 hours later my emotions are beginning to even out. Laundry, dirty dishes, meals to prepare, and family to take care of have a way of normalizing things. Maybe in 4 weeks, I'll be able to skip the anxiety part and go straight to the good results.

Oh, and did I mention we saw this cute face in Korea 5 years ago yesterday? We did. And while she might be twice this size with alot more hair, she still has the same sparkle in her eye that she did 5 years ago in a little apartment smack dab in the middle of Seoul, South Korea.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Results

I finally heard from Dr. W's office this morning, and my CA125 is resting comfortably at 14.1, down from 17 in December and 19 in January. Let's all breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy life until I go back March 21 for the next test.

As is usual after waiting for test results, I find myself so tired. Based on the way my body and mind feel, waiting must be terribly hard work. I think I will take advantage of the quiet house on this cold rainy day and find time to maybe take a nap!

Thanks for all the prayers, friends.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday's Tidbits

Camden: When I grow up, I hope I get to work with animals.
Rory: You mean like a vegetarian?

Am I jinxing myself by admitting that I feel better physically than I have since last July when I had to restart chemo? It's kind of amazing how I have felt progressively better over the last few weeks.

Rory: When I turn 7, I am going to WILD.

We've reinstated Friday as game night in 2013, and Camden is hilarious (or infuriating depending on how you look at it) as he spends most of the time making sure the cards on kept in a perfectly neat pile.

Over the last 2 years, my TV viewing has definitely veared more toward the lighter side. Reality TV, comedies, etc. And I find myself not being interested at all in romantic dramas or comedies where perfect people have perfect endings. My most recent TV show (I've somehow managed to watch the entire season in the last 2 weeks) is Guys With Kids on NBC. Pretty family friendly and makes me laugh.

Camden and Rory have fallen into the very bad habit of trying to finish my sentences, usually when I'm giving instructions or reprimanding one of them. Drives. Me. Insane. 

I'm still waiting for results from Dr. W's office. Despite leaving a message this morning (and that tomorrow marks a full week since the test), I haven't heard a word. Good thing I had a little shopping plus lunch with friends to keep my mind off those results. All the calm I've felt for the past week seems to have disappeared for the moment.

And last week's Project Life I never posted. Doing my best to make sure Brian and I are represented each week even though they're not always great pics.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekend Recap

Friday night started with the realization that if Camden was going to play baseball this year, tryouts were Saturday and we'd better get with it! Considering no one in this house had picked up any baseball gear since the end of season last year (we are bad, bad sport parents), Brian and Camden hit the back yard to throw a few balls around.

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Rory, of course, wanted in on the action. Brian says she actually had improved alot from last year and if we weren't on a one-kid-in-a-sport-at-a-time kind of family, she'd be great at softball (which she is old enough to play this year).
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Camden started off Friday night game night with a Yahtzee. Lucky. Unfortunately for him, I totally won the game.
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Saturday Brian took him squirrel hunting for the very first time (totally disgusting in this mama's opinion) and he shot and killed his first squirrel. I'll spare you the picture, although if you're a friend of Brian's on Facebook, you've already seen it. I tried to be appropriately excited for him.

Next up was baseball tryouts. Because we changed counties, Camden is having to start all over. We thought that the Montgomery County Little League has actual tryouts where only a few are chosen. Turns out that everyone gets drafted, but you do have to try out and they rank the players. Brian said it was super intimidating. There were 15-18 coaches standing in a row on the field all with clipboards and the players go out one by one (with all of the former players who do not have to try out, by the way) watching as they put you through some drills. Camden is a little like his mama and freezes up with nerves. Brian said he did all right, but certainly did not show his full potential. Because he's a leftie (and has a great arm) they offered to let him pitch (which has been his dream position), but the poor guy was just ready to get away from all the scrutiny at that point and turned down the offer. I hope he gets another chance when he's chosen for a team, but if not, it will be a good lesson for him about not letting nerves stop you from taking opportunities when they're offered.

This is his nervous face.
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And then we had a visitor for Saturday afternoon and evening. She's had a rough introduction into daycare over the last few weeks, but you can tell she's feeling better by the sparkle in her eye. No editing, by the way. Just good light and pretty eyes!
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And, seriously, could this group picture be more perfect? Maybe only if they had matching outfits. I'll have to work on that. ;)
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Woke up with serious bedhead, just like her Aunt Melissa.
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The rest of the day was a flurry of church, afternoon art projects, church again and dinner at a friend's house. And now we start the week all over again.

I have been surprisingly calm over the weekend and have barely given my CA125 test a second thought. I told Becky that either I have nothing to worry about or God is giving me the grace of worry-free days before I get bad news. Either way, I am sure the prayers being said for me have helped. I'll post an update when I hear something.



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Leftover V-Day pics

I always crack up at my blog statistics when I'm waiting for test results. Instead of 150-200ish hits a day, they jump to something along the lines of 800ish as all of my friends wait for results along with me. (And, for the record, I never check blog statistics; they show up automatically in my set-up.) Anyway, feel free to go about your regular schedule because I won't know anything until Monday. Ish.

I think I mentioned before that Dr. W changed offices/hospitals. What I might not have mentioned is that out of approximately 15 staff members, only 3 made the switch with him so, as you can imagine, it's quite a different scene these days. All of what made going to an oncologist palatable is not there anymore. No one knows me. There's no chit chat with the receptionist, scheduler, nurses, techs, etc. All my favorite people are gone, although the new nurse I met yesterday has promise. She was very sweet and kind and actually said to me on the way out that she hoped she didn't see me again any time soon. And that's the best kind of goodbye when leaving an oncologist's office.

Yesterday was one of those strange days when the waiting room was full of old people. And I don't mean like fun people whose age mean nothing. I'm talking about 70ish where they look and act every bit their age. (And let me just apologize now to all the sweet older people in my life.) I get pity looks every time I'm at the office, but when the waiting room (and chemo room, by the way) is full of patients who are my senior by 25+ years, it's just reiterates how strange this all is even after almost 2 years. And something that happens every time? They love my hair. I mean, LOVE my hair. And I'm just never sure if it's quite a compliment or not when they want to know if it's real or a wig. And is really all that fabulous that my style seems to appeal to the 70+ crowd? Such an ego booster.

One of my original chemo buddies (there were 4 of us total) begins treatment today for ovarian cancer found on her liver last month. Don't ask me how you can still have ovarian cancer when there are no ovaries left, but that's just how it works somehow. She is a sweet, sweet lady who never failed to oooh and ahhh over Camden and Rory's picture, and I am thinking of her today. And I am thankful for the new nurse because I know she is going to be of great comfort to Emily. Have I mentioned that out of the 4 of us, only 1 is cancer-free 2 years later? Not too encouraging, right?

I have finally managed to catch Rory's massive cold and am miserable so I have a date with the kleenex box on my couch and my DVR. Poor Brian caught it as well, but as usual he survives with a sniffle while I end up with a full-on fever, sore throat, can't breathe, red Rudolph nose. It's a good thing he has a great immune system because he still had to go teach a group of snotty-nosed 4th graders today. ;)

And a few pictures leftover from last week (because I haven't taken a single shot in the last 2 days).

I thought Camden's Valentine's Day box deserved a picture from the real camera. And don't you love those dirty knees. Thank heavens that a soak in hot water and a scoop of The Biz works magic on those pants every single time.
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Did I mention he won first place?
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This massive box of chocolate was his reward. I haven't dropped the bomb on him yet that there's no way I'm letting him eat all that. I'm hoping the suggestion that we chop it up and make some cookies will be acceptable.
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And Rory from the same day. Can you believe that not only did I not make cute Valentine's Day cards for her to give away, but I didn't even dress her up in red or pink? There's always next year.
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Today

This afternoon I'll be walking into Dr. W's office to have my port flushed and for blood work, specifically my CA125 level. It has been exactly 2 months today since my last chemo appointment, and I have to say that I am finally, finally feeling better and I am not ready to give that up.

I randomly came across a blog yesterday (and I say randomly a little tongue-in-cheek because I don't believe it was random at all), and when I read her words, they knocked me over. It was as if God was whispering them to me with such clarity. Over the last few days, the idea behind the following paragraphs has been whirling around in my head, but I couldn't quite grab hold of it. Until I read her words. I tried to think of a way to rewrite them for myself, but in the end just decided to copy and paste and hope that you'll find some beauty in them for yourself.

It is now Saturday afternoon, and I am happy to report that, for now, all seems to be well, and that scary situation that took place on Friday morning has happened no more.

Am I “out of the woods”?

Well…no.

And not because I am necessarily still afraid I might be miscarrying, but because I became painfully (and yet happily) aware of a reality yesterday morning that I had failed to understand before: Friday was no different than any other day. Just because I was faced with the slight possibility of losing my baby did not change the fact that, if God wants me to have this baby, I’m going to have this baby. I might have been excruciatingly aware of the delicate balance between life and death, afraid to move or breathe for fear of upsetting it, but nothing had really changed from the hundreds of days before this one.

Such is the unseen truth that surrounds our comings and goings every day of our life. We are never “out of the woods” when it comes to possible sicknesses, losses, death…but then again, we are ever and always held fast in the palm of God’s hand. As the great missionary John Paton put it, “Looking up in unceasing prayer to our dear Lord Jesus, I left all in his hands, and felt immortal till my work was done.” If we really believe what the Bible says, we, too, must adopt the theology that we (and our children) are immortal until our work is done.

This brought me great comfort, and I realized that my fears that day were not based on whether or not God was in control, but on what He was going to ask of me, and although I was still discouraged by my erratically beating heart and my nerve-clenched stomach in the face of the unknown, I was so happy to note the spiritual growth that has taken place in my life since my last traumatic experience…

for it wasn’t too very long ago that I frequently displayed (by my fears and anxieties and my panicked speech) that I didn’t really believe God was in control at all. I am an extremely weak vessel, and so “tremulous” was still the state of my being as we sat in that exam room, but at the heart of me, the truth was ringing that God would be faithful to us, no matter what. I share these things as a memorial for my family and for my own forgetful heart. May we never forget how good He has been.


I'm afraid that I am still much too far on the side of fear and anxiety instead of trust (as clearly evidenced by the extreme anxiety I experienced after my last CT scan, not to mention my reaction to the cancer blogs recently and the despair I feel over my friend's call yesterday letting me know her cancer has returned), but I'm trying.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday's Tidbits

Oh, Downton Abbey, how could you? Without mentioning specific spoilers in case you're one of the few people left in the world not watching, I knew that a certain character wasn't returning to the show so I watched with bated breath over the last few episodes waiting for disaster. And the season finale certainly brought disaster. When I saw the car racing towards home in the last few seconds, I knew what was coming. And what it brought to mind is that we're always *this* close to disaster (picture my fingers pinched together) at any given moment and maybe we should be a little more grateful each day we're together with our friends and family.

Camden at supper the other night: "I dread the day when I'm old enough to drive because that means I can't read in the car anymore." Something tells me his tune is going to change as he gets a little closer to driving age.

Ever since Rory's Pooh-rific weekend, "Oh, bother" has became her favorite phrase and it. is. hilarious. Especially since it's a little more like "Oh, bothah!"

We try to occasionally take the kids out on little "dates." Mostly that just means time with us minus a sibling. Camden is always so sweet and tells us thank you approximately 100 times. Rory, who on a day-to-day basis is probably a little more grateful, turns into an obnoxious demanding diva on these dates. Wish I were kidding.

Rory's ear piercing was yesterday was a rousing success. She first chose the glitzy Hello Kitty earrings, and when the attendant told us she was too young to do a non-14 carat gold earring, Rory immediately went to the largest cubic zirconia available. Of course. After I vetoed that one (since it was approximately the size of her ear lobe), she went with the September birthstone - sapphire. She went from being the happiest girl in the store to the saddest in a flash when they pierced her ear, but there was only a minimum of crying and she was back to the happiest girl around in 3 minutes flat.

I have a video of her getting them pierced, but I'll spare you the tears. Here she is shopping/hanging out.
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And only one fast picture with the real camera (because this was right before the rain hit). The hair behind one shoulder was all her idea, and can I just say that she is growing up MUCH too quickly. Notice the little bling in her ears. Not only was it starting to rain, but my camera battery died so no bling close-up.
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Monday, February 18, 2013

Instagram Catch-up

So if you're on Instagram, you may have seen most of these (although a few never made it there). And if you're not following me and want to, my name is lifeasalewis. Original, right? ;)

Rory photobombing me on the way to church yesterday.
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A sweet friend sent me this super cute fluffy owl. Rory has almost claimed it as her own, but I won't let her.
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Rory going through all her loot after Valentine's Day.
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Rory helped me put away some scrapbooking pages in albums last weekend, and she kept saying how much she loves "scrapbooking with you, mama." It's a good reminder of why I actually scrapbook and preserve our memories when the kids look through the books. They don't care about the pretty page or how technically perfect or imperfect the photos are; they care about the pictures and the journaling.
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And speaking of those scrapbook pages, I was under the impression that I finally had everything in albums. Until I found this package of approximately 200 prints. Let me repeat that. 200 prints. I'm going to go bankrupt just buying page protectors for this many layouts!
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Elizabeth brought all kinds of toys for Addison to play with on Friday since I was watching her from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. That girl did not touch one. single. toy. My kids, on the other hand, thought they'd hit the jackpot when they came home to baby toys scattered across the living room floor. Cracks me up. Oh, and that little piano? It was Camden's when he was a baby.
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And this might be my all-time favorite picture. My big boy hanging out with his cute little cousin. He is SO sweet and always so helpful when she's at our house. He would have been a great big brother. Oh, wait. He is a big brother.
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I may have dropped the sugar-free lifestyle after only 5 days, but I have continued to skip sugar in my coffee. I'm discovering that I might not like it hot with no sugar, but stick it in the fridge with some milk and I kinda like sugar-free iced coffee.
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I went upstairs Saturday afternoon and found Rory fast asleep on the couch while Camden played the Wii right next to her. This is not normal, of course, and she was running a fever when she woke up. Thankfully, she woke up Sunday fine. Well, fine minus the continuing nasty cough and super stuffy nose.
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Brian's parents took the kids home with them after church so Brian and I were able to do some running around yesterday all on our own. We had lunch at Texas Roadhouse, saw Parental Guidance (a super-cute movie that actually had me in tears by the end, although the middle-aged people who were with us in the theater were hilarious as they laughed uproariously through the whole thing - I'm guessing they were relating to Bette Midler and Billy Crystal's characters).
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And, finally, Camden sang with me (and others) at church Sunday. This boy loves music like nothing else, and he is good. I'd been praying that we could find a way to develop his music and then this opportunity came up yesterday.
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And I think that's about it! We're going to enjoy President's Day together as a family. It was supposed to be date day with Rory, but unexpected circumstances have Camden tagging along which is just fine. I'm sure he's going to be thrilled about watching his sister get her ears pierced. ;)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Snapshot #4

Haven't done one of these in a while. As in, not since 2012. ;)

Outside my window: sunny skies right now, but I can see dark clouds approaching

I am thinking: that I need to stop thinking about my CA125 blood test next week

I am thankful for: a 3-day weekend

I am wondering: why on earth they salted the roads yesterday afternoon when it was 59 degrees outside. (Why, yes, we *do* live in a southern state.)

Last 3 purchases: black/white Chevron curtains from Urban Outfitters, Olive paper pack, this heart-shaped sandwich cutter.

Dinner plans: Cheesy Chicken Vegetable Soup, a surprisingly delicious Weight Watcher's recipe

Future plans I'm looking forward to: taking Rory to get her ears pierced Monday (shhhhh, she doesn't know!)

Kid funny: Camden's teacher posted this on my FB timeline yesterday. "Camden's lunch was very cute today! While he was eating the cheese hearts, he pulled one out and said "I bet this one will taste extra special because its filled with love!" He put it in his mouth, chewed, and said "Nope, tastes just like the rest!" Made me laugh!"

I am reading:  Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home by Robert Foster and The Racketeer by John Grisham

In the kitchen: leftover Red Velvet pancakes (which I am trying not to dip into)

On my desk: bills I haven't filed and Camden's remote controlled helicopter he hasn't touched since Christmas Day

Watching: Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites Caramoan (Now I love all things Survivor, but I'm thinking they might have used the term "favorites" loosely here. I did thoroughly enjoy the first episode, though.)

On my frequent playlist: David Crowder Band Give Us Rest album

Snacking on: Cara Cara oranges and Earnest Eats Cran Lemon Zest bars

Rest-of-the-day-plans: figuring out a way to to get Addison (who's spending the day with me) to play with her toys and not the Wii remotes, my iphone, computer cords, etc.

And I'd apologize for the sheer number of pictures I am about to post, but my mom is expecting them so I won't say sorry.

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She's looking a little mischievous here.
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This one might be my favorite.
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Or this one because I love the pouty lip.
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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

After spending 4 out of the last 5 days home alone with a sick girl (which is ALOT of alone time), I've kind of allowed myself to feel a little down and out. Silly since I have nothing to be discouraged about. Missing Camden's first concert (Winter Jam), church, lunch with friends, and then a fun Valentine's Day event are really nothing. And I totally mean that. I wouldn't have meant it yesterday, but today things are feeling a little more in perspective.

I heard someone say recently (I think it might have been Kelly  Ripa - don't judge!) that Valentine's Day wasn't really about romantic love for them anymore, but about showing love to their family and so I decided to go that route this year. I got up early and made heart-shaped red velvet pancakes with homemade buttermilk syrup. Oh. My. Stars. So good! I told Brian ahead of time so he could plan to be home for breakfast (although he ended up having to help me get it all on the table on time). And the kids don't know that they have strawberries, cheese, and meat cut into heart shapes in their lunch today, and I'm planning to make pizza with heart-shaped pepperoni for supper. Still trying to decide if I'm going to follow through with the heart-shaped brownies for dessert. ;)

That is a whole lot of heart-shaped things coming out of my kitchen!

I had grand plans of doing something homemade for their Valentine's this year especially now that Rory is in school. Camden was never too big on a cute picture/handmade but Rory would have loved it. Unfortunately, V-Day came much more quickly than I was anticipating so I'll have to be satisfied with sending them to school with store Valentines. At least all their own treats at home are homemade!

Camden's class is having a contest for the most creative hand-made Valentine's Day box. He was insistent on making it out of Legos and has spent HOURS working on this box in the last week. I think he did a pretty great job.
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ETA: Hop over to the Persnickety Prints blog to pick up a free, super-cute kit from The Lilypad designers. You can bet I'll be using this for this week's Project life layout.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday's Tidbits

How is it that my children's bathroom seems to (a) never run out of toilet paper and (b) have the same bottle of soap and shampoo for 3 months? Something tells me they are not using either very regularly despite daily bathing.

Speaking of baths/showers, I have a question for those of you with girls. Camden was taking showers on his own at age 5. Rory still doesn't, mainly because after lots of lessons and trial runs, she still can't get her hair clean. (Camden's hair at age 5 was just a buzz so there was nothing to get clean really.) But Rory has very thick hair, and as we've been letting it grow, she just can't quite get her little fingers all the way through the way to scrub and then rinse. So after about 6 weeks of letting her do it on her own, I'm back to doing it all for her. Just curious as to what my expectations should be for a 6 and a half year old.

I made a truly southern meal for the first time for supper last night: ham and pinto beans. And they weren't half bad. Pretty sure the ham hock from a freshly butchered pig from a local farm helped out the flavor quite a bit.

 This post about taking your husband's picture completely cracked me up. I kind of love Cathy Zielske.

I cannot even tell you how much I love this kitchen. Love. If I were still in junior high, I'd love it so much I'd want to marry it.

If you have time to kill, this blog post on "easy chemo" is a good (and entertaining if you can believe a post on chemo is entertaining) read. Here's hoping I don't relate to it again for a very long time. It's posts like these that make me continue to read cancer blogs occasionally because unless you've been there done that, it's impossible to understand where I'm coming from, And occasionally it's just nice to have someone who shares your experiences to validate your feelings.

I feel like I have to confess that I made it 5 days on my sugar-free experiment before I caved and ate ice cream. New plan: still continuing with no sugar daily but allowing myself a treat on the weekend. And after a week, my coffee tastes no better sugar-free than it did the first day.

So I did take Rory to the doctor yesterday despite the fact that she woke up fever-free and bouncing off the walls. Dr. H doubled her steroid inhaler for a couple of weeks, and it seems as if asthma is becoming more of a regular thing instead of just flaring up when she has an upper respiratory infection.

Not gonna lie. This girl got a whole lot of attention in her boots, jeans, and sunglasses (which she refused to take off even indoors). Both Dr. H and his nurse proclaimed her the cutest thing they'd seen all day.
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The sky was super blue against the clouds yesterday. And from what I hear, this might be the last sunshine we see for several days. (look at all those dead trees and brown grass - winter is SO ugly!)
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Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Sick Girl

Rory woke up this morning with a 101 degree fever. I shouldn't be surprised since for the last couple of weeks she's had the same nasty pneumonia-type cough she had a couple of months ago. In fact if she wasn't significantly better by tomorrow, I was planning to take her in to see Dr. H. Now that she's running a fever, I'll definitely be taking her. I'd call myself the worst mom on the planet again, but until this morning there's been no fever and despite the cough, she's been full steam ahead.

After a full day alone with her yesterday (that's a story for another day) and with the whole day stretching out in front of us today, I've seen my share of Tinkerbell and princess movies so I've resorted to sharing my iPad. In our family, kids only get the iPad in emergency situations and I'm thinking this definitely qualifies.

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Becky and I decided that we were going to commit to the monthly favorite page about ourselves challenge (via Nettio Designs). I'm never a fan of scrapping about myself, but since I'd love to know these kinds of things about my own mom, I'm doing it. And while I may have scrapped this particular page twice in order to get it just right, I'm happy with the results. Make-up free face and all.

Shawna Clingerman: Top 10
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And last week's PL pages.
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Right side
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