Monday, March 31, 2014

3 Years

Today marks my 3 year cancerversary - the day I was diagnosed with stage 3c ovarian cancer (update: I just realized - because I clearly still have a bad case of chemo brain - that the actual date was March 30. For Pete's sake!). Blessedly, I do not remember much from this day as I was in surgery for many hours and sedated after that. We celebrated with ice cream for breakfast for the third year in a row. It's a silly little way to celebrate that life is good. That God is good.

It seems as if I would look back on that time surrounding diagnosis and treatment as the worst time of my life. And it probably was.

But mostly I remember being surrounded by friends and family.

Brian holding my hand and praying with me.

Flowers (and the beautiful smell of them) filling my hospital room.

My mom, brother, sister and twin nephews driving throughout the night to make it in time for surgery.

My brother staying home with Camden, Rory, William, and Xavier on surgery day and my mom and sister coming home to all 4 kids in different corner. Uncle Matt had finally had all he could take.

I remember feeling so calm.

I remember feeling so loved.

So many friends (most of them from the beautiful online world) did loving, creative things to make me feel better.

Like this video. (Look how tiny your babies are, friends!)

So today we ate ice cream at 6:30. Rory randomly quoted Romans 15:13, and I thought it couldn't have been more perfect.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him."


Brian has worn this teal ovarian cancer bracelet for 3 years.

And Camden's prayer this morning?
"Thank you, God, that she's lasted this long." Ha!

Friday, March 28, 2014

So Much Better

I had my doubts this time yesterday that we would avoid an ER trip, but Rory's steroids and a consistent diet of Benadryl and Zyrtec have finally kicked in. The 13 hours of sleep last night probably helped as well. The steroids are in full force as she has not. stopped. talking. She is simultaneously delightful and exhausting. I pulled out an old trick this morning - calling Aunt Becky so she would have someone else to talk to. :)

She says it's like a dream come true to have her hives gone. Quite a different picture from yesterday! I figured that once the steroids kicked in she would have a swift recovery, but I can't believe how much better she is - almost no sign of hives anywhere after being covered for 48 hours.

The first thing she did after waking up (besides singing The Twelve Days of Christmas) was start writing notes for all 18 of her classmates. She started with her student teacher. This totally made me laugh.

In other news, Monday marks 3 years since my cancer diagnosis. We've celebrated this milestone the last two years with ice cream for breakfast. I was tempted to let the day pass by this year, but the more that I've thought about it, the more I want to make sure we are never complacent or less than grateful for life and my good health. So Monday morning we'll start the week with ice cream cones. Feel free to join us!

Thursday, March 27, 2014


I was on my way to Nashville Wednesday morning for my 6 month visit to the breast center when I received a phone call from Liz (who happens to teach at the kid's school). It's super convenient to have a family member at their school, by the way. Rory didn't feel well and had a rash. I briefly considered not picking her up but then thought better of it and turned around.

We went to the doctor for a strep test (sore throat, rash, headache), but it was negative. Two hours later, a massive dose of Benadryl, and a nap later . . . and she was worse. A call to the doctor and a trip to the pharmacy, and she had some steroids. 

Which she promptly threw up. 

All over Brian's iPad. 

Thank heavens for a heavy-duty cover.

(will you hate me if I say that this might only be the second time she's ever thrown up?)

We visited the doctor again this morning (after a night with very little sleep), and she's got a new steroid in her system plus she's been on Benadryl for 24 hours with some Zyrtec on top of that. She's still covered in hives, but I *think* she's doing better.

I have forgotten how high-maintenance this child is when she's sick. We're talking a whole lot of whimpering and tears. And before you think I'm not compassionate, I know she's miserable and I feel horrible for her. 

Here's hoping that heavy dose of steroids kicks in quickly so she can get some relief. New hives pop up every time she scratches, and it's impossible to keep her from scratching. Believe me - I've tried!


Asleep at the doctor's office.

Those back dimples kill me. She's had them since she was baby, and I always wondered if they'd stay around.

And this one also kills me. For all their fighting, Camden just could not stay away from her yesterday afternoon. She was camped out on this chair, and he kept kneeling by her or touching her head when he walked by.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits

Camden at the Korean restaurant in Atlanta: "It's nice to have Korean bits around us."

Rory: "Birthdays are good, but being married for 16 years is very special." Said at a completely random moment.

Camden on Saturday morning: "Why are you dressed? Wait . . you have shoes on? And lipgloss?"

I totally lived this Whack-a-Mole post last night.

In my neverending saga of things that happen at night that I don't remember - pretty sure I ate a cookie bar in bed Sunday night. Hope it was good!

This happened this morning.

Friday was a perfect spring day: sunny and 72. I'm not a fan of sweat, so if summer were sunny and 72 I would be very happy. We went to the park so Rory could keep trying to learn how to ride a bike. I found a picture from last March where we tried the same thing. Parent fail or kid fail that she's still trying to get going?


By, George, I think she's got it!


Monday, March 24, 2014

Back to School

The kids went back to school this morning (as did Brian, who was not nearly as excited about that as Camden and Rory). We really had a good spring break - a balanced mix of down time and busyness. Because of snow days and a long spring break, the kids have been in school for a grand total of 5 days since February 28. It's March 24.

Let that information sink in for a moment.

It is time to get back to a schedule, people.

Saturday a long-time scrapping friend came into town for a visit. It was fun to spend a couple of hours with her family. The kids hit it off big-time and played so hard.

They're cute, right! (And, hello, miracle! There are 5 kids here all looking at the camera at once.)

Kellie (a.k.a. joelsgirl for all you fellow scrappers)

We went out to eat with Michael, Liz, and Addison to celebrate Camden's 10th Family Day. I snapped this picture of the 3 kiddos afterwards. So cute, right?

Happy Monday! I'm off to finish laundry, use the treadmill, and bask in the quiet house for a moment or ten.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

T.e.n. years as a Lewis

From this (March 23, 2004) airport meeting in Chicago . . .

 . . . to this (March 23, 2014) in a blink of an eye.

Is that a hint of a dark shadow on his upper lip? I am so not ready for this!

Oh, and the white line from his eye to his hairline? It's the tan marks from his glasses. Poor child desperately needs new frames that won't fit so tightly on his head. Had to wait a year from his last appointment so if he can make it a couple more weeks, he can get new glasses the first week of April.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Break in Atlanta

We took a fast 2-day trip to Atlanta during spring break, mostly to visit Legoland Discovery Center with the kids before Camden aged out. I think it's safe to say that he is probably not going to age out of Legos anytime soon, but my worry that he would be too old for the discovery center was completely unfounded since there were some dads there participating in the Lego building (and taking great joy in winning the build-you-own car races).

Even though we had cold rainy days and a very quick trip, we had a really nice time. We spent several hours at Legoland Discovery Center, ate some very authentic (and delicious) Korean food, visited the Olympic Park from the 1996 Olympics, ate cupcakes from Sprinkles. Oh, and my favorite part - several hours at Ikea.

Will you still like me if I admit that trips involving hotels and my kids usually stress me out and I come home exhausted from never having a second apart? I did come home exhausted, but this was the best hotel trip we've had. Probably because I went into it with the right attitude, not to mention the kids are getting older and being cooped up in a small space isn't quite as painful as it used to be.

Pretty sure Camden's face says it all.


This guy was one of the center's master builders, and he gave Camden and Rory a science lesson on building - it was so cool.

I had no idea Atlanta had so many Korean restaurants. I picked the one on Urbanspoon that had the most reviews. It was awesome and the kids were kind of enthralled with the staff. The staff was super impressed with Camden and Rory's chopstick skills, and one woman immediately noticed that Camden was left-handed and mentioned that in Korea they think that means the person is very smart.

Checking out a hammock in Ikea.

Super excited about Sprinkles. Brian chose Maple Bacon, Camden chose Lemon Coconut, Rory chose Vanilla Milk Chocolate, and I chose Dark Chocolate.


In case you didn't know, Sprinkles started the whole cupcake craze.

And Olympic Park - super cold and rainy (and this was the only place I pulled out my camera) so I didn't take many pictures.



These pretty blooming trees were everywhere, and I really wanted to take pictures, but, you know, the rain.


I had totally forgotten there was a bombing in Atlanta related to the Olympics.

Hello! The best part of the 1996 Olympics - gymnastics!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Green Crayon

We spent a couple of days in Atlanta earlier this week for spring break, and I am planning to blog about our adventures.


I came home to a computer screen that looks like this (we had a family of 6 stay at our house while we were gone - I'm thinking one of their munchkins got ahold of some crayons and didn't have any paper nearby), and I'm finding it awfully hard to muster up the motivation to go through our pictures while the screen is covered in green scribbles. Google (and my mom) tell me a magic eraser should take care of it, but I don't have one in the house right now.

Until I get my screen cleaned, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later, you'll have to settle for two pictures of my cute (big!) girl.



Friday, March 14, 2014

Snapshot #14

Outside my Window
 bright sunny skies

I am Wondering
What am I going to do for the next 10 days. By 8:15 on Spring Break Day One, Rory was already crying as a result of a wrestling match gone bad. At 9:10, they were bored. At 9:20 I sent them to their own rooms. When I finish this, I'm letting them watch a cartoon while I head to the treadmill. After that, it's anyone's guess.

Thinking About
I listened to 2 different podcasts this week, both about mothering. The first podcast talked about finding the holiness in the mundane. The second podcast basically said we've got to just get through these parenting days until we can have "me" time and be fulfilled creatively, personally, etc. I am thinking that while the first perspective might be slightly idealistic, it is alot more Christ-like than the second. And I've been guilty of leaning more towards the second selfish perspective.

It was a good reminder that what I'm doing here at home matters, despite how mundane and repetitive it often feels. It is building a foundation for my kids; a clean house, fresh laundry, good meals all help my kids know they are loved and secure while also serving as a model of how to love and serve.

I am Thankful
Ever since my computer/EHD issues, iTunes had been missing from my computer despite the hours I have spent trying to restore it. Brian fixed it last night, and it's like my long-lost best friend has returned.

Last 3 Purchases
Bath and Body Works candles (Lemon Mint Leaf is currently burning), a couple of spring shirts for the kids, this pink owl scarf
Dinner Plans
We're using an Olive Garden gift card for dinner. Yum!

 Future plans I'm looking forward to
A little spring break trip next week

Kid Funny
 Rory's first grade class is writing a book (which is being published and can be purchased by parents, of course) about their families. Rory's entry says something like "My mom's name is Melissa, my dad's name is Brian, my brother's name is Camden" and . . . . wait for it . . . . "We like to eat popcorn and watch something." 

I can pretty much guarantee that our kids watch the least amount of television of anyone else in their classroom, and that's what she says our family does. If Rory's teacher is reading, we "watch something" as a family like 1-2 times a week. Unless it's Olympics and then we spend unlimited hours in front of the TV. I will not admit how much TV I might watch at night after the kids are in bed.

Internet Funny

In the Kitchen
 Leftover chocolate chip banana bread, leftover sour cream noodle bake and some sandwich ingredients.

What I Wish Was in the Kitchen
garden fresh vegetables
and chocolate

 American Idol, The Voice, Survivor (such a train wreck this season but in the best possible way), Amazing Race (Go Brenchel), Parks and Recreation, The Heirs (2 episodes left) 

Trying to get back to reading some classics out loud to the kids so we've started Caddie Woodlawn. It has alot of words. My own spring break reading list includes the Lunar Chronicles trilogy.

Snacking on
Lots of sugar snap peas

 Spring break started today for the kids (Brian's break begins Monday), and I'm going to surprise them with a trip to the theater to see the Lego movie. We're also making a library run, supper at Olive Garden, and a trip to Hobby Lobby to make some purchases for our new church building. Did I mention I'm in charge of decor decisions for our brand new church? It's a bit intimidating, but exciting.

This is not a win-win photo situation right here. There's a reason I haven't dressed these 2 up and taken them out for something official in a very long time.


There's a time in my parenting career when I would have pushed and pushed for the right picture, but I'd like to think I'm learning a bit as time goes on. I gave up after these 2 shots and called it good.

Happy Friday (and spring break)!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday 3/13/14

This kid still makes this same face. If I were super motivated, I'd go get a picture of it. Since that would involve me tearing him away from playing with his sister (and they're currently not trying to kill each other), I'm going to just hold off.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Weather Switch-Up

I've thoroughly enjoyed sunny 70's the last several days, but because I am both an introvert and a northerner who happens to live in the south, this gray stormy Wednesday morning is right up my alley. The sun makes me feel happy and more productive. It also makes me feel guilty for doing anything but be productive. The sound of the wind whistling through the house and the sight of storm clouds through my windows, however, makes me pour an extra cup of coffee and settle into the couch for some TV.

We went to a nearby park and walked yesterday.

I'm definitely going to have to come back here with my big girl camera and experiment with silhouette photos.

Her new favorite thing is wearing my extra pair of sunglasses.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Catch Up

Since I've had no less than 3 family members in the last 24 hours question the lack of blog posts, I feel like I might be in trouble if I don't give a quick update so here's a brief (or not so brief) rundown of what we've been up to. It's not exciting, so don't hold your breath!

I didn't blog Thursday, because it was snow day #4, and, well, I thought I might complain if I blogged, and I did not want to complain about having my family all home under the same roof. It was actually the first day the kids weren't super thrilled about being home. We made an emergency trip to the library (saw a wreck happen in route), and those books carried them (and me) the rest of the day.

The kids had school Friday, and even though Brian had been off the previous 4 days, he had already scheduled a personal day to go to a doctor's appointment with me. We spent the day in Nashville just browsing (as in, we spent a ridiculous amount of time in World Market, TJ Maxx, and Marshals), ate lunch at The Cookery (if you're keeping track, that's twice for me in 7 days), and then met with the genetic counselor at Vanderbilt. With the exception of the appointment, it was a leisurely, sunny day with my husband.

I've been tested twice before for the BRCA1 and 2 genes (negative both times), but Vanderbilt wanted to run their own tests. After I tested positive for a BRCA2 variation, they did a full panel of 24 tests which would show a propensity to additional kinds of cancer. Thankfully, those all came back negative. The geneticist was disappointed because she was sure they would find a reason for my ovarian cancer diagnosis in those tests. Of course, it's a good thing to be negative because it means the rest of my family doesn't need to worry about further genetic testing.

After 4 snow days, Saturday was a pretty long day at home with the kids. Brian worked all day at church, and I have to say that it made for a boring day for the rest of us. You can only play so many games of Uno. Addison came over and spent the night. If it tells you anything about my mood, I didn't even drag out my camera.

Sunday was church, then I drove straight from church to the Nashville Children's Theater to meet a friend for the 2:00 showing of Number the Stars. Headed back home and collapsed onto the couch for some family viewing of The Amazing Race. Did I mention it was Daylight Savings weekend? 

I also made the crazy decision to cut out coffee over the weekend. The caffeine hangover is insane and certainly not conducive to patient parenting or happy blogging, if you know what I mean. Last night my sister talked me into just cutting back instead of cutting it out, and I think that might be a better idea.

This will be an uneventful week for us until Thursday when the kids start spring break. The following couple of weeks are pretty busy so instead of lamenting all these boring slow days, I should probably soak them in.

A few pics from Friday/Saturday.

I am telling you, The Cookery is so delicious. This spinach dip with homemade tortilla chips is amazing.

I had the coffee-rubbed pork lettuce wraps. So good.

Brian had some kind of Aussie burger that had everything but the kitchen sink on it.

There is a new Jeni's near the hospital so we kind of had to go there after our appointment.

The winter flavors all based on trees - I do love Jeni's, but these were not my favorite. I ended up choosing Askinosie Dark Milk Chocolate and Savannah Buttermint.

They were laughing because I told them to scoot closer so I could take the picture and they refused because "we're not a couple!"

Liz and I didn't mind to scoot closer.

The 4 Hale girls ovoo'd (a.k.a. video chatted) for almost an hour Saturday morning. As you can see, my mom is the only one dressed and ready for the day.

Our weather is ridiculously pretty. Sunny and 70's (which means it's time to turn on the AC in my house). Tomorrow is supposed to be winter again.