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Friday, February 24, 2017

Favorite Things

So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 
Mark out a straight path for your feet 
so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.  
- Hebrews 12:12-13

While last week's chemo recovery took me all the way back around to this week's treatment, this week's recovery has been a different story with minimal side effects. Hurray!

So because it's been an uneventful week, how about a few favorite things? I'll share mine; you share yours.

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I discovered Jess Frank via Shannan Martin's blog, and I want these curtains in black (fabric designed by Jess Frank) for my living/dining area in the worst way. I think they are just made for my house. And Her colorful floral canvases speak to me. Just beautiful!

I have never watched YouTube videos in my life (except for the occasional carpool karaoke or Tonight Show), but I have been obsessed with makeup tutorials these past few weeks. Like staying up until all hours of the night watching tutorials that tell me what kind of anti-aging products I should be using to get rid of the ever-increasing and ever-present fine lines and wrinkles that are showing up at an alarming rate around my eyes and mouth. I did not know that 41 was going to hit my face so hard! I feel incredibly embarrassed to give you a few YouTube regulars: Tati, Sazan Hendrix, HotandFlashy, Emilynoel83 and many more. 

The Kurafuchi Etsy shop sells the most adorable petite jewelry. And by petite, I mean incredibly teeny tiny. These necklaces would be the perfect size for a little girl. Or a short adult with a short neck (me!). They are the perfect size to fit neatly in the small space between the top of a t-shirt and the base of the neck. These are the two I have: gold pineapple and minimalist silver delicate bead necklace.

Our Friday morning Bible Study has been such a blessing. It is a wonderful, motivating, precious thing to gather with a group of women who have a heart for God. To share blessings and burdens. I think groups like this don't come along often, and I'm so grateful to be a part of this one. Tonight, we're bringing our families into the mix and sharing a meal.

Jeni's had a flash sale on half/price pints and we might have picked up a few for rough days. Y.U.M.

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I discovered Essie gel couture polish this fall and I kind of laughed when I realized this week that I have a clear preference for all shades of purple. Save your Ulta coupons for this polish because it's a little pricier than traditional bottles.

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Favorite pics this week

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Five on Friday (Feb. 17, 2017)

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; 
Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. -Psalms 27:13-14

1. If you haven't seen the movie Hidden Figures yet, Brian and I both thought it was outstanding. I can't wait for the kids to see it, both for the historical aspect of the space program as well as the challenges race and gender present. Getting out the door Saturday afternoon for dinner and a movie felt like a minor miracle, and we came home to seriously feuding children and a 13-year old boy who had managed to spend several hours locked in his handcuffs. We have giggled about this all week long. About the handcuffs, not the feuding.

2. Becky sent us a free HelloFresh box and I can't wait to give it a try (our box arrives just in time for next weekend). If you want to try it out yourself, click my referral link for $40 off your first box and I will receive a $20 credit. I've only seen rave reviews!

3. Scan results came in Wednesday and the bad news is the cancer is not shrinking. The good news is the cancer is stable and I will continue with the current treatment. It's hard not to feel disappointment that all of the time at the doctor and sick days are not having a measurable result although I did find out later that my CA125 has decreased considerably since November, which is definitely positive.

One extra special blessing this week was the barista at our local coffee shop (Golly G's if you're anywhere near us) who asked if she could pray over me Tuesday morning. It was such a special thing for her to do and a needed reminder that I should be a lot more willing to offer a public prayer when I see someone hurting. It's much easier to just whisper that prayer in my head, but what a blessing if I just took the extra 60 seconds to pray in their presence.

4. Friends, we are in a hard parenting season. I'm not sure I could have imagined the challenges that have come our way at age 10 and 13. It's hard to know what is typical behavior and what is related to our life situation. Sometimes (like this week especially) I feel so burdened with the desire to get this right, full of fear that I might not get it right. Never in my life have I needed this much wisdom and grace and patience. Yesterday I found this blog post I had saved three years ago, and I desperately needed the encouragement (I have teared up every. single. time). Maybe it will encourage you as well.

5. Valentine's Day is never too big of a deal around here, but this might have been an all-time low since I served leftover chili for the third night in a row (Becky says at least it was red). Between doctor's appointments, late basketball practices, etc., there was no time for romance! This chocolate (Brian gave me, Rory, and Camden a whole lot of chocolate) redeemed the day, although now I must fight the urge to eat it all day long.

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You can't help but smile at these two.
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Chemo recovery is sketchy this week so I've canceled my plans for today in hopes that I can go to Camden's last basketball game of the season tonight. My only goals for this weekend are to watch the newest episode of This Is Us and to finish Leaving Lucy Pear (which is excellent). Happy weekend!


Friday, February 10, 2017

Five on Friday (Feb 10, 2017)

1. Because of lingering sickness, Rory and I had an extra day at home this week (okay, I had 2 extra days at home). It's not how I hoped to spend my week off chemo, but sometimes you just don't get to be in control.

When I look at this picture, it makes me smile. I sure hope Rory remembers this day as fondly as I will because we sure had a good time convalescing together. We lounged and drank coffee; she spent several hours reading my blog (I haven't printed 2016 yet so this was her first time to read it); we painted our nails and binge watched Amazon's Just Add Magic series. So did I miss 2 days of work off my paycheck? Yes. Was it worth it? Also yes.

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2. Brian and I decided to do a little Facebook fast this week. I admit to jumping on during my sick days as well as a couple of evenings at midnight when I wasn't sleeping. Otherwise, I would say it's been a success. I have felt more present for both Brian and the kids and I have definitely felt less resentment towards Brian's device in general. To be clear, neither of us think social media is wrong, but we felt like our family schedule is crazy busy and maybe needed a bit of a reset.

3. Camden had a choir competition Thursday this week. No word yet on how they placed, but he sure had a good time. This boy does love him some music. After a 6-week break from guitar lessons, he's back at it.

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4. While we have done family devotions for many years (at times with more regularity than others), I've always wanted to incorporate Proverbs into our daily life. This is the week we decided to make it happen. So after supper, we all pull out our Bibles and read one chapter of Proverbs (there are 31 chapters in Proverbs and generally 31 days/month). The plan is for this to be an ongoing thing so no problem if we miss a night or two; we'll hit it next month or the next or the next. Listen, I would like to tell you that our kids greeted this idea with stellar excitement (and to be honest, Rory did). The truth is that there was some annoying feet-tapping, staring off into the distance, ugly side glances at siblings, not as much participation as I would have liked, and heretical interpretation of scripture by Rory. These evenings required more than a little long suffering from the adults. But it felt so good to gather and study together.

5. Although this was my off week for chemo, I still had a half day's worth of appointments on Wednesday. Most importantly, it was time for a scan. These scans always hold weight, but now that I'm on a clinical trial, it is crucial that my cancer doesn't grow (okay, it's always crucial that cancer doesn't progress). As long as the cancer is stable, I continue with this particular treatment. And since we believe this particular treatment is the best option, good results are important (okay, always important). Fingers crossed.

On today's agenda is my Friday morning Bible Study; basketball game tonight. Tomorrow Brian and I have a date scheduled and I have everything crossed that we'll get to actually go on that date. Sunday is all church related with regular services in the morning and a youth group fundraising event (a Valentine's Hawaiian Luau) in the evening.

I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people.
But let them not return to their foolish ways. 
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, so our land will be filled with his glory.
Unfailing love and truth have met together.
Righteousness and peace have kissed! 
Truth springs up from the earth and righteousness smiles down from heaven.
Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings.
Our land will yield its bountiful harvest.
Righteousness goes as a herald before him, preparing the way for his steps.
Ps. 85:8-13


Friday, February 03, 2017

Five on Friday (Feb 3, 2017)

1. Camden's team won the JV championship last weekend, and he left this morning for an overnight tournament in Memphis. He was very excited, but I sensed a bit of anxiety at staying overnight in a hotel without us. I think there are 4 boys to a room, and I feel very sorry for whoever sleeps with him because the boy does literal flips in his sleep as well as requires multiple pillows and blankets piled "just so" around him.

I told him earlier this week how happy I was for him to have these opportunities to participate in school sports but that I miss him being around! Basketball is over in 2 weeks and I expect life to slow down a bit (I think I just jinxed myself with that thought). When he is home, he is outside playing basketball (even after dark with a light rigged up) on our jacked up basketball goal. Is it helpful to shoot 100's of shots when your backboard is crazy?

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2. Chemo this week was uneventful other than Dr. C was in emergency surgery so I saw a nurse practitioner and a new oncologist who both looked all of 20 (I realize that is a statistical impossibility, but they looked so young!). Because of the pre-meds I receive each week, the hospital recommends that I have someone available to drive me home. I am not sensitive to medicine in the slightest, however, and went by myself and drove myself home with no trouble this week. Brian (and my mom) are very against me doing these appointments on my own so I am trying to honor their wishes by allowing others to drive me when possible, but since this is an every week thing, the compromise is that they will let me do it alone when necessary.

I have good reason to believe this chemo is effective, but will reserve getting my hopes up too much until my scan next Wednesday (results on Feb. 15).

3. Rory had the flu this week. Yikes! Brian took off 2 days to take care of her and while I managed to avoid the flu, I have strep throat. Ugh. I sent Rory back to school today after 3 days off and am spending the day in bed myself. I think antibiotics and a restful day will get me back on track.

My mom returned home this week and, unfortunately, had to travel with the flu (she and Rory got sick on the same day). Her flight was canceled in Chicago and she had to wait for my dad to drive the 3 hours to pick her up. I feel so bad that her trip ended on such a bad note. She returns in March for another long visit, and the house feels a little empty without her.

This girl was so miserable, and she doesn't handle sickness well. Doctors orders were to quarantine her in the bedroom. Every time I visited her (with masks on - also doctors orders), she cried.
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4. One of my sweet chemo partners from back in the days of 8-hr chemo days in Dr. W's office died this week, and I feel such a sadness in my heart. Barbara was a kind woman who was forever sending me encouraging emails, texts, and forwarding me notices of community cancer events. Connecting with Barbara (and Emily and Glenda) and having women in my life walking through those hard days together were part of what made those months bearable. I will never forget meeting Barbara for the first time and then realizing as we left that Barbara's sister and Becky had been connecting in the waiting room while they each waited for their sister to finish treatment.

5. A few TV/music/reading suggestions:
  • La La Land was delightful, and I'm still thinking about the characters and music. 
  • Mom and I binge-watched Poldark last week, and I definitely recommend it. It's a little grittier than Downton Abbey, but in a tasteful way. 
  • I've been listening to Deep Work playlist (very soothing and mellow) on Spotify, the La La Land sound track (joyful), and Peter Bence (gorgeous piano music).
  • Audiobooks aren't generally my thing for some reason, but Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson was excellent.
  • Dismantling White Supremacy Begins With Me by Shannan Martin (whose beautiful words always challenge me) and 10 Ways to Help Refugees by Melanie Dale. Both articles are worth your time.
Picture of all the girls from last weekend
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Because of God's tender mercy, 
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, 
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death 
and to guide us to the path of peace. 
Luke 1:78-79