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Friday, May 25, 2018

Five on Friday (May 25, 2018)

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! -Psalms 34:8

1. When I got to work Monday, there were balloons, a gift card, shampoo, conditioner, and mascara waiting for me. I am already using the mascara even though my lashes are teeny tiny. Other updates as a result of 6 weeks now with no chemo - I'm back in my contacts (chemo was affecting my eyes), toenails are still falling off right and left (this is not an improvement). Fatigue is still present, of course, but so much better. The best improvement is that the cancer-related pain I have experienced since October 2016 is improving at a rapid rate. I'm continuing to have scar tissue inflammation from my old stomach port (I had it removed all the way back in July 2011).

2. My kids are a solid week and a half into summer break and I've been telling anyone who will listen how great they are. There is giggling and playing, fake fights (their current favorite), soccer competitions up in our tiny bonus room. They are sudden compadres, and I love it.

3. On Brian's last day of school, he met several other teachers at 6:00 a.m. for a little trip down the river in a kayak, which was a pretty sweet way to end the year.

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4. Our summer break is quickly filling up with nothing close to resembling vacation for the adults with 3 weeks of camp, sleepovers, VBS, church conventions in Arkansas, and library trips (my basket is currently overflowing with books off my "to read" list). Camden leaves Sunday afternoon for the high school week of church camp. I feel irrationally freaked out  nervous about this. High school? It was just last week that he was in kindergarten.

5. Camden is so funny. We spent two nights watching the 2-part American Idol finale which inspired extra guitar practice. Several rounds into NBA playoffs and he can hardly stand it that we're 5 months away from his own basketball season. While the summer heat is slowing down the evening basketball practice, he did beat his dad earlier this week. Personally, I can hardly be bothered to walk to and from the car in the heat much less play a sport.

Our weekend plans are appropriate for the first weekend of summer break - shopping for shorts, swimming suits, and other summer-related clothing, binge-watching the last 3 episodes of Survivor, dinner with friends, and ice cream. Always. Rory and I also have plans to watch the new Little Women mini-series while Camden is gone to camp.

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Five on Friday (May 18, 2018)

You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. -Psalm 139:5

1. We celebrated Mother's Day twice. Saturday night our family used a gift card for supper at a local Italian restaurant (and a free dinner always tastes better). It was absolutely delicious and I brought home tiramisu, which is my favorite dessert. Camden was so irritated because he had made arrangements to stop at a little bakery to bring me a piece on Sunday so I burst his bubble by ordering it Saturday.  I told him it's the thought that counts. I volunteered to make Mother's Day lunch for everyone and so we spent the afternoon at my parent's house with my grandparents, Liz, and Addison. Camden had the idea of making chicken salad with some fancy-ish sides and cake. Brian gave me tulips and my favorite summer perfume; Rory gave me a laminated picture of her face. :)

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 2. I'm having a hard time believing that the school year is over. I have a high schooler, friends. How is that possible? Here are 2 pictures from the final morning before school (they've taken to playing basketball or soccer before leaving). Yesterday I found them outside chatting on the back porch. How long will this last?

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3. Brian's last day of school is Wednesday. The kids and I have already enjoyed a slow Wednesday and Thursday. It's an abrupt change of pace from frenetic to full-on rest. I'm finding great joy in replying "no" to all of the automated text reminders from Vanderbilt - a constant reminder of how much time is consumed as a cancer patient. I've already had several people assume that since I'm no longer receiving chemotherapy my body has automatically jumped back to 100%. While I wish that were true, it just doesn't happen that easily. I'm looking forward to this summer's slower pace and hoping to begin moving back to 100%. But already 100%? That's crazy talk.

4. This weekend I'm attending a women's conference with mom and Liz (and friends from church). Lisa Harper is the speaker (I love her) and Ellie Holcomb is the musician (I also love her). I think we're all really looking forward to it.

5. My Starbucks coffee order has moved from an iced blonde cappuccino to a nitro cold brew with a splash (or two) of half and half. Do you know it comes without ice? Definitely ask for ice.

So the weekend's agenda includes a conference for me, yard sale fundraiser for Brian and the kids, birthday party for Rory's friend at the skating rink, and maybe a movie for the adults if we can sneak it into the schedule. Happy Friday!

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Freedom

I went into my appointments this week prepared to argue my way out of further chemotherapy. Turns out, my oncologist needed no convincing, and my continued good scan results spoke for me. I don't think we can ever say I'm cancer free, but this may be is as close to it as I've ever been. Dr. C suggested we put a stop to chemo before I could put all my arguments to good use.

Back in December 2016 when I started this new regimen, we all expected it to be for forever so to have this freedom after all the time, hard work, and - let's be honest - suffering is amazing. I'm left with chronic pain, neuropathy that may be permanent, and a whole lot of fatigue but I'm looking forward to trying to find my way back to normal. My first accomplishment? Growing eyelashes which are very slowly beginning to make an appearance.

And want to hear something kind of insane? I'm still writing scripture daily (except when I'm not) and Tuesday's passage was Jeremy 29:11-13 which reads "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me." One hundred percent not a coincidence this passage were assigned to Tuesday.

(We celebrated with Jeni's, of course.)
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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Favorites

I don't know about you, but I could use something a little more on the lighthearted side. So here are a few of my recent favorites in all sorts of categories.

Drugstore Makeup (or drugstore-ish price range): Loreal Pro Glow foundation, L'oreal Colour Riche lipstick in vintage rosewood (really sheer and lip balmy), Pixi liquid lipstick in Really Rose, Persona Identity eye palette (neutral but perfect)

Not Drugstore Makeup: Soft Glam eye palette, Buxom Lip Cream in Cherry Flip, Dior Lip Glow, Laneige lip sleeping mask

Spring perfume: You by Glossier (really light and clean smelling)

Summer perfume: Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder (smells like suntan lotion in all the best ways)

Books: As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner (the author has several more book so I'm definitely going to look them up); The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah, Something Like Happy by Eva Woods

TV: We just can't quit American Idol even if the new season hasn't quite held up to the original; Rory loves The Kicks and Just Add Magic (both on Amazon Prime); we all watch Survivor; I like The Good Place; Brian watches Designated Survivor and BlackList.

Instagram accounts:
  • meredithtoering is a young woman living in China who is the director of Morning Star, a nonprofit organization for orphans with severe heart disease. Her account is inspiring and hopeful as well as funny. 
  • LauraIz (from the book Naptime with Joey) - mom who dresses her daughter up and takes her picture while she's sleeping. This little girl is Rory all over. I'm not super interested in other people's kids so it cracks me up that I'm watching a 2-year old do normal things like eat and nap and play at the park.
  • johnbcrist. No explanation needed.
  • JamieBGolden - always good for a solid laugh out loud kind of laugh
Music: Goodbye Road with Johnnyswim, Drew Holcomb, Penny and Sparrow, Reckless Love by Cory Asbury, Adam Young instrumental

Podcast episodes: The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey episode #190 (Jackie Hill Perry), That Sounds Fun episode #73 with Alex Seeley

Random favs: watching sports with Camden (we're in the middle of basketball playoffs right now), watching Rory dance in the living room, walks with Brian, Voxer messages with mom and my 2 sisters

Friday, May 11, 2018

Five on Friday (May 11, 2018)

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. - Hebrews 4:12-13

Another busy week, many more tears and tough situations. Also so many blessings. Such is life.

1. The school's Broadway-themed spring concert was Tuesday night and both kids were super excited. Excited enough to sing The Greatest Showman (not broadway-themed) together on the way to the concert, and it's not often they happily sing at the same time. Rory had a part in Never Grow Up from Peter Pan and Camden had the main solo in One More Day from Les Miserables (not for the faint of heart or in the midst of puberty, btw).

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2. I read the best book this week called Something Like Happy. It was so sad but also funny and hopeful and I cried a whole lot of tears, almost on a Fault In Our Stars level of sobbing but not quite. Definitely worth reading.

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3. I'm more of a local coffee-shop kind of girl rather than Starbucks lover although it is pretty tough to beat gift cards and mobile ordering. My current Starbucks order is an iced blonde cappuccino with cold foam. I ask for extra ice and whole milk and then add a healthy (as in generous, not healthy) shot of maple syrup when I get home.

4. This is the final week of 5th and 8th grade, which is hard to believe.  Kids have a full day Monday and exams Tuesday/Wednesday. Camden had a big Rube Goldberg project, which consumed a solid part of last weekend, but he finished it, mostly didn't lose his cool, and the parents survived.

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5. It's been 5 full weeks since my last chemo treatment and there are still no eyelashes in sight. Well, that's not completely true. This morning (after my daily examination), I noticed a few teeny tiny white lashes. I would appreciate all prayers for eyelashes. Just kidding, but I'll take prayers about next week. I have literally SIX appointments, not including labs, and I am scheduled to restart chemo Wednesday. I'm not ready and not sure I can make myself do it. I guess, depending on my scan results, no one can technically make me continue chemo but I would certainly appreciate some sort of definite direction regarding continuing on or coming to a stop altogether.

We had some company this weekend (while Rory was recovering which explains her look).

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Saturday, May 05, 2018

Five Things

Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don't worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong! - I Peter 3:13-17

I feel as if I haven't had a second to myself this whole week, with the exception of Wednesday evening but my Saturday opened up unexpectedly when the cold Rory has had all week blossomed into a high fever. We were scheduled to attend our church's spring event for the women (think old school mother/daughter banquet with a different name) but now Rory and I are snuggled up on the couch watching episode after episode of The Kicks. You will certainly not hear me complaining about the unexpected quiet day.

So 5 things, but not Five on Friday since today is Saturday.

1. Brian and Camden are with the youth group at a teen leadership conference this weekend. The many youth group and leadership opportunities are a huge advantage of living smack dab in the middle of the Bible belt.

2. I'm the only one in the house not struggling with cold and allergies. Instead, I'm resisting the much too warm temperature by cranking the AC. Unfortunately, my neuropathy continues to plague me despite the chemo break. Swollen feet also seem to be a part of the deal, which is not awesome.

3. I used up a Christmas Barnes and Noble gift card over the weekend, and these 4 books arrived on my doorstep:
4. Camden and Rory both advanced to the national competition this summer during last weekend's state competition. Camden in Bible memorization and vocal solo; Rory in children's choir and drama monologue so I guess we will be making an unplanned trip to Little Rock, Arkansas in July.

5. Mom and dad, Liz and Addison came over Thursday night for sloppy joes (Pioneer Woman's recipe, of course) and a game night. Dad and Camden watched the final minutes of the Cavs game and the evening was completely uneventful - just family time. We don't make time for these simple evenings often enough!

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