Tuesday, December 27, 2011

long overdue

i have been meaning to post some of these pictures for a while now. this past july we celebrated our 5th anniversary. i was contacted by our sweet wedding photographer via facebook about doing an anniversary photo shoot with Charis at the location of our wedding. his name is Joe Deese. i first met him at my friend, nicole's wedding. not that we got married so long ago but we missed the whole digital photography bandwagon. he did strictly film. and i really liked him so we had him shoot our wedding. five years later he has switched to digital and gave us a ton of pictures from our anniversary shoot. it was fun to be back at Independence Park with our daughter. we are in a very unique place 5 years later and i was so thankful that he wanted to capture this time for us. there really are so many pictures but here are a few of my favorites from Joe.

literally the last picture

yes, we let her play in the water

i love this cause she is most cuddly with dollie

sweet kisses

i LOVE this b/c of her giggly face

a pretty good family shot

this is so sweet..a girl and her dollie

i was really excited about these pictures but once i got them i was a bit disappointed because i don't like the way i photograph anymore. (nothing to do with Joe) i mean, it's not like i was a model to begin with or anything. but not only are there more imperfections these days, i can really see them in pictures. and sometimes that's hard. but i also want to document as much of this time as possible. so, of course, in the end i love these. i love that he was generous enough to do this for us on our anniversary. and it was fun to be in the place we took vows and made promises to each other about "for better and worse, sickness and health." those really matter right now. and we have this amazing little girl to live life with and that's pretty awesome.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

NYC part 3

some dog posing for his Christmas pic

we did so much in new york. so much. and i'm so glad we did. now i want to go back and chill. or be more "picky" about which neighborhood we'd hang out in. like chelsea with the high line and art galleries or central park. or maybe just take a shopping trip. just kidding, that would never happen. so i have a couple more things to tell about our trip. and i'm sure i'll still leave something out. because like i said, we did so much.

the food
i have to admit that i was a little sad or disappointed that we didn't go to new york with more ideas or recs for restaurants. we love food. i like to think we are foodies. we enjoy different kinds of foods. except i don't like mushrooms. and adam will really eat anything. anyway. i had a couple suggestions but it'd be in a part of the city we weren't near at a time we were hungry. so most of our meals were just a gamble. i thought it'd be like new orleans where you can eat anywhere and it's going to be pretty good. it's not like that. a hole in the wall in new york is just that, a hole in the wall. don't get me wrong we had some good food. i think i just expected more from new york in the food area. our first stop was the tourist trap of little italy. we stopped in for a lunch special of pizza and glass of wine for $10. the pizza was really good. the tomato sauce was legit. and i know because i'm half italian. and it was a deal. we shared the pizza and got another glass of wine, which cost $8.75. so technically the pizza was only $1.25. crazy. some friends made us a reservation at a bobby flay restaurant which was a really great meal with good wine too. they had a side of brussel sprouts made with pomegranate seeds. so delicious. on saturday morning we stumbled upon this cute organic bakery in the "cool" part of town. the server was a bit pretentious. the menu had organic fruit, cheddar and chive scone with fresh ricotta cheese and soft boiled eggs. the coffee was good and came in your own little ceramic pot. it was so cute and we figured we found a local gem. then as we walked around the rest of the city the next 2 days we started seeing more of them. it was like their panera. i felt a little fooled but it was still quaint even if it was a chain. on sunday we were crunched for time because we were trying to see the Met before the Tenament. and it was around lunch time and we needed to get something to eat so we walked and walked. we came upon this great italian bistro. and we almost went to dean & deluca instead. gasp. i'm so glad we didn't. this meal was amazing. i had a tomato rustica pasta that was so yummy and flavorful. adam had a sort of spinach gnocchi with mushrooms. our caesar salad was freshly made table side. this was probably our favorite meal all weekend. it was so good. after the Tenament they gave us a map with food recs in the lower east side. we wanted to try dumplings so we went to this hip joint that was full of hipsters and locals. we tried both fried and boiled dumplings which were both very good. we also tried a noodle dish that i wasn't crazy about. i think they are known for the dumplings so it's always safe to stick with what they are known for. note to self. i talked about the food tour in brooklyn. the last stop on the tour was a gastropub where we had cajun boiled peanuts and rosemary garlic fries. both were so good. since we ended up staying there so long we ate dinner and i had a lamb burger that was divine. so when it comes down to it we did have some yummy food. but at the same time i expected more from a city like new york. what a snob!

the $1.25 pizza

my individual coffee

scone with fresh ricotta

food truck in harlem with yummy falafal wrap

a very yummy tuna tartar

a vodka flight at a russian place we won't probably go back to

the show
when you are going to new york every tells you that you MUST go to a show. you must. i started looking at shows online before we left. they have so many. and they are pretty pricey. but we had to see a show. my first choice was the book of mormon, but for the cheapest ticket at $300 i didn't see that as a possibility. we knew we could get tickets to shows the day of at discounted prices. there were so many options...did we want a play or musical or a catchy entertainment piece like blue man group? we decided we wanted something that told a story. and so when we went to the TKTS booth we opted for Rent. i'd always wanted to see it. and i always wanted to see and hear their signature song. it was really good. i'm always amazed at the giftedness of the people that do this. they sing act and dance. and some of them are really really good. plus i did like the story of the community of friends.

a crochet buggy outside the art galleris

a banana seat bike!!

this may wrap up our PATWA NYC EXTRAVAGANZA. i cannot say enough how humbled we are that so many people love us enough to send us on this little (big) adventure. it was a blast and perfectly timed. we had a super great time. i'm thinking we'll continue to need some "get-a-ways" but i don't think we'll get to do something like this again. so thank you to all of you that sent us on this trip. adam and i are going to go through all our pics and video soon and update our travel journal so we can remember the fun time we had together. thanks again!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

i have to admit that when we were going to new york i wasn't really hoping to see gossip girl being filmed or standing in the cold with a poster for the Today show, but what i was secretly hoping to see was some Law & Order. if you know me, or have ever lived with me, you know i love law & order (da-da). i can watch any type (regular, SVU, criminal intent) any time even if i've seen it before. so, when we passed by the court house i got a little excited and if we walked down a street that looked like a place a "vic" would have been found, i kind of hoped we'd see Olivia. but it never happened. even still it was cool to be in a place where they film one of my favorite shows.

the court house where lots of L&O get filmed i'm sure

the brooklyn bridge & food tour
one of the first things i heard to do was walk the brooklyn bridge. so before we left i looked at what to do in brooklyn and found a local food tour. it was the one thing i really booked for us. we started of in manhattan and joined the other hundreds on the bridge. and i must say it was fascinating to see a different view of the city for every few yards. the walk was quicker than i anticipated too. after a cool morning the day turned out beautiful and sunny, which made for a perfect day to be outside. we took a ton of pics of the bridge, the buildings and ourselves. it was truly a great way to see the city. once in brooklyn we walked by a famous pizza place but the line was too long. so we wondered around some since we had time before our food tour. finding a taxi in brooklyn was a bit tricky but we found one and headed to the Carroll Gardens neighborhood. we met our guide and it was us and just one other couple. basically we visited a handful of places from a southern inspired restaurant to a cheese shop to a cookie shop to a gastropub. a lot of the tour was walking through the neighborhoods and learning about it's history and buildings, which was definitely a great part of the tour. i mean, i thought there could have been more food involved but it was still worth it. at our final stop we ended up hanging out and watching the LSU game. it was still early and we sat at the bar with a local named Dave, who happened to be from Georgia (so he was going for UGA in the game). we ended up there for the rest of the game and night talking to Dave. it was fun to share our stories and actually connect with someone on a personal level, as opposed to being a tourist. and to top it all off, he secretly paid our bill. he left before we knew this and could thank him. we were blown away by his kindness. but mostly it was just fun hanging out with him.

a little artsy shot of the bridge

maybe a place people leave a lock for good luck?

manhattan from the bridge...new world trade building

the park
i have always been fascinated by central park. i love on tv when they show a sky-view of the city there is this huge green space smack dab in the middle of that crazy building mess. so, this was definitely on our lists of places to go. and i think we did it right. we rented bikes for 2 hours and road around the whole park (just about). we took a break on the northwest side near harlem so adam could have a falafal wrap from a food truck, which was freshly made and divine. it's amazing how much there is within this park. we weren't allowed to bike on some of the walking paths but i think we were still able to see a lot. the weather turned out perfect and it was just lovely to take some time from walking and ride a bike.

our only pic from the park...at some reservoir

the washington square park
one of adam's favorite movies and one we like to watch around Christmas is When Harry Met Sally. if you don't know or remember the movie....watch it. well, the place Sally drops Harry off in new york is washington square park. we had no idea where it was, in fact, we thought it might be at central park. on sunday night after our long day of adventure we headed back out and decided just to walk. i think we were actually going to check out the holiday markets that turned out to be closed. but we ended up walking by NYU and that area then stumbled upon this park. and across the park we saw this big monument, which had to be the one from the movie. not only was the park low key and speckled with a mix of hipsters, students and homeless folks, we had found the one thing from the movie we had really wanted to see. and all by accident. and we got to enjoy a quiet night just walking around and soaking up the city together. it was wonderful.

the monument of Harry's drop off

so, i'm thinking i'll have another post and then one or two with just pics b/c we took so many pics. so many. thanks for letting me share about our trip. it really was so so much fun.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

leaky eyes and fat arm

so i just got kicked off my chemo trial, which consisted of a drug called taxotere. how i got kicked off, you ask. well, apparently my cancer has outsmarted the drug. after 6 rounds it's stopped working. but i'm confident we'll find something else to outsmart the cancer.


so, after "battling" this thing called cancer for 18 months now it's clear there is more to cancer and its treatment. i mean, when you get the news initially that you have cancer you really have no idea what's coming. there are layers upon layers. with chemo there are the typical side effects like losing your hair and fatigue. well, with this particular drug there is what i like to call, leaky eyes. i don't think that's the technical term for it. basically about 2 weeks after getting the drug my eyes literally leak for about 5-7 days. it's crazy. and in big box stores or wind it's especially really bad. they just leak. it's not painful and it's not really that embarrassing, but it's a hassle to have to constantly wipe my eyes. the good thing is that i could be crying and blame it on the leaky eyes. it's just one of those things you don't anticipate in the beginning.

the other thing you don't anticipate early on is what i like to refer to as fat arm. the technical term is lymphedema. when i had my double mastectomy i had 28 lymph nodes removed from under my right arm. i've learned a bit more about my body since this whole thing. and what i've learned is that our lymph nodes, which run throughout our body, help move fluid (very basic knowledge). well, with 28 gone the fluid doesn't get moved and therefore will get sort of trapped in my arm and cause it to swell. hence the fat arm. this is something that is not life-threatening, but could get bad; painful/uncomfortable. but for me it's way more vain than this. i don't want fat arm! one thing that helps is to wear what is called a compression sleeve. it's a flesh colored thick stretchy thing that goes from your fingers to shoulder. it's very tight and i guess it helps squeeze the fluid back out (since my lymph nodes are there to do their job). this thing is hot and i do feel weird wearing it. i mean, most people that wear them are old or obese. i'm neither. but i also don't want really bad fat arm. i decided that i need a glove too so i went to this special store to talk to the lady about getting a glove. she said i'd need to get a different kind of sleeve and have the glove custom made, both costing over $350. seriously?! i'm going to wait and instead go back to the rehabilitation place and get some lymphedema therapy (i.e. massage) for a bit. That really does help. so, if you see a weird flesh colored thing on my arm/hand it's my fat arm defense sleeve, i'm not trying to make some new fashion statement.

it's just been so interesting (is this really the right word?) to see what evolves in this world of cancer. there are so many things that are never "public" and that you don't think about happening to a person. some are very scary and some are just annoying. but they all play a part in this journey. i mean, it's bad enough not to have hair and breasts, but fat arm too?! come on!! but there are a few "benefits" like not having to shave.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

NYC part 1

(yes, there will be multiple posts)

i'm not sure where to start. so let's start at the beginning. as i've said before we were graciously given a trip to NYC by our friends, family and even strangers. it's been incredibly humbling to see how many people love us and are willing to send us on this extravagant weekend away. it came at a great time and we had a blast. we came back with over 300 pictures. i know, crazy. thanks to digital. the best way to describe NYC is like drinking from a fire hose. for real. that place is nuts! let me get started....

the subway
oh the subway. i like to think i'm good with directions. and i actually am. well, the NYC subway totally squashed that! the whole thing is quite fascinating...not just the many trains going in all sorts of directions but the actual stops can be huge (and confusing). it just took us a few days (out of our 4) to figure out which way was downtown and which way was uptown. there were a few times of jumping off a train b/c we were headed in the wrong direction. the first day i was super frustrated about this, but eventually learned to let-it-go. what i like about the subway is that everyone uses them. everyone. the fancy lady with her bag on her forearm to the poor, stinky homeless man in the corner. no one makes eye contact except us "genteel southern tourists" and everyone has ear buds in their ears. it's a mad house. and i loved using it, especially when i finally got good at it.

the views
my favorite view was the one i got from the plane as we flew past the island. so coo. there is a lot in NYC. duh. but you hear about and see these different places on t.v. or from friends but can't really wrap your head around it until you are there. i've always loved the view of the city with central park smack dab in the middle of this "concrete jungle" and it was just as amazing in person. our first night we did the Empire State Building, which was so cool. we got a free audio tour which was kinda cliche b/c our "tour guide" was Tony. it was amazing to see the other tall buildings and all those lights. i kept thinking what that blackout must have been like. insane. we took a boat to Lady Liberty and the view of the city from the water was ridiculous. and seeing the statue up close was incredible. we stopped by the Rockefeller Center tree too and i have to admit we were both disappointed by it's size. the rink too. it just looks so massive on t.v. and up close it's just a really big tree. but, i'm not trying to be a party pooper, it was still cool to see in person. walking the High Line for a handful of blocks in the Meatpacking district was super cool. it's built on an old railroad line, you can see the old tracks. and you get an "above street level view" of the city.

the museums & galleries
as you know adam and i are very cultured people...we enjoy good food, good art and good stories. thankfully new york is full of all of these. our first stop for this "culture," if you will, was the Chelsea/Meatpacking district early saturday morning. we were crunched for time but were able visit a handful of galleries from Annie Lebowitz photos to bags of aluminum cans to great oil paintings to Russian propaganda posters. all very cool and unique. (although i'm still not sure about the aluminum cans...seriously?) this was adam's favorite part. on sunday we quickly visited the MET, which is giant and has lots of different kinds of art, but it was cool to see Picasso and Dali and other unique works of art. the last museum we visited was the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. basically there is this old tenement (apartment building) that had been vacant since 1935. when they stumbled upon it in the 90's they found everything inside like it was from the early 1900's, so they began to research the families that came to america and lived in this particular building. you can take a tour that tells the story of different families that lived there from it's building (i think early 1800's) to when it was closed. we took the "hard times" tour and learned about 2 immigrant families from the early 1800's and early 1900's. it was very cool. and a part of me felt akin to these folks, not because i'm an immigrant, but because we are going through "hard times" of ourselves and, like these families, are leaning into our community to get through.

okay i'm going to stop now b/c this is long...and i want to be able to tell you all about all the great stuff we got to do. it was really great and perfect timing for us to get away. thank you!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


our life is really full right now. and we have so much to be thankful for. it's cliche to only be (or at least just talk about it) thankful in the month of november, but i guess if there is a month that helps us remember, then that's great. i think since we've been going through stuff we are fortunate to be reminded often what we are thankful for.

so this "stuff" that we've been going through is at times pretty darn crappy. sometimes if i think about what our lives look like "on paper" it can be pretty depressing. however, i don't spend most of my time being depressed. (by no means is this my doing or because of any mantra that gets me out of bed each day...it's totally Jesus) God isn't going to allow that. there is something in the bible that says, "in all things, give thanks." so, does that mean "all things" = everything? i think it does.

does that mean that as i sit in my chair in an infusion room getting pumped full of a toxic chemical to give thanks? i think so. i'm thankful that my sweet and talkative nurse, amber, remembered my daughter's name and asked how she was doing (after only meeting me once before 3 weeks prior). i'm thankful for the smiling guy next to me who says hey and who makes no big deal that he drives to charlotte from atlanta every week so he can participate in a trial. i'm thankful for the opportunity to tell a nurse that what gets me through this is my faith. i'm thankful for the friends willing to rearrange their schedules and childcare to sit beside me for 3-4 hours.

does it mean that although i may never be able to have any more children to still give thanks? i think so. i am thankful for the surprise gift he gave me in little miss Charis Root who fills me with joy so many minutes of the day. i'm thankful that i am well enough to play with her and hold her and do bedtime with her and all the other things that take lots of energy to do with a 2 year old. i'm thankful that i get to witness her learning and growing as she tries out new words or tests her boundaries or observes her world and asks questions. i'm thankful to have been able to be pregnant and nurse at least for the time i had.

does it mean that after getting a Master's and job-hunting/networking for six months Adam is still working at a restaurant? i guess so. i'm thankful for the journey God has us on, but especially all that He is doing in Adam. it's amazing to watch my husband really hear from the Lord and live in the truth that he is His beloved. i'm thankful for the flexibility of his schedule that allows him to go to just about every appointment with me. i'm thankful that we are able to see God at work in the process and we aren't waiting for the job to happen to really experience Him.

does it mean that although my body may never look like the body of a woman again to still give thanks? yeah, probably. i'm thankful that God gave me a husband to love me in the midst of all this body issue stuff. i'm thankful that He still reminds me that i am created in His image. i'm thankful for the opportunity to learn more about what true beauty is and where it comes from. i'm thankful that sometimes i feel more brave than i did before.

does it mean that even though i was laid off from a job i loved i should still give thanks? yep, that too. i'm thankful for the way the Lord works even if it makes no sense at all to me. i'm thankful for the peace He gave me in the midst of my transition out of YL both professionally and personally. i'm thankful for the job i have now that puts me in the lives of a whole different demographic but still kind of doing relational ministry. i'm thankful for more time to be with my family and friends.

does it mean that i will apparently always have to be treated for cancer or at least live in the unknown of it's return (if it even goes away)? yes, duh. i'm thankful that God knows all that lies ahead for me. i'm thankful that for today i feel great and the cancer is responding to chemo and there is hope. i'm so thankful for hope. hope that there will be a day, whether it's on this side of heaven or not, that i will be cancer free. hope that in the midst of lots of uncertainty, God is the most certain thing in my life and He sure does love me a lot.

don't get me wrong...i'm not a "oh who cares about that..life is so good" kind of girl. nope. i'm a realist who also believes in hope. is that possible? i realize that i have to experience the pain in order to experience the joy of thankfulness and gratitude. they sort of come together, like a package deal. but i get the whole, "in all things, give thanks." because even when there is some really crappy stuff going on there is always really good stuff going on. like this

and this

and this

and because we have some pretty amazing friends (and even some strangers) who are sending us to New York City for the weekend.
but most of all it's because God continues to remind us that yes, He is good, and yes, He loves us, and yes, we are His beloved.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

NYC or bust

we are going to New York City!!! i know, crazy. it's my own make a wish thanks to some amazing friends and even some strangers. and since there really isn't a real make a wish out there for adults with cancer, i'm thankful our community stepped in.

i knew i wanted to take a trip and have even felt "deserving" or "entitled" because of the 18 months we've had. when i was done with treatment and heading into my reconstruction we talked about doing something all-inclusive and tropical in the spring. but, my cancer came back and my reconstruction didn't happen and the treatment plan still feels a little vague. i'm not trying to be on the beach with this body right now. but i still wanted to take a trip with adam. especially now that the cancer was back. we needed a break and a little fun.

enter NYC. for some reason there was a buzz with NYC lately. i talked about going with some friends earlier in november but couldn't. then it felt like everyone around me had gone or was going. and i wanted to go too!!! (insert stopping of feet and other tantrum behavior) so in my head i started to plan the trip. i had decided we were going and i was talking about it a lot. of course it probably wouldn't be the best or even wisest decision considering our circumstances. BUT i kinda didn't care. i don't mean to be so brash, but look, i have cancer and damn it i wanted to have a little fun getaway with my hubby. plus i knew there were people out there that wanted to help make this happen. i would soon be blown away by those people. as i began to talk about this trip the excitement built and i became more determined. i just didn't know how it could happen. and i had to get adam on board. well, there were other people just as determined. i got ambushed one day by a couple friends...we were gifted with 2 flights and spending money. another friend booked our hotel and others have contributed to the spending money fund (which is good b/c i'm learning just how expensive nyc is..wow).

we are so excited about this trip. SO EXCITED. we are incredibly humbled by the people who are making this happen. it seems kind of silly and like such a luxury. but i'm so very excited about this trip to the big city. we need a break right now...we've been doing this cancer thing for 18 months now and adam has been full on job hunting for 6 months. we were going to shoot to go in april but were encouraged to go during the holiday season. and i felt like treatment right now is predictable and i know what weekends i'm feeling good. so we picked the first weekend in december and found the flights and got the ball rolling. we've been asking for advice on things to do, places to see and where to eat. we are cramming as much into 4 days that we can. it's going to be so much fun. and i can't believe it's really happening. it's so incredible that people love us enough to help make this happen. we are so so grateful and so so excited!

so in a week we'll be walking the streets of new york city which will be filled with the magic of christmas. i hope we can do and see all that we would like. i know it's going to be great. i can't guarantee you'll see me on any morning show b/c i'm not trying to wake up early. and i don't think i'll miss waking up before 7am to the knocking of little fists on the door. but i will miss our sweet little lady.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

a year without breasts

i recently celebrated one year without my breasts. well, i wouldn't say "celebrated" exactly. mostly reached the anniversary of my double mastectomy which was the 18th. i have been thinking a lot about how to share this with the blog world. in the end i just want to make note of it and put it out there a bit.

once i realized how aggressive my cancer was and that i am the carrier for the gene (brca 2), i realized that doing the double mastectomy was an easy choice and pretty much a necessity. by then i had no attachment to my breasts. they betrayed me. i went into surgery feeling okay. i really didn't know what to expect.

it's been a year of lots of tears, some anger, lots of insecurity, and constant adjustment. i opted for delayed reconstruction, which means i would have about 8 months of living with this body and these scars. that 8 months has turned into a year and definitely longer with reconstruction not an option any time soon. this whole thing is complicated with many layers. boobs are everywhere. EVERYWHERE. and all women have some kind of issue with their breasts, whether they are too small or too big, saggy, lop-sided, or whatever. i have no breasts. just scars. and the surgery has made my body deformed in many ways. it's hard to embrace the body i have. sometimes i don't like what i see and i'm often afraid of what my husband thinks of it. but he's been the most supportive and amazing partner to love me and walk this with me. we miss my breasts.

i have spent a lot of time writing and backspacing. it's been hard to process and express how i'm doing. even though i needed this surgery to save my life, it's still a hard adjustment. it doesn't diminish the pain of losing my breasts...of feeling deformed and non-feminine, never being able to breast feed again, having no feeling, not being able to wear certain things. i want to learn to embrace this body because it's what i (we) have for now. i want to feel sexy and feminine in a world that says that can only come with breasts. it's not something i wake up and decide to do and it's done. it's a painful process. and it's a process i'm willing to walk. one thing that has inspired me for a while now is the Scar Project. i was able to do my own photo shoot with a local artist recently and it was definitely amazing to feel beautiful and brave as i am.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

48 hours

it's clear that we've been through a lot and have a lot going on. at times it can be completely overwhelming. but most times i feel God in this with us and if i'm honest i'm wanting Him more than the stuff that would seem to make our lives a little easier right now. it's the idea of...do we long for His presence more than His blessing? look, sometimes i'd like His blessing or an easy fix, but in reality that doesn't sustain me like He does. and He still gives us His blessings through His provisions and our incredible community.

so, recently i had an overwhelming 48 hours and it had nothing to do with a scan or directly related to cancer. crazy, i know. on saturday i opened up a letter from my COBRA saying that my benefits have been terminated effective 09/30/2011. needless to say i freaked. i knew it was a stretch, but i still called them. of course they are closed on the weekend. i was seriously in a panic. my first thought was how could this happen b/c i had done everything right...filled out the right paperwork and all that stuff. apparently my premium hadn't been paid. (side note...i qualified for financial assistance through Carolina Healthcare Systems and they were responsible to pay my premium for 3 months) so, here i was..COULD.NOT.DO.ANYTHING. that's a hard place for me to be. i had to let it go and i prayed a lot. A.LOT. i knew that God was in this, that He cares about the details of my insurance. BUT i was struggling to see the purpose in this. i wanted to send out a mass email asking friends to pray but felt the Lord calling me to come to Him. so i did. that night of sleep was fitful. every time i awoke it was on my mind so i cried out to God lots. on sunday morning i shared with my prayer group what was going on and cried. i confessed how anxious i was and freaked out. i can honestly say that i've never felt this way about a scan or test, which seems crazy. so why was this making me come undone. my friends prayed for me and i must say that i had a lot of peace on Sunday. but by monday morning the anxiety was back...it was the day i could make the phone calls.

i called the insurance people first. here is the thing...they don't send you a notice letting you know you missed a payment. that would make too much sense. they send you a termination notice. so, you've missed the grace period and are SOL basically. the woman said that it was my responsibility to make sure it got paid and if we could prove it was a mail issue then maybe they could reinstate my benefits. otherwise i could write a letter of appeal which "doesn't normally work." after i hung up with her i felt helpless. so i called the carolinas healthcare (CHS) people and left a message letting him know i was freaking out. then i went to yoga. that was a good decision. i had to still trust God in this. after yoga i called my friend, adam, at CHS and he let me know he'd been researching my case to figure out what went wrong and spoke with the insurance people asking them to reinstate my benefits. he was super apologetic and very kind, taking full responsibility on their end. i was a mess and sobbing on the phone with him. while we were talking he got a call from the insurance and he came back with "i've got good news..." a peace washed over me and i held my breath as i waited to hear what he had to say..."they are going to reinstate your benefits." he wanted to let me go so he could discuss all the details with them.

i have to say just like that i felt lighter and more at peace. which i had to investigate some. God had purposely allowed me to spend these 48 hours in fear and anxiety defending all the things i had done right. but it didn't matter that i'm administratively gifted and was able to find this assistance and fill out the appropriate paperwork. it wasn't about what i was capable or able to do. if i'm not trusting God with all (ALL) the details then I'm missing what He has for me. it's crazy how i could go from such despair (i know that sounds dramatic, but homegirl needs her benefits right now) to peace. i have been fooled to think that i'm so "easy going" about this process. of course i trust God. yeah i don't worry much. but send me a letter like that and it all falls to pieces. especially if it's steeped in what i've done. i'm good at doing stuff and i do it well. it doesn't matter what i do if i don't trust God. and i mean really trust Him. with all the details, including insurance. He cares about it all. that's just how much He loves us.

That afternoon I got a note from an old friend with a passage from Psalm 107:6 that i really thought was fitting: "Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress." and that is exactly what He's done.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

2 going on 15

i've needed some time before i do this post and still i'm not sure my heart is in the right place. as we approached Charis' 2nd birthday i did a lot of reflecting and "i can't believe" statements about our little lady turning 2. Two is official. She's not a baby anymore but a little girl who interacts and thinks and makes decisions. I reflected on God's timing and gift of our little lady in our lives. I reflected on how God knew exactly what we needed and maybe even wanted at a time such as this. she was such a good surprise. but now that it's been 2 years i can't still be shocked by the surprise. yet it has been a full 2 years. in the time since Charis was born we've been through so much...my cancer diagnosis and treatment, adam finishing grad school and his thesis, me getting laid off...to name the big ones. and although God has met us in each struggle we have found the most joy in our little lady. i keep thinking about how part of her name means "that which affords joy." it's so true. most of the time. being a parent is hard. not that i thought it'd be easy. i think it's more of a challenge for me some days when i'm physically tired and need a break but can't really take that break with a now 2 year old. or the fact that she has a total mind of her own. she can disobey now and rebel and whine. and it feels like she's been doing that a lot this week. it's been a full week...her big bash, my birthday, a poopie mess, then a medical procedure. and i'm just feeling extra tired and less patient this week.

how did this birthday post turn into a you know what fest?! goodness.

i've been thinking about how i want to celebrate her in this birthday post. i haven't really come up with anything profound so i will just celebrate all that she is doing and all that she means to us.

- she is talking up a storm. i feel like in the past month she has "bloomed." it's crazy what we get a front row seat as she learns to use words. words that she may have been hearing but stored away for later use. or long complicated words that she is willing to try out now that she is more comfortable with language. or words that elicit a response from us. i am constantly fascinated by this and it usually snaps me back to the reality of what a joy she is to us.

- when we went to New Orleans a couple weeks ago we visited the Aquarium for the first time and it was so cool. she breezed by most of the wanders that we saw but would sometimes stop to explore the creature behind the glass, especially the penguins. it was a super fun experience.

in a fish tank with daddy

touching a stingray

kissing a penguin

not sure about the birds

- she is still potty training. we've had a handful of accidents lately and she often fights going potty. i'm sure this is part of the process. sometimes i'm just ready for the day that she can totally go on her own. but i am thankful that we are out of diapers and only have to deal with dirty pull-ups at sleep time.

"building" blocks just to knock them down

- she is still an awesome eater. now that she can identify food or see it's color she takes a bit more time to warm up to somethings, but she always comes around and digs in. while we were in louisiana she had fried catfish and samosas. i am always thankful that she is a good eater and willing to try stuff.

sitting on a stool with her hair clipped back like a big girl

- i was a little nervous about the time change because most of my friends say it messes their kids up. but, i am happy to report that she slept until 8am on the morning of the time change. which makes me thankful that she is a good sleeper.

playing shape sorter with pap pap

- we had our first poop disaster this past week. on my birthday if you really want to know. i laid her down for a nap and was going to head to my own bed for a nap when i heard her calling "mommy." i did what i always do and ignored her until there was a pounding on her door. she was clearly no longer in bed. and what i walked into was a total mess...poo all over her hands and leg and carpet and floor and back of her door and the toy in her hand. before i put her in the tub for a while i obviously took some pics. it was a mess. i guess she didn't get the memo that it was my birthday.

what poo?!

- charis is keeping us busy. she loves to play with her new big blog legos...she says, "play blocks mommy." she loves to read books and recently asked for a "story" as if she knew some books tell a story and some just show pictures and silly rhymes.

sometimes sleeps with her books

i've prayed a lot for patience this week. i've always lacked it. our little lady is pretty persistent and will keep asking for something. it's silly when i try to explain why she can't have it or mommy can't get it while she is driving. even still she asks. so i see how easy it is to give in and so many times i want to. but by then i get to the point where i have to stand strong myself just to prove a point perhaps. maybe from the beginning it wasn't a battle worth fighting but i'm too far deep in my fight to give in. and so is she. so we are figuring out the whole discipline thing and setting up boundaries and all that stuff. and some days are harder than others.

was trying to get a pic of her slippers but i love this laugh

my prayer for Charis is that she will know Jesus. that she will desire to know Him from an early age. i often pray for the friends she will meet in her life, that they will point her to Jesus. i pray that God will protect her from mean girls, bullies and boys. i pray that she will be a part of a community like the one we are right now...a community that loves her, challenges her, supports her, encourages her and always reminds her whose she is...a dearly loved daughter. i am always asking God for guidance as He has chosen us to be her mom and dad. i can't do this without Him. i constantly need wisdom, patience, kindness, gentleness, grace and love. i am thankful and humbled to be her mom. i wouldn't trade the hard times for anything because i know it's part of the process. i'm thankful to have Adam beside me in this. my hope is that Charis will always know how deeply loved she is, not only by myself and Adam, but by her creator. she is fearfully and wonderfully made (ps. 139)

here is to another year of adventures with our little lady!! i will keep you updated on them.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

bugga bugga

i am not a party planner. i don't have the gift of cuteness and matching. i sometimes get overwhelmed with making sure all my different friends are feeling comfortable and having a good time. but this was different. our little lady was turning 2. i'm not totally into big gigs for little kiddos. they can get so crazy and expensive. but after my cancer came back this summer i decided i was going to have a party for her big day. i remember sitting in church and thinking i don't know how many birthdays i'll be here so i want to make sure i make the most of each of her birthdays while i am here. i know that might sound morbid, but a cancer diagnosis changes one's thinking. so, the planning began for her "bugga bugga birthday party." at her age she isn't "into" much but she likes bugs, or "buggas" as she calls them. we wanted to invite our friends; the many people in our community that are walking this road with us and who love Charis. they are helping us in so many ways. in this season of life it is taking our village to help raise our little girl. and we are so thankful.

the little bugga ready to party

jada & jocelyn having a snack before guest arrive

back to the party...so the bug theme was easy enough. enter Oriental Trading. that place is crazy and has anything and everything. i got lots of fun bug stuff. i decided to do a craft table with bug stencils and stickers, markers, crayons, colored pencils, and tissue paper butterflies. as well as a sandbox with plastic bugs called the "bugga bugga hunt." a pinata filled with bug finger puppets, wind up ladybugs, squish bugs, butterfly rings and of course candy. we also have those plastic balls (like old school ball pit at play places) and those were a hit. my friend Jen's sister made some fun bugs and signs. i made a pin the dot on the ladybug game, which we never played. i think because the rest of it was such a hit. with these and a big yard i was hopeful it would be a fun party.

the yard set-up

friends at the sand box diggin for buggas

camden and wade working hard on their art

david going back up the rollercoaster

we put charis down for her nap and starting setting up the party. the best part about this is that i was not stressed at all. i was excited to celebrate our little lady with our friends. i wasn't worried about much else, which was such a gift. i could just let go. and enjoy.
our friends started arriving and before long the party was in full swing...kids were drawing, coloring and making tissue butterflies or digging for bugs in the sand or diving in the balls or riding on our little coaster or just running around being a kid. it was great. and one of the high lights was when the pizza came (charis loves pizza). we ordered it from Jet's pizza and the delivery guy came dressed up in a costume...it was awesome. but i'm sad to say i don't have a picture of it. it was unbelievable. we had pizza then super yummy cupcakes then did the pinata in the dark. kinda forgot about that whole gets dark early business. oh well, it was still major fun and the kids loved it.

the lil bug loves her pizza

singing happy birthday to charis!

sweet paige on the Rody

the sweet sorrells girls

The highlight for me was seeing our little ladybug (yeah, i dressed her up for her birthday) play with her friends and squeal with excitement and say, "happy birthday" or "two!" she was so cute. i think she had a blast. i know, i did. and i was really proud of myself for pulling this party off and being able to enjoy it.

loving her cupcake!!