Thursday, February 24, 2011


in case you haven't heard (or seen) i was on the local news last night. by no means does this mean i'm famous. yet. but i'm beginning to see and feel the whole "15 minutes of fame" thing. i mean--i only had like 2 minutes! i didn't so much like the way i looked on t.v. (it really does add 10 lbs) but it was fun to be on t.v. i'm realizing how absurd i'm sounding right now. out of control. anyway, if you haven't seen it here is the link

Cleaning for a Reason was such a gift to us. i never really feel like cleaning much less during treatment. having Minit Maids come in and really clean our house during treatment was so great. so, when they emailed me last week to see if i wanted another (free) cleaning i was all over it. they said the news wanted to do a story on cleaning for a reason & minit maids but i don't think i realized what that really meant until my friend, morgan fogarty, came over to chat. :) i thought she did a great job telling our story in such a short time after us talking for about 45 minutes. she and her camera guy, Carlos, were great. the cleaning crew from mm were awesome too. every time they've come, they have been great. and being in a clean house feels really great. thanks y'all!

(as a side note, i do think cleaning for a reason should be for men too. right now it's for women only.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

picture perfect

i have great friends. they are all over the place. they are like me and so different from me. they tell a greater story. i am thankful for my friends.

my friendships are being transformed by this journey. it's been so great and sometimes hard to move with the changes. new friendships have sprung up while old friendships have deepened. it's like a total friendship garden. cheesy, i know, but that is the image that popped in my head. god is teaching me so much during this journey, especially through my friendships.

i have great friends who are amazing photographers. i have been fortunate to be in front of their cameras. (lucky for them too) if you've ever gotten professional pictures taken (i'm not talking sears or olan mills), then you know it's hard to pick your favorites, get them enlarged and printed then framed then hung on your wall. recently, a friend offered to do this for me. i was thrilled. it's something that hasn't been on my "to do list" lately so i was thankful when she offered. i handed over my discs and she took on the task of going through maybe a hundred or two or more pictures of us. we are now forever stamped on her mind. oh goodness. we were going to go pick out frames at ikea, when she called to tell me that she and her husband wanted to do this for us. i was so overwhelmed and thankful for their generosity in doing this. i'll be honest, when she proposed the idea, i really had no clue what it would entail. she is an artist so i knew it would be awesome. she texted me tuesday to say it was all ready to be hung. she came over and 2 hours later i have this on my wall

i wanted to cry. i wanted to thank her a million times. there has been no way for me to express what a gift this is to us. i mean, unbelievable. i loved sitting and watching her measure and mark, measure and mark then hang then measure and mark again. i am so amazed at her ability to love us in this. she knew that having these pictures up would bring us joy. and it does. i could stare at them all day without them getting old. i love the pictures she chose. i love that she spent the time to cut them to fit ikea frames. i love that she took such painstaking detail to make sure they were even and the perfect display. i love that she loved us enough to do this.
thank you so much, taryn.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Anti V-day B-day

with two valentines day birthdays in my family we don't celebrate valentines day, which is just a marketing ploy from Kay jewelers. i'm actually kind of glad it's adam' birthday. i think that single or married it has potential for disappointment. so, we don't share this day. it's strictly his day. i mean--i'm not trying to share my birthday with anyone. and if we are all honest, no one would want to. anyway

since his birthday is v-day and he turned the big 3-0 this year i really wanted to have a party for him. he was a little reluctant. we had an "anti v-day b-day" party at his favorite restaurant--Sir Ed's--on saturday night. he was able to enjoy being celebrated by friends and i am so thankful for that. we had a great time. you can't go wrong with good food, good friends, and good beer. right?! there was an after-party too that i wasn't feeling up to, but i heard it got pretty crazy. you are only 30 once.

of course i've been thinking about all the things i love about adam lately. you know, birthdays tend to do that. he is exactly the man God created for me. he challenges me. he loves me well. he cares for me. he has become a rock and refuge to me. he makes me feel so beautiful. he is sensitive. he is intelligent. he is really funny and whitty. we have this joke b/c a lot of times people say to him (about being married to me), "you must laugh all the time." i think he's just now able to enjoy that b/c he is pretty stinking funny too, just not as loud and obnoxious as me. you have to allow his humor to linger a bit. we both laugh a lot. he's authentic and real. he's a thinker. he really is my best friend. and he is the best daddy ever. we are learning a bunch and growing closer in the process. i'm thankful for adam. happy birthday to the man i love!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My guilty pleasure

For some it's chocolate or The Bachelor. For me it's Jonathan Kellerman novels. His most famous books are about a child psychologist, Alex Delaware, who works murder cases with his detective friend, Milo Sturgis. I'm not sure how, but I stumbled upon them in college as I was studying child development and psychology. (no they were not required reading) Adam totally makes fun of me, but I enjoy these books so much that I can read one in a week. I mean, I feel silly just telling y'all this. But part of the fun is admitting this to the world of cyberspace.

just finished this one

Thank you JK for this guilty pleasure. Thank you for the whit and charm of Alex Delaware and his police friend, Milo Sturgis. When a re-run of Law & Order isn't on I know that I can turn to one of your books for a cheap thrill. I mean this as a compliment. Thank you.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

15 months

Our little lady is 15 months. Unbelievable. She is such a blast and the most delightful little lady ever. I love being her mama and know that I was made to be her mama. I love watching Adam be her daddy. He is smitten for sure and is such a good daddy. Her personality is continuing to bloom. She's like a wildflower. There is so much to enjoy.

such a big girl! 15 months
- Charis got the Croup. It sounds so sketchy, but it's just a barking cough. I mean, not "just." It sounds so sad. I even thought it might have been the neighbor's dog. I finally (yes, I said finally) took her to the doctor on a Sunday (yeah I know, a Sunday) and she was officially diagnosed with "the Croup." It's sad when she's sick.

- She is a gummy bear or butterball. At the doctor she was such a big girl that she could get weighed on the stand up scale. She is 25 pounds. I don't know what percentile this is or any of that stuff. It doesn't really matter. I don't think. She'll have her official 15 month check-up next week.

sitting in her this picture

- We know how she got to 25 lbs...she loves food! And I love that she loves food b/c her mama and daddy love food. Recently I got a video of her chowing down by herself on pasta w/ chicken & broccoli and green beans. She was a mess afterwards. And so cute. She still eats about anything. Recently she was like a bottomless pit and I was afraid I was creating an emotional eater. I was spiraling out of control when I realized it could just be a growth spurt.

she's even trying the crayon
- She is walking! Since her first steps on January 15th she has gained more confidence and is toddling around. But if she wants to get somewhere fast she drops to her hands and knees and crawls. I love the way she walks.

tights & skirts are so cute

- She is communicating a ton. She uses lots of signs: baby, milk, duck, all done, more, please and car. She has also made up her own sign for 'go.' It amazes me how much she is able to understand. I mean- she is like a super soaker sponge just soaking it all in. She says lots of things too: daddy, go, Amy, ball, along with a ton of other "words" and sounds. She mimics a ton too. Things like, "I love you" and "cracker" and "I'm going to get you." Of course we think she is so smart. She is.

sitting in a booster reading the menu
- Charis is having more stranger danger. Or stranger anxiety. It's sad for us and for the people keeping her. But we are so thankful for the many friends who are keeping Charis for us so we can have a date.

- Charis went to a museum for the first time. While Adam's parents were in town we spent a couple hours at the Mint Museum. It was really nice and she was so good. Adam carried her in the backpack and she was a trooper.

checking out art w/ daddy the art was so inspiring

- She had her first trip to Myrtle Beach. We knew it would happen sooner or later. We wanted her to have a mini senior week and a glimpse of spring break. Uh, jk, we had a Young Life event down there. She did great in the car even when I thought I'd lose it. I think it's time we build a major highway from Charlotte to the beach. I'm just saying.

what happens in myrtle beach, stays in myrtle beach

- Charis has been spending lots of time with her sweet and pretty nieces, Jada and Jocelyn. She signs "baby" when they are here and for the most part just looks at them. When they cry she tries to give them their binkies. Sometimes she acts like they aren't there and almost walks on and over them. Soon enough they will all be playing together.

she's a giant next to them i mean--look at these two!

let me give you your binky

- I don't want to call her a diva, but when she wears her sunglasses that is the very word that comes to mind. She seems so proud as she wears them and I think we solved the problem of having the sun in her eyes since she actually keeps them on. I mean she's just the cutest.

she loved wearing her glasses on her wagon ride

- We think she is pretty curious too and extremely aware. She does things that amaze us. Recently I was telling Adam how she was looking at the birds out the window and when I said birds we heard her try to whistle from the back seat. I'm so serious. Stuff like that is crazy.

I realize these "updates" may be annoying for some. But I'm sure if you are annoyed you wouldn't even read my blog. But this is good for the grandparents. And I think we all like to "brag" a little bit about our kids. It's weird, I agree. I definitely had a bunch of ideas about being a mom before I was a mom. And I would say that all of them have not been blown to smithereens. There are still things that annoy me about parenthood, but it mostly comes from the outside. Charis is wonderful. And she has her normal "I'm-a-baby-and-can't-communicate-so-I'm-going-to-make-this-really-annoying-whiny-sound" moments.
We were talking with some friends about having a date night. They were saying how it wasn't until halfway through their date that they talked about their baby. I've heard this before from friends, that when they finally get out all they talk about is their kid(s). For us, there is so much for us to share and talk about when we finally get a night out AND since Charis has been such a source of joy for us during this hard time we relish in talking about the joys of being her mama and daddy.

getting ready for her bike ride
I have had a bunch of sweet moments with her lately and I've needed them. In those moments I feel a sense that God is real and He loves me so much.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Life with Cancer...chemo

I realized in my last post I got more "creative" with my words (well, maybe not). I think lately I've been thinking about what it's like to live with cancer. Sometimes people ask if we feel normal or feel like we are back to normal. I think I feel normal, considering. Sometimes if I take a step back and look at my life in the past 12-18 months it has been pretty tough. AND it's had lots of good moments. Like right now I'm looking down at one of my sweet and beautiful nieces, Jada Bryce. She wants to cry but can't help but smile and I love that. I feel like that sometimes.

Anyway, a part of me feels compelled to let people in to the day in and day out of living with cancer. It's clearly different for each person. I really can't say what I thought today would look like 8 months ago. I'm not sure I could even think beyond that day. So here I am 8 months (almost) to the day of my diagnosis. In the beginning it was intense. I can literally look back at my calendar for June and see that I had a doctor's appointment almost every day. If not every day, at least 3-4 out of 5 days. That's like a part time job. Things totally lined up to free us up for this...I went part time, Adam was waiting tables, and people could keep Charis. That regiment became our "normal" for a few weeks as we were figuring everything out. Then it slowed down a bit to maybe 1-2 appointments a week. I was also trying to work during this. At the time life definitely felt off and maybe a little chaotic but we were totally surviving and pressing through. Only now do I look back and I have to think hard about those times. How did we do it? How did I still try to hang out with my high school girls before they left for college? How did I get Charis to her doctor's appointments? How did Adam and I find time to go out? You know what, we did it. And I think we did more than just survive. We made an effort to sit still, to enjoy, to get away, to rest in Jesus, to be loved and cared for by others, to delight in our little lady, to trust and to be. It wasn't always easy but it was possible.

I'm not really sure what I'm doing here to be honest. It just seems like in the past I've been asked so many questions about this journey. And I think people really want to know what some things are like. Today let's start with Chemotherapy. What I had was "induction chemotherapy" which according to the internet is the use of drug therapy as the initial treatment for patients presenting with advanced cancer that cannot be treated by other means. I would have 6 treatments of TAC (Taxotere, Adryamycin, and Cytoxin) every 3 weeks from late June to early October. Fortunately I did not need a port, so each time the nurse started a new IV on my hand, wrist or arm. First they did labs to make sure my blood counts were high enough to receive the chemo drugs. This took about 15 minutes. Then they would give me pre-chemo drugs such as an anti-nausea and a steroid. The "T" and "C" were bag infusions that took about an hour each. During the Cytoxin I had to soak my fingers in ice water for the whole hour. This prevented the drug from getting to my finger tips and therefore making my nails come off. Yucky. The Adryamycin was bright red like cherry kool-aid and was given by the nurse. They had to strap on heavy duty gloves while pushing it through my i.v. because apparently it could burn your skin (and turn pee pink). This is what I did 6 times. I sat in a room with 15-20 other survivors receiving their specific poison. I didn't like chemo, it made me feel weird. I never really talked to people there but I did stare as if others were an anomaly. I wanted so bad to meet others but always chickened out. Within 24-48 hours of my infusion I would have to go back to the doctor to get a shot of Neulasta which protected my white blood cells. Turns out after 5 of these I was told my insurance wouldn't cover them. I'm still waiting to hear if they will cover my 5th one at over $9,000. I'd hate to have to pay that. My sister gave me my 6th one. Oh healthcare. Then 10 days after my infusion I'd have blood work (cbc) done to make sure my "counts" were good. They always were and I am so very thankful for that. What were the effects of chemo on me? Well, for the first week I would have a metal taste in my mouth. Sometimes I'd feel weird like I was hungry but couldn't eat. Ice cream always tasted yummy to me. I lost my hair (all over), but shaved my head before it fell out. That's about it. I didn't throw up or really feel nauseous thanks to the drugs I took for the 2 days following chemo.

Chemo was officially out of my system by the end of October. My hair came back pretty quickly. My MRI following chemo showed a major reduction in the size of the tumor and the amount of cancer left. It wouldn't be until surgery that we'd know for sure what was left.

That was my experience with chemo. I still can't believe that within 3 weeks of my diagnosis I began chemo. I don't think I realized the seriousness and aggressiveness of my cancer until later. I know that was God protecting me. Here are a couple pictures my dear friend, Jen Hunt, captured when she came to my first chemo with me.

the ice bath


the i.v. pump

my friend lindsay made me a bag of trash mags and candy!