Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Christmas Highlights

Christmas Eve we got a little more dressed up. I got to wear a beautiful plum velvet hat my stepmother found for me (she's in New York--not much demand for them here in the desert and I didn't want to drive to Flagstaff to look!).

I wish I had the picture of this one...we sat with our best friends at services and there were so many of us that we overflowed the pew! It was funny to reflect that the first Christmas we spent with them we only had two children each--although my friend was expecting number three.

Instead of my "Martha" feast on Christmas Eve, we met other friends at our old church and had pizza and Christmas cookies. It was fun and tasty--and not a dish to wash. Perfect.

Other Highlights:

There were WAY too many gifts under the tree (and we haven't even "done" the holiday with one side of the family). I called my sister to ask if people were overcompensating because of the year my kids have had. Her answer? "I know WE did!"

The baby learned to open packages this year. He would rip off the paper and gleefully yell, "Tah-dah!" and show us his presents. He even got excited about socks! Despite his usual HIGH sensory overload level, he was able to sit in a booster chair in the living room and actually play with his toys for 10-15 minutes at a time. That was a huge blessing for his tired parents!

My princess spent the day in a tiara and earrings from a neighbor, a bike unitard from her sister, and a pair of pig slippers! She told me in an awed voice, "I got everything on my list" (thank goodness, it was a short list). On Christmas morning (before presents were opened :-) ). she told me that she'd happily throw all of her presents in the trash if it meant that Mommy wouldn't have to do chemo again.

My son was so thoughtful in his gifting of his sisters...he gave up a huge amount of his hoarded gift cards to buy his oldest sister a hardcover copy of a book she wanted. He got a DS Lite from Reene and Mr. Billy and thought it was his, his, his...until Mom got a copy of Brain Age (to battle chemo brain, LOL) and big sis got a game and the accessory pack for the gizmo. Now he's talking about saving up to buy his sister and I one to share. Ahh...the spirit of the season!

My oldest was so sweet and generous...she emptied her piggy bank to gift all of us. I loved the way her gifts for me were designed to bring me comfort during my next round of chemotherapy. She decided that liked being older and "getting smaller packages"!

My husband has been working nonstop to get us ready for this move--and while I can help some, the brunt falls to him. I was blessed to see all of his hard work, and to be able to answer "A house!" when people asked me what he got me for Christmas this year. The downside was that he was tired...when he took a rare break to play with one of the kid's Christmas gizmos, he missed the baby stealing a cookie, sitting down right next to him, and gleefully feasting on forbidden fruit, um chocolate.

I felt the effects of post chemo-brain as I had purchased and wrapped all of our gifts before the treatments. I could NOT remember how many gifts were under the tree for our oldest OR what we had purchased her! I just told her to keep looking and that we'd enjoy finding out together. I also realized that I have officially become my mom--I pulled out my sewing machine on Christmas day and "whipped up" a set of bags to hold the youngest's new toys. Why don't all children's toys come packaged in containers? Wouldn't it be better than all of the wrapping and twist ties?

We had a wonderful, bittersweet afternoon and evening with our best friends. We ate a ham that my sister's in-laws gifted us with and watched the kids play and "put on shows" for us (did you know my princess has a fierce catwalk strut? I didn't!). The finale was a chocolate fondue fountain.

After tucking in overtired children, I realized that my husband and I hadn't completed our usual tradition of snuggling on the couch and enjoying the lights on the tree (I was hospitalized when our tree went up this year, and we usually do it that night). Since the tree came down the day after Christmas (all the better to show the house), we wrapped up the night taking time to enjoy our last Phoenix Christmas tree together.

Hope your Christmas was blessed as well.

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  posted at 9:14 AM  

Saturday, December 23, 2006
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

How cute are they? Thanks to my Mom...the cousins have matching ones, too, and I can't wait to see them all dressed up together, even if my oldest does die of embarrassment during the process.

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  posted at 11:14 PM  

Friday, December 22, 2006
I'm not a big fan of roller coasters...
...In fact I hate them. Too much up and down, too, little control. And throwing up my hands and enjoying the ride? Forget it. White knuckles all the way.

We're definitely on a roller coaster right now. Hubby and I flew to Orlando to househunt...that part was easy, most of the houses were icky, and even the one that we got (after two counteroffers) needs some TLC, but has enough room for our growing family.

We visited the new sarcoma center (Moffit in Tampa). The people are wonderful. The facility is beautiful. The doctor is brilliant. All wonderful news. The bad news? I've already taken too much time off of chemo between my trip to the ICU (long story) and househunting. I have to report for duty (four to five days of chemo--inpatient this time) at the end of the month--and stay for follow up.

So, I'll be moving before my family and won't be present to supervise the move.

AND the house here desperately needs to sell for our financial peace.

AND we need a new van and a refrigerator.

Did I mention to add insult to injury, I'm going to be BALD on the picture for my new FL driver's license? What does one put under "haircolor"? Used to be red?

Do you see the hand of God slowly prying my white-knuckled hands off the bars of my life finger by finger.

Whispering "Trust me".

Not trusting isn't an option right now--but it doesn't make it any easier. We've seen so many little blessings (from some unexpected sources) and have had setbacks (friends and family who don't know what to do, so they stay away), but right now we need some big miracles--and are asking for them, even knowing that God's timing is not ours and that we are being daily strengthened through trials.

God remains good--even on the roller coaster.

  posted at 3:35 PM  

Friday, December 15, 2006
Overheard at my house...
"Mommy, would you please put a hat on?".

"Sure, honey, why?"

"Well, when I see you, you look weird and I look sad--and you said I could ask you".

"Okay, pumpkin."

"I love you mommy".

"Love you too, Princess Piggy".

  posted at 10:31 PM  

My son's speech therapist was trying to explain yet something else I "should" be doing with him right now...Oh, and that he was acting out "behaviorally" when I was in the room during therapy.

Really. Knock me over with a feather. He's acting out after mom's been gone to chime and hospitalized for two weeks? Home....

There's nothing like everything that we're trying to do right now to strip ones priorities to the bare bones..

Love them.

Keep them fed.

Keep them clean (reasonably...They are kids).

Get relocated to Florida.

Get back on chime (did I mention I got a "vacation" to stop and relocate my family--I'll restart in late Jan/early Feb?!?!).

Somewhere in there, we'll do therapy exercises, and maybe I'll even grow a little hair (see, vanity really does die a hard death!).

Grace has to be sufficient...And I'm trying to remember that when others may (in the best of intentions) forget.

There will be time for exercises. Time for homeschooling (although, amazingly enough, we've lost NO ground at all). Time for thank you notes and outdoor Christmas lights.

Now is the time for rest, for work, for lots of hugs and kisses.

And lots and lots of grace.

  posted at 10:24 PM  

Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Of all the things I've lost....
I miss feeling more "in control" of my life and body. Sometimes, when my potassium is low, or I'm under the influence (LOL) of some of the strongest chemo known to man, it's hard to remember that I'm still trusting God, it's just my body getting in the way--and that 120 bpm heart rate.

I miss my hair. After two traumatic attacks of the giant red Tribbles (any Trekkies,out there?) and my daughter greeting my husband with "Mommy's crying in the you want to see all of the HAIR?" I got smart enough and cut what's left (not much) off as I cried with my hairdresser,

I miss feeling at home in my body. When I finally got home after chemo and a few days in the ICU and hospital (no white blood cells=Very bad news), my 11 year old hugged me and exclaimed, "Mama, you're BONY!"

Don't get me wrong, I'll never fall in danger of looking like Kate Moss, but it hurts to sit too long, to cross my, legs, and of course, my clothes fit funny.

I miss my stamina. My dear friend commented to me yesterday, "I've just never seen you without energy". Yep, it's true folks, she's just a girl, living in a sarcoma world. From what I've been told there is no one tushie this treatment wouldn"t kick.

What I oddly don"t miss is my pride. Pride that would scream that I need to write thank you notes, that would push me to say that others more deserve the kindnesses I've been given. No, being humbled lets you see pure love.

Love that is care packages from friends, family, and friends of family (who dont' really even know me!) meaning I may never have to shop for beautiful scarves and hats for my poor little pink pate.

Love is financial help from people who are barely making it themselves.

Love is a sister who gives up her life for weeks to watch to barf, to drive through hellish LA traffic to endless doctors appointments, to take you to the ER and hold your hand and literally spoon feed you bites of ice cream so you'll just eat something.

Love is a husband who drives seven hours to be with you and help with the hand holding, barf-watching, hydrating, patient advocating, and Tribble episodes, yet still tells you you're beautiful.

Love is children who hug and kiss, even when mom "looks weird".

Love is a mom who pushes aside her life to take care of your family.

Love is a sister who manages it all on the other end of the country--financial donations, family Christmas, etc --and does it with beautiful grace and flair.

Love is the hairdresser who won't take money for chopping off the hair she's done so many times....and then buys your pedicure.

Love is your DENTIST sending flowers (how cool is my world)?

Love is a note from your sweet college roommate, who knows it's hard to say the "right" thing, but writes anyway.

Love is people from church who continue to come and help get our little house more "market ready" in an afternoon than we could have done in weeks.

So, now instead of sending thank you notes, or needing to hide from attention, I cry. And I say Thank you. Because each act of love is a little kiss from God.

You know, loosing it could really be worse.

  posted at 7:57 AM  

Monday, December 04, 2006
Yes, the stuff has officially hit the fan...
...and they don't call it "chemo brain" for nothing.

Seems that I have a choice of being nauseous or being able to think....

You know, barfing isn't all that bad. apologies for ever blowing off anyone who's suffered "brain fog" for any reason. It truly stinks.

On other news fronts; did I mention that we survived the first full week of chemo. Now I just have to survive recovering from it.

And did I mention, in the middle of all of this, that we got a new job? In a new state? This is obviously great news, but it comes at an awkward time. But I do have great leverage for home improvements at our new place that have been indefinitely deferred until our attempts to market our house!

Thanks for all the prayers and love. Keep 'em coming....they're the best medicine ever.

Love from Chemo Brain and her "Chemo Sabe"!

  posted at 9:29 PM  

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