Thursday, October 15, 2009

Insurance is Wonderful

Okay, I know that there are huge debates going on today about health insurance, and many people hold a dim view of insurance in general. But I just wanted to put my two cents (pun intended) out there and let everyone know how thankful I am for my husband's job that allows us to have such fabulous insurance. Yes, we pay a pretty penny for it. But we have also saved so much that we could buy a house with our savings. That is, if we had the money. Which we don't. Which is why we have insurance.

I sat here and added up how much we have paid for my medical expenses this year. Since January, 2009, we have paid $8,433.03 to a bunch of different medical facilities around town. We seem to get a new statement from Empire (Blue Cross Blue Shield) every day for some procedure or another that I have endured. The latest one showed over $10,000 of "procedure", and it freaked me out to think of having to pay for these without insurance! Thus this little activity.

So what was our grand total? I'm so glad you asked! Without insurance, we would have had to pay $118,712.88 since January of this year, and that is just for me! Sammy is a whole other story. He has also racked up thousands of dollars in expenses this year, but we met his $771 deductible and don't have to pay any more for him this year (knock on wood!). His latest escapade, a walnut to the eyeball -- a gift from a neighbor boy -- landed him in urgent care, which we have yet to receive a bill for (or a statement from insurance showing us how much we don't have to pay).

Can I just say again how thankful I am for insurance?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Let's Get Started!


We are officially ready to start school! Griffin is doing Kindergarten this year, and Sammy... well, Sammy is going to hang around and do as much as he possibly can with Griffin.

We had a fun "Box Day". For those of you not familiar with Box Day, it is the day you receive your big boxes full of school books from Sonlight, the curriculum we are using. It is an exciting day, full of waiting around by the front windows for the boxes to arrive, cutting open boxes and pulling out brown stuffing paper and books galore, and organizing materials. Here is what our "homeschool shelf" looks like today.

We also have drawers full of crayons, markers, rulers, construction paper, glue, and all of the other essential school supplies. Just look at all of those books! I used the pink stickers on the books to let me know that 1) those are school books, and 2) they are for Kindergarten. First grade books will come with a different color of stickers so that I will be able to tell the years apart and not get books mixed up.
We can't wait to get our greedy little hands on the books and curl up and read on the couch. We also have boxes full of supplies for science experiments. It all looks like so much fun! We can't wait to get started.
I wrote out daily assignment sheets for our first week that tell us what to do every day. I have an Instructor's Guide (the big blue notebook on the right side of the picture), but it has 4 different weekly assignment sheets for every single week (we will do 36 weeks of school), and I don't want to have to flip back and forth to find what we are supposed to do every day, so I'm writing it all out.
In fact, I think I will go get an actual planner when Mike gets home from getting his hair cut. That way I won't have loose sheets of paper floating around everywhere, and I can have our entire Kindergarten year recorded in one place. The mall here has a new two-story Barnes and Noble, with a big school/homeschool section, and I needed a good excuse to go visit there again.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No More Chemo!

I have been a slacker about blogging and posting pictures. Wow. I can't wait to get back in the swing of things! I had my 12th and last chemo treatment yesterday, and I am feeling much better after laying on the couch almost all day yesterday, and getting almost 10 hours of sleep last night. I will meet with the radiologist tomorrow early in the morning, and find out when radiation starts, how long it will last, etc. '

I am thinking about getting an aloe vera plant to help with the skin burns I will most likely get, and I'll probably have a lovely little tattoo in the middle of my chest, but at least it will help the cancer to not come back.

I'm having a party at Mi Ranchito next Wednesday to celebrate, which will be lots of fun. I am hoping my hair starts growing back in the next few weeks. It looks and feels like baby hair right now. I'm just ready to look and feel normal again. I know I will always have "the cancer" hanging over my head, and will always have to be conscious of it and the effects it could have on me if I'm not careful in how I treat my body, but I want to get on with life now and not have IT be in every conversation I have!

I might post about my radiation, but for the most part my posts here will focus on the good and happy things going on in our family's life.

Friday, July 31, 2009

TV Dog

Gordon loves to watch TV with us. He will sit there with his head propped up on the coffee table and stare at the screen for a really long time. Then he gets up and walks around the room and lays down again. And again. And again. He changes positions a LOT. That wood floor must be really uncomfortable.

Recently, we watched Marley & Me. Anyone who has seen that movie and is the least bit sympathetic towards dogs probably cried just as much as I did during certain parts. It didn't make it any easier with Gordon actually in the room, watching the movie right along with us.

He was fascinated by the "bad-boy" dog in this movie, and couldn't seem to tear his eyes away. We even laughed (!!!) at the antics of Marley, which Gordon just couldn't wrap his head around. HE wasn't allowed to do ANY of the things we were laughing at Marley for doing! It's just not fair!

A couple of times, Gordon got right up in front of the TV, when the action was really intense (read: beach scenes or Marley tearing up stuff in his house), because he really just wanted to be where the action was. Poor dog. He must think he leads a very boring life compared to Marley.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


It was hot and muggy inside the house a couple of weeks ago, and I was on the phone with Bonnie when I just had to say "Hold on, Bonnie, I need to go grab my camera for a second."
Griffin is officially following in his father's literal footsteps, and is climbing the doorposts. Somewhere there is a picture of Mike at around Griffin's age hanging on to the doorpost grinning from ear to ear. Well, now I have my own!
I was a baaaaaad Mommy and pulled a "Do that one more time so that I can get a picture, and then never, ever do it again!!!"
He hasn't done it since, but then air conditioning isn't nearly so handy because the humidity isn't a factor anymore. Hee!
Sammy wasn't quite so adventurous. He got a little way up and decided it wasn't worth the trouble. Good boy!

And no, they don't even try to climb the ladder in the background. Nah. That would be much too easy. It has STEPS.

Monday, June 08, 2009

A Dandy Dandelion

Mike went running outside the other morning saying "I have to show you this!" and he came back in bearing a massive (to dandelion standards) yellow flower. We measured ("what?" you say? -- but of course we measured!) and it was 26 inches tall. A great feat for any plant growing in our backyard. Have you seen the plants we have grown in our backyard? No? My point exactly.

Friday, May 29, 2009

To You

To the person or people who sent me the $100 through Bonnie -- you will never know how blessed I feel because of that generous act. I am overwhelmed with love for... well... everyone, because of your selflessness. I have several options for how I may use the money, but I am taking my time making a decision. I want to use it wisely.

*I could use it to boost my Stampin' Up! business.

*I need some more pairs of shorts (I have 3 now), as I really want to follow my husband's leading and get used to it being warmer in the house so that we don't need to use the air conditioner as much this year. That will save us even more money in the long run.

*We could use it to take our family somewhere special and create some lifetime memories.

*I could get 1,111 pictures developed from Snapfish, which would keep me scrapping for a very long time.

*I could have loads of fun at the local scrapbook or stamp store.

*We could all go out to a really nice dinner somewhere fancy that we don't usually get to go.

So many options!! I don't know what I will choose yet, but I just wanted to post publicly about how thankful I am to have such generous people constantly touching our family's life.

Thank you again!! God bless you.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Good News and Scrapping Stuff

Here is a project I worked on for Bonnie and Caleb's grandma. Caleb's grandpa passed away last week after a tough fight with cancer, and the funeral was held on Tuesday. This card opens up to about 6"x8", and it fit a 5"x7" picture of his grandma and grandpa on the inside. I won't show the picture for privacy reasons, but here is the rest of the card. When open, it will sit up so that she can have the picture and sentiment showing all the time if she wants to.
The front says "I said a prayer for you today."
The inside says
"Praying for friends
to comfort you,
faith to uphold you,
and loving memories
to heal your heart."The back says "And now these three remain: Faith, Hope and Love,
but the greatest of these is Love." I Cor. 13:13

My next project is a file folder scrapbook. I had a ton of pictures that I had taken of a walk we went on several months ago. The light outside was just perfect, and I realized after the pictures were developed that the boys had on somewat color-coordinated clothes, which made picking colors for this scrapbook SO easy! It's not finished yet, but at least the pictures are in it!

And now on to the great news! I had my PET scan on Monday, and my doctor's visit on Wednesday before I went in for chemo treatment #5, in which he told me that I am officially cancer free!! I have 7 more treatments, and then a month of daily radiation treatments, and then I'll be free from needles and this port and all of the unpleasantness that comes from having cancer. I'm so happy!! God is so good. I have had so much support, from money to gift cards to care packages to meals to phone calls and cards and letters in the mail... as well as many, many prayers lifted up on my family's behalf. We appreciate everything so much, it is so hard to show just how grateful we really are, and I know I have forgotten to thank people individually... just know that we are ever so thankful!! God bless you all.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rice and Beans

This afternoon I pulled out my never-before-been-used rice cooker, and read the instructions. What? Just rinse rice, add rice, add water and push a button? Why have I not used this wonderful contraption before? It has been sitting neglected under my kitchen island for months and months! (Apparently, though, I can even make sticky rice in a rice cooker --I just checked it, and it is all gooey -- this may take some mastering, but I have heard that rice cookers are wonderful, so I'll keep trying!)

Here is the recipe I came up with. It smells wonderful! It looks like a long list of ingredients, but it is mostly spices, and if you don't have one it is not the end of the world, just leave it out and yours will taste different. Not worse, just different! Except for the beans. You might want to have those in there.

Black Beans and Rice

1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes
2-3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 Tbsp dried cilantro
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic powder (too much garlic? no such thing!)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1-2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
2 Tbsp dried chopped chives
1 pinch crushed red pepper
2 cubes "Not Chick'n" bouillon
2-3 cups of water

Saute the onion and garlic just until soft, not browned.
Add the beans, tomatoes and spices.
Cook over medium heat until bubbly, then turn heat down and simmer until liquid is thick, about 10-15 minutes.
Add bouillon cubes and water, and simmer until liquid is thickened again, about 30 minutes.
Serve over rice.

Friday, April 24, 2009


It seems like Peter is often the topic of the pastor's sermon on the week after Easter. Poor Peter! He was so enthusiastic about how he would never EVER deny Jesus... as in "I will never do that, Lord, even if all of those other guys do!" And then what does he do? Denies knowing Jesus 3 times, just like Jesus told him he would.

So the topic of the pastor's sermon last weekend was restoration. These are the passages of scripture he used:

John 18:15-27
John 21:1-19
Psalm 51
Psalm 32

His 3 bullet points were:

*Brokenness can be a platform for usefulness.
--God wants restoration after you sin, not retribution -- He takes no delight in sin or the effects of sin. He doesn't want to make our lives miserable, He wants to make our character beautiful. Pastor Mike also pointed out that God doesn't want us to walk in comparison to other people, he wants us to walk focused on Christ.

*Love is the motivation for enduring faithfulness.
--Peter's brothers (the other disciples) were there with him on the boat (they all chose to go fishing with him and not leave him to fight his inner battle by himself). They loved him, and this made it easier for Peter to be faithful to the Lord. Jesus asked Peter "Do you love ME?" Not "Do you love the church?" or "Do you love serving?"... just "Do you love ME?" He then said...well, if you love me, "Feed my lambs...take care of my sheep." Not because of some sense of obligation, but just because he loved Jesus.

*People are our most significant investment.
--We need to "share the love" with other broken people. People can be "broken" for many reasons. Sometimes it is because of their own sin, and sometimes it is because of the effects of this sin-filled world that has affected their life in some way (cancer).

I don't know if any of this made sense to anyone reading it, but I know I was affected by this sermon and wanted to remember it, so I thought I'd type up my notes here so I would have them to look back on later. Read the passages of scripture. That might help! :-)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Going Vegan

What an adventure this cancer journey has been and is continuing to be! I am "reconfiguring" my food philosophy, and deciding what foods are going to be the best for my body during and after the cancer process. I have decided to become vegan. For the most part. I will still eat fish. And if I happen to go out to eat or eat at a friend's house, I will not grill the servers and the hosts about how they cooked the food, what is in every little bite, etc. But for the majority of the time, I will eat a vegan diet.

Angela, whose blog you can find at, and whose dinner blog (which is vegan and sugar free, people, check it out!!) is at, has been petitioning people on my behalf from her blog, and has raised $420 for our family in the form of a gift card from Whole Foods. I think it would be impossible for me to even consider this lifestyle change if not for Whole Foods, and this gift card is such a lifesaver, because the doctor's bills were really eating into our funds!

Many thanks go to Angela, and Bonnie who did Angela's running around for her since she doesn't even live here. (Did I mention that I have not even met Angela? We will meet soon, though, as she has invited Mike and I to stay at their vacation cottage in North Carolina for free for a weekend after my chemo is done! Isn't she wonderful!?) Also, there were several other people who donated to the gift card also, all of whom I haven't met. There are some wonderful people in this crazy world of ours!

Throughout the week, I will be posting some reading material that I have gathered from the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Cooking by Beverly Lynn Bennett and Ray Sammartano. I hope this will help to explain vegan nutrition to those of you who may have no clue what I will be eating, and may be worried about my health because of this decision.

I am doing a lot of writing these days in my "Vegan Notebook", because I am writing a research paper to help me better understand my decision. I tend to jump into decisions without thinking them through thoroughly, and if I make the decision to be vegan it will most likely be a lifelong thing, so I can't take it lightly.

Here it is! Your first installment of The Vegan Times.

Definition of a Vegan

"If you're eating vegan, you eat foods that come from plant-based sources like whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits, vegetables, and even the aquatically harvested sea vegetables. You avoid all animal-based foods and their rendered or processed byproducts, like meat, fish, fowl, eggs, all dairy products, and even honey and gelatin." pg. 3 TCIGTVC

I will still be eating fish and honey, and who knows about gelatin. Haven't researched that yet.

That's all for now! This means that I will be posting a lot more often. :-)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Big Boy Sammy!

Sammy is officially potty training!

We ran out of Pull-Ups last night, and I really don't want to spend another $30 for a box that will last us only a couple of weeks. I can buy a lot of little underwear for that price! So I am biting the bullet -- during chemo week, of all times, but I have a feeling that soon I will not have the energy to even think about potty training a stubborn 3-year-old, so may as well get it done now!

Sammy is VERY excited about his new underwear-wearing venture. Today should be interesting, that's for sure!

I am anxiously awaiting a Stampin' Up! order. It is my first supply order as a demonstrator, and there is a (pink, of course!) organizer in there to help me with all of my paperwork. I also ordered the new Occasions Mini Catalog to give to my customers. It has so many cute sets in it! There is even a new train set that is adorable that I think I may just have to order for the boys. :-)

I also ordered some jewelry on Saturday. I spent my birthday money (thank you, Grandma and Mom and Dad!) on a leather bracelet with freshwater pearls and sterling silver, and a ring that says "Be true to your dreams." I love them! They should be here by the end of the week. They are from Silpada, a local direct sales company. My neighbor had a party and invited me. :-)

I go in for blood tests on Tuesday and chemo #2 on Wednesday. They will be starting me on the fourth drug, bleomycin, on Wednesday, and it can have some harsh effects on the lungs, so the first dose will be small to make sure I don't have a really bad reaction to it.

Last night I made this:

It is a notebook to help me keep everything organized. I never realized how much paper would be involved in the cancer process. Bills, surgery instructions, treatment info, prescription info, cards (which overtook our dining room doorway, and I prefer to have them in my hand so that I can take them out and reread them on the tough days), pictures, a schedule of who is coming to help out on what days, and things like that will go in this notebook. It is my little survival mechanism, and it was fun to make! I started with a blank chipboard notebook, covered it with patterned paper, then picked out bright, cheery colors for the dividers and covered each one of those as well.
This notebook will eventually become my cancer scrapbook. I will eventually be able to take out all of the medical mumbo-jumbo and just keep pictures and journaling and cards in it, but until then I am hoping that it will help me out on the days when a doctor or other "informational" person calls -- I actually just got off the phone with someone else wanting to send me information, which is all very helpful, but creates a lot of paper to wade through.
Well, on to another week! Hope it is a good one for you. :-)

Saturday, April 04, 2009


These are just some of the things people have given and sent to us. I am trying to take as many pictures as possible so that I will be able to make a scrapbook of my cancer experience.
Fun stuff for the boys -- thanks, Donna!

Wonderful Meals (Bonnie brought this one, it was super yummy!)

Cute Packages (Angela sent this one)

The inside of Angela's package -- thanks, Angela!!

Just a head of lettuce with spikes?

No, it's actually a fruit basket delivered fresh and cold from Edible Arrangements!
Thanks, Alison, Robert, Aunt Susan, Uncle John and Grandma!

Many thanks to all of the wonderful people who have brought us meals, cleaned our house, folded our laundry, collected money for our family, sent fun gifts to the boys, spent time with me, taken me to doctor's visits, babysat my children, spent time in prayer for us, sent us beautiful cards and handwritten notes of love and encouragement, and coordinated everyone who wants to help. We love you all, and it is a very humbling and yet enriching experience to go through, this cancer is. (I just sounded like Yoda. Hee!)

We have been blessed beyond measure with good friends, some of whom we have never even met, and supportive, there-through-thick-and-thin family members who are weathering this storm with us. I am so thankful for each and every one of you!

I have to say some special words of thanks to my darling husband. He has been my rock, and my strength, and my shoulder to cry on and to lean on during this year. The tubal pregnancy in January was rough, but we got through it. This cancer is going to kick my behind, but I am going to kick it back, and make it through a much stronger person! And my husband is going to be there every step of the way. He has been so busy with work these past few weeks, and yet he is still making time to wash dishes, do load after load of laundry, cook healthy, yummy meals, clean the house, take care of the boys, and sit and talk with me about everything that is going on. I think he deserves some special words of gratitude. I love you so much, Babe!!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Hair Shaving Party

The hair shaving party was a success! My head is now shaved. Well, mostly shaved. I wasn't brave enough to go completely bald, but Caleb talked me into going with the #1 guard on the razor he graciously provided. I am still getting used to having no hair, and my scarves are really coming in handy now, as my head is pretty cold. I giggled when I came out of the shower this morning and didn't have to dry my hair, but I still used the blow-drier just to warm up my head a bit...brrrr!! Now I know why God gave us hair.

I had such a blast last night! It was great to be surrounded by family and friends during what could have been a traumatic experience for me.

Without further ado, here are just some of the 156 pictures Mike took last night. I had a hard time deciding which ones to post, they were all great!

Mom and Mark, my sister Christy's new baby

I'm just getting ready.

Bonnie got to do the fun part, since she had experience doing Caleb's hair.

That first buzz felt strange!!

Reverse Mohawk

Bonnie is hard at work.

Look at the hair fall...

Wonderful friends and family!!

Half done.

I didn't know WHAT I looked like, so I was still smiling.

They told me to do a combover with my half-head of hair.

Then Amber (pink) and Andrea (red) told me I looked like Donald Trump.
So I said, "You're fired!!"
Bonnie looks like she's having WAY too much fun...

But then, so was I!

Half without...

Half with!

Getting closer

Caleb didn't want me to have to be the first baldy at the party,
so he shaved his head prior to coming... isn't that sweet?
Here he is with Diamond... speaking of sweet... isn't she a doll??

Mom and Christy and Mark... can you tell that we are related? :-)

Nicolas is my friend Adrienne's son;
he is one of my sons' favorite people!


Mama G and Papa B looking on,
and "the girls"... left to right is:
Christy's Brianna, Amber's Kylie, and Christy's Kayla

I'm still not sure about all of this, but it is happening!

My first baldy massage from my handsome husband.
Bonnie did a great job, thanks Bon-Bon!

Finishing touches

Kylie and Kayla hit it off.

Kayla wanted to see what she looked like with red hair. hee!

my wig


Crying baldies

All 3 baldies :-)

Too funny!!

Awww... Bonnie and Diamond are precious.

Isn't she just TOO cute!?

Christy's Lydia wanted to feel.

Amber's massage was Soooooo nice...

And it didn't even freak her out!

Girls saying goodbye to each other.

Christy's Miguel... was a sweetie!
And check out my new purse, isn't it sweet?

My Sammy Boy

Adrienne's artwork :-)

She brought markers to sign my head with, what a cool idea!!

Griffin held the door open while people left. He was so tired after no nap!

Sammy told me, "Mommy, you look like a different girl!
You need to put your glasses back on."
He said the same thing when he saw me this morning. He's not used to it yet.

Lydia :-)