Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh No!!!

Just the other day I got a letter in the mail from MD Anderson. In that letter was the notification that my plastic surgeon is leaving December 17th. I realize that sounds kind of superficial, whining about my plastic surgeon leaving, but the plastic surgery is the primary component of my treatment that's supposed to make me look 'normal' again. I have gone to a plastic surgeon in Louisville - for follow-up and fills - but his vision and methods for my reconstruction were *VERY* different than those of the doctor in Houston. Since the reconstruction is actually what I'm going to live with for at minimal 10 years (baring unforseen complications), it is *really* important to me that the final results be as close to my 'normal' as possible as well as maybe improving things a bit. I would have had my reconstruction finished by now if my gynecology oncological surgery hadn't gone so poorly and if I hadn't required another emergency surgery a month later. However, I can't change the past, so I was looking forward to the fabulous results I thought the plastic surgeon in Houston could give me. Actually, at this point I'm kind of considering staying local for the plastics part if I'm going to have to break in a new doctor anyway. I actually have my Houston doctor's pager number & he's willing to speak to me on the phone about that option. I'm going to call today!

In other news, my first *real* day at work was a success. Wednesday I was in Frankfort for a meeting, so while I was technically working, it wasn't really my day-to-day tasks. However, yesterday I arrived at my home-away-from-home and after updating my office with photos of the kids, a statue of St. Peregrine, & a holy card, I began my work in earnest. I spent much of the day trying contact the various investigating officers in charge of my cases. However, I did actually work a case as well! Its actually quite a relief to be back to doing my normal things. I don't feel quite as useless and out-of-touch.

Meanwhile, the kids were with mom. She had them doing crafts - clothespin angels - as well as playing as usual. It was *very* heartwarming to go pick them up last night. Both of them came running, well Rachel tried to run, to the door exclaiming for me. Simon was actually saying "Mommy". Rachel says "momma" when I'm not around, but when I arrive she either gibbers or says "nana" or "dada". I don't know why neither of my babies (at this age) will call me by "momma". Its amazing how quickly Rachel has learned to walk and even try to run. She still staggers like a drunk at times and falls frequently. However, the staggering and falling is abating. She's making great strides!

While I was driving home and picking up the kids, Andrew, aka Mr. Househusband, was cooking supper. I arrived home with the kids to a clean house and food on the table! Whoot, whoot!!! I also saw his handsome face! ;-) Like Mater from Cars, "I knowed I made a good choice!" We all spent the evening playing. All in all, my 1st day back was not as traumatic as I was dreading!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thank you to KSP Employees!

It is with great gratitude that I return to work today. I am so deeply moved by all those who have participated in the time-donation that has allowed me to have a work-worry-free time to recover from my cancer surgeries. The well-wishes, time, and prayers have been a great boon for me while I recovered. Just last night I went through some of my get-well wishes & they brought tears to my eyes. I never imagined I would be the beneficiary of such love and care from those I can't even name! I appreciate every hour that was donated to me. I know that without your support I would not have been able to recuperate as effectively as I have. The journey has not been easy, but you have given me peace of mind (on the work-front) that has helped. Thank you with all my heart!

For any of those who don't know, the reason it has taken me so long to return was that my simple surgery went very poorly. I ended up having to have two surgeries about a month apart from one another. In both instances, I was unknowingly much closer to death (by bleeding first and by infection second) during both of these surgeries. Since the surgeries were much more complicated and traumatic for my body to deal with, my recovery time was lengthened. As a matter of fact, the first surgery went so poorly that the second part of it was not completed. After having the second surgery, I was mandated to delay my reconstruction process another 3-6 months. However, I have sufficiently recovered at this point to return to work.

Also, the kids are doing great! Rachel had her first birthday the Friday after Thanksgiving. Even after receiving chemo while still in utero, she is growing wonderfully. She's learning to walk and talk now. Her brother, Simon, helps her as only a big brother can! They thank you for the support you've given their mommy too! :-)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Da dum da dum... SHARKS!

Not as in Jaws, but Sharks as in the Shark line of cleaners. I'm going to veer from my normal course of posting & give my version of a review. I own three Shark devices: a Sweeper Vaccuum, a Vac then Steam, and a Handheld Steam Scrubber. I'll start with the sweeper since I've had it the longest.

Shark Sweeper Vaccuum: *** First of all, I bought it to replace my Swivel-Sweeper after the battery on it went kaput. I was thinking the Shark looked a bit more powerful and therefore would do more for me. I was kind of wrong. I still miss my Swivel-Sweeper. The Shark Sweeper is ok, but it has a tendency to throw stuff behind it and/or just push stuff around on the floor. It does the best job on the carpet (the opposite of the Swivel-Sweeper). As long as you're not fastidious about getting *every* single crumb & piece of dust, this does an ok job. It is light-weight, has a long cord, collapses to get under things, and easy to dump. I use it probably at least 3-4 times a week for quick pick-ups and to clean off my door mats. I give it 3 stars out of a possible 5.

Shark Vac then Steam: **** I bought this because I asked around on FB and it seemed to be something most people liked. It also had good reviews other places online. I had just spent an entire day just cleaning the floors in my kitchen & dining room on my hands & knees. Andrew didn't like that I had to work that hard. I was skeptical since its a 2-in-1 kind of thing. Usually, in my experience, things that claim to do multiple tasks don't do a very good job. Case in point, my mom has a Bissel bare-floor vac-then-mop (not sure of the actual name). It does a MUCH less than stellar job of vaccuuming and a decent job of mopping. So when I pulled the Shark out of the box I was prepared to be underwelmed by the vaccuuming action. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. It really does pull stuff away from the walls with its suction. It picked up fine particles as well as the inevitable puffs on the floor from my crumb crunchers. Then I turned on the steamer. Its VERY easy to switch from vac to steam! It takes it a while to produce a full head of steam, but once it does, it seems to do a decent job cleaning. It runs out of steam periodically (about the time my arm gets tired of pushing it), so I have to stop for a few seconds (less than a minute) to let it build back up to full-steam. I've used both pads - one has long 'fingers' of microfibers & the other is more like terry-cloth microfibers - and I think the longer 'fingers' are better for my application (laminate wood flooring). The first couple of rooms looks really nice. However, after extensive use (75% of my house is laminate wood floors), the later rooms begin to streak like they do with a dirty mop. Theoretically, since its sanitizing they're still clean, they just have residue from the pad. I could avoid that by changing pads mid-stream and/or just doing one section of my house at a time. All in all, I think this is a pretty good cleaner. I give it 4 stars out of 5.

Shark Handheld Steam Scrubber: ** This came free when we ordered the Vac then Steam. It was looking forward to it. I hoped it would be something I could use on the kitchen counters, bath-tub, & the like. I also thought I could use it for spot cleaning when I didn't want to get the big one out. I really don't like it much at all. You have to pump the handle to get steam, but I can't find any rhyme or reason to how often or when you pump the handle. Sometimes I pump & get lots of steam, but other times I pump & get nothing. I've tried holding it down while I scrub. I've tried pumping it continuously while I scrub. All to no avail. It does a decent job on simple sanitizing, but its not getting any stains up except for maybe *really* fresh ones. It did get some kool-aid stains off my island/bar, but other kool-aid stains that were slightly older didn't come clean even after repeated steaming. Tea stains are absolutely hopeless with this thing. The pump on the handle is also pretty hard to pump. I don't think I'm that weak, but this thing wears me out after cleaning just my kitchen counters. I'm unsure of whether it can be used on vertical surfaces (walls), but from my attempts, I'm going to say it cannot. Its not absolutely worthless if it really sanitizes like it promises, however, its not all that handy. It has a nice long cord - I appreciate that. It also has similar pads as the Vac then Steam. I had better luck with the shorter 'fingers' than the longer ones with this device. Its shaped like an iron & I think I'm going to try it for some 'off-label' steaming of clothes. If I steam the surface first, then lay the clothes down & steam them, I think it'll work. At this point, I give this 2 stars out of 5.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Another year...

Yesterday, December 2, I celebrated my 4th wedding anniversary with Andrew. Three days prior to that my mom & dad celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary. I hope that in 32 years, Andrew & I are able to do the same!

It is truly a blessing to have an example like that to emulate. I know that their marriage hasn't always been as it is. I know that it hasn't always been easy. I know that it hasn't always been perfect. However, I see that two very different people can live in not only harmony but true love for longer than I've been alive.

Sometimes they try to give us advice. Part of the time we heed it, but other times we're convinced that we should go our own way. I'm sure it was similar with them and their parents. However, even when we don't take their advice, we are grateful to have their experience and opinions in the back of our minds. That way when/if things go poorly for us, we have another ready-made option to implement.

Mostly, though, I'm glad to have such strong convictions that arose from their education of me and my brothers. My parents have shown great perserverance as well as great love for one another and for God. Without God's blessing, we are all afloat in the sea of worldliness. Without God's blessing and one another, my parents could very easily have been one of the negative statistics. They could have turned from/against one another in times of stress, urest, difficulty, and lack. However, they held tight to their Faith and to one another.

One day I hope that my son or daughter will feel the same way about Andrew & my marriage. I hope to be the kind of parents that children look toward as adults and still want to emulate. I wish to be one of those couples that made it through the hard times together even when it would have been easier to separate. I wish to be one of those couples that holds tight to Faith as well as one another. With prayers and patience, I think we'll make it!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Whew big birthdays!!

Well, yesterday (11/26) was a BIG day for the Vandiver house-hold! Two giant milestones were celebrated. Andrew hit the big THREE-OH while Rachel hit the big ONE! We had a party for them both, however, most of the emphasis was on Rachel's milestone & not Andrew's.

In keeping with my preference, we decorated primarily with lavendar, butterflies, and flowers. Mom made cupcakes and decorated them as individual flowers! A giant mylar butterfly balloon was the cornerstone while a "Happy 1st Birthday" banner dedicated the party to this momentous occassion. Simon made a sign for Andrew's 30th to hang under the banner to ensure that his daddy wasn't forgotten. The cousins and their associated family members came over to celebrate the day! Dad's potato soup and Brenda's punch were also big hits!

Rachel made us all proud by taking some serious steps. Its like she decided that since she was officially one, she was going to walk like a one-year-old instead of crawling like a baby! She's been taking steps here & there for at least a month or two, but yesterday (and Thanksgiving day) she was walking across rooms instead of just a few feet at a time! Sadly she didn't make any progress on blowing her candle's out, so I did it for her! However, all the kiddos impressed everyone quite nicely by saying their prayers before the meal. Even the littlest ones - Lukas & Rachel - participated by folding their hands. Simon lead the prayer in true style as the guest of honors' son & brother. It was truly a God-inspired gathering!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Recovery?

Well, I'm still working on recovering. I've found that this cancer thing has changed my physical & mental capabilities & out-look. Right now, these changes have sunk my confidence in myself. I'm working on improving. I've also found that I need to be more confident of myself as an adult. Contrary to how I sound on the Internet, I'm pretty meek & mild when around my elders. I'm also very cautious about hurting others feelings when/if they hurt mine. In other words, in real life, I don't speak out very much. I'd rather remain silent than stop someone near & dear to me from saying more than I want to hear on a subject. I've gotten pretty good at talking to Andrew in my own way, but I haven't been able to branch out to others yet. Its a goal.

Andrew & I have been spending a lot of time at home with the kids the past 2 weeks. Rachel is still not quite walking - she takes 4-6 steps then sits down. She is an absolute leech on Andrew, just like Simon. She's also started throwing temper tantrums. When she doesn't get what she wants (like picked up by Andrew) she flings herself onto the floor & rolls around while moaning. Its kind of funny, but its also scary because I don't want her to be so spoiled. She chatters like a Magpie too. I think one of her words is "horsie" which makes me happy! She can also say: mama, dada (one of her top 2 words), bye-bye, nana (one of her top 2 words), papa, nanny, papaw, and ninin (I think that's Simon). She's obsessed with my Breyer horses and Simon's cars. She also likes books, but won't sit still for a whole one to be read to her.

Simon is still not potty trained. I'm pretty disappointed. If we press him to potty in the potty too much he'll just hold it in. He also cries like his heart is broken if we try. Otherwise he's doing quite well. Right now he's on a hunger strike. He's not eating, but he's drinking. Both he & Rachel have had some sort of viral mucus funk. I thought he had it first, but now that Rachel has recovered he seems like he's got it again/still. He's been really cuddly lately (that's his sickness mode). He & Rachel roll around on the floor and wrestle all the time. They love to play with one of my blankets - peek a boo mostly.

Overall, I think our little household is doing pretty well. Both kids are kind of spoiled, but Andrew & I have talked about how we're going to prevent further spoiling (in our house) and hopefully reverse some of the spoiling. We're still working on communication. Tomorrow (November 18th) will mark 5 years since Andrew & I first met! So much has changed, yet so much has stayed the same! Hopefully things will get better! :-)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New start?

I've enlisted all my strength to try to start over again. I'm trying to keep myself *very* busy so I don't think about my physical problems. I'm also trying to just not think too much period. Today I helped Andrew in his 'new' man-cave/semi-trailer w/o wheels. We built a work-bench. This is probably the 1st time we've worked together on something like this as such a good team. I'm usually with the kids or trying to do something else. I think I may have surprised him by my familiarity with the process & such. I may not be a girly-girl, but I've tried to avoid too much heavy lifting since we've been married - mostly because I've been pregnant on & off (mostly on with the 2 live babies & 4 miscarriages in less than 4 years). Anyway, today I was able to hand him things w/o him asking and be a couple steps ahead sometimes. I was quite proud of myself. I think the work-bench looks great! Hopefully I was also able to help him work smarter & not harder for his back's sake.

Of course, the semi-heavy lifting I did was not without consequences. My foobs are burning & my lower abdomen where my scars are hurts pretty bad. However, I think it made my mental/emotional picture better today. I still think this cancer stuff is horribly long-lasting, but maybe I'm going to be better soon. I hope & pray...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm voting Pro-life - How about you?



Its that time of year again - election time. In our times there are so many issues that are important. However, no other rights or issues would exist if we did not have the right to life. When it is argued that a woman has the right to her own body, a friend of mine asks, when does that right to her body begin? After all, aren't 1/2 of the aborted babies (logically if not factually) female? Therefore, when I cast my ballot, I ALWAYS chose the most pro-life candidate regardless of office, party, age, gender, or other issues. If both candidates are pro-life, I judge according to their other beliefs on issues near to my heart. If neither candidate is pro-life, I may abstain from voting, write my own candidate in, or cast my ballot for the one that will do the least harm. However, my preference is to vote for a candidate who is unabashedly pro-life in word, deed, and history. I also have a pretty stringent ideal for my pro-life candidates. Not only should they be against abortion; they should also support a ban on embryonic stem cell research (research that has not yet yielded positive results especially when compared to adult stem cell research & therapy). My candidates should also support programs designed to further our respect for all human life at conception, during illness, close to death, handicapped, etc. My candidates are also hopefully proponents for abstinence education and not push birth control on our youngsters. These requirements may sound idealistic, but IMO we should EXPECT more out of our candidates than the lies and increased expenses. They are supposed to be our representatives, but how can they represent us if they don't support what we support?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Breast cancer awareness & Life alerts

Its that time of year again. The time when you can't go anywhere or do anything without running into pink this or that marked with a pink ribbon. While I appreciate the sentiment as a 5th generation breast cancer survivor, it really irks me that some of the most prominent organizations that support breast cancer research are hand-in-hand with the nation (world's?) leader in abortion services. In 2009, the Susan G Komen foundation gave $7.5 MILLION dollars to Planned Parenthood. However, in 2008 (another banner year of donations for SGK going to PP) breast cancer services (mammograms & other screenings) went down 4% while abortion rates INCREASED by 6%. That is NOT what most supporters of SGK intend, at least not among those I have befriended. As a matter of fact, I know some women who are very active in their local SGK & have said that their local SGK does *not* fund PP. However, there is a slippery slope there... The local SGK chapters send money to the national SGK. The *national* SGK is the one funding PP - not necessarily the local chapters. So in essence, any support of *any* SGK chapter is supporting PP. There is also growing evidence that even abortion supporters cannot deny that abortions INCREASE a woman's chance of breast cancer. So, riddle me this... Why is SGK giving money to the biggest provider of abortions (PP) - especially in light of the troubling statistics from 2008, the troubling research coming to light about the link between breast cancer & abortions, and in the face of PP receiving MILLIONS from the government?

As a 5th generation breast cancer survivor, a mother, a woman, and a pro-life Catholic (isn't it sad that I have to differentiate on that issue with other Catholics?), SGK's association with PP deeply troubles me. Through my research I've found that other seemingly innocent organizations supposedly trying to eliminate breast cancer (or any cancer) also donate tremendous amounts of money to PP. Some organizations are open about it (SGK is), but many others deny all claims. For instance, although the American Cancer Society claims to not donate money to or refer patients to PP, if you search their website and/or browse PP's financial records (records they don't release in a timely fashion), you'll see that women are subtly directed to PP from ACS. At the very least, ACS has not kept up with the current research since on their page about breast cancer during pregnancy, they further the idea that termination *may* increase survival. Actually, research has shown the opposite. Women who are pregnant during their chemotherapy have BETTER outcomes and fewer side-effects from chemotherapy than similarly staged women that are not pregnant. Perhaps this is because at the end of pregnancy you get the most wonderful gift of all - a new life to love, protect, and praise God about. Whatever the reason, ACS should keep abreast (haha a little breast cancer humor) of current research.

Now, if you're like me, what I said above troubles you and leaves you confused, angry, and disappointed. However, here's my solution... Look in your own community for a cancer patient needing funds raised, travel paid for, prayers said, support given, etc. Give someone in your community suffering from cancer (breast, ovarian, prostate, lung, whatever kind) your DIRECT support. Cut out the middle-man, that way you'll KNOW where your money is going and who it's helping.

If you don't want to single someone out in your community, try your local cancer center or a large cancer center. You may need to research your cancer center to be sure they aren't in bed with PP or a similar organization. I've vetted my cancer center - MD Anderson - and found that they have a no embryonic stem cell research policy. I also know from experience that they have been helping women like me have their babies & receive treatment for 20 years. While they aren't 100% pro-life (a fact I sadly found out 2nd hand while down there), they don't perform abortions on-site, nor to my knowledge do they support PP. I would be tremendously honored if people who read my blog or attend my FaceBook page would donate to MD Anderson in my honor.

In short, sadly supporting many of the mainstream breast cancer organizations equals supporting Planned Parenthood and/or the abortion industry (or embryonic stem cell research). To combat this, find someone in your community in need of support & give them your money. Another option is to support a cancer center you KNOW isn't supporting abortion (like MD Anderson). Make sure your money goes where YOU want it to go.

PS - I've included some links to articles as sources for some of my numbers & information. If you're of a mind, you can do some independent internet research to find other sites supporting my facts. I've chosen to use Life Site News because of parsimony.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The article about my Life Award

Banquet Organizers 'Excited' About Turnout, Involvement

08 Oct 2010 — Messenger-Inquirer

By Beth Wilberding, Messenger-Inquirer

Organizers say Right to Life of Owensboro's annual banquet attracted one of its largest crowds this year.

Nearly 700 residents made reservations for Thursday night's banquet at the Hines Center, said Laura Ebelhar, president of Right to Life of Owensboro's board of directors.

'It's amazing,' she said earlier on Thursday. 'We think it's incredible. So many people are making a point to step forward and show their support for us and our missions. We're very impressed with the community at large. We're very excited about it.'

The annual banquet is Right to Life of Owensboro's largest fundraiser of the year. Money raised goes towards the organization's educational campaigns, including the billboards it places around town and radio and newspaper advertisements.

'Our mission is to educate about life, so we use the money to create educational campaigns essentially,' Ebelhar said.

Right to Life's guest speaker was Heather Gemmen Wilson, author of 'Startling Beauty: My Journey from Rape to Restoration.' Gemmen was raped in her home and became pregnant as a result of the sexual assault.

She told the group that she had three options: Keep and raise the baby, which she initially ruled out; put the baby up for adoption; or have an abortion.

'I'm ashamed to say how tempting that was,' she said. 'I grew up in a family that was pro-life.'

Though Wilson and her then-husband initially asked a married couple they were friends with to adopt the child, the couple ultimately decided to keep her child, a daughter.

She described her daughter as being 'the one startling beauty that could come from something so painful.'

Wilson encouraged the group to 'trust God in whatever situation you're in.'

'I do know God can do powerful things through your situation if you trust Him,' she said.

Accepting the Life Award: pictured Rick Jones, Rachel Vandiver, Amanda Reffitt, and Erika Vandiver (l to r) Photo by Rowan Jones
An Owensboro resident was honored with the organization's Life Award. Erika Vandiver was 28 years old and 20 weeks pregnant when she learned she had breast cancer in 2009.

She is the fifth generation in her family to have breast cancer. She delivered a healthy baby girl, Rachel, last Thanksgiving Day.

Vandiver and her husband, Andrew, also have a son, Simon.

Erika Vandiver went through chemotherapy while she was pregnant and continued treatment after Rachel was born. Vandiver had surgery for a bilateral mastectomy, then later to have her fallopian tubes and ovaries removed because she had a high risk of ovarian cancer.

Vandiver didn't know she was receiving the award.

'Most people don't have a clue that you can have cancer, survive and have a baby. ... It's important to insure that message gets out,' she said.

Beth Wilberding, 691-7307, bwilberding@messenger-inquirer.com

To Learn More:

Donations to Right to Life of Owensboro can be mailed to the organization at 1115 Tamarack Road, Suite 200, Owensboro, KY 42301, or made at www.rtlo.org. For more information about the organization, call 685-4922.

To learn more about Heather Gemmen Wilson, visit www.heathergemmen.com.

Erika Vandiver's blog is www.biologybrain-simonsays.blogspot.com.

Version: 6End:

"Banquet organizers 'excited' about turnout, involvement" Messenger-Inquirer 08 Oct 2010: C1

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Humbled & honored...

Well, I was conspired against at the Right to life banquet... I was awarded the annual Life Award for my journey with Rachel & cancer. I'm again humbled & honored by my family, friends, & strangers who find me inspiring for doing all I know how to do - survive. Thank you & God bless!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Home again!

We started home almost as soon as I was released from the hospital Saturday afternoon. We had to stop for the night about 5 hours away from home. Then we made it all the way home by 3 pm Sunday afternoon. It was a long hard trip that I'm still trying to recover from.

We spent the night by ourselves - sent the babies off to my mother-in-law's house. We slept in really late & then Andrew went to go get Simon. We played with him all day! Andrew's going to bring Rachel home tomorrow.

Brenda (my mother-in-law) called earlier to let us know that Rachel stood up on her own without holding onto anything else. Brenda said she turned away for a second & the next thing she knew Rachel was standing holding on to a toy! While we were gone she mastered some words - bye-bye with hand motions (means both the obvious as well as come get me I want to be with you), mama, nana, dada, and papa. Mom sent me a video of her doing it.

It makes me sad to miss some of these firsts of Rachel's. I feel like I've not bonded as well with her as I could have. Simon was so dependant and connected to me (quite literally a lot of the time) when he was this age. I still felt kind of left out sometimes because Andrew has always had quite a way with him. However, at least I knew I was providing him w/ something vital that linked us all the time.

Poor Rachel has been continually separated from me it seems. First it was chemo separation. I was with her, but not really b/c I was somewhat miserable from the chemo. Then I had my 1st surgery, so I was unable to hold her for 2 weeks. Then even after I healed from that surgery, I've had some issues with not being able to hold her close b/c of my expanders and pain. Then we kind of settled in with each other. However, now we've been separated for a long time again & I won't be able to hold her for at least 2 weeks again. In a few weeks (3-4 maybe) I plan on trying to have my 2nd stage of my reconstruction done. So that'll be *another* separation.

However, I still feel like she's more bonded with others than she is with me. Maybe part of it is because I don't have that same closeness of nursing her. Another part of it is that I feel like I've just been so worried about myself that I've not been able to be as single-minded with her. I don't feel like she's been neglected or anything. Its just that I have uber Mommy guilt I guess.

Friday, September 3, 2010

This sucks...

If there's a list of what can go wrong during an ooph I probably hit all the top ones. I had my surgery Aug 31st. Supposed to be laproscopic & implant exchange. Ended up being a laparotomy without exchange. I lost almost 2 liters of blood during surgery. I had adhesions from endometriosis all over. She left my uterus. I've had transfusions & now have illeus (my bowel's asleep). I'm still in the hospital & I'm absolutely miserable. I still have my horribly ugly expanders. I'm pissy & sore.I'm 900 miles away from my home & kids. Farting is my biggest accomplishment for the day. It just sucks.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Schedule set

I got my surgery time. At 11am I'll hopefully be going under. I can't wait for the 'happy' juice!! I'm kind of nervous. Ok I'll admit, I'm a lot nervous. This surgery is nothing compared to the last one, but i feel just as nervous as before. Hopefully I'll be ok. Timeto start my nasty prep. :-(

Sunday, August 29, 2010

We have arrived

We made it to Houston this afternoon. It's such a long trip... Bleh! Tomorrow I have only one appointment scheduled. Then I think we'll try to do something moderately fun. The worst thing will be that I have to do my icky surgery prep & not eat after 6 pm. Oh well.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I wish...

Time is passing slowly & sometimes I wish it would speed up. Time passes quickly & sometimes I wish it would slow down. I guess it just depends on where I am at the moment. Most of the times I live inside my head a completely different life than anyone else even suspects. I bleed most frequently on so-called anonymous online sites like this one, FB, & some bulletin boards. However, even there (here) I don't always really get out everything I feel. Its too scary & makes me feel weak & vulnerable. Sometimes I wish I could express myself fully, but I don't know how... here's a song that entirely speaks my feelings... Listen real hard to the lyrics.

SheDaisy - I Wish I Were the Rain

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Surgery date...

I get to have my surgery August 31st as long as my blood levels cooperate. I'm having the combined reconstruction with hysterectomy surgery done in Houston. You can be that I'll have my blood checked before I leave KY!!!

Funny Simon story... I've posted before that he has commented on my 'balloons' (expanders look like coconuts strapped under my skin). Well, he noticed them the other night & asked what happened to my 'other' ones. I told him the doctors had to cut them off. He immediately said back to me, "They got caught in the cactuses!" Now if you've ever heard him say 'cactuses' you'd know one reason this is so funny to me... He has a way of stressing the 1st syllable and drawing the word out much longer than it is. Its actually very funny to hear. Only a 2 year old! ;-)

Poor Rachel got bit on the hand by some bug (not a brown recluse spider) and had an allergic reaction to it. Her little hand swelled all up like a lobster claw. She went to the doctor yesterday for it & was pronounced fine. She was also weighed... She's 21.5 lbs!! She's a BIG girl! :-) She's also starting to crawl. Its so cute b/c she rolls from side to side. Its hilarious to watch!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Catching up...

I've been neglecting my blog again. Sorry. Things are still pretty much the same.

Rachel's not crawling yet. She pushes herself backwards with her hands & can sometimes convince her fat little legs (I mean little as in their not very long, not that they don't have extreme girth) to lift her fat little butt (again little is that she's 7 months old, not that its not extremely well-padded) to take a small crawl-step forward. However, these crawl steps are few & far-between! She basically likes to pull her feet up and wave her hands around while she rocks back & forth on her belly like an odd-looking rocking horse! Mom says I used to do the same thing.

Simon is still not potty trained. He has had 5 total successes & I can't even begin to enumerate how many failures. We've tried bribing him (toys, food, etc), giving him targets, telling him we'll be happy if he does it right, sitting him on the potty for hours, having him run around naked, doling out gentle discipline for peeing (or #2) on the floor, etc. He has shown that he knows what to do, he just doesn't want to do it. He can also hold it for tremendously long because as soon as we put a diaper on him its fairly bursting w/ pee (&/or #2) within 5 minutes. At this point we're doing all of the above simultaneously in the hopes that its going to click one of these days. Last night after he had 2 'accidents' at mom's house I brought him home to sit on the potty for a while. He did what he was supposed to FINALLY!!! Even though he'd already made a puddle at mom's he filled the potty pretty well! He got a potty dance from me, a "good job" & "I'm proud of you" from Andrew & me, & two toy trucks (a monster/hot rod John Deere tractor & hot rod fire truck). I kept praising him right up until he went to bed.

I sold Febe on Saturday. She's now in her new home in Northern/central Indiana. The family that came out to buy her was really sweet. She's going to be the foundation for their Equine Ministry. They have a daughter of about 8 or 9 that has Down's Syndrome. One of their son's is about 15. The son is the one that's going to work with her primarily until she settles into their routine. However, they hope to use her for their daughter as well as other children in need. They're also going to breed her if/when they find a stallion. Its weird to be horseless again for the 2nd time in a year. However, I know she went to a good place & that it'll work out best for me/us to not have a horse to worry about right now. In the next year or 2 I hope to get to a place again where I can have a horse & actually use it.

Andrew has been feeling kind of bad lately. He went to the doctor & they can't find anything wrong with him. The doctor said he was probably just extraordinarily stressed from everything that's going on in our lives. Andrew's not one to relish being idle, but since he closed his business, he's not had a 'purpose' for his days. I'm not home enough to help him out of the doldrums. So he's struggling a bit. However, I think he feels a bit better knowing that there's nothing seriously wrong with him.

I'm still waiting for my meeting with my local ob/gyn. I've had several people put the bug in my ear that I should still have my hysterectomy done in Houston. Most people's opinion is based on the fact that I *could* have cancer & if that is the case, they want to be sure I have someone familiar with cancer doing the surgery in case there's something different that needs to be done. I'm still leaning towards having it done here though. The chances of me having ovarian cancer are fairly slim (less than 5% I think) due to my age. However, I think the chances of having a more complicated surgery (open abdominal surgery instead of laproscopic) is probably greater than the cancer risk. If I do have to have the open abdominal surgery I'd rather be close to home for my recovery. I don't relish a 900 mile journey home with a big incision in my belly. I'm confident that Dr. B can do a good job. I'm still open-minded though (or at least I'm trying to be). I'm waiting on a reply from Dr. K from Houston on her opinion. Plus I'm going to ask Dr. B what her opinion is on Wednesday. All I know is I want it done ASAP!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tenacious Tuesday.

I heard from Dr. B's office yesterday. I meet with her to discuss my surgery July 21st. Its help ease my mind a little bit to at least have a concrete plan.

I think Rachel will be crawling in a few days - hopefully by next week. She's getting her knees under her and pushing herself forward on her face. Its quite comical to watch. I tried to get some video (using my iPhone), but the little twerp would roll onto her back & grin at me instead!

Once again, I've been thinking. Do the decisions we make really change us? If I could go back & change just one thing, would that make me a different person? Better? Worse? On the one hand, I don't regret who I am, but who's to say that I couldn't be a better person if I'd chosen more appropriately at one point in my life? On the other hand, sometimes the quirks of fate seem to slap me in the face instead of patting me on the back. Oh, I know God is ultimately in control of everything. However, its our free will that really screws things up!

For instance, if I was bosom buddies with someone who then turned around & stabbed me in the back, am I a better person for it - or does it just show that I lacked perception in chosing my bosom buddy? Another instance, when I hid myself away after my boyfriend's death, did I delay the joy that Andrew & I have found? Had we met sooner, would we have more than 2 living children and 4 saints in Heaven? Would I be a better wife, him a better husband? Would my cancer have come sooner or later? If I'd phrased a comment differently, would the response still have been so dramatic? There are so many questions & so few answers. God, the author of Life, is the only one who knows.

Sometimes its the small things that can completely change someone's life - either for the better or worse. Did a harsh word I said to someone in high school irrevocably harm them? Did a harsh word I heard irrevocably harm me? Did a kindness done to me or observed by me foster in me the desire to do the same for someone else? This latter is what I strive to do - live it forward.

Life has dealt me some blows. It is my goal to rise above these blows and cause someone else to have hope, love, and compassion. The only way I can do that is if I have hope, love, and compassion. Lately I've been lacking in hope and quite possibly compassion. Life has been difficult & sometimes, even when you strive to rise above, you can't get above the deep well of negative emotions. I'm crawling up by will, prayers, & my fingernails. I hope that in my struggles I've not brought anyone down. I wish only to rise above and help others to rise as well. God bless!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The waiting is KILLING me...

I'm hoping that statement is only figurative, not quite literal. I'm worried that if I wait too long it *will* be literal though... I'm SO frustrated right now. I got rejected in Houston, my local oncologist says I should have the surgery anyway, so I call my local ob/gyn first thing yesterday morning. I'm waiting on a call back to see if she'll do it... Since I haven't heard anything from her yet, I call her office... They're CLOSED until Monday! I know this is her regular day out of the office, but I just want to know one way or another...

At work we also just got the 'official' word that furloughs are definitely going to be required for state employees. That means that we're going to be forced to take a certain number of days off without pay. Not to mention that the budget shortfall is making them mess with our retirement benefits. Of course, the private sector people think our benefits are so awesome... Well, they used to be, but now we're really just average with a little better retirement/insurance. However, our salaries are generally *lower* than other states as well as private sector jobs in our field. For instance, in Henderson, NV (or really almost anywhere, but here) if I had this same exact job, I'd be making at least $10,000 more per year. So in order to stay close to my family, I thought the benefits of state employment would out-weigh the lower pay. However, it looks like when its time for me to retire (if I make it that long) the retirement plan will no longer be in place. I think its set to run out of money in 2013.

So basically, since our legislators/governors/etc can't balance a budget & keep to it, us 'little people' are going to suffer. You can bet your bottom dollar that they're not going to suffer from this... When they're re-elected they'll throw out perfectly good office furniture & such to order new for themselves. They'll give themselves raises every year while our 1% increment has been denied to us for at least 2 years. They'll spend money wining & dining lobbyists & themselves, but they forget they're sometimes taking food from the tables of hard-working state employees (not to mention tax-payers). They'll give money to people who have no jobs - some through their own faults (drugs, convictions, etc) - but not help those who work for a living.

Aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! This has been a *really* crappy week...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Failure...

Well, I guess technically I didn't fail, but my bloodwork sure did. I spent the most miserable birthday ever all for nothing. We drove to TX all night on the 30th. I felt nervous & sick so I mostly tried to sleep. That left me sore & groggy when we arrived at 7am the 1st. Then since all of us we feeling groggy we slept all day. I seem to have caught a slight bug, but figured it wouldn't matter. Got to the hospital bright & early this morning met with both doctors who couldn't wait to operate then did diagnostic tests. One of the most uncomfortable & humiliating of which had to be done twice due to computer issues. As if that wasn't bad enough after we left the hospital I get a call from my main surgeon. The bloodwork showed my white bloodcell count to be 3.5 instead of a normal 4. That completely disqualified me for both of my "unnecessary" surgeries... The whole reason we drove all this way. I'm not mad I'm just so deeply disappointed and unhappy that I can't seem too get over it. This is way worse than finding out I had to have implants instead of my own tissue. I know I'm not likely to have any complications because of this wait, but I feel like my life is once again on hold because of this stupid cancer. Not to mention that the low WBC count could have a more sinister cause than left-over chemo. So now I still have a sword of Damoclese hanging over my head. We're leaving 1st thing tomorrow morning. Yippee another 900 mile journey only this time for nothing. :-(

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Simon-isms...

The other day Simon was spending time with g'maw outside. It was nearing lunch, so she asked him what he'd like for lunch. He thinks for a minute & says, "A sandwich." She asks him what kind of sandwich, he replied, "Peanut butter & jelly." She checked the time & noticed that its not quite 11 yet, so they continued to play outside. About 15 minutes later he turned to her & said, "Go in the kitchen & fix my sandwich.... Please!" He's a bossy little thing.

Last night Rachel was playing on the floor after her bath. Simon was playing tractors with her. She still hasn't completely mastered sitting upright by herself for long periods of time. I could see her reaching for one of Simon's tractors, but she kept righting herself, so I didn't worry. Within a few seconds I hear a loud "thunk" as her face connects w/ one of the metal tractors. She wailed and screamed for about 30 minutes. I tried to put ice on it to keep the swelling & bruising at a minimum & that just made her scream more. Poor little thing. Once her bottle was made, she turned back into her sunshiney self thank goodness!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

butterflies & acid rain

Let's just say my system is on revolt... The military helicopter butterflies are bombing away w/ acid rain or something. I know this surgery is in my family & my best interest, but I feel like I'm being sent to the gallows or something. I just wish I could get it over with already! This waiting is AWFUL!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Butterflies...

Ok. I got to thinking again... You know how when you're nervous people ask if you have butterflies. Well, I decided that is definitely NOT accurate enough. When I think of butterflies, I think of light airy beautiful creatures that flit & fly from flower to flower. Butterflies bring to mind a tranquil pastoral setting in my mind. Swaying flowers and flitting butterflies do not connote the nerves that the 'butterflies' should. When I'm nervous its more like I have bats, buzzards, or military helicopters circling my stomach. Its a violent & awkward sensation with no peace at all. That's the feeling I have now. I think right now I've got enemy military helicopters bombing away...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This time last year...

I was thinking this morning (I've been doing a lot of that). Anyway, this time last year I was scared to tell anyone about my pregnancy b/c I did not yet know whether the lump on my breast was cancer or not. I was fortunate that I was almost 20 weeks pregnant & not showing any signs b/c I was able to effectively hide both my pregnancy & my worry about cancer until I had to take off for my biopsy July, 7 2009. Talk about a let-down. I told everyone that I had good news & bad news... The good news was of course that I was successfully pregnant about 20 weeks along. There wasn't much celebration at my announcement because of the bad news. The bad news was of course that I also suspected I had breast cancer.

Poor Rachel didn't get welcomed as much as most babies b/c she was announced & born amid my cancer. I think she's fine though. It won't matter one way or another for her! :-) Here she is playing house with her big brother! She's almost 7 months old & he's 2. They have the greatest time together. She loves to watch him play - even when he's driving Andrew & me crazy! Its just a matter of time b/4 she's on his heels chasing him and being chased by him! I can't wait! :-D

Monday, June 14, 2010

... the darnedest things...

Simon says the darnedest things sometimes! He's in that phase where you can tell him to say things to someone too... So Andrew & I use him to talk to each other sometimes! ;-) Here's a cute Simon story...

He was at my mom's house walking through the garden with her. He kept pointing to the flowers & asking what colors they were. He came to one daylily that is a sort of bronzy/copper color & asked what color it was. My mom said, "Its copper." Simon replied w/ that tilt to his head, "Nana, Copper's a DOG! That's not Copper." Mom said she almost fell down laughing so hard! Our Beagle's name is Copper.

Yesterday while we were getting ready for church Simon walked up to me as I was dressing Rachel & said, "That's Rachel. Rachel is awesome." I have no idea where he got the word awesome, but that's what he said. He's just a mess! He absolutely loves her to pieces too!


Its never dull in our house!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Its been a while

I've not gone on vacation or anything, but its been a while since I've written. Things are kind of hectic with all the responsibilities I feel I have on my shoulders. Plus our internet at home is rather unreliable. The kiddos are doing great. Andrew is still kind of at loose ends, but he's doing pretty well. I'm tired. That's really all that's going on...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Surgery date...

I just got the call back from Dr. K at MD Anderson for removing my ovaries. The date is July 6th. I will have pre-op appointments the week before, so most likely I'll be traveling to Houston on my birthday & having my 1st appointment on mom's (sorry mom). However, I'll be almost 1 year to the day since my diagnosis! So on my diagnosis aniversary I will be 'cured' hopefully once & for all! :-)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I thank God for...

Life in general - in another age I could be dead already - not to mention my 6 month old little girl would not have made it either. Although today breast cancer is relatively easily fought & won by many - even a decade ago, my mutation would have meant almost certain death for me & my unborn (at the time) child. So another aspect of this thanksgiving is for those who've pioneered in the treatment of my ailment and found ways to preserve not only my life, but also my child's.

My husband for being my rock, laughter, tease, lover, fellow-Catholic, accountant, and best friend.

My children for blessing my life with their smiles, laughter, and antics.
My family (mom & dad & DH's parents) for being so giving to help us w/ the kiddos while we work.

My job even though I occassionally (ok - most of the time) hate having to leave my family. I am blessed to have steady income, good insurance, and wonderful co-workers who also helped me through this struggle w/ cancer.
For those that have gone before us and are praying for and with us closer to God's ear than we on Earth can hope for.

My Faith, Savior, and Church. Without these rocks of my salvation I would surely have floundered in the deep recesses of my soul.

My BBC & FB & blog friends who've given me untold support all the while demanding nothing of me. I hope that one day I can return even just a paltry portion of this aid to a few of you.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Innermost thoughts?!

Its been a while since I've delved into my inner-most being on here. I try to keep things light-hearted & happy. Not because I'm faking the joy I have in my life, but because I'm trying to focus on the joy and not the doubts, fears, and struggles. Anyway, today I have been beset with thoughts that linger. This is the best way I know to relieve myself of them.

What does your inner voice tell you? Does it tell you you're a wonderful person? Or does yours, like mine, constantly query you as to whether you're the person others see in you? Does your inner voice congratulate you for well-made decisions? Or does yours, like mine, persistently call to mind all the doubts you've had about your decisions? Does your inner voice exude confidence at your image, intellect, and personality? Or does yours, like mine, wonder at the way others must see you? Does your inner voice accuse you of laughing too loud or too hard, of opening your mouth only to display your ignorance, or scoff at your appearance?

Does something like the struggles I've endured in the past year change you? Or does it merely call into the forefront your mortality? Did I really do anything that is all that wonderous? I was diagnosed with breast cancer - millions of women cope with that beast daily. Yes, I was pregnant at my diagnosis - 1 in 3000-3500 women have the same fate. I endured (yes I will at least give myself that much) chemotherapy and the endless paranoia associated with uncertainty. As a matter of fact, I'm still confronted w/ uncertainty and a decision that will forever change my life. However, I did not do it like a lamb lead to slaughter - opening not my mouth as the Prophet said of Jesus. No, I opened my mouth and sought compassion and commiseration.

I don't feel that I've done anything out of the ordinary. Actually, most of the time I feel that I called too much on my family & friends to support me. Every one I know has their own crosses to carry, yet I often-times know nothing of their struggles. They don't seek out my advice or comfort. I am too oblvious to notice. Although I now feel like I've experience more of life, I am still oblivious to others struggles it seems. I truly want to help others. I can acknowledge that sometimes just being up-beat (and oblivous) can help others through their dark times. However, I like to do concrete things. It just seems that I'm too selfish & caught up in solving my own problems (as if I can solve them) to help someone else attend to theirs. So take this as my humble plea and vow to offer solace where I've sought it. I truly appreciate everything that has been done for me & wish to return the favor if possible. You have but to ask.

A Memorial Day to remember!

This weekend was AWESOME in its mediocrity! I mean that in a good way. Everything was very low demand and generally come-as-you-please. Saturday we played outside w/ the kiddos.

Sunday we went to an awesome party in Morganfield. At the party Simon & Rachel got to swim w/ Andrew & me. It was great! Rachel was in her little float kicked back & relaxing. She was so adorable in her swimsuit & hat (thanks Laura). Simon put on arm floaties & slid down the slide into the water. He also got brave enough for me to let go of him & have him float by himself for a few seconds. Andrew even got a thrill because our host owns a new Shelby GT 500 or Cobra or something as well as a classic. I just had fun b/c there were drinks, food, friends, and a pool! I was even confident about the way I looked for a change!

Monday was another really low-key day. We played outside w/ the kiddos. We visited mom & dad. Same-old same-old!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

She's 6 months old!

Today is Rachel's 6 month birthday! Here's the girl having a good time at Nana's!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Weird day...

Well, today I really didn't want to get out of bed. That seems to have started a day straight out of the weird world. I had to take the kids & Andrew to Calhoun b/c Andrew didn't have the Bronco here to transport the kids. I didn't mind but it did make me run late - especially since we went to the lawyer's office to sign the paperwork on Andrew selling the garage (more on that later).

As I was driving from Calhoun to Madisonville, I had a horrible thought... I had court in the furthest tip of Western KY with my supervisor. Since I was late I called the lab to tell them & ask about court. Of course the cell signal was iffy so I could only hear a small part of what the Admin. Assistant was telling me. Of course, I heard her loud & clear when she answered my question about whether my supervisor was mad at me or not... It was a resounding yes. Uh oh! I put my foot to the floor as I reached behind my seat to grab my ever-present suit (I'm always paranoid something like this is going to happen). I was putting my skirt on over my jeans as I drove down the road - believe it or not it is possible to do that w/o a) flashing other drivers & b) ever taking both hands off the steering wheel!


I pulled up at the lab in my suit minus jacket (it was way to hot for the jacket) - thank goodness I had the sense to dress w/ a good shirt & shoes this morning! My supervisor already had the car started & pulled close to the door. I shot our of my car & ran into the lab to grab my wig & my case information. We got on the road & he wasn't really too mad at me (or else I just suck at noticing). We talked as he drove the 2+ long hours to court. This is a place we all hate to go b/c its the furthest point in Western KY & just a horribly long drive. There are no restaurants or even recognizable convenience stores. Part of the city is falling into the Ohio River. To get to the rest of the town you have to cross a ferry!


The weird part of my day was starting... While in the city we saw 2 one-armed men (one used to be Sheriff), a waxed mustache, a guy that talked like SlingBlade, houses falling into the Ohio River, and LOTS of underwater farmland. It also stormed w/ lots of wind, lightning, & hard rain while we were there... On the drive back it seemed as if it only rained in that county... If I'd seen a man playing banjo I'd have thought I was in Deliverance & gotten the heck out of Dodge!


After sitting in the courthouse for over 4 hours, we finally started back home. As we drove my supervisor's GPS was calculating our estimated arrival time. He was driving well over the speed-limit, but for some reason the ETA stayed the same the WHOLE way home... Talk about teaching you that speeding - especially when you're in Deliverance land - does not get you home appreciably faster. So that was my day in a nutshell!


On to Andrew's story. Since 2007 he's had his own garage/shop in Rumsey/Calhoun. He's an ASE certified automotive technician (mechanic). He seemed to be doing ok since opening. However, after careful examination he's found that a) people don't pay you when you cut them a break, b) people are *really* tight w/ money right now, and c) busting your butt just to pay upkeep is NOT worth it. So he's officially closing his doors sometime soon. I think he's still going to be doing some side-jobs, but he's primarily going to focus on either going back to school or finding a decent job around here. I'm disappointed for him, but I'm glad he's going to be pro-active and do something good for himself. I'm hoping this new endeavor lets him be himself & fulfills his potential. I know he's great, now I want everyone else to know too!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Great day!

Today was a great day to be alive! The sun was shining, the temperature was warm, but with a nice breeze, and the kids were happy. The only thing is that Febe got out TWICE and ran from me TWICE! We think we've figured out where she's getting out, so hopefully tomorrow we'll be able to fix it. Otherwise, the kids & I played outside all day. Andrew played on his tractor all day - mowing Rowan & Laura's fields, Febe's field, our yard, etc. Simon got a 'man' haircut today & looks SO CUTE!!! He didn't like it much, but it was worth it! Abby, Sarah, Laura & Lukas came over this afternoon to pick cherries off my cherry tree. We're not sure what Laura's going to be able to make with them (there aren't very many), but she's going to try for something.

Some weirdness did happen today though. In the mail I got a notice that my Louisville plastic surgeon's office scheduled me for surgery without calling to ask me for a good date/time. Apparently, they think 2 days b/4 my birthday would be a great time to have surgery. Hate to break it to them, but I think that would make my birthday SUCK! I'm kind of weirded out that they would schedule my surgery and inform me of it via mail when we never really talked about when I'd like to have it. I just got a notice about the surgery & some pre-op blood-work orders without a phone call or discussion with the doctor.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Over the hills & through the grass...

This morning I got the pleasure of sleeping in since I get time off to vote in the primaries. So I slept in until about 9. Then I got ready to leave to vote & go to work. On my way out the driveway I looked in the field for Febe. I didn't see her. I stopped, got out, & looked again. Still no Febe in the field. I went back to the building to grab her halter & lead-rope so if I saw her I could catch her. Well, I rounded the first curve and saw my horse's rear in the tall grass. I got my car situated so I could drive it and lead her back to the house. I walked up to her thinking, "Well, at least she's not far from home." I don't know if I jinxed myself or if its just the sudden spring-like weather that got to her. All I do know is that she got it in her tiny little brain to take off running. I followed her up and down hills through sometimes waist high grass. At one point I'd chased her probably 1/4 mile & decided it was time to go get reinforcements. I left her happily grazing while I went to go get my mom. She leapt to action, even though she had both of my brother's girls with her already. My dad stayed behind to watch them. She drove until we saw Febe again. then she let me out & she tried to position herself to keep Febe from going to the highway (less than 1 mile from where she was at the time). Sure enough, Febe ran straight at her going toward the highway. Luckily my mom honked the horn, revved the engine, and turned Febe up another hill that is backed by a cattle pasture. I kept walking after her.

Mom went to trade the car in for the 4-wheeler since its more manouverable. I followed Febe up another hill and finally got her along the fence-line. Of course, in order to get there she had to go through 2-3 peoples yards... Sorry neighbors. One of the neighbors came out to see if he could help. In a way I was hoping all the neighbors were at work so they wouldn't witness my horse tramping through their yards. In another way I was glad for any extra help since Febe was NOT cooperating. I'd gotten close to her several times only to have her jump and take off running/bucking as soon as I tried to slowly move the rope into position. Finally between the 4-wheeler, my neighbor, & me we got the halter on her. It took about 45 minutes just to catch her & put her in a (hopefully) secure area. She doesn't canter/run much, but she sure can trot FAST!

I have no idea where she's getting out. I just walked the fence lines Saturday and repaired, patched, propped, and/or barricaded some areas. However, it all seems to be sufficient to keep her inside. However, the old axiom "The grass on the other side is always greener" is *very* true for horses. In Febe's case it is really true b/c the grass on the other side of the fence is nice & tall w/o any old horse piles (they don't like to eat grass around piles) while the field she's in has been cropped close to the ground except around the clover patches (Wally's favorite). For some reason, Febe will let the clover get quite tall without eating any of it. We have a simple latch on the one gate in our backyard & I'm thinking that she's figured out how to open it. One of my old horses, Moonshine, was capable. I had to keep something wrapped around that gate/latch to keep her inside. I'll walk the field again this afternoon. Hopefully I'll find the problem.

When I got to work my arms, chest, and shoulders were already sore. That's definitely a bummer. My pants were also soaked from the knee down w/ grass seeds & mud all over my shoes. I did get to vote though!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I love horses!!!

I have been afraid since my surgery to ride or even play with my horse, Febe. I bought her in October and have only tried to work/play with her once since then (until last week). Anyway, her *real* job is to pull the cart so I can take the kids (and maybe even Andrew) with me. However, she's in need of a HUGE refresher apparently! I've been ground-driving her (doing everything but putting the cart behind the horse) for a couple weeks. However, I'm still a bit nervous about hitching her b/c she has some issues (like excitement when she sees the cart). In my pre-breast cancer/kids life, I was a pretty good rider (if I do say so myself). So riding is much more comfortable for me mentally, plus you're not within striking distance of those big feet! However, I was unsure whether she had actually been ridden... Sometimes horse-traders live up to their expectations (that's a BAD thing). So I took a risk today after ground-driving her again. I actually climbed aboard. I was a bit nervous, but I put my noggin protector (helmet) on and took things slow. She is a cart-horse through and through - she'll only go the slowest two speeds - walk & trot. In other words, the KY Derby is definitely NOT in her future! However, she was very good and it'll help me get her in a better place for pulling the cart comfortably (for me).

The only down-side was that the foobs did NOT agree w/ riding. Walking was fine because its minimally bouncy. However, trotting (the main working speed) was quite uncomfortable. My ribs are still quite sore apparently (duh)! The bouncing on a good day can be uncomfortable. However, this was not my best or even a good day (compared to pre-breast cancer/surgery). My chest muscles are also quite a bit sore. Thankfully, the rest of me isn't saddle-sore at all (that I can tell). Muscle memory is an awesome thing!

Oh, something else new... Rachel has 2 - count them TWO - teeth. Mother's Day Mass is when the 1st one became apparent, even though it was basically invisible, just feel-able. However, by Wednesday of this week, the lower left one was visible. Now the whole flat edge of the left one is visible as well as the beginning nubbin of the right one. She's doing pretty good with it too, not much complaining. She has always (it seems) chewed on her hands really badly, so that's not much different. Simon is feeling much better too, so hopefully everything is good for now!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Name that baby!

I think my two babies look pretty much just alike. So I'm going to post photos of them at similar ages. I'm asking for responses as to which baby is which. Here's the 1st in the series.
Baby A...
Baby B...
Baby C...Baby D...
Baby E...






Monday, May 10, 2010

Hopefully I get final surgery clearance tomorrow!

Tomorrow I go see the plastic surgeon in Louisville. I'm pretty sure he's going to clear me for surgery... Although at this point, he still thinks he's doing the surgery. I'm pretty sure the date I have in mind will be good - July 5th or 6th. That'll give me time to celebrate my birthday, mom's birthday, & our nation's birthday! It'll also let me get the surgeon I want for my hysterectomy (she doesn't get back from maternity leave until then I think).

Rachel has a *very* small 1st tooth. Actually, I've not seen it, but I've felt it. Mom noticed it at church while she was letting Rachel gnaw on her knuckle. I felt it when I did the same thing. However, I can't feel it if I rub her gums though. She's also trying to learn to sit-up by herself (ie balancing, not actually pulling up to sit).

Simon slept through the night 2 nights in a row only to ruin it by making Andrew sleep w/ him last night. He had a good time today at Papaw & Mamaw's house. They bought him a motorized John Deere lawnmower w/ a wagon. When he pushed the pedal down & the thing moved he was so shocked that he cried. So funny!

Tomorrow I hopefully get a surgery date!

Tomorrow I go see the plastic surgeon in Louisville. I'm pretty sure he's going to clear me for surgery... Although at this point, he still thinks he's doing the surgery. I'm pretty sure the date I have in mind will be good - July 5th or 6th. That'll give me time to celebrate my birthday, mom's birthday, & our nation's birthday! It'll also let me get the surgeon I want for my hysterectomy (she doesn't get back from maternity leave until then I think).

Rachel has a *very* small 1st tooth. Actually, I've not seen it, but I've felt it. Mom noticed it at church while she was letting Rachel gnaw on her knuckle. I felt it when I did the same thing. However, I can't feel it if I rub her gums though. She's also trying to learn to sit-up by herself (ie balancing, not actually pulling up to sit).

Simon slept through the night 2 nights in a row only to ruin it by making Andrew sleep w/ him last night. He had a good time today at Papaw & Mamaw's house. They bought him a motorized John Deere lawnmower w/ a wagon. When he pushed the pedal down & the thing moved he was so shocked that he cried.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bad internet

Well, I've been meaning to post, but the internet here at home is not wanting to work consistently. I'm not supposed to blog while I'm at work, so that means I don't get to do it at all!

I've been off the Neurontin for a week now & feeling 100% better. The crazy emotional feelings are gone, thank God! My neuropathy doesn't seem to be too bad. Its not keeping me awake at night too much. I've not noticed that my fingers & toes are numb or anything. I go see the plastic surgeon Tuesday & hopefully that'll give me a date for my next surgery.

Work is going ok. Hopefully I'll be proficient again shortly. I've done lots of tests and read lots of articles. I've also testified several times.

Rachel is rolling over & can actually balance while she's sitting up now! The only down-side is that her stomach has been upset this whole week. I think she's teething more too. She's also seemed really sleepy lately. Maybe she's growing!

Simon has slept through the night in his own bed for the last 2 nights! I'm so happy! He's been rather challenging today though. He woke up before us & proceeded to empty out the silverware drawer, empty out my make-up drawer, & empty an entire container of wipes on/in Rachel's crib. He's completely unremorseful too. He went down for his nap well though. I'm hoping for a good afternoon.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Moody me... :-(

I've been terribly emotional since my surgery. This week it seems to have come to a head. I either want to chew someone's head off or burst into tears - or even both. This is WAY out of character for me - even through 6 pregnancies & horrible monthlies. Its gotten so bad that I started searching for answers after whining about it for a while. It turns out that both the medications I can take (Lyrica & Neurontin) can cause depression, suicidal thoughts, irritability, irrational behavior, etc. In other words, I read the side-effects list & saw my match!

The bad news is that my neuropathy is apparently a bit worse than I thought it was. I cut my finger today - a bit deeper than a paper-cut & never even noticed until I saw that my glove had blood in it. I thought my worst neuropathy problem was my feet/legs burning at night. I guess I was wrong. I called both my local oncologist & my TX one. My local oncologist said to continue the Neurontin at night (only) and to take 1/2 an Ativan in the mornings to see if that quick fix helps. If it does, then he may put me on an anti-depressant for the long run... Or until something happens w/ my neuropathy. My TX oncologist is worried that my neuropathy is bad enough that I can cut my finger & not notice. Her recommendation is acupuncture. I'm probably going to look into that too. If it'll take care of the neuropathy then I won't need ANY of the medications! That would be awesome!

Rachel rolled over from her belly to her back finally earlier this week. The little lazy thing still has issues w/ back to belly, but she can get most of the way. She's also eating like a horse! We're still sticking to bananas since I don't want to overwhelm her system. However, she's eating a "2nd foods" plastic container full of a rice cereal/banana mixture at night plus whatever her keepers give her during the day!

Simon is going to try to do some pottying this weekend. He's having trouble though. He's also having trouble sleeping. We don't know what it is, but sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night screaming. That's when he ends up sleeping with us. That's miserable for all of us b/c he's very sensitive and restless.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I need a drink!

Whew - its been crazy! I had court Tuesday of last week. I testify for either the defense or prosecution about biological evidence in criminal cases as a Forensic Biologist. Its NOTHING like what you see on TV. I spent hours at the courthouse (not to mention the 2 hours it took to get there & then 2 more back) doing absolutely NOTHING. It was pretty easy though! The rest of the week I continued brushing up on my training articles and performing experiments. I've got to get all this done so I can become proficient at my job again. That's one of the goods & bads about the work I do... We take proficiency tests each year that are given to us by an outside company. They're good to keep analysts honest & doing what they're supposed to (good). They're bad b/c they're kind of a drag to do. However, the important thing is to do my job correctly. I'm an unbiased witness to whatever crime may or may not have happened. Although I work for the state police, I don't get paid any more if a case turns up the results the officer wants or not. So its in everyone's best interest (particularly the victim & suspect) that I simply do my job w/o getting carried away emotionally by the suspected crime. Those are the analysts that you see on TV - getting personally involved. However, in the real world, those analysts would FAIL to do JUSTICE most of the time.

Potty training didn't turn out to be part of the program this weekend. Mother-nature gave me a lickin', so status quo was the name of the game. The foobs are holding up pretty well. As long as I don't lean into my work-bench too much or look down too often I can almost forget they're not really a part of me. However, I do catch myself studying myself sometimes to make sure its not obvious they're fake. Ooohhh! I'm so happy the scabs finally healed up so I'm now able to take my relaxing baths whenever I want! I love bubbles & relaxing! Its even better w/ a snifter of Wild Turkey Honey! ;-)

Rachel LOVES her bananas though. I mashed them up and some I froze, but one whole banana was put in the fridge. She hasn't had any reaction at all to it. Tonight she ate a HUGE portion! Tomorrow is her & my new mother-in-law's (Andrew's dad remarried in December) first day together. Hopefully it won't be too much for either of them! Simon is doing great even though he's not potty training. He's rambunctious and adorable. Rachel is chubby & adorable. What more could any mom ask for?!?! Oh, Andrew's irascible and adorable too! ;-) Even though I hate working (I don't necessarily hate the work - I'd just rather spend time w/ my kiddos), I have a pretty good life. I love my family & that's really all that matters!

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Smiling already at 2 weeks

Smiling already at 2 weeks
Rachel has been smiling as a response to other people since day one.

And two shall become one...

And two shall become one...
In 2006, Andrew & I became one before God and family! Shortly thereafter we became 3 with the birth of Simon in 2008... Then 4 with the addition of Rachel in 2009!

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