Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Ends with a Bang!

I've spent the last 2 days (well, starting Friday morning at 130am and ending today) in the hospital with Andrew. He had an anaphylactic reaction to something he ate & passed out from it. The kids stayed with mom and never really knew about it. He came home none the worse for the stay except tired, nervous about foods, and with strict instructions to carry his Epi-Pen everywhere. I think I'm more tired than him since I stayed away for about 40 hours during the ordeal. Our fondest wish for 2012 is to stay healthy!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas!!!

The kids had a great Christmas and even learned the reason for the season in a couple different ways! Both kids pulled an angel from the St. Alph's angel tree that was similar in age and interest as them. Simon actually went shopping with me to pick out the gift and during the whole shopping trip never asked for a toy of his own! Rachel's first phone call on her new kitchen phone (their joint Christmas gift was a kitchen set) was to "the boy who had none" to wish him a Merry Christmas! Rachel learned sacrifice by giving Baby Jesus her pacifiers. Although Rachel is still missing her pacifiers she says "I love Baby Jesus" before laying down for bed. All in all I'm very happy with my kids' Christmas -- we didn't emphasis receiving gifts (none were from Santa) and we didn't give lots or lavish gifts. We hand picked a few things that really meant something. I think everyone was well pleased with our Christmas!

I hope everyone had a wonderful and blessed Christmas! I apologize for not sending more Christmas cards. I still have a stack awaiting addresses and notes beside my bed. If you haven't gotten one, there is still hope! ;-) I cannot express how grateful I am to all of you who, through thoughts, prayers, actions, or contribution, have helped our family make it through our struggles! Thank you and God bless!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Child-generated Christmas cheer

I let the kids draw on some paper. Then I traced each of their hands and feet on that same paper. Next, I cut the tracings out as well as some decorations (faces, presents, random shapes). Using a glue-stick we built reindeer from each child's hands and one foot. The left-over foot was glued to a new piece of paper and decorated as a Christmas tree. The result is silly, but the kids had a blast!!!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

No picture available...

So I'll use a thousand words to describe last night's (and this morning's events).

First, Andrew and I returned from physical therapy around 6. The kids were over-joyed to see us, so they were their usual rambunctious selves. As a matter of fact, in his rush to greet us Simon sent Rachel crashing to the floor with a flying elbow. The kids sat down -- well, they were supposed to be sitting -- for chicken nuggets and fries. I was working on laundry and general house-stuff while Andrew was taking care of his own business. Simon kept tattling on Rachel. "She's on the table", "She's trying to get my food", "She's putting barbecue sauce all over", "She put her food in my apple juice", and other tattles met my ears, oh every thirty seconds or so... The sad thing was all his tattles were true! So, I didn't get much accomplished.

With my physical therapy requiring "homework", I've made an effort to include the children in my routine. This has two goals: one -- to keep them from clambering all over me while I do my stretches and two -- to get rid of some toddler/preschooler rambunctiousness. Sadly, neither of these goals are actually fully attained. However, my abdominal muscles do get an excellent workout as I tense for body blows and laugh uproariously at their imitations of me and their overall antics.

Fast-forward to bedtime (anywhere from 830-930 lately). Both of my children are in that long-lived phase of objecting to bedtime. They get one TV show prior to bed as their 30-45 minute warning. Throughout the show either Andrew or I remind them that as soon as their show ends, bedtime begins. As a consequence, Simon constantly states the entire time, "It's not over yet", while emphatically pleading for another show after the current one. Ir's hilarious actually because his demands begin almost as soon as the show does.

As typical 2 and 3 year olds, my two have excessive energy, especially in this colder and gloomy winter weather. We have tried to reduce their pent up energy by allowing Simon his training-wheeled bike in the house. E have also supplied Rachel with her own tricycle in the house. However, the rule is supposed to be that during their show (and for about an hour prior to bedtime, bikes are not to be ridden nor is wrestling, running, or other exciting horseplay allowed. These rules are intended to help them settle down for bed. Instead, Simon, in particular, flouts these rules and often incites Rachel (with very little effort) to do the same. So the semi-relaxing TV show turns into another constant haranguing.

Once the show is over, they brush their teeth together (pajamas, vitamins, and lotions/massages are taken care of during the show) are tucked into bed. Both sit on Rachel's bed while we say our prayers. They each give intentions for various people. I like to think these spontaneous mentions of somewhat random relatives, friends, or vague acquaintances are a manifestation of the Holy Spirit speaking through the mouths of babes. More than once they have prayed for an individual I later find was in need of specific prayer at that time. Then I sing them a song -- typically Joyful Joyful (Beethoven's Odd to Joy), Hail Mary, Immaculate Mary, Holy God We Praise Thy Name, or currently an Advent song. Occasionally a nursery rhyme is requested as well. Then Simon goes to his room to "read" before falling asleep. Rachel is tucked into bed with a vast array of comforts: two "huggies" (loveys), at least one doll (lately she's on a Rapunzel kick), her Leap Frog musical puppy, at least one blanket, her pillow, and her birdie soother. some nights this arrangement is just this simple, but other nights one or both strenuously object and/or demand one of us (typically Andrew is requested) lay with them. However, we have refrained from that for the most part.

Now is when my night can begin. I start and hopefully finish any chores for the day. I take a quick (or not-so-quick) shower. Occasionally, my time is still divided between enforcing bedtime or soothing the kids' qualms about bed. Once all is quiet we can finally do some relaxing and/or try to go to sleep ourselves. if sleep is forthcoming, it seems that it never fails before on child is crying and demanding a drink or just comfort. We oblige and pray for sleep for the household.

Sometime in the night/early morning hours, usually anywhere from 2-4 am, Rachel will decide it's time to wake-up. She'll enter our room, turn on the light, hand Andrew his glasses, and demand a drink @ cartoons. He, in his spoiling nature, will actually comply. I, on the other hand play opossum or direct her back to bed with a sip of water. This process can repeat itself indefinitely. Lately, out of exhaustion, I've begun inviting Rachel into bed with us.

On the this night, both kids came to our room for comfort at one point it another. So when I awoke for work the feeling of being a sardine was immediately apparent. On the outside left was Andrew, snoring gently. Next to him was Rachel, sprawled out like she owned the bed, also snoring gently. Then I was squeezed between her and Simon, who had his rump in my face. Simon was also snoring (as perhaps i had been prior to waking).

Rachel, Simon, and I are all hot natured, although the kids wear more pjs than me (since they always seem to lose their covers in the night), so the blankets were down covering Andrew and me to our knees. our bed, though queen-sized, was definitely not designed for two adults AND two children of the sleeping habits we have. Not one of us is a quiet or restful sleeper. The kids typically move from heads on pillows to feet on pillows and everything in-between during the night.
When sleeping with us they tend to take up 3/4 of the bed, while Andrew and I scrounge for the remainder. I'm sure we were a sight!! Luckily, my exit from the bed was unnoticed and I got off to work with none of them the wiser. However, it was definitely a struggle to leave the cozy confines of that bed.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Get back to work!!

Well, my 6 week recovery period is over... I'm so anxious about my first day back at work that I feel like I'm going to hurl... I was awake (still/again) at 430 this morning since I couldn't sleep. :-/ it doesn't help that my arms and abdomen are still sore enough that Nor does it help that my abdomen still swells when I wear real pants -- pants cause some pain too. I'm going to be continuing physical therapy twice a week too. I'm hoping and praying for the best, but kind of expecting the worst. However, the sunrise is beautiful with the glorious colors reflecting on the clouds. Even the frost is beautiful once I melted it off my Jeep. This is a day the Lord has made; I will do my best to rejoice in the small things and be glad to be alive!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

If it weren't for bad luck, we'd have no luck...

When it rains it pours... Andrew and I have good luck as far as healthy, active, cute, intelligent, happy, and precocious children are concerned. What we lack is good luck in other areas of our lives. From Andrew's horse accident before we married to my cancer, we two have been through the wringer physically and emotionally. Although we are still together being one another helpmate (scriptural reference). We've also been struck since before our marriage with house issues. From vandals before I bought it to hurricane Ike followed by the ice storm of 2009, we thought we'd seen enough damage to our home.

Well, that has been disproven now. Last Thursday as I went into the silent kitchen (the kids were asleep) I heard a hissing noise by the fridge. When I asked Andrew about it, he told me it was the ice maker refilling. Sunday night for some reason Andrew pulled the fridge out of its cubby. What he found was soaked laminate wood floors, trim, and about 2" of water in the duct-work. Apparently the hissing I noticed was a small hole(s) in the water line to the ice maker. We are unsure how long the water leaked, but it seems it must have been a long time. We called the insurance adjuster and he came out to assess the damage. He quickly turned that over to a professional group. It took 5 days, all the floor in affected room(s) removed to subfloor, many holes in the walls, many fans, a dehumidifier, an air scrubber, a slice in the plastic wrap beneath the house, and more to dry the kitchen and Simon's floors.

Since mold was found in the ducts, with my asthma and the kids' allergies, we had to move out of the house. We are still living at Andrew's dad's home. The mold evaluator/erradicator group cannot devote a day to our house until Wednesday. Even then we're unsure how long it will be before it is advisable for us to move back into the house. Thankfully Andrew's dad and wife are very tolerant of the kids. Not to mention very compassionate to me and Andrew. They have both told us we can stay as long as necessary.

Not that I'm ungrateful, but I can't wait to get back into my own home. The kids seem a bit off-kilter too even though we've all done everything we can to ensure their routines stay as close to 'normal' as possible. I'm also afraid our hosts are too kind to admit we're cramping their style.

Of course, this house issue comes while I'm recuperating from my surgery, we're trying to finalize our bankruptcy, and the kids had just readjusted to having Andrew and me home. I'm sure there's more, but it's too tedious to try to list.

The best thing is that we are all together and making the best of it. God willing one day Andrew and I will have smooth sailing in life! :-)

Friday, November 25, 2011

2 years ago...

I was bald & 9 months pregnant. After our pre-meal, Andrew & I returned home. Around 1030 that night (the 25th), Andrew & I were rushing to Labor & Delivery because I was terrified that Rachel wasn't moving. They reassured me she was ok, but kept me anyway.

It was a sleepless night for me (Andrew fell asleep on the chair). By about 430 am, I felt the absolute worst contractions ever (MUCH worse than my 'induced' ones with Simon). Around 730 am Andrew's birthday present, Rachel Eleonore, made her arrival. Her big brother Simon came to see her along with my mom & dad, Andrew's mom, & Andrew's dad.

I repeatedly asked the doctors to check her very thoroughly to make sure my worst fears weren't fact. I was repeatedly assured that my bundle of joy was absolutely healthy & perfect. She had a little trouble maintaining body temperature & a touch of jaundice, but everything was well within normal limits. The chemotherapy that had saved my life hadn't affected her at all! As a matter of fact, she had as much or more hair as me!! We wore our matching hats (hand crocheted by me) for photos & even news stories.

Now it's been 2 years... So hard to believe… I'm cancer-free, but still not pain-free. Rachel is still amazing everyone: only now it's based on what she can do, not what she survived. Simon & Andrew are still pleased with their girls!

On their birthday, we are going to celebrate Andrew's 31 years & Rachel's 2 years. We're having a Cowboy & Cowgirl themed birthday lunch. It's been a wild ride, but we've stuck out past the 8-second timer – like a good cowboy riding a wild horse. Yee-haw!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Three Forms, One Substance

I need help... Blogger mobile accidentally deleted this post! :-( I was trying to delete an empty post, but before I realized it this one popped up & got deleted. :-( HELP! I'm hoping someone still has this post open on their browser. If you do, please email it to me at Thank you!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving & prayers

I thank God for my family -- especially Andrew and Rachel on their birthday weekend -- and friends. I thank God for the continued support and love I get from my family -- especially Andrew and mom -- friends, and even complete strangers throughout the world.

I thank God for my husband and best friend, Andrew. I thank God for my intelligent, good, strong, and handsome little boy, Simon. I pray that his health continues to be good his whole life through. I thank God for my intelligent, strong-willed, miraculous, and adorable little girl, Rachel. I pray that her health continues to be good his whole life through. I thank God for Faithful, intelligent, generous, skilled, supportive, loving mom, Birgit. I pray that her health continues to be good the rest of her life. I also pray that I can follow her example at being a wonderful mother, a great wife, a strong advocate for life and Faith. I thank God for my Faithful, intelligent, hard-working, generous, supportive, strong, loving dad, Rick. I pray that is health continues to be good for the rest of his life. I pray that I can emulate his work-ethic and strength. I thank God for the rest of my wonderful family as well. I pray that we continue to be close-knit, supportive, happy, healthy, and loving for the rest of our lives.

I pray that all people in the world will open their eyes and hearts to the wonderful gift of life and give thanks for life even when things look desperate. I pray that everyone recognizes the blessings they have in their families. I pray that people all over the world will be generous, caring, kind, and loving toward one another -- especially when there are marked differences between each other. I thank God for the military men and women who have dedicated and sacrificed their lives so that we may be free and safe from harm. I pray that these military men and women, as well as their families have good health, Faith, and protection as they fight for right.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


The kids grew so much while we were gone! However, they did not grow apart even though they were kept separately for some of the time. I love them so much & it's obvious to everyone they love each other a tremendous amount too!

Rachel continues to grow & learn at a super (to me) rapid pace. She is extremely coordinated & is currently trying to learn to pedal her tricycle. At bedtime tonight she amazed me by singing "Joyful Joyful" almost word for word with me. She is also talking in sentences now. Her favorite is still "What doing?" She sounds so much like Simon talking now it's unreal!

Simon is the most solid little boy ever! He's got a lot of drainage & had to run to the doctor this afternoon. The good part is that the doctor said his lungs & ears are clear. He was also measured at 41" and 44 lbs!! My BIG boy!! He seems so grown up. As he played with his monster tractors this afternoon when asked which was his favorite he replied, "They're all my favorites because they do different jobs." such a little diplomat!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Vote with your conscience!!

No issue at hand in our society trumps thatof life. Without the right to life, all other rights would simply cease to exist. So please, during the primary, please vote for the most pro-life candidate you can.

Friday, October 28, 2011

If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take...

I write this on October 28, 2011 at 1:24 am a few hours before surgery. I am currently of sound mind, although my body is a bit lacking. I pray that this e-will is not put into action because I want to live. However, this surgery looms large in my mind.

I ask that my husband, Andrew, gain all my worldly goods for his & our children's benefit. I ask that he also see that our children, Simon & Rachel, be raised in the Catholic Church. My parents, his mother, & father (along with their spouses & extended families) shall all have equal rights with the children. Simon shall also receive a John Deere pedal tractor with a wagon. Rachel shall also receive a gentle pony to ride, drive, & eventually care for when she is old enough. Andrew shall fix his Turbo Coupe to the fullest extent. DAB at work shall keep the Sirius Radio.

~Erika M. J-V.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pain in the hiney...

Poor Rachel has had a serious pain in the hiney. Something she ate or a stomach bug caused her to have a scalded bottom. Wednesday morning she woke Andrew and I by padding into our room as usual around 7 am. Andrew habitually picks her up first thing, so he stooped to lift her. As soon as his arm went behind her legs, near her diaper-clad bottom, she began screaming. She screamed and cried until she was purple and shaking. He peeled her diaper from her only to see her bottom covered with #2. As we tried to wipe it off she continued screaming, crying, and twisting away from us. Finally resolved to help her as best we could, we sat her on her potty seat to rinse her off. What we saw was horrible. Her skin had blistered, peeled, and was angry-red. She had still not stopped screaming or crying. She was shaking so badly from the obvious pain that she couldn't or wouldn't even try to stand. I had dressed for work before the true depth of her problem was revealed. Without second thought, I clutched her to my chest and held her as I tried to relieve some of her pain. Later that morning, during a fit-into-the-schedule doctor visit, the doctor said that something she ate had probably made her #2 too acidic for her delicate skin to handle. He gave her some antibiotic cream and told us to coat her hiney after every diaper change with a barrier cream. Its been 5 days and she has made significant progress on healing, although the pain and raw areas on her hiney are definitely not completely resolved.

The good news of this spur-of-the-moment doctor's visit is that I got to have them measure her. She measured about 35" tall and weighed around 30 lbs. That is tremendous! This is in the 89th percentile for both weight and height. If she continues growing as she has, her adult height (according to some doctors' estimates) will be double 35" or 70" or 5' 10"! Of course, knowing her weight & height lead us to measure Simon at home. By our measurements he is about 42" tall and weighs 45 lbs! Again, that is tremendous! That puts him in the 94th percentile for height and 98th percentile for weight. Most of the child height predictors don't calculate for children in Simon's percentiles. However, the closest I can find indicates that he'll be well over 6' 2" tall! It's amazing that both of our children are predicted to exceed our height.

Rachel's hiney didn't stop her from enjoying the wonderful weather we've been having. She and Simon are huge fans of playing in the leaf piles. Simon is working on mastering riding his bicycle with training wheels, while Rachel is still struggling with pedaling her tricycle. My mom just recently got a play-set at her house, so the kids and I traipsed between her house and our house to play musical play-set! Her slide is a bit taller, longer, and slicker than ours, which prompted Simon to calmly tell her, "This slide is quite fast." She also has a toddler swing that Rachel adores. So the kids were quite well occupied this weekend!

This is NOT me, but a good visual.

Saturday, while they napped, I went down the road to our neighbor's barn to play with his horses. After grooming 2 tiny ponies my arms were already sore. That meant I didn't have the energy to try to harness them. :-( However, I decided to use the last of my strength to brush the 2 big horses. King, the Belgian, is truly a king-sized horse. His back is at least as high as I am tall (5' 6" or 16.2 hands). He is as broad-backed as an over-stuffed ottoman. While I was brushing King and his buddy, Golden, the neighbor came out. I broke the news to him that I was unable to harness his little pony team with him. I witsfully spoke of how much I missed being able to ride. Jokingly, I patted King's neck and wondered aloud what he'd do if I sat on him. That lead to me closing him into his stall and, using an overturned bucket, leaning across his back to see his reaction. Eventually, I gathered my courage (and strength) and clambered fully astride him. Although we were in a 14' x 14' stall, it was exhilerating to sit on an animal so powerful and huge. :-D I may eventually work up the nerve to ride him around!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Respect Life & Breast Cancer Awareness

This is *my* month: Respect Life and Breast Cancer Awareness. God handed me the perfect way to live these two very important causes: a diagnosis with breast cancer while pregnant. As most of my readers know, I was diagnosed at 20 weeks and did chemotherapy while pregnant. Once I gained my strength back after chemo, delivery, more chemo, and surgeries, I have been focusing on being the best spokesperson I can be for both the Pro-Life movement and Breast Cancer Awareness. However, I seldom wear pink and never knowingly donate to the high-profile breast cancer awareness organizations. The reason for the former is that I just plain don't like pink. However, the reason for the latter is that I do not respect many of the breast cancer awareness organizations. This lack of respect stems from their stance on pro-life issues as well as the ways they handle their donations.

Initially after my diagnosis I searched some of the well-known breast cancer (and general cancer) organizations for options. I was shocked and abhorred the options presented: abort my precious baby in order to receive treatment to save my life OR keep my precious child and risk my disease progressing beyond a point of treatment. I chose the unknown -- searching for an alternative. I could not fathom being told to end the life of my baby just to undergo treatment. My heart and soul ached for mothers that thought those were the only options. I found MD Anderson and wonderful doctors who had 20 years experience giving chemotherapy to women with breast cancer. While I'm not certain of their stance on embryonic stem cell use, their help for me through this terrible time has garnered my support. Some other organizations that respect both life AND have resolved to find a cure for this horrible disease are: PolyCarp Research Institute (another that I'm unsure of their ESC use, but fairly confident they are within Church teaching -- ie do not use them), Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, and National Breast Cancer Foundation. I also favor direct donations to individuals who are struggling with this disease. During treatment there are many costs and few sources of income or support -- especially if the sufferer is also the family breadwinner.

I am getting ready to embark on another necessary struggle. The pain I have been suffering with since my mastectomy has grown unabated no matter what I've tried, including my exchange surgery, theraputic massage, pain medications, and muscle relaxers.We are heading down to Houston, TX (MD Anderson) for a second reconstruction option on October 25th. I am having a DIEP reconstruction surgery done that will put me out of work for approximately 6-8 weeks. Our time down there in Houston, TX will be no less than 10 days with a full week of me in the hospital. That is a significant amount of money just to shelter, feed, and transport us on top of our regular home bills. I am also unsure whether my request for donated time from the state (as they've done for all my other surgeries) will be able meet my needs. The employees of the state of KY are truly generous with their time, but this will be my 3rd extended leave. We (state employees) have also had "donated" time (unpaid furloughs) in the past year. I know everyone is struggling financially. However, I am the bread winner in our family since Andrew has been incapacitated (according to no less than 3 doctors) with his back. My paycheck is what keeps us sheltered, fed, clothed, and insured. If I am forced to take days off without pay for this extended period of time, our family will greatly suffer.

With this in mind, I find myself cringing as I ask for support from anyone who can give it. Prayers and thoughts are greatly appreciated. In addition, direct support (through PayPal -- see button* on the side bar), my medical fund through PNC Bank (in Owensboro, KY called Erika Vandiver's Medical Fund), or any other means would be greatly appreciated. I hate to ask for financial assistance -- especially in these economically difficult times -- however, if I've learned anything during this journey, it is to ask for help when it is needed. Help is needed. Thank you for your continued support!

*The PayPal account is listed as That is Andrew's account. I cannot use my own due to my inactivity on both eBay and PayPal my account is severely limited. The transaction description has been changed to ERIKAS FUND for bank statement purposes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A person is a person no matter how small...

My title is a quotation from Dr. Suess's Horton Hears a Who, but it is oh-so apt for the Pro-Life movement & the anethema to the Pro-Choice movement. Watch this video to see one BIG reason why the Pro-Life movement will not go away... Personhood.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Shocked... a new milestone

This weekend it became apparent that my little boy is growing up very fast!! Not only is he already displaying some teen-ager-like attitude (at least 10 years premature), but he's also growing like the proverbial weed. It became apparent this weekend as I helped him change clothes that his size 4T undies were quite tight. They actually left indentations in his legs. Occasionally he even complains that they're hurting him. So, what's a mom to do? Go to the store of course to buy him the next size up in undies. Imagine my shock when I search the infant toddler boys section and find that the undies only go up to 4T! I then had to find the boys section, locate the undies, and try to find size 5 or 5T. Little did I realize that they don't make (or at least they don't stock) size 5 or 5T undies -- the sizes jump all the way up to size 6! Simon, my precocious little boy, is already wearing size 6 undies at 44 months (4 months shy of his 4th birthday). Its enough to make my wombless abdomen contract as it remembers being pregnant with him, delivering him, and nursing him for a full year. At his last doctor's appointment, Simon measured 40" and 38 lbs. That was in the 97th percentile. During the McLean Co Fair he participated in the toddler pedal tractor pull and weighed in at 41 lbs. My baby is already growing up!!! What am I going to do?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rejected & somewhat dejected...

I'm going through a phase right now. It's not a particularly good phase, but a phase none-the-less... I'm being rejected by my children (age 3 & 21 months) in favor of my husband. Sometimes I don't exist to them at all, sometimes I am the object of their disdain, and other times I am the cause of their melt-downs. I'm dejected by this rejection as well as my life in general right now. As I said, it's not a good phase.

Honestly, for the most part, I am so wrapped up in my own struggles that I don't pay enough attention to everyone else. Oh, I am physically present & say the right words face-to-face, but when it comes time to later pray or think of someone, I'm so focused on myself (my health/wellness) that I forget the concerns of others. I participate in my family, but I am secretly relieved by the moments of peace I get when I'm the only one in the house. I ask about my co-workers, but tend to forget their issues in the face of mine.

However, this time is also one of reflection. Even as I say I'm focused inwards, a part of me continues to pester and pry philisophical thoughts from my soul. Just last night after being rejected once again by my children -- to the point of their tears and snotty noses that only daddy could resolve -- I laid down in bed and thought, "Man, this sucks... OMgoodness, this must be how God feels all the time when we reject him."

I can't get that thought out of my mind. Every time I want a cuddle with my children but I'm met with a shrill "No" pronounced while said child walks (or runs) away, I'm reminded that God feels this way when I intentionally sin. Even when the rejection is more subtle, a fall followed by a cry for daddy even though I'm the only one present, the result is the same. Again, God feels this way every time we let slip an expletive without thought or unconsciously do something we know to be against Him. Even more subtle are the times when my children act as if I just don't exist at all. There's no obvious rejection, but the knowledge that I work so hard to maintain our family (financially, emotionally, and mentally), but am ignored in preference to my husband. Now the realization that God feels the same pain I do when I neglect to say my daily prayers, praise Him for my blessings (including my daddy-obsessed children), etc.

It's heart-rending to know that *I* can cause (and have caused) God the same heart-ache my children cause me. Of course, this knowledge does nothing to mitigate the dejection I feel. However, isn't the first step admitting you have a problem? Hopefully, I'm on the path to resolving my problems simply by first admitting to them. Afterall, this is just a phase, right?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Who Am I?

This past Saturday, my husband & I were sitting on the couch just having a general day. I can’t remember what started the conversation, except that I KNOW it was him (fist pump & bump from me to the Holy Spirit). He asked about when the Church started. Since I tend to blather on & on (& on & on & on…), I concentrated on brevity. I said, “Oh, somewhere in the New Testament before Easter, Jesus told Simon Peter that ‘… on this rock I shall build my Church…’” I further added that He (Jesus) also told Simon Peter that He (Jesus) would give Simon Peter the keys to Heaven and the Church. My husband’s reply was a simple “Oh” or grunt of acknowledgement. Regardless of his response, I was tremendously pleased that he broached the subject.

Imagine my absolute SHOCK when, at Mass Sunday, the Gospel was that *very* reading. Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do the people say that I am?” followed by “Who do *you* say that I am?” Simon Peter was the only one brave enough (or lacking the edit function of his brain like me) to say, “You’re the Christ”. Then followed my above mentioned quote from that same chapter. As the reading began I looked over and was dismayed to see that our children looked to be thoroughly distracting my baptized (but not confirmed) husband. I said a silent prayer to the Holy Spirit to allow him (my husband) to hear the words of the reading AND the homily. Then I tried to divide my attention between the children, Mass, & my husband’s demeanor; therefore I completely forgot about the revelation during Mass. Later at home, amid the chaos that is life with a 3 year old & 21 month old, my husband said something about it being funny that the reading at Mass was exactly what we’d talked about. Again, I internally fist pumped & bumped the Holy Spirit, but kept my answer non-chalant & brief.

That got me to thinking. Who am I that God should listen to my all-too brief prayers? Who am I that others should look at me & find encouragement, inspiration, and happiness? Who am I that God has blessed me with the family (and friends) I have? Who am I that God has given the struggles to overcome and therefore become an inspiration to others around me. The answer is, basically, I am who God made me.

It is often bandied about that God works in mysterious ways and that if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. Well, I am the personification of the latter of these as well as the former (but mostly the latter). Too often I get caught up in the little things and forget or dismiss my prayer-life, the sacraments, or the blessings that I have been given. To be honest, sometimes the struggles God has given me are actually the biggest blessings I have. Obviously, I don’t see that at the time, but upon reflection later (sometimes MUCH MUCH MUCH later) my struggles have been times when I have developed certain traits that make me a better person. This better person God is molding is who He wants me to be. The comfortable, vague-minded, obsessive, defiant, anxious person is the anthema of God’s plan for me. It is up to me, and EVERYONE, to become the person God means us to be through His means, not our own.

**This post of mine has been cross-posted from a Catholic blog group I contribute to: Catholic Sistas. If you like random musings of Catholic moms, you'll like this blog. Follow us & if you want, contribute! :-)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Golfers needed!!!!

Right to Life of Owensboro’s

Annual Golf Scramble

WHEN: Saturday, July 23, 2011

             Registration – 7:00 am

             Shotgun Start – 7:30 am


WHO: Teams of four $200
           Individual players $50

For more information or to register, please call Right to Life of Owensboro at (270) 685-4922.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Horse whispering

I got a chance to whisper to a couple horses yesterday. They whispered directly to my soul.

A down-the-road neighbor (about a mile down my road) owns a total of 6 equines: 4 small ponies, a large work-horse, & a regular-sized horse. They're all variations of the same golden-red body with white manes & tails (flaxen chestnut). The man is elderly, but says he can't get rid of them because they're part of the family and in his blood. He was getting ready to mow their pasture when the largest one, named King, bolted out the open gate. His pal, Golden, the regular-sized one, bolted right after him. Golden is an aged horse, but that didn't stop him from leading his owner on a merry chase in the 95+ degree heat.

I was on my way home from work when Andrew called me. He had been driving home when he saw Golden loose at the bottom of his owner's driveway. Andrew, knowing how horses escape, drove up the driveway to tell the owner his horses were loose. In the process King bolted again. Then Andrew turned around, made his way home, and called me. I was, luckily, about 5 minutes behind him. I drove by slowly, but didn't see anything. Instead of going home, I decided to turn around to see if I could find them.

I was desperate for a good dose of horse-aroma-therapy! On my return trip I saw King galloping through a field and onto the road in front of me. I pulled off to the side of the road and got out. I slowly began walking and talking to the big horse. His gallop slowed to a strong trot and then finally to a walk. He looked at me curiously then turned and called to his friend, Golden, who was lagging behind significantly. Since King was large and was acting skittish, I chose to continue talking to him without trying to catch him. As I looked over my shoulder I saw the owner approaching on a 4-wheeler with a bucket of grain.

After a few moments, Golden approached me. He let me pet him and finally I wrapped one of my arms around his neck with my other hand on the bridge of his nose. If he'd presented much of a fight, I wouldn't have had a chance, but I was banking on good training and the heat taking most of the fight out of him. He & I walked up the road toward his owner with King slowly following behind us. The owner was shocked that Golden would let me lead him by nothing but my hands. He said his horses didn't usually take to new people like that. He had a lead rope, so I fashioned a make-shift halter for Golden and began the long, hot, and sweaty trek back to their home. King followed more or less docilely, but he gave ocassional bursts of speed that made me glad I'd chosen the smaller and older of the two to wrangle.

After depositing the two horses in their field, I spoke to their owner. I gave him my name & information so that if he ever needed/wanted help with his horses he could call me. He expressed an interest in having me help him with one of the ponies. The pony is partially trained to pull a cart/buggy. The man remembers from my college cart-training experience further up the road. To be honest, I practically begged him for an opportunity to work with his horses again. Hopefully he'll take me up on it. That way I can have some much needed equine therapy for body, mind, and spirit!

Monday, July 11, 2011

New addition

While it seems that sometimes we can win for losing; we do have some very generous people in our lives. My aunt has chosen to up-grade her above-ground pool. In doing so, she generously decided to give us her old one. It needs some patching, but is otherwise fairly maintenance-free. Its an 18' x 4' -- so it should be quite large enough for physical therapy/exercise-type things, but small enough to be within a long-arms reach of the kids in their floaties.

The kids LOVE to be in the water - especially Rachel. Simon is a lot more cautious, but even he is learning to relax a bit. Their first real experience was this 4th of July weekend. In the photo to the left, Rachel is in the papasan float with the yellow vest. Simon is behind me in the 2 person ring float wearing his green vest. I think I'm going to try to get a float similar to the 2-person ring float in the photo because Simon liked it so well. It has leg holes on the one side for a child, while the other side is not quite closed for an adult to hold onto as well. Its a very good design!

One of my MILs has an above-ground pool similar to the one we just got. We swam in hers last night. Simon relaxed enough to wear his safety vest and sit in the papasan float by himself. Rachel quickly gets tired of being in the infant floaties (with her vest) and tries to dive in on her own. She requires quite a bit of handling! I look at it as some physical therapy for my arms and exercise to keep my bones healthy!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I am working on separating my family-based blog from my cancer-based blog. I've titled my cancer-based blog as Erika's Miracle Journey. I hope to write here about family things -- things the kids do & say, milestones, updates on Andrew, and general family/faith things. Of course, some cancer crap is going to seep into this blog and some family drama will creep into the cancer blog, but I think it'll be easier if I separate the two. So please join my other blog and drop in here occasionally too!

July is *the* month!!!

July started with my birthday as usual on the 1st. Then my mom's birthday (the 2nd). Then a 4th of July party on the 3rd, followed by another one on the 4th. Then on the 5th I had my first pain injections. Now today, the 7th, is my cancerversary. Two years ago today I was diagnosed. Two years ago today my life changed for the worse in some ways, but for the better in other ways. On the 8th I'm going back to the plastic surgeon in Louisville for a 2nd opinion on my implant problems. On the 10th it'll be 2 years since I found out Rachel was indeed a Rachel & not a Joshua! On the 14th it'll be 5 years since Andrew proposed to me. On the 15th I get paid! :-D That's just the first 1/2 of the month! Whew - no wonder I'm so tired!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Great & busy weekend!

This weekend was a flurry of activity. The weekend started quite early for me since as a state worker I was furloughed (forced no-pay day off) on Friday, but since Friday's are my normal day's off (4-10s), Thursday was my substitute day.

Thursday mom, Rachel, & I went to the bra store. We went to Perfect Fit first, but the nice lady (owner) told us to go somewhere else because she was closing soon. The lady didn't want me (us) to get started with one person, then have to switch. The place she sent us was ok, but I wasn't terribly impressed. I was also quite disappointed because they didn't have any bras in my size. I understand that I'm an odd size, but since it was a bra store, I was hoping to go home with one that fit. On a whim I call the first lady back to ask if she had my size. She said she did, so I went back to her. She personally fit me with 2 separate bras that immediately lifted a weight off my shoulders (literally) and made my chest feel (and look) better. It was also Rachel's 18 month birthday! :-) 

Friday  Andrew, the kids, & I went to Lowe's and Kroger. Let me repeat that, all four of us - including an 18 month old & a 3 year old - went to Lowe's and Kroger. Can you say workout! ;-)Once we got home dad brought a skid-steer (the actual name for the things called "Bobcats" - smallish front-end loaders) to our house. Andrew & Simon got to unload it & drive it around a bit.

Saturday, Andrew & Simon worked with the skid-steer for dad for most of the morning. My mother-in-law also had a get-together at her house. She was going to have her pool put in, but it was so muddy that she decided we'd just have food & hang out. She & I got the kids an inflatable pool - that was a BIG hit with the kids!

Sunday my brother & his family had a get-together at their house in Waverly. We decided to go to Mass in Morganfield about an hour away, but an hour & 1/2 later than our usual Mass. We were about 10 minutes (or less) from the church when I hear Rachel cry, up-chuck, & cry. The wonderful aroma of the car (it was already about 85 degrees outside) was not pleasant. I called mom to have her help me with the kids before Mass. Luckily I planned ahead & brought clothes for everyone to change into. Rachel's change of clothes wasn't as cute as the original dress, but it was adorable none-the-less. Once we got to my brother's new house I had to take the carseat completely apart. The washable/removable portions went into the washer while the rest was hosed off in the backyard. The best part though was that Rachel was fine the rest of the day - must have been a bad banana or something on the ride to Morganfield. The kids played around. Simon got to drive a 'princess' motorized car, ride a pink bike (complete with pink helmet), & play on the wooden play-set. Rachel rode in the 'princess' motorized car, got run-over by aforementioned car, & played on the smaller plastic playset. The ride home was *much* less eventful than the ride there! :-P

Monday (today) my father-in-law had a get-together at his house. We ate steaks & other yummy foods. The adults talked. Simon got to ride on his motorized John Deere tractor complete with wagon. Rachel rode in the wagon behind him for a little. She had to quit riding when Simon turned too sharply and dumped her out! Then we came home & I let the kids play in the sprinkler. It was so hot that otherwise they were going to have to stay inside. My plants needed water anyway! Rachel LOVED it! Simon thought it was pretty awesome too!
The only bad note was late this afternoon. Someone (1st) called me asking for computer help (or so I thought). Before hanging up, I found out that the computer help I was giving was actually to 'spy' on me. The 1st someone told me in a hurt-tone-of-voice that someone else told them I was bad-mouthing them on FB. The 1st someone wouldn't tell me who said it or what it was. I immediately got that sick-to-my stomach-feeling that comes from being accused - even if innocent. I said I couldn't think of anything I'd said that was bad-mouthing. The 1st someone said they'd see for themselves in that same hurt tone. If I were a stronger person I'd have been confident that I'd done no wrong & not let it bother me. However, instead I'm a weak person that ponders, obsesses, and worries when someone tells me something like this. So later I called to tell that person that I was hurt & upset that they'd think that of me. Later Andrew spoke to that 1st someone. They still won't give us the name of who said these hurtful things. However, the bad-mouthing posts have kind of been elucidated. As I read them - even trying to do so from the other person's perspective - I cannot find anything 'bad-mouthing' about them. Yet, I still cannot let it go because I have pretty constant contact with that 1st someone. I cannot stand that anyone thinks I would maliciously malign them in a public forum like FB. Especially since I'm 'friends' with LOTS of people that are also friends with the 1st someone. I guess that's how I got into this tangled web to begin with - one of these 'friends' of mine/friends of the 1st someone went back several months at minimum to find something slightly negative (about a product given to us by the 1st someone - not about the person) to feed the 1st someone. At least that's the post that the 1st someone mentioned to Andrew.

I'm having a prolonged panic attack about this issue now. I just can't let it go like I know I should. I keep looking for something offensive about this person on FB or even here on my blog, but I CANNOT find anything. Its like a hidden-object game where the hidden object is described as circular in a field of marbles. Its driving me crazy. I want to cry - I NEVER want to cry. I actually feel like someone punched me in the chest. I keep telling myself to be confident that I'm NOT that type of person (to malign someone in a public forum - especially this 1st someone). I just find that I can't take my own advice. :-(

The "J"-word

I have been accused of being the "J"-word more times than I'd like. As an out-spoken, conservative, pro-life, and Catholic woman, I am apparently the epitome of the "J"-word. Since I have strong opinions and am very pedantic, I get labeled by the "J"-word quite frequently. If you're not sure what the "J"-word is, I'll enlighten you. It is judgemental.

For instance, I consider the following statement to be 100% absolutely without a doubt true: The Catholic Church is opposed to abortion and birth control. You may say, "But Erika, there are exceptions. You can't just make that statement without qualification." I would say, "There may be exceptions to birth control (NEVER abortion), but the root of the statement is true." Then usually, the conversation degrades to, "You're so judgemental. You can't tell every woman out there that she cannot be on birth control and follow Catholic teaching." My reply is usually something along the lines of, "I am merely stating that the Church prohibits abortion and birth control. In some instances, the Church may say it is ok for an abstinent woman to take birth control for a medical condition.** However, the Church strongly encourages the aforementioned woman to seek out other means of treating her condition." The discussion usually degrades to more name-calling and me preaching on and on by the book (typically Scripture, the Catechism, and science).

A tidbit I like to throw into the arena, at this point, is that by labeling me as judgemental, you are being judgemental. The bottom-line is that, in my opinion, being pedantic is what we are called to be as Catholics. Rules are rules. Even exceptions are supposed to be just that - exceptions. Tolerance to those outside the guidelines can be just as bad, if not worse, than being judgemental. Moral relativism does not conform to God's command to follow his laws.

Yes, I've read Scripture. I've had numerous bible quotes tossed my direction with the "J"-word. I can typically reply with my own bible quotes. Scripture does tell us, "Judge not lest ye be judged." (Matthew 7:1, Luke 6:37) However, Scripture also tells us to remonstrate the sinner (Ephesians 5:11, 2 Timothy 4:2, Jude 1:15). Actually there is even an instance in Scripture where the initial portion concerns not judging one another, but the second part deals with avoiding putting scandal in front of others (Romans 14:13). Even by the first scripture alone (Matthew 7:1), if someone wants to judge me on the same matter (birth control), then they are free to do so.

Even in the midst of dangerously low iron levels, debilitating menstrual pain, repeated miscarriage, and threats of my death and/or horrible birth defects if I became pregnant too soon after chemotherapy I have never taken birth control. I have stood in front of doctors as they belittled and tried to badger me into taking birth control. Doctors, nurses, and lay-people have laughed at me, given me doom and gloom predictions, and tried to insinuate that I was stupid. I even had one doctor basically tell me that I would never be able to have children if I didn't go on birth control. Even my own husband has, at times, asked me to consider it. However, I have always stood firm in my morality and refused. So, if anyone thinks I'm expecting other women to do what I have not done myself, they are sadly mistaken.

If the above is your definition of judgemental, then I guess you should stop reading my blog & 'un-friend' me on FB. I will not stop my pedantic ways simply to make your life easier. Yes, I may try sweeten my phrasing a bit, but sugar-coating the truth sometimes ends up diluting it all-together. Yes, sometimes after the "J"-word is thrown at me, I react instead of continuing factually. I am human and it does hurt my feelings sometimes to be considered judgemental. Sometimes I may persist in being "judgemental" by pointing out that adherance to the Church's teachings is what makes us Catholic (if you're Catholic). If that hurts your feelings or makes you question your Faith, I'm sorry, but it is still truth. I try very hard not to judge people, only actions. I've been told that saying that is trite and means next to nothing or is infuriating to my audience. Well, I don't know how else to say that I still love and respect the person, but I know the action is wrong. I will never condone immoral behavior simply to make nice. In my opinion, that is part of my personality.

Please know and understand, I do not consider myself better than anyone. I am not holier than thou or perfect by any means. Instead I am just like everyone else, doing my best to live my life according to God's plan. I expect, (more often than not) deserve, and desire to be corrected on certain issues myself. No, I may not always like being corrected, but I try to avoid jumping to conclusions and being hurt. That is one reason why I am so dogged in my explanations. I sincerely want to let others know the Truth (God's), but I don't want them thinking it is my truth verses their truth. Therefore, I use Scripture, the Catechism, and science to offer testimony to my stance. I always try to avoid off-the-cuff answers on topics that I'm not personally familiar with the research and/or Church teaching. However, given my nature, I am likely to try to ferret out the Truth shortly after a conversation. Then I may revisit the discussion with my facts and figures in mind.

**The Church strongly encourages women (and men) to be fully open to life in all phases of their own lives. The Church also recognizes (unlike the secular world) that birth control is almost always a 'band-aid' for women's health issues. Therefore, instead of the woman being cured of whatever ails her, birth control merely gives her some relief from her symptoms while she seeks out moral and ethical means of treating her problem. If a woman is sexually active, due to the abortifacient effects of most birth control, she is called to be abstient while using the birth control drugs - even if the purpose of these drugs in her medical case is not to prevent pregnancy. Birth control drugs, by their own package inserts, "disrupt the lining of the uterus and prevent implantation". Denying that simply because a woman has an underlying problem does not change the fact that those embryos seeking implantation are killed by mechanism of the drug. If you believe life begins at conception then most if not all birth control drugs are abortifacient.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A post to SGK about why I don't support them...

I'm reading your [Susan G Komen's] press release about your donations to Planned Parenthood. This statement stuck out to me.

"And while Komen Affiliates provide funds to pay for screening, education and treatment programs in dozens of communities, in some areas, the only place that poor, uninsured or under-insured women can receive these services are through programs run by Planned Parenthood."

If you truly think that - not only are you apparently incapable of thorough research, you are also sadly mistaken. Even in poor areas citiy, county, AND free clinics ALL perform almost all the same services that PP does - EXCEPT abortions. I live in a state where the only PP facilities are over 2 hours away. My area is rural and therefore poor. Our state-wide average income is significantly below the nation-wide average. However, we have city, county, and free clinics where the poor can get the healthcare they need. Why not fund these clinics instead of Planned Parenthood?

Your press release also indicates that you closely monitor how the funds are used at PP. While its commendable that you monitor the situation, you must be deluding yourself to think that a) the reports are entirely accurate and b) that your funds don't help pay for the 'controversial' aspects of PP. The ex-director of a TX PP facility has explained how creative expansion/condension is used to give the illusion that certain services are performed at higher rates than others. She detailed the bundling of abortion care visits as one - even if there were several visits. She also detailed the UN-bundling of birth control, cancer screenings, etc - even if all the actions took place at one time. In her example, if a months supply of contraception was given to a woman, the accounting showed 30 visits. However, if a woman came in for a consultation for abortion one day, had an abortion another day, and came back in for a post-abortion check-up and/or for complications, the accounting showed only one visit. This creative accounting is further appplied to organizations like yours who "try" to control where their funds are used.
As for your dellusion that your funding doesn't help PP fund abortions, let me give you a real-world example. If you know someone is a drug addict and you give them money - you are complicit in their further drug use. Even if they swear the $$ you give them goes only to feed themselves (or their family), the fact is that ANY $$ given to them frees up MORE $$ for them to spend on drugs. So even if PP doesn't use your funds to directly fund abortions, the fact that you give them $$ AT ALL, allows them to provide abortions by giving them more $$ from other parts of their budget to devote to abortion. Another example is slightly repulsive (but I think your ties to PP are repulsive, so...). If I bake brownies, but use 10% feces to extend the batter, would YOU eat them? No matter what piece you take out of the brownie pan, there's going to be a portion of feces in your sample. This same logic works with your organization and its association with PP.
Your press release also uses two "Catholic" ethicists to validate your donations to PP. However, what you failed to realize is that the Catholic Church did NOT endorse their statements. There are also Catholics who believe that abortions are ok. However, the Church teachings and laws PROHIBIT abortions. The Catholic Church has even come out with statements directly from the Vatican indicating that supporting political candidates who further abortion vocally is IMMORAL. The Vatican allows local bishops to refuse the Eucharist to abortion supporting politicians. The Eucharist for us is "real food and real drink" and gives us graces to join closer with God. In other words, the Eucharist is not just some symbol that is easily bandied about and given without consequence. Therefore, while the Vatican hasn't directly come out with a statement against PP or your organization, the ground-work is present.
The Catholic Church also has written into Church law that the ends CANNOT justify the means. Therefore, the "Catholic" ethicists' statement, "The good that Komen does and the harm that would come to so many women if Komen ceased to exist or ceased to be funded would seem to be a sufficiently proportionate reason” is directly counter to what the Catholic Church actually teaches. If you also notice, these ethicists couch their statement with the ambiguous wording "would seem". The truth is these ethicists DON'T know. The Catholic Church ALWAYS teaches us to err on the side of caution - especially when matters of life & death are at the forefront.
Before anyone reading this thinks that the Catholic Church doesn't care for women in crisis pregnancies, suffering from cancers, etc, do a little research. The Catholic Church has MANY of its own charities that provide care and loving options for women in these situations. As a matter of fact, most of the Catholic charities of this ilk continue to care for women in these situations long after the decision has been made and the baby (in the case of a crisis pregnancy) grows and develops into a toddler. The same is true of the Pro-Life organizations - their care, prayers, and support continue past the pregnancy phase & into the life stage for both mother AND baby. The Catholic Church also teaches that God can and does forgive our failings. However, if our failings are repetitive with no effort to reconcile or reform, the Church leaves the final judgement to God. The Catholic Church teaches to "love the sinner, but hate the sin." The basic summary of this is that we can judge actions as right or wrong (or even ambiguous), but we love, offer support and prayers, and encourage people of all walks of life to strive to live holy lives. We all rely on God's mercy.
As for the absence of a link between breast cancer and abortion, while there are studies that refute the link, there are also studies that acknowledge the link. Again, the truly *caring* option would be to err on the side of caution. However, in absence of an organization following that credo, there is other evidence in the medical community that other "services" provided by PP INCREASE breast cancer risks (as well as other breast cancers). For instance, a respected study found that for an unknown reason, women who used hormonal birth control were more likely to suffer from triple negative (TN) breast cancer than their non-birth control counter-parts. The women effected by this are often younger than the 'typical' woman with breast cancer as well. Triple negative breast cancer is one of the most devastating forms of breast cancer because it is typically very fast growing AND does NOT respond to any of the preventative drugs available currently.
These articles below are more current than the 2008 article you cite in your PR piece. The fact of the matter is that breast cancer rates have increased since birth control and abortions became more common. The exact cause-effect relationship is unknown, but it seems logical to again err on the side of caution until more evidence can be performed. article about breast cancer & birth control article about TN breast cancer & birth control article about breast cancer & abortion article about breast cancer & abortion article about breast cancer & abortion article about breast cancer & abortion article about barriers to the truth about abortion/birth control as they relate to breast (and other) cancers

So, in my opinion, if your purpose is to TRULY reduce breast cancer, your organization should not support any other organization that provides abortions and/or wide-spread birth control use. More research needs to be conducted to identify the true relationship of the various risk factors and breast cancers (as well as other cancers). Perhaps that is the direction SGK should go instead of sending funds to PP.


PS: For what it's worth, I am an almost 2 year breast cancer survivor (BRCA1 TN Stage II). I was diagnosed at 20 weeks pregnant with my daughter. I was only 28. I had never been on birth control or had an induced abortion (although I did have 4 miscarriages as well as one successful birth 21 months prior to my daughter's birth). I took chemotherapy while pregnant, delivered a healthy baby girl exactly on her due date (no c-section or inducement necessary), and began more chemotherapy after delivery. I have also had a bilateral mastectomy, my ovaries removed, as well as my uterus removed. I am constantly bombarded with well-meaning people who would like to donate to your organization in my name. They would like to Race for the Cure, etc, but I always try to politely thank them & steer them away from your organization because of your ties to PP. While I don't know it as fact (since I've never set foot in a PP), I am reasonably sure that had I gone to PP for my diagnosis my daughter would be in a biohazard bag instead of at her grandmother's playing as only a 16 month old can. The other option presented me by PP would probably mean neither she nor I survived. The ACS, sadly enough, would probably have given me the same advice. However, I found MD Anderson in Houston, TX. They have been giving pregnant women chemotherapy for at least 20 years with no problems in the children. Other cancer centers have as well. However, most places do not recognize that pregnant women have BETTER survival & prognosis if they maintain their pregnancies AND get treatment than non-pregnant women or those who abort. This erroneous information is something SGK should correct as it affects about 1 in 3000 women diagnosed with breast cancer (not to mention other cancers). However, until my diagnosis I'd never heard of such a thing. Again, that would be something else SGK should use their $$ to promote instead of PP.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Current events

Its been a while since I've written. Live is crazy busy! I recently started working 4-10s. So I work from 7am to 6pm Monday through Thursday. It makes for long days, but it also makes for long weekends! Simon & Rachel are enjoying the extra time as a full family. The weather has also improved significantly, so we're spending a lot of time outside. I'm also getting ready to embark on a slightly new journey. I'm going to try to become a board member for Right to Life of Owensboro.

That new journey is actually just a continuation of my life's passion - LIFE. Speaking (writing?) about life brings me to the current events in our country. The Senate has been debating a government shut-down. The Democrats refuse to give-up on the Title X funding for Planned Parenthood. The Republicans refuse to compromise on this very important life issue. Now just to clarify, the Republicans (and pro-lifers) don't want all Title X funding cut. Instead we just want Planned Parenthood cut out of tax-funding. The reason is this - all the innocuous services that Planned Parenthood performs (cancer screenings, well-woman check-ups, immunizations, & birth control) are also provided by county health departments, crisis centers, as well as private clinics. The biggest money-maker for Planned Parenthood that sets them apart from these other clinics, is abortion. Since the country is SO divided on this issue (actually more than 1/2 the country when polled thinks abortion should be rarely if ever performed), it just seems logical to not use tax money to fund abortions. Now before you say that Title X isn't funding abortions, lets talk logic -- not rhetoric. If Planned Parenthood performs all the innocuous services at a low cost, but charges based on a 'sliding scale' for abortions. If the government gives Planned Parenthood money for the innocuous services, than money is freed up for abortion services. As an online friend of mine and past-Planned Parenthood director says, the money that goes into

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My day in a photo...

You try keeping up with them!! 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What a beautiful day...

Today was a perfect spring day. Short-sleeves were fine if you were working/active & long-sleeve t-shirts if you weren't. Sadly I didn't take the time out to get my camera, so I didn't capture any cuteness in photos. However, my two are just full of their own cuteness! :-)

Simon is learning to be a wonderful helper. He spends most of his time actually fighting to be allowed to 'help'. Even though he's pretty big for his age, he's still too short and not quite strong enough for some things. However, he's perfectly suited for other things. For instance, I'm still a t-rex as far as using my arms goes (my arms are there, but they're not worth much), so I gave Simon the Shark Quick Vac. He does a pretty darn good job of capturing all his & Rachel's (as well as Andrew's & mine) crumbs. He needs direction to stay on task sometimes, but he'll actually do a pretty good job throughout the whole house if you don't mind hearing the vac for hours. He also was very helpful with uncovering my newly emerging flowers from their covers of leaves. He's very excited about the "Daffy-dills" because they're yellow & green, his favorite colors! He & Andrew picked me one of my miniature ones while I was sick. Today we picked a whole bunch to keep that one company.

Rachel, on the other hand, is on the path of destruction. Tell her *not* to do something & you may as well assume she's going to do it. She'll even turn around & look you in the eye with that naughty grin on her face. She's a champion smasher, tearer (terror?!?!), flinger, crammer, & shrieker. Reverse psychology doesn't work (yet?!?!), so telling her to do something just gives her permission. I think I'm getting terrible twos early with her! She's adorable & *loves* to be held, but cross her & she'll make you regret it! ;-)

I'm doing okay. The fact that my arms are still pretty useless is difficult for me. I ended up over-doing it today (I'm pretty sure) even though I kept telling myself to quit. I'm still in a super-tight bra 24 hours a day (except when I shower) & still have tape covering my incisions & the layers of stitches under the skin. I think she's really relying on the pressure from the bra-band & tape to keep those stitches from coming loose. She said I could pull a few, but if I pulled many loose, then I'd be back to where I was before with my implants down my ribs. Not a pretty picture! She also told me that it'd take a full year for all this stuff to be back to 'normal'. :-( Its great that it already 'looks' pretty normal (although I've got weird swelling and/or rippling right now), but it is still a constant reminder of what I've lost & been through.

Its really easy to get caught up in the here & now or stuck in the past. To have the right blend of past, present, & future takes delicate balance; something I'm not sure I have. I have a hard time looking at the future because I'm so focused on where I am or where I've been. However, I'm going to try to use this Lenten season to balance my outlook. Knowing where I've been & how I've gotten where I am is important, but the MOST important place is where I'll spend eternity!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My week in FB updates...

Rachel cost me & Andrew years of our lives, grey hairs, & anxiety! Yesterday she was in her carseat with eyes wide open completely unresponsive only to be 'awoken' by Simon screaming her name. This morning she woke up & was again mostly unresponsive. I rushed home from work & rushed her to the dr. Stomach virus & sleeping with eyes open is the diagnosis. Unless the unresponsiveness becomes a pattern... WHEW!!!
Monday February 28, 2011 at 2:55pm

Poor Rachel, she still vomiting & miserable thru the Zofran. Now she's got a slight fever. She's in bed with us so we can comfort her as best as possible.
Tuesday March 1 at 1:09am

Rachel seems a bit better now, but we had a rough night! Her temp is down & she's also keeping her drinks down. Here's to prayers answered!!!!!
March 1 at 8:35am

Ugh... Rachel's not vomiting... Now it's coming out the other end. She's trying to be happy though!
March 1 at 12:19pm

Poor Rachel is having to have her diaper changed every 10-15 minutes. We're using Vaseline to keep diaper rash at bay. She acts interested in food, but only for a bite or 2. She actually sat on Simon's potty for a while diaperless. I think she's tired of diaper changing! Her fever is back too. :-(
Tuesday March 1 at 8:16pm

Poor miracle girl is in her bed - still feverish & diaper issues. We've bumped it up to Desitin. If it gets beyond that we have burn cream for that very reason. We just gave her more Zofran & ibuprofen to keep her symptoms at the minimum. My poor baby! :-(
Wednesday March 2 at 12:15am

Today Rachel seems a bit better. Her diaper area is a bit red, but not too bad. She's a sleepy girl though. All day today she's been laying either with me in my bed or hers. Her diarrhea is still bad & now she's not wanting to drink. We're pushing Gatorade down her. Her fever comes & goes. She's so cuddly & sweet thru it all! ♥
Wednesday March 2 at 2:45pm

Poor Rachel is throwing up again. :-/ We thought she was thru with that phase. Tomorrow was supposed to be her 15 month check-up. Instead we may make it a sick visit. I'm bummed for her as is Andrew. We haven't seen Simon since Monday morning hoping that he won't catch this too. They miss each other.
Wednesday March 2 at 5:06pm

At this point we took her into Dr. H's office for another visit. He indicated that we needed to check her CO2 levels to see if she was too dehydrated. He also indicated that it was completely reasonable to go ahead and admit her for IV fluids. That's what we did. We were in room 6113, just down the hall from where I recovered from my hysterectomy.

Rachel has her IV now. The IV team said she was perfect & laid there letting them put it in her left elbow. She looks so pitiful & feels even worse. :-(
Thursday March 3  at 1:56pm

Rachel update: her levels are still low & still no pee. :-( She's asleep with me in the crib. She has perked up somewhat, but is still no where near my normal Rachel! Prayers & thoughts greatly appreciated!!!!
Thursday March 3 at 10:05pm

Rachel PEED!!!! she's still under close supervision & not out of the woods yet. However, this is the best sign!!!
Thursday March 3 at 11:38pm

Rachel update: As of this morning she's had a total of 3 wet diapers, beautiful blood-work, & instructions that we can go home as soon as she starts drinking & eating a bit without throwing up. Thankfully they didn't really count the little throw up she had when I was changing her diaper. She had a bit of biscuit & some eggs, but is refusing to drink. Time will tell!!
Friday March 4 at 9:40am

Rachel update: We're still in the hospital. She's refusing to drink. Until she's drinking somewhat regularly we have to stay. :-( She's being stubborn. She's feeling better & shaking the crib rails like a gorilla in a cage.
Friday March 4 at 3:38pm

We're busting out!!! Rachel's going to mom's because now Simon's sick too. Our house is going to be the sick house. Mom's is the recovery zone!
 Saturday March 5 at 3:07pm

Ooooohhhh nnnnoooo!!!! I dropped Rachel off at mom's. Then I came home to Simon being sick, but Zofran helping him. Now Andrew is feeling sick too. :-( Looks like I may be the the last one standing... :-(
Saturday March 5 at 6:15pm

Guess how Simon woke me this morning? He was singing "Hosanna in the highest. Hosanna in the highest." It was around 930 - so he was probably channeling Mass.

He's not acting sick in the least. However Andrew & I are completely exhausted!! Rachel's at mom's eating & drinking like normal!
Sunday March 6 at 11:37am

Well, I haven't been standing today. My stomach, head, & body ache. It is hopefully just residual stress... Tomorrow is my make-up 3rd Post-Op appointment. I'm going to that & then to work. Wish me luck!
Sunday March 6 at 10:38pm

I hope to get photos uploaded from this past week. This post was actually supposed to be photos AND FB updates, but my computer/phone is not cooperating....

Total Pageviews

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!

Erika's Miracle Journey Continues's Fan Box