Checking In

Just a quick update to tell everyone that I have been deemed cancer free by my surgeon last week! It was such a relief and we feel very lucky and blessed to have those results! We have been doing lots of celebrating and I’m sure we’ll continue to celebrate for quite a while longer…

I have lots of catching up to do here, but it will have to wait until I catch up in real life first. I’m planning on writing about my whole melanoma ordeal soon, as I have been receiving quite a few emails and private messages asking many questions in regards to my experience. I hope the sharing of my story will prompt even more of you to get checked out by your doctors soon if needed.

Oh, and I had to share this picture because at the time I took it, I thought my scar was pretty gnarly. Ha! That was taken a week before my surgery to remove a wider margin of skin. Pretty sure none of you want to see the updated version. Now my scar makes my 2 year old say “eww” when he sees it. (think small shark bite looking)

I, on the other hand, am not minding it as much as I thought I would. It is a reminder to me of everything that is important in my life; my husband, my children, the rest of my family and the friends that feel like family. And of course it also reminds me to cover up and protect myself and those kids that I love. No way do I ever want to see them go through this! If I think about it too much I get angry and want to do this:

…and then I get scared and want to move to Forks and become a vampire. And then I remember to have faith again. But still I find myself staring at the moles on the actors while watching a movie and almost everyday I swear that I find a new mole on myself or my kids. Irrational? Probably. Unfounded? Not really. I’m sure over time I’ll become more laid back and worry less, but that’s kind of a worry in itself isn’t it? {sigh} Hmm. Time will tell I guess.

On that note I’m going to go wash off my daily slather of sunblock and go to sleep dreaming about nonexistent carefree days of sunbathing. 🙂

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Working What Works

I read a quote a while ago that said something to the effect of ‘don’t compare your everyday life to the highlights of someone else’s life’. I think it’s so easy to do that with our constant social media fixes like Facebook, blogging, etc.  I am a blog stalker for sure, but I usually do keep in mind that I’m reading someone’s best, so I try not to compare myself.

So, on that note, this post is NOT what happens on a typical day at my house. However, I have been trying to up my game as of late, and I’ll be honest, it’s a bit more work, but way more fun for the kids. And happy kids = happy mom. For reals. I gave a lesson at church the other week about the difference between housekeeping and homemaking right after I had tried this new approach with my kids and I think I need to make the switch to become a full time homemaker…

Our after school routine is just that. A routine. Somehow my kids don’t ever remember that routine though, so I seem to follow them around the house doing the “wash your hands! change your clothes! get out your homework!” reminders and it’s a constant battle to get them to do it. Like they think I might bag the stuff we do everyday and throw in a movie or something. Not going to happen. (well, maybe once in a while)

I did a test a couple of weeks ago to see how the kids would respond. I put all that stuff I usually say after school onto cards and made it into a scavenger hunt. Nothing new in the job category at all. I handed them the first card that said to put their homework on the table. There was a card on the table that said to go upstairs and wash their hands. You get the idea. The card in the bathroom said to make their bed and so on. I knew it would be a little more fun, but I wasn’t expecting the enthusiasm from the kids.

Seriously. When they read the last card that said “clean the playroom for 10 minutes then get your shoes on, we’re going to the park” they literally cheered. Cheered! We go to the park twice a week for my workouts, so they knew we were going to go, but they set the timer and cleaned the whole playroom. Talk about an ‘aha’ moment.

I’ve tried to do a couple more days like this where they might pick the jobs (and a few fun things) out of a jar, or maybe everything will be on a wipe-board that they can erase or cross off, but it does seem to help with the morale for sure.

The only downfall is that they are bummed when I don’t do it everyday. Which I don’t. Honestly it’s pretty rare. Especially with how crazy our life has been lately. I’m trying to be the kind of mom for my youngest kids, that I was when my 10 year old was young. I even made playdough with Geoffrey and then even played with him. Doesn’t sound like a feat? For me it was.

As we were playing I realized I have never even shown him the alphabet before. Seriously, I’m mother of the year over here. Apparently his older siblings have shown him because he did recognize 1 or 2 letters. Good thing he’s only 2. We have some time work so I won’t look like the bad mom come kindergarten.

Right now my mom and MIL are here so it’s almost like I’m on vacation. Almost. I’m out of heavy lifting duties until my arm and underarm heal, so no lifting baby. That right there has gotten me out of nighttime feedings for the last 3 nights. Now that’s a vacation. 🙂

Miranda’s baptism is coming up soon, so we have a house to clean, invitations to make and more family coming in town next week. I feel my vacation coming to an end. I did get the girl’s room painted before the grandmas came, so now they are helping me sew the curtains and bedding for the girl’s room. Spring Break starts on Monday and we have lots of projects and outings to do.

After the relatives are gone and I’m back to fending for myself and brood again, I’m planning to find more tricks to help make my ‘job’ more creative and fun. I’ll be sure to share if I come up with something that works. If you have something that’s working for you I’d love to hear it!

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6 Month Appetite

This was the first time Maxwell tried squash…

I had to grab the camera because he was SO opposed to eating it. He could not get far enough away from the spoon. I wish I could’ve captured his sour face right when I would sneak a bite in!

The other spin-kids do this same face when I try to get them to eat it too! They don’t take after me in the veggie love category.

Oh come on, squash is yummy!

Of course, these pictures are from 3 weeks ago and now he and squash are on good terms.

Actually, Maxwell is pretty much a fan of anything that I put in his mouth these days. Let the messy meal times and scary diapers begin!

“Wait mom, where did my food go?”

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…that I’m not too old to rock a handstand contest!

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Finding My Strength

I’ve written out similar posts to this three times now, and it still doesn’t sound right, but I’m going to just put it out there anyway.

I’m a very social being and love being around friends, family and attending large, exciting events. However, I’m finding that I don’t really love a lot of attention, which is why I think I have been hesitant to share my current situation. With that being said, I still feel a need to purge this information in a somewhat safe and public forum. Maybe it’s just to give my friends answers without feeling like they are intruding, or maybe my words can encourage someone else to take action and go see their doctor, (2 people so far) but mostly I want to show my gratitude.

There is really no easy way to segue into what I need to say, so I’m just going to say it. Two days after I last updated this blog I got a call letting me know that the mole that I had removed because of “bad cells” had actually come back positive with melanoma. I know. My thoughts too. Needless to say, I had a very rough 2 days basically freaking out, and then I was scheduled to have a PET scan a few short days later.

I was praying very hard and very often. My family and some friends were doing the same, and I was able to have a priesthood blessing from my husband Jake, and 3 other worthy priesthood members from our church the night before the scan. I can’t even begin to tell you all of the emotions and fears that I was feeling, but after that blessing I have not felt much of anything except peace.

The scan came back clear and we did a big sigh of relief and celebrated with the kids last Monday. Then on Thursday I met with an oncologist to go over what I thought was only going to be test results, but instead learned that I’m not quite out of the woods yet. He wants to refer me to a surgeon to remove a little wider margin of skin on my arm and do another test to see if the cancer has spread to my lymph nodes (apparently the PET scan doesn’t show small cancer cells).

The news was quite a blow, but I still feel confident that everything is going to be okay. It may sound naive to say that, and believe me, I do know all the risks, but I can’t deny that I know in my heart that everything will be all right. That’s not to say I may not get good news, but I know I’m being blessed and prepared to accept anything that may be coming my way. I have faith in my doctors and especially my Heavenly Father who I know has a plan for me.

Okay, that’s the scary, not so great thing that has been consuming much of my time and energy lately. On the flip side though, I can not even begin to explain the transformation that my mind and heart has experienced through this trial. My testimony of Jesus Christ and The Holy Ghost has never been stronger. I have felt safe, protected and emotionally and physically strong through every step. If this news came a few years earlier I know that I would not have been able to handle things as well.

There are huge blessings in being obedient and in line with God’s commandments. There is a peace that only comes with putting your faith and family first above all and even though I still feel I’m still just learning and growing spiritually, this has made me realize the leaps and bounds that I have progressed.

I am so thankful that I was prompted to prepare myself to go to the temple when I did. I didn’t know that my actions and life changes would ignite my husband’s testimony and conversion. To know that my family is sealed together for eternity has always been important to me, but only in the last two weeks do I really feel like I truly understand the significance of that blessing. I ache for those who don’t have that comfort and reassurance when facing life’s burdens.

The first day I learned about my cancer, I swore I would never yell at my kids again and that chores for them were a thing of the past. We would only have fun, play all day and I would teach them everything I could as soon as I could. I would write long journal entries every spare minute that I wasn’t do those other things, etc. That plan didn’t even last one day. 🙂 I still get on them about homework and picking up their dishes after meals. They still have to keep their room clean and help me with the baby. And yes, I have even raised my voice a little… or a lot.

What did change and will never be the same is my perspective. I am so grateful on every level and I will always remember ALL of the blessings I have been given in my life. I couldn’t have been born into a better family (extended too). I cherish my memories with them and am so thankful for every single one of them. And my friends? Seriously, they are the family that I got to choose. I don’t know how I would get through a week or even a day without the help, support and company of my friends. I have such positive and strong women in my life and I feel honored to know them. With all the worry and stresses we have experienced so far, we have not had to worry about who is watching or picking up kids from school and one friend even put her family on hold to sit at my scan appointment with me for 3 hours.

Another change is my priorities. I have had to put some of my responsibilities and “extras” on the back burner right now because I felt like I was fighting an uphill battle trying to do it all. This last week has felt like a huge break and my house is slightly less chaotic. Only slightly, but I’ll take it! The days and nights when Jake and I and the kids just get to be home together are the moments when life seems to slow down a bit and then the next busy days or week feels much more manageable. It also helps that our kids are still generally unaware that anything could be wrong, so their laughs and smiles help me forget any problems too. I really have the best kids, even if they don’t let me sleep. Ever.

Okay, now that I’ve been ultra sappy, and before I change my mind about posting this at all, I’m going to push publish. But please don’t worry, or pity or anything. Your prayers and friendship is all I need right now. And maybe a listening ear when I have more things to purge, which I’m sure I will. Also, if you have questions or have gone through something like this, please let me know. That has been the one hard thing; not talking to someone who has been there who can relate. If that’s you, I’m all ears!

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Week In Review (by the numbers) January 22-29 2012

This is a test to see if I can update more often by keeping my posts more concise and specific. We’ll see how long this lasts…

  • 8 – the age my youngest daughter turned yesterday
  • 4 – delicious sushi rolls consumed for birthday lunch a day earlier (her choice)
  • 90 – minutes of torture watching Puss In Boots 3D with birthday girl (also her choice)
  • 2 – new paint colors picked and purchased for the girls room remodel (more my choice)
  • 5 – the amount of squealing girls that were here Saturday to celebrate said birthday
  • 24 – pink cupcakes decorated and consumed
  • 15 – minutes late for church Sunday (see above)
  • 2 – sweet friends who brought birthday goodies last night to a very happy 8 year old
  • 3 – weeks into and left in my weight-loss challenge
  • 4 – lbs lost so far (could probably do better if I gave up chocolate)
  • 5 – workouts completed with the Young Women in our church (triathlon training)
  • 2 – weeks of sleepless nights stressing biopsy results of a “worrisome” mole
  • 6 – number of ugly stitches gracing my upper right arm after a small mole removal Wednesday (luckily only for preventative reasons)
  • 3 – new promises made to myself about record keeping after cancer scare
  • 432 – points earned in my very first Bunko night Friday (so fun! will be doing that again for sure!)
  • 700 – pairs of underwear soiled before giving up (for now) on potty training Geoffrey
  • 17 – delicious and healthy meals prepared during the week
  • 5 – times I splurged on treats and/or other non-healthy foods this week (2 birthday celebrations)
  • 1 – more tooth pulled out by Miranda
  • 0 – nights Maxwell has slept through the night
  • 51/2 – months I have not got a full nights sleep (see above)
  • 7 – handstand contests I won against my girls yesterday
  • 8 – batches of laundry completed (more cleaned, but only 8 were put away)
  • 50 – kisses everyday on some chubby cheeks!
  • 7 – days of cleaning up every room in the house
  • 0 – number of clean rooms right now
  • 1 – hour everyday I vow not to stress about anything and do want I want to do (started just now)

Here’s to another great week!

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New post brought to you tonight by Coke Zero.

Sadly I haven’t run since Thanksgiving morning, and I’m not sure you could even have called it running even. More like a jog a little, chat and walk a little, pretend to run again, chat again. You get the picture. It was a beautiful day however and I was in great company all day. (You know who you all are) I got to see some friends, meet our newest cousin-baby and spend time with some of my favorite family. Dinner was great and the berry pretzel salad with pomegranate sprinkled on top was even better. I had lots of help in the kitchen and we all were stuffed at the end of the day, so success all around.

All was well until Geoffrey turned into a little seal later in the evening. Moms, you know that cough… croup. No fun. Dr. appt. Friday early a.m. confirmed it, and my little man was officially in trouble for making our house-guests high-tail it out of our house. (they have a newby too and didn’t want her to catch anything) I can’t blame them. I wanted to leave too! He’s out of the dog house now though as Jake outdid him with inconvenient illnesses. Seriously guys. Don’t you both know I have a house to run and Christmas to plan/make/survive? Help a motha’ out!

The babies. Miss Zadie and Maxwell chilling on Thanksgiving. Five days apart and fast friends already.

Speaking of Christmas; the kids and I are heading up to the frozen north early again this year, so I have opted not to put up the tree thatIdon’tlikebecausethelightsareapaininmyrearandfluffingitbites. Obviously I’m getting a lot of grief from the kids on this one, but the thought of pulling that monster out of the attic and spending 3 days making it look beautiful in between nursing my baby every 2 hours, (still!) making and cleaning up after millions of meal and snack times and trying to do anything else and then leave 10 days later only to come back and take it down over 2 days (because that’s how long it takes me to do everything these days makes me want to boycott the holidays all together.

The house is going to get a wreath on the door, a nutcracker on the ledge and then the kidlets can decorate my 1o year old’s silver bedroom size tree instead. I’m such a scrooge, but I’m also totally okay with the title this year. I’ll of course make up for it next year and do lots of extra. . . stuff. I haven’t really been that up tight mind you, just way too busy. We have already consumed many containers of hot cocoa and Christmas music and movies have been playing almost non-stop. The holiday projects haven’t even been started, but I finally have some lists and plans so it will happen soon-ish.

Star wars pancakes thanks to Maxwell’s namesake and his sweet wife for the molds. They will get LOTS of use. (and thanks for having this photo up for me to steal. I seriously just found it! perfect timing. miss you guys. hi.waving.)

I really should be doing some of that instead of sitting here, but that’s what happens when I am hopped up on caffeine instead of natural energy. My body just wants to sit, but my mind is literally racing. I quit caffeine and carbonation years ago so a little goes a long way now. Earlier tonight I was simutaniously editing photos from the summer on Flickr, stalking on Facebook, doing a little blog surfing, perusing YouTube for some 80’s songs (after being reminded of some great bands during the blog surfing) and of course, nursing too. It’s easy to do all that stuff one-handed, but commenting, responding to emails and writing anything is not so easy, so sorry if I seem absent to those I usually converse more with. Promise I’m checking on you and am happy when you are sharing in your respective social media choices.

I have to keep reminding myself that this life sucking (no pun intended) portion of my life will quickly be gone and a different kind of busy will again take it’s place. Just like it has the 4 times prior. Bittersweet really. Lately I’ve struggled remembering my pre-child bearing existence. Between my church calling and being a girl scout leader, I get to hang out with lots of single girls ranging in ages from about 6 to 17, and it seems to be getting harder and harder to recall what I was like at those ages. Maybe it’s because I’m more than double all of their ages. Jake was nice(?) enough to point out on my birthday that I am now half way to 72. Thanks? I’ll be sure to do the same for him in May…

Now, because it’s 2:30am and I am clearly just rambling, I need to put myself to bed. Wish me luck getting everyone up on time today. TGIF!! Seriously. Night night.

You know that I’m wishing for a full nights sleep, right? Geoffrey is wishing for cake. He loves cake. Who are we kidding? It’s Geoffrey. He loves all food! 

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‘member me?

Though I think about writing often, I was a little surprised to open up WP today and realize that I haven’t even glanced at my blog in way too long. First thing I thought of; it needs a new look. Must happen soon. Also, I need to update all my sidebar info and all the other stuff that’s going on, because most of it is NOT going on if that makes any sense.

What is going on is regular life in the spin home. I change lots of diapers these days between my non-potty trained 2 year old Geoffrey and newby 3 month old Maxwell. That’s fun. I’m the main food source for newby, and that’s much of my day right there. Now just add in taking care of 3 more kids and a house and that’s the rest of the time.

In the spare time I can find, I’m still loving to craft, take photos, sew and bake many things I really shouldn’t be eating. I’m even trying to get out and run again. I went on Tuesday and it felt better than I can even begin to describe with my tired brain. It seems that I can’t run without wanting to write and I can’t write if I’m not running. I never noticed the correlation so much as I do now. Strange those two things going hand in hand…

So, it seems to me that I need to fit my running time into my everyday life because not writing is not really working for me anymore. Now that I spent some time taking a look around it’s already time to go and pick up some kids. Good thing I really look forward to having all five of them here or I’d be really bummed right now.

And don’t worry, I plan to do lots more running soon.

Baby Maxwell about 3 weeks old

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Ivy’s Quilt

Back in April our family was lucky enough to get a new niece. As girls are outnumbered in regards to the grandkids in our family, we were very excited about this edition. Not only is she the first girl in over 7 years, she is also my brother’s first baby and I think it’s weird and cool at the same time. Little brothers aren’t grown up enough to have families of their own! Okay, maybe at 28 he might be ready…

Ivy is a sweet little chublet and I can’t wait to see her and hold her in a few short days! As I’ve been preparing for our trip I’ve also been working fast sewing a quilt that I was hoping to have done before our original travel days which would have given me an extra week or so, but luckily I was able to finish the top in between packing and everything else.

I decided to try a new pattern and after looking online I picked the disappearing nine patch. I had bought an Amy Butler charm pack last year and didn’t really know what I was going to use it for until Ivy was born. Here is a picture of the first stage of squares before cutting them up and mixing them around:

After laying them out and rearranging over and over, I finally settled on a design and got out my rotary cutter and got busy. This was actually the fun part to see a whole new design emerge from only two cuts and rotating two squares around. Hopefully this picture illustrates that for you:

I love how it looks so far and can’t wait to get a back on it and have it quilted.

Geoffrey is a big kid and fits on it pretty well, so I’m sure little Ivy will have lots of space to roll around.

I hope Ivy and her parents will love it as much as Geoffrey and I do!

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My sweet Grandma did pass last night, peacefully, with my mom, a few of my grandma’s other daughters and my cousin all by her side.

This morning was rough as I spoke to my mom and could hear the pain in her voice as she told me what I already knew. I’ve been surprised at how all over the place my emotions have been, but I guess that’s just part of the grieving process. Though I’ve been in the midst of stressing out about funeral plans and getting up to Salt Lake and the logistics involved, I’ve also had many things that have lifted my spirits along the way.

Last night when I spoke to my dad, I learned that my grandma was still holding on and that my mom wouldn’t leave her mother’s side at the nursing home and was planning on staying the night. (My parents live about 45 min. away) The only thing that is funny about that, is that my mom broke her leg a few weeks ago and after having surgery last week, was finally fitted with a cast on Wednesday. So here she was on Thursday, in a room for the night with no bed just a chair, probably in serious pain, refusing to leave my grandma. That’s so like her. Sweet and stubborn. But it made me smile to know that she was where she wanted to be.

When my dad contacted me Thursday at noon about my grandma, he told me that she only had a few hours left. She had fallen on Tuesday and because of the seriousness of her fall and her current medical conditions, she was put on morphine. All of my grandma’s nine children, save two of them, live in state so they were able to come and be with her for the next two days, and it was clear by Thursday that she wouldn’t make it.

My aunt who lives here in Arizona, happened to be in Texas helping her daughter move from Virginia. I know she was torn about trying to get to Utah quick, or just to wait and come for the funeral. She decided she really wanted to be there and was able to get the last seat on a late flight, use my mom’s car and make it to the rest home by 12 :30 this morning. My grandma passed away 20 minutes later…

I loved hearing this and other thoughts about my grandma passing from my other aunts and family members, thanks to a cousin’s great idea to start a memory page on Facebook. It’s so hard to not be there right now with my family and because of this group,  I have that chance to feel part of everything and not feel so far away at all.

My kids were somber to learn about their great-grandma, but they also couldn’t hide their excitement about going on vacation sooner than we had planned. Missing the last two days of school didn’t seem to bring them down either. Our plans have definitely had to change and though it will be stressful coming up without Jake and getting ready on short notice, I too am looking forward to the trip.

Grandma Betty was such an incredible woman, and  really did have a full and wonderful life.  She had nine children, and so many grand and great-grand kids that I can’t even tell you the total. ( I do know that there is going to be 5 or more babies added this year alone) My grandparents loved to travel, and they really were world travelers going anywhere and everywhere that they had the opportunity to. My grandma has always been surrounded by family as well as long time friends. She absolutely loved gardening and was still tending to her own flowers until very recently. I think my mom also asked the people taking care of her to let her help with the flower trimming and such if she wanted to. (My mom is just like her mom in this regard)

Grandma’s funeral will take place on the same day that we would have celebrated her 85th birthday, but I have a feeling it will still be a celebration of sorts for all of us. She is being reunited with her husband that passed away over 9 years ago, as well as her own mother who died when my grandma was only 17 and many countless other family members who are welcoming her back home.

I’m so grateful for the chance to have known her, to be a part of her family tree and for the knowledge that I will see her again someday. And the next time I see her, she will remember me. That’s what I look forward to the most…

Posted in family, journaling, life, spirituality, thoughts | 3 Comments