Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Just Like That...She's Eleven

When people say it goes fast, they are not kidding.  I cannot believe I have an 11 year old!  I know I'll blink again and she'll be 20 before I know it.  It is insane how fast my kids are growing up.  And it seems that 11 suddenly seems so much older than 10.  She's still my girl, but she's definitely getting more independent all the time.  Which I totally understand is the whole point of growing up, but it's still hard to let go even if it is little by little.  Even as I type this she's off walking the neighbor's dog.  She has her own dog walking business now.  She made flyers and she got a call a few weeks ago about someone interested in her services and she called the woman back and got all of the info all by herself.  Considering her mother barely can stand to talk on the phone unless it's absolutely necessary, I find her confidence inspiring.  She's one of a kind, for sure.  She lives life passionately and she loves with her whole being.  I'm so grateful to be the one God chose to entrust with her care. 

To celebrate (remember that whole living passionately thing?  My girl loves a party.) we had a spa themed party with her friends.  It was just a small group of girls, mostly from church.  We did hair and nails and face masks.  We did presents (of course) and ended the fun with donuts.  My girl wanted a tower of donuts this year instead of a cake, which worked out perfectly since it was so much easier for me.  

To celebrate some more on her actual birthday we went to her Grandmama's house where she surprised her with a little cake and she got her present from us.  She also got to play with one of her BFF's who happens to be my mom's neighbor.  I finally did her birthday survey a couple weeks after her birthday, but I'm glad I got around to it.  I love looking back at the old ones.  Here's this years!

~~Age 11~~
~How old are you? 11
~How does being 11 make you feel? It makes me feel ah-mazing.
~What do you want to learn this year? Um...I don't know. I don't really want to learn anything right now.
~What was the best thing about being 10? That it was my first year being double digits.
~What did you do on your birthday? I had a spa party the day before my birthday and on my birthday I went to my Grandma's house and played with my friend, Livie.
~What is your favorite color? Hot pink
~What is your favorite food? Pepperoni pizza (really? I thought you'd say donuts) Well, it depends on if it's dessert or a meal. If it's something for fun, then donuts.
~Who is your favorite person? I guess you. (I like that answer)
~What grade are you in? 5th
~What is your favorite thing to do for school? Spelling or Handwriting because they are fast.
~What is your favorite game to play? I really like tag, yeah, tag. (anything else?) I like hide and seek too.
~What do you like to do with Daddy? I like to go to stores with him because he listens a lot so I can talk a lot.
~What do you like to do with Mommy? Well, I think it's fun to lay in your bed with you and watch Fixer Upper because then I get Mommy time. And I like to hug you.
~What do you like to do with your brother? Play Pigg-ay, where he is my pet pig and I lead him around the house and he whacks me with a purse. (Uh..they actually do play this and it's ridiculous..my least favorite...go figure)

~What’s your favorite thing to do with the whole family? I like movie night because we are all cozy together and it's fun.
~What’s your favorite store? I like Toys R Us and Target, I don't know. Oh, erase all that, I like PetSmart!
~What’s your favorite place to eat? Let me think real quick. Culver's, Steak and Shake, and Wendy's.
~What’s your favorite book? Ten (Really, not Harry Potter?) Oh wait, go back and put Harry Potter and Ten. I like them both.
~What’s your favorite song? I don't know what it's called but I've got two. We Never Go Out of Style by Taylor Swift, and that one on the Joy FM that says "When there's nothing left to hold on to, I'm holding on to you".
~What’s your favorite thing about God? I guess that He loves me and He's awesome and stuff.

~What do you want to do this year? I want to get a pet dwarf bunny (She asked me to add this question to the list) or a hedgehog but I'm sure a bunny is way more doable.
~What do you want to be when you grow up? Well, I can't really decide but I think it would be fun to be a teacher so people can call me Miss Peto, and I want to work at Petsmart or something that involves my dog.

She just told me she approves this message. :) Now for some photos of her birthday fun!

These are from her spa party. I love the cucumber eyes. :) Somehow I didn't get any photos of the decorations this year...oh well. That seems to be the story of my life these days!

Her party was turquoise and hot pink colors and her Daddy had just so happened to buy her a dress for her birthday and it matched her party colors. My husband does not normally buy our kids clothes, so I thought it was so sweet that he bought her a dress. All the girls at the party thought it was very cool of him too.

Oh, this picture just reminded me that our neighbors (the one's whose dog she walks) also bought my girl some birthday gifts! How sweet was that? They got her an outfit (the shirt in this pic) and a bracelet kit and a boogie board. This was right before we gave her the present from us (her aunt and grandmas chipped in too).

She's flying to Ohio in a couple weeks with her Grandmama. She wasn't quite as excited as I thought she'd be. I think because she has to wait to actually experience her gift and she's all about instant gratification at this stage of life. She's getting excited now that it's getting closer though and she's already got multiple sleepovers with friends planned.

Love her many expressions. In the bottom right photo she was getting ready to blow out her imaginary candles since Grandmama didn't have any. :) And that cake was yummy.

My mom's neighbor is one of her besties and she made her that birthday headband and my girl added the bow for more bling. I love her so much. Did I mention that we celebrated her birthday poolside? In January? Yeah, I love living in Florida. :)

I guess I'll have to get my camera out this week because now I'm all caught up on my photos to blog! I do have a ton of Instagram pics, but blogging them seems somewhat redundant. My mother in law is coming for a visit soon so that will give me some motivation to get out and do some fun things and take photos of them for a change!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Christmas 2014

Christmas seems like ages ago now, but I want to blog about it because I can barely remember it now and I want to be able to remember it years from now.  This Christmas was so crazy.  We had just been to Ohio about a week and a half before Christmas for my Father-in-law's funeral and we had left our children there with their Grandmama for the week between that and Christmas.  I had thought it would be great for them to spend time with their cousins but then they ended up being sick and we had to keep them apart which was really sad.  So my husband and I flew home between the funeral and Christmas because he had to work and I had chemo.  On our flight back here it ended up being delayed 6 hours!  So that was a challenge.  I'm so glad our kids weren't with us for that.  Then when we packed up all the presents and headed back to Ohio a week later we got about 30 minutes from our house and our van broke down!  Once again, glad the kids weren't with us, but it was really stressful and we had to have it towed and wait at the car repair place for them to open (we left at 5am) and then wait for it to get fixed so it put us super behind when we finally got on the road.  We tried to drive straight through, but I hit a wall about 9pm and started crying (I'm so not a crier) and made my husband take me to a hotel.  I was feeling pretty horrible at that point from chemo so I'm surprised I lasted that long!  That hotel bed was the most fabulous thing I'd felt in a while!  We got to Ohio a day later than expected but we made it.  Last year we had stayed with my mom for Christmas but she sold her house this past summer and so we stayed with her and my grandpa.  It didn't have the same nostalgic feel that last Christmas did since it didn't bring up any childhood memories.  The kids were troopers though and didn't complain too much about sleeping on air mattresses on the floor for 2 whole weeks.  My very selfless mom gave up her bed for us and she took the couch for which I am very grateful.  My husband took our kids and drove a couple hours north to see his family for the holiday while I stayed home for fear of another allergy attack like I'd had the last time I'd seen them.  It was hard missing out but I had to take care of my health.  Unfortunately that means no pictures of their celebration because I wasn't there to take them.  We were able to see my family and cousins that week which was really nice, but even though I was there, I somehow didn't take any pics.  I was extremely tired that week, and picture taking sometimes feels exhausting to me, so I guess that's why. I also got to get together with a few sweet girlfriends who I'd been missing dearly.  I didn't really have the energy to see more people than a few close friends and family.  When I think back now to how I felt then, I can't believe how much better I feel.  If I were to go for a visit now I'd have way more energy and be in much better spirits.  Overall, we had a lovely Christmas, but after driving home we swore we'd never leave town for Christmas again.  We are thinking about doing Thanksgiving instead.  I just really want a Christmas at home next year.  No dragging presents with us and not sleeping in our own beds.  No one judging how we do our traditions.  No massive pile of excess to bring home.  Just a few presents and some friends and family sounds perfect.  Of course, I could totally change my mind by next Christmas, but being sick really puts things in perspective sometimes and a really simple, meaningful holiday sounds just about perfect.  More focusing on Jesus and family.  With that said, I do have some photos to share so enjoy!

 Now that my girl is older it is so hard to find a cute Christmas dress.  I feel like I went to every store in Clearwater and shopped online before I finally found one.  And it ended up being the Annie dress from Target.  I didn't like it when I first saw it but my girl loved it and it looked much cuter on.

She was super excited about the high heel shoes. :)  I got to see my cutie pie nieces who I hadn't seen in months and they are so cute!!  I wish I had some video of this one dancing, but trust me, she's adorable and she's got some major hip action.

My mom loving on her grandbaby.  She had stolen my phone...little stinker. :)

A Christmas portrait of my sweet boy.

And one of my girl.

Christmas Eve with my brother and sisters and families.  There's my other cutie pie niece who was not my biggest fan.  Teething and separation anxiety are both not fun stages!  Hopefully next time I see her I'll be able to win her over.  I love that my other little niece wore one of my girl's old Christmas dresses.  It's so fun to get to see them again!

Modeling some of her new clothes.  I think this was the first year that she was excited to get clothes.

Christmas morning.  Santa did not disappoint.  He got the MIP robot he asked for.  I think the most played with toy is that ball maze though.  He actually solved it a few weeks later.  He's awesome at stuff like that.  It has 100 little twists and turns and I can only make it to number 5.  He also got a disco ball, something he's wanted forever. :)

Love that photo in the middle where she was so excited to get her Ugg style boots.  She'd been wanting them forever and I kept telling her how impractical they are for someone who lives in Florida.  She's actually worn them a lot though!  She was also super excited for her Meowchi cat which was her #1 thing on her list to Santa.

I remembered when going through pics that I had an old collage of all their Christmases and I decided to add to it.  Here it is.  They are growing up so fast!

Next up, my girl's birthday!  Hopefully I'll have energy to get to it next week.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Halloween 2014

I can't believe I haven't blogged in 2 months!  I think that's a record for the longest I've gone since I started this thing.  I have just been tired, and by tired, I mean the most tired I have ever felt in my life.  The kind of tired you can't really explain properly.  You just have to experience it to get it, I guess.  I am happy to say that I've got much more energy now that I have finished the worst of my treatment.  Still 16 weeks to go though.  I cannot wait to be done!  I know that 16 weeks will just seem like a blip a year from now, but right now it still feels like forever.  Anyway, I'm feeling better which means I will hopefully make some progress on this here blog and get it back up to date soon.  I still need to get Christmas blogged and my sweet girl's birthday which was this past weekend, but I'm determined to catch up.  So...I'm gonna go way back to Halloween and share a few pics.

This year at Halloween we were in the Smokies with my brother and his family.  It was so fun that the kids got to trick or treat with their cousins.  We actually went twice.  First, we went with our Smoky Mountain cousin before my niece and nephew got there.  It was in town and you went from business to business.  They closed down the street and it was like a party.  It was fun to see all the cute costumes, but it wasn't our usual trick or treat.  The kids still prefer the kind where you go ringing on doorbells so maybe next year we will get to do that.  Then the next day we went again to a different small town so that my niece and nephew could go.  It rained but it was still fun.  I think I prefer a Florida Halloween where you don't need to worry about coats. :) Here are my favorite pics.

My girl had 2 costumes this year.  We found these tiger pajamas one day at Target and my little tiger lover had to have them.  Since it was kinda cold, this costume worked perfectly and she got to match her cousin who was a zebra!  My boy really wanted to be the Grim Reaper, but I really hate when little kids wear scary costumes so we had quite a few talks about whether or not he should be that.  In the end we decided to hold off on the scary stuff since we'd be with his cousin this year who is only 5 and he went with this adorable hot dog costume.  I loved it and he got tons of comments about how cool it was!

Just love the light in this one.

With the Ohio cousins.  My boy was all about the silly during picture taking.

Okay, so this isn't a great photo, but it is a photo of all 4 of us, which I love!

I forgot to take photos of each of them individually for my collage of costumes over the years.  Oh well, at least I got this one of the 2 of them.  Love my Elsa and my hot dog!

Next up, Christmas!  I haven't even downloaded the photos off my camera yet!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankfulness in Times of Trial

When I started thinking about what I'm thankful for this year, I realize that going through the trial of my medical issues has actually made me more thankful than ever.  It seems like it would be the opposite, and while at the time of diagnosis a couple of months ago thankfulness was the furthest thing from my mind, now that I've had a little bit of time to reflect I can say that I am thankful for so many more things now than I was before this all started.  I think that's because I've been forced to see things in a new light, a more focused one, that illuminates the little things, which turns out is where thankfulness lies.  It's like when we were in the mountains a couple weeks ago and it was pitch black out and we needed to walk across to a neighbors house and all I had was my flashlight on my phone.  I was really concentrating on the area right in front of me, the next steps I needed to take.  I didn't have any distractions around me because I literally could barely see where I was going.  But I was focused.  I could see every pebble, rock, twig and rut in the road where the flashlight beam illuminated them.  When I walk that same road in the daytime I'm distracted by the view around me and I'm not concentrating on my steps.  And I miss the little things to be thankful for.  It's okay to be thankful for the normal stuff, like family and friends, but now that I have so many details to be thankful for it really adds up to an overwhelming feeling of gratefulness for it all.   You can really start to see God's mighty hand at work and for that I am thankful.  

In our weekly Bible study we've been going through the book of James and these verses have really stuck out to me for obvious reasons.  I can't say that most of going through cancer is a joy, but it most definitely can cause me to find reason for joy.  And I want this experience to cause me to grow in my faith and produce steadfastness.  So, I've been meditating on this: 

James 1:2-4  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Funny thing about cancer is how much lack of control you have over how it plays out.  I can't tell you how many times the doctors have made appointments for me and I'm just expected to show up.  They don't call me first to see if it works for my schedule...and that was really starting to make me annoyed!  Like my other plans aren't important.  Well, I guess when you think about it, they really aren't.  And I've come to realize that I've been wanting to control things with God too.  I used to try to plan out my life.  Where we would live, what we would do, things I wanted to do.  If I heard some nudging from God about something He wanted me to do, I'd check my calendar to see if it fit in my schedule.  How ridiculous of me...like my plans are more important than His.  

What I really want to remember is to be thankful for the little things.  I think that thankfulness is what produces joy.  And the small moments added up is what produces true thankfulness.  So I'm going to make a list of some of the things I'm thankful for since starting this journey so that you can see that God is always there.  He's there in every detail and He cares so much.  If I learn nothing but that from this it will be enough. 
  1. That I was at my weekly Bible study surrounded by people who love me when I first received the phone call with my diagnosis.  
  2. They immediately prayed for me.
  3. That I have been able to get in quickly for almost every appointment.
  4. For modern medical technology
  5. That my mom just so happened to buy a house here close to me just months before my diagnosis and was able to be here for my surgeries and treatments.
  6. That one of my best friends from Ohio also just so happened to move here months before my diagnosis and is now able to help out and be a comfort to me.
  7. That I was starting to stress about how we were going to pay for all of the medical bills when a dear friend texted me and offered to research and set up a funding website for people to donate to without me even telling her of my worries.
  8. The fact that countless people have donated to our fund and we know that God always provides.  If I ever doubted that before, I don't now.
  9. My best friend from Ohio's husband received a bonus from work right as I was going through the most scary waiting for results part of this journey and he suggested she make a trip to Florida for the weekend to see me.
  10. That my cancer is treatable.
  11. That of the 6 page list of chemo side effects, I've only experienced 3 and they've been mild.
  12. My church family has set up countless meals for me so I don't have to cook when I'm not feeling well.
  13. I have friends who are willing to watch my children at a moments notice and I know they are loved and cared for.
  14. I met 2 new friends since I've been diagnosed and both have daughters my girl's age and they have offered and already helped out when I needed them.  And to think I thought it was an inconvenient time to meet new friends. :) Silly me.
  15. My mom's neighbors have become friends with us and their children are friends with mine.  So it takes some of the burden off of my mom since my kids can play with friends when they go to Grandmama's house.  
  16. That my Grandpa is here in Florida with my mom and my kids adore him and he can babysit them (or they can babysit him as he teases) when I need him to.
  17. My friends even made shopping for a wig fun by helping me turn it into a girl's night out.
  18. When I realized how expensive those hats people wear for chemo are, I remembered I have an aunt who is an amazing seamstress and she sewed me a whole assortment. 
  19. I've received a card or note of encouragement almost every single day since learning of this.  I have a stack almost 6 inches high that I'm saving.  
  20. My oncologist is caring and set up my treatments so I could have the week of Thanksgiving and the week of Christmas off.
  21. Hundreds of people are praying for me.  This almost brings me to tears.  I'm so grateful for all my brothers and sisters in Christ who care for me.
  22. My treatments fell in a way that I was able to take a trip to see my brother and his family in the midst of all this and I didn't feel sick at all.
  23. My surgeon who I picked from a recommendation of a friend turns out is a world class surgeon who helped invent one of the procedures that he performed on me.
  24. That I was able to get physical therapy for a side effect from surgery and it has improved so quickly I only have to go once more.
  25. The hospital where I've had my surgeries is less than 5 minutes from one of my friend's houses where she has been able to watch my kids for me each time, even keeping them overnight once when my daughter was sick with a virus.  
  26. My kids are old enough to do a lot of their homeschooling on their own and they have not fallen behind at all.  
  27. The flexibility of homeschooling has made things easier for us and I don't have to deal with school pick ups and drop offs or homework.
  28. My children are learning compassion and to trust God through all of this.
  29. My husband is amazing and we are learning what our wedding vows really meant when we said, 'in sickness and in health'.  
  30. I've learned that God never leaves us and His plans are always perfect even when I think they are crazy and don't like them.
I feel like I could go on forever, but I'm going to stop there.  If you think any part of this list is just a coincidence or just me being one of the lucky ones, I assure that couldn't be further from the truth.  Take a look at your life and you will start to see the blessings being illuminated and you will know there is no way that all of the intricacies of how things have gone for you could ever be chance.  I challenge you to look for thankfulness throughout whatever trials you are facing.  Then the joy will come.  Happy Thanksgiving!


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