Monday, August 31, 2009


Last night, the kids were talking about their favorite fruits. Aubrey, our 10-year-old-going-on-16, tells her dad:

"I think my favorite is cherries. Especially marinated ones."

She can never remember maraschino. But I think our family from here on out will call them "marinated cherries."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Normal? What's that?

Though we got back into town Thursday evening, I still don't feel settled back at home. This is due to a combination of things, I think. First, Kelly and are are/were exhausted! Physically and emotionally completely drained. This is the closest family member I've ever lost, so I've never been this intimately involved in the plans and all the notifying etc. that goes on afterwards. Not that I did much of that, but Kelly did. And there were either people over at the house or people calling the house constantly in the days after Vickie's death. It's all completely necessary of course, but it is still draining for those involved.

And then there's just dealing with a loss like that, and helping the girls deal with it. That really takes a toll. I'm wondering how long it will hurt every time I see something that strongly reminds me of her. And I keep being surprised at how many things remind me of Vickie.

Then the morning after we got home, Ashlynn started running a high fever, with diarrhea and vomiting. So I sat and held her for the next 24 hours, pretty much non-stop.

So we still aren't feeling "normal" yet. I guess with any life-changing event, normal will change and we'll have to find out a new normal. But life has to go on, work needs to be done, school lessons taught, and these kids keep wanting to be fed. (Don't they remember that I just fed them this morning? Sheesh!) Much as I don't feel like it, we gotta kinda get back into it tomorrow. Social person though I am, I feel this urge to burrow into a hole somewhere and cocoon myself for a while. Not exactly practical, I know. But it has been nice this weekend to have a transition time between the hectic days of the funeral and our normal activity level.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Mother-in-law

Vickie, my mother-in-law, lost her battle with cancer yesterday morning just before noon. She had been admitted to the hospital Friday because her chemo side effects were so bad, particularly her almost non-existent white blood cell count. At the time the doctors thought it was a side effect of her chemo treatment from a week previous. However, scans Sunday morning showed that the cancer had spread far beyond her liver. She had a mass in her abdomen, and they think it was in her bones, causing the low white blood cell counts. In fact, they now believe that most of the "side effects" were actually the cancer, not the chemo. However, they so closely fit the side effects - just worse - they did not find this until Sunday.

Vickie was such a special person that it is impossible to think of life without her. She was by far one of the best mothers-in-law EVER. She never treated me like an outsider, but like a daughter, and a loved one at that. She cheerfully taught me anything I wanted to learn from her, from a specific cooking skill to a sewing technique. She loved her grandchildren completely. She was always taking them for walks, playing with them, coloring with them, or whatever.

We 're all doing ok. The sadness comes in waves. Services will be Wednesday. My FIL especially is facing many challenges in the weeks ahead, as he'll also probably be selling the house as well as dealing with the normal things after a death.

Vickie was a believer, and because of God's promises, we know this means that right now she is resting in the Father's hands, cancer-free and glorified. One of her favorite hymns speaks to that, and will be sung at her funeral.

Because He Lives

God sent His son,
they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal, and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living
just because He lives.

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives.
But greater still the calm assurance,
This child can face uncertain days
because He lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living
just because He lives.

And then one day I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain.
And then as death gives way to victory,
I'll see the lights of glory
and I'll know He lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone!
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives!

Words: Bill & Gloria Gaither

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I love toddlers.

Really, I do. I think I love the toddler stage even more than the baby stage. They are unbelievable cute as they do ordinary things like run or read a book.
You really get to see their God-given personalities come to life.
The flip side is getting to see their little sin natures come to the fore more and more. Deviousness starts early, doesn't it?

"Life is so hard. You hurt my feelings so much! Boo-hoo-hoo!"
"Wait, are they still watching me?"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Peg Leg

So I've had this cast on for nearly two weeks. This is the first cast I've ever had on in my life. I've only broken two bones in my life. A couple of years ago, I broke one of my pinkie toes, which of course only required taping. When I was in the 6th grade I was trying to do a long jump, but landed on my rear end, breaking my tail bone. Thank goodness no cast exists for that. As it was the kids at school laughed at me for bringing a pillow to sit on for a few days.

Though I have nothing broken now, in case you missed it, I am wearing a cast on my left foot to immobilize it to allow a tendon injury to heal. In some ways it hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be. After all, I've always heard they are hot and it is about 147 degrees here every afternoon. But as long as I stay inside it isn't too bad. If I am on my feet too much, my foot or ankle starts to hurt, so I am trying to stay off of it as much as possible. That's easier some days than others. Somehow, kids still need things and the house still needs to run.

Fortunately I haven't been completely housebound. I am so thankful for the many stores that have the motorized carts. That has been great, though I do get funny looks in them, until they glance down at the cast on my leg. I am about 50 years younger than most other people on those carts. (Not all, Cathi!)

It has been crazily itchy at times, but fortunately most of it has been towards the top where I can get fingers to and scratch. Getting used to sleeping with it definitely took a couple of nights, but it wasn't as bad as I thought.

It still feels funny to walk with it because I have been unable to find a shoe for my right foot that is the same height. Definitely gives my a funny, ungraceful gate. If I have my cast shoe off I thump around like a peg leg sailor.

The most interesting hurtle has been bathing. I obviously can't take a shower, and the garden tub in our bathroom is too tall for me to sit in it and be able to hang one leg off the side. So, though I am limiting my trips upstairs as much as possible, I have to go upstairs to one of the girls' tubs to bathe. They not only have shorter tubs, but have hand-held shower heads, which makes bathing easier in that regard. However, since I can't sit all the way up, and I can't lean against anything because of the angle of my leg, I make it as quick a process as I can. Then I come downstairs and sit on the side of my tall tub to shave my legs. Then I go to the kitchen sink to wash my hair. It's quite a process.

I go back on September 1st to get this cast off. The thing is, there is a good chance I could come home from that appointment with another cast on, if the injury needs more time to heal. So I plan to go to the doctors office with a razor and shaving cream in my purse. If they want to re-cast my leg, they're going to have to give me a 5 minute break in the bathroom first!

Friday, August 14, 2009

So it begins...

So we just ended our first week of school. Surprisingly it went fairly smoothly. I never jump into school with both feet, doing every subject every day from day one. Besides, several of the curriculum I use only have 30-32 weeks worth of work, which allows me a week or two to ease into it. It takes the kids a few days for their brain to get back into school gear after a long break, so a gradual schedule works for all of us.

This week, all the girls did math, all but the 6 yo did grammar, and they all did history/geography. They 8 an 6 yo did handwriting as well. The 6 yo also did phonics. Next week, we'll add in science (for the 12 yo), vocabulary, and maybe Latin. Or I might hold off on Latin until the next week, I haven't decided yet.

The other advantage to a stair step approach of beginning a school year is that it allows me a chance to see what is working and what isn't, especially regarding our routine/schedule, and tweak it more easily than if I dumped everything thing on them at once. I guarantee nothing would be working right then for several weeks!

I'm also still looking into a couple of co-op classes for the fall, so this could be a very interesting semester. Especially since we are starting off in one of the best spots in history - the Civil War. Kids, stop rolling your eyes, it really is fascinating! I promise!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Modern Conveniences

Can I just say I am glad I am born in this century? We were just without power for a couple of hours. It's so easy to take lights, fans, computers and AIR CONDITIONING for granted, isn't it?

What's really fun is when you are at someone else's home when they have no power with approximately 40-50 kids practicing for a play. Talk about some sweaty kids. :-)

Monday, August 10, 2009

No Clinical Trials

Much has happened regarding my MIL's cancer diagnosis in the last week, so I'll try to post a brief update:

* The oncologist is more optimistic than the first doctor (a radiologist I think) that my in-laws spoke to. He said it is treatable. However, he expects my MIL to go through a cancer/treatment/remission/cancer cycle for the rest of her life. However, they are going to fight every cancer and explore treatments to prolong the periods of remission. He also said it was possible that they could do this for many years to come. So he was not thinking in terms of months, as we were, but in years.

* Chemo treatments have been developed that are more effective against liver cancer than previous ones were. This is particularly good news because she did not qualify for the two clinical trials they tried to get her in. We are sad about this because the clinical trials were for a pill form of chemo that did not have the bad side effects of traditional liquid chemo.

* She had a medi-port inserted surgically this morning. She begins her first dose of chemo and gene therapy on Friday. Last time she had chemo, she had to have a certain number of doses, then they stopped. This time she will keep going with the chemo once every three weeks until the liver is cancer free or until they are convinced that the chemo is not doing anything. The gene therapy she will receive once a month for the rest of her life. (Fortunately this drug has next to no side effects.) She will lose her hair and have the immune system side effects of the chemo with this round (suppressed ability to fight off illness, flu-like aches and pains) but supposedly no nausea.

Thanks for all the prayers!

Friday, August 7, 2009

16 Years

Today is our sixteenth wedding anniversary. Why yes, we were very young when we got married.

Two years ago I announced I was pregnant on our anniversary.

Last year, I spent a week or two leading up to our anniversary posting old pictures of Kelly and I - some before we even met, like this one which Kelly says he'll never live down, as well as early pictures of us - prom, choir, engagement, and wedding pics. For "A trip down memory lane" parts 1-8, go here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

So what am I going to do this year to top all that???

Nothing. Nada. Zip, zilch, zero.

The last year, especially the last 6 months, has been an interesting time as we've both dealt with health issues, are getting a new business up and running (or crawling as the case may be), and of course dealing with family, from the 6 kiddos running around to my MIL & her bout with cancer. I just don't have a creative cell left in me right now. I feel sucked dry. And of course, this cast I'm lugging around makes me feel just so romantic. Maybe I can drown my uncreative sorrows in Dr. Pepper and coconut shrimp tonight.

Happy Anniversary. honey!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pink is Pretty

Here I am, modeling the latest in fashionable footwear.
Lovely, isn't it? This is what I have to wear for at least the next 4 weeks. In summer. In South Texas.

Back in March, I was working out one morning. I stepped forward to do a lunge with my left foot, when I felt something funny in my ankle. I quit doing that and by the time I was done working out my ankle was hurting, so I took it easy for a week or so, keeping the ankle wrapped. Then I eased back into my workout routine, but eventually the ankle started hurting again.

Again, I scaled back on all exercise except for running on the elliptical. I kept the ankle wrapped. I tried staying off my feet for week. But the ankle kept getting worse.

So the first part of June I went to see my doctor, who said the interior tendon of my ankle was inflamed, not unlike someone who has carpel tunnel of the wrists. He gave me a round of steroids and Alieve. This worked wonders for a week or so, but soon I was back as bad as I had been, some days barely able to walk. I went back to my doctor, who said, "hmmmm."

Don't you love it when docs say that?

He gave me another round of steroids and told me to go see a specialist. He thought I needed steroid shots right into the tendon. The oral steroids helped again, though not as much as the first time. Thankfully, I was finally able to see the specialist today.

He said I had indeed injured the tendon my doctor had told me, but it was more serious than either my family doctor or I had believed. The damage has obviously gotten much worse. In fact, he called my foot "deformed." The tendon is no longer holding the shape of my foot, the arch is nearly non-existent, and it stays swollen all the time now.

He said we may well be looking at surgery, though we are going to try some other things first. Because the surgery is a very big deal, he wants to avoid it if we can. The surgery makes me a little weak just thinking about it - I don't remember all the details because he lost me when he started talking about cutting my heel bone. Basically it would require a reconstruction of my entire left foot except the toes. And then there's a long rehab after that. Did you remember that I have SIX KIDS? I'm not allowed to be down like that.

In order to avoid the surgery, I have to have my ankle immobilized for 4-6 weeks to allow my body time to heal. So I came home in a lovely pink walking cast. In 4 weeks, I get that off and he'll evaluate things from there. At that point, I could be re-casted for longer, put into regular footwear with a good arch support, or scheduled for surgery.

While I am not looking forward to 4 weeks of casts in 100 degree heat, I am thankful for answers. I know that this is God's will in my life right now, for whatever reason. I also know we are commanded to be thankful in ALL situations. It is also a great opportunity to show my kids how to handle adversity, how to keep a godly attitude towards the negatives in life, and all that good stuff.

Can you tell I'm giving myself a pep talk? We all need it at times, right? I am just thankful to be living in a century when we have AIR CONDITIONING! And that I have older kids. And there is chocolate and Dr. Pepper in the world.

Needless to say I am praying that the surgery will not be necessary, but that no matter what God has planned for the next several weeks, that He will give me the grace to live through it as I should.

Right now, I have to break the news to the girls that we are starting school a week early...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

It's been a while - Conversations with a 4 year old

Last weekend, while we were at my in-laws' house, the white noise maker/alarm clock in the little girls room went off at 5 am both mornings for some unknown reason. It was playing a Spanish station very loudly. When we came home, I thought that the alarm would no longer be set, so I plugged in the clock and put the kids to bed as we got home very late.

5 am the next morning - in which I had hoped to sleep in - I felt a tap on my arm.

Me: Huh? What?

Lauryn: Mama, there's something in our room. And it's WRONG! You need to come here.

When I got upstairs and heard a radio station playing I realized that the stupid alarm clock was still set, though it was playing in English now. Fortunately, the baby slept right through it. And I think Lauryn actually said, "You need to come hear!"


Friday night we were watching Fellowship of the Ring, and the scene came up where they were sailing by the Argonath - two large statues on either side of a river. The next morning, Lauryn was talking to her sisters at breakfast about the statues.

Lauryn: Yeah, they were really big. And the were stoned.


Saturday, after watching Return of the King, Lauryn started talking to me about the last battle before the Black Gates.

Lauryn: There needed to be more good guys. The good guys were only in a circle. But there were a lot of bad guys, like 199 of them.