Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Changing Fall To Christmas

During the week of Thanksgiving we got our Christmas tree and Christmas decorations out and started trading out our fall decor. I usually leave everything decorated for fall and Thanksgiving on the first floor until the day after Thanksgiving, but I'll start on the tree or get it up, and it's on the second floor in the front window. So each floor is decorated for different seasons/holidays!

Everything took a little longer this year with me still in recovery mode and having doctor appointments to start radiation. I also didn't do much of the physical work and just supervised (i.e. bossed people around). I had Buddy put the tree together, Hubby and a couple of the kids fluffed out the limbs (which I can usually be so anal about), and then Hubby put on the lights as I followed him around holding them (920 lights!). These are all things I usually do because I'm such a control freak, but I just let it go and it was okay.

I also let the kids decorate the tree. Not that they don't usually, but I stayed away and let them put the ornaments where they wanted to. They weren't as happy about it as I thought they would be. They were impressed that I didn't move things around after they were done. Giving up control I tell you.

Honestly, the tree looks almost identical to last year's tree, except that it's a different one (because we have two and I had Buddy put up the one that is not pre-lit because it's such a bear and needs more than one person).

I switched out the fall artwork I found on Pinterest with Christmas artwork.

I put a few things on the mantle and coffee table, and I put the little evergreens in front of the fireplace. I also got my Christmas wreaths and the stockings (which we call socks) out. I still need to put the nativity together, but other than that, I'm done. Going simple this year.

And it's totally okay.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Printer Tray = Lego Men Storage

Of course I picked up this idea on Pinterest.

I already had the printer tray in the garage waiting to be used. I bought two in Frankenmuth over a year ago when I only planned to buy one, but they were half price, therefore the reason for buying two.

I'm glad I did now.

I used a couple of hooks and picture hanging wire on the back to hang it on the wall. To help keep it stationary, I used a command picture hanging hook on each of the two bottom corners.

It's hanging on the half wall outside Caboose's room by the stairs. That way if the little men (or whatever they are) fall off, they won't get lost behind a piece of furniture.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Koala Is More Sloth-like Than A Sloth

Today Caboose was reading an older copy of a kids' Guinness record book we have.

According to it, Koalas sleep about 22 hours a day and sloths sleep about 20 hours a day (although wikipedia differs on both of these numbers, it does have Koalas sleeping more).

So all these years I've been telling my kids not to be lazy and sloth-like, I should have been telling them not to be lazy and koala-like.

Although Koalas are so much cuter than sloths!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pincushions and Pink Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

Today was my last chemotherapy treatment! Can I hear a big Woot, Woot, please?!

And although I still have a few shots to be given at home, our little container was overflowing. I filled up a quart-sized Ziploc, barely got it zipped up, and took it with me today. (I always have my blood drawn to make sure my numbers are high enough for the treatment. It's downstairs in the lab and I just pop upstairs where my doctor's office and chemotherapy administration takes place.) I asked my lab nurse if I could put these in their very large biomedical container. Of course she let me.

That seemingly little bag contains an awful lot of shots. No wonder I call myself a pincushion sometimes.

I also made some Pink Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies to put out on the snack counter for everyone to share. I thought it was appropriate in light of pink being the color for breast cancer awareness. I got this idea off of Pinterest too. Addicted I tell you.

photo from quick dish, since I forgot to take pictures of mine.

Monday, October 31, 2011


I am seriously in love with it. Or maybe it would be addiction.

Free fall subway art. They have a few others too.

It was a great addition to my fall decorations.

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies. Peanut butter. Brownies. Need I say more?

Individual Strawberry Cheesecakes. Mine weren't ready for serving and didn't have the strawberries on them yet.

Want an invite to Pinterest? Just let me know. Already on Pinterest? I've added the follow link on my sidebar, so just click it so I can follow your ideas too. :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chipmunk Cheeks

This cute little chipmunk has been getting crumbs from under the bird feeders. He goes about two feet away and empties his cheeks (we can see the grass move but can't see him), and then he starts filling his cheeks again. He worked for well over an hour today.

There is a squirrel that's been digging under the feeders, and we're wondering if he'll find the chipmunk's stash. It might not have been such a good plan by the little chipmunk.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Side Effects

I mentioned a couple of months ago that I was missing the hair in my nose, and then soon after that I started my twelve rounds of Taxol which also made me start having nose bleeds. Not the kind of nose bleeds you normally think of, but a constant drippy nose bleed. It's been quite the pain. It doesn't help that between my first and second rounds of Taxol I also started Coumadin because of my blood clot.

A couple of months ago the nails on my right hand (which are on the left side in the picture below) started looking a little dark under the nail bed. It was kind of a red/yellow color like a slight bruise. It started on the thumb primarily and then after a few weeks moved to the index and middle fingers. If I use my nails, they feel bruised now.

This week I also noticed that it had spread to the same nails on my left hand, which are on the right side in the picture below.

I didn't realize until I looked at the picture that it has also spread to my right pinky.

Anyway, I mentioned it to my oncologist at this week's appointment, and she said it was from the Taxol, but she also reduced my dose by 25 percent for the last two treatments (yesterday and next Wednesday). She said it was to prevent more serious side effects.

Which I later found out was my nails falling off.

I'm trying to be very careful not to use my nails for anything, not that it doesn't hurt anyway. I don't know that it would make a difference, but just in case...

Monday, October 24, 2011


In my last post I asked you if you knew what was going on in that clay pot in my kitchen.

It was noses for my sock snowmen!

I took toothpicks and just dipped them straight into the little paint container, then I flipped them over and stuck them in the floral foam to dry. Super easy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011


These are currently taking up space in our kitchen.

Wanna guess what they are and what I'm working on?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yarn Wreath

So I might have a little bit of a wreath fetish.

I'm also addicted to Pinterest now. And I've just been messing around with it for like a week or something. That's where I got the idea for this wreath though.

I started with a styrofoam wreath and had Hubby spray it with spray adhesive. Then I took strips of batting and covered it. You could use tacky glue instead.

I followed that with white yarn, and where I started it I used a floral pin to hold it down. I looked for Bernat baby blanket yarn, but I couldn't find it. So I got some kind of fluffy-ish yarn (maybe baby bee, but I already threw the wrapper away). I got the yarn at Hobby Lobby. I have seen the baby blanket yarn online, but I wasn't willing to wait to make the wreath.

After I finished wrapping it I used another floral pin to lock down the yarn and then made a loop around the pin and tied a knot to have something to hang it from. Then I started making my felt flowers.

This is a great tutorial that was linked to from the wreath instructions, and I used the method where I didn't glue the strip together before I snipped it and rolled it up.

I just glued everything on with my hot glue gun.

I had to hang this from my glass back door. I'm having trouble finding enough places to hang wreaths in my house. I have to many ideas!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


We don't wear bell-bottoms at our house, but we do love some things from that era, namely lava lamps.

We've been finding them at garage sales, estate sales, rummage sales — whatever kind of sale we run upon. We also have one lamp that is cylindrical with glitter but heats up awfully fast and another one shaped like these that has probably been made more recently and is kind of flickery like an lcd light or something.

Somehow they found their way onto the tall kitchen counter and they seem to get turned on at least once a day to do their thing. I never had a lava lamp when I was growing up, so it's been kind of fun to enjoy them with my kids.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Caboose loves Legos. He especially got crazy about them once he watched Star Wars.

Caboose also loves chess. He learned how to play when he took a chess class last spring.

Last week Caboose created a chess board with Legos and Star Wars figures. I know he based it off of episodes 1-3 figures and he's got 'good guys' against 'bad guys'.

Although he loves to build the sets, occasionally he will come up with other ideas, and we're still using the pencil holder he made last year. If he had an endless supply of Legos it might help!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Long Live The Wreath

When I made and posted about and hung my Easter wreath earlier this year, I had no idea I was going to be looking at it on the back of my front door for the next seven months.

You read that right. Seven months.

Easter was very late this year, the week after that I found the lump in my breast, and obviously our world turned upside down from there on out.

The wreath on the door somehow didn't matter.

At some point during the summer, like maybe August or so, it sort of became a little bit of a joke. It was really getting a little ridiculous at that point, and there was no way it could pull off the summer theme. Yet fall was just around the corner, especially for those of us who live in the north with cooler temperatures.

A couple of weeks ago I got the fall wreaths out, but I have nothing I can put on the back of that door. It has to be light enough not to drag the magnet hook down the door. I went off to Michael's in search of something I could make.

I ended up finding a feather wreath on a styrofoam form. I used my trusty Michael's coupon to make it "on sale." I bought a couple of fall picks to cut apart to add a little something different, and then I used a floral pin to attach a bird (hooked it through the clip since there wasn't anything to clip it on).


It's different and I definitely like it!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Birthday Season

Even though Hubby's birthday was yesterday, Buddy's birthday on September 24th marked the beginning of our family's birthday season. Less than four months and all six of us have birthdays, all amidst Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

Buddy turned 15 this year. He's at that stage that he doesn't like for me to take his picture. It makes me sad.

Our football has been sort of flat for a while, so he got a new one from our friends. I'm not really sure who decided it was a good idea to put a bow on his head.

Said friends are also huge Michigan fans. They asked permission to get him a Michigan shirt. We acquiesced. Buddy does tend to cheer for them when he watches them play.

Now if they ever play the Razorbacks, that will be an entirely different story.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

You Know You're Old When...

You know the signs they have up near the check-out registers of convenience stores, grocery stores, and really any store that sells cigarettes and tobacco products? Well, they say that you can't buy those products unless you were born before that day in 1993 now. I noticed one in the store the other day and it kind of jumped out at me. It is what it's said all year. It means you're 18 years old.

On December 3rd this year my girls will be 18. That sign applies to them by age even though it doesn't apply to them for making an actual purchase. Yes, feeling a little aged.

Hubby's birthday is today. In Michigan your driver's license expires on your birthday every so many years. You can mail in a form and pay your renewal fee and not go to the DMV. This year Hubby's license expires. Tricky part is that your wife has to do it for you and mail it in at least three weeks in advance per the notice. The three weeks in advance part per the notice, not the wife doing it. Well, with company for two weeks (my parents came to visit!), chemo, and then a cold to complicate matters, I kind of just forgot. So yesterday after my chemo, Hubby brought me home and then went to the DMV.

If we'd done the mail renewal he wouldn't have had to have a new picture made. But since he went in he gets an entirely new license. The beauty of that is that he can mail in the next renewal and not have to get a picture done again — until he's at least in his 50's!!! Yep, feeling old.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


It's time for an update and then back to some regular blogging. What's sad is when the people in my own home are asking me when I'm going to do another blog post. It just seemed like all the blog posts were about my breast cancer, and on top of that I was feeling pretty crummy. So I'll give you kind of a run down in this post and then maybe we just won't have to talk about it for a while, okay? I know that it encompasses my life right now, but funny things do still go on around our house.

I had my four adriamycin/cytoxin treatments, each two weeks apart starting in June. I was violently ill after the first one and the oncologist changed my premedication after that (in case anyone is interested, it was changed from zofran/compazine to emend/aloxi/ativan). I received neulasta shots at home after each treatment for my bone marrow to produce more bone marrow, thus increasing my white counts. That caused some significant bone pain for anywhere from three to five days. I had lots of food aversions while I was on the a/c treatments.

Two weeks after the last a/c I received the first of 12 weekly taxol chemotherapy treatments. I also receive herceptin since I was HER2+. That weekend was when I had the blood clot and went to the emergency room. So between the first and second taxol treatments I had surgery to remove my port, which is how I received all my chemotherapy and IV work, but not blood draws. Now I'm receiving everything through IV only in my left arm since I had lymph nodes removed on the right side when they did the lumpectomy. Because of the threat of lymphedema I can no longer have blood pressure or blood work done on the right side. My veins are getting a little ratty and we are hoping they hold out or I will have to get a picc line in my arm. I really don't want to do that.

When I went for my second taxol treatment the day after my port removal surgery, my white counts were very low, but they were still high enough I could get chemo. I did have to get shots that week to get my counts up. Since there is only a week between treatments I have switched to neupogen, which is a series of three shots instead of only one shot. The oncologist told me that usually people don't need shots until around the eighth week or so. Of course I had to be different. I got the shots every other week a couple of times, but my counts would be so low on the off week that I could barely get my chemo, so now I get the shots every week. Hubby gives them to me at home.

I got a cold a couple of weeks ago and had to postpone week eight. I never had a fever, which was very good. I am having treatment number nine tomorrow and then only have three more to go after that.

I'm having regular hot flashes from the chemo-induced (temporary) menopause. I don't have food aversions anymore but in the last few weeks almost everything tastes like metal. I can count on one hand the things that don't. I still have a small smattering of eyelashes and eyebrows. I'm losing some of the hair on the sides of my head that I still had. I'm trying to decide if what little bit was left on the top is thinning too. Not like it really matters at this point.

I had a problem with a tooth in the middle of all of this. It ended up only being something that was the result of chemo and resolved on it's own, thank goodness! One of the side effects of taxol is bone pain, but I guess since I receive weekly doses the effect isn't as strong because I'm not having any from it. I do have about two solid days of significant pain from the neupogen shots and I'm very fatigued during that time, almost to the point of being narcoleptic. By the time I get the third shot of the week it's starting to dissipate a little. There has also been a nationwide shortage of taxol in the middle of my treatment, but since I'm part of a clinical trial I still get it.

Chemo takes about four hours each time now. I get aloxi (nausea), ativan (nausea), decadron (steroid, anti-inflammatory), benadryl (for possible allergic reaction), pepcid (for stomach irritation), taxol (chemo), and herceptin. I usually eat breakfast before I go and eat very light in the evening. I snack on pretzels while I'm there, and sometimes donut holes. Yep, donut holes. Whatever works.

That's kind of the nuts and bolts of what's been going on. If for any reason you have questions about anything, please feel free to ask me either in the comments or by email.

We've had a birthday at our house, are having another birthday this week at our house, I finally took down the Easter wreath, and I cleaned out the junk drawer, so I should be able to find something to blog about next. And without waiting almost two months this time!

Monday, August 15, 2011


Adventure I'd rather not have.

Lately I've been facing trouble with my port. If you're not familiar with them, it's kind of like a central line. I have a button under the skin in my chest and tubing that runs up and over my collar bone into my heart. I think that's the basics of it. They use it for my chemotherapy so they don't have to do so many needle sticks for IVs in my arm, plus the first four treatments of adriamycin are the more toxic chemo so they don't like putting it straight into the veins.

My last adriamycin three and a half weeks ago had to be put in through an IV. The nurse was having trouble getting a blood return from my port unless I turned my head. The IV wasn't dripping unless I turned my head. Basically she didn't want to put in a toxic chemo without being able to see it and know if it was going through or not. Adrimycin is given from a large syringe and pumped in separately instead of dripped in with the other IV bags.

Last night I looked at my neck in the mirror because it just hadn't felt quite right all day. It wasn't painful, just different. Well, the side of my neck that has the port was swollen enough to be visible. I ended up coming to the ER last night about 10:30, spending the night in the ER having a CT scan done and finding out I have a blood clot in my jugular vein in my neck. It's caused from my port (probably).

I've spent today in the hospital. I'm on shots to thin my blood since they can't give me coumadin until after I have surgery tomorrow to remove the port. They aren't putting another port in. They will just give the last 11 chemotherapy treatments through an IV. It's the less toxic of them so they are okay with it. I will be on blood thinner for three months until chemo is done.

Nothing has been ordinary!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

On My Knees But Not In My Nose

So most of my hair started falling out the day before my second chemotherapy treatment. Finally I had hubby shave it down to mere millimeters just to make the showering process less messy. I still actually have some stubble left all over my head — it's just not much. I'm wondering if I'll keep it or if the Taxol I start after this last round of Adriamycin/Cytoxin will make it fall out.

Along those same lines, I've been kind of holding out on shaving my legs and arms. I'm thinking I'll just lose that hair and not worry about it. I've definitely thinned out. I did give in and shave my underarms this last week, but I've never been a hairy leg girl, so I just let that go.

Tonight on the way to church (the first time I've been in two weeks) I had on a denim skirt. When I would sit down my knees would show, so on the way there hubby looked over and saw hairy knees. I hadn't really noticed until then. The good thing is that we usually sit towards the back and it's dark enough that no one would notice when we were in the pew.

I just find some irony that I have hair on my knees and none in my nose that also happens to be longer than what's on my head.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Nose Hairs and Other Random Things

I take prescription antihistamines. Since I've started chemo, I've not been diligent about taking them in the morning and night both. When I was throwing up so violently after my first chemo, followed by four days of eating practically nothing, pills were not part of my thought pattern. Unless they were for nausea, of course.

For the last week or so my nose has been rather drippy, so I've been diligently taking my antihistamines morning and night. And I'm still pretty drippy. Which got me to thinking this morning.

Someone hubby works with mentioned that someone they knew lost their nose hairs along with all the other hairs that are unfortunately lost (although I won't mind not shaving my arms and legs, so that doesn't fall into the unfortunate category). And after their nose hairs fell out their nose ran all the time.

I checked in my mirror this morning. I don't know what I started with as far as nose hairs go. I can still see some, but I'm thinking that the nose hairs have significantly lessened enough in population that I am now in the 'nose run all the time' category, regardless of taking my antihistamine pills.

On another note, had you noticed that on my right sidebar I've put my upcoming treatment schedule? Betsy had that idea so people who wanted to specifically pray could find the dates without digging through old posts. You know, the ones about nose hairs and tongues and birds on pants.

I take a shot that helps my body produce more bone marrow the day following my chemotherapy. One potential side effect is bone pain. I didn't have any the first time, although I was already sicker than a dog. But after the second treatment two weeks ago and the shot, I did have some bone pain. It started in my ribs and then a couple of days later it hurt to take deep breaths. I had significant fatigue starting four days after chemo on Sunday which coincided with the bone pain. I had almost a full week of fatigue. We'll see what happens after the shot tomorrow (which we do at home and hubby gives me in the stomach!)

Switching gears, we lost a dear older friend at church a couple of weeks ago. This couple is part of the small group we host in our home. Bill was one of the most amazing Christian men I've ever met. Our kids love both he and his wife. After he passed away, Sparky said to her dad, "I think I'm going to quit being friends with old men. They keep dying on me." We had very special friends in Illinois, and Franklin died not too long after we moved to Virginia. We were family friends, but Sparky had a special relationship with him. He taught her how to use her natural artistic abilities to paint.

Chatty is away at horse camp as an assistant counselor for the next two weeks. It's harder for her to be away without one of us than for Sparky to just take off to other countries and continents. Our kids are all so different!

Sparky decided I needed to do an update on my 'Meet the Kids' posts since things have changed. I think I may take her up on it.

Oh, and in again totally unrelated but kind of big news, depending on which camp you're from, I'm on Facebook now. I was a serious hold-out, but I started to see some benefits and decided to take the plunge. Now I'm addicted to this Gardens of Time game. That wasn't the benefit I saw and probably won't ever be the benefit! If I know you from here and you want to friend me, just send me a request.
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