Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A scare

So, last month was Breast Cancer Awareness month and with the campaign so widely publicized, I started thinking about how I'd never had a mammogram. I'm 42 and I should have had one by now. I also haven't seen a gynecologist since John was born. Yeah, he's five now. So, I made a gynecology appointment because I needed a referral for a mammogram. A week before the appointment, I started having pains in my left breast and armpit. I have major anxiety, so I of course started thinking the worst and berating myself for not going sooner. I pictured John growing up without me, and every worst case scenario you can imagine. By the time I went, I had worked myself up into a major frenzy. I saw the gynecologist on a Tuesday and got a mammogram appointment for that Friday. It wasn't pleasant, but it wasn't terrible. Of course, I started my period the day before, so I was tender. Being on a Friday, that left me to stew all weekend long. First thing Monday morning, they called and said that I needed to come back in for additional views and an ultrasound on my left side. The earliest appointment I could get was Friday. What a week that was; my anxiety was terrible, and I was a wreck. I prayed so much, both for good results and for the strength to cope if the results were not good. Friday finally arrived and they did a spot compression which was a bit more unpleasant than the first mammogram but bearable. The ultrasound was next and then more waiting, but they told me that I would have an answer that day. It turned out to be a cyst, thank God. I have to go back in 6 months for another ultrasound to make sure it hasn't gotten any bigger. Turns out, my mom had the same thing when she was about my age. I am of course very relieved and so very thankful. After Mary passed away Russ and I neglected our health and found comfort in food. We both put on some weight, and are both being affected by it. I got a complete physical from my doctor and saw my gynecologist and had a mammogram. I have lost the weight that I put on, and am determined to lose more. Health is a precious thing, and not to be taken for granted. I am so grateful that my scare turned out to be nothing serious and I pray for those who are facing serious illness. The ultrasound tech told me that her son-in-law is facing his second bout with testicular cancer. Her daughter is pregnant with their second child, and their daughter is just 18 months old. He's only 33 years old. If you pray, please add him to your prayers. While you're at it, pray for the researchers that are trying to find a cure for cancer. Far too many precious lives are lost to this terrible disease. Hug your loved ones and tell them you love them every chance you get, for we are not promised tomorrow. God bless you.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Happy Birthday Mary!

     We make a big deal out of birthdays around here. Mary's birthday was two weeks ago, and I knew John would want to do something to celebrate it. He's all about cake (that's my boy!), so I knew we would have cake. We were talking about it the night before her birthday and he was sad that we couldn't give her presents. I got an idea and I told him we could buy her a balloon and he could write her a note and we'd let it float up to her in Heaven. He loved the idea and got so excited!

The next day he drew her a picture and signed it. Those are hearts at the bottom.

I tied the note to the balloon string, we sang Happy Birthday to her (while crying, not an easy feat) and sent the balloon straight to Heaven.
Happy Birthday in Heaven, Mary! We love and miss you! XOXO

Friday, September 6, 2013

All decorated for Fall!

     I love Fall! Love it. Maybe because it ushers in the holidays, maybe because the crisp temperatures are a welcome change from the hot summer, maybe because it means cozying up with my family, or maybe just because Fall rocks! I love the colors, the scents, the pumpkin-flavored-everything. Around mid-August I start getting antsy to put out my Fall decorations but I have promised Russ that I will wait until September 1st. This year I waited until September 2nd! Am I a good wife, or what? Tee hee. Without further ado, a sampling of my Fall decorations. Happy Fall Y'All!

I have a white tree in my dining room that I decorate for each holiday or season. I have fall colored lights, leaf garland, the pine cone ornaments from my thrift haul, and brown ornaments that I bought on clearance after Christmas last year on it. After I took this picture I added some Fall ribbon also.

The table is all set and ready! I got the turkey platter on clearance last year for $2!

The top of my cookbook shelf in the dining room.

Kitchen table.

My sofa table. The lamp is from Cracker Barrel and I've had it for a very long time. Love the colors. The standing turkey and the pumpkins are new purchases this year.

I love this pumpkin sign. I bought it this year at The Christmas Tree Shoppe. That store is a dangerous place for me!

I got this pilgrim sign at a flea market where we used to live in Pennsylvania. This is in the hallway outside the downstairs bathroom. The quilt was made by my grandmother.

When my elementary school closed, they sold the furniture and my mother bought this chair. She used it as a step stool while she was painting and was going to throw it away. I rescued it and it now sits on the landing at the bottom of the steps and it gets decorated too.

I love this owl! Owls are so popular lately. My grandmother collected them and they remind me of her. This guy is hanging above my kitchen sink.

I hope you enjoyed seeing "just a few" of my Fall decorations. What is your favorite season?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Thrifting haul!

I love going to thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets! I have found some wonderful treasures and it is such a great feeling to find a bargain. This morning Russ said he felt like going out and about and he asked me if I felt like going to the Goodwill store. For future reference, the answer to that question is always yes. I love when bloggers show their "haul" from thrifting, so I thought I'd share my haul from Goodwill today. Cue Macklemore playing in the background.

I LOVE fall! How cute is this turkey set? The tureen was $2.99 and the napkin holder was only .99!

This purse looks almost new and it has a long strap, which I love. It is so hard to find a purse with a long strap lately.
These are for keeping dips cool or warm at parties. We love having parties and I thought these would be great. The snowman was 2.99 and it was half price (1.50, yay!) and the snowflake one was also 2.99 but it was full price. I saw the snowflake one on my last trip but didn't get it and regretted it. I was happy to see that it was still there waiting for me.
This little "house" is so cute and springy. It has a shelf inside. Not sure yet where I will use this, but I thought it was adorable. More than likely, John will use it as a hideout for his action figures. It was $2.99.
Dora and Diego dvd for John (1.99), a Christmas cd and a Celtic music cd for John's sleeping music .99 each.
This frame/shelf is neat, I haven't seen one like it before. I has a groove (for plates?) on the shelf and the bottom part holds 5 pictures. It hasn't been used, but it's chipped, so I will paint it. It is quite heavy. It was $3.99.

I got a bag of pine cone ornaments for the holiday tree in my dining room (.99), a new travel coffee mug (1.99), a bag of four metal cookie cutters that I actually don't have (.50), and a nutcracker ceramic dish (.99). John loves nutcrackers; I figured he could put this in his bedroom.
I also got a pair of shorts and a faux suede shirt for $2.00 each. All in all, quite a successful trip. I love thrifting! Have you found any good deals lately?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


  In April of last year, my friend Fred was killed by a driver that was texting. Some things had fallen out of the back of his truck onto the highway and he stopped to pick them up. A state trooper stopped to help him. They were on the side of the road and the trooper had his lights flashing. The driver was texting and he hit them both. Fred died in the ambulance and the trooper was left with injuries that left him unable to continue in his position. The trial for the driver was yesterday, 16 months later. The driver was charged with involuntary manslaughter for killing Fred and reckless driving for striking the trooper. The judge threw out the involuntary manslaughter charge because the district attorney failed to prove he acted with disregard for human life. His cell phone records were inadmissible even though they showed he had been texting throughout his trip because it had been 5 minutes since his last text. This doesn't mean he wasn't texting when the accident happened, it could just mean that he hadn't yet sent it. He was sentenced to 12 months, with 6 months suspended. He will only have to serve 6 months in jail. Fred was a husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, friend and a deacon at his church. He was a good man and his family is devastated by the loss. I know that a longer sentence wouldn't bring Fred back, but it would have sent a message to people who text and drive. Fred's wife Patty has been speaking at high schools about the dangers of texting while driving and lobbying to have the laws changed. This won't bring Fred back either, but maybe it will save the life of someone else's loved one. Please, please, please do not text and drive and teach your children the dangers when they are old enough to get their licenses. There is NOTHING that is so important that it won't wait. NOTHING.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My little Superhero

     So, John turned five in June. Five. I know, right? I have no idea how it happened either. Anyway, we had quite the celebration. Several in fact. The day before his birthday I sent cupcakes to his preschool. His birthday was on a Thursday which is a difficult day for parties so we went to the carnival with friends. He had a great time.

On Friday we had a party at a bounce place with his friends from school. I think we had about 15 kids there. Again, he had a blast.He got to sit in a throne to eat. A throne!

On Sunday we had his family party. My sister and her family came, my FIL, my SIL, John's cousin, and just a few friends. The theme was superheroes. I love, love planning parties. Give me a theme and I'll run with it!
We had superhero themed food:

The cupcake picks were so cute! I ordered them from amazon and they looked 3d in person. Very cute. I also ordered a pack of wall size superhero posters for photo ops which are now hanging in John's bedroom.
 We even had a Spiderman pinata. That's Russ in the Superman shirt. We all had superhero shirts; Russ and John had Superman and I had Batman. So fun!

A few weeks before the party, the ice cream truck came around and John got an Iron man ice cream bar; they also had batman, superman, etc. I thought it would be super cute to have them at his party. Well, you can't buy them in stores. Of course. I contacted the company and they said they don't sell directly to the public and suggested that I go to a store that sells them and ask them to order them for me. I tried several stores and they were unable to order them. Russ happened to be at the small deli that we get sandwiches from sometimes and he saw them in the cooler so he asked if they could order them and they said yes! Of course we paid far too much for them but they were such a cute addition to the party and everyone loved them, especially the adults. We ended up with Batman and Spiderman.
Now that's the face of a happy 5 (gulp!) year old! My little superhero!

John enjoyed all of his parties and I think he felt so special, which is exactly what I wanted for him. It has been rough since Mary passed away and we all needed some fun. This sure fit the bill!

Monday, July 29, 2013

I apologize

I apologize if yesterday's post was too personal, or too difficult to read. I honestly wrote it mainly for myself, as a way to release the details so I don't have to try and remember them. Losing Mary has been so very difficult, and I don't think any of us has fully processed it yet. I know that I haven't. I lost not only my mother-in-law, but one of the best friends I've ever had. It's hard to explain what Mary meant to me; she has been more of a mother to me that my own and it's a profound loss to not have her here.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Not where I thought we'd be a year later.

     I can hardly believe it has been more than a year since I've posted anything here. So much has happened in the past year. Some good and some bad. Some very, very bad. I've thought about posting many times but there is just so much to talk about that it was daunting and I put it off. I think I'm ready now. This will be a very long post and very difficult to write. I'm writing it as a release and for John to read someday.
     I will try to write about other events of the year in later posts, but by far the worst thing that happened was that we lost Mary, my mother in law. She was having severe pain in her left arm in early January and I took her to the ER on a Sunday night. They immediately hooked her up to an ekg machine and did all kinds of tests on her heart, given her age and the fact that left arm pain often indicates a heart attack. They also took x-rays of her arm. The tests came back fine and they put her arm in a sling and gave her pain medication and told her to follow up with her regular doctor. The next day I took her to her regular doctor who could not make a diagnosis either and she referred Mary to a physiatrist, which is a doctor that specializes in physical medicine and pain management. While we were at the doctors office, we discussed our concerns about Alzheimer, because Mary was finally ready to admit that there was a problem. Her doctor is a wonderful woman and she took our concerns seriously and suggested we pursue this after we got the issue with her arm pain resolved. We made an appointment with the physiatrist for Thursday.
     The next day (Tuesday), Mary developed a cough and it got progressively worse. By Thursday, we had to cancel the appointment with the physiatrist and she called an ambulance to take her to the hospital that night because Russ was working and John was very sick and she didn't want me to take him out in the cold. I kept calling the hospital to get updates; they initially said that her x-rays didn't show any pneumonia but they wanted to keep her for observation and do further testing on her arm because by this point she was in excruciating pain. It was well into the wee hours of the morning before she was settled into a room. I spoke with her the next morning (Friday) and she sounded tired but felt a bit better after the breathing treatments they gave her. Russ went to work because she insisted that she was fine and would be better by herself to rest. I called Deb (Russ' sister) to let her know what was going on. John had gotten worse and I wasn't able to go to the hospital either. That evening I called to get an update and was told by the nurse that Mary did indeed have pneumonia in both lungs and it was very bad. They mentioned the possibility of intubating her as she was having trouble breathing. I called Russ at work and he headed to the hospital immediately. I called Deb and she said she would come too. She lives 4 hours away and had to go home and pack some essentials and would be on her way. I made the decision to call Russ' brothers, even though they are estranged from Mary and have been for years. Ken took it badly and started to cry. I gave him what information I had and he thanked me for calling him. Deb arrived later that evening and headed to the hospital and then came back to our house to sleep for a bit.
     The next morning (Saturday) John was much worse so I took him to the ER. They determined that he had strep throat and gave him an antibiotic. Russ came downstairs to the ER from Mary's room and I gave him clean clothes because he was planning on staying with Mary as long as needed. Mary was feeling a little better but she was unable to sleep at all. She was on oxygen and she kept trying to remove the mask to talk and she was very agitated. She was very concerned about John and she was convinced that he had caught it from her. Russ called me so I could tell her that he was ok and that he had strep throat which was entirely different and he couldn't have caught it from her. This relaxed her for a little bit but she soon became agitated again and wouldn't rest. Russ and Deb traded off time at the hospital. Russ also brought Don over to see him, which was very hard on Don. He also had a cough himself, so he didn't stay long. Deb's daughter Shanna came up from Virginia and they spent Saturday night at the hospital with Mary so Russ could come home to sleep and spend some time with John. I was the central contact and I got updates and then would pass them along to the rest of the family. Russ' other brother was completely uninterested so I stopped calling to update him. Ken insisted that his daughter Brianna not be told what was going on because she was at college and he didn't want her to be too upset to go to class. Ken came to visit her but it upset her so much that she told Russ not to let him come back.
     The weekend was a roller coaster; Mary would take a turn for the worse and I'd let everyone know and then she'd rebound again and I'd call them back again with better news. I was desperate to get to the hospital to see her, so on Sunday I headed over. Deb and Shanna had spent the night with her and she was doing a bit better. She had been asking for me but also insisted that I not come because John needed me. Her face lit up when I came in the room. Almost immediately, a doctor came in and he said that he had looked over her chart and it looked like she had indeed suffered a heart attack. Mary immediately panicked and her oxygen levels dropped. She got extremely agitated and started having real trouble breathing. I laid into the doctor for saying this in front of her and told him to leave the room. Mary's nurse said it looked as though she was going to need to be intubated. Mary had a dnr and an advanced directive, but Russ and Don had power of attorney and so they had to make a decision if she was unable. He needed to be there so I left so we could switch places. I didn't even have time to speak with Mary, but I told her I'd be back as soon as I could. After a bit, Mary stabilized again and they didn't have to intubate her. Mary did agree to be intubated as long as the doctors felt that she had a chance of being extubated eventually.
     At this point, Mary started to lose touch with reality and retreat into her own world. She was still very agitated and the doctors  were not able to sedate her enough to let her sleep because it would suppress her breathing even further. Her body was starting to break down because she wasn't able to rest. On Monday, the doctors inserted a picc line to make it easier to administer antibiotics. She was doing a bit better after that but still agitated. She was doing so much better that Deb and Shanna decided to head home and return the following weekend. We all believed that Mary had turned the corner. Her mental state was still altered but we chalked it up to sheer exhaustion and lack of sleep.
John was feeling much better by Tuesday and he was still on antibiotics so Mary's doctor said he could come visit because he wasn't contagious and was unlikely to catch anything from Mary. He suggested we put a mask on him just to be safe. We picked up Don and headed over to see her. She was very happy to see John and I but I'm not sure she knew who we were. Don had a hard time with his emotions and Russ and John went to sit with him in the family room while I had a few minutes with Mary. Her eyes were closed and she was having conversations with someone from the past. It was like she was reliving her life and it made me realize how bad she really was. Her doctor came in and Don and Russ came back to speak with her. She told us quite plainly that Mary was in very bad shape and unlikely to recover. She said that Mary had, in a moment of clarity, refused to be intubated. If it was to be done, Russ or Don would have to authorize it against her wishes. The doctor also said it was unlikely that she would recover enough to ever be extubated and she could linger on a respirator, which she always made us promise not to let happen to her. Basically, the doctor told us that there really wasn't much else they could do for her; another set of x-rays had showed that the pneumonia had gotten far worse. Russ asked the doctor if they could make her comfortable and allow it to happen. The doctor said they could give her pain medication and that she would most likely just stop breathing. Don couldn't bear to stay, so we gave him time to say goodbye to her and then I brought John in and he kissed her. She was almost in a childlike state at this point and she waved to him and said "I'll see you later." That was one of the hardest moments of my life. Then Russ took John and Don to the family room and I had a few moments with Mary. Her eyes were still closed and she was talking constantly about things that made sense only to her. I kissed her and I promised that I would take care of everyone for her. John and I took Don home and Russ stayed with Mary. He called Deb and she immediately headed back but she didn't make it in time. Within a few hours, Mary passed away. Russ was with her, holding her hand. He said it was not a gentle passing; she remained agitated until nearly the end. He called me when she passed; we were at Don's. John was watching a movie and Don and I were sitting at the kitchen table. I had to look in the eyes of the man I love like he was my own father and break his heart. Don asked me to call their friends and tell them. It was terrible.
     We are still reeling from the loss of Mary six months later. I will most likely write other posts about the funeral and Russ' siblings. For now, this is all I can handle emotionally on this subject. I have missed this blog and I'm hoping to write more frequently and about happier subjects. John turned five (how is that even possible?) last month and will be starting kindergarten in September! Welcome back little blog, I've missed you.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

John at four years old

     I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that my sweet little baby is four years old. Well, officially he will be at 11:03 tonight. I sometimes wish I'd started this blog when he was an infant so I could have done those "you're 3 months old today" posts. With the post-partum depression I was suffering, however, I'm not sure I'd like to read what I might have written then. I'm in a much better place now and this post is for you John. I am so blessed to be your mama and I thank God for you every day. In bulleted form, this is what you are like at four years old.
  • You are so smart and constantly ask questions. You want to understand everything and your thinking is so very deep for your age. Daddy and I have never "baby talked" to you and your comprehension is incredible.
  • Right now your favorites are Scooby Doo and superheroes and your play is so imaginative. You play great on your own and you also love playing with us or with other kids.
  • You are so open with people and everyone responds to you when we go anywhere. You have a sweet personality that just draws people in and makes them fall in love with you.
  • You are a very sweet, loving boy. We went to the chinese buffet for dinner tonight and the waitresses sang to you for your first time and you were thrilled. You kept saying how nice of them it was and how special.
  • You love to give hugs and kisses, even to people you don't know. Your joy is contagious and you spread love wherever you go.
  • You have been dressing yourself for months. You are quite independent and love to do things on your own. You recently started opening the car door yourself and buckling your own car seat. You love cooking with me and you are a big help to Daddy. You love working with tools and helping Daddy fix things.
  • You recently got glasses and you have adjusted well to them.
  • Your laugh is contagious and it just cracks me and daddy up. You have started saying "get it?" about things that make no sense to us but you think it's hysterical.
  • You are learning compassion for people from seeing us do things for others. We cook meals for Nana and Pop several times a week and you love to run in the door shouting "meals on wheels!" We brought food to a sick friend and when you hear that someone is sick you tell us we should bring them soup and cookies.
  • You are very generous and giving. You and Daddy were at the hardware store the other day and you saw a hummingbird spinner ornament and you told him you wanted to get it for me because I love hummingbirds. You were so pleased with yourself when you brought it to me and I was so touched. When your friends come over you share all your toys, even though we give you the option of putting away ones that are special to you.
  • You love watching tv and we have to limit how much you watch. We borrow movies from the library every week and you can hardly wait to get home to watch one. You also enjoy playing on my computer and you are so good at controlling the mouse.
  • You have always been a great eater. You love my cooking and especially my baking. You are good about trying new things and you love most vegetables.
  • You are my sugarlump and you will always be my baby, no matter how big you get. I love you with every fiber of my being and I am so grateful that I get to be your mama.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Wonderful Day

     Today was a great day! It was one of those days that you store in your heart and wrap yourself up in the memory of when things are difficult. Russ was off today and we decided to take John to a zoo for the first time. We went to a small, private zoo that Russ and I used to go to years ago. You can feed the animals and we knew he would love it. Boy did he ever! He thought it was hysterical to see the monkeys wait at the bottom of the tube for their treats. I fell head over heels in love with one of the monkeys and could have easily spent all day feeding her by hand. She was so sweet and gentle and would take each piece from my hand so delicately. She had the softest, sweetest little hands, oh my goodness I wanted to take her home. Seriously, I am a sucker for animals. Omg those tiny monkey fingers! Ok, moving on. The zoo had a fire recently and tragically a mother and baby giraffe were killed. They are rebuilding the giraffe house and the surviving ones are at another zoo until it is complete. We promised John we could go back and see the giraffes when they return. The weather was just perfect and we really enjoyed ourselves.
     After the zoo we went to the flea market because one of the stores sells party supplies and I wanted to get some more things for John's party. We also bought donuts from the Amish market which are sinfully delicious. While we were having lunch, one of the Amish girls walked by texting on a pink smart phone. I know that the Amish ways have changed but I didn't think they had changed that much! It was just such a shock to see that, and I don't know why but it made me a little sad too.

Our town has started a farmers market on Fridays and when we got home we decided to walk downtown and check it out. There were very few stands but there were paddle boats and we decided to take John for a ride on the lake. He loved it! It was wonderful to see his face just beaming, enjoying himself so much. On our walk home I heard someone calling our names and I turned to see a guy on a motorcycle making a turn but I didn't recognize him. Russ didn't hear it but I told him that the guy nearly tipped his bike trying to see us. I said I'll bet he comes around the corner and sure enough he did and it was our neighbor from when we lived here years ago! We haven't seen him in years and he thought we were still in Virginia. We spent a few minutes catching up and made plans to get together soon.

     Each moment of today was so special and it was wonderful to spend time enjoying my family of three. My heart is so full right now and I am grateful for God's blessings in my life.