Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The memory keeper.

If I'm not blogging, you can assume that life either sucks (kinda like last year did) or life is pretty awesome. Thankfully, it's been the later of the two lately.

Now that Livi's done with the harder part of her treatment, it feels like we've been living life again. We've been busy...too busy for my taste to be honest, but I'm grateful to be out in the world again and for some kind of normalcy.

The point of this post...last year I read The Happiness Project and one thing the author said about herself stuck out to me big time. She realized that she was the "memory keeper" for her family and it was her job to keep a document their lives. For whatever reason, that stuck with me.  I'm our memory keeper.

I've been documenting life these past few months and keeping these memories alive, I just haven't been using the blog to do it. 

Instead, I've been sucked into the Project Life world...

Last summer, my mom and I got into a conversation about our old scrap booking know, the scrapbooks with stickers galore and tons of cutting.  Though she's still been plugging away with it over the years, I had dropped it.  I was in college and it felt like it was just too dang expensive to keep up.  I told her how much I missed the scrapbooking, but I just didn't have the time to sit down and spend hours making a single page.  I know you print off photo books or have your blog printed off in a book, but for some reason, those didn't feel the same to me as a scrapbook does.  She mentioned looking into Project Life and I was immediately hooked. 

Over the fall, I slowly collected the few supplies I needed when they were on sale or I had a protectors, a couple of kits, a photo corner rounder, a few craft pens, etc. and got to work when the new year came around.

(Obviously, I've developed a little addiction over the past few months...there may or may not be more kits that didn't make the picture...cough, cough.)

It's a pretty simple buy a kit that tickles your fancy, buy some sheet protects, print off your pictures, then use the pre-cut cards in your kit to make a page.

I personally decided to start in January and do a yearly family album.  I'm sure I may go back when I have a little more time on my hands and make a separate one for each of the girls.  I failed at a baby book for both girls, so I'd like to eventually go back and make something similar for both.

Every few weeks or at the end of the month, I have all  my pictures printed out.  I then work on the previous month throughout the month we're currently in.  The most exciting part is that so far, this system is so simple, I've been able to keep up. 

I'm already finished with March and my album is already half way full. 

Most of the pictures are cell phone pics. I don't worry about if they're frame worthy.  Heck, some are even blurry, but ones I love and know I still would want to look back at them years later. I also have no shame in borrowing a few photos my kids are in from close family and friends that I know wouldn't mind.

I include anything that I felt the need to take multiple pictures off.  I usually just jot down a few notes and what day it is (my computers photo organizer will remind me if I can't remember the exact date). 

If I have enough photos of a certain event to fill a whole page, then it gets one.  Each month, I also include a "Random" page of single photos, a page dedicated to each of the girls with funny things they did or said that month.

It's just enough to fill my crafting need, but it doesn't take tons of time or makes a huge mess. I can finish several pages in just an hour.

I often find the girls looking through the album.  Even though the events are just a month or two old, Olivia loves to reminisce over them.  I can't wait till we have several years to really reminisce over. I find Amelia probably looking through them more than any one!

 It's so simple, I just feel the need to share this with all the other memory keepers out there.

I'm hooked.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Unmade beds.

When I was a teenager, I went through this rebellious stage where I refused to make up my bed every morning.  I saw no point in spending the five minutes time to do something that I was going to undo twelve hours later.

It's okay to laugh at the fact an unmade bed was my rebellious stage. My mother is personally thanking God for it.

My mom didn't argue with me.  I remember her telling me repeatedly thru my teenage age years "pick and choose your battles."  She let it go and every night, I happily climbed into an unmade bed.

When I was fifteen, I didn't get what she meant.  Now that I'm a mom myself, I get it... I really do. I think I may even go on record that "pick and choose your battles" is one of the biggest lessons I learned from my mom about being a mom.

But then I grew up.

I became a stay-at-home mom myself and somewhere along the road, a made up bed became a symbol of accomplishment.

Kinda like it's a required thing for anyone that was home all day long. I'm sure David took note each and every night that he climbed into a nicely made bed (please note the sarcasm).

Heck, there is a pin on pinterest about "why I make my bed everyday" so it must be important, right?

So, these past few years, I got into the habit of making my bed each and everyday. 

Then I had a baby.

For the first two years, my bed making continued without missing a beat. She was in a crib, so I quickly made up the bed each and every morning before rescuing her from the crib and my bed went untouched till nighttime.

Then that baby grew up, moved out of a crib, and I found her crawling into my bed each and every morning.

I love that moment each day. Really, I do.  I think I may keep homeschooling just for that reason alone (totally joking).

However, as soon as our morning cuddling time was over, I was quickly making up the bed and going on about our day.

Over the past year or so, even after I did my daily "make up the bed" routine, that I'd often throughout the day find Olivia on my nicely made up bed.

As much as I hate to admit it, I did the 'mother of the year" thing of getting on to her for messing up my freshly made up bed.  Like that was the only thing I had accomplished all day and David would dock my pay because he had to climb into a bed with wrinkled covers and sheets.

I vividly remember a scene from while we were living in the farmhouse of me losing it at Olivia over her messing up my freshly made bed. 

....but then life happened.

You all are familiar with the story by now and know what kinda life happened.

It's funny how those things give you new perspectives on life.  In fact, I think I've been given just as many new perspectives on life within the last six months as I have my whole thirty two years before.

Within a couple of months of Olivia's diagnoses, I noticed she gravitated towards our bed on her days she felt her worse. To even go further into the story, the day that started it all, she was in our bed the entire day and refused to leave.


I get it now...our bed is a safe place for our girls.

It's where they want to lay when they have nightmares in the middle of the night.  It's where they want to be when they're teething or having a  "day after chemo." It's where they play on rainy days and where they want to watch movies as a family. It's where they feel closes to us.

That being said, our freshly made up bed often gets messed up in their daily activities.
 My often times only daily accomplishment gets thrown to the wind. 


I've learned to let it go.  I've learned to pick and choose my battles.
That battle is one I don't want to fight.

An unmade bed is not a sign of what I've accomplished during my day.  

If our bed is their safe haven, I want them to know it's always there waiting for them...messy covers and all. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

The weekend.

I had these great dreams of posting about our wonderful weekend, but to be honest, it hasn't been the best.

It was a long weekend and not of the good kind.

For whatever reason, they moved the Atlanta NASCAR race to this weekend and David has a store ten minutes from the racetrack, so a majority of his weekend was spent at work.  In years past, it's been a Labor day weekend race, which meant I spent the majority of his working hours by the pool and with family eating hamburgers and hotdogs ("oh, you were working all weekend? I didn't notice while I was cramming in the last bit of tanning I could for the summer.") Race weekend is expected and nothing new (he's pretty much always had a store near the racetrack), but it doesn't make for a fun weekend when you have a teething toddler and your mother-in-law is on call.

Which speaking of...Amelia has a zero pain tolerance.

I'm not even joking.

The kid spent the majority of her first year in pain from severe reflux and her second year in pain from teeth.  I was starting to think maybe she had another ear infection, but on Tuesday, the Doctor confirmed that her ears/throat/nose looked perfect and it was in fact, just teething.  She's been connected at my hip most of the weekend and the only way I could get any clothes washed was with her in the baby backpack.  While carrying a 30lb. toddler all weekend, I've learned that no matter how long I've been training for a 1/2 marathon, I'm out of shape. 

I cannot tell you how happy I will be when Amelia gets over the teething stage.  I think after the two that are currently coming in, we only have the two year molars left (oh, yay!!!).  She won't let me open her mouth long enough to access the situation.

In other news, Olivia took two bad falls over the weekend.  Back in the day, falls like these we wouldn't have thought twice over, but now we have to be extra vigilant over even the smallest fall because she can easily develop an infection due to the chemo and lack of an immune system.  No lie, we have to treat every paper cut like a bullet womb. The chemo that she is on now has left her with no reflexes and extra clumsy (three times as clumsy as a normal five year old), so she falls constantly.  It's just one of those things we took for granted pre-cancer days.  She currently has ten band aides on her body (not an exaggeration at all) and smells like a tube of neosporin.

In more happy news, we finally got a couple of nice days and got to spend some time outside.  My kids are so ready for the warmer weather, it's not even funny.  February was rough. Amelia seriously asks to go outside approximately ten minutes after she's woken up every single morning. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to try to explain to a toddler that she cannot go outside when it's 18 degrees outside.  I don't do that kind of cold. We've never had really nice patio furniture and decided it was time, so we've seriously spent the whole winter stocking up on stuff and it's currently sitting all boxed up in the garage.  I have a sneaky feeling we're going to get our monies worth out of it all this summer.  Thankfully it's going to be in the 60's and 70's all week.  Maybe Spring is finally here???

Also, David and I got a much needed date night on Saturday night and we didn't get a single call that anyone needed to go to urgent care or the ER (that was the trend for awhile). We finally made it back to a local Italian place that we haven't been to since before Olivia was born and thankfully, it didn't disappoint (Pasta Max in the square for any locals). We ended our night at Walmart like every other romantic night because we were out of diapers. 

The only thing keeping me going at this point and time is the nice weather and our next to last weekly chemo appointment.

By the time you read this, we'll be at clinic for our last sedation chemo for this round.  No matter how many times she's sedated (we're easily up to 20 times by now), it's a little nerve racking.  Please say a prayer for my mini me. Watching her come out of sedation breaks my heart every time.

Here's to a warmer week! : )

Friday, February 27, 2015

a few friday extras...

A couple of months ago, I got into scrap booking with project life

I want to do a whole post on it later, but for now, just know that I'm totally loving it and cannot get enough at the moment.  I still take a lot of pictures during the week, but I find I no longer feel the need to post every single one to social media since they're more for going into the scrap books.

Here are a few extras from this week that didn't make instagram or facebook...

Monday we were in Milla's room playing. I was laying on the floor and I looked up to see Livi trying to pick Milla up and put her in the crib.  Being that Milla already weighs over half of what Livi does, it didn't end well.  

Milla had a well check up on Tuesday morning.  Thankfully, we got nothing but good news and they were happy with how she looks.  On the way home I looked back to see her passed out.  She hardly ever sleeps in the car, so the visit must have worn her out.

The in-laws are in the process of redoing their living room.  I've been helping with it and Tuesday afternoon we made a quick trip to Ikea.  We had been eying the perfect rug but in true Ikea fashion, they were out of stock for awhile, we finally got lucky on Tuesday, only to realize the curtains we needed were out of stock.  The funny part of this story, is that her and I have a reputation of fitting huge things in tiny cars.  It started with two 8 foot Christmas trees the day after thanksgiving where she practically rode on the roof.  On two separate trips, I've successfully fit four full size wicker chairs and four six foot bookcases (in boxes) along with a kid in a car seat in a Nissan Altima.  We took her car thinking the seats folded down, only to get in the parking lot and realize that wasn't the case.  We found ourselves once again trying to cram a 9 foot long rug in a 10 foot long car.  I sent this pic to David telling him to never underestimate our small car/big item shopping.

This one made the love for Livi facebook page.  When did she start to look so grown up???

We were "all on a plane to no where!" according to Livi.

Another Love for Livi....David's boss sent these glasses home to the girls the other day. Milla wants nothing to do with them, but Livi loves them and has been wearing them constantly.  They're hilarious and creep me out all at the same time.

It's been a long, cold, wet February. We were spoiled during January, but this month, Winter finally decided to show up.  It feels like the sun hasn't shined in weeks.  Yesterday we finally got to see the sun shine again and it felt like I hadn't seen anything that beautiful in awhile.

It's not unusual to walk in and find Milla doing something she's not supposed to be doing....kinda like shaking her money maker on the kitchen table.

 Oh, and Livi walks around half naked all the time, but I feel like she's too big to post those pictures on the internet, so that's the reason for the stars.

I posted another version of this one last night and evidently it hit home with a lot of folks.  I feel like I miss titled it should have said "what 5 o'clock somewhere really looks like!"

This kid always has a lot to say and she's very animated about it.

Happy Friday everyone! : )

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Looking back.

Can I tell you a secret?

These days I can no longer look at pictures of Olivia pre diagnoses.

As far as I can look back is the week that everything changed, beyond that, I just can't do it anymore. 

Right now...looking back feels like torture.

While doing some early spring cleaning the other day, I stumbled across a SD card. It sat on the counter for a week or so before I popped it in the hard drive.

They immediately brought tears to my eyes. 

Okay, the reality is that I sat there and stared at them for maybe a good twenty minutes and bawled my eyes out. 

These pictures were taken a little over a year ago.

I feel like I don't even know who that little girl is anymore.

Is it crazy I feel like I don't even remember her with hair anymore?

It hurts to look at pictures and know that just six months later, my girl would be laying in ICU fighting for her life.

That six months later our world would be rocked and as they say "we'd become members of an exclusive country club no one wants to be apart of."

That life would now divided into "pre-cancer" and "post-cancer" days. 

It's crazy how much life can change in just a year...a week...a day...

I stumbled across a qoute on Pinterest the other day and it said

"When you can tell your story and it doesn't make you cry, you know you have healed." ~Unknown.

Oh,how true is that?

I'm not there where near it. 

It feels like we have a long way to go, but day by day it's getting a little easier to look back.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Blogging about blogging.

I don't think the blog has ever gone silent for this long.

I've been asked for awhile now about the blog...the question is getting more and more frequent and from people whom I never realized ever took the time to read my words. After all this time, I'm still always amazed by who reads.

To be honest, I've had a love/hate relationship with blogging for some time now.

Blogging has changed a lot since I started over six years ago.

A lot of the bloggers I've read for years have either gone commercial and it's nothing but promotions, life is just so ge-golly-perfect all the time, or they stopped blogging all together.

I got tired of it.
When you look up and it feels like your life is falling apart around get tired of constantly being sold something or hearing how everyone else's life is perfect. 

Yes, times have been though for a lot of people for while now and some people are just trying to make some money through blogging and I'm smart enough to know that no one's life is perfect no matter how hard they try to portray it on social media.  However, when you have a year old who it seems hates life in general and still gets up multiple times a night while you're going on over a year without sleep, a marriage that feels like is coming apart at the seams, and a kid who has's hard to hide the un-perfectness of your own life on social media.

I mean, what do you blog you and your husband fought again last you cleaned up after chemo puke all day long....or how you tried to let your toddler "cry it out" and she cried so long and loud she woke the whole house up at two a.m.  Life hasn't felt pretty and blog worthy these past six months, so it just felt natural to leave it behind. 

However, that being said....I still didn't want to forget those imperfect moments down the road. Though they didn't make the blog, they found themselves in a paper journal by my bedside. Every hurt, fear, and scar...they're still written down so I can look back one day at how far we've come with this journey.

The bad moments are just as important to remember as the good.  

I don't know where I'm going from here as far as blogging goes.  A couple of weeks ago, I had a heart to heart about blogging from a long time blogging friend who is a blogger herself. Oddly, not long after that conversation, a heart to heart about it came from two other people who aren't bloggers, but read my blog. Well, all those had me thinking about the blog again in a different light and I'm still sitting and thinking on it.

Honestly, I'm not even sure where I'm going with all this, but to somewhat explain the absence. 

Though I'm not sure it calls for a comeback to blogging, life has slowly been getting better....David and I had a come to Jesus about us last October and though marriage is a constant work in progress, things have since been heading in the right direction. Livi is finally past the hardest parts of chemo and on the downhill slope as far as treatment goes...and Milla....well, she's still getting up multiple times a night....but not everything can be perfect, right?

Monday, November 10, 2014

When the fear creeps in...

I feel like I hear often how strong I am and how wonderfully we're handling all this. 

I usually just say thanks and state "we're not doing anything any other parent wouldn't do in our situation."  I'm not one to graciously accept compliments.

For the most part, sure, we're handling things the best we know how.

Cancer or not, we always try our best to live our lives with a optimistic outlook.  We don't believe on dwelling on the past or what may or may not have been.  Another popular saying in our house is "what does crying get you?  Livi responds without missing a beat "nothing." Though it can be hard at times, we always try to look at the positive of every situation.  You give us a fork in the road and we're pulling up gps for new directions.  There's always something to be thankful for in the good and the bad.  That's just the way we try our hardest to live our lives.

The truth is though, we don't have a choice but to be strong.

As parents, we have to be the rock for Livi. She looks to us for cues on how to handle her diagnoses and what's going on in our lives currently.  We can't sit in the corner and cry every time she gets poked.....though no matter how much time passes, it never gets any easier to watch them poke a 3 & 1/4 inch gauge needle in your child's chest.  Every week, I literally hold my breathe till the nurse says "got it!"

I've learned it's one thing to know someone with cancer or to even have a family member with's completely another thing to have cancer living in your home and staring you in the face day after day.  You can't truly understand cancer until you've been there watching the nurse come in week after week, decked out with hazmat suits and yellow toxic bags and to watch as they literally pour poison into your/your child/your loved ones iv.  To know you're going to have to watch them get worse before they can feel like themselves again......only to know you have to repeat this process the next week.

It's a draining process.  

Thirteen years ago, my grandmother took care of my uncle as he lost his life to cancer.  For years, I knew he was sick, but I never truly got it.  I never realized what was really going on.  These days, there are often times my grandmother and I will catch each others eye and both tear up....she knows the pain that's there.  It's a road I'm sure she never imagined one of her grandchildren having to walk down as a parent, especially at this early in the game. 

Thankfully, Livi got to finish her last round on time and we got to enjoy a full two week break in between chemo treatments. That two weeks is up already and in two days, we start the process again to hopefully get started with the next round on Friday.

This is when the fear creeps in.

Just a few weeks ago, I started to notice that there seems to be a cycle with each new round and new set of drugs.  Going into each round, we don't know how she's going to react to each new chemo she gets.  With chemo, there seems to be no middle's either ugly or it doesn't seem to phase her at all.  After we get a couple of treatments under our belt and we know what to expect, it seems we relax and our confidence seems to soar again.

It's easier then to say "we've got this."

I'll be honest, this next round is freaking me out and no matter how it may be portrayed on line....I'm scared as heck to watch her go through this next round.  I so badly want it to be over, but scared to move forward.

Round four is a handful and a half of new chemo and those dreaded steroids again.  It's chemo shots that have to be administered at home and day long treatments where her kidneys have to be flushed in ordered to be saved from the chemo.
And so there fear is here again and I hold my breathe till Christmas.

Hoping and praying that fear is gone by then.

That I can look her in the eye and without a single doubt say again "we've got this."