Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Are We There Yet?

I feel like a whiny little kid, doing something that I'm really, frankly, sick and tired of doing. Because honestly, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Lucky for me, today was my last day of chemo! This picture is the evidence of the last bag hanging and running :-)

But I find my self asking "Are we there yet?" because although I've had my last chemo treatment, I know that I still have a recovery period ahead of me.  I'm still going to get sick this week.  The side effects are cumulative so I will likely feel worse this week than last week and it will take me a bit longer to feel better.  The good news is that this is the last time that I have to ride this particular roller coaster.  I can start to look forward to the many things that I have been missing.  Sleep, for example.  What a treat it will be to have a regular sleep schedule again!  No more steroid fueled 4 four nights, followed by 11 hour nights.  Those slingshot sleep schedules have been hard to manage, and exhausting, especially since there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.  I know this will surprise you, but getting angry while staring at the ceiling doesn't help either.

I have also seriously missed my kitchen!  I really enjoy cooking and baking.  It's an important part of my role in my family and also my favorite role.  I'm the caretaker in my family and to say that it's been humbling to have to admit that I can't take care of my family, in the way that I am accustomed to doing, is an understatement.  Having to admit that I need help has been almost humiliating.  I know it's absolutely foolish to feel this way, but I do.  I know it's the treatment and that it's temporary, but still....  I am so very fortunate that we have a wonderful group of friends and family that are eager to help us.  We've had some lovely meals prepared for us and some wonderful meals for our freezer for days that I just can't put a meal on the table, and I'm so very thankful for them and my friends.  But I still look forward to having the energy, mental and physical, to plan and prepare it myself again.  I've saved some seriously yummy sounding recipes to my recipe box on Allrecipes and pinned some great sounding recipes to my Pinterest board too.  All I can say is that I hope my family has missed me in the kitchen too, because as soon as I get my sense of taste back, I'm ready to try a bunch of new recipes :-)  As I learned from my Oncologist today, my taste buds are going to take longer to recover than my energy. Awesome...... But on the plus side, when I can taste food again, I'll be raring to go!

Next week I begin what I consider to be Phase 2 and Phase 3 of my treatment plan.  I have my first appointment at radiology to get my radiation schedule set up and everything that goes with that.  I also begin my 40 weeks of Herceptin treatment.  So the "Hard Part" is almost behind me, and the finish line for that better not be a stinking mirage or somebody is going to get hurt.  I'm ready to tackle the next phases!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Crimson Pride

A long time ago, way back in the summer of 2009, I went with Justin to his University of Alabama New Student Orientation.  Living in NH, this required airplane travel and some activities to entertain myself.  I decided I needed some socks, socks that would be worthy of this important step in my son's life.  I found some yarn in what I thought could pass as his school color and cast on a pair of socks.  That little project bag would be easy to throw in my bag and I could carry it all over campus.  Everything that came in the mail for him that spring and summer was proudly marked "You Are UA" and so my socks were named.


Fast forward to the Spring of 2014 and it was time for my boy to graduate!  There are so many memories of his time at UA.  The friends he made, the fun he had, the tornado, instructors/professors who made him nuts and question what he was doing, and one's that inspired him and reaffirmed that what he was doing was about the coolest thing ever. There was living away from home and living with people who he didn't choose which required him to learn some new life skills.  There was also living with his friends and having the time of his life, which also required him to learn some new life skills :-)  No matter how I looked at it, this was a big deal and an important occasion. Again, attending graduation required air travel and entertainment for it.  You guessed it, Momma needed some new socks to mark this event!

There is a yarn store in Tuscaloosa called Serendipity Needleworks.  Justin went there just before Christmas vacation because I had heard that they had yarn dyed by Lorna's Laces in an exclusive color called Crimson Pride, which truly is the colors of UA.  I had been teasing him that I NEEDED some of this yarn, because, well..... I needed Game Day socks! LOL The very lovely ladies who work there helped him pick out just what I was hoping for.  I didn't have time to make those socks before the football season was over, but it gave me the perfect yarn to use for Graduation Socks.

Crimson Pride Socks.  I think the name says it all!

The pattern is Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder.  It's a free pattern and an easy pattern. It was as simple as a plain vanilla sock but the bit of texture added just enough interest that I didn't get bored. I did substitute my preferred slip-stitch heel flap flap.

And I substituted my preferred toe decrease rate too.  Not because I think it's better, but because I think I knit on auto-pilot, or maybe I should call it auto-knit :-)
I love these socks!  I love what they represent, I love that I knit them while I was traveling for this event, that they went all over town with me graduation weekend, that I knit on them in his apartment and at the Ski Lake.  I love these socks almost as much as I love my son.

Can I get a ROLL TIDE!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Birthday Blessings

Today is my Birthday and it could easily have been a really crappy day. I began Chemo week 11 today.  I think it's safe to say that most people would rather do literally anything other than receive chemo on their birthday.  The side effects of my treatment are cumulative so I know I'm beginning what is going to be a tough few days, or four or five crappy days.  This morning I was planning a blog post about what I'm really struggling with and missing.  And then this beautiful, love filled day unfolded, and I was reminded how blessed and lucky I am, so I'm going to save that crabby post for another time!

Here is a little glimpse of what my day looked like.  I decided I deserved to start a new knitting project, something fresh and fun in spring colors.  This is a shawlette in a new baby alpaca/cotton blend from Manos del Uruguay.  It will be perfect to wrap around my neck on days it is a little chilly.  This is what I worked on during my treatment today.
Tom was working in the area today, so he brought me a sandwich from D'Angelos for lunch.  After lunch my nurse brought me this fabulous cupcake, a card from all the staff, and a gift certificate to Olive Garden from a local Breast Cancer Support Organization!  I was so surprised!  These lovely ladies take care of me in some way almost everyday of the week and they all played dumb pretty well most of the day, even though I get asked a bazillion times when I'm there "What's your name and date of birth?"  Pretty special :-)
When I got home I found this stunning flower arrangement from Debbi and Marcy, Knitters that I met at Sock Camp a few years ago.  They are fun and special ladies and I am so honored to call them my friends.  Thank you again Deb and Marcy for the flowers.  They really made my day :-)
And then I found this fabulous cake, baked by my dear friend and neighbor Kris and her daughter Megan.  Megan is my kid-next-door who cut and donated her hair when I lost mine.  I have a very special place in my heart for that kid :-)  It's about time to cut into this.  rumor has it that there is caramel in the middle. Mmmmm!
I've also been overwhelmed by all the birthday wishes on Facebook, email, and phone calls.  I feel very special and loved today.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for making today truly special. I'm a lucky lady and I'm going to do my best to remember how you have all made me feel today and carry this feeling with me over the next year :-)

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Chandler's Prom was this weekend!  I love seeing him and his friends plot and plan about who they'd like to go with, how they're going to ask, and then roll their eyes at all the moms who remind them that they need to order a tux, pick put flowers, clean their cars, and behave like young gentlemen.

Chandler took his girlfriend Stephanie.  He looked so handsome!
He really cracks me up with his sense of style.  Picking out these shoes was the easiest part of the tux shopping experience!
Off we went to Steph's house for flowers and pictures.

They are so cute together :-)

This is the small group of friends that met for flowers and pictures.  Stephanie's brother also went to the Prom.  Spenser and his date Nadia on the left.  Steph's close friend Meg went with Chandler's good friend Robbie.

I actually managed to get a nice picture of them during the Grand March!
They all had a great evening and a lot of fun with their friends.  Then they went to the beach together the next day.  What a fun weekend!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ten on Tuesday

I think we all go through our days comfortable with what we know and what we do. But there are always times when you find yourself stumped, or maybe just plain wondering about something. I know that I sometimes wonder if my view on a topic would be different if I knew more about the subject. Some things I just wish I did better and maybe I could if I just knew more about it.  This week Carole asked us to think about

 10 Things (or Subjects) You Wish You Knew More About

1. Gardening - the flower variety. I love a pretty container of flowers but I feel like I really stink at combining flowers that look good together.  My method generally involves this.... "These all require Full Sun? I like these colors together? Is one tall and one short?  Done."
2. Gardening - the vegetable variety.  I started dabbling a few years ago with a small vegetable garden.  We really enjoy the fresh vegetables but I'm not very good at it and don't get the yield that I think I should.  I have no clue when to start seeds so I always start with plants from the nursery.  I have so much to learn!
3. My Camera.  It is a DSLR and is waaaaay too advanced for my ability, but I bought it because I can take a pictures of my kids doing the things they love, and they're actually in the picture!  I did not have that same success with my old point and shoot digital camera.
4. Knitting. I'm reasonably skilled and profiecient with my knitting, but there is always more to learn!  I love learning more.  Some day I'd like to complete the Master Knitter Program.  Maybe I should get on that sometime soon.
5. World Religions.  There are so many that I'd like to understand better.
6. My Electronics. I know I'm scratching the surface with my electronics.  I'm pretty comfortable with them but I'm always stunned what I learn from my kids when they sit beside me while using them.
7. iPhoto.  Goes hand in hand with my camera.  And my electronics. :-)
8. Clean Eating.  Although I've tried to dramatically reduce processed foods in my family's diet over the last couple years, I'd like to learn more about this.
9. Contemporary History.  I really feel that most of what I know about WW2 and what followed is lacking.  I love reading a good novel historical novel and learning more about the issues, ideals, and conflicts.
10. Cooking.  It's something I love to do and I'm pretty good at it, but I'd love to be better at it. Fancier meals more suited to "company" or adult dining as my kids are leaving the nest.  Grilling meats that use homemade marinades and salads that use fresh dressings.  I guess this really goes well with the idea of Clean Eating too.

These are some of the things I'd like to know about.  How about you?

Saturday, May 10, 2014


Last weekend we had a fantastic trip to Alabama to celebrate our son's graduation from The University of Alabama!  There were so many emotions over the weekend, but mostly we are just proud!  After 5 years of studying, internships, horrific tornados,  sunny skies, friendships, and all the experiences that make up a college experience, it was a little bittersweet to see it come to an end. And very exciting!

I have a ton of pictures to share with you from our day.  The ceremony was held in Coleman Coliseum, which is the Basketball Stadium.  This is pre-ceremony, waiting for the graduates to process.
Justin was on the Big Screen during the procession!  He's 2nd from the left in the top left corner.
Here he is handing his name card to the gentleman who announced every graduate.
And shaking hands with Judy Bonner, the President of the University.  We were very pleased to see that every graduate had their name announced and was greeted by the President.
I love this picture Tom took of him after he came off the stage.  The smile says it all :-)
After the ceremony ended I told Justin that we could not leave campus until he had AT LEAST one picture of himself, in his cap and gown, in an iconic place on campus.  He thought I was a little nuts at the moment, but then we had some fun with it.

Off we went to Denny Chimes with Justin and Carly leading the way!

I love this family picture at Denny Chimes!  My dad came with us on the trip and had a fantastic time too.
Then we headed over to the Denny Bryant Stadium and took pictures with Bear Bryant
and Nick Saban.
And of course, in front of the stadium.
Later in the day, the Ski Bama kids decided they wanted to have a cookout at the lake for the team members that graduated.
You can't go to the lake without going for a ski!  I think you can tell from his smile what this place and teammates mean to him.  They have been his family at school for the past 5 years.

A little team work to get the charcoal started so they can cook.

This is Justin's good friend Cat who also graduated.  She has a really cool opportunity starting soon too.
This is one of my favorite pictures from the weekend :-)