Calm?!?!?

To me calm is a pretty tall order sometimes. I am a naturally anxious person but since losing my son and being diagnosed with cancer sometimes it is near impossible. Through it all there are some things that I have learned help me take my mind off of things and I would love to share them with you. I know how it feels to be a ball of nerves and you feel like there is nothing you can do but sit in a pool of worry. Even if you have never been diagnosed with something awful, etc. I know anxiety can be very real so feel free to read 🙂

I have worried about some of the silliest things. Especially since being diagnosed with cancer. Every bump, bruise or weird happening with my body I just know I have some kind of cancer. I have had lung, breast and many others in my mind of course. Here are some examples of my “medical findings” One night I was just going about my business brushing my teeth when bam I had blood in my spit. Automatically I knew I had lung cancer. So for about a week I walked around thinking I had this horrible disease. I finally looked it up on the internet and the only thing that didn’t come up was lung cancer. Well, lo and behold I actually had a canker sore in my mouth and that was the source of the bleeding. A week of my life I can’t get back because of a canker sore. Another silly story is when I was convinced I had breast cancer. I had started working out when my chest became so sore. Instead of thinking the obvious I immediately convinced myself I had breast cancer. After agonizing for about a week husband finally said “Do you think just maybe it might be because you are working out and you have been sleeping with Avery on the couch a lot?” At the same time Avery was getting quite a few teeth and the only way I could get her to sleep was having her lay on my chest. Then I would fall asleep and we would lay like that for a while. I know both of these stories sound silly; but to someone who has had a life threatening diagnosis it is not. I put it to people like this “I never thought I would get diagnosed with cancer in the first place; so why wouldn’t I be scared about every bump or bruise?”  Then when you add in these frightening lab tests and scans you might as well put a nervous nelly name tag on me. I am so thrilled and lucky to say that I only have my big scan and lab day twice a year now 😀 It was wonderful news to receive when I was told I “graduated” to every six months. It was a great feeling until the other day. All of a sudden the thought of my scan started creeping in. Even though I have until March when I go again it’s already starting. Honestly it gets harder and harder to go to every appointment. I had myself convinced that I was going to quit seeing my oncologist because I couldn’t take the appointments anymore. I know stupid idea. Well, husband convinced me to keep going. Some of it was that I did not feel comfortable with my new oncologist because mine left and I really was sick of dealing with the billing department at the clinic I was going to. Let’s just say over the span of four years they over billed us (a lot) and then still called us harassing us for money. So I switched to a different clinic and I love my new oncologist and the clinic I go to! It does make the appointments easier.

When I was pregnant with both my children I wanted to wrap myself in bubble wrap but after losing my son I wanted to put myself on bed rest with my daughter. I did learn life was much easier to deal with if I actually lived it and enjoyed it. It is hard to enjoy your pregnancy after a loss but you have to try. It isn’t fair to you or your baby to not enjoy it. Once you get into the groove of getting ready for that new bundle of awesomeness it does get better 🙂

You are probably wondering when I am going to start chatting about the calm side of this post. Well you are in luck 😉 Some of these tips may not work for you but you are welcome to try any of them. If there is something that you do that works really well for you let me know I am always up for trying new things!

  • Try new things! I started exercising and I love it! You don’t have to enter a marathon but a walk (especially in nature) does wonders.
  • Music, I can’t say enough about it. I pop in those ear buds or turn on my iHome and the stress and worry melts away. Dancing silly with your kids or pets is a must!
  • Pets! If you have a fur ball that you call your own go grab a snuggle. Even though my fur ball can be a meanie at times he has always been there for me.
  • Indulge in a little t.v. This may be a bad habit but I would rather do this then be nervous all day. If I get into a really good show whether it be serious or funny I feel better.
  • Read, Read, Read!! Don’t read medical journals or anything. (Unless they make you feel better) Get into a good book and stay in that world for a little while.
  • Pick up the phone! Call your bestie, parents, neighbor, sibling or whoever will answer. You need people to help keep your mind from going or keep going to that negative place. If it’s family or a besite they are pretty much legally obligated to talk to you so never feel bad for calling them 😉
  • I know I said this before but exercising helps me so much. Whether it be a walk, hike or big workout there has never been a time where I still felt icky or worse after a workout. I promise you will feel better! Better yet grab one of those people who are legally obligated to talk to you and drag em with ya.
  • Get out of the house! I know how it is you really don’t want to be around people when you are anxious but even going for a drive can help.
  • Do some housework. Once I dive into this mess that I call a home the anxiety floats away in my dust pan or cleaning cloths.
  • Don’t be afraid to seek help. If you feel that it is totally out of control and you really can’t handle the anxiety call your Doctor and set up an appointment. Seeing a counselor can do wonders and it is nothing to be embarrassed about. My way of thinking is if someone wants to walk a mile in my shoes and think they won’t feel any worry be my guest. There are many avenues you can travel to get the help that you need.

I know I am my own worst enemy when it comes to this. My brain can really do a number on me so if I can find ways to help me through I know you can too.

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The Baby Gates

The baby gate world is still a little new to me. This is actually our third house we have lived in since we had Avery. Our first house which we owned we never had to put gates up because Avery was only crawling when we lived there. The second house that we rented was a small ranch style so no baby gates needed. Now we have bought another home and this house is a different story. Some days I wish I could gate off every room. We only have two gates right now one at the bottom of the stairs and one upstairs. When we first moved in I thought for sure I would hate the gates. Since I am mechanically not smart I thought I would have a hard time with them. We ended up with the easiest gates we could find. They are so easy that if Avery was a little stronger she could open them. She knows how they work she just isn’t strong enough to open them yet. I say yet cause the girl is like a young She-Ra.

There are a couple of reasons why I love them. The first being is they keep Percy aka my cat out of our bedrooms. Percy’s favorite thing to do is lounge on our beds and sleep the day away. His fave room is stepson’s room. If he can get in there you may never see him again. On the rare occasion that both gates are open you see a huge flash of orange running through like he is on the last leg of a marathon. Usually, Percy is a slow mover unless there is food involved. He has now added the gates being open to his list. I spent the better half of my morning lint rolling and washing our bedding because of him.

The next reason is because they allow me to be lazy. This past weekend we celebrated Christmas with husband’s side of the family. Husband had a great idea to put the presents that we were taking in a basket and then put the presents that we received in the basket instead of carrying bags and boxes around. So when we got home the basket filled up even more with things that needed to go upstairs but I have been too lazy to take up. After catching Avery in the basket for the 500th time I finally decided to take it upstairs. I was doing some cleaning up there too so I put the basket and all of my cleaning supplies on the other side of the gate so she couldn’t get to them until I was ready to go up. Maybe a little mean since she stood there staring at the basket and trying her darndest to get to it.

The biggest reason and probably the only reason I have found that I really dislike them is that I am mechanically not smart. See these gates have what I think you call a hook and eye latch? (Maybe I am learning?) In the middle of the night these things could wake anyone up. I usually still make a trip to the bathroom or Percy gets locked upstairs in the middle of the night; so I am always fumbling around with these silly things in the dark. I guess you never realize how much noise stuff makes until you have a sleeping toddler. You can usually find me standing in front of where the gate should be looking for the gate (cause it swung out to the next county when I opened it) with my iPod on for light. Then after I find the thing I have to turn my iPod back on to find the latch. This is usually after I fumbled around for a good two minutes thinking I know where it is. You would think I would learn my lesson but I never do. I do have some photo evidence of my gate happenings below 😉

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Pretty self-explanatory
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Yup I’m lazy

From the kitchen of the casserole queen: For the love of cheese

If you don’t know already I live in Wisconsin. Does this mean I was born with a block of cheese in my hand? Pretty much. There are a lot of stereotypes about Wisconsinites and most of them are probably true. The truest for me is my love of cheese. What better way to express my love of cheese to you than by sharing two of my favorite cheesy casseroles! These are both easy weeknight meals that can be altered to taste. Just so you know I make up the names of these casseroles as I go along 😉

Cheesy Hamburger Noodle Casserole

1 pound hamburger

1 cup cheese

1/2 bag of egg noodles

1 can mushrooms

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1/2 onion chopped

The prep is going to go really fast. Not that I think you can’t go fast but I want to give you a heads up. I actually start off by frying my hamburger because egg noodles seem to cook so fast. Then it’s on to the onion. I sautee the onion in a separate pan from the hamburger and at the end I dump the mushrooms in with the onion. While all of this exciting stuff is going on I boil my noodles. After everything is done on the stove top I mix all of the ingredients together in a 9×13 casserole pan except for the cheese. I shred my cheese right on top of everything after it is mixed up and then I pop it in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes. I do cover this and pretty much all of my casseroles with tin foil. After it’s all done get ready for some cheesy goodness 🙂

Cheesy Italian Bake

1 pound hamburger

1 cup sour cream

1 jar spaghetti sauce (I usually use a marinara or more of a plain sauce)

1/2 box Rotini noodles

1 can mushrooms

1 cup mozzarella cheese

Dash of Oregano

Dash of Parsley

First off boil the noodles and fry the hamburger. While you are doing that you can mix the rest of the ingredients (minus the cheese)  in a 9×13 casserole pan. I usually season my meat with Oregano and Parsley and then add a little more to the mixture in the pan.  Add the hamburger, noodles and a little cheese and then mix together. After that sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and pop it in the oven; covered at 350 for about 40 minutes. This recipe usually makes a lot so you should have plenty for leftovers.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and as always if you have any questions, comments or add something to make it better let me know 🙂

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Cheesy Italian Bake
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Cheesy Hamburger Bake

 

 

No Nap: Day 2

Not to brag or anything but Avery is usually a great napper. I know what happens when I get to braggin’ about my kid; karma swoops in and shows me whose boss. It happened again folks. We are on day 2 of a napping hiatus and it has me very worried. I can honestly count on both hands the times she hasn’t taken a nap. See sometimes I may take a nap I mean do housework when Avery is napping. I am not prepared for these days to end.

It all started yesterday when we had Christmas on husband’s side of the family. By the time we left to go home it was probably 3:30. Since we have been living in a fog (literally) since Thursday it took longer than usual to get home. A fifteen minute drive stretched into about a half hour. Of course Avery fell asleep in the car which I really didn’t want her to because it was getting a little to late for a nap. When we got home she was up and not happy about it. But I made her stay up until bedtime because the consequences of a late nap are worse than no nap at all. Since I knew I wasn’t going to be napping I mean getting work done I figured she might as well be up. I actually did and still do have a lot of housework to do because I have been on some sort of strike lately.

Today I decided that when Avery was napping I was going to tackle the majority of my housework. Well she decided it for me because there was no way she was going to let me clean. So I pushed my lunch back so I could get her down early with enough time to eat, clean and maybe blog a little. Even though today is perfect napping weather. It is so dreary and has been for days. Up to bed we went except my plan failed miserably. She refused to nap. Ugh! I swear she knows when I have plans to do something!

I never thought that Avery not napping could strike so much fear with me. I guess I got really used to our afternoon naps I mean “quiet” time. If there was a game show called Best Napper we would definitely be coming home with a lifetime supply of something. Especially Avery. The girl is not good at sleeping at night but if it’s after noon give that girl a pillow cause she’s going down. So now I sit at the computer jealous of my cat because he is curled up sleeping in my bed while I get to listen to the ABC Song on Avery’s new school bus magnet for the 100th time since yesterday. I did treat myself to a Sprite so that helps. I have to wonder “Am I the only parent that depends on their kid or kids napping everyday?” I really thought this nap thing would carry out for at least another year or so. Avery was a little over a year old when she quit napping twice a day. Now that was the cat’s meow let me tell ya. One nap for chores then another nap for relaxation; I mean more chores.

How old were you’re kids when they stopped napping? Did it ruin your life? Feel free to comment because I need to know if my napping days are over so I can appropriately mourn them 🙂

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This is obviously not from today but I do remember it was a no-nap kinda day.

Why I try to be thankful everyday

After the slew of things that have happened to us over the years and the demands of everyday life sometimes I forget to be thankful for what we have. I try everyday to remind myself to be thankful. Here are a couple of situations that arise that make me think about what to be thankful for:

  • When days get frustrating with my daughter (like right now when she is climbing on me while I type) I think about what life was like without her and I am so thankful to have her.
  • When I miss my son so terribly it hurts. I think about the days of Clomid, negative pregnancy tests and procedures. It reminds me of how happy he made me when he was in my belly and how much he taught me about love and life. I also know I will see him again someday ❤
  • When I get sick I think about what life was like during chemo. A little sinus infection pales in comparison to all of the days and nights when I felt like absolute garbage.
  • When I get frustrated with my new hair. I think about the days when I had none or very little. I also know how lucky I am that mine came back.
  • When I open the checkbook and my stomach falls to the floor. I think about how lucky I am to have a warm place to live that we own and to be able to stay home with my daughter.
  • When Christmas gets expensive. I am thankful to have family to buy for and the real reason for the season.
  • When my body is sore and out of whack I think about chemo. I actually am thankful for chemo because without it I might not be here to type this.
  • When I get upset about not being able to have more children of my own I think about my hysterectomy. If it wasn’t for my hysterectomy I wouldn’t be here to raise the one that I have here with me.
  • When I wonder why in the heck I am blogging. I think about the followers I have and the thoughts that are out of my head and on paper. I also think about the people who have messaged me, etc and told me how my blog has made them smile or feel better. For all of those I am thankful.

What makes you thankful? I am sure I have tons more but these are the ones that come to mind 🙂

 

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This little foot print makes my heart smile everyday 🙂

 

Hair: Before, During and After Chemo

I am going to start this off by saying I am no expert when it comes to hair or lack of. These are just things I have learned along the way that I would like to share with you all. People that know me may laugh at this post because I can sometimes barely brush my hair. But I have come a long way in my 32 years and I can now proudly say that I can curl my hair with a curling iron and straighten it with a straightening iron all by myself 🙂 That is saying a lot for little old me.
This wouldn’t be right if I didn’t begin with the story of how my hair became a messed up, frizzy rat’s nest. It was the fifth grade and in fifth grade everyone wants to be cool. Middle school is coming and you actually care about what you are wearing. (For me anyway, I know now a days kids care what they are wearing in kindergarten) Anyway, the perm was in and I wanted one. Horrible, horrible decision. I was told that after the perm I could only use a pick. Well that didn’t go very well and we ended up brushing the whole thing out. Worst. Idea. Ever. It looked better snarly. Now I was left with a frizzy Afro. Not cool on a fifth grade girl in Wisco. It took years of bad haircuts and product to get it to its natural state. When I say bad haircuts I mean baaaad. I looked like a Amish boy my senior year. Of course I had the haircut for my senior pictures. Oh and the school I went to displays everyone’s senior pics by class in the hallway. Great. I am sure everyone is like “Who is that Amish boy with lipstick on?” Oh yeah I forgot I was wearing a gingham top. Good gosh I am surprised I didn’t have a horse or a pitchfork as a prop. I mentioned before that my hair was kinda my thing before I lost it. It definitely was but it took some time, lots of product and work to get there.
When I started chemo I was lost in the world of wigs and scarves. I hope this helps anyone who is looking for wigs, scarves etc. I have touched on this in a previous post (Chemo AKA Rat Poison) but I want to go more in-depth on the wigs and scarves I received and some tips and tricks I learned. First things first; get yourself a nice hat. I will post pics but the pink one that you can see below is my fave. It is light so you don’t get warm wearing it in the house. When husband shaved my head my scalp was very sensitive and I would wear that hat to bed. It literally hurt to put my head on the pillow. Even if you are brave and go out without a hat I would still get one because it does get cold. I know I would have showed off my head a lot more if I wouldn’t have been left with gray stubble. Kinda weird to think that after my head was shave the thing that kept me from showing it off was my gray. Now that I think about it I wish I would have just went out and about with my bald self. The next item on my list is some good scarves. I so wish I would have gotten more. The most special to me that I did receive was one from a wonderful little organization called Good Wishes. You can find them at http://www.goodwishesscarves.org The clinic where I received my chemo got me hooked up with them. I can’t say enough about this wonderful organization. They provide one free wrap or scarf to anyone experiencing hair loss or thinning hair due to illness or treatment. You pick three different fabrics and they send you whichever one that is available the fastest. They are very nice and fashionable. Of course I got black because you know how I feel about black; black is slimming even when it is your head 😉 I think the very best part about this is when you receive your scarf or wrap you also get a card signed by people who work for Good Wishes! It is awesome! They also have a wall of hope in their office that has everyone’ names, city, date sent and scarf number on plaquards’s. (I just found that out today) When you sign up for a scarf or wrap you tell a little bit of your story so they know a little bit about you. The card is so special to me still. All of the encouraging words were and still are much appreciated. I started looking in my special card box so I could take a pic of it but I can’t find it and looking in my card box started a cry fest so I had to quit for now. I save all cards that are given to us starting with my bridal shower so there is a lot of stuff in there. I received my special card box as a present at my bridal shower from my bestie’s mom. She said when she saw the box “It looked like me” So of course I had to keep it and put special things in it 🙂 Anyway back on task. The last thing I want to talk about is wigs. I have two. One was given to me by the American Cancer Society. It is a nice wig but a little itchy. The second my dad got me for Christmas from http://www.wigs.com; Wonderful wig, it is long and beautiful. It is not real hair but feels close to it. When you do get a wig I suggest getting a cap to wear underneath. Wigs can be itchy and hot and a cap helps. I would also get a conditioner for your wig as well as shampoo. I got the shampoo but not the conditioner. I think I kinda ruined my wigs because they do get snarly and I didn’t have conditioner. I was definitely lost in wig world. I did get some help from a dear friend of mine who wears wigs quite a bit. She was so helpful on what wigs were good and so on.

After chemo I had to wait one month to dye my hair. I went blonde. I guess my thinking was I didn’t want to go brunette because I was left with some stubble and I thought if I went brunette right away my hair would by like “Boom here I am.” Since I am completely gray I had to do something. I know gray is not that bad but I am a little sour about it. “Bitter table for one.” My hair came back completely crazy. It is frizzy and very curly. Some kind of cruel joke is all I can come up with but it’s hair so I will take it. Last night I went to the salon to get my hair dyed. It got me thinking about all of the products I use now and products I used before that I still love and use. They also straightened my hair for me. A major task before I lost my hair and an even bigger one now. I was introduced to this magic brush called the Wet Brush. This brush is wonderful. I have very snarly hair and so does Avery and this thing plowed through my hair like a boss. Usually when I brush my hair you hear lots of ouches, bristles breaking and hair flying everywhere. I picked up a wet brush for me and Avery to share. I want to share a couple other products that work for me and I love and then I promise I will be done. The first has been with me for a long time it is Paul Mitchell Sculpting Foam or as I like to call it mousse. It is worth the money ten times over. I have tried multiple products and I always come back to this one. It works like a charm and smells awesome! The next is Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Tri-Wheat leave in conditioner. Awesome product; I have been using it for a long time and it has never let me down. Another product from Paul Mitchell that I love is Awapuhi Wild Ginger styling treatment oil. I use it when I straighten my hair. Put it on when your hair is wet. You really don’t have to use a lot so it lasts a long time. Last but not least is the hairspray I use. Again it is Paul Mitchell. It’s their Fast-styling sculpting spray. I really like it and it doesn’t make my hair really crunchy. I kinda have to use hairspray now with my mousse because of the way my hair is now. I will post pics of the products I talked about so you can all see what they look like. I also have some pics from my hair straightening process last night 🙂

P.S. I am far from a professional or even good photographer but it’s the best I can do with my camera phone since my cameras pooped out on me so bear with me. I am hoping the tax return fairy bring me a new camera 🙂 Sorry about the format of this post. It’s all messed up because I accidentally deleted it and then had to find it again and blah blah blah bad morning.

P.P.S. I got nothin’ I just always wanted to do a p.p.s. 😉

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Hair in progress 😉 Sorry guy in back round that I can’t get out of the pic
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Hair after straightening 😀
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Back of hair! I had personal trainer take this pic. I think it definitely cemented for him that he has a weird child 😉
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All of my fave products!!
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From left to right: Wig I got from the American Cancer Society, Good Wishes scarf, cap for underneath wigs and pink hat I loved 🙂

 

 

Walkin’ in a not so winter wonderland

If you are from Wisconsin or anywhere in the Midwest you know that we usually have quite a bit of snow by this time of the year. Not this year. We are actually due for some rain this weekend and highs in the 40’s.(Of course the first year of being a snowshoe owner we have above normal temps) Since the weather is not so frightful it brings some opportunity. Personal trainer said he had went in my beloved arboretum for a hike with no snowshoes and it was really nice. (I am already sick of watching the minutes tick by on the elliptical.) So I suggested we go together tonight.

At 4:15 we were off. We didn’t have too much daylight left but since there is some snow left it did provide some light for us and we were able to hike for 45 minutes! I am not sure what is harder hiking with shoes on in the snow or snowshoes. Probably shoes. Anyway it was a good workout and would have been better if I had brought Kleenex. (Don’t worry I won’t give any of the details of my Kleenex problem so you can keep reading.) It ended with no ER visit or bruises so I am going to call it a good day 😉

I gained some knowledge in the arboretum tonight. Probably obvious knowledge to the regular person but new to me. Or maybe I should just call it a revelation? Anyway, I realized that since there is snow on the ground I can now see tracks of animals and people. So now I will know if there are cougars, mice, bobcats or psycho killers following me. I assume that psycho killers wear boots so if I see boot tracks I will know to exit. (Unless it’s the Amish kids again; they wear boots too) If you did not realize this fact consider yourself dropped with my knowledge.

If you have the opportunity to get out on a nice day during the winter I totally recommend it.

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Me!
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Kinda frozen river

I wished for you

Every negative test I wished for you

Every procedure I wished for you

Every month I wished for you

Whenever I started to give up hope I wished for you

I wished for you on every star

Now that my wish came true I still wish for you

I wish for you to be happy

I wish for you to love and be loved

I wish for you to have patience and understanding

I wish for you to enjoy life

I wish for you to be silly and have fun

I wish for you to know how much I love you

 

Funny things I get excited about now that I am a mom

Before I became a mom I would have never dreamed about the things I get excited about or make me happy now. From bowel movements to burps and everything in between. Here are some of the weird and funny things that I get excited about now:

  •  I get excited when you poop. It started when you would get backed up; now it happens when you go in the toilet.
  •  I used to get excited when you would burp. Who knew a burp could bring so much joy into a person’s life?
  • I get excited when I find a toy or book I know you are going to love.
  • I get excited when I help you open up presents (even when they are from me)
  • Sometimes I get excited when you pee. When my inner worry wart comes out and I think you haven’t been peeing enough I get excited when you actually do. Of course when it’s in the toilet I am elated!
  • I get excited every time you learn something. Whether it be with your blocks, puzzles or pretty much anything.
  • I actually get excited when there are new episodes of your favorite show.
  • I get excited when you try a new food and like it!

There are many more silly things that I get excited about but these are the ones that come to mind. Thanks for making my life so exciting!

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I get excited when you hold my hand. (I kinda knew that would happen)