Monday, August 31, 2015

Doing Battle, Week 49

September was the month Shaun and I had ear-marked as being able transition from cancer to a new-normal life. By September I'd be a full two months out from surgery and we could start to move on from the intensity of last year. In September school would be back in session, and with all three kids gone for six hours a day I'd been praying about what I could do to best steward my time...working for money or in a ministry capacity or another foster child or whatever else God had. Soccer would be in full swing and Shaun and I would be running the kids around. I'd start sorting through my life, figuring out where I left off a year ago...what's the same, what's changed, what needs to change. With chemo and radiation and surgery behind me, I was excited about the next thing.

With the news that we'd be doing more chemo treatments, my hopes and expectations for September had to be adjusted. 

One of the hardest aspects of the news of six additional rounds of chemo was thinking about all the people who've been involved with this and having to drag them through more, when we thought we were at the end. There are many who feel this so heavy for me, who think of me daily, who pray and give and worry and wonder.

In her book, The Hardest Peace, Kara Tippets wrote:
The exhausting, most painful, breath-stealing aspect of illness is the constant focus on self. Tests on me, results for me, appointments to deal with me. I'm so weary of my own story I could run away.
Though it is astounding to know I am loved so deeply by so many, I feel Kara's words. 

Every time I get a card in the mail, or a text, or an email, or flowers, or a meal, or someone asks how I'm doing, I am in awe that still, an entire year later, people are so deeply committed to our story, to our family. I'm so very undeserving of the love that has been extravagantly shown. Its completely humbling and overwhelming.

Thank you for bearing this burden with us. Although we are (surely) nearing the end, we grow weary of the journey. Your prayers are sustaining us. We do not underestimate the impact and power of you going to The Throne on our behalf. We go Wednesday for the 1st/9th treatment and we covet your prayers, specifically that my body can tolerate the most ideal drugs for me.

I enjoyed a vacuum-free weekend, one of the few times I've been unattached from tubes/wires in the last two months. The 24/7-ness of it is tiring. On Friday when I picked up the kids from school I didn't even get greeted with a hello. Amanda just said, Mom! You're vacuum is gone!! It was hard to see how much the kids are taking in and how it affects them.

When the vacuum is not on, the wound dressing needs to be changed each day, which means the nurse has to come every day instead of every other. The nurse I've had the majority of the time and who only works during the week insisted on doing the visit both weekend days, since she is the most familiar with it. Such incredible care I've been given! I'll spare you the details of the wound healing progress but the hope is the vacuum will be coming off permanently on Wednesday, when we see the surgeon. That way I won't have to carry the wound vac AND the chemo pump around together. That would nice. ;)

And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames

And this is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on it's way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

And I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain

I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Project 365, Week 35

This week was split between summer and school in session. We took advantage of the amazing weather, of the river just two miles away, of me feeling good and of cousins who live close and can meet us on 15 minutes notice, since that's how we roll. I've included many of the pictures because its summer. And water and kids! And I want to be able to look back and remember that this season consisted of more than four walls and doctors and nurses.

Our week...

August 23
The river!

August 24
Amanda set up a tea party for her siblings. She tried to demand that everyone come dressed in their Sunday best but the idea was met with resistance, so pajamas it was.

I got dressed in real clothes and had a night on the town (thanks for the pic, Aiden).

We were delighted to spend the evening with family and close friends, honoring our incredible niece Madison as she graduates eighth grade (all homeschooled) and enters high school (outside the home).

Most got up to share the cards/letters they had written her...reminiscing, encouraging, admonishing, blessing. We all agree she is a rare jewel, gifted and talented for world-changing purposes.

August 25
Each day started with me taking the little guy for a walk so the rest of the house could sleep. This day we got started later, so we had company.

Cherishing time with this guy...he's always encouraging me about what a good pitcher I am. :)

I wrote the kids notes to tuck in their lunch bags. After the fact, I debated sending a pink heart to Aiden. Is that still ok in 1st grade?? I would hate to be the cause of him getting beat up on the first day! Shaun said he would not have appreciated such a note from his mother. I sent it anyway.

The girls asked if they could go to youtube for some drawing. I was amazed at what they produced.

August 26
First day of school send off. :(

I've been asked how it felt to send my three off to school. Its hard to say, at least for this week, since I still had two fairly high-maintenance boys at home. (This calm, sweet scene lasted exactly five minutes).

There was water leaking into the kitchen through the ceiling. Shaun had to rip open his two year-new ceiling job and portions of the walls on the second and third floor. It was discovered that when a friend screwed on the handrails two years ago, he put a screw through a pipe leading from our third floor bathroom. This week Shaun took the handrail down to do some taping and painting. The water started coming out of the hole the missing screw left.

Within 24 hours the problem was fixed and my kitchen ceiling was replaced, painted and everything, as if nothing happened. Shaun continually amazes me with his knowledge, skill and work ethic.

Early dismissal, no homework, beautiful day...why not?

August 27
Our afternoon got booked solid, watching this crew take down our neighbor's tree....quite fascinating, plus I got to meet and talk with the neighbor, who moved in recently.

Avery's back to the homework grind.

Aiden brought home his first school paper, complete with a sticker and his name written as "Aid" in three different place. He "didn't have time" to write his whole name.

Its always exciting when there's a ladder in the house and the sound of taping tools scrapping together. Shaun's been working tirelessly on some house projects, in between office hours.

Little guy and I hit the jackpot on our walk to the post office. The firemen were testing all their long ladders.

With the kids at Awanas, Shaun and I went on a date to Home Depot, just like the old days.

August 29
Alayna slept over, but the kids left early with Grandma and Bobbi to go to a picnic so I took these two to the park on a glorious morning.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Back to School

Whether I was ready or not (I never am), another school year has commenced. There's been a long lead-up to this year, because it is Aiden's first year. As with the girls, I homeschooled him for Kindergarten. He and I have had three years of just the two of us at home and its been so special. He's a fun buddy, an interesting person, an affectionate guy and we've both SO loved hanging out together, recognizing often what a treat it is.

Parenting is fun but its not easy. Often in our parenting strategy meetings (not as fancy as it sounds...they are just impromptu chats) we'll remind each other that "we are raising adults", not a little person who makes us feel good about ourselves or makes us feel fulfilled. Its actually not about us at all. It seems there is a daily letting go and allowing for more independence so they are ready to be sent into the world at the appropriate time. Its good, its right, but its hard.

The kids were so excited they could hardly sleep the night before. I prayed with all three individually before bed and got choked up when I was lying beside Aiden in bed. But the next morning I could only be happy for them and join in their excitement.

(I like getting a full body shot because those jumpers will be showing a lot more knee by the time June rolls around.)

After pictures we walked down to school and kicked off the year with a brief prayer service, including a couple songs and a word from the new principal. Then she introduced the teacher of each grade and read each student name individually as they formed a big circle. I did get choked up again as I saw the big eighth graders standing at the front, knowing that in an instant Avery will be there.

Aiden has a new-to-the-school teacher this year, Sister Joan Marie (sitting behind him). Aiden is one of nine students in the first grade, just three boys. Remarkably, one of the boys is the son of long-time family friends. His dad and I go way, way back and he's weaved in and out of our lives in various ways. He was even a groomsman in our wedding 21 years ago! We each swore off children and now these years later, our sons attend school together. :)

These are Avery and Amanda's teachers. Amanda has Avery's teacher from last year so we already know she's amazing.

We're so very thankful for this school that is less than two blocks from our house. Its a close-knit community with many wonderful families who are committed to giving their kids a quality education.

I love that you can walk into the classrooms and find an American flag, the Ten Commandments, the Fruits of the Spirit, etc.

Particularly in the past year my girls have really found a sanctuary there with a lot of loving, supportive adults. And they have the opportunity to pray for me, along with their classmates right there in their classroom.

When I picked them up, they were all glowing from their first day.

Aiden Wednesday (12:15 pickup): It was awesome, Mom. SO great!
Aiden Thursday (regular time 2:30): Mom, today was kind of a long day.
Aiden Friday (regular time): Today was REALLY hard. Really hard. We did SO much work!
Aiden Friday (8:30pm pickup from Awanas) Mom, I have to go to bed RIGHT NOW!

And today Avery is bummed because its Friday so she can't go tomorrow. I expect that to last approximately two weeks.

Here's to a fresh new school year...full of potential and with no mistakes in it yet. :)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Slippery Slope

Kids and water...there are very few scenarios where more joy can be experienced. If its done with cousins, icing on the cake! Pop has a super-sized slip-n-slide for super-sized fun!

I love this series, beginning with C4 "greasing" the track.