Sister snuggles x 4

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Growing up with 3 sisters, we had our moments of anger, frustration and tears. We had one and a half bathrooms, we shared bedrooms for many years and we had a minivan that we crammed into for weekend road trips.

Despite age differences, we were all close. We stood up for each other when needed, cheered each other on during games & practice and when we were lucky, hung out at each other’s sleepovers. It wasn’t until my baby sister & I moved away that I truly understood how important my relationship was with my sisters. I had only ever known it being there physically and without it, I needed to adapt and learn how it worked long distance.

Sure, we all talked when we could, visited when able and called every holiday. We have continued to be there for each other for every marriage and every baby. But there is one thing that I never truly understood the importance of and that I took for granted when I lived in New York.

Sister snuggles.

They are the moments on the couch, where there are legs hanging off and we aren’t quite sure which leg belongs to who.

They are the funny moments that make you laugh so hard your abs hurt.

They are smiles so big that your cheeks are sore and yet you can’t stop smiling.

They are conversations that you’ve had 5 times and yet can’t stop talking about because the 4 of you keep distracting each other.

They are hugs and cuddles that I couldn’t live without.

Today’s second blessing is my sisters.  Each one of them brings a different perspective, a unique idea and a creative outlook. Each one I am blessed to have in my life. This past weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to spend 3 whole days with them. And oh, how wonderful it was.

*Pictures include our sweet momma and Kate Sr, our newest honorary sister!

This chick.

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The other day I wrote about one of my very best friends since childhood. I am incredibly blessed to have more than one of these amazing women in my life.

See this chick up above? She is one of the kindest, most thoughtful and giving women that I know. She adapts to whatever life throws at her and she does it with a smile. She makes me laugh constantly and stays strong when I need her to.  She inspires me every day and keeps me on track when I try to veer to the left.

This chick has faced her fair share (and more) of life challenges and has come out stronger and more determined than ever. Family is her priority and the way she keeps her family going is truly an inspiration. I don’t know how she does everything that she does and yet still has time for me every day.

This chick right here…I am blessed beyond words to call her my best friend – and an honorary sister to our family. This chick right here…has gotten me through some of the most challenging times in my life and didn’t think twice about it.

So today’s first blessing is for her and for how lucky I am to have her in my life. 💗

BFF

If you are lucky, your best friend from childhood remains your best friend for life. It’s a promise we made to each other wholeheartedly in an age of pure innocence and followed through on during the hardest and happiest times of our lives.

I am blessed with more than one of these. Tonight Jacob, Joe & I enjoyed family time, dinner, wine and laughter together with one of my oldest friends.  Despite the time in between visits we don’t miss a beat.

The fact that we bought almost identical bottles of wine for each other basically sums up our friendship.  💗🍷

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A day off…sort of

Today I headed to treatment for my first day on the new machine. The machine that I was previously on had lead parts that moved to form my treatment area. I would be treated a total of 5 times each day and would have to hold my breath for each treatment. I also had films done each day to ensure my breath hold and positioning was perfect.

The new machine that I’m on is a bit different. No more breath holds or films needed – wahoo!  And instead of lead parts forming my treatment field, a lead mold is cut just for me. It is cut based on the CT scan that I had prior to treatment. The radiation used on this machinr is a different type than the previous radiation.  The mold forms the treatment field on my skin, which is my entire scar and 2 cm around it on all sides.

When aligning me today, the mold wasn’t quite perfect for the shape of my scar.  This can be manipulated to some degree but after trying to manipulate it many different ways, the doctor decided that today’s treatment was a no-go. Basically, the mold would be over-radiating the section and the doctor was not comfortable with the way the treatment field was on my skin.

So, no treatment today.  I still have 5 to go but they should have my new mold cut and ready tomorrow to begin my boost treatment then.  I appreciate that they need everything to be perfect!

My radiation oncologist checked out my skin today and aside from the area under my arm that is a hot mess, she said that my skin is healing beautifully! It’s irritated, itchy and bright red but it’s healing so that’s exciting! Since my boost treatments will be aimed directly at my scar tissue, everything else should start healing nicely within the next few weeks.  It’ll get a little worse before it gets better but I’m glad it’s looking good to her!

Happy Tuesday, friends. How was your day?

25!

My 25th birthday was a big deal for me. I felt as though it was a milestone birthday like turning 18 or 21 except for me it brought a lot of questions. What am I doing with my life? What have I accomplished? What do I want to accomplish?  A lot of big questions that I didn’t have the answer to – turning 25 created a little chaos in my brain.

My brain chaos hasn’t gotten much better over the years but I am learning to embrace birthdays as a reminder that I am alive, well and able to continue working towards whatever it is my heart desires. What better reason to celebrate?

Speaking of celebrate…today’s 25 is another reason to celebrate. I am officially done with my 25 regular radiation treatments! I know, I know, I can’t believe it either. 5 weeks down and just 1 to go – wahoo!

Of course, my final regular treatment couldn’t go off without a hitch.  😉  For whatever reason, a smidgen (my radiation oncologist’s word) of my heart kept showing up in the films and the technicians were having a hard time aligning me (one little thing can throw it all off!). An hour later, a visit from the doctor to help and some numb arms and my heart was safely out of the way to begin treatment!  Yeah!  Next, five boost treatments aimed at my tumor area and scar tissue and I’m all done.  So close!

My skin continues to look a little worse every day. My entire left side, including my chest, armpit, neckline and side, are all bright red like a horrible sunburn and peeling.  It itches and hurts but the creams help as much as they can.  While aligning me for treatment today, one of the technicians suggested I stop down and see the nurse at the doctor’s station because of the changes in my skin from Friday. Yikes.  So I did and the nurse gave me some special gauze to help keep the area under my armpit and around where my tumor was hydrated.  So 4 creams, special gauze and regular gauze now…all wrapped up with an ace bandage!  I feel sorta like a walking mummy with my chest all wrapped up like this.

Anyway, 25 down! Tomorrow I start on a different machine and after a short visit of 5 treatments I’ll be done. That is definitely something to celebrate!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Long before I became a mom, I was a teenager. Despite being what I would consider a “rule follower” for the most part, I had moments where I didn’t like a decision that my mom made and I would say things like “I will never treat my kids this way” or “When I have kids, I’ll let them do xyz!”. Hindsight is 20/20, right? I know now that my mom was doing what was best for me and making decisions for reasons that I couldn’t even fathom at the time in my still-growing teenager brain.

There are moments since my son was born that I catch myself doing or saying something that I think “Oh, I sound like my mom!”. (“Time for a happy-nappy, Jacob!) It makes me laugh and gives me a little smile. You see, despite growing up thinking that I didn’t want to be like my mom, there are things that I desperately want to do just like she did.

I want Jacob to…

…pick fresh flowers from our garden to bring to his teacher on the first day of school.

…feel pride in growing a vegetable and herb garden that he can pick from every night for dinner.

…get off the bus every day and see me, just like she did, and spend the entire walk home talking about his day.

…learn how to make homemade salsa and give it away as gifts for the holidays for people to enjoy.

…learn how to make gifts for the teachers like my mom painted tins and filled them with fresh baked cookies every year.

…look up from whatever sport he is playing and see me standing there, cheering him on.

…always know that he can talk to me about anything and everything. I want to offer him a “quarter for his thoughts”, as my mom did, and know that he will open up to me.

…know that even when I’m angry or frustrated, I still love him. And although I can’t fix all the wrong in the world, I can offer him a little peace from the chaos. Even if that peace is in the form of baking cookies together.

…go on adventures with me. Spur of the moment adventures with no planning or destination in mind. Those are some of my favorite memories with my mom – skiing around the block, spelunking, learning about ruins and Thatcher Park.

…know that a hug from mom can make a lot of the world’s worries go away.

…know the importance of a cooked meal at home as a family, even on a busy night.

…know the importance of church on Sunday and giving back to the community.

…know the love of family, not just his parents but his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and everyone in between. Near or far, the love of family is priceless – my mom never failed to show us that.

…know a mom that is involved – in his school, his sports, his community, his interests. My mom support everything I did (and do!), whether it was Girl Scouts, softball, track, cross country, cheerleading (even when I was horrible!) and everything in between.

…know tradition. Even though they may not always be perfectly planned, they are something to look forward to every year and enjoy a bit of sameness in an ever-changing world.

…value time. Whether it’s time celebrating, relaxing, planning, preparing or just being…I want him to value the importance of every moment life offers.

…to love a lot. To love life, people, friends and adventures. Because my mom still does.

I am sure that my mom, like any mom, looks back and thinks that there are things she would do differently but I wouldn’t change a thing. It has made me into the person that I am today – and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the incredible moms out there. The moms who sacrifice daily, who love unconditionally and who would do anything and everything for their children. You are amazing, inspiring and loved. So loved.

Fear

Growing up, my mom loved Stephen King and horror movies. I quickly grew to love both of these things as well. Whenever we went to the local video store – VHS! – I would head right to the horror section to see which movie looked the most terrifying. The old school Freddy Krueger and Friday the 13th are still some of my favorites. And I am still a sucker for a good vampire or zombie movie – I seriously cannot get enough of those! There were times that those movies kept me up at night, afraid to get out of bed but to me, that simply meant that they were awesome! I mean, that’s the point of a scary movie, right? To be scared? To add a little fear to your life…one that you know you can walk away from when the credits come on?

But what about the fear you have as an adult? The fear that comes with following your dreams? Fear of the future? Fear of the unknown? Fear of rejection?

Knowing how much I love to write, my mom bought me a membership to a writer’s organization for my birthday. I was instantly thrilled and have been trying to learn the ins and outs of it for the last month. This particular organization has a local chapter and that local chapter is having a workshop this summer. I’ve been contemplating whether or not to go. It is an incredible opportunity to branch out of my comfort zone and meet people who are doing what I want to do – what I dream about doing! It’s a chance to learn what the steps are to becoming a published writer. It’s a place that I can talk about writing as if it were the only thing that mattered in life – because at the workshop, it will be.

But as an aspiring writer, I am filled with fear. I fear that I am not good enough. I fear that my writing isn’t good enough. I fear that I will be an outcast. I fear that I will be the only unpublished writer there. I fear that I am not creative enough. I fear that I will be too scared to talk to anyone. I fear that I will leave more afraid than I am now.

Fear is a powerful thing. Fear can consume you and tear you apart. It can take over your rational thinking and fill your head with doubt.

I had mentioned to Joe a while back that I was interested in this workshop but wasn’t sure if it was something that I should do or not. This past week, I received a flyer in the mail reminding me that the workshop deadline was coming to preregister for the event. I stuck it in my book to bring it with me to look at during treatment today but forgot about it until Joe picked it up when we arrived. Looking it over, he started asking me which portion of the workshop I was considering and whether or not I wanted to do a professional critique. We chatted about it a little and I made comments about how I will hopefully be ready to go next year. I have a draft written for a children’s book that I’ve been working on for a while now and someday I’d like to try and get it published (or at least have an editor look at it and tell me if it’s the worst thing they’ve ever read).

Next thing I knew, I was registered. For Mother’s Day, my sweet husband signed me up for one of the workshops and a professional critique of my writing. Wait, what?!

Remember that fear that I was talking about earlier? Well, it’s time for me to put it aside. Tonight, I hit send. I sent my children’s book out into the world to land in the inbox of a professional to critique it for me. When the workshop comes, I will sit down with them and they will tell me what works and what doesn’t.

Am I still afraid? Oh, yes. Yes, I sure am. But regardless of this fear, I will walk away from this stronger and more determined than ever.