Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The 5 of us on the 5th of June 2012

This is us...
...after the last basketball game of the season.
...about to go to the store to get last minute supplies for Resonate Tour.
...glad that school's out for the summer!!!
...looking blurry because we don't stand still much these days!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thoughts on taking photos of your kids sports seasons

Jan09Andysfirstbballgame, originally uploaded by sarahscrappin.
I'm working on my son's scrapbook when he was 5 years old. One of the big things he did that year was play on a basketball team for the first time. He had five games that season. Do you know how many pictures I have for that season? 246. Yes, 246. It was a 5 game season. That number does not include the pictures I took during practice. How on God's green earth am I going to scrap 246 pictures???
I'm not.
I thought of about 4 stories I wanted to tell about that season - the first game, watching him develop as a player, having dad as a coach and "Be strong with the ball" - and those are the pages I'm going to make. It won't take 246 pictures to tell those stories.
Honestly, as I look at the 246 pictures, I'm glad I took them. I shared many of them with the parents of the other children on the team. Many of them were blurry, but there were a few gems. But I'm not going to put each of them on a scrapbook page. And I'm not going to feel guilty about it.
I take pictures differently now (three years later) I don't take as many pictures per game. I watch it more. I make mental (and physical) notes of the stories I want to tell. Unless you plan to write out the story of each game - the score, the stats, the highlights - you really only need a good shot or 2 from each game. This year, during my son's baseball season, I think I only took 20-30 pictures all season. There were some games I didn't even bring my camera. Sometimes I just used my phone camera to share the game with friends and family. It's another way I share my stories.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Memory keeping for teenagers

It's no secret that I enjoy scrapbooking. Besides the fact that it gives me an outlet for my creativity, it gives my family a place to appreciate how truly good our life is. I love watching my kids pull out the scrapbooks and look at photos of themselves and ask what they were like when they were babies or toddlers. I love talking to them and sharing memories. They always laugh. Now that my oldest 2 are starting to read, they can read the stories I recorded on my pages. I didn't scrapbook much before I got married, although I do have one scrapbook of My Main Squeeze and I when we were dating. I have one scrapbook of us before kids too. Then the "scrapbooking industry" blew up!

I kinda wonder what my scrapbook would have looked like as a teenager, and I wonder if my memories of my teen years would be different if I had recorded memories as they happen. I tend to remember some of the things that were hurtful in my teenage years - nothing permanently scarring, just typical teenage drama. But I know the everyday stuff of my teenage years was not so dramatic, and some of it was fun and funny and enjoyable....I just can't remember the details (except the time I tricked my parents into thinking I had gotten my belly button pierced....boy were they ticked....that was hilarious. But I digress...) I think if I had journaled or scrapbooked, I may have a different outlook of my teen years. I think teens today will even have a different outlook because of recording the everyday on facebook and twitter. Have you ever stalked a teen's timeline? Full of pictures, funny bits of conversation, jokes, links, stories, and a fair bit of being snarky at each other.

Here's the bottom line...Live your life to the fullest and record it so that when you look back on it, it's not just the bad that stands out (because our minds, by nature, tend to remember that stuff).

If you want some more thoughts on this subject, check out this link from Becky Higgins (a world famous scrapbook person). The reason I wrote this post was because I read this blog post.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The end of Chemo and a Confession

On March 8th I had my sixth and final chemo. YEA! My hubby picked up my older 2 kids from school and had them bring me lunch and flowers to the lab. Neither of them had gotten to see what chemo was like, and they both had bunches of questions about how it all worked, but by the time that last hour had passed, they had seen enough and were glad they could take me home. I was glad to be done, and settled in for the 5 days of misery that I had endured 5 times before, knowing this would be the end of it.

The 5 days passed pretty uneventfully - I was sick; I slept; I took my meds just as usual.

Then Tuesday happened. I went to Bible Study as usual. #3 and I got lunch, and then I picked up some groceries before getting the older 2 kids from school. Then I started itching. I thought I had just gotten some bug bites while waiting outside to pick up the kids. By dinnertime, I mentioned to my sweet friend who brought dinner to our house that I needed to find the benadryl lotion to put on these crazy bug bites. By bedtime, I was covered in hives over 75% of my body. After taking some benadryl and waiting, the hives seemed to chill out, and I fell asleep thinking the worst was over.

When I woke Wednesday, I started breaking out in hives again, and a call to the doctor was in order, but just before the office opened, my throat started closing. I drove straight to the doctor's office, and they gave me IV benadryl and steroids and fluids (because my blood pressure tanked too). This helped, and the doc sent me home with more meds to take in case it happened again. And it did....ongoing....for the next 5 days. There were more hives, more trips to the doctor, lots of benadryl, lots of crying and worrying and frustration because we really couldn't put a finger on what was causing it and nothing really was making it stop.

I saw a friend at church, and she said to me, "What's up with the hives?"
"I wish I could figure it out," was my weak response.
"Like you need to deal with one more thing," she added.
"Right!" I responded, feeling a sense of anger, resentment and entitlement, because after all I've been through already, I didn't need one more thing. I wanted to be better. I wanted to be done.
I had a few conversations similar to the one above, and they all ended with that same feeling of anger and resentment and entitlement...It made me feel yukky inside.

I kinda stayed in that funk most of the weekend. I didn't realize how much it was affecting my viewpoint until I heard our Student Choir sing Blessed Be Your Name with our Worship Pastor. They sang....
Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

You give and take away!
You give and take away!
My heart will choose to say
Lord, Blessed be your Name!

I don't know why I thought I was entitled to a quick and uneventful recovery, but I did, and I'm sorry. I was angry that I couldn't just feel good and be done with chemo. I wanted to celebrate being done. Maybe it's because God's not done with me. God gives. God takes away.   His Name is Blessed.
I'm sorry that in the past few days, I have forgotten that.   

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

February 2012 Roundup

1. What milestones did the kids have this month? What were they like? What were they into?
Nothing super duper exciting to record. They were full of funny things that they would talk about.
#1 was able to join a baseball team at the last minute. He's playing for the Cubs. Plays a lot of 3rd base, and he's a pretty solid hitter. One of his friends from school is on his team too. I think this is going to be a pretty good experience for him because he's the oldest kid on the team, and on of the only ones to have some prior baseball experience. He's definitely the biggest kid on the team too. I think he needs an experience where he's "top dog" because in so much of his life right now he's the "new kid" or the "smallest kid" (like he was in football this fall) or he's getting picked on because he's still trying to figure out where he fits in the grand scheme of life here.

They have all been into playing with the super heroes and the cars, and amazingly, they've liked playing together.

#2 is so excited b/c she got a new iPod for free! A few years ago, I gave her my old iPod nano. I had gotten a new iPod, and it was old - it hardly had any battery life, but it worked, and she could listen to music, and she thought it was cool. Then I got an email from Apple saying they were recalling 1st generation iPod nanos because of battery issues. So I filled out the online form, and Apple sent me a box to send my old iPod back and then they sent me a new one! #2 was so excited! She and I loaded it with music. Her first choice? TobyMac's Funky Jesus Music...what can I say? The girl knows what she likes!


2. What events happened this month?
In the beginning of the month, My Main Squeeze and I went to the Dare2Share conference with a van load of kids from the church. I was really excited because D2S is based out of Colorado, and doesn't come our way much. They didn't disappoint. Our students really got excited about sharing their faith, and they got several chances to practice. One of my favorites was when they said to start a text conversation with someone and ask them a question like "Do you think there's a heaven? What does it take to get there?" A lot of our kids realized they don't have very many friends that they are intentionally trying to reach out to in order to share Jesus with them. But a few of them had some really interesting starts of conversations.

We also got to hang out at an art fair. We walked around starting conversations with people. This chalk artist made this Rubix cube to look weird when you saw it in real life, but when you looked at it through your camera, it appears 3D! Really cool!

I know it has nothing to do with Jesus, but it was still cool. The best thing that came out of this conference is now there's a group of kids who really want to speak up for what's right and for God in their schools.

 On Feb 12, I saw a bunch of pictures showing up on my Facebook feed of people who had run a breast cancer half marathon in my honor. It was a cold and windy weekend! One of my dear friends called me later that week and told me her story from that day. It was one of the sweetest and most encouraging things of the month.

#1 participated in the Grandparent's Day program at his school. It was titled Arkeology, and was all about the animals in Noah's Ark learning to trust God. Cute, right?

My mom and dad came to visit to see #1 play baseball. We had a great day that Saturday - baseball game, then picnic lunch at the beach (subs courtesy of JimmyJohns), then we got to show them the house we put an offer on (more info on that below), and then we got to go to church and hear Chip Ingram speak. Busy, fun, packed day!

3. What did we do in our down time, just for fun?
Our family hosted a Super Bowl party. I usually don't care about the outcome of the game (this year was no exception), but I do enjoy having a house full of people and talking to new friends. Our house was so loud during the game but silent during the commercials.

Valentine's Day was fun. #1 and I made his Valentine box for school, and he won an award for the best box. We painted a Minute Maid Juice box box red (Minute Maid, not Capri Sun...The Minute Maid boxes are perforated to open like this - no additional cutting!); Cut the bottom of an egg carton and added googly eyes for the eyes; cut teeth out of a piece of white copy paper and taped it in the opening of the Minute Maid box; twist up some pipe cleaners for antennae. The kids put the valentines into the mouth of the love monster. Cute, right? Pin it to know you wanna!

We also made valentines for the class this year. I put candy inside a red balloon, blew it up, tied a string to it, and attached a card that said, "I hope your Valentines day is a BLAST!" Get it?  You have to pop the balloon -  make it blast? The kids thought it was funny....

MMS and I saw the sun set on the beach and went to PF Changs for dinner  :o)

4. What were we watching, listening to and reading?
I'm almost done with Generation iY...80 pages to go. I was hoping to finish it by the end of the month. Maybe if this month had 30 or 31 days like normal months....

I'm a big blog reader, and this post by Pete Wilson about "Christian Community" was short and noteworthy

This blog by Greg Stier "5 reasons Jesus would be fired if he was a youth leader" was funny and true and it resonated with us.

The kids have had a reading challenge at school, so they've been reading more around the house. #1 also reads #3 a story from his little devotional book every night before bed :o)

As far as TV watching goes, we don't watch a lot of stuff live consistently...but my DVR has been recording American Idol, House, Pawn Stars, and American Pickers. The kids watched Aladdin for the first time. They also watched Wall-E (one of their faves). I've recently discovered the pleasures of "On-Demand" (hello, where have you been all my life?) and I've watched episodes of Pan-Am, the Office (don't tell my mom), Parks and Rec, and the Pioneer Woman (I think she's funnier on her blog)

MMS has been reading a lot of resources about purity, love, sex and dating because in HSM we've been talking about making wise choices about dating and relationships. I've heard him talk on this topic quite a few times in the almost 13 years we've been doing student ministry, and I really think this is the best he's ever done in sharing the truths of God's word with students. I'm not just saying that because I think he's awesome either....

5. What were my disappointments?
This is a sorta - disappointment....We put an offer on a great house, and it's a short sale, and it's not moving as fast as I'd like. Now, granted, we're only like weeks into the process and not months like many people who are doing the short sale thing, but it just makes me mad at our economy that this is such an issue and such a problem....I'll get over it...

Our whole family has gotten sick for the first time since I've started chemo. Just a sneezy, runny nose, virus thingy, but it's hit all of us. It's been pretty mild for the kids. Harder for me and MMS. Hoping to get over it soon so chemo doesn't get postponed. That would stink!

6. What were my accomplishments?
I got to sing in "big church." I love getting the chance to do it. I sang He's Always Been Faithful by Sara Groves. I was so happy with how I sang. I've worked really hard to smooth the sound between my chest and my head voice, and I have to do that in this song a lot. I really love the message in this song. The 2nd verse says "I can't remember a trial or a pain He did not recycle to bring me gain. I can't remember one single regret in serving God only, in trusting His hand." Someone told me a long time ago, when God gives you a song, you've gotta sing it. That's what this song is about. Here's the link to the recording of the service. The message was great, and if you have a chance listen to it, but if you're strapped for time, I'm at the 1 hour and 7 minute mark.

I got a great deal on some photo prints, and I got a photo book for free (thank you groupon)

I got a gorgeous print of our kids from the photo shoot we did in December!

I finally got the beach pass for my car

I ate at new restaurants...Yogurt Mountain and Pei-Wei...loved them! Oh yeah, and Jimmy Johns - I had a sub from that place 18 months ago the day my niece was born, but we found one here, so we tried it, and liked it!

I finished chemo #5...only one more chemo to go!

I got a job as a substitute teacher at my kids' school. I'm starting after I finish my next chemo.

My hair is starting to grow's light...maybe even blonde. It's hard to see in this picture...I guess you'll just have to trust me.

I was able to complete a couple layouts too :o) Including my collage from last months layout.


What were the high points of your February?

My roundup was inspired by Katie the Scrapbook Lady as a way to record the details of each month while they are fresh. Click the badge to check it out for yourself.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Jesus Sees Through It

I had the chance recently to write a devotional for a women's devotional book. I wanted to share it here too. It's on the woman at the well. And by the way, I'm having a great day today...

John 4:15-19 
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” 
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 
“I have no husband,” she replied. 
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” 
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 

I’m having a bad day. Well, truth be told, I’m having a string of bad days. Some of the reasons for this run of bad days are legitimate. I’m battling cancer and having difficulty handling the side effects of the chemotherapy. My son is having a hard time learning some new concepts at school. I’m worn out from teaching my children how to share and get along. We are in the middle of a busy season of life. But some of what’s going on with me are not legitimate reasons for having a bad day. I’m refusing to see the blessings - of love and support and provision - and let them touch my heart. I know it’s wrong.

I sit on my Facebook page, knowing I need to send out an update about life because a lot of people are concerned and praying for me, but I’m unable to put any words in that little box. I feel like I need to “edit” some of what I want to say – glam it up a bit, make it a little more “Christian-y.” It’s not just on Facebook either. When I pray, I catch myself generalizing what my struggles are instead of honestly confessing my sin and conversing with the One who can intervene in the midst of my situation.

When I read today’s passage, I was glad to see that I am not the first woman Jesus had dealt with who had glossed over her sin. This woman came to the well in the middle of the day so she could avoid her “social network.” She had been offered living, eternal water, and she wanted to know how to get it. Then, Jesus cuts through all the stuff she’s hiding behind to preserve her damaged reputation and says, “Go call your husband, and come here.” Trying to hang onto her decency, she honestly replies, “I have no husband.” Then Jesus zones in like a laser beam, and He reveals her sins of infidelity and adultery. Her response? “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.”

This woman wanted an ice pack and a band-aid for her big problem, but Jesus went in like a skilled surgeon on the needs of her heart. And before we chuckle at her too much, we must recognize how much we can be like her. Instead of glossing over a sin or “fancying up” a struggle, allow Jesus to pierce your heart. He knows your burden better than you do. Allow the One who created you to finish the work He’s doing in you so that you can minister authentically.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Roundup - January 2012

This is an idea inspired by Katie the Scrapbook Lady as a way to collect your memories each month before they slip away.
1. What milestones did the kids have this month? What were they like? What were they into?
#2 had a big one! She rode her bike with no training wheels! She is still pretty hesitant and needs help starting (she prefers dad's help) but she is well on her way to being a pro.


#1 had straight As on his report card, and he is working on learning cursive. It's not easy for him, but we got some tips from his teacher for different ways to practice. His class also did a special presentation in Chapel, and he had a main role.

IMG_0193 #3 continually makes us laugh. One day he decided he wanted to be called Zack.  He thought it sounded cooler than his own name. It didn't last very long. But now when he does something kinda dumb, we say, "come on zack!" and he growls!
He also asked Jesus in his heart this month. We were in a DNOW session, and at the end all of the kids were kneeling and praying. At the end of the invitation, #3 leaned over to Grammy and said, "I asked Jesus into my heart." She was happy for him, and said that he should tell someone about it. So he darted across the church to where my Main Squeeze was standing, and he said, "I asked Jesus in my heart." Well, MMS thought he said, "I want to ask Jesus into my heart." So he proceeded to go through the whole Gospel plan with #3, then he asked him, "Do you want to pray and ask Jesus into your heart?" #3 said, "Dad, I already DID that!" Now, as a mom, I'm a little freaked out. Nobody was there with him, nobody heard his prayer; nobody made sure he did it right. But it doesn't matter. I don't have to hear his prayers anyway. He's not praying to me. We are going to be observant, and see how God is working in his life and help him and answer his questions along the way.
(Image by Kelly Ann Jones - Augustine Grace Photography)

2. What events happened this month?
The big thing was DNOW! It was a new thing for our church and it was a big win. The students loved it and learns so much. Our speaker was Matt Lawson. Man, what a inspiring storyteller he was! He was a big encouragement to my Main Squeeze.
It was also so encouraging to see kids from our old church who helped us with this event. Most of these kids we have discipled and worked with for many years, and to see them teach, lead, and disciple others was very, very heart warming and inspiring :o)


3. What did we do in our down time, just for fun?
It's been a busy month...not too much time for fun pursuits. Since its been so nice outside (70s and 80s) we've been doing a lot of bike riding and scootering.

We've also done some house hunting. Looking for a bigger place that will suit our needs better while not breaking the bank....yeah....not much luck yet. Praying for God to work this one out for us

4. What were we watching, listening to and reading?
Some movie watching and tv catch up too. We love American Idol, and my DVR is recording all the episodes for me. Whenever I need a rest, #2 and I cuddle up on the bed and watch an episode.
We rented Kung Fu Panda 2 and Breaking the Press to watch as a family. My Main Squeeze and I watched Moneyball - which for a movie about sports, was very entertaining.

My Main Squeeze is reading a couple books: The Resolution (from the movie Courageous) and The Uncommon Life Daily Challenge by Tony Dungy. He always has several books he reads from as he studies, and I don't always know what they are.

I started the James Bible study by Beth Moore called Mercy Triumphs. I'm also reading Generation iY.
I introduced #1 to the world of choose your own ending books! He really liked them.

5. What were my disappointments?
I'm having trouble with my port. It's just sore and tender all the time. My chemo appointment actually got backed up because they wanted to treat me for a port infection. I had to have 2 days of IV antibiotics and a 7 day course of oral antibiotics. It didn't really do anything, and now it's just as red and sore as it was before. The nurses said that sometimes it's just like that. I only have to keep it in another 5 weeks, and then it can come out. Chemo is doing its thing, but the side effects are cumulative and rough. I'm having a red blood cell issue (they're too low), so I'm having to have 3 weekly treatments to help build those back up. Because of feeling yukky and being at the doctor so much, I feel like I'm all off kilter with everyday life.

6. What were my accomplishments?
My car went over 100,000 miles. I wrote on my facebook.... "So thankful that God has provided us with a car that has taken us this far comfortably...on vacations, around town with 3 car seats and now with none, to church, to school, packed with youth group students on missions projects and sometimes just for fun. Thanks God for your provision."

I got to speak to a group of High Schoolers at our church's academy. The topic was how to be spiritually ready when life throws you a curveball. I was worried before the class I wouldn't be able to relate to most of the students, but they really seemed to be engaged.

I successfully took 3 kids with me to the oncologist for blood work. On the way home from getting the kids from school, the Doctor's office called because I had forgotten I had an appointment for bloodwork. She said they could still squeezing me in that I went with all 3 kids in tow. They were the hit of the afternoon! They scooted their 3 chairs in the hallway all right in front of the door where I was getting stuck. They wanted to see it all. If anything, this little journey with cancer may make all 3 of my kids want to be doctors.

I got a shout-out on the bullhorn in the school carline because I wore this wig to pick up my kids :o)

I completed my first online scrabooking class. It was called Round up Your Memories at Big Picture Classes. It was a great class! But I only made one scrapbook page this month.

5 chemo must haves

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Year in Review - 2011

Since having chemo #3 between Christmas and New Years, I feel like I've missed out on all the year end remembering and recollecting. I looked through my photos and realized this has been quite a year for us - full of joy and unexpectedness and finding joy in the unexpectedness. So hang comes the year in review....

JANUARY - We started out the year getting back to normal and working on a few projects around the house. My Main Squeeze figured out how to install a paver patio extension on our back patio, and it totally transformed the look of our backyard. We eventually built in a small fire pit, and loved using it. I also painted a quote in our foyer: Dear God, Your will. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Amen It's kinda crazy how we had to rely on the faith expressed in that sentiment.

FEBRUARY -  February was busy for us. We had passes to Disney World this year, so we met one of our cousins there to celebrate his birthday. I thought going to WDW so many times in one year would get old, but it really didn't. We love the place. It's fun to do the "favorites" and every time we found something new too.

We also took the kids with us on the youth group ski trip. We only skied and snowboarded a little bit. It really turned into a big snowball fight...

We also celebrated Valentines day with heart-shaped strawberry topped pancakes and a healthy helping of candy and cookies, and we watched the last space shuttle take off from our backyard.

MARCH - In March, my grandfather died at age 90. It was a really sad day, but his last few years of life were really difficult for him. He longed for the day where he could be in Heaven with Jesus and Grandma with a whole body. Despite knowing that, it was still hard to say good bye.

I also attended a choir reunion for the college I attended. They invited each of the choir directors to return and direct a number for the mass choir, and we recorded a cd of the pieces we performed. A special piece was commissioned for the event, and it was beautiful.

Our #1 started playing little league baseball, and he was really good at it. He is the epitome of sheer enthusiasm when he plays. He hops up and down in excitement. I think he learned a lot about baseball, and he had to learn about sportsmanship since his team was not the best in the league.

APRIL - In April, we celebrated #2's 5th birthday with a teeny tiny birthday party since she loves everything teeny tiny. We had mini cakes for everyone, a teeny tiny scavenger hunt, and mini Chinese take out containers to put all the treasures in. There were tons of little kids at our was crazy fun. Before #2 opened each present, someone in the group would yell, "Kiss it! Kiss it!" and she would. It's kinda become a new tradition in our house to kiss your present before you open it. It all started here.

We also celebrated Easter in a big way. All 3 got to be in the first big scene of the Easter production at church. #2 got to run and jump into Jesus' arms. That was pretty exciting. My Main Squeeze got to dress as a Roman Soldier and be in charge of parking. We also had lots of family in town to decorate eggs, do egg hunts, nerf gun wars, fish, and just in general have fun with.

Also in April, the world watched the Royal Wedding. I remember as a child waking up super early to watch Princess Di get married, so #1, #2 and I got up at 4 to watch Will and Kate tie the knot. Then they went to school, and I took a nap!!

MAY - We celebrated my birthday and mother's day.

This is probably my favorite picture from the entire year. It was totally unscripted, and taken by my hubs...He does ok :o)
May was kind of a hard month for me. We were talking to the leadership from our new church, and it was becoming more and more clear that God was moving us from the home we had known for 7 years. I was looking at everything we were doing as "the last time" we would do whatever it was we were doing. Also, we were being cautious about how much we shared with our kids about the move because we didn't want them to feel the same stress and pressure we did. We also wanted them to be able to finish out their school year as normal as possible.
We enjoyed taking our students on their Junior Senior weekend.

We took the big green truck out for another mission in downtown.

JUNE - AKA the craziest month of my life.... We finished up baseball with #1's team making the playoffs and doing pretty well. Their team peaked at the season's end just as other teams were plateauing. #1 could always be counted on with a big hit.

We also finished up school. #2 graduated from preschool, and #1 finished first grade with straight A's...a goal he had worked on all year.

I know she's only 5, but why does it feeeeeeel like she's 18?? Somebody help a mama!!!
Her graduation program was so cute! They sang songs and quoted poems and Bible verses, and the sanctuary was packed, and we sat on the front row with tears in our eyes. I loved the kids' school. It was probably the hardest thing for me as a mama to leave when we moved - even harder than our house and our friends - because I knew when I dropped my kids off in the morning they were in a place that loved them as much as I did. And I'm not just saying that....

We also had our house on the market, which meant constantly keeping it clean while packing. We had the house competitively priced which meant it was being shown all the time. We ended up having a contract on it by the time we moved on June 21st.

The best part of June was choir tour - our last big trip with the Calvary Crew. We had about 15 performance/ministry stops planned, and we ended up doing 23. The experience was nothing less than amazing. It was so cool to lead a group that all wanted to use music and serving to share Jesus with whoever was in front of them. It was great knowing that all 75 people on the trip were of the same mind and same purpose. I blogged about this trip HERE if you want to read more about it and see some short videos of's worth the click.

On June 19 we had our choir homecoming performance and farewell party at church. It's hard to explain the emotions of that day. For us, we knew it had been coming for a few months. For our friends, it was only a few weeks.

The next day we started packing like crazy. The moving company was supposed to come on Thursday to load us up and unload us on Friday. We had so much help that by Monday night we were 3/4 done! The company called on Tuesday morning and said they had an opening in their schedule and asked if we could be ready on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, and my Main Squeeze said YES!!! What was he thinking??? But we did it! By 6pm on Tuesday all our stuff was in the truck and our cars, and we were patching holes in the walls. We drove halfway to our new place that night. We were so beat!

We unloaded our stuff in our new place on Wednesday. It was crazy how fast it all happened. We had stuff basically moved in and we had started to unpack by evening on Wednesday. We even surprised them at our new church on Wednesday night. We spent the rest of June unpacking, settling in, and exploring....

JULY - We did a lot of getting used to our new home! The kids loved swimming in the neighborhood pool. It was basically a daily affair. We took a trip up to see grandma and grandpa and to see our new cousin who was visiting from out of state. Grammy moved down to the same town as us, and we got her moved and settled in. There were some "settling in" pains to be sure, but that's to be expected in a new place and a new town.

AUGUST - My Main Squeeze and I started out the month (actually starting in the end of July) by taking the High School students to Student Life camp. It was a great experience. The speakers were some of the best I've ever heard at camp. It was a very different experience than most of these kids had ever had before too. It was a great chance for us to get to know this new group of kids too.

It was a big month for the kids too. #1 started playing tackle football. It was a big adjustment for him because for the first time he was the youngest in the league, and he got hurt a few times (minor stuff), but by the end of the season, I think he understood the game better and played it pretty well.

#1 and #2 started their new school. I love their teachers (they do too!) I really appreciate the hands-on approach this school has while still maintaining a strong traditional academic core. The kids just think their classes are fun.

My Main Squeeze bought a new Jeep because the old one was having more and more problems (which added tons of stress for us this month - at one point He was having to start the old Jeep with a screwdriver!!) The new Jeep is quickly becoming our family car.

SEPTEMBER - Was a whirlwind month for us. We celebrated my niece's first birthday. She is such a cutie patootie. Her personality totally cracks me up!

We were also fully into the school/sports schedule. #1 had practice for football 2 days a week and one game each week. It was a lot for a 2nd grader. Basically, we got home from school, did homework, changed clothes, ate something, took off for football practice, came home, showered, and had about an hour to chill before bed. It was a schedule that was kinda tricky for our family to get used to. I was very proud of how hard he played all season.

#1 and #2 both got the Christian Character Award at school.

#3 started going to "Friday School." It's a preschool enrichment class for 3 and 4 year olds that meets just on Friday. He loves it! They do a lot of music, science, cooking, outdoor play, and Spanish. It's made Friday a delightful experience for me and Main Squeeze. One of us takes all 3 kids to school, stops for bagels from Panera on the way home, and we have a quiet morning at home! A girl could get used to this!!!

On September 8th, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Right after we moved, I found a lump accidentally in my right breast. By accidentally, I mean that I wasn't doing a self check or anything. I just noticed it randomly. I had a mammogram, an ultrasound, and an ultrasound guided biopsy to confirm that the lump was cancerous. After that, I had a bunch of tests...MRIs, PET scans, genetic testing, more pathology on the confirm the type of cancer and where else it was in my body. The official diagnosis is Triple Negative Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. The month was very emotional for me, and scary, and confusing, and at the same time it was overwhelmingly supportive, inspiring, and strengthening for me. By the end of the month, I knew I would need surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and that the next 6-8 months of my life would be dramatically different than I had anticipated for myself and my family.

OCTOBER - Ironically, it's breast cancer awareness month...One good thing that's come from cancer is that I'm getting to spend a lot of time with My Main Squeeze as we go to one doctors appointment after another. On October 10th, I had surgery to remove the cancerous tumor. It was not fun...and it was hard...and the recovery was hard too. I don't know why anyone would choose to have elective breast surgery for any reason. The good thing from the surgery was that they found no spread of the cancer, and they were able to get the tumor with clear margins.

While I was recovering from surgery, the kids got to hang out with relatives. #3 got to go to the zoo here in town and pretend to be a tree while trying to feed giraffes.

We also celebrated #3's 4th birthday. I made a Yoshi cake because it's what #3 is into right now. I freehanded that baby on the cake! Yeah! My sister and her family decided to vacation in our hometown, and they rented a house near the beach so we had the birthday party there. We played in the pool and cooked out. It was an easy going, fun time.

My Main Squeeze and #1 surprised me by getting some pink wrap and wrapping his wrists and ankles with it for one of his games. He got to be captain this game too!

NOVEMBER - So much happened in this month....
I started chemo. I blogged about it here and here.
The kids are doing so well in school. #2 is reading more and more. #1's class has done extensive studying about colonial America, and he has done several interesting projects.

I made sure MMS and I were kissing at 11:11 on 11/11/11...

All 3 kids participated in children's choir at church, and they have loved it so much. #1 got a solo to sing in church for Veteran's Day. The choir I direct sang in church the same day.

The kids are also really into bike riding! Fortunately, our street is pretty quiet, and they can ride the loop as much as they want.

We celebrated Thanksgiving at my sister's house. We had dinner on her back porch like we do every year....pure bliss!

Afterward, we played corn hole toss in the backyard and #3 was the best of the kids at it! I did not participate in Black Friday shopping, but my Main Squeeze and my brother in law did go out in the middle of the night to try to hit some deals...probably the most exciting thing they found was that Dunkin Donuts was open in the middle of the night.

DECEMBER - The first week of December we put up our Christmas tree.... hair started falling out, so we shaved decision ever!....

My main squeeze and I did nearly all of our Christmas shopping in a 48 hour period (so much fun) because in the 2nd week of December I had my 2nd round of chemo. It was just as yukky and just as hard as the first.

We celebrated #1 and my Main Squeeze's birthday. #1 got a bigger bike and some Lego Ninjago sets. MMS got the newest Modern Warfare video game. I made them a cake about the way the 2 of them play football video games together. I used some of #2 dolls and furniture from her doll house to represent #1 and his dad, and I used #2's squinkies for the football players on the other side of the field...there is a TON of frosting on this cake....

#2 had her Christmas Around the World program. She dressed like a girl from Sweden. The poor girl couldn't keep her wreath on her head, so she ended up holding it for the whole program. Can you say epic costume fail???

#1 was in the Living Christmas Tree performances at church...all 8 of them!

After the kids were out of school, we spent a week traveling the state visiting friends and family. My cousin got married, and we went to the wedding. The reception was at the Museum of Fine Art...a beautiful place and a creative place to have a reception.

We spent a few days with my parents and celebrated Christmas with them, then we spent a few days traveling around and visiting all the friends and family that we could. It was a whirlwind trip, but so much fun.

We got home for Christmas Eve services at our church...I was privileged to be able to sing a special in the service, "All is Well" by Point of Grace.

Then it was Christmas Day! After the kids went to bed on Christmas Eve, My Main Squeeze got more lights out and decked out the inside of our house. He strung the lights back and forth in front of the bedroom where they were all sleeping to keep them from peeking. At 7 am, they were sitting right there....waiting patiently....

We opened stockings and read the Christmas story as usual, then it was on like Donkey Kong!! I got my Main Squeeze a new cordless drill and a shop vac. #1 got several Lego sets and video games. #2 got a girl and a boy lalaloopsy and a girl and a boy barbie doll...why? So they can kiss. That's what she said! #3 got some lego sets and toys from the Cars 2 movie. We also got the kids a Kinect for the xbox. It's been a hoot watching them play!! Wipeout has been the favorite game so far. I got a lot of clothes, and my Main Squeeze outdid himself...he got me diamond earrings!!

We ended the year with chemo #3. It was a hard one. I think it was harder on the kids because they didn't have school, so they saw me down and out for the week.

We rang in the new year watching a movie together as a family...#3 and I fell asleep on the couch. #2 did well until about 11, then she fell asleep too. About 10 minutes of midnight, MMS woke me up, and #1 had to hold his eyeballs open, but he made it. Happy New Year!!

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