I wanted to blog more but...

I was going to start a new blog
using wordpress HERE
but it's so complicated I don't know if I'll ever
get around to getting it completely ready to go.
In the meantime, I'm going to continue using this one
until I get the other one up and running.  I got behind on
blogging and writing because I thought it would be easy
to get the other site going.  I decided I need to
continue writing and blogging so I'll just continue
here.  If I ever get the other site finished I'll let you know.

Anyway, on my Dad's birthday we decided to meet at 
his grave and set off a Chinese lantern in his memory. 

Doing this made me feel like we celebrated
Dad and that we miss him, and love him, and will
always remember him. I think it was good for all of us.

Jesse and Stuart got the job of trying to set the lantern off. 

 I was afraid to try because we let one go near our house
last year and it caught fire but kept going up and then down.
We held our breath as we watched it.  It seemed like it was going to land 
on someone's roof and catch fire to their house.  We watched till it disappeared and we think it just burned up and probably nothing was left of it.
Warning: Never let them go around trees, or homes, or in windy conditions. 
 Thankfully, this time it was successful and slowly 
rose until it disappeared almost in the clouds.

The sunset was beautiful over the lake at the cemetery.

Mom, Stuart, and Trish in the background

Jesse brought Finn.

 Skip to August which is birthday month around here.
We had a big celebration for Jesse's 30th!
 and Mom's
 and Chuck's Mom, Patsy

Jobee enjoyed the celebration chasing lizards.

 Jason got to come home for Jesse's birthday and will be here 'till tomorrow! Yay!

Chuck's sister Heidi with her new grand baby. He's a cutie!
Lindsey and her boyfriend and his nephew all 
came and joined the party.  I wish I'd gotten a 
photo with all of them in it.  They got here when
I'd reached my really tired point and kind of quit 
with the camera.  Next time I will make sure to
get better photos of everyone!  It's a goal!
I'll set up a photo background and do group shots, yes that's
what I will do from now on!

Patsy with her great grand son and Lindsey in the background
I'm really upset I didn't get a family photo with her in it.

Stuart took some of the photos.

Patsy and Mom opening gifts.

Patsy, Heidi and Frank

Jason and Minion - face off!

 Jobee was about as happy as Jesse to wear the Princess crown

You can see the new cabinet colors in this photo which 
took 2 months to complete working on weekends with
Chuck.  I don't think I put pictures of them on here before.

Jason's getting as bad as Jesse hiding from cameras.

Stuart and his favorite car

Me - our newer car

I think Jason's worn out and probably needs a vacation
from his vacation.
I feel really behind in my writing and blogging lately.
This is a start and will have to do until I have more time.
I hope everyone had a happy birthday!


Dad's birthday

Today is Dad's birthday.  He would have
been 83.  It seems like a long time
ago that he died and then it seems like 
yesterday.  Strange feeling.  I miss you,
Dad.  We all do.  You were a great Dad and
we love you very much!!!!  I am grateful
for the time we had with you here and look
forward to the rest of eternity with you in heaven.
You are loved and you are missed!!


4th fun

And what could be more fun than making the dogs dress
up for the 4th of July?
 I don't think she thought it was fun

Jesse made yummy cheesecake

Oliver just wanted to sleep

Getting ready for the fireworks show

Our official fireworks lighter person

Some of the neighbors went all out this year

 and I agree with some other photo takers I saw -
God's fireworks beat them all!
Hope you and your family had a happy 4th of July celebration!


smelling crayons

I got a letter from my health insurance company saying they aren’t going to pay for something my doctor wanted done.  I don’t really understand what it is except that I think it’s already been done.  Its some sort of scan that he wanted done 3-D instead of 2-D – from what I understand.  I could be wrong.  I’m going to have to fight it because I can’t afford to pay for it.  My insurance company also declined to cover something that I’ve been on for a while that helps with my neuropathy.  It’s a compounded cream that I put on my neck and arm and it really helps with the numbness, loss of feeling, and not being able to carry or hold things with my right hand.  I also draw and paint with that hand and it has helped me to be able to continue to do so.  I don’t know why they refuse to cover it but I think I’m going to have to fight that too.  The replacement they sent helps with pain but not neuropathy.  I was originally put on this topical lotion (cream, whatever) specifically for the neuropathy.  If the insurance company is going to just stop paying for things I need done what good will it be to have it and pay for it? So frustrating.

On a more positive note, do you remember when you were a kid and got new school supplies? 

Chuck and I were at Walmart the other day and I stopped at the crayon and colored pencil row.  I just got an urge to smell the crayons and reminisce.  So I bought a box of metallic crayons and a box of colored pencils.  Then I brought them home and played with them.  First I did an eye.  Eyes are my favorite thing to draw.

Then I drew Corey and Minion, crayons.

Then I drew a girl, crayons.  When I don't look at someone
when I'm drawing or painting it's less realistic or more
cartoon-y to me.

When I was somewhere between 9 to 11 years old, my grandmother was in the hospital. 
We had to do a lot of waiting at the hospital.  My mom gave me some paper, a pencil and pen, and I found a sale booklet of wigs.  The pictures were of ladies faces with the different wig styles or hair styles.  That was when I taught myself to draw faces and hair.  I went through the booklet and drew everyone of them.  It was actually a very good way to learn because the more you draw or paint the better you get.  I do wish I’d kept some of the pictures just to compare.  This is what it sort of looked like.  It must have had at least 25 or more pictures and I drew them all.


Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to my Dad who I miss very much.  I know that you are happy and without pain or fear so I am so very thankful for that.  You always liked when we made things for you that said "Worlds greatest Dad" and we really meant it.  If your Dad is still here hug him tight and tell him how much you love him because when he isn't here anymore you will wish you could.  So I just wanted to say, "I miss you! I love you! And you will always be the "worlds greatest" Dad to me.



Thursday - June 9th, was my 5th year anniversary since  my first cancer related surgery.
I was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer, meaning it spread from the original sight (breast) to my bones.  I originally went to the doctor because of pain in my neck, spine. and ribs.  
I’ve been doing some research since my anniversary came up and I found this:

3. MEDIAN SURVIVAL Median survival after a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis is three years.

I feel very blessed that I’ve passed the median survival rate!
I was planning to post an update on my cancer but instead I’ve decided to answer a question I get asked a lot.

Why do you think you’re doing so well? 

Number one answer - should be first thing I say when someone asks:

1.     My faith in God; my hope in God; my relationship with God.  I know some people who read this don’t believe in God but I have for all my life.  I know He is here and that He cares.  When I look back over my life I can see things that I never would have made it through without Him and I can see things He did for me even when I wasn’t paying attention to Him.  I know some people say, “Well if you believe so strongly then why do you have cancer in the first place or why hasn’t He healed you?” Believing in God does not give you a free pass from suffering or pain.  This isn’t heaven - this is earth.  Earth is in a fallen state because God has allowed man the freedom of choice.  I have not always chosen to do His will or follow Him, as I should have.  Here are some links as to why pain and suffering are allowed in this world:

2.     Because of my faith I believe God allowed things to fall into place for me to not go back to work and to go on disability.  I believe if I had gone back to work I would not be here-I believe my job would have killed me.  I was a school bus driver and I drove an un-air conditioned bus (ridiculous in the state of Florida).  My bus had black mold in it and also a leak in the oil pan that allowed fumes to go into my window.  I had to have the window open so I would not die of heat stroke.  I believe the environment I worked in, which included fumes, mold, heat and stress, caused a lot of my health issues.  I also believe some of my tumors were caused by my cell phone.  I carried my cell phone in a pocket over my left breast where the cancer started and I carried it in my left pants pocket where the worst tumor grew.  This last tumor caused me to have to have a rod and bolt put in my leg because it ate 75% of the top of the femur.  So in short, not returning to work has kept me alive.

3.     I had a great doctor.  My family practice doctor (also a great doctor) sent me to the doctor she said she would go to if she were in my position.  I learned always ask your doctor who would you go to? Or, who would you send your child to?  She sent me to Dr. Lukman.  Dr. Lukman always went above and beyond for me.  She was off one Friday when I had a problem.  I called her office to find out what I needed to do.  I was told she was off but then a few hours later, I can’t remember if she called me or her nurse did, but I was given an answer to what I needed to know or do.  I don’t remember exactly what it was all about because it was a few years ago.  I just know her nurse told me the doctor spent hours of her off time finding a solution for me.  She also kept track of when my insurance was paid up and would have all my tests scheduled so I wouldn’t have to pay out of pocket expenses.  And last but not least she researched options for me and found a treatment that she said would “make my bones the strongest in Florida”.  She found a plan where I would only have to pay 25$ per shot.  This “shot” would have cost 10’s of thousands of dollars if I had to pay it out of pocket.  The billing lady showed me it cost my insurance over $65,000 per shot – which is absolutely ridiculous and I was getting it once a month.
I meet my new oncologist this week I hope and pray he is as good a doctor as she is. 

4.     I’ve had a lot of support and love from my family.  I don’t know how people make it through something like this #1 without faith in God and #2 without support and love from family and friends.  My family has helped through prayers, driving me, getting me things I need, sending me on trips, feeding me and financially.   I wouldn’t have been able to get some of my medical, surgical, or pharmaceutical needs met otherwise.  I appreciate any and all help we’ve been given and can’t believe the generosity we have been shown.  I give God the credit for putting different needs on people’s hearts to help us when they have.

Those are the answers to the question, “Why are you doing so well?”

I will do a quick medical update. Since my initial diagnosis I’ve had fractures in my neck, ribs and my left leg - which are all healed- but my ribs never stopped hurting.  In November I had my 6 month scans and tests and they showed new cancer on my sternum, skull (where I put the cell phone up to my ear), shoulder, ribs and spine.  I was treated with radiation on my shoulder and low spine.  I was taken off the once a month bone strengthener shot (Xgeva) because, I was told, if there is new cancer it’s no longer working.    The radiation helped with some of the pain but I’m still having problems with my shoulder.  I had more tests last month which I haven’t talked to the doctor about but I read them and they show two more new spots, ribs and left femur at the top.  I don’t know what the plan will be for that.
Again, to everyone who has been praying for me or helped me in any way – thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

I can't post without photos.  Lasagne because I don't want
to cook for a couple of days. 

And, deer in the neighborhood.  They look like
they need more food.


Dad and Alaska

20 minutes.  Doesn’t sound like much.  You try it, writing for 20 minutes, whatever comes to mind.
Today it is my Dad.  I was thinking – what was I thinking?  I lose it so quickly these days.  Oh, now I remember.  One day when visiting my parents my Dad surprisingly said, “Getting old – SUCKS!”  It was out of character for the Dad I knew.  I now understand though.  I’m not that old but I do understand.

My Dad to me means it's “story time”!
Alaska, my favorite place - ever - where we lived while he was in the Air Force.
When we lived in Alaska we would go do things in the summer like hike up the rather large hill behind the golf course on base.  It was filled with wild flowers and if I remember correctly they were the state flower, forget me knots.  I do remember they were purple and forget me knots are purple.  I remember huffing and puffing as we climbed higher and higher and picking flowers all the way up.  When we all got tired and decided to stop, we all sat down and looked at the view.  It was an amazingly beautiful view.   I hated when we left Alaska.  I remember crying a lot.
I was very much in love with the place.

Dad also took us horse back riding on base.  They gave me a smart little pony that knew I had never ridden before.  He took me for a ride under a tree so he could eat and I got stuck and had to be helped out.  I remember my mom got frustrated, she had ridden a lot as a kid, because the horses didn’t want to do anything but walk and eat.  They had a little track for the horses to run around.  My mom got a little switch, took her horse or pony (it seemed short) to the track and got it to run around it.  I thought “look at her go! I wish I knew how to ride like that!”  I did think riding would be a lot easier than it was.

Another time my Dad took me golfing with him.  He instructed me how to hold the club correctly, how to swing and most importantly to keep your eye on the ball.  I would try and duff it, or hit a worm burner, or miss entirely.  Every mistake I made – made me laugh.  The more I made the more I laughed.  My Dad didn’t like that.  He took his golf very seriously.  He could have been a pro – he was that good.  He had many many trophies from events he won.  I always felt very proud when he would bring one home.

My Dad was good at any sport he wanted to try.  I remember bowling with him and it seemed like the pins were so afraid of how hard he hit that they fell before the ball reached them.  (Not really but it seemed like I heard some screaming from the pin area.) I know everyone was amazed at the speed of the ball and the flying of the pins.

We also did some camping while we lived in Alaska.  I loved being outside or going anywhere exploring when we lived there.  I caught a salmon when we went fishing once.  At the time and place we were fishing the salmon were spawning.  There were so many you could just throw your line in and hook one almost immediately.  The people we were with said if you “hooked” a fish anywhere except in the mouth you had to throw it back or release it - as they say now.  The man who said this threw his line in and hooked a humpback salmon in the back, ouch.  He reeled it in and unhooked it and let it go.  I threw my line in and hooked one so heavy my Dad had to help me reel it in. When we were able to get it out of the net, after he scooped it up when it got close to shore, we saw it had been caught correctly in the mouth and we got to take it home.  I was hooked on fishing then.  I was the only one that caught one the right way.  When my mom was cleaning the fish a lot of fluorescent colored eggs came out and that made me feel really sad.  I hadn't thought about the fact the fish were spawning and what that really meant.   I was still proud though that I’d caught a fish and we were going to have it for dinner.  Fresh, super fresh salmon, I don’t think I’ve ever had it that fresh again.

One of the drives we went on, or adventures, we saw a Russian Church on the side of a mountain.  It had all the spirals and towers that you think of with Russian architecture.  My Dad brought binoculars whenever we went on one of our fun drives in hope of catching a view of some of Alaska’s amazing wildlife.  I used them to really check out the church.  I wish we could have gotten closer it looked really interesting.  This trip we were going to the valley where they were raising cabbage that was as big as - well here’s an example:

Everything was bigger in Alaska.  I think everything was bigger, more beautiful, and just more awesome – closer to God - I remember hearing people say.
We lived in Texas before Alaska.  Texans say everything’s bigger in Texas - but it doesn’t compare to Alaska.

My time’s up so I’ll end with this.  One of the things I remember doing with my Dad when we lived in Alaska was weather prediction.  He would ask me what I thought the weather would be like for the day or I would ask him.  It was something we both shared an interest in. He would always know when it was going to snow.  When we lived on the base – which was the last year we lived in Alaska, the first two years we lived in Nunaka Valley, there was a street light in front of our house.  My Dad would tell me in the evening that it would be snowing later so we would sit in front of the window waiting.  And then it would start, first a few, then a few more and then large, soft, quiet but rapidly falling snowflakes.  Outside it would be dark except for the light under the street lamp.  We could only really see the snow in this illuminated spot.  Dad and I would sit in front of the window and watch, not speaking, just enjoying the beautiful show.


Dog days, beach days and anniversary.

Today is our 34th anniversary.  Can't believe it's been
34 years.  We went to the beach yesterday and going out
to eat today.  God put us together and has 
kept us together and I'm very grateful for that!
Happy Anniversary Chuck!

This past week
Millie had a vet appointment on this side of town.

She jumps up and onto lizards - it's so funny

Feet at the beach.  I'm hiding the fact that my toe got
infected and they took the toenail off, yuck! but it's finally
not hurting much any more.
 I remember the 2nd time Chuck and I went out he wore 
sandals.  I had never gone out with a guy who wore sandals.
I thought he had really nice feet for a guy.  

 I've seen a lot of paddle boards being used like surf 
boards - looks like fun.

 until they fall.  I don't need any more broken bones

 love when the sun sparkles on the sand and water

I didn't realize till I was editing photos that I caught
a dolphin in this one.  It looks like the guy on the 
paddle board is taking a pic with his phone.

I just don't think these photos catch how tiny this guy was.
He looked maybe 5.  He knew what he was doing too!

That's him in the water sitting on the board.
 He caught a wave and rode it all the way in
without falling, amazing!

 Caught him making a dive
 clouds rolling in

caught another diving

It was really crowded yesterday

This lady, taking a selfie of herself riding a bike,
was funny to watch.  She kept trying and swerving
and almost running into stuff and people.

Instead of staying at the beach this year for our
anniversary we went for the day.  It was a perfect day even
though it was crowded.  I did see something large - very close to shore
jump out of the water and spin over two times.  It was
probably a sting ray but maybe a dolphin.  It happened
so fast and when I wasn't holding my camera.  Every time
i put my camera down something happens.  I never saw anything
like that before but I refused to go in the water again after seeing
it.  It was so close to people when it happened.  I love going
to the beach and in the water - but always afraid of what's in it.

I tried to catch the picture of this little girl carrying this.
She was so cute and I think tired of carrying it and 
just kind of laid down in it exhausted.

 I can't wait to use my Mother's Day gift 
from Corey and Jesse.  We're going to a tea room. You'll 
definitely see pictures from that.
This is another gift from Jesse an essential diffuser.
It's very relaxing and has essential oils with
smells I can be around and smell great.