Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Our Little Singing Duo

Usually, if you ask Luke and Abbey to sing together so that you can capture a short video, they shy away.   However, one night as I was cleaning up the kitchen downstairs following dinner, Drew was able to capture a video of Luke and Abbey singing together.   Of course, because he didn't specifically ask them to sing a song together and instead was sneaky with his phone to capture the video, they were not in a "performance" stature.  However, it is nice to at least have some sort of video by which to remember their singing.

Here is the video:

We realized after viewing the video for the first time that Drew's phone camera is filthy. :-) Sorry for the quality.  But any video is better than no video in my opinion.   That is my opinion.  It seems to be contrary to what I have recently seen on news feeds and other blogs lately though.

Recently, I have seen negative press on "taking too many photos or videos".  Apparently, folks say that it impairs your memory, and you "miss out" on moments (you are taking a photo of it instead of being in the moment).  For example,  Linda Henkel, a psychology professor at Fairfield University in Connecticut, has long studied the science of memory. She has observed a phenomenon she has called, "photo-taking impairment" effect. She defines this effect as when folks have a hard time remembering something because they took too many photos.  She is mainly basing this on a specific study she conducted, where subjects took pictures of objects at an art museum and were later quizzed about the objects.  These folks remembered fewer details rather than if they had just looked at the objects.

I completely disagree.  Maybe taking too many photos or videos is an issue for some people, but I do not believe it to be an issue for me or our family.  First, the very reason I take photos is to remember something very specific that I have already observed.  For example, there is a certain way that Abbey crosses her legs when she eats.  I have a photo of it. 20 years from now, will I remember the manner in which she crossed her little feet while eating?   Maybe not. But, if I come across that photo I took of her, with her dainty little feet crossed, I will likely smile and remember.  The same goes for videos.  There are very specific ways she says certain words and letters.  I want to remember them, and I can't guarantee my memory will always serve me as well as it does currently.  I want to remember all of Luke's special tricks and his beautiful singing voice.  I want to remember how Luke and Abbey enjoy playing together. I want to remember the sound of their giggles--like in the following video.

Now, don't get me wrong:  I don't walk around with a camera taking photos or videos all the time.  Instead, I experience a moment, and then think, "Oh, I need a photo (or video) of this."  I usually have a specific thing about the moment I want to remember, and I try to compose the photo in a perspective that portrays the emotion of the moment or tells a specific story.  So, I truly do not feel like I have missed out on the moment.  I have enjoyed it and then taken a photo to remember it forever.  I have never regretted taking too many photos or videos.  Honestly, I do not believe the kids have either.  They LOVE to watch old videos of themselves and recall fun moments together.  They really enjoy looking at pictures of friends and family.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What's Up Weekly

What's up this week?

Biopsy results:  I just received word from that "stat" biopsy I had last week.  The good news is that the area of concern is not cancerous.   Actually, that is REALLY good news!  However, it also indicated the "ulceration" was not viral or an infection.  So, the bottom line is that I have no idea what is causing the issues I have been having, since the MRI's were also thankfully negative for cancer.  Honestly though, as long as it is not cancer, I breathe a big sigh of relief.  God is so good!  When I first thought what I was experiencing was a slew of cancer symptoms, my mind went to "what if this puts me into terminal (stage 4) cancer---what would happen to the things I feel like God has called me to, like homeschooling for example".  But, I was reminded again through scripture and prayer with friends that God has a plan bigger than my own.  I need to trust him.  He has called me to these things according to His plan for my life.

My new treatment protocol:  A very recent study has shown that a different drug (exemestane) than the one I am currently taking (Tamoxifen) outperformed Tamoxifen when both were combined with ovary suppression.  You see, my type of cancer grows with estrogen.  Tamoxifen works to block the estrogen receptor sites, whereas the other drug sort of searches out and destroys estrogen that is hanging out in my body.  But, it is typically given to post-menopausal women.  In pre-menopausal women, the estrogen level is way too big for exemestane even to make a difference.  This is why Tamoxifen has been the drug of choice for oncologists to prescribe pre-menopausal women.    This is also why the recent study compared the two drugs while both were combined with ovary suppression (either by ovary removal or suppression via drug).  A couple of days after I saw the published article about the study results, my oncology nurse called me and told me that my oncologist wanted me to shut down my ovaries and wanted me to take this drug.  I think it is pretty cool that she told me she instantly thought about me when reading the study results.  I have had all sorts of problems with Tamoxifen and with my ovaries.   So, I had my first $6,000 monthly Lupron shot a couple of weeks ago.  I just had labwork that showed that I am still apparently pre-menopausal though, so it is not yet working.  My next step is to meet with a surgeon to discuss ovary removal (a much longer term solution).  I need as little estrogen as possible in my body.  Once my ovaries aren't producing estrogen (either by the prescription suppression or by removal), I can switch from Tamoxifen.   Hooray!

Estrogen mimicking chemicals in things we use every day:  Speaking of estrogen, I just recently read an article indicating that many of the "BPA-free" bottles and cups we use still leach substances that mimic estrogen.  That was the whole purpose of being "BPA-free".  BPA is an estrogen-mimicking chemical.

A study published in the journal, Environmental Health, found that a number of plastic containers — including blue Nalgene and Camelbak water bottles, Lock and Lock food storage containers, and AVENT baby bottles — leached these estrogen-mimicking substances. In some products, researchers observed chemical seeping occur under normal use conditions, while others leached only after exposure to UV light or heat from a microwave or dishwasher. While the study didn't name the specific endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in the containers, previous research shows that estrogen-mimicking compounds could have a number of serious health effects. Triclosan, in particular (a chemical found in many antimicrobial soaps and some cosmetic products) is a known carcinogen.  Bottom line, we are no longer trusting our "BPA-free" safe stuff.  We are switching to stainless steel and glass.  Luckily, most of our cups are stainless steel or glass, but we still use periodically.  In fact, there is a cup that Abbey uses every day that is plastic.  So, we are making changes there.   You can click here to see if a cup/bottle you use is on the "bad" list of the ones that were recently tested.

I mentioned in a previous post the dangers of some of the many chemicals,which are known endocrine disruptors (most mimicking estrogen), and which are found in the products we use as men and women every single day.   In an upcoming post, I will dive into this deeper, and make some recommendations for some awesome new products I have used in place of the old ones.  I have even noticed a wonderful difference in my skin since changing.

Photographer mom:  I think the "photographer momma" is rubbing off on our kids.  Abbey saw a little white stool in our garage and asked to bring it in the house a couple of days ago.  She proceeded to put it in the entry way, where our best natural light is located.  Then, she positioned her stuffed puppy on the stool and asked me to take its picture.  Of course, I obliged.

Abbey wouldn't pose in front of the camera though.  But, Luke surprisingly obliged. He said he wanted to have a picture taken of him and his puppy.  Luke's puppy is super-special to him.  His puppy and blue blanket are his special "lovees".   I am not sure what we are going to do when his little puppy falls apart.  He will be so saddened.

Then, he said, "make sure you get a picture of me hugging 'puppy'".  Of course, son.

I'm glad I got a photo of him and his "lovees".  Someday, when he asks me about them, I can pull these photos up.

Dinosaur Video:  Lastly, remember that dinosaur that I mentioned that we saw last weekend.  Well, I figured my description really probably didn't do it justice.  So, here is a short little video of it.  Please ignore my awful laughing.  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day, a visit with Family and great news!

I feel so blessed right now for so many reasons.  First, my brother, Jeremy, sister-in-law, Brandy, and nephew Traber, have been visiting for the past few days.  It has been fun visiting with them, and I am sure Luke will be in tears when they have to return home.  In fact, I overheard Luke tell Traber tonight before bed, "Traber, I heard your mommy and daddy say they are going to be going home tomorrow.   You could just stay here."  

These two guys are best buddies!

It was also fun getting my MRI results while they were here.   All 4 MRI reports indicated no cancer in the areas they checked.   So, I was able to share immediately with them.  I should know my biopsy results early next week, since they marked them stat.  I really feel at great peace about the results and rest in the fact that God is sovereign.  

Second, Drew and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary yesterday.  Then, today was father's day.   Drew and I are so thankful to have been raised by some tremendous dads.  And, I feel ridiculously blessed to have married a guy that is an awesome daddy to our kids.  

Here is a little more of our weekend in photos:

The kids got to spend some quality time with their dads this weekend!

Abbey wanted daddy to carry her like a baby

matching sunglasses

We went to "Bubblepalooza", where there were lots of bubbles, music, ice cream, games (like hula hoops), and an appearance from a dinosaur.

Luke made a contraption that, when blown in, produced a bubble snake.  I love his look and Traber's look in this picture.

Here is the dinosaur that walked around.  It was very realistic: it looked AND sounded like a real dinosaur.
This is right before he stuck his face on the tray of Abbey's stroller and began acting like he was going to eat her.  Yeah, she was shaking in fear.  I can't believe he did that.  Most of the kids were afraid of him, as he walked around pretending to attack people.  The adults loved him though.

Oh, and did you know that Traber is getting a baby brother (Sawyer) soon?  Hooray for another cousin!

Brandy and baby Sawyer

I have to end this blog post with a few photos of our precious Abbey after she got out of the pool tonight.

First, she was pretending to be a sleeping baby, all wrapped up in her towel.
Then, she was just being cute.

What a fun, fabulous weekend!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Happy Anniversary to my best friend!

I love this man SO stinkin' much!   Any free time I have, I want to spend with him.  And, it has been that way since the first day we met.   We started out as friends....quickly became best friends, and later became even more.  Six years ago today I married him.  Now, I get to call him husband for the rest of my life.  I just feel so blessed to be called his wife.  I realize it is very rare to enjoy doing the same things as your husband, to love the same foods, to enjoy the same-type of adventures and just to be as compatible as we are.   I do not take that for granted and realize that God brought us together and orchestrated our lives such that we would meet at the point in time that we did.  I often wish I would have met Drew when I was 15, so I could have enjoyed that many more years with him.  But, I know God had a perfect plan of when we were supposed to meet.  We balance each other so well in so many ways also.   Although we enjoy doing so many of the same things together, we go about them very differently.   For example, whereas I am more eager and excitable, Drew is more laid back.  It works well in so many ways in our marriage.   Drew is the best husband and friend to me!

Not only that, but he is the best dad.   He makes sure, even though he has to work a crazy number of hours, that he makes the time that he is not working "quality time with his kids".  They absolutely cherish their "daddy time."   He is fun, loving, nurturing, and really exhibits all the characteristics a kid can hope for in a father.  I don't think they yet understand just how blessed they truly are, but I know some day they will.

I didn't include many photos in the post, because I decided to create a little video photo slideshow in celebration of our 6th wedding anniversary.  Drew, I love you so much and hope you enjoy this little surprise.  (There is music in the slideshow, so make sure your volume is on.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

In the backyard with our boy

With summer around the corner, we have been spending more time in our backyard.   I love to check the status of our garden each day.  It is such a blast to see how much progress can be made in 24 hours between the times I check.  One day there will be no fruit; and then the next day, there will be a new flower, followed by a baby fruit shortly after.  Luke is my little garden buddy and we always do our checking before our school time together during Abbey's nap.  

I will try to post pictures of our garden soon.  In the meantime though, I will post some other fun things Luke has been doing in the backyard.

keeping his eye on the ball...

crushing it!

We picked up a pool at Ross.  It was cheap.  But it was impossible to know from the photo on the box that it was going to be as minuscule as it actually is once inflated.  I am pretty sure the water can be deeper in an infant bathtub than this tiny pool.  But, leave it to Luke to find some fun ways to enjoy it.

Our boy loves to jump.   Jumping is his thing.

This is totally off topic, but I would appreciate prayers that some new symptoms I have been having are not indications of the cancer returning.  I am taking a drug to try to resolve part of the symptoms, while I will also be getting 4 MRI's over the next couple of days.  It's has been a long time since I have had any imaging studies done, so my doctor wants to do them just to try to get to the bottom of my issues (cancer related or not).  Thanks, in advance, for your prayers.   They really do mean a lot to us!