Saturday, February 3, 2018

4 Years of a New Future

I've met many people over the past 4 years. Many know our story; many do not. Countless people lived through our journey with us- remembering when they heard the news and sharing in our grief over the years. And more were not in our lives, but have since taken on our sorrow as their own and love a little girl they never met.

So, if you don't know, on February 5th, four years ago, our daughter's heart stopped beating. And, after carrying our sweet girl over 37 weeks, I delivered her, we held her, then had to say goodbye. That day, 1460 days ago, left me forever broken. There is a hole in me that will never be filled this side of heaven. The future that we thought was in front of us, wasn't. And every day I have to navigate our new future. A future of one less child. A future without Lincoln's big sister. A future where our sweet Olivia is in Jesus' arms, not mine.

Every year, as this time silently and heavily approaches, I prepare myself. I withdraw, huddle down, and brace for the waves. This weekend is no different. I expected that our little family would cry, relive the time we had with her, and give ourselves lots of grace to do, say, and feel anything we need. Alone, our world stops.

But I forgot.

I forgot that I have people who pause their world and remember. That promised we would never grieve her alone. That, after 4 years, they continue to say We Remember. We hurt with and for you. We are here. You are not alone.

I am not alone. I wasn't alone in that doctor's office. I wasn't alone in that hospital room. I wasn't alone when we returned home to that silent, empty house. And I'm not alone today. I don't know why I keep forgetting that I'm not alone. But I'm thankful for friends who remind me.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cliche New Year Reflection

2017 is coming to a close and now is the time that I, along with most people, like to reflect on the past 12 months. There is something important about taking a step back, holding the year at arms length, and giving it a once over. I'm resisting the urge to list off all the disappointments of this year - of all the unmet goals and not-even-started tasks. I constantly compare my house, my fitness, my style, and my life with people; people who seemingly have more, do more, and are more than me. So, today I'm going to deny my nature and focus on all we have accomplished. Plus, that means you'll get pictures. Because who likes a post without pictures? 

-We finished* two rooms from top to bottom. The work and time this took was more than we imagined but we are extremely happy with the results. Now to actually fill them up...
Painting is the best part of any project. 
*The closets are sans shelves and doors, but who really cares about closets...

-We traveled a bit, Josh more than me. We took a long weekend to Kansas City for some family fun and lots of beer. It was our first time traveling with Link, and it was a different ballgame. In September, Josh and I headed west and had quite the adventure. And Josh traveled all over the country for "work".
Kansas City, Boulevard Brewing Co

Arches National Park

Backpacking the Ozark National Forest
Alta Peak in Sequoia National Park
Long's Peak-Josh's first 14'er

-Link got out of diapers, out of his crib, and turned 2. So, basically, he's leaving for college soon. 

-We made it three long, fast, bittersweet years without Olivia. This may have been our year's biggest accomplishment yet.

-My doctor finally gave me the clear that I am cancer-free. I'm still getting monitored every few months, but currently no more tests are in my future. Hip hip hooray! We celebrated the news with ice cream.

I'm sad to see 2017 go; it was very good to us. But I'm eager to see what 2018 has in store.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Lesson 136: Timelines are relative

Well, howdy stranger. Long time, no update! 

So, news flash: Renovations apparently take longer than expected. 

Our original time frame was to have the upstairs hallway and all three bedrooms completed (read: demo, electrical, drywall, paint, etc.) by June. Looking back now, that goal was truly comical. Because, as of today, we only have one room completed. You read that right. It took us over four months to finish one. freaking. room. 

We knew that this first room would be our "teaching room." Where we would go slow, learn how to change out the dated wiring, and see if drywalling was really as hard as people warned. But we never imagined how long it would actually take.

But let's back up a bit and re-orient you to the layout of the house. If you recall from the house tour, our house is split level with the bedrooms upstairs. In the image below, the "kid's bedroom" is the room we decided to renovate first. I don't understand the biological desire to insure your children have it better than you. 

We began the demolition in mid-March and it took us the rest of the month before the electrical was completed.  When we tore down the drywall and paneling we discovered lots of strange decisions previous owners made. Exhibit A: The east wall (wall on the right) we believe used to be a half wall, joining the now two bedrooms. It has paneling halfway down, which due to stupidity on their part we were required to leave.  

Exhibit A:
View from closet

View from doorway

Link saw us stand, arms crossed, staring at the walls and each other too many times to count. We were often baffled at what we uncovered throughout this process. I'm that much more apprehensive about what the rest of the house has to tell us. 

Once we stripped down the walls, we had to deal with this mess. 

This is old, outdated wiring from the 60's and every electrician that saw this shook their head in disbelief. The system is known as a "Low Voltage Switch System." This was apparently supposed to be the big new thing back then but never took off. You can see why.

I won't bother you with the details about this debacle, but if you find yourself having trouble falling asleep at night, just Google it. You'll be out in seconds.

This system is non-compatible with modern switches, so instead of dealing with strange switches and wiring the nightmare of a breaker box, we decided to update it. Through tons of online research and trusty ole' YouTube, Josh figured out how to remedy this disaster. Which essentially consisted of ripping out old switches, wiring, and relay boxes.

This room was utter chaos for so long. Luckily, a board propped against the doorway was all that was needed to deter Link from being too curious. Maybe hazardous living conditions is just what he thinks is normal? 

Such a great helper. Bubble wrap only served as a distraction for a short time; power drills and screw drivers are like candy to a toddler. 

Josh's trouble shooting and determination was impressive to see as he had to refer back to some old electrical engineering concepts he hoped to never need. 

I have never been so happy to have a ceiling fan and light. To walk into a room and just flip a switch felt like a luxury that we once took for granted. Now, 10 months after buying this house, we felt like we had arrived. 

Except for the little things, like walls and doors. But that's for the next post. Stay tuned!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Vegan for the un-vegan

For the past several years my eyes have been opened to the world of veganism. Much to my family's dismay, my cooking has slowly evolved from Pioneer Woman (Hello chicken fried steak!) to Oh She Glows (Hello Buddah Bowls!). Meat and dairy take up little space in my fridge (read: Josh) and my veggie and fruit drawers are packed full.

People are curious but skeptical of my strange diet, constantly asking, "So what do you even eat." My response, "Everything!" Seriously, you can make any dish meatless and dairy free. It can take a bit more effort but the end result is always fabulous (unless you just botch the recipe, like I often do). With the internet at your finger tips and wise vegan friends, there are limitless options and recipes.

I wanted to share some of my favorite vegan recipes that are true crowd pleasers. So, if you are looking to dip your tongues into some meat/dairy-less options, give these a try. I promise they will be yummy in your tummy!

Go a head a give it a whirl. Vegan food is much more than salad and fruit. Since focusing on plant-based foods I eat things with more favors and variety than ever before! Plus, any lifestyle that includes french fries is a winner in my book. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Update on me: Part 2

Read Part 1 before proceeding to see where I've been over the past two years!

During those 2 years it was easy to forget that I had cancer. (Well, we assumed I had a small tumor somewhere because my Tg number wasn't "0", but we just didn't know where). One thing that I always saw as a negative in myself is that I'm very absorbed in my immediate surroundings. My mind is focused on what is right in front of me: My day-to-day responsibilities, work, husband, caring for a newborn. I always saw it as a weakness. I'm a terrible long-distance friend (if I don't see you regularly it's hard to think about you) and I easily forget past events/conversations/people (who has time to mull over the past when I've got laundry to do!). I'm too focused on the now.

But what I've always seen as a weakness actually worked to my advantage. I honestly rarely thought about the disease and just lived my life. I was only consumed with worry and anxiousness on the days I went for my monthly blood draws. But once I got the results, I went on my merry way. Completely peaceful and unaware of what was going on inside my body.

But after those blissful two years, my time was up. Last October my Tg number skyrocketed to 20 and my doctor said, "No more." He was concerned that the cancer had grown and we needed to investigate immediately. Ultrasounds of my neck revealed nothing suspicious so we proceeded with a radioactive iodine scan and a CT scan of my head and neck.

I was scared. Really scared. All of the peace that was with me over the past years flew out the window and "worst case scenario" was in the forefront of my mind. It's funny how Satan can make you feel like you've learned nothing through all your trials; that you're back at square one.

At the end of October, after two weeks of a low-iodine diet, I took a small dose of radioactive iodine and was scanned head to toe. Nothing suspicious lit up, so we proceeded with a CT scan just to cover our bases. Let's cross all the T's and dot every I there is! And in December I received the best Christmas gift possible; my doctor confirmed that there was absolutely no cancer. Despite my elevated Tg numbers, there was no evidence of the disease in my body.

Talk about a dance party! Such a weight, that I didn't know existed, was lifted off my shoulders. After years of assuming I was living with cancer (stable cancer, but cancer nonetheless) I officially got the answer that I am healthy.

So where does that leave me now? I still get my blood checked regularly. And on March 13th I have a follow-up CT scan to insure, again, that there is no cancer growth. My fingers are crossed that after we get clean results we can move these appointments further and further apart. I can't wait for the day when my doctor says, "See you next year!"