Sunday, April 27, 2008

Taste of Marietta

Every year we go up to our town square for The Taste of Marietta. We LOVE going! Over 60 restaurants are represented and there are lots of activites set up too. We go around from tent to tent sampling food, spinning prize wheels and visiting with our friends and neighbors. When we first arrived, we visited a few booths that offered games for the kids. They all took turns hitting a baseball, spinning a radio station wheel to win prizes and Jack played Guitar Hero for a chance to win an electric guitar. At that time he had the High Score (when we went back later, his score had been beaten by a few points)! Then the bottom fell out and we all ran for cover under a tent. The rain was too hard even for our umbrellas. As the rain lightened the big boys went to "bowl" in a mobile bowling alley. Everyone won a free round of bowling, but Jack won a 2 hour US Play bowling party for 6! We laughed because that isn't even enough for all of us! Maybe we can leave Sam and Emma at home and let Jack invite a friend. We decided it was time to sample the food - samples run anywhere from Free to about $4. We stopped off at Starbucks, Harry's Farmers Market, Taco Mac, several local restaurant tents and then we went by the Buffalo Wild Wings Cafe. While waiting in line, they too have a prize wheel that we all took a spin on. Russ, Coleman and Robbie all won a free dessert or appetizer coupon. When Jack got up to spin, Russ said that he thought with Jack's good luck today, he will win the Big Prize - a YEAR of free wings. Jack spun the wheel and it landed on Free Tshirt. They were out of free tshirts, as Russ found out when he spun and landed on that 3X before winning his coupon. Jack too got another turn and landed on.......Yes, you guessed it...... A YEAR OF FREE WINGS! Woo Hoo! I know where we will be eating for the next few months!! Atleast until we never want to see another Buffalo wing again! ;o) They made a really BIG deal about it and took his picture. Jack was so proud. Is there a lottery for tonight? We should check and let Jack pick our numbers! We rode a little Fun Train that drove around the Square and took turns on the Bouncy slides. There are so many things to do that it is hard to fit it all in. As we were walking back to the car, the boys all wanted to make sure that we are going to do it again next year. With all of the range in age between our kids, I love it when we find something that makes everyone HAPPY!

Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks

Sam still LOVES the rain
Mobile Bowling

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Morning at Mimi's

Earlier this week, Emma and Sam spent the morning with Russ' mom. They love going to her house and always have so much fun. Emma loves to sit with her Mimi and put on make up. She always ends up with lavender eyeshadow and sparkly lips. Mimi was getting ready for an appointment and had her curling iron on. Emma got a new hairdo and not to be left out, Sam insisted that he get one too. They looked so cute when I picked them up - but also vaguely familiar.....

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I had my Mohs surgery today. It took several hours, but they were able to get all of the affected cells. I have such a clear peace of mind finally having this ordeal over! When my doctor was finished, she came in the room and said "Congratulations! It is gone!" What a great feeling! The Mohs procedure is precise and takes so long because they remove the lesion and surrounding skin and then freeze sections to examine the cells microscopically. If they see that there is not a clear margin around it, they will come back and take more. The stitches took the longest amount of time. Dr. Chiller was amazing - very sweet, witty and definitely qualified. She really wanted to try and keep my scarring to a minimum, but she also needed to take out all of the cells. At the end of the surgery, the site was an inch wide. She warned that the scar would be 3:1 larger than the site. Once they were finished and showed me the incision, I can say that I was truly shocked at the size of it. But at this point, I am just thankful (scar and all) to have this whole ordeal behind me. I have to be very careful about lifting, exercising, etc. for the next couple of months - any tension or exertion can cause my incision to pull and can cause a larger scar. At the beginning of all of this, the "nubbin" was a little larger than a dime, close to the size of a nickel, but as you will see below, the incision is MUCH larger. (sigh)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

We got out just days before the Pope arrived.....

Seriously, I cannot imagine how crowded Washington DC is right now! We spent Spring Break in DC and got home late Sunday night. Our oldest son, Coleman, was nominated for the People To People program by a teacher at his school so he spent the week touring and studying while we spent it pure tourist style! When he was invited to participate in the program - before Sam was even home, we decided that if we had to get him there and back, we might as well go up ourselves and enjoy the week. As the trip got closer, we started to question touring DC with children ages 2, 3, 6 and 10. Things were great though. Russ' mom even went with us, so all 8 (yes, I said 8) of us stuffed ourselves and our luggage into the Suburban and DROVE to DC! We spent the first night in South Hill, Virginia and then drove into DC the next day. Coleman was not released from the program until late so we had to drive the full way back home (about 11 hours) on this past Sunday. It is a pleasant drive, though - especially when you aren't driving! Ha! Russ did a great job getting us there and back without complaint. Our hotel was right on the Metro so we bought a weekly pass and did not even get the car out until the last day. We had arranged with our congressman, Phil Gingrey, to tour the White House, the Capitol, Bureau of Engraving and Printing,..... We went to the Smithsonian museums, the Holocaust Museum, Washington Monument (this is my 3rd time to DC and my first in the Washington Monument!), and hit all of the Presidential Monuments. Although we are not Catholic, the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is one of my favorite things in Washington. It is stunning and more amazing than words can ever describe! The kids behaved and loved every minute of it. The 2 little ones just went with the flow and even sat quietly in the House Chamber of the Capitol while the House of Representatives were voting! I was so impressed with them. Jack is at the perfect age to appreciate all that Washington had to offer and Robbie surprised us with his interest and knowledge - including his rote memory of the Metro stops! He even bought Washington Trivia books for souvenirs. It was truly a great trip. I even stepped outside of my comfort zone and got into it with some protesters - but that is another story for another day!

Sam sees a tiger at the Museum of Natural History

How many $$ tall are we???

Relaxing in the hotel room

I LOVE this face!!!

Waiting to go in the Washington Monument

Jack's New Career

Perspective (you might want to click on this one to see it better)

Cherry Blossoms!!!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

This is Me. I am Happy.

Very Happy! I have not made much mention of my "Nubbin" lately. It has been the cause of some really bad days for me recently. My initial biopsy results showed atypical cells. My doctor had concerns that I had Lymphoma and sent me for Xrays and blood work. I also had been experiencing back pain that in combination with the other factors, had her quite worried - and she did not mind telling me all about it. She was really upfront with me about what I could be facing. I tend to be a bit of an anxious person on a normal day so this did not sit well with me at all. Well, all of my tests came back normal and after repeated doctor visits, my dermatologist decided to do another biopsy and send it off to Emory. This time I had about 6-8 stitches and was off to Disney World with my family to get my mind off of this whole ordeal. We had a wonderful trip and I will post about that soon. I had my stitches removed the day after we returned home but there were still no biopsy results. Later that week, I got a call from my doctor, saying, "Do you have a minute where we can talk about your biopsy?" The rush of panic shot through me from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. Russ had not been feeling well that morning so he was still at home when I got the call. I remember from past biopsies that the nurses would always say, "You want a letter, not a call" regarding any test results. They found more atypical cells, this time specifically T Cells. She had spoken with an oncologist (my head was spinning at this point) who had ordered extensive blood work and a PET scan. A dear friend's daughter has recently had a bout of cancer so I was very familiar with what a PET scan is. The one thing I remember my doctor saying during this call was, "The good news is that it was not totally diagnostic and the bad news is that it was not totally diagnostic." At least there was some good news to hold on to. I went the next day for my blood work and they took vial after vial of blood - I even asked if I would be able to drive home without fainting! They were really sweet about it and told me that they had to call and confirm the orders on one test that they were not entirely familiar with. Then the wait came. My mind drew all sorts of conclusions based on comments, lengths of time between calls from my doctor,....You name it, my mind was working overtime to try and read between the lines. I prayed and talked to God all of the time. I realized that with my busy mom of 5 life, I had gotten away from my daily talks with Him. He is always there for me, walking beside me, and He knows what my day is going to be like before it even starts. I thanked Him for this difficult walk as I knew that He would strengthen me with each step. I felt honored that He thought I could handle this because there were days when I was convinced that I could not. The days passed and still no call from the Hospital to schedule the scan. The oncologist's office called to go over everything with me and to make an appointment to come in for the results. Northside Hospital called to schedule the scan and fortunately they had an evening appointment - I had been so worried about how I would fit several hours at the Hospital into an already bursting schedule. Sam had a follow up appointment with the Craniofacial team and Emma had an appointment with a micro hand surgeon (I will follow up with details soon) and then there are all the carpools and normal activities, our anniversary, my mother's 60th Birthday, know - LIFE! It was overwhelming, but again, God was in the details and I was able to easily fit everything in. Russ took me to the PET scan while my parents watched the kids. I had already talked to my dear friend Laurie who is a doctor and she told me about all of the many possibilities that were out there under the umbrella of Lymphoma. I just had to put my big girl panties on and face this head on! For the scan, they took some blood to check my glucose levels, put in an IV and then gave me a glucose shake to drink. Then I went to the Nuclear Medicine mobile unit outside of the hospital - I had to walk across an opening at the end of a hallway ramp and it looked just like I was getting on an airplane. Joe, the dear sweet (I cannot say enough good things about him) technician who injected the meds into my IV and did my scan was so clever and quick witted and really made me feel at ease. I laid on the scan bed (maybe 8-10 inches wide at the most) and he put my hands above my head in a loop to keep them together. I was in the machine for maybe 20-30 minutes, moving back and forth. I decided to keep my eyes closed so that I was not tempted to look around. You have to stay still during the scan much like an MRI. Right as I was about to go into the machine, my bangs fell into my eyes, but it was in just enough time for Joe to push them to the side - I could not have imagined trying to be still for so long with hair poking into my eyes. When you are still and quiet you start to perseverate on things like that. I had chosen to spend my time in the scan, praying to God, thanking Him for the attributes of my children. It was a precious time for me - focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of my children (and of myself in regard to the way I interact with them) and praising God for His creation of all 5 of my kids. It is something that I need to do more often. My mind was clear off all of my obligations and lists of things to do. I was vulnerable and open and was able to turn my fear into praise. Once it was over, I was starving - no food for 4 hours before the procedure and it had been several hours since I had gotten to the hospital. I was also exhausted - I have had so much on my mind that I had not gotten a good nights sleep and I had been without caffeine all day due to the scan. I did sleep well that night, but woke up with my mind racing the next morning. I was really good at turning it over to God, but I needed to work on not taking it back! Now I had to wait a whole week for my results. My dermatology office called to check in and told me to follow up with them immediately after my oncology appointment. Well, my appointment finally came this past Thursday, April 3rd. The oncologist walked in and the first thing he said was that my scan came back "PERFECT!" and that my blood work did too!! He diagnosed the lesion as Early Stage Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma with no indication of disease outside the skin. Thank you Jesus!! He was precious, truly precious with a great sense of humor and a wonderful demeanor. He explained it all to us and even did a quick exam before he released me back into the care of my dermatologist. He said that he wanted me to have the peace of mind knowing that I was okay. He reminded me of an silver haired Dave Foley (News Radio). We stopped off at my dermatologist (her office is in the same building) to give her the good news. We also discussed my treatment options which include radiation or surgery. The radiation is a commitment of about 10 visits with the potential for side effects and the surgery will leave me with a scar front and center and can possibly take more than one attempt. We also discussed the possibility of a Mohs surgeon, which is the option we have decided upon. It is a very precise surgery that will remove the lesion, formerly known as the nubbin, taking only enough skin to have clear margins and leave me with minimal scarring. With this procedure, only one surgery is needed to get all of the affected skin. I am not looking forward to it, but it is way better than what I could have been facing!! I have not been posting about this as it was happening and only sending out email updates to my closest friends because we had decided not to say anything to the kids until we knew for sure. Both of my oldest boys (and many of their friends) check the blog often so I just wanted to be the one to share my story with them first. Thankfully it has a happy ending!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Easter Activities

Easter Egg Hunt
Baskets Full of Goodies
Sam's First Easter Bunny Sighting

I am behind on posting and pictures, as usual. Part of the problem is the fact that we have about 5 different digital cameras and we do not always download them all at once. There is always one in the car, my purse, Russ has one, there is my favorite "takes the BEST pictures EVER outdoors, but don't even think about using it inside," and of course the good ole Digital SLR which takes great pictures but is a little too bulky for everyday. Here are some shots of Sam and Emma that we just downloaded....