Thursday, December 31, 2015

Favorite Things I've Discovered In 2015

You know me I love to talk about my favorite things and to share them with others.  This year I think I found some of my most favorite things ever.  I'm getting old you know so I'm into finding things that help me look younger.

1.  Mom gave us corian cutting boards for Christmas last year.  It has been one of my most favorite kitchen accessories.
2.  Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic Vinegar which I get in MVY from LeRoux.
3.  Perfekt make-up products.  They typically have trials on their website which is what I started with.  I put the Skin Perfection Gel on after I my moisturizer and it keeps my makeup on all day.   I also love their Eyebrow wand and Maskara
4.  Maskcara Cosmetics  thanks to Aubrey, have made me look younger because I've been taught how to HAC.
5.  Aubrey also introduced me to MAC eyeshadow primer.  It keeps my eyeshadow on all day.
6.  Princess of the Midnight Ball was probably one of my most favorite reads of the year.  But I also loved these, Serafina and the Black Cloak The Wedding Dress
7.  Ivan, my new Sante Fe, oh how I love my new car.
8.  Vera Bradley Back Pack
9.  My go to afternoon snack is Pure Protein Bars
10.  IPSY I love getting a package of beauty products in the mail each month.  It gives me something to look forward to.
11.  My favorite movie this year by far was The Longest Ride, of course anything by Nicholas Sparks is my favorite.

Top 15 Moments Of 2015

When 2015 started out I definitely wasn't expecting another ovarian cancer diagnosis.  It was quite a shock, but I've done the best to enjoy life even under the circumstances I have been given.  Even through it, I can always find wonderful things that I love.

Of course I have many favorites from this year, but I'll just give you my top 15 and in no particular order.

1.  After what seemed like forever, over 3 years I finally was able to move my "stuff" from a storage unit into an apartment.  Oh, I thought I'd never see the day, but I am so happy to finally have a place again to call my own, even if it is much smaller than my house.  I love where I live and feel that I was specifically suppose to move there.  I have an amazing ward who has taken great care of me.  I've especially loved having my friend from High School move just behind me.  Speaking of my house, it was nice to finally sell it and not have to worry about it clear across the country any longer.

2.  It was fun to have mom, dad and my sisters visit in February.  I so much enjoyed going to Mexico and Disneyland even if it was only for 1 day each, while they were in town.

3.  Finally being an employee of EMP again has been wonderful, even though I've been away from work longer than I worked.  I'm grateful to be part of this amazing company and for the support they have given me as I've unfortunately been off while having chemo again.  I look forward to returning hopefully March 10.

4.  Mom's 60th Birthday Party was such fun.  It was a joyous occasion to celebrate such an incredible woman.

5.  I've had several visits with my friend Aubrey this year.  Each have been memorable and relaxing.

6.  The first annual Teal Diva 5k which I did with many of my dear friends from Charlotte meant so much to me.  I was ever grateful for Tenielle and Pamela to come as well, even though it took them many hours to drive from DC.  It was fun to show them some of my favorite things about Charlotte too.

7.  Of course my time in MVY is always at the top of my list.  I wonder though if I'm jinxed, because every time I go there something crazy happens (like being diagnosed with OVC).  However, I was grateful to have the best care from the top OVC doctors in the country.  I so much enjoyed all who visited me in MVY.

8.  Of course it was sad to have Grandpa Young and Grandpa Randy pass away this year, but I'm ever grateful for the time I was able to spend with my family because of their passing.  I belong to an incredible family.

9.  I loved being home for a few weeks in July to have lazy swim days with my nieces, nephews and friends, even if it was because I had to start chemo.

10.  Disneyland for an entire week with my family was of course the highlight of the year.  What fun we had being together and making memories.

11.  The Young Family Halloween Party never disappoints and neither did this years.

12.  I loved when my friend Jenny visited Phoenix in January.  By far one of the most fun I'd had in a while.  I so much enjoyed hiking in Sedona with her.  It is beautiful and we were brave to climb up the scary mountains, but the views were worth risking our lives.

13.  Passing my boards after studying for them over the past year feels very invigorating.  Thankfully I don't have to take them again for 10 years.

14.  Spending a week in Charlotte in December and seeing so many of my friends was awesome.  I know I say it often, but I have the best friends ever.

15.  Being home for the past almost 2 months has been wonderful.  The only thing great coming from OVC is that I didn't have to stress about having to work the holidays.  It was nice to be home during chemo treatments and to have my mom take care of me.  She worries about me more than I worry about myself for sure.  I'm so grateful that I've been able to have treatments in MVY, Phoenix, and in Boise.  May the coming year be without chemo and cancer.  My CA-125 was 25 last week and I'm hoping in the coming weeks it is in the teens.  It is my hope to finish chemo February 9.

Bonus:  Tuesday after chemo we made gumbo and then
 yesterday my friends from High School came over for lunch.  (Gumbo is always best the next day so make it a day before you serve it.)  It was so fun to see them and to catch up.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Grahams Blessing Day

Today Graham was blessed at church.  He is such a cutie and Troy gave a beautiful blessing.  We tried to get some pictures of the kids because mom had bought them all matching outfits, but you know there is always one who won't cooperate.
 We didn't plan on wearing black and red this day, it just kind of happened.
 Graham sucks his thumb and I think it's darling, even though his parent's don't.
 The kids like playing uno these days.  Aren't they so cute?
 I will admit this is a rather funny picture.  I was half tempted to put it on FB because everyone always put's the perfect pictures on there and we all know there's no such thing as perfection.
 I'm hoping that Becky got a better picture with her fancy camera than I did with my iphone.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day

We had a lovely snow storm which we woke to on Christmas Eve.  It's the perfect time for snow.

The day was mostly spent stuffing bags for the kids from Santa and prepping our song for the family Christmas Eve program.  Tony and Tanner sang Christmas in Heaven and I played the fiddle.  It was beautiful and I'm sure Grandma and Grandpa Young were somewhere in the room listening in from Heaven.  My grandma always put together amazing cookie platters that she sent home with us on Christmas Eve.  This year we all brought goodies and made the plates.  Everyone loved them too.
Of course we always open our Christmas Jammies.  I really loved mine this year.
 And Grahams were super cute too.
Christmas morning was very relaxed at our home.  Us single kids didn't get up until 9:30 and then we sat and talked for an hour before even opening presents.  We didn't eat breakfast until 2:00 when the kids joined us. 
The kids came with their new presents.  It's funny that Kadyn and Gavin are playing Battleship, which I use to play with my friend Jenny when I was their ages.  The kids all got a Disney stuffed character from Grandma to remind them of the fun time we had at Disneyland this year.
We have some funny people in our family, I'm sure just like everyone else, which you can tell by the photobombers in the background.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Poet

Apparently I'm a poet and I guess always have been but didn't even know it!

My mom was cleaning out my childhood closet and found a poem written in my handwriting about my relation ship with Tenielle.  I don't remember when I wrote it, but I do vaguely remember writing it.  For Christmas I typed it up, put it on velum and then put a picture of Tenielle and I behind it when we were little.  Here is the poem I wrote for my sister. 
My Sister, My Friend

When we were only little girls
So many years ago
We would have given anything
Just to see and know

A picture of our future
The outcome of our lives
To see ourselves all grown up
Being women, mothers and wives.

And when I think of whom we’ve become
And how very far we’ve come
I think of the beginning
And where we started from.

We’ve shared so much through
the years you and I
Our rooms, our clothes
And the last piece of pie.

Our hopes, our dreams
Our most secret wishes
Vacuuming, dusting
And doing the dishes.

Sharing these times while growing up
Before we had homes of our own
Back before call waiting
We’d fight over time on the phone.

I would tell and you would yell
We pulled each other’s hair
And through it all…eventually,
We both learned how to share.

Since then…We’ve never stopped
Through so many years
We’ve shared the good times and the bad,
The laughter and the tears.

For hours and hours
We would play
things that kids
don’t do today.
Remember our horses made of sticks?
They ran so fast and did neat tricks.
We’d tie them up at the end of the day
To be sure they didn’t run away.

Honorary musketeers
That was you and me
Back before Nintendo,
VCR’s and MTV.

We’d pretend to be mothers
And play house with our dolls
And sit for hours playing jacks
With daddy’s golf balls.

I can almost see us
Standing side by side
On the first day of school at the bus stop
When your new shoes hurt so bad you cried.

And then again on our wedding days
When we took turns as the bride.
At the nursery window when our babies were born,
We stood hand in hand and side by side.

Being a part in each others heart
For all the occasions of time
There to share all the moments
All of yours and mine

So here we are
How far we’ve come,
From way back where
We started from.

Still sharing our dreams
And our most secret wishes
Vacuuming, dusting
and doing the dishes.

Sharing this life
From beginning to end
With you as my sister
and very best friend.

For Christmas my aunt put together a book and so I wrote a poem about Sunday's at my grandparents.  

Sunday’s Evenings At My Grandparents

Sunday evenings are the best
Because it’s time for our Young family to meet at the nest.

The circle of cars that I see from afar
Means the dum dums must be stuffed full in Grandpa’s Lollipop Jar.

Arriving at their yellow stone home on 37th street
It’s for sure another Sunday evening won’t be beat!

We open the little latch of the front gate
As we smell Grandma’s roses or her purple and green grapes.

Grandma has gone all out with her holiday decorations again
Reminding us of each season before, now and then.

With a fire crackling and cousin’s mingling
We’re ready for a few of Grandpa’s jokes and a Diet Coke (or Pepsie).

It’s time for applesauce cake and to fill your cone with selections of ice cream
While we enjoy eating outside with our cousins on the swing or the trampoline

We catch up on the latest news of family and friends
And are bummed when the festivities of the night are about to end.

Grandpa sings a few songs from his favorite band.
And we never leave without a few lollipops in our hand

With a love ya love ya and a kiss on the cheek
We yell back, “We’ll see you next week!”

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve Poem

For the past few weeks I've thought about writing a poem about my memories of Christmas Eve, but I've been a little (or a lot) occupied with studying for my boards.  Christmas Eve is the one day that our entire family.  I have many fond memories of Christmas Eve's at my grandparents home. Our family out-grew grandma and grandpas home several years ago and we have since been having Christmas Eve at a church to accomedate the 100 or so family members who attend each year. Yesterday at 5am I woke with the first few lines of a poem in my mind.  I got up wrote them down and then layed back down.  A few more lines came to me and I repeated what I had just done.  Finally I got up and started writing.  This is really what Christmas Eve means to me.
-->Christmas Eve
I know it's Christmas time,
Just as the bells begin to chime.
When from Garrity BLVD I spy
House Number 913’s lights aglow against the winter sky

The fire is crackling and the tree lights are glowing.
As we arrive it starts snowing.
Grandma and Grandpa in the kitchen are rushing,
I see them sneak a kiss and now I’m blushing.

Grandmas outdone herself again
As Santa and his reindeer are hanging in the den.
Christmas decorations all surround me,
Above the wood box hangs the candy cane tree.

The smell of Grandpa’s turkey roasting
Means Grandma and Grandpa are again hosting
Christmas Eve dinner
Which is always a winner.
Cousins, aunts, uncles and friends gather.
There are few places to sit, but being together is what really matters!

Near time for Grandpa’s welcome and a blessing on the meal,
The Christmas Spirit is definitely real.
We won’t forget the Christmas punch
Because we all love it a bunch.
Plates piled high with turkey, salads and stuffing,
After eating so much I’m going to need to go running.

Our annual Christmas program begins
With Joy To The World played on the violins.
The Christmas story is read and preformed by our children dear
Allowing us to feel that our Savior is surely near.
First Mary, Joseph and the sweet baby Jesus,
Then Angels, Shepherds and Wise Men greet us.

We sing a Santa song or two.
Hearing his bells jingle and on cue,
With a ho, ho, ho he appears in hand, his bag filled with candies
And our traditional Christmas Eve jammies!
Sitting on his lap I whisper to him bring me ski passes.
Behind his white beard and glasses,
Santa looks like someone I know,
I think it’s Mr. Tomlinson from just down the road.
The grandchidren are now dressed in their footy PJ's
When Grandma appears with our Christmas Eve plate of her homemade goodies.
Snow is now fiercely falling to the ground
It’s time to go home, the car horn sounds. 
We hear love ya love ya and hurry back now!
We’ll see you tomorrow after the roads are plowed,
When we make our Christmas Day rounds,
Of course after we’ve rested, but not sound.

This year however, it’s different,
As Grandma and Grandpa’s life on earth is finished.
The house is dark
And we miss their spark.
But if they were here they’d surely stand up to say
With a tear in their eye, we have the best family and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Hand in hand, memories clear and bodies mended,
Just beyond the moon they’ve descended!
Looking down and joining us in spirit today
Our angles with us each and every day;
Grandpa Read and Grandma Kaye!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December Update

I love December.  I don't love the cold, but I love an occasional snow storm, fires, hoodies, herbal tea and blankets.  But most of all my favorite thing about Christmas and December is the music.  I don't think there is anything that invites the Christmas spirit than music.  I've been listening to Christmas music for months and I'm not one bit ashamed of it. 

After having chemo on 11/30 I spent a few days on the couch enjoying all of the above mentioned.  And then mom, dad and I got in the car and headed to Salt Lake City.  SLC has to have the most beautiful lights of any city.  That evening, even though I wasn't feeling 100%, we met the kids at the Cheesecake Factory.  While waiting for our table in walked a guy I was friends with on FB but hadn't met in person.  This guy was the one who made the incredible piano cd for me that I listened to nearly every night when I was diagnosed with OVC 2 years ago.  What I didn't know was that my sister had invited him to have dinner with us.  What he didn't know is that he was going with us to the Jim Brickman concert.  These were great surprises for both of us.  I was even more surprised when he handed me a cd that he had made for me with some of my favorite songs which my sisters had informed him of.  I love this cd just as must as I love the other one.  What an amazing pianist he is.  I'd even say he is just as good as Jim or better.  The concert was an early Christmas present from mom and dad.  We all enjoyed it so much.
The next day I spent a few hours chatting with my friend Shelley M and later that evening with my friend Jenny.  I know I've said it before, but I've been blessed with so many incredible friends whom I just love. 

Saturday morning I flew to Charlotte for a week.  I love my friends there and tried to see as many of them as I could.  Nick picked me up from the airport and we headed downtown where we met Rachel and her aunt for dinner at LaPiano's.  We later attended the Charlotte Symphony's Christmas Concert, which is a tradition that Nick and I have.  It didn't disappoint as usual. 
Nick dropped me off at Laurens where I stayed for a few days.  Sunday we attended church where I got to see Mama Middlebrook and other friends!  We had dinner with Laurens in-laws and watched the Panthers win yet another football game (they are now 14-0).  We are all hoping they go to the Superbowl. 

Monday my friend Michael stopped by for a time and then we met another of my friends from work at Amelies. Later that night I had dinner with other's that I use to work with.  I love these friends of mine.  We have spent many days, nights, weekends and holidays together.
The sweetest nurse ever did mention that I was a bad _ss when I worked in the ER.  I assured her that my time as a cancer patient has softened me and given me compassion.  However, I will admit that ER did harden me a bit.

Tuesday Lauren and went to see Emma's new house.  I love it!  She has totally remodeled her new (older) home.  It is so cute and she is so talented.  We also did a little Costco shopping. 
That afternoon I went to Nicks and we had dinner at his grandmothers who made us a lovely southern meal.  So yummy.
Wednesday Lauren and I hit the mall.  I bought a darling, fancy red dress for an upcoming event at Tj Maxx for 20 bucks.  Talk about a steal.  We then hit Vera Bradley where I hit the jackpot of course.  For lunch we had to visit my favorite Sushi place of all time.  I was in Heaven.  Lauren has introduced me to sugar free lemonade from Chik-Fil-A.  I can't get enough of it and lucky me there is one down the street from my house in Phoenix.  Is sugar free lemonade better for you than Coke Zero? 
Wednesday night we had our cooking class.  Oh, it was such fun and we made some delicious food.  I'm even going to try my hand at the pork roast for Christmas dinner.  We did have a flop with our cream puffs, kind of disappointing, but the recipe was all in weight not cups. 
Thursday we had lunch with more of our girlfriends.  Yes, all I do with my friends is eat and chat.  What else would we do?  That evening I stopped of for a chat with my friend Angela and then went to a RS activity and visited with more friends before Nick came and picked me up from Laurens.
Friday I studied most of the day and then Nick and I had dinner with Steve and his wife.  We had such a lovely time catching up.  We also went to the church where they had several nativities set up and live music. 
Saturday I went to the Ovarian Cancer Survivors Luncheon.  It is always fun to meet up with other survivors.
Sunday Nick and I visited grandma, went to church and then it was time for me to head back west. The weather was so nice the entire time I was in Charlotte, like 70 degrees.  I think the tree's were a bit confused at what month it was because I saw a tree in full spring bloom.
Last Monday I had an appointment with my surgeon.  He informed me that my gallbladder was chronically inflammed; really?  He did let me know there was no sign of cancer from what he could see with his scope; Hooray. 

Tuesday I took my recertification boards and was for sure that I bombed them, but yesterday I got my results that I passed.  Thank you to prayer and define intervention.  I actually did the best I ever have on them.  I don't have to take them now for 10 years. 

Tuesday I also spent time with Alisha and had my hair cut.  It is really cute and finally feels like a real style after 2 years.  I was getting tired of the mullet so I cut it off. 

Wednesday I had chemo.  My CA-125 was down from 37 to 32.  Only 5 points and kind of disappointing, but I'm hoping that next week when I have it again that it will be in the teens so that I will only have 4 more treatments left.  I'm not sure why but the last few treatments I haven't had any energy and have been so crazy tired.  I'm tired of all this chemo and cancer.

I did ask Dr. Dan if I could go back to work in January.  He told me no and that he didn't want me going back until the second week in March because of flu season.  I'm going to try to convince him otherwise.  I'm hoping he will let me work a few hours a week and only see trauma patients.  I have an email into him, we will see.  For my mental sanity I need to go back to work.  I miss it and the incredible people I work with. 

And this week, well It's going to be a great week when everyone finally gets here.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Thanksgiving Recap

I flew home to Idaho November 19 and haven't been back to Phoenix since.  I'm missing the warm temperatures there, but I'm enjoying being home.  In celebration for my birthday I had breakfast with friends that I grew up with.  It was fun to catch up.
 Tenielle's friends Chad and Bonnie sent me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers.  I have never met these friends of Tenielles, but it was so sweet of them.
 Troy's kids had their Primary Program on my birthday.  It was fun to watch them sing their little hearts out when they knew the words at least.  If Becket didn't know the words he would sit down.  It was kind of funny.
 My gallbladder surgery went wonderfully well and there was no sign of cancer in or around the upper sections of the abdomen from where the surgeon could see.  I felt better the next day without that chronically inflammed gallbladder in me.  I've pretty much healed from surgery, a little sore here and there but nothing that is too bothersome.

Tristen and her family surprised us Thanksgiving morning.  It was such a fun surprise.  We had a very relaxing Thanksgiving holiday. 
 The kids are getting old enough to play games.  They really enjoy playing Sorry and Uno.
 Bridget always gets spoiled with chocolate for breakfast when she comes to grandmas house.
 Tristen the dental hygienist is always bound and determined to get her children's teeth brushed, even if it is in the front yard.  I thought this was pretty funny.
It was extremely cold and because of the cold we only stayed out looking at the traditional Caldwell lights half way.  The kids were crying and everyone was freezing.
The day before Tristen headed back to Spokane we got into the holiday spirit by making gingerbread cookies.  Yummy.

We had a little baby sprinkle for Becky and their new baby. 
Graham Lee was born on 11/30 weighing in at a whopping 10 pounds 6 ounces.  Such a cutie.  The funniest was that Troy fainted as he was being delivered. 

And here he is at 1 week old.