Posted by: ME | September 7, 2015



My favorite verse that has gotten me through our own personal hells here on this earth…

Romans 12;12
Let your art keep you JOYFUL
Be PATIENT in your troubles
PRAY at all times

I really struggle through September every year and the fact that we are reminded every year anyway, makes it worse in some ways, better in others. Ashton was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia on September 15, 2000. September 11th happened when she was on chemo. Paul’s dad died on the 11th and was buried on the 15th of 2004. We buried my dad in September 2013. For some crazy reason, every September, Ashton has bad allergies that turn into infection and has us running to the doctor after long stretches of avoidance. Including this past week. And of course they all do labs, making sure it is not “something else”. I hate that constant elephant in the room at each and every doctor we have been to.

Amazingly, the exact type of leukemia that my girl had has about a 95% cure rate now. Doesn’t that sound great?! Yeah, it does sound better than the odds when Ashton had it which was 80%. Which I thought totally sucked. You get told, “oh, your child has a higher chance of getting hit by a car” and “this is the type of cancer you WANT your kid to have if they were gonna get cancer”. You think that the odds have improved by 15% since 2000 and how cool that is. To be perfectly honest, I think anything under 100% sucks. And yes, there are those with MUCH worse odds and want you to know that I am NOT complaining.

Our girl is still here.
It was not easy, but yes, I have seen worse.
She lived, as do others, but so many children died.
Her chemo regimen was hard, but I have seen MUCH harder. I have also seen easier.
Our bodies are all different and how each of us handles different chemos and radiation varies.
Ashton and other leukemia kids endure 2.5-3.5 YEARS of chemo. More if they relapse. If you are a boy it is longer. If you are a higher risk it is longer.

Watch a child go through chemo. Watch your child go through it. Parents and caregivers are helpless. That helplessness is what drove me to explore complimentary options. I do think those complimentary options helped her -not all but some.

I may have shared this before but I am going to share it again. i wrote a prayer in the form of a poem when she was sleeping one day in the hospital. She was about 3 weeks into chemo. My heart was HURTING when I wrote this and gave my girl to God.

“To Ashton Elizabeth on September 30, 2000

My heart aches at your every tear
My body numbs at your every pain
I fill with fear at every dose
I fill with HOPE that it does the job
My heart leaps when I see YOU
My body lightens when I see you smile
I fill with love when I am with you
I fill with JOY when you laugh

Right now these times come and go quick
it will get better as time goes by

Only God knows why you’re filled with this cancer
I guess, with prayer, we’ll know the answer
So, I ask of Him to give my baby strength
And me too, to go the length

With her by my side, my heart is full
If he wanted her back, it’s because she is so beautiful

But I ask not only for strength
I ask to keep her
So she will be HOPE for others
For all the sick babies
Their daddies and mothers

Love Mommy”



Posted by: ME | September 3, 2015

Making the Old, New

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

I know repurposing furniture and clothing is a trendy and sought after thing right now. It is popular to do or have it done by some mad skilled housewife and mom out there who has talent at bringing old stuff back to a new life. I personally love the mad skills of others and being a thrift shopper, it helps me to see purpose in old ugly stuff.

Many of us have witnessed some creative sewing at markets and on Etsy. Old clothes made into adorable purses, loved ones clothing made into quilts and teddy bears, and eclectic folk who can piece together an outfit from a second hand store and look like a million bucks.

Furniture repurposing is something my kids and I have dabbled in a little bit over the years. This past summer we had big plans to possibly try to make some money from, if not just make and use for ourselves. It is all experimental at this point. There is a place we live near that has well made used furniture that can be bought at rock bottom prices. We have also re-used some of our own well worn furniture pieces and have a bunch more we can play with(that UGLY tv table my husband insists on using next to his recliner). The first table I painted in spring is starting to have some chipping, which tells me I may not be so good at this, but I LOVE the piece and will be resealing it. I will NOT let it go.


This table is on our patio, or lanaias Florida residents call them. We bought four brown wicker looking chairs from Lowe’s to match. Those four chairs cost more than the table and paint, but in all, our new to us patio set was around $100.
My mother and her sister received a wicker bedroom set when they were teenagers back in the 60’s. This set was given to us in 2008 by my mom when my girls were wanting separate rooms. it included 2 dressers, a headboard, a cheval mirror, night stand, three mirrors, and a vanity.
because it was in her garage for years, it needed a little love. I cleaned it up and spray painted it a nice clean white. Like new again! My oldest used it for a few years and in her teen years decided she wanted to redo her room. One piece at a time, and a lot of love to used furniture, she had her shabby chic look and freshly painted walls. Some of the wicker furniture was displaced in to other rooms and even onto the lanai over the past five years.
She has a big closet, so one wicker dresser is still in use in there. My youngest daughter liked the wicker look so much that when another friend offered us a wicker set, we gratefully took that in too. Wicker overload! And now they want to use very little of it, so guess where it is going? Yes, you guessed right, back to my mom! She is moving to Tampa temporarily and needs temporary furniture for their apartment. Contract jobs! Gotta love when your momma is moving closer to you though!

This is my oldest daughter’s headboard that she distressed herself. She also distressed a nightstand a very pretty blue that I do not have a picture of.

Some pieces of wicker I took on to use out in the pool area. This was my moms vanity. I chopped the legs and painted it brown to match the other outdoor furniture….

I put this in between two teal blue adirondack chairs and under an umbrella.

I purchased an old and somewhat broken cedar chest from a friend and I am working on my first ever staining job for my daughters. Let me tell you. I bought the WRONG stain and it was detrimental to my new feeling about stain-to stain is a pain. I bought oil based. ICK! never again. I admit that stripping and sanding and staining is something I don’t think I want to do much of.Painting brings me peace, stain brings me to a place no one wants to see. It is a work in progress and I left it for a while I was so mad at it. All it still needs is new hardware(which will cause me pain and agony I am sure), the lid needs to be sealed and I need to put it back together(which will cause more pain because I am sure it will be skewed or something). I like the outcome, not sure about the lid(no pic but the stain was a BI*** and I am not redoing it) and hopefully it will bring someone joy. It will be going into my oldest daughters shabby chic room.


My daughter is going to make me a chalkboard out of a well made, heavy cabinet door she found for a dollar. I have a new spot in my room I have made into a desk area and could use a spot to write my To Do’s.


As far as clothes go, I will leave the bargain, and even some second hand, million dollar creations to my girls.

Funny how that verse fits many situations. I read it as when we die and go to heaven, we are new again. I also read it as when we go through a hard time, somehow, we hopefully come out a new person on the other side. Also, and more prominently, it’s about becoming a Christian. How everything we think and do and say and act, even the hard core rotten things we have done, old horrid beliefs we have had-GONE, when we DECIDE to accept Jesus in to our hearts, into our lives and starting having even that mustard seed of faith that He IS who He says He is. When you start to truly LOVE Jesus, and decide to pull the old dusty bible out(or get a new NIV/easier to understand one)to find out how to live our life (not to mention the amazing history)and put your AIM up High fail, and try try again…..daily.
THAT is the Ultimate Do Over.

I need Him, because apparently, I suck at a lot of things in my life.

Posted by: ME | July 14, 2015

What would I regret if I died today?

I’m on day 3 of reading Start by Jon Acuff. I bought it for my daughter as a supplement to her last high school credit ever, economics. So, naturally, I am reading it ahead of her(ha! that NEVER happens, especially when it is Shakespeare).

This book is one that I do not want to put down but in order to comprehend and process it all, you have to. That makes it sound like a hard read, yet that is farthest from the truth. It’s just that you need to do some pondering and thinking between chapters. In two days, I am about halfway through it. It is an exciting and hopeful read so far.

Acuff has a section in Chapter 4 (Learning) called “the plane crash”. He describes how he wants to have a safe plane crash so life can flash before his eyes. I get that. In a way. So he hasn’t had any life threatening experiences. It gives perspective.

I have had a couple life threatening experiences in my life and maybe that is why I get him on that point. One was me and the other, as you may know, is my oldest daughter, who had cancer as a toddler and on chemo until she was five. My life threatening experience was a post surgery dose of morphine, which apparently my body is just a bit sensitive to because it stopped. I stopped breathing. I don’t know if my heart stopped but the rest of me did. I will have to ask my hubby. He is the one who found me not breathing.
Moving on…..

Jon Acuff asks the question that leads this post and I found it interesting to consider this morning.

What WOULD I regret if I died today?

1. Not finishing a childrens inspirational book Haley and I have worked on in the distant past (like 3 years ago and more). I even have a self publishing name and had some cheap cards made up that have been in my closet hiding.
2. Publish a poem I wrote to my daughter when she was about 3 weeks into chemo- may just have in book from number one.
3. Paying off our school loans. First, because it is an EMBARRASSING amount of money that no one else needs to even stress over and second, I am so tired of that monkey on our backs and it is NOT going away unless something in this life of ours changes drastically. THE reason we are discouraging our kids from ever taking school loans! It did have a purpose though and got us through a lost income during those chemo days. I am so over it though. It makes my heart hurt.
4. Not going out of this country with my family. Whether it be a cruise just off the coast or someplace more exotic, I dream of the bluest clearest waters ever. I dream of seeing places together that we have only read about or seen in other peoples posts or on television. I want to see my kids faces when they share in seeing something like that for the first time.
5. Is private and has to do with last night and my husband, who I think is a cutie and an overall awesome guy. I know, TMI, but wouldn’t you have a similar regret if you DIED today? I just like SLEEP so much. And HONESTY, okay? whew- that is done!

Ok, so Mr. Acuff, next is on to my fears. I wrote them. All fifteen so far. Paul says it could be transformed into a Stephen King novel.
Not sure I will post those. Maybe when I mock them. Maybe.


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Posted by: ME | July 11, 2015


I’m sitting here in my den, sorta watching Girl Meets World on Disney channel. Our dogs are scratching at the door to go outside. My youngest (15) just had a heart procedure. My mother in law with Alzheimers is requiring twice a week lymphedema therapy in addition to our normal schedule with her. These sweet girls I bore are telling me their plans for the day. Well, one anyway. I just requested turning the now Hannah Montana episode to be the last thing we watch today in favor of pandora radio, their choice. My husband is off running errands for his mom, getting his hair cut, getting some pool supplies, and bringing me a caffeinated beverage on his way home. I have a headache. Its slight but there. And I am trying to write a bit.

Now the dogs are barking to come back in.

Life never slows down, does it?

My oldest girl, my cancer survivor, first baby I fell in complete love with, is going through all of the college motions and emotions, and dragging me along for the ride. Okay, so I am helping her. I am helping her possibly leave this family home for most of the next four years. I am encouraging her to live her dream, God willing, or I am helping her to possibly do this college thing closer to home. It seems like college is EXPECTED and that pressure is palpable. We have 2 goals when it comes to our kids going to college;
1. no loans
2. God guided. Meaning that we are going to do everything necessary to get the best funding and scholarships within our gifts and talents, and leave the rest up to Him. Number 1 is kind of incorporated into number 2.

Thankfully, my youngest is thinking that she wants to stay home. Literally. As in doing all college online from home. We know this is do able and in both cases, we will work together as a family to help our girls achieve their goals.

In the meantime, life is blowing by and to be honest I am slightly depressed.
I need to learn to invest in myself too. This past year or two I have been diagnosed with sleep apnea that I use a CPAP for, and I am just tired. In every way, physically, spiritually, and mentally, I am fried. I’ve learned that it wont be filled by anyone except myself. and in that selfish thinking, I know I have to lean on Jesus, Who fills all voids, Who carries these burdens, Who is the answer to my slight depression.

The problem I am encountering within myself is that I am easily distracted by all the noise in this world that I allow in. I used to find joy in reading a book, a series. more than once sometimes. Every night before sleep fell upon me I’d be reading. I haven’t been able to read a full book in the past 2 years. I start one and it bores me and it lays on my night stand until I try another and then the same thing happens again. At one point there was about 3-4 books on that nightstand just mocking me. I still read a lot, but its articles and short stuff. It’s Facebook and homeschool stuff. I read about photography and college stuff.

Yes, we are caught up in this moment with college stuff and its what I hated most about high school and one small reason I decided to homeschool. College was rammed down our throats since day one of freshman year and I was NOT doing that to my girls. I think there is more to life than college in those high school years. As I mentioned above though, it’s EXPECTED even of us homeschoolers and I am trying to swim upstream by not making it front and center of our lives. My oldest is racing down her own college path and even though I am facilitating it, she most definitely has me along for the ride. And I am proud of her for taking charge and proud of us for doing this together as a family. One friend mentioned that starting in high school, we should just teach to the tests because nothing else even matters. That is exactly the opposite of learning in my opinion, but she is right. It would make life easier, and as a homeschooler we COULD, but then what are we sacrificing? If you have a college bound kid though, time NEEDS to be set aside just for that. Or pay thousands for a prepatory class. Ridiculous.

Also scary is life slowing down though huh?
For me and my hubby, life slowing down means the future death of his mother, and our girls growing up and moving forward. I know things will be relieving and yes, we have done our job as parents in some aspects. All we wish and hope for is JOY in THIS moment. The future quiet is as disconcerting as the craziness of today.

The hubby and I both need prayer. We know how blessed we are, but the joy is hiding and all we feel is intense sarcasm in things we find funny anyway.

Just going through the motions.

Posted by: ME | February 26, 2015

Snappin’ Shots

For my 45th birthday this year, my sweet hubby decided to get the camera I have been eyeing and saving for.

(can I mention that I hate Windows 8- it keeps booting me out)

Anyway, I took a couple old school dark room photography courses in college WAY back when. I took the color film class and then the black and white. I have to admit that watching images appear on a piece of paper amazed me. I think I liked the darkroom emerging images better than snapping the pics I then had to mount and hand in. After that I pretty much didn’t use that camera again unless we were somewhere special. It was my dads Minolta 35mm. Nothing amazing, but it took amazing pictures.

When I was a young mother, I was not one of those super awesome crazy mommas who wanted the big 35 mm digital camera. Why? Well, between diaper bags, carriers and my own wallet that I threw into the diaper bag, I didn’t want to lug around something else. Hence, the wallet and no extra purse to carry. I was lucky to get my kids action shots with my little Kodak digital camera that my hubby gave me a few days before going in for #1’s C-section birth. My first digital camera. This was before cell phones people. Maybe the car ones had been out but I couldn’t afford that anyway. As time went on I wished for a smaller and smaller camera to tote around with the diaper bag. Through his job, at some conference, my husband managed to win a Canon Elph via the United Negro College Fund. Go figure (we are light skinned). So God bless the UNCF for that. I totally took this little camera over. It had a bigger screen and was tiny bitty. PERFECT for the diaper bag. With two little ones at my feet or in my arms, I loved it.


Now that my sweet little ones are now teenagers, and no more diaper bags necessary, I started thinking about getting a better camera. About two years ago, my hubby bought me a bridge camera. It was a Nikon Coolpix L810. It takes really great pictures but it is still fully automatic. It is a perfect camera to use in situations that you do not want to lug around bigger camera equipment.


After about the first year, I was unable to get the pictures that I wished to get with this camera and had outgrown it for the reasons I wanted a good camera. Knowing  what a decent camera could do after taking that old photography course, I started researching and began to save. I wasn’t looking to get the best thing out there, but I knew I wanted to stick with Nikon and my justifiable price range was $500-$700 max. I came across the D3300 and started comparisons with other popular Nikons out there in my range. I felt that this was the best choice, the best buy for my money, and continued to save. I work for Disney, and I work sparingly, so I expected to not get a camera of this caliber for about 6 months. While saving, I decided I wanted a red version of this camera, so I’d have to order it because my local BJ’s, Walmart, Target, etc had it only in black.

About 2 months has gone by since I shared this decision with the hubster, when he decided to just have me order it for my birthday gift. Yay!


I have had a lot of fun with the D3300 so far. I am relearning ISO(which used to be the film you used), Shutter Speed versus Aperture size and so much more! This is a whole new journey and I am excited to explore it all until I am confident with it. And not on auto. I didn’t buy this nice camera to just use auto mod~ although I am using it more than I like.

In my research about this camera, I came across this goofy dude, who has done a great intro for the camera that I bought……

Check him out…. very helpful.

Because I think photography is an art, I have not just taken one guys opinion. He has just been the most entertaining and helpful. I’ve been reading lots of sites about how to maximize the potential of this camera. I fail dismally, but I WILL get it. In the mean time, one of my favorite pictures that I have taken is on my header. (and no, Jared, I don’t shoot RAW yet, I am using JPEG -FINE)

Hoping to share as I get better and better photographs WITHOUT Photoshop. I’ll move on to that later, after I get more confident with this camera.


pretty rose my daughter grew, taken with my new camera (2/15)

Posted by: ME | February 25, 2015


simon art ladder

It’s been 5 years since our big move to Central Florida. The first year we lived here, we went home to the New Orleans area 3 times. our second year brought us home 2 or 3 times. Our 3rd year brought me home about 5 times due to my dads illness and eventual passing and my husband went home to move his ailing mother and help sell her home a couple of times. The 4th year we did not go home at all. Instead much of my family came to us for Christmas and that was a huge blessing. In this 5th year, the girls and I went home just recently for my oldest daughters oncology visit and to visit my dads gravesite, as well as enjoy a bit of Mardi Gras with my mom.

For myself, I still miss home dearly. It brings with it an ability to breathe a bit. My husband has some extended family and a brother in Louisiana, but his heritage there is dwindling, which makes me personally sad. His mother is here now with us. The bonds to Louisiana are lessening for him. My family is mostly still in Louisiana. My sister has since moved to Memphis. I still have my brothers and their families, and my mom, in southeast Louisiana. It’s a bit of a nuisance that I still pine for being in the area I consider home. But I do.

When my husband and I moved briefly to Plano, Texas, we knew that we’d move back home eventually. We had no plans for staying. it was a 2.5 year stepping stone for us. We had no children yet and my first was actually born there. We moved back home when she was 8 months old, knowing we wanted to raise our kids around family. It made it a bit easier in Plano, having a cousin and his family there to hang out with and celebrate holidays with. We lived pretty close to them. Those were fun years, but we always knew we’d head home eventually. We missed home very much and even in the short time we lived in the Dallas area, we had family in often and we went home once or twice a year. I’ve been to the JFK museum 5 times. Yes, the one with the grassy knoll, which is more just the hill on the side of the raised interstate.

In moving here, we knew it was an indefinite stay. There were no plans of stepping stones or going home unless we were visiting. We still feel that way but we do see one more move in our lives, and that is to wherever we decide to retire one day. I’m hoping our thoughts about heading closer to home, to more southern territory on the panhandle of Florida, are the same ones God has planned for us. It’s where we always thought we’d land anyway. It’s 5 hours closer to home and 5 hours from our happy place in Disney World. We’d still have access to Florida resident perks. Plus it’s where we honeymooned. Destin is where we’d like to land, if we can afford a condo or townhouse there when the time comes.

What is it about New Orleans? I mean, besides family and friends who I consider family. I do know why that is a big reason breathing is so much easier for me there. I feel I can brush off all of the STUFF we have going on here in Florida. That makes you wonder why I do the STUFF. Well, I see absolutely NO reason to live here without Disney passes. My girls have connected with a wonderful Community Arts group that I’m not sure would be at our availability at home. We have met some good friends, but also have had horrid learning experiences ending in tears. Other that this, I don’t agree with the older snowbirds in that it’s a desirable area to end up in. Sinkholes and bugs. Two of my least favorite things on this earth that I didn’t know about before we moved here. So, when I am home, I feel I can breathe relief that I will not be sucked into the earth unexpectedly, nor will I have to battle the sheer amounts of bugs and roaches that are outside(this being said, we exterminate and I am so appreciative of the chemicals, because it’s rare in the house or yard in passing). I LOVE being outside, but not here in Central Florida. I used to love camping, until I moved here. I’m even thinking of selling our tent and supplies. In Covington, Louisiana, I can be outside and even lay in the grass without fear of a “palmetto bug” in the near vicinity. I grew up outside, rolling down the levee and only fearing ants and ant piles. I now hate the outdoors unless I’m in the well exterminated areas like Disney. In Disney, you won’t get away from roaches in water areas though. Yes, there are bugs in southeast Louisiana, but not the size or amounts here. Why do you think everyone here has screened in porches!?

So, what IS it about New Orleans?

Growing up in River Ridge, along the levee, it felt quite like the running around freedom, within reason, that Tom Sawyer had. There were lots of neighborhood kids to have fun with and get into trouble with. Raising our kids on the northshore, in Covington, while not having quite that much freedom(the kids), our lives were a little utopian bubble. Our life existed around church and homeschooling and in the beginning, heading to Children’s Hospital weekly. We were encircled with Jesus loving people, all striving to live according to His Word. Utopian Bubble. Warm and loving, mostly. No place is perfect, we had our issues, but they were NOTHING to living in a place as diverse as this. We have grown and learned so much.

We lived about 40 minutes to an hour in any direction from family, which was perfect. We would get together for important events like birthdays and holidays, but not be in each others daily lives. Not much more utopian where family is concerned! I saw my mom, dad and sister every week or two. We weren’t too far for even the little stuff, like babysitting each others kids. Living near family is a huge blessing and we had the best of both worlds. Here is my crazy loving momma just a few weeks ago……DSC_0399

My mom lives in Metairie, Louisiana, where my sister used to live and where my husbands family mostly lives. Or used to. Metairie is not my favorite area but it screams “we are home!”. It’s where his momma and daddy lived. My mom , my girls and I were able to walk the 2 mile path at Lafrieniere Park where I used to walk with him in our younger years. Metairie is also where I worked, lived for a while, and went on most dates with my now hubby. We lived in our first apartment post wedding together there too. So, when I am in Metairie, it feels like home because my momma lives there.

Covington is where we lived. I could write twenty posts about Covington. I consider this our HOME. My sweet cottage home where my kids were raised. our first home we had built. Covington is on my Disney name tag. Lots of love for Covington.

Mandeville is where our church is. Right south of Covington. Spent about 3-4 days a week there. Being in the church, on it’s grounds, I can breathe. We have beliefs that are similar, we strived together to learn more about what Jesus wanted from our lives individually and collectively. What a family is Saint Timothy! It’s where I want my ashes(if not in the gulf). It’s the pastors I want to marry my kids. No idea if and how that would happen. My mother even wants her funeral there(she JUST told me this). It’s home.

In Bush, Louisiana, I have some friends who live in a gorgeous raised home on 5 acres. Wrap around porch, pasture with horses and a tire swing complete this country home. The family that lives there is so special to us. There’s not much I enjoy better than on her porch in a comfy chair chatting with my friend about life. Even though our lives are very different, and we live far now, our lives seem to align in strange ways. We both faced handling an elderly parent or grandparent at the same times. We both have similar friend issues at the same time. The only thing that has ironically not aligned, is when we feel we want to hole up and when we are so busy that we want to pull our hair out. So, we pull each other in and out of our circumstances- or try to. Ha!

My 2 brothers live in Franklinton and Prairieville. Both about an hour from Covington. Franklinton may be a bit closer.

Another beloved friend of mine lives in Timbuktu, oh, I mean, Angie, Louisiana. She lives on her own street named after her husbands family. It’s a peaceful place to visit too. My youngest and hers have been friends for a long time and continue their friendship even now.


Other than friends and family, what I love about home is real food, Mardi Gras, southern hospitality, St Charles Avenue, my dad is buried there in a typical crypt, all of the above and so much more.


my girls at New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood on St Charles 2/15

This became more of a NOLA love fest. But it is where I can breathe outside of the home I share with my family and a couple other friends homes here.


Posted by: ME | October 22, 2014

Life On the Other Side (post 2)

If you have a child that had or has cancer, you will completely understand these ponderings. It has been since March of 2003 since I have had a child on chemo, praise The Lord! I remember clearly though, us cancer kid moms chatting about how in the world we can discipline them appropriately.
I am a proponent of the spanking. Before you go wild and stop reading or want to read me the riot act, know that I think it should be done with love, not anger. I spanked my children if there was a safety issue being broached, or if, after the third time of asking my child to do or not do something wasn’t being done. I had never tried to reason with a two year old because they do not own that capacity. I am a firm believer in teaching them young, so that when the older years come, they KNOW how to behave properly. The boundaries had been set. Disciplining a child is the parents job only, no one elses. That being said, I did not spank often. I was NOT the mom who was leaving the store because my child couldn’t behave properly. I didn’t ask them to be angels, just to stop protesting and asking for things if we ventured into a store. I saved spankings for out of control moments that scared me enough to want to make a point. I was spanked as a child and I am NOT scarred from it at all. No more on that. Its biblical, so I will end there……

When your child is between the ages of 2 and 7, the times are so magical. Their imagination is at a peak and the dress up and pretending is at its max. I LOVED watching my girls dance around and play and get all dressed up like a princess. I imagined these days as whimsical and hoped my girls would have the childhood I wanted for them, the childhood my parents gave me. I played outside and climbed trees and we pretended we were on an adventure. I wanted my babies to be babies, not miniature adults. Learning was completely through play. You would never have found me trying to teach my children math games or sign language or sight words. They learned most of that through play. I spent my time encouraging this and helping them make whatever they needed for their play.

For my eldest daughter, my cancer survivor, these years were a tad bit blighted by the ickiness of chemo, so she says her whimsical years were between 5 and 11. Okay, while that makes me a little sad, I am glad she considers her later grammar school years like that. I have always felt this was stolen from her a bit, but I do believe in God’s bigger plan, and she was going to be alright.

For my younger daughter, she still lives in that fantasy land sometimes. I think living near Disney helps that! She was ten months old when her sister was diagnosed with leukemia. My baby learned to walk down the hallways of 4West at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans. I have felt such heavy guilt over the fact the our oldest required much of our attention when our youngest was a baby.

3 Reasons a Cancer Kid becomes the Center of the Family

1. ANC. If her neutrophil counts were below 500, you could forget going out of the house, or hospital if there was fever, or having visitors. That stupid blood count ruled our lives for 2.5 years. If it was above 1500, feel free to enjoy the world. Of course, within reason. You still had a cancer kid. Every Friday, we learned the neutrophil count and it would determine if we would go to the zoo that day or not, or a birthday party that weekend. It determined if we could go through a drive through for fast food or have flowers in the house, or wear a mask to get home. The ANC let us know if we could go to church that weekend or not.

2. Vaccines or illness in an immediate family member. She couldn’t be around anyone who had had a live vaccine for a few days. Once, our little one was in close contact with someone who had shingles, the virus that also causes chicken pox, which can be fatal to a cancer kid on chemo. After bringing our chemo girl back to the oncologist for a Vzig shot in each thigh, We had to separate our family into two for almost 3 weeks(something about incubation period). Paul went with the baby to my dads and I stayed in our home with our chemo girl. No chicken pox in either house showed up! More time missed with my baby.

3. Fever. Fever in either kid became the bane of my existence. I thank God it was rare for us, but it was enough to have become a big part of my PTSD. Think about how often your kids get fever above 100.4 when they are young. More than when they are older, that is for sure. In a kid on chemo, fever can appear even more often because it suppresses your immune system. Any fever of 100.4 or more landed us an automatic 2 day stay in the hospital. It also does random crazy things to your blood counts. I learned more about how fever and viruses and bacteria affect your body than i ever knew before. I kept a clean house. I bleached the tub and toilets DAILY. You seriously could have eaten spaghetti off of the floor behind my toilet back then. Now I am way to lax when it comes to cleaning. I did all of my insane cleaning back then. It’s over. My girl wore masks to the grocery store when her ANC was below 1000. I was that insane mom who completely wiped down the basket she sat in with clorox wipes that I had brought from home. The whole thing, not just the kid seat. I would never allow her to tie her shoes either. Where had those shoes been? poor kid never learned to tie shoes until she was 6. I sent her off to kindergarten with velcro Mary Janes.


My cancer survivor, today (2/15)

Posted by: ME | October 8, 2014

life on the other side

Life on the other side of cancer, or survivorship

I am going to do a series of posts on being the parent of a cancer survivor. i was thinking of completely making another blog for it, but i have, like, 5 followers,so I will do a series, like pastors do at churches.

As many of you all know, my eldest sweet 16 year old had leukemia when she was barely out of toddlerhood. At 2 years, 10 months, after a series of symptoms, we were told our sweet baby girl had cancer. Life changed. Family changed. Friends changed. Nothing was the same except the air we breathe and the sun and moon rising and setting. It was fall in New Orleans. The hospital overlooked the Mighty Mississippi and a loading dock. My girl learned quickly who “Thomas” really was with all of the trains heading in and out, stopping and loading. We lived about 40 minutes north of this Children’s Hospital, which is about 15 minutes from where my husband and I grew up.

I would like you to know that we went through NOTHING compared to many others and the fact that my girl is still here with us is no more a blessing than the children of our friends who succumbed to their illness. It is just different. I cannot bring myself to say we are more blessed than other moms and dads who have lost their children. Lucky isn’t the word I’d use for it either, as being a Christian, I have a problem with things being lucky. God GIVES us everything. However, I am blessed that God allowed me to have her here on this earth with me for a little longer. A LOT longer, I hope and pray. She and her little sister, who is not quite 2 years younger.


There are a few things that should be the center of our lives. For my family, here are a few things that should be our well balanced center (more on why I am stating these on my next post);

1. Christ. He should be the absolute center and reason for all that we DO. We wake up with all good and prayerful intentions and about half of our days go pretty well I guess. In Everything, He allows or denies it, no matter the carrier or circumstances. While many would say that the doctors and the chemotherapy protocols determined our girls survivorship, ultimately, it was the chemistry of her body, mixing with the chemo, supplements, nutrients, PRAYERS of family and friends, and mostly, HIS WILL. No matter how many supplements, naturopaths, complimentary therapy, organic foods, essential oils (which we did ALL) we did for her, it was utterly and completely in HIS Hands.

2. Our marriage should also be center. Without our marriage, our family would not survive. All of us know couples who have divorced, be it our parents, friends or family members. It puts people through a little/bit of hell, no matter how amicable terms are. So, for us(me being a daughter of not only divorced , but an annulled marriage) and for any other Christ centered couple with kids, put your marriage up there near the top! If it falls apart, more than just your life is affected. I get very nervous when I don’t feel everything is “”just so” between me and my husband, even if its nothing and we are learning that this is just a different phase in our friendship, intimacy, or whatever.

3. Our children. Ohhh our girls! Put them buggers up there too, but not as much as God and our marriages. So long as our marriages are healthy and strong, so will our kids be. In our home, we believe in discipline at a young age so that when they get older, the discipline factor isn’t so much one. Now, having mid to late teens is a subject that we are still experimenting with. please do not hold me to anything until we pass through these crazy hormone ridden years…. oh boy. THESE are the years our children NEED us, even if they roll their eyes and shrug you off because you know nothing. I think they need us more in their teen years than in the elementary years. Skip all that extra crap we go nuts doing for our kids in their younger years(ha! but those are FUN) and woah, BE there for THIS. And the thing is, you sorta have to force yourself in a quiet kinda sneaky brilliant way that they don’t notice. It is not a constant, but being aware of the tiny opportune moments. I will tell ya, I miss MANY. God GAVE us these beautiful children for a reason. There is a REASON that child is YOURS. There is a reason that you are THEIRS. God has that planned out perfectly. Our duty is to raise them so that when they finally LEAVE us, they are full functioning adults. I am still working on that. All in all, I actually really LIKE my two teen daughters, so far.

Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of The Lord”

Proverbs 29:15 “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother”

Deuteronomy 6:7 “You shall teach them (commandments) diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise”

4. Parents and family are sooo vital to our family. Recently having gone through my dad’s illness and death and my mother in law living with us for a while before placing her in assisted living, hubby and I are TIRED. We thought we could have her live with us, but dementia and Alzheimer’s are just plain TOUGH on everyone. One thing my husband and I had always believed and mentally prepared for, since our day 1, was to not ever put our parents in a home, and to always have a place for a family member in need. This broaches a whole other subject that I wont get into for now, but just cherish you moms and dads, no matter what rotten things they’ve done or how they hurt you(yes, there are circumstances that are just BAD for us to be around and those are excused). I find myself loving to hear about others going to see or spend time with their dads. I could not do life with out my siblings, and I absolutely LOVE keeping touch with the cousins I saw every Sunday via Facebook, etc. Make is work. Be the glue that mends brokenness in families. Suck it up. Forgive. Let it GO. It doesn’t mean you have to hang around them all of the time. Now I will go sulk in a corner while I eat my own words. We are all apart geographically now and oh how we miss hanging with each other on important days. At least most of us.

5. Going to church. I do not think you have to go to church to be a good Christian, but I do think you have to go to church, watch on line, or whatnot to make you a better Christian. Listening to a great sermon and experiencing amazing praise and worship music once a week among other people who strive for the same basic Jesus centered life is essential I think. This has been a struggle for me personally since we moved to Central Florida. I think I have blogged about it before. I do not love the church we have been going to for a few years now. I could take it or leave it. Most weeks, 95% of them, we get up and go and I rarely ever regret it yes, I have regrettably regretted about 2 services in my recent life). Terrible I know.
However my struggle is right now, I DO feel it is vital to center our week with a church service. It is like the therapy session you never knew you needed.

And last but not least, although I am not making it a “center”, is making sure you live your daily life amongst like minded families and friends. I feel strongly about raising my kids around other Christians, and easing them out into the world in their teen years little by little because ya’ll, it is amazing and scary and diverse out there, and our children need to know how to defend their faith AND live and work out there, without losing theirs. Yes, They may wonder and ask questions and even stray, and all of that is okay, because you have done your best at raising them in Jesus Christ and my hope and prayer is in that bible verse….

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he shall not depart from it””


My next post will be about why a cancer kid becomes the center, and oh so easily…….

Posted by: ME | September 22, 2014

An old draft I decided to post

A good friend of mine gifted to me a sweet little book- a devotional, actually- that has been a godsend to me this year. She has no idea but we are going through our second most crazy time in our marriage. First, you may know, was childhood cancer. This time it is a leftover of sorts from that time. We’ve been financially lightly “bleeding” since that time and even though we have fought the bleeding desperately, we have drained ourselves close to dry. And we are both a BIT scared. The devotional, called, “Jesus Calling” by Sara Young, has kept me hoping, head above water, knowing there is a peek of light in our future. I will share an excerpt from this devotional and tell you the craziness that has gotten us to this point in our lives. The short version anyway.

Ok, so you all may know from previous posts that our firstborn developed leukemia when she was two years and ten months. It was in 2000. We were thirty year old parents of two girls and this changed our lives. Our outlook. Our sanity. Our common sense when out of the window. We went through a multitude of emotions; my hubby being just plain old mad and me extremely overwhelmed and confused. We lost my income in that one day. I was an echo tech and even working part time, I did well. We had little credit card debt and a decent amount of school loans. I looked at God in EVERYTHING. I looked FOR God in everything. Yes, I saw Him quite often, but I am a selfish human mother and I took my child from Him often. I also knew, ultimately, His will would win over anyway- and I had to trust in that. Ouch. With the loss of my income, we faced other challenges too. We depended on my income. We weren’t the best savers, other than the 401K’s and for vacations. Vacations are my sanity. Actually, the idea and saving for a vacation- that is my sanity money and enjoyment. I LOVE going places. I love flying. So does my hubby, although travel with work has ruined a few things for him. We haven’t truly vacationed in years now, but that is another story.

We got rid of the cable and cut back on EVERYTHING. Except our grocery bill. That went up. Researching cancer, leukemia specifically, and all of the different chemos they used on our girl had me going down a whirlwind trail of organic foods and complimentary therapies. We did not care that we were using credit cards to pay for all of this because we just wanted our daughter well. I TRULY believe that most of the things we changed and did helped her get through those horrid treatments as healthy as possible. We not only did organic foods, we did the essential oils, the vitamins and herbs, and some kinda quacky testing that naturopaths suggested to help her. I caved like a sinkhole in Florida to most of the hair testing and electro-whatever testing that was offered. I JUST wanted her well. I realized the things that were quacky, mostly due to my faith in Jesus, and just did the things we felt were actually helping her. I WAS aware of money. I was an over the top desperate mother whose balance was somewhere between quacky herself and trying to live “normally”. There are people out there who PREY on mothers like me. I fell victim to one. The electro-whatever therapy person really freaked me out. I did not pursue her suggestions. it was a bad situation. While I was researching and running all of this past my husband, he agreed with it all and we moved forward. We kept on doing the thing we felt were helping. One lesson learned-I don’t regret what we did but I regret how we did it. Money wasn’t even a thought in getting her well. I also learned that some of the pursuing of this lifestyle was out of pure fear. God does NOT intend us to live in fear. That is written 365 times. I am no longer scared. We live with what He provides for us, but boy, it’s tough!

We also had about a 40 minute drive and tolls back and forth to the oncologist weekly and when she was hospitalized. There is only so many movies and crafts you can re-do, so we spent a lot of time purchasing things for our preschool aged girl to have for her hospital stays.

(Don’t get me wrong, we were blessed TREMENDOUSLY with toys and blankets and hats and socks, underwear and dolls and even food sometimes. Our family and friends really rallied around us and helped and prayed for her. Sadly, we were hardly a part of our church family at the time of diagnosis. My brother raised $1500 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in ONE week after she was diagnosed! I have a Caringbridge site filled with blessings)

My husband was in school for his masters. We realized we could roll our newly acquired credit card debt into a school loan he was already approved for. Looking back this was the MOST HUMONGOUS MISTAKE EVER. Back then, we thought it was smart, because the interest rates were so low. Who knew we would be facing this wall though? We thought by now we would be rolling in some dough. LOL! We not only did this mistake once, but twice. TWICE. Ten years have gone by and the balance has not barely budged. Now we are facing college in our near future for our beloved cancer survivor. She is an amazing kid. Normal teenager. Well, normal as can be anyway! Her sweet little sister is two years behind her. We forbid them from school loans. We will not even co-sign for one. If they get one on their own, we will be disappointed, but it will be theirs. We will help them with college to our best ability. They will not be on their own.

The thing about school loans is that if you ever have financial difficulties down the line, NO ONE can do a thing for you. You cannot bargain with them or renegotiate terms. You cannot get them to lower your monthly bill. Just to clarify, this is a private student loan, not a federal. They will not work with you at all.

We find ourselves here at the wall. Empty. Scared.

We have to live and move forward though. One thing cancer taught me was that you have to keep going, you have to LIVE. Time can be short and you truly have no idea what tomorrow can bring. How do you people balance this?!!??? Apparently, we did not do well. My husband makes a good income. We don’t roll in the dough though! LOL.
We used our 401K to help stay above water. We are now 43. How scary is that!?

On being scared; this is where the devotional comes in.

Picture Jesus sitting by you with His arm around you like a friend…

“Rest in Me , my child. Give your mind a break from planning and trying to anticipate what will happen. Pray continually, asking My Spirit to take charge of the details of this day. Remember that you are on a journey WITH Me. When you try to peer into the future and plan for every possibility, you ignore your Constant Companion, who sustains you moment by moment. As you gaze anxiously into the distance, you don’t even FEEL the strong GRIP of MY HAND holding yours. How foolish you are my child! Remembrance of me is a daily discipline. Never lose sight of My Presence with you. This will keep you resting in Me all day, every day”. (June 10th, “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young, based on 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and Psalm 62:5)

here is a link…..


How then, can we be sooooo scared of our future, or lack therof?

All I can think of is that we are human, we made mistakes that lead up to this moment and we question our new decisions. I read a great blog about this subject and his conclusion is that we will never find what we are looking for while we are so scared. While his post did not lead back to “giving it to God”, I interpreted it that way.

God bless!



Posted by: ME | August 20, 2013

Dear dad

Dear dad,

As you lie there in hospice I’m am thinking of you every day. Almost every moment. I remember things from my childhood and things from you living here with us mostly. You had years in between when I connected with you over our faith, but argued over our differences of “religious” choices. You were not the happiest of men during that time and for that I’m sorry for any grief I gave you. Truly, though, I never would have had it any other way. Our arguments spewed deeper thoughts about my faith and made me happier to be where I was rather than where I’d been. You see, because of you and the foundation you and mom laid for me, I have a relationship with Jesus.

The memories you and mom created for me in my first decade and a half of life were magical. Really magical for me. It was full of adventure. You taught me archery and slingshotting and shooting a gun. We were blessed to live on the Mississippi and had those woods back there to practice shooting arrows at trees and slingshot marbles at leaves. After reading Tom Sawyer in my adulthood, I totally relate to his adventures on the Mississippi. My friends and I went on many adventures back there. You taught me to pick blackberries but to be careful because of snakes liking them too. You even taught me how to use that snakebite kit you always had around. You didn’t know this but once we jumped barges. I even had my first kiss on the levee facing the Mississippi. Sadly and scarily, we also did dangerous things behind the levee you didn’t know about like any chicken in the floor waters when they rose up between the levee and the woods with friends. I’m glad we stayed safe!

I’m so glad I grew up the way I did. Our summer days and days off were filled with playing in the street when it flooded, having kumquat wars with neighbors, acting out battles with a hundred army men on the back patio, climbing my tree, reading and even eating up in my tree, swinging, running around and riding bikes daily. I remember when you built my club house, complete with mom making a pink Mickey mouse print flag to hoist up on it. It stayed there till it rotted!

We didn’t have a ton of money, but I didn’t feel a thing. Sometimes I begged mom for clothes in my early teen years and y’all worked it out the best you could. I’m feeling that with Ashton!
Our vacations always consisted of our camper. Mmmmm, that camper and its smell brings back awesome memories. You worked so hard for us. The camper had my favorite pillows for some reason and I sleep with the same kind still! I’m very picky! My favorite thing to do in the camper was take a nap, or lie there in the tent portion(it was a popup) with my pillow and unzip the window and smell the pine and fresh air and feel the breeze blow through. I WISH my kids could’ve experienced that like I did. Our cards were dealt a lot differently and we are doing our best, daddy. I’ll never forget our first Disney trip and it was in that camper. I know you disliked Disney but you and mom started my love for the place! Are you remotely shocked that God moved us close to it? I’m very happy that in your older years we could show you a different “view” of a Disney experience. I’ll never forget when you asked me if we had to pay to get into Wilderness Lodge. We were bringing you there for lunch at Whispering Canyon. I said, ” no daddy, it’s a resort. A hotel!” You were so enamored by the grandeur and it was totally your style. It’s why we brought you there.

You also taught me that sometimes our plans aren’t the same ones that God has for us. I know in your heart you wanted to live a life as a priest for a while. You did everything in your power to accommodate that. I think you could’ve lived happily in a monastery in peace and quiet if it weren’t for your family! I was so glad you didn’t become one though. I know that may sound mean. But daddy you have 4 kids and was married to mom for 18 years! I also know in more recent years you felt a little like Job. Even though your life didn’t reflect Job’s misfortunes, I know you felt like you lost so much and that was your connection. I can totally feel ya on that one lately, and I’m also thankful God hasn’t allowed Satan to take any of the family.

I also know your reverence for Mary. Although I never understood your degree of love for her, I do get it. I often thought about her pain watching her child die a horrific death when I was watching Ashton go through two and a half years of chemo. That was hardly bearable and she is still here with me. Mary was close to my heart back then. I’ve just come to believe that I can go straight to Jesus with my prayers and praise. He is the way to heaven. I know He is who you will be going to see soon, and due to your reverence for His mother, I’m sure she will be by His side to welcome you Home.

So thank you daddy. And momma too. Thank you for making sure my momma was at home with us. Thank you for giving her to me. How I was brought up in my younger years is who I aspire to be for my own family. It was so important. I am ever thankful mom was home with us. I married someone very different from you but just as wonderful. We are trying hard to bring that life to our own kids, in our own way. Anyway, I hope I’ve made you proud.

I Love you always and will miss you dearly. So glad we had the time with you that we did. So glad that you shared your love of archery with Haley. So glad you had a group of Catholics come into lay hands on Ashton before I even believed in that. I’m so happy that you have been able to see my kids reach these crazy teen years and love your smile when it comes to Haley. She always made you smile. I’m so glad my girls had you, another family member besides Paul and I, at a musical production of theirs here in Florida. That meant a lot to them. I’m even so glad that we needed to bring you to Mass every weekend. That brought back memories of their own. I love the smell of incense. Love it! I loved spending a breezy Palm Sunday out front of the church waiting for you listening to mass and praying alone after they turned the outside speakers off. I was actually disappointed when that happened. I couldn’t find you inside, so I sat outside.

Love, Lori

PS I might even miss you shaving while sitting on my sofa and every time NCIS comes on I will cry.

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