Friday, February 5, 2016

Is there purpose in tragedy?

I know I haven't blogged in a while.  It's been more than an challenge to balance life and work and thinking of adding in blogging was just too much.  Not to mention, I didn't really have much to blog about.  I'm not sure many people really want to read about how I went to work, came home, made dinner, mothered, and went to bed.  I'm not a good enough writer to spice that up.

However, it's been a tough week and I have some things on my mind and feel like I need to get it out.  I thought about writing it in a journal or something but that just wasn't cathartic enough.

This last summer, Phil's aunt was diagnosed with Melanoma.  It was on her back and she had an outpatient surgery to remove it.  They checked a nearby lymph node, which came back clear and told her to come back for a 6 month skin check.  We exhaled a huge sigh of relief because the thought of having another family member go through a cancer battle just seemed too much.  Phil's dad may have passed away 2 years ago, but it still feels really fresh and kind of raw.

Then this past weekend, Phil's aunt (his dad's sister) went to the hospital because she had been really tired.  And long story short, there are three tumors in her brain.  She had surgery to remove one because it was pressing on her brain and the surgeon said it looks like the melanoma has spread to her brain.

To say that we are upset would be an understatement.  I mean, how much can one family go through?  His brother.  His dad.  Now potentially his aunt.  All within the last decade, all on the same side of the family tree.  And that's pretty much it for the family on that side.

I think it is normal when tragedy strikes to look for the "reason" behind it all.  Was it something the person did?  Who is to blame?  As people, I think we need to find a cause for bad things because it helps us feel like we can control our own destiny.

I know this happened when I went through my own cancer stuff.  I heard everything from "It's from teflon" to "you should eat organic".  For me, I found these comments really hurtful.  Like I was to blame for my own hardships and suffering.  It felt like I wasn't allowed to go through my own "this is unfair" grieving process because obviously I had done something to deserve this.

Not true.

But beyond the personal blame we try to rationalize when someone we know experiences tragedy, I think there is another level of "reason" we look for.  It's one of the main things I get asked as a Christian by atheists (aside from how as a person of science I can believe in a higher being which is a topic for another post):  Why would God let his people suffer?  Why does God let bad things happen to good people?

Which inevitably leads to my least favorite phrase of all time:

Everything happens for a reason.

Another variation would be:

God has a plan.

I kind of want to punch anyone who says those phrases in the face.

And as someone who has had cancer, it is a horrible thing to hear.  As I watched my father-in-law suffer and eventually die from cancer, the phrase was almost insulting.  Even two years later, discussing that phrase with my mother-in-law brings her to tears.

Let me use the example of my father-in-law.  I suppose we could try to think that everything happened for a reason.  That there was some life lesson we, as his survivors, were meant to learn.  But that puts our lives at a higher priority than Ed's.  Why is my life so important that someone else needs to die for my life to somehow improve or grow?  It's a self-centered view of the uncontrollable events life throws our way.

I think the hard truth of the matter is there is no reason.  Cause and effect, maybe.  But purpose?  No.  It's not that God is letting bad things happen to someone.  There is no purpose behind someone getting Alzheimer's or cancer.  There's no reason for someone dying tragically in a car accident.  No divine purpose.  God gave us all free will.  He gave us this life and said, "Go."  I think he tries to guide us.  But we aren't all on some predestined path.  That would take away our free will.

I think both of those phrases probably stem from Jeremiah 29:11 which says "'For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"  But I think that phrase gets misinterpreted.  Any parent knows that you can make all the plans you want for your children, but that doesn't mean that is how it happens.  I have plans for Henry to take a nap and often he lets me know he has other plans.  God's plan isn't set in stone.  It's His intentions.  He wants us to have a good life, but we have free will.

What God does do is offer to hold us up when bad things happen.  He looks at us and says, "I know you are hurting.  I am hurting with you.  And I am here to walk through this with you."  God never promised we would live lives free of pain or tragedy.  Grief is a part of life (at least if you are lucky enough to have people in your life you love and care about).

So now we prepare to walk through another cancer battle of a close family member.  I think an additional challenge for us this time is that it has brought up a lot of feelings and emotions from losing Phil's dad.  And just the unfairness of it all.  It seems so unfair that Phil has to go through another scare/loss so soon.  But there is no reason.  We live in a fallen world, full of tragedy and hardships.  And the best we can do it rejoice in the beautiful moments that life has to offer.  There is no light without the dark.  You can't feel the sun if you don't know the rain.  A day knows both daylight and dusk.  And other more helpful platitudes.

Friday, June 12, 2015

5 Things Friday

It was one of THOSE weeks.

I won't lie, it started off a little rough.  Phil went fishing on Saturday, which left Henry and I to run all the errands and spend the day together.  It also happened to be about the time that Henry decided to be a naughty boy.

Wouldn't listen.  Bit my face.  Ran away from me in public.  Wouldn't hold my hand in the parking lot.  Slapped me.  Temper tantrums.  Kicked me in the face.  Laughed at me when I cried out of frustration.  Barely napped.

And Phil was late coming home.

Thankfully I had a girls afternoon the next day, but it wasn't exactly enough.  And of course, while Phil was watching Henry during my girls afternoon, Henry ate lunch and then took a three and a half hour nap.

Phil's mom agrees with me that I deserve another girls day.

Here are a few more highlights from this week:

1.  Daycare has requested that Henry no longer bring his dinosaur to school.  And all of the other dinosaurs have been removed from his room as well.  According to Henry, the dinosaurs were eating the other babies.  Unfortunately, they weren't being very gentle about it.  And when I say "they", I mean Henry.

I completely understand why he can't bring his dinosaur.  It makes perfect sense and I totally respect daycare's request.  But a part of me is sad for him.  The first day Henry had to leave his dinosaur, he screamed "MY HENRY'S DINOSAUR" for about 5 minutes.

2.  Last night during dinner, Henry thought it was funny to chew up his food, spit it out, and throw it at me.  It was gross.  But I won't lie... I was slightly impressed with his aim.  The first time he did it, I was facing the opposite direction and he got me square in the head.

Phil and I turned our heads to laugh and then with a straight face, I told him we don't throw our food and told him to say sorry.  I should probably warn daycare about this one.

3.  It's almost sad that we have almost gone through a Costco box of Oreo's.  Ok, so in my defense we have had it for a couple of months.  Even though I am trying to have us eat a little healthier, I refuse to give up a few Oreo's a few days a week.

4.  Henry had a carnival at daycare last week.  Each teacher came up with a game booth and his teacher had a dinosaur fossil dig game.  Part of the decorations was a giant red dinosaur.  When we picked Henry up after his carnival, his teacher told us she wouldn't mind if the dinosaur disappeared in the back of our car.  Actually, she insisted we take it.  So we did.

Henry was excited, but a little upset that the dinosaur had to sit in the very back of the car...

More than a little upset.  He screamed "MY DINOSAUR!" the whole way home.

We are now the proud owner of a very large dinosaur.  Most of the time, Henry insists the thing is balanced on the coffee table.

5.  Henry used to LOVE going to bed.  We would lay him down and he would hang out in his crib for about 30 minutes before he fell asleep.  And he would sleep like 11 hours almost every night.  All of a sudden, Henry is protesting bedtime and naps.  It takes him an hour to an hour and a half to fall asleep and he promptly wakes up at 6:30 in the morning.  I'm not sure why the sudden change.  Is there such a thing as the 2 year old sleep regression?

The week wasn't all bad.  I'm super excited Orange is the New Black came out a day early (and I'm doing my best to not whole myself up inside for the next 2 days, watching it straight.  We have a low-key weekend planned which should be pretty relaxing.  And I am hopeful that this weekend will be better with Henry than last week.  Can't get much worse, right?

Happy weekend!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Diapers! Or shall we say... deals on diapers

One thing I discovered very quickly when I became pregnant is that I have some underlying hippy tendencies.  I didn't get to do the natural birth I wanted.  I did nurse for a year, but it wasn't without its challenges.  And that just leaves diapers.

I thought Phil would think I was crazy when I mentioned I wanted to use cloth diapers.  But he was actually totally on board.  My guess is that picking up after dogs has made him immune to the idea of cleaning dirty diapers.

After Henry was born, the cloth diapers were a little too big for his tiny body.  We waited a couple of months until he bulked up a little bit.  At that point, Phil's dad was starting to get really sick.  Between travelling to Virginia, Phil being back in Virginia, and just trying to figure out life with a baby, we used disposable for a little longer.

Then I realized that going out and about with all the cloth diaper stuff made the diaper bag HUGE.  So I decided we would use disposables when we were going places.  That pretty much left daycare.  And mostly because so many people thought I wouldn't last with the cloth diapers, I was DETERMINED to be successful with cloth (stubborn, party of ME).

So 4 days a week, Henry wears cloth.  Weekends and Thursday (when my mom watches him), he wears disposables.

We have made it 2 years, and I am guessing cloth diapers have saved us at least a few hundred dollars.  Henry moves up to the preschool-2 room at the end of the month, where they will start working on potty-training (YAY!  Another reason to love daycare- they potty-train for you).  But they mentioned that it would be easier with disposable diapers.

And I totally get it.  And whatever they need to help THEM potty-train him, I am ALL FOR.

So I have been on the hunt for the cheapest diapers possible.  I don't have time to be a crazy couponer.  I'm not driving around town to get the best deal.  I need quick and easy.  And here's a couple of deals I have found for Size 4 diapers (remember, the smaller size of diaper, the more diapers you get per box and the cheaper the per diaper cost):

1.  My extensive research has revealed that without coupons, Target has the cheapest diapers.  You can get a big box (using the REDcard) for about $0.18/diaper.  And let's face it, they don't need fancy diapers for during the day.

2.  Two words:  Amazon Mom.  Amazon Mom gives 20% off diapers.  If you get Huggies Snug & Dry (which I am convinced is Huggies most economical diaper), you can get diapers for $0.175/diaper which is basically the same price as Target diapers.  And they are delivered to your doorstep for FREE.  Pretty regularly, Amazon has coupons that you can use with the Amazon Mom discount, making the diapers $0.16/diaper.

3.  Random deals.  I was looking at Target's website a couple of weeks ago when I noticed that they now have a subscription service and they were offering 25% off Huggies diapers for your first subscription purchase.  That discount along with the REDcard discount made Huggies Snug & Dry about $0.15/diaper.  The only problem with that was they were running out of stock.  I bought 2 boxes of 192, one box of 156, and a box of size 5 Huggies Overnight (which is what Henry where to bed) for just over $100.  I think I saved almost $80 on 606 diapers.

Side note:  Of course, I didn't change the shipping address with Target, so they got sent to our old house.  And I started FREAKING OUT.  Thankfully, my brother knows the new tenant, so I was able to get all of my diapers.

The sad thing is that daycare changes their diapers so much that I think the 600 diapers I just bought will only last us 2.5-3 months.  But still, that is only $30/month and I won't have to wash anymore diapers.  :)

So there you go!  I feel like I did make cloth work for us long enough to feel good about that investment.  Plus I am going to bleach the heck out of them (throw the wet bags away) and save them for the next baby.  But this is how I am going to spend the least amount on diapers possible.  I feel like Henry is NOT going to be early to potty-train.  He has just had this mentality with milestones that he waits and waits and waits to do something until he masters it.  But I am hoping that we will only have to buy diapers for 6-9 months.  Wishful thinking?  Probably.  But I am happy with my delusions.

Friday, June 5, 2015

5 Years

It seems to strange to me to say that today is our 5 year anniversary.

For some reason that feels like a long time.  So much longer than 4 years.  Maybe it is because I probably can't call us newlyweds anymore.  Although I don't think we have felt like newlyweds in a VERY long time.

I just can't even believe all that the last 5 years has entailed:

-  Phil's dad's Liver Cancer
-  The PE Exam
-  Infertility
-  Thyroid Cancer (diagnosis, LID, RAI)
-  Cancer Free
-  A puppy
-  Getting pregnant
-  Having a baby
-  Losing Phil's Dad
-  Buying a house
-  Phil finishing his PhD

What's funny is that when we were picking out the song for our first dance, we kept going back to Steady as We Go by Dave Matthews Band.

And the basic message of the song is that no matter what happens, we'll get through it.  Steady as we go.  And that's exactly what the last 5 years have been.

I know everyone says it, but I really did get the best guy out there.  Through everything we have been through, Phil's been an absolute rock.  He works hard.  He's kept his focus.  He's kept us on track.  He's kept me going when I didn't know if I could.  He goes along with my crazy ideas.  He is kind (everyone likes him more than me).  Marrying that guy was, without a doubt, the best decision I ever made.

Phil, I'm so glad I followed you around at Ryan's birthday party.  :)  I love you!  Thank you for being amazing during 5 of the best and hardest years of my life.  Here's to 60 more!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Oh hey... A blog post! (aka Life Lately)

I'm not even sure when the last time I blogged was.  I could look, but I know it was A LONG time ago.  We took a family trip to Texas at the beginning of March and I don't think I have really blogged since.  I think the only person that noticed I haven't been blogging is my mother-in-law (Hi Faith!).

The truth is that I have missed it.  Blogging, that is.  I still read some blogs.  I still comment on some, but not too many.  I miss the outlet.  And I miss the community.  Towards the end, I was feeling discouraged because the community part for me wasn't as strong.  But it's just like anything, it always takes time.  One foot in front of the other.

So I am going to give blogging a go again.  But with a little less pressure on myself.  For the time being, here's what has been occupying my time for the last 3 months.

1.  Henry
No big surprise here.  He turned two and is now OBSESSED with dinosaurs.  And mildly obsessed with trains.

Of course being 2 means we are also dealing with some of this:

{This tantrum resulted because I got him the snack he asked for.  Obviously his life is horrible.}

And boy has it been FUN!

2.  Sickness
Despite the ear tubes, Henry has had 2 bouts with ear infections (1 in only one ear, the other in both ears).  I do think the tubes are helping him not be in as much pain, so I won't say they haven't been worth it.  Not to mention that the tubes mean we can just use ear drops for the treatment.  He's getting pretty good about the drops.

{The dinosaurs come EVERYWHERE with us}

We have also had the awesome opportunity of passing some stomach bugs and sinus infections around.  Gotta love daycare.  I have heard that the first 2 years of daycare at the worst.  By that calculation, we only have 4 months left of constant sickness.  Not that I am counting or anything.

3.  Work
Thankfully, work has been busy.  I recently made the discovery that my entire evening is much more enjoyable if I can get off work at 4:30 instead of 5.  That half an hour may not seem like much, but 30  minutes in the evening is the difference between eating at 6 and eating at 7.  Traffic makes that much of a difference in 30 minutes.  I actually get to see Henry and spend time with him now.  It is AWESOME!  However, between leaving earlier and being REALLY busy, I have been going to work as early as possible.

Like 5 or 6 in the morning early.  And that means early to bed.  It makes for not a lot of blogging material.

4.  Work
I've been so busy at work that we actually hired someone else.  In the long run, this is going to be wonderful.  I wasn't able to progress in my career because I was bogged down by work that I have been doing for years.  In the short term, training someone is HARD.  Mostly because I have to get my work done and check someone else's.  That means I am having to work even more.  Nights and weekends.  And it looks a lot like this.

{Memorial Day evening}

{Sunday afternoon}

Working in the sunshine was about twelve kinds of wonderful though.  I mean, if you have to work doing it outside with some iced tea isn't so bad.

In other work related news, I got a standing desk.

Actually, it is so much cooler than just a standing desk.  It is motor-controlled so I can either sit or stand.  Is it sad how excited I got about this?  Probably.

5.  Healthiness
A fitness trainer I know offered her workout program for free to her Facebook friends as long as we agreed to beta test it for her.  So far, it is so crazy hard.  I'm a month into it and already have noticed some serious changes.  I have 8 weeks left and I am already looking at purchasing a similar type of workout system when it is over to keep the changes coming.

And it is crazy how when you are working your butt off with exercise, it kind of makes you not want to ruin it all by eating total crap.  So I have been spending some time and energy figuring out some healthier recipes and cooking.  The bad news is that we spend more on groceries and I feel like I am constantly cutting up fruits and veggies.  The good news is that Phil has lost like 5 lbs.

So that's pretty much it.  I need to get my writing mojo going again.  I have a feeling this post was somewhat painful to read.  No fear, it's just like riding a bike.  Hopefully.

Friday, March 20, 2015

5 Things Friday: What the WHAT?!? Edition

So I may have taken a bit of a hiatus from blogging in the last month.  Life... it's busy.  And frankly, when you are working 45-50 hours a week, there really isn't too much to blog about.  The creative juices weren't flowing.  And I really don't want to fill my blog up with stuff just for the sake of posting.

The good news is that after A MONTH, I actually have some stuff to blog about.  And I figured what better time to start back up than 5 Things Friday.

This list is comprised of the shocking "SERIOUSLY?!" moments that have happened basically in the last week.  It's been a good one.

1.  I was at the ENT the other day (for a hearing test) and the doctor was giving my neck an exam.  What that had to do with my hearing, I have NO idea.  He starts at the top of my neck, working his way down, and vocalizing all of the things he feels along the way.  Lymph nodes, carotid artery, thyroid...


Me:  Um... I don't have a thyroid.

Dr.:  Ok, let's check again...

Proceeds to re-do neck exam, and when he gets to where my thyroid should be,

Dr:  Well, right here, I feel the cartilidge.  I just assumed you have a small thyroid.  It's not like you have cancer though.

Me:  I did have cancer.  Which is why you'd better not feel any thyroid in there.

Starts neck exam AGAIN.

Dr:  No I don't feel any residual thyroid tissue in there.

Yeah, I feel like I'm in such good hands.

This might not seem like a big deal, but if I have thyroid tissues, that means my cancer has come back.  So it kind of is a big deal.  In the past, this would have really freaked me out.  But I had an ultrasound and bloodwork done in December that showed NO thyroid tissue in my thyroid bed and the bloodwork showed NO sign of thyroid tissue (aka cancer).  But I honestly can't believe that it happened.

2.  Later that same day, I went to a committee meeting.  We have had these meetings almost every month for over two years, so when the meetings first started, I was fairly pregnant.  And if you recall, I was not a small pregnant woman.  I was one of those unfortunate, not cute, chubby pregnant ladies.  And I have since then lost all that baby weight.

Like a year ago.  So I was a little confused when TWO people said:

"You look really different since the last time we saw you!"

Granted we haven't met in probably 3 months, but I was a little confused.  So I asked, "Oh yeah?  How so?"

Response, "Well didn't you recently have a baby?"


And it would have been one thing if these were large meetings (they aren't) or if I was silent during the entire meeting (I'm not) or if it were just one person (but it wasn't).

I guess I should get rid of the shirt I was wearing.

3.  I'm not going to go into details on this next one, but let me just say this...

When you are interviewing for a job, it is probably best to NOT look down the employers blouse while shaking her hand good-bye.

Just a piece of advice from me to you.

4.  I was taking a drink of coffee and missed my mouth.

{Don't worry... we won't really have people sleep in the kitchen}

Can we say "Professional?"  I suppose it could be worse?  Like I could have dropped chili on the plans.

5.  My family was together a few weeks ago and I casually told a story mentioning that I had baby fever.  Here are some examples of the response I got:

"Not yet!"

Downcast stares with a subtle head shake.

At least one person looked at Phil and said, "No."

I'm probably the ONLY one left in my family that will have kids, so this reaction surprised me.  They all LOVE Henry.  And I'm pretty sure I didn't get a say in their family planning.  It just seemed like a strange reaction.

I mean, look at Henry:

He's so cute!  Obviously we should have like a dozen more babies.

So hopefully you have a good weekend and nobody says (or does) anything weird to you!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Recipe: Tomato Salad

I'm not a good cook.  I can't whip up a recipe off the top of my head.  And truth be told, I didn't come up with this one.  My sister-in-law made it once when we were over for dinner.  And I was HOOKED.  What's make it even better?  It's healthy and it is SUPER easy.

Tomato Salad


Sunburst Tomatoes
1/2 can of Black Olives
1/2 container of fresh mozzarella  (I got these Chiliegine from Trader Joe's)
Olive Oil

1.  Cut tomatoes in half.

2.  Cut olives in half.

3.  Cut mozzerella into similar size pieces (depends on what size of mozzarella you get).

4.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and stir

Seriously, I could eat this whole bowl for an entire meal.  I've made it at least once a week for the past few weeks.  It is SO GOOD!!!!
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