Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My Battle with Cervical Cancer

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. 

Yes, yes, I know, it's not January yet... But Christmas is fastly approaching and soon the new year will arrive!
And when it does, I want you all to remember that the first month of 2014 is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. 

Why share my story?
Awareness: if my story helps someone get their annual exam or helps someone through their fight, it will be worth it. 

Cervical Cancer is caused by something so common, by the human papiloma virus, better known as HPV. 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, with 14 million people become infected every year. The CDC even says that it is so common that almost every sexually active individual will have some form of HPV in their lifetime.  90% of individuals fight off the infection without ever realizing that they have it.  A healthy immune system can fight off HPV in just a few months.  However,  the infections that don't go away can lead to cancer.  In fact, 26,000 American cases of cancer caused by HPV are diagnosed each year. 

Cervical cancer and HPV can be caught early with a yearly womens examination, or a Pap smear.  Every sexually active female should have a Pap smear every year.  Sure, it's uncomfortable.  And yeah, it's embarrassing.  But let me tell you from experience, a 10 minute exam is much easier than having multiple cervical surgeries. Trust me.

HPV is preventable!  Abstinence can prevent HPV 100% of the time (when followed by both partners).  There is also the HPV vaccine, either Cervarix or Gardasil. Both of these vaccines prevent the two cancer causing strains of HPV, strain 16 and 18.  There are more than 40 strains of HPV, some classified as LG low grade and some classified as HG high grade, or cancer causing. Only 4 strains have been tested for a vaccine, but there is more research being done every day.  The vaccine does have side effects, but in my opinion the benefits outweighs the risks.  This vaccine is for girls and boys, as boys can get more rare types of cancer caused by HPV but can also pass along HPV to their female partners if they are infected. 
AND don't forget, girls who get the vaccine should still have annual paps! Early detection is the only way to prevent HPV from causing cervical cancer. 

It's culprit is treatable, but prevention is always better than treatment. 

DISCLAIMER!  This story may be gross at parts... Read with this in mind.

Ok, so on to my story.

In 2009 I had my first abnormal pap. 
I was being seen at a free clinic as I did not have health insurance.  I was in college and this was before the dependent age was changed to 25. I was told that I had HPV, a STI. I was terrified.  I had a STI!? I was disgusted, angry, scared.  My doctor told me that 90% of people my age had it and that it would likely clear on its on and be gone before my next annual.  They told me that I was good to go and that I should come back in one year.  I skeptically left the office, returned to work, and was told by a few of my coworkers that they had been told they had HPV but that it went away, no problem.  I felt a sense of relief, and forgot all about it until my next pap.  

In 2010, I had another abnormal pap.
I was still at the free clinic.  This time, I was told that i would need to have a colposcopy, or a cervical biopsy.  This is a procure where the doctor uses a speculum to inspect the cervix for abnormal changes.  A vinegar solution is normally used on the cervix as it helps show abnormal changes.  If changes are found, the doctor will take a punch biopsy of the area.  This punch biopsy is basically a small core sample of the cervix.  This appointment, I had 4 biopsy areas.  The doctor uses this gel called Monsel's liquid to stop the bleeding.  I watched my doctor go through 4 bottles of this gel... Her face becoming more concerned as she asked for each new bottle.  The colposcopy that was a "simple procedure" had gone from it's allotted 15 minutes to 1 hour.  Once they got the bleeding stopped, I was told I could sit up and that I could get dressed.  I sat up, saw a pool of blood on the floor, and fainted.  My nurse came in to check on me when I didn't answer to her knock, helped me get dressed, and sent me on my way.  I barely made it out to the car.  When I got to my car, I called my dad and asked if he could come give me a ride home.  There was no way I could drive when I had tunnel vision and ringing on my ears.  
About a week later, I received a call from my doctor saying that I had low grade strains of HPV, and that my body just needed "more time" to clear it. 
Looking back, I should've been more proactive, I should've gotten another opinion.  But I didn't have health insurance, I didn't have money, I didn't know what to do.  So I trusted their advice.  I was told to wait another year and it would "likely be gone".

In early 2011, I returned for my 3rd pap since my first abnormal one.  Again, I had HPV.  The doctor wanted to do another colposcopy, and this time I opted to see a specialist.
I found a wonderful doctor in Templeton CA.  He looked over my records from the clinic and agreed that I did need a colposcopy.  I was not happy.  I had a horrible experience with my first one, and I was not about to be calm about another one.  He told me that the procedure would take only 15 minutes, that I would feel minor cramps and that I might have light bleeding.  I told him about my first colposcopy and he promised me that it would be nothing like that.  Luckily, he kept his word.  He took 2 biopsies and an ECC (a sample from the endocervical canal, basically a sample from the deepest part of your cervix) and I was walking out the door in under 15 minutes, as promised.  This man was amazing.

A week later I returned to the office for the results.  I was informed the biopsies came back positive with CIN 1 on my cervix and that my ECC was positive for CIN 2. 
CIN stands for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, and basically means that there is premalignant changes and abnormal growth in the squamous cells on the cervix.
CIN 1 is mild, effecting 1/3 of the epithelium, the first layer of the cervix.
CIN 2 is moderate, effecting 2/3 of the epithelium. 
My OBG decided that as I had CIN 2, I needed a procedure called a LEEP. 

A week later I had my first LEEP.  
A LEEP, a loop electrosurgical excision procedure, is when a wire loop that has an electric current passing through it is used to cut away effected tissues.  It basically shaves off a layer of your cervix, in my case 15 mm thick. 
I was first given a shot of lidocaine with epinephrine - a block, a numbing agent - directly into my cervix.  This basically made me feel like my heart was going to pound out of my chest.  He explained that the cervix directly absorbs the drugs and that they are very quickly directed to the heart, hence the extreme pounding and racing heart beat.  The shot was very painful, but indeed made me numb to the cutting.  
The procedure wasn't very long, and I had my best friend and hubby in there with me, supporting me every moment. 

About my week later, I returned again for a follow up.  All was healing well.  He discussed that the LEEP is normally very good at clearing CIN 2.  However, if I was still found to have a high grade lesion, I would need another procedure.  
He discussed the possibility of having another LEEP or cryotherapy, which is basically the freezing off of bad cells. 

I was to return in 3 months to get another pap. 
3 months was perfect timing for me... None of this, "let's wait a whole year and see if your body gets rid of it" business....

So, 3 months later I retuned to his office for my pap.
By this time, paps were a walk in the park, they still are.  Love them!  Literally, they saved me... I love them. But I digress...
My pap was done and a week later I returned for the results.
This time, my pap again showed HGSIL (high grade squamous intraepithelial lesions) - the HPV was still there, even after the LEEP. 
My OBG informed me I would need another colposcopy to get more biopsies taken.
He seemed surprised that the LEEP did not rid my cervix of HPV.  I was scared at his concern... 
We again went over the need for another LEEP or cryotherapy, but this visit he also discussed a possible cone biopsy with me.
A cone biopsy is when a scalpel (aka knife) is used to remove a thick cone of tissue from the cervix.
He discussed that if I did indeed have another CIN 2 biopsy, I would likely need this cone biopsy done.
Fabulous.... More surgery.

A few weeks later I had another colposcopy.
This time, the biopsies revealed both CIN 3 and cervical carcinoma - yep, cancer. 
My HPV, treated, had progressed from CIN 1 to cancer in less than 3 years. Unheard of. 
Cervical cancer takes years to form.  HPV takes years to morph into cervical cancer.  
Not in my case.  
Being a newly wed, fertility was a big concern.
Would I be able to have children?
My doctor explained that this was the least fertility harming procedure available for my recent lab results.  If I had already had children and was 35<, the standard procedure with this diagnosis would be a hysterectomy. 
That wasn't an option for us.  But even after this surgery, my chances of having kids would remain decent.  75% of women go on to have normal pregnancies. 
Radiation would only hurt my eggs, creating more fertility problems. 
It was my only option to stay healthy and to preserve my fertility.
Surgery was a go.

I was scheduled for my cone biopsy.  
It was an outpatient surgery done in the surgery center near the hospital.  It took about an hour and a half, and I didn't feel a thing.  The beauty of anesthesia.  
(The not so beautiful part of anesthesia is what you say when you are coming out of it.  I guess I asked every nurse I could find if i could still ride my horse, and I asked the doctor the same question repeatedly.  Everyone got a kick out of it!  I guess it could be worse, I've see some pretty hilarious videos!)
When I awoke, my OBG informed me that the CIN 3 and carcinoma was worse than he thought, and he ended up doing a very large cone.  In fact, it was a cone so large that the surgery was actually coded as a simple trachelectomy, or removal of the cervix.  
The cone had removed 80% of my cervix! 
The only parts that remained were the edges. 
I was chauffeured home by my lovely husband, and slept the rest of the day.
I had very minimal pain and very minimal bleeding.

Picture on the left is the intact female anatomy, picture on the right shows the anatomy after a trachelectomy

At my post op visit, I was told that I was healing well, that the sutures were all in place and holding, and that they would dissolve. 
He also told me that the labs from my surgery were back, and that the 80% removed was riddled with CIN 3 and carcinoma all the way to the margin.  This means, that the cancer spread all the way to the edges of what he had cut.  He explained that this could mean the he might have left some cancer behind.
However in good news, the ECC was negative. So the deepest part of my cervix was still healthy, which meant good things for the future health of my uterus, ovaries, etc. 
I was to have a pap in 4 months.  He again told me the possibility of having another abnormal pap due to the margins. If I was found to have CIN 2 or 3 or carcinoma, I would have need another LEEP. 

In March of 2012, I arrived for my pap.
My OBG decided to do a pap and a colpo just to be safe and to get it all done at once.
He took 3 biopsies and an ECC. 
A week later, I returned for my results.
To his amazement and mine, the results were normal!
No pathology, no changes, no HPV, no CIN, no carcinoma, no cancer!
It was gone!
He did tell me that there was a slight possibility that all the scar tissue could hide the HPV, but that the results were very promising that it was gone.
Thank you Jesus, what a blessing! 
I didn't need another pap for 6 months!
He had cured me.  Him and God of course.

6 months later my pap was normal.
6 months after that my pap was again normal.
And both of my paps in 2013 were normal.
With 4 normal paps, I have even been put back on the "annual exam"!!!!!

It was a long process, a scary process, especially with my fertility in mind, but we made it through.
I have been cervical cancer free since March of 2012! 

Yes, I have had fertility problems since then. 
My OBG instructed us to begin trying for kids as soon as we were ready because we would likely require extra time. Even extra help.
Matt was ready right away, so we began.
And I'm so glad we did, because it took 2 years of trying to conceive for my doc to start us on fertility treatments. 
The path ahead of us is still bumpy, but I am healthy! I am alive!

this is a group of women who have all had a trachelectomy to treat their cervical cancer - all women who went on to have these perfectly healthy babies! 

What have I learned from all of this?
I have learned that nothing is worth risking contracting HPV.  If I could do it all over again, I would definitely wait until marriage to have sex.  Not only is it something that would be wonderful to share only with your lifelong partner, but if doing so would have spared me from getting cervical cancer, I would've been all in!
I discovered that when your 18, you don't think that anything you do will affect your future marriage, your possibility of having a family.  I wish I would've been aware of the consequences of my actions.
The HPV vaccine came out in 2006, and at that time, they were only suggesting it to young women under 19. I was 20, so my general practitioner said that I was not a candidate.  
There is really nothing I could've done to get the shot... It wasn't given to girls my age. 
Now, they are giving the vaccine to girls ages 13-26. 

Obviously, this disease was in Gods plan for me.
I was supposed to fight this, and I was supposed to win.
My husband and I were supposed to conquer this together.
And we did. 

I hope that by writing this, someone might read it and decide they need to get their pap done.
Someone might decide that they will get the vaccine, or that they will give it to their daughters. 
And mainly, I hope that you are now more aware of the danger that HPV can be.
I hope that you are more aware of cervical cancer, and that you will support it's research and it's campaign every January.  

I wear teal because I fight like a girl.
I won this battle, and I support all the women fighting it now. 
In January, wear teal with me, and help prevent your mother, your sister, or your daughter from having to fight this fight. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

You're a DICK and I hate you...

This is a crazy world that we live in.
It's not fair and it's not just and it's a sad sad place at times. 

My sister and brother-in-law once owned an amazing business called Seasons of Hope. 

This was a facility serving the mentally ill and the developmentally delayed.
Providing speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, family and individual counseling, psychosocial rehabilitation, developmental therapy, etc....

In March of 2013, Seasons of Hope was shut down buy the Department of Health and Welfare due to charges of fraud.  They received a letter stating that they could no longer see patients, that they would not be receiving checks owed to them, and that they had to pay back almost $500,000 in recoupment/fines. 
They had to shut down 9 offices that day.  They had to let go all of their 100+ employees.  They had to turn away patients who were waiting in their offices for therapy sessions. 

They were charged with ridiculous fraud charges with no warning.
They had passed every single Medicaid audit since they opened. 
Medicaid gave them absolutely no warning, no hint that anything they were doing was incorrect.
If they were filing claims wrong, or storing information in an incorrect manner, nothing was ever said. 

They spent countless all-nighters preparing documents for the court case.  Documents that were allegedly missing or nonexistent according to Health and Welfare, documents that were actually perfectly filed away in their charts. 

Once the court process began, it took 9 days of deliberation for the judge - who was appointed by Medicaid - to come to his decision.  
In July 2013, he dismissed ALL charges of fraud, reinstated their provider status and reduced their fines from $500,000 to just under $100,000.

Well, the department of health and welfare appealed the judges decision.
The appeal went to none other than the director of the department of health and welfare, DICK Armstrong. Pun intended. 
So now, the ruling that was determined by a judge that the department hand picked was going to be overruled and put in the hands of the director of the department... Because apparently we live in Stalingrad. 

Of course, DICK ruled in favor of his office, removed seasons of hope provider status once again, and added more than $150,000 in fines/penalties.

My sister and my BIL will of course appeal this ridiculous ruling, this time at the state level.

First off.... How is it legal that Health & Welfare appealed it and then had their own director rule on it?! 
That is absurd... I mean, of course the dick, I mean of course Dick is going to rule in favor of his office!!!

Second off, Dick and his buddies put an immeasurable amount of stress and anxiety on patients who are already fragile, who are already dealing with enough.
People afflicted with troubling notions of suicide, depression, Down syndrome, autism, etc were overnight without therapy, without the working, helping relationships that were 3+ years in the making! 

Thirdly, they took this business that took over 10 years to get off the ground and disintegrated it in a matter of days.  All 9 offices had to shut down.  All employees were let go.  Even if the Dick hadn't overturned it, they had lost all their clients, all their therapists and counselors, everything.  The name Seasons of Hope which was once a sought after clinic was now tarred and feathered. They had no business left to reopen even if they were granted the ability to do so. Not to mention the difficulty that any administrative employee would find in their job search, having the word "fraud" attached to their resume. 

Since then, SOH filed bankruptcy.
They have had to - they have been fighting this, day and night, since March, with no income and no help.  They had no choice. 
But they have lost so much more than a business in this fight.

My sis and BIL have 8 children.  4 of them are special needs.
Angleman syndrome, autism, learning disabled.  These are not terms that are just used in their previous business, but more personally in their home. 
These 4 kids were receiving therapy and counseling at SOH.  They were thriving.  They were learning new skills, they were given new opportunities. 
Since the dismemberment of SOH I've watched them regress, I've watched them struggle with things that were once so easy and so routine. The kids are now in California and are picking up the pieces of their broken treatment plans, and are moving forward. 

My two oldest nephews 
My youngest nephew
My sis and the three oldest girls 
The BIL himself and the baby
The last little niece :)

This is a tragedy.
It is a horrible disgrace to our society.
DICK Armstrong should have had to tell every employee that they no longer could work for SOH.
DICK should have had to tell each child that they would no longer be able to play with their therapists.
DICK should have had to tell each patient that their counseling was terminated, that they would get no closure session, no final words of help, no goodbye, nothing. 

DICK will need to step off his high horse and will soon realize that he will lose, that the department is not going to win this.  That this is NOT over.  That Seasons of Hope still has hope, that they will not quit fighting. 

And through all this, my sister and her family are hanging on.
They are making do, they are weathering this fierce storm.

All I wish is that they can have a peaceful Christmas.
That they will not worry about what will happen with this court case.
That they will be able to find an employer who will give them a chance and look past the scarlet letter F they carry with them on their job applications. 
That they can just enjoy the holiday. 

I wish so badly for that... And I can do so Iittle to help them. 
Will you please pray for my sister, my brother in law, my 3 nephews and my 5 nieces.
Please keep them in your thoughts and pray that they can have the Christmas that they oh so surely deserve. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Lindsay's Awesome Plumalicious Jam!

Plum Jam - the loveliest looking, tastiest tasting jam there is!

A lady about 15 min north of here has a plum tree that produces like CRAZY!
There is absolutely no way that she could use all her plums.
So, she kindly lets others come and pick the plums!
They are tiny, only about the size of a shooter marble, but they are soooo sweet!
AND, they are FREE!!!!
So, you really cant pass 'em up!

I picked a large Trader Joe's bag FULL to the brim of these little guys!
It filled my sink TWICE!

I just followed the Certo Sure-Jell recipe for Plum Jam, and it turns out so delish!
Matt even says he wants to bathe in it... :)

First step, wash the plums! 
 Very necessary when there are spider webs, bird poop, and other creepy things on your plums...

Next step, halve and pit the plums
 Look at how pretty they are!!!

Then, puree the plums!
I use my Kitchen Aid Food Processor... if Polyandry was legal, id totally marry it... i love it that much!

Now for the Certo instructions!

Get your boiling-water canner ready (make sure your bands are clean, your jars are clean and hot, and that you have new lids ready!)

1. Place fruit in saucepan, add water, and bring to a boil.
Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. 
2. Stir sugar into fruit mixture, and add a dollop of butter on top to reduce foaming 
(it will foam during the cooking process, but when your ready to ladle, the foam will be gone, promise!)
3. Bring to a rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly.
4. Stir in pectin pouch
5. Return to a full rolling boil for EXACTLY one minute... (im pretty sure 57 sec or 63 seconds will not ruin the awesome jam)
6. Remove from heat and immediately ladle into your prepared jars.
Wipe rims, place two piece lids, screw on bands, and place jars in your canner rack.
Lower rack into canner (or if your a weakling like me, have your hubby do it), making sure that the water covers your jars by 1 to 2 inches.
7. Bring water to a boil, and process 10 minutes *adjust for altitude accordingly!*
8. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely in a place where they will be at peace :)
Listen for the lovely popping sounds!!!
9. When jars are cool, check seals and label - Lindsay's Awesome Plumalicious Jam.
(although, insert your name, not mine, unless your name is lindsay too, in which case, right on!)
10. ENJOY that DELICIOUS jam!!!!!!

I also made preserves, which is basically equal parts sugar and fruit, no pectin required!
Its thinner but fabulous on pancakes or ice cream or anything really! 

Enjoy!!! And if you want, ill give you some of mine to try :)
just let me know!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Death of a Loved One

The other morning I was speaking with a dear friend about death.
Now,  although not the brightest of topics, it is an event that we will all experience while on this earth.
We will see loved ones come and we will see loved ones go.
And we will mourn, and we will grieve, and we will weep.
We will ask God why, and we will be angry and hurt.
And it will take great strength to understand that they are gone because it is all part of Gods plan.
It will take great faith to know that they are in a better place, that they no longer have pain or struggles, that they no longer have fear or shame.  

I have experienced death in my life more than I care to mention. 
The elderly pass on, their bodies give out and their minds get tired.
But so do the young, and at times there is absolutely no comfort in knowing that such a young life was taken.  
Having both experienced the young and the old passing on, I hate to admit that I find no difference between them.
Surely the older person lived a full life, experienced all the joy that the younger person did not get to live through.  
And yet death, both young and old, still hurts. 
It still steals your heart, it still shows you great sorrow.

It has been almost 9 years since my mother died.
She died very suddenly, at the young age of 47.
We had no warning, not a hint or suggestion of her death.
The night before the morning of her passing, I had watched a movie with her, I had eaten butterfinger chocolates with her.  I had carried on my Monday at Cal Poly like any other Monday.  I attended classes, had studied in the UU, I had eaten a turkey sandwich.  
I first realized something might be wrong when I tried to call her on my way to school.  We would always talk on the phone during my commute to the campus and a few times during the day.  She didnt answer her phone so I figured she was still sleeping.  Then her office called me and told me she hadn't made it into work and that they had trouble reaching her.  I started to get an uneasy feeling, but brushed it off knowing she was probably having a "sick day" and playing hookie.  Hours and hours passed, multiple phone calls were made, and my throat started to get tighter.  Finally, at 7:15pm, just 5 minutes into my last class, I received a phone call, a phone call I never expected to receive. A phone call that left me without air, without words. 
How could it be? She was just alive, just running through the living room on her way to get her morning coffee. We were just laughing and having a great time watching the movie Garden State. 
I didn't get to say goodbye.  I didnt get to tell her how much I loved her.  I didn't get to tell her that I forgave her for anything she had ever done wrong.  I didn't get to tell her how proud I was of her for working every day at beating her alcoholism.  And I didn't get to I say goodbye!
The next week or so was surreal.  Going to the hospital to see her lifeless body as they wouldn't give me any information over the phone.  Taking a red eye flight to inform my sweet sister of the news.  Planning her funeral, packing up her belongings, meeting mourning people, opening sympathy cards, attending her viewing and her funeral. 
It was a terrible ordeal.  It was a shock to everyone knowing my sweet mother.  
It was so painful, so saddening.  I still cry when I think of living the rest of my long life without my mother. 
A sudden, unexpected death leaves no room for error.  No time for mending.  No time for goodbyes, no time for confessions, no time at all.

It has been just barely over 2 years since my grandfather, my Papa died.
He died after a long struggle with COPD and lungs that were far too used and abused. 
He was on hospice his last week, lying at home with my grandma and other loved ones always at his side.  He was in and out of consciousness, but his moments of clarity were moments we all treasure.
I was able to say goodbye.  He was able to look into my eyes and tell me that he loved me.  I was able to hold his hand and tell him that I loved him.  He even looked across the room at my husband and smiled, and said "Hey Matt! How are you!" His whole face lit up.  He shortly thereafter went back into his slumber, but all the family that was around was able to say goodbye, and give him hugs and kisses.
And yet, when the breath of his life finally left him, it was still terrible.
It hurt us all just as much as losing my mother.  It was so hard to see him so frail and so sick and not be able to help him at all.  It was so hard to see him weak and tired, when all I ever knew of him was a feisty old golfer, who was always such a joy.  It was so hard to see my grieving Nina so lost without her life partner. 
A death that comes after fighting a disease or an illness, a predicted death, leaves loved ones feeling helpless.  It leaves the same sorrow and hurt that an unpredicted death brings.

I do not feel that death gets any easier.  
I do not feel like I will ever get over losing my mother, my papa, my friend, even my dog, anyone.
You cannot get over someone who is so special to you.
You do learn coping mechanisms, and at times, the tears you cry are tears of joy.
Tears of sweet memories, tears knowing that your loved one is rid of their sick body and sick mind. 

I like to imagine my papa and my momma spending their days together, talking about us all still down here learning and fighting the fight. And every time I do think of them, they are always smiling, always laughing, which is not always how I pictured them before they died. 
I miss my family and my friends who have passed ever so much.
But I do find comfort in knowing that they are in a far better place, and that they are happy. 

Comfort also comes in every day moments, and little things help me remember the lovely things about the people I miss.
Smiles for my mom come in: Billy Joel songs, the Rocky Mountain chocolate factory, Mexican food, coffee or "feee" as she lovingly named it, Saturns, the color green, tanning beds, diet coke, girly tattoos, mini skirts and high heels, pajamas, hot weather, the mid state fair, hoop earrings, mineral water, freckles ....
Smiles for my papa come in: Westerns, Johnny Cash, cross word puzzles, golfing, golf carts, turquoise jewelry, nascar, halloween, navy vets, tattoos, button down shirts, silk pajama sets, the smoke stacks in morro bay, trolls, coins, PG&E, the word "dude", Fritos, Sandies shortbread cookies, butter pecan ice cream, mint gum, snuff,  wood working, tennis on tv, electronic dictionaries ...

It takes time to find these comforts, to see something and be happy instead of sad. 
Like I said, it doesn't get easier, I will never think it is easy without my mom or without my Papa, but we learn to cope and we learn to love and we learn to remember that they are happy. 

Some quotes that help me remember my loved ones are in a better place and that I should rejoice in their newfound life, not mourn: 

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning" Psalm 30:5

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me... Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of The Lord forever." Psalm 23

"So we are always of good courage.  We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from The Lord, for we walk by faith not by sight.  Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with The Lord." 2 Corinthians 5:6-8

"Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind." C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Things I Am Proud Of

Revel in the small things, right?
So this week, I am proud that:

1. I have begun my Christmas shopping.  Let the feeling of being broke begin!

Someone might get a yummy candle! :) 

2. I baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies last night.
I've had this stupid cough now for almost 2 weeks, so I must be feeling a slight improvement if I felt the need to bake. They were delish.

3. I also prepared 4 days worth of Matt's breakfast. This way, he doesn't have to cook it at 5:30am and I don't have to either wake up to do it or wake up to the sound of him cursing as he does it... ;) win win if you ask me!

4. I have ordered and received my Christmas cards! Now I just have to address them and send them out... Hopefully this round of cards will look nothing like our wedding thank you cards... Married in 2011, sent out in 2013.... Shame on me! I will be better...

5. I have been very good at the 8x8 rule lately ... That is, drinking 8 ounces of water 8 times a day.
Not sure if i really feel any different being fully hydrated,  but I do get a lot more exercise!! Walking to the bathroom 49 times a day is surely considered a workout!

6. I have successfully converted my husband into a tech geek... He is the master of my laptop! And he can even navigate the iPad.  He now wants a smart phone... Not gonna happen given his history of losing/breaking his cell phone, but I do like that he can google, email, fb, YouTube, etc.  Of course, it is all horse, cattle, ranch or cowdog related but it is much better than when we first met! The man didn't know how to use Microsoft word.... Love him :)

7. I bought yummy candy for someone besides myself!! My sister is in the hospital :( and I had the great pleasure of sending her a Sees Candy get well package - chocolate always makes you feel better, especially scotchmallows, peanut butter patties, and mint patties.... Mmmmm mmmm. Maybe I should've sent myself a sees candy get well package too! 

8. I refrained from karate-chopping a patient in the throat when he told me that i looked sick, tired, and like I hadn't slept in days. Thanks, that's exactly why I got up at 530am to shower, curl my hair and put on makeup, so that I could look like death. What a kind soul you are...

9. I bought the new Bath & Body Works car air freshener.  Now that the Yogi smells like Christmas, I will be motivated to clean it ... Maybe... 

10. My husband made dinner last night and it was totally scrumptious! Pulled Salsa Chicken tacos with black beans... All totally, 100% by himself!  Mmm, can't wait for leftovers tonight! And boy is he proud, he just told me that now I have to thank him for dinner TWICE in a row! And I gladly will, because I can't wait for dinner!

11. Matt got out our Christmas decorations!  As soon as the turkey leftovers begin, so does the decorating!!

12. I can sing along to all the theme songs of the cartoons of my childhood... Here are a few of my faves! 

13. Hubby and I rested on our day of rest.  We were out of power in the morning so we just hung out before church, then attended church, then went to a wonderful Mexican lunch, rented two redbox, and then went home and watched 2 movies in a row!  And hubby even held my hand during the movie. It was a fabulous Sunday.

Amazing movie!!! I would definitely recommend it if you like CIA/investigatory movies
Not very good at all... Funny at times, but absolutely no plot and not the family movie were expecting

14. I wrote this blog... Always something to be proud of! I love love love blogging, i just dont always find the time, so when I do, it's a good day :) 

Remember to be proud of your little, every day accomplishments! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

One Mans Trash....

If you have never heard of Ketchum or Sun Valley Idaho, I would be very surprised.
Not because these places are so fantastic that everyone should know of their splendor and should love them and want to marry them, but because these towns are insanely touristy and spendy.  
They are the Beverly Hills of Idaho.  
Famous for their winter sport scene (ski resorts, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, etc) and their "perfect" summers, these small towns thrive off of tourism.  
The state highway even runs right through the middle of downtown....Stop lights and all....
The population of Ketchum is just over 2,500 people, with Sun Valley only at 1,400.
With such small populations, it is hard to believe that these seemingly tiny towns could draw any significant number of tourists. 
But they do, and they come in droves!

And a few select people call this place home. 
They come with their private jets and their flashy-yet-nature-loving-hug-a-bunny cars, their vegan organic lifestyles, and their highbrowed unapologetic liberalism. 
They build houses for over 1.5 million dollars (this is the average cost to build a home in Ketchum) that they only live in "seasonally".
They rub elbows with stars that also have vacation homes there, stars that include Salma Hayek, Oprah, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood and Bruce Willis. 
They visit grassroots coffee shops where you have to ask for cows milk, as goat, soy or almond is standard. 
And they also donate all of their trash to little thrift stores in the area.
And this and this alone is why I love the people of Sun Valley and Ketchum.

When in town for work, I frequent the two thrift stores I love, The Attic in Hailey and The Goldmine in Ketchum.
The saying, one mans trash is another mans treasure is so fitting here...
On good days, visiting these stores is like shopping in an outlet mall on Black Friday - an outlet mall with stores like J.Crew, Banana Republic, Express, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Kate Spade, etc.
On bad days, you might come up to the counter with a cutco serving spoon for a buck.
Today, I will be a girl...clothes, shopping, accessories!!! But only because I got them for ridiculous prices people....

My recent finds include...

This lovely J.Crew cashmere cable knit sweater... Mine is blue, but the colors are so bright and fun!
Online price (J.Crew): 198$.  My price: 4$

This fabulous Banana Republic wrap dress... I'm not a huge fan of 3/4 length sleeves because I either push them behind my elbow or try desperately to pull them to my wrist, but this dress was so lovely I bought it. 
Online price (Banana Rebuplic): 98$.   My price: 6$

This comfy pair of Dansko clogs.  Most commonly known in the medical field, Dansko makes a miriad of designs, all with great arch support for all-day comfort.  
Online Price (Nordtstrom): 119$.  My price: 15$

This perfect pair of J.Crew wool trousers.  When I'm working in the office, the owner insists on having the air on at 60* even in the winter!  So a nice wool trouser is definitely a must. 
Online price (J.Crew): 148$.   My price: 6$

This wonderful pair of Bandalino riding boots. (I know, I know, they aren't "riding boots" when compared to what I ride my horses in). Idaho winters are very cold.  When work requires "business casual" but also involves shoveling snow, high heels are out.  Boots are in.  These boots, specifically. 
Online price (Macys): 149$.   My price: 20$

These Button down Pendleton Wool shirts for Matt.  Wool is the best for winter, doesn't stay wet if you're in the snow, but still keeps you warm. And they do look pretty hunky if i do say so myself...
Online price (Pendleton): 148$.  My price: 6$

This sophisticated J.Crew chunky wool cable sweater but in Charcoal Grey.  Matt looks mighty fine it it too, but im a bit biased. And dont tell him its J.Crew, or he might not wear it! 
Online Price (J.Crew): 108$   My price: 8$

So if you are one of those people who think those wolf-loving, tree-hugging, snobby rich folk who live in Ketchum and Sun Valley serve no purpose, visit the thrift stores and you shall see their true gift to mankind.