Monday, March 31, 2008

And the Winners Are...

Well, you are all winners in my book! Hundreds of people check my blog that week and only 5 took the time to post - so guess what - I am going to give Cloe, Marne, and Amy a digital year at a glance album, and Heather & Conni a brush set (hope you have photoshop - if not let me know and I'll get you something else). Thank you all for your inspiring comments!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Family History

I LOVE family history. This morning Coleton and I were sitting in front of the computer going over which photos I had scanned and which ones still need to be. I didn't realize I had so many important things already complete. I found the great photo of my grandfather (pictured below) in his military uniform. With his hat tilted like that you'd think he was part of the White Christmas cast. I Love the school photo too. They don't take school photos anymore. I bought one for Haeley this year and it's just a collage of individual pictures with all the kids and their names, teacher, and principal. No more group photos. Still it is great to have. Anyway, then that inspired me to enter some more data into my version of Personal Ancestral File using virtual pc on my mac. I have to TYPE everything in. no gedcoms. grrrr. But I actually enjoy it. I get to see each name and how much information I have and do not have. It's been relaxing to work on that today - I usually just work on it on Sundays but I've been busy painting a mural under the stairs for the kids on Sunday afternoons.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Birthday party and Easter

We celebrated Coleton's birthday party on Saturday at our house after the Easter egg hunt at Grandpa and Grandma Beek's across the road and up the hill. I made these little goodie bags using an idea I saw on Becky Higgin's Blog and the 4 wheeler I created using Illustrator and the scrapbook paper I made in photoshop. I printed 5 to a piece of cardstock (2 sheets) and then 12 circles with the 4 wheelers on one sheet of cardstock and filled the bags with candy and squirt guns. I scored them and folded and stapled them to the bags. Then I glued the circles to them. I even made 8 inch circles and decorated the walls with them. In the last two photos they are enjoying the egg hunt and opening their eggs and snacking at their grandparent's home.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Boy!

Happy Birthday!

It is Coleton's big day! He has no idea what a birthday is - maybe he'll be more excited on Saturday when we party with him! He's been my big helper today, putting up curtain rods downstairs and vacuuming. I am so excited that we both made it this far and we are both feeling wonderful. He's such a cute little guy! I LOVE YOU COLETON!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society

I am SO excited! I am going to be speaking in April 2008 at the Opening Ceremony for the the very first Utah State University - Relay for Life - put on by the students. The lady who is in charge of the one for our valley asked me to speak. She said that she wants the students to see that cancer can happen to a young person and that it is not just an old person's disease. Of course when you are in college, 32 seems ancient. What a privilege it is to help raise awareness for cancer research among these university students. One nice thing is that this one will be indoors. I am excited to help out!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I Just REALLY Want to Give Something Away!


Ok, here is what you have to do...

You have to comment on this post- only once please, and obviously anonymous comments will not count, and I will pick three - that is 3 - winners. You have a week to leave your comment. Leave your first name, your town and state. You don't even have to be a regular reader of my blog. Anyone can participate!

Since my current scrapbooking pages in Digital Scrapbooking Magazine are about 'Scrapbooking Your Way Through' difficult situations let me know who in your life is an inspiration to you and WHY- just keep it to 2 or 3 sentences please.

The prize will be digital scrapbook related because I started designing again. Let me know if you'd prefer something feminine, masculine, or family.

Hope to hear from you soon! Check back to see who won and I'll get your email info from you then.

Thanks and have a great week!

Another GOOD check up

Today I went for another check up - that once every three months thing. He said because I am at my 2 year anniversary of diagnosis as of April 21st and things are going great so far he wants to stretch it to 4 months between visits instead of 3 but not quite to 6 months, yet. That will be a lifesaver because well, it's always a looooooong wait and the kids get a little nuts by the end of the visit. I tried to explain the importance of the visits and not interrupting my DR to my oldest - CJ doesn't have a clue except that he is bored. They are not terrible, but they really needed to be a lot more quiet. My blood (CBC) test came back normal - just waiting on thyroid, liver, and cancer marker test. I have to admit I was nuts yesterday and this morning awaiting my exams. I will breath another sigh of relief in a few days when I get the rest of the results. In the mean time just put up with me! I am glad it is over and things are still going in a positive direction. I know that doesn't always happen for cancer patients. I never like getting my blood drawn and today it hurt terribly, but that one nurse has a tendency to wiggle the needle around even when it is already in the vein. The Nurses are always terrific. I showed them a copy of the April May 2008 Digital Scrapbooking Magazine and they were so nice. When they saw the full page photo of me one of the nurses said, 'You're prettier than Meg Ryan ever was - hands down!' The rest of the nurses crowded around, 'Wow! look at you!' I tell you what, those nurses are that nice even when I was bald. They always take such good care of their patients. Well, here's to 2 years, a new 'normal', more life, and a better day! Oh and the new cancer center is looking great! I can't wait to see it's completion.

Friday, March 14, 2008

My story and Update

Every one of us has a story to tell. Today I want to share a little of mine with you. I’m 32 years old. I’m a mother of two. My dad was in the military for all of my growing up years and we lived as far north as Fairbanks, Alaska and as far south as Panama City, Panama and so many places in between. My husband and I have been married for 8 years.

MY Lifestyle:
- I have always been active.
Swimming, skiing, fishing, camping, rafting, and such. I love to cross-stitch, crochet, paint murals, make forts with the kids, and scrapbook digitally.
- I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I’ve always loved eating healthy foods (although I admit to having a bit of a sweet-tooth), I wear sunscreen, and I’ve exercised consistently and on a regular basis for years.

Though cancer is prominent in my family, affecting my dad, his 2 sisters, my paternal grandfather and grandmother and their brothers and sisters, and maternal grandmother. Melanoma, prostate cancer, breast cancer, brain tumors. When people say, I never thought it would happen to me, I admit, I never thought it would happen to me at this age, but maybe when I was much older. Lymphoma typically occurs in girls/women 15-30. Lymphoma is rare, about 1% of all cancer cases yearly in the U.S. Hodgkins Lymphoma is responsible for about 10% of all lymphoma cases - but it is easier to keep in remission.

When I became pregnant with my son, my second baby, I became very sick and itchy. By week 8 I was in the dermatologist office. After steroid shots and allergy pills, as well as topical creams, I was only half sane most of the time. I met with a specialist at McKay Dee who ran some blood tests to check my liver enzymes. Everything looked “normal” and yet my itching was getting worse. By this point I was getting less than an hour of sleep each night, and some nights I wouldn’t sleep at all. It’s pretty hard being pregnant, taking care of a 3 year old, and having a serious lack of sleep. At night I would sit with my feet and hands in the sink filled with ice and cold water.

They induced me a month early, hoping that would stop the itching. The birth went really well. But the itching actually got worse. I could hardly believe it. I was going out of my mind. My OB sent me to a liver specialist – after 11 blood tests and no signs of anything out of the norm, he sent me to a dermatologist. I reluctantly went to this dermatologist, dragging my feet the whole way. But I had to go because by this point I was sitting in waist deep ice water all night long. He ran 16 more blood tests and two skin biopsies. And he sent me to have chest x-ray. He called me the next day and said he wanted me to have a CT-Scan done at 2pm. I went and had that done. He called me the next day one his way back from his son’s BYU graduation in Provo. He said that what I had was very treatable, but that it was lymphoma and it was around my heart and between my lungs, barely reaching into the neck are. He never used the word cancer, but having a father who is a LifeFlight pilot and a mother who was a nurse, I knew what lymphoma was. My tumors were huge! They were crushing my heart and lungs. My son was 4 weeks old at this point. I also realized that I was the first in my family to experience full on chemo and radiation. The next little while was a blur of biopsies and hospital visits. Three days later I had my port put in and began chemo the same day. Almost instantly the itching became tolerable and almost disappeared. I didn’t care how bad the chemo was, as long as I wasn’t itching. And what a blessing it was to be able to be close to home during my chemo sessions!

I want you to know that the fight against cancer is really a team effort and I had the best team anyone could ask for. It was important that during treatment I allowed others to help as much as possible. We were blessed with amazing doctors. Our neighbors, family, and friends at church prayed and fasted for us. But they didn’t just stop there. They brought delicious meals several days a week each week for 6 months. We were so grateful for the wonderful care our two children received from very dedicated family members and good neighbors, which allowed me to rest and recover from my treatments. My mother in law took care of them two days a weeks and my sister in law took them two days a week so my husband could go to work. And my mom watched the baby while I was at radiation treatments and allowed me to sneak a nap in several times a week. Friends cleaned our house and neighbors mowed our lawn, which actually became a contest for the neighbors to see who could get to it first.

I actually looked forward to chemo sessions because every time I went into the DR’s office, the nurses and staff were always there to give much-needed compliments, and would ask about my hobbies. It was quite enjoyable listening to the stories of other patients and many became friends. It’s important to get your treatment some place where you feel comfortable and important and having my treatment here in Cache Valley was the right thing for me. I often found myself thinking about how grateful I was for my own set of trials as I listened to other patients. Gradually I learned that it is all in how you look at it.

I do admit however that losing my hair was a big issue for me. I’ve had really long hair for over 17 years and I chopped my hair off and donated my ponytail. Aside from figuring out how my children would be cared for, losing my hair was the hardest thing for me. Two weeks after my first chemo, my hair started falling out. We have some great photos. I even had a Mohawk for about 2 minutes.

There were times that I struggled, when all I wanted was not to feel nauseated anymore. There were times when I was too sick to even watch TV. Times when I wanted to do something other than lay in bed all day. I wanted desperately to be able to take care of my children all day, all by myself. I didn’t want to burden others. I didn’t want to miss out watching my children experience life.

On the good side I learned that realizing that you are not invinsible it actually quite freeing. While it’s a fight against cancer, it’s also about finding peace during the storm. I learned that we have to go through our trials, not around them. When we work through them, no matter the outcome, our character is strengthened. When we are faced with the bad, it’s up to us to remember the good. I believe that there are two ways we can go when we are faced with challenges -toward the positive and away from the negative, toward God or away. What we cling too when in our time of affliction says a lot about WHO WE ARE.

On October 18th, 2006 I had my last chemo session and on December 7, 2006 I had my last radiation treatment. I am now in remission. Things are so much better than they were a few months ago and life just keeps getting better and I keep getting stronger. I now tend my own children during the day while my husband is at work. Now I can be around for a lifetime of milestones. I am able to photograph weddings again. I’m enjoying my work with the scrapbooking magazines magazine. My hair is growing back quite nicely. I’ve grown from this experience and overcome a lot. I’ve learned a lot from this experience. And I can definitely say that overall, more good has come from this than bad.

okay, now that I've shared my story again, I promise to focus on some fun stuff - because after all - life is worth LIVING!

Keep moving Forward

Keep moving forward - I was inspired not only by a recent disney pixar movie, but I was also inspired by a hand cart pioneer. He said when he felt he could no longer go on, he would look forward to see a pile of sand and say, I can go that far - then I can go no longer. He would make it to the pile of sand and then choose a juniper tree and focus on making it to that tree. He kept moving his feet forward and yet he felt as if he were some how carried to the next spot. During my 6 months of chemo and my 5 weeks of radiation, there were times when I felt as if I were carried through it. Like when Tyler suddenly had to have his appendix out and meals were brought and the kids were tended to. Sometimes I am sad because of the things I missed, like Coleton's first year of life, but I remember how much I have gained because I am still alive and how many years I still have with my children and husband, family and friends. During this time we also built a house - crazy, I know! We'd done a lot of research before hand, so Tyler knew what I liked and he and our contractor Zach built a beautiful home. I loved the quiet drive out to our building lot and then the time spent walking through the house and seeing it's progress. I am glad we kept moving forward with the house and I am glad that I kept moving forward with life. I truly enjoy my little spot of ground and my new quiet neighborhood. This year I am determined to get the sprinkler system in and the grass. I want to spend more time outside enjoy the quiet peaceful area we live in.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Guest Blogger today!

Here is what Michelle, a very talented digital scrapbook designer and owner of Cottage Arts has to say about her mom.

October 2007: In all other years, this month meant I would remember those in my family who have fought breast cancer (with some losing the battle) great grandma, great aunts, paternal grandma, and paternal aunt. But this year, on May 24th, my life was touched even more personally by this ominous disease. Mom, 62 years young, who had annual mammograms and took great care of her health, was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Stage 3 lobular, estrogen receptive breast cancer...the type that can hide in your lobes, undetected for a long time and many mammograms. Her doctor didn't even feel the lump the week before in her annual exam. Therefore, during her lumpectomy surgery, the surgeon was not expecting to find her lymph nodes cancerous. However, he did...19 of 24 were malignant. This meant a change in expected treatment plans. The toughest regimen of chemo and radiation and a whole gamut of emotions were now going to be Mom's battle for the year.

March 2008: CK Media's Digital Scrapbooking Magazine has just published five layouts I made for my Mom, sharing a bit about her breast cancer journey last year. This page is to share how she is doing since I wrote the article in October.

Mom finished her four-month chemo in October and subsequent 36 daily radiation treatments in mid-December. The radiation gave her quite a few burns, but they are healing nicely now that treatment is complete.

In May or June, she will have her first PET scan since treatment ceased, so we are all hopeful for great results and an 'all is clear' from the oncologist. Her hair is coming in beautifully...this time a pepper gray instead of the brown she last saw in July...I love it...I think she would rather have had her brown back. :)

Get knowledgeable, be diligent about self breast exams, ask questions, and talk to your doctor about preventative measures if you are high risk. If under 40, ask about how accurate a mammogram is on dense tissue, common in young women. You only have one life...take care and be aware!

As a scrapbooker, you can help in another way. Photograph and journal about your loved one's journey, as they may not feel up to it. I've brought my little point-and-shoot to every doctor's visit and treatment, capturing the visitors, the treatment facilities, the nurses, the laughs, and the love. This battle is worth documenting...the process is healing and empowering.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Coleton's thrown up twice today - no fever - no other symptoms - just a little grumpy yesterday. TONS OF LAUNDRY AND CLEANING AN BATHS! And I have some major deadlines for clients and a photo shoot in the morning. It may be a week before I blog again...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Monday Nights are Family Night

Each Monday we spend the evening together as a family. The nice thing about Monday is that we typically don't have school activities, dance, etc that night. We have have a mini 5 minute lesson like water safety, crossing the street, etc. Then we have a spiritual lesson - last night it was on the Resurrection of the Savior. We used our pictures from the Gospel Art Picture Kit . We used the painting of Jesus on the cross, and then the resurrected Savior speaking to Mary at the garden tomb. Then we talked about what the egg stands for - new life - and then we dyed the eggs and put the shrink wraps on them. Coleton would just suddenly let go so we chased a few eggs across the counter tops but none were broken. It was fun and I think the kids are learning a few things and had fun in the process. Haeley asked me some questions about resurrection as we walked to grandma's house to bring her Coleton's birthday invitation. There is just something about a regularly held and structured family night with a lesson, and an activity or games, that really seems to be strengthening our family. And a strong and happy family is worth all of the effort.

Monday, March 10, 2008

one of the things that helped get me through chemo & radiation

Here is one of the pages that didn't make the cut. I can understand. It's quite simple. But I love the poem and the photo is one that my husband took at the Temple Square visitor center when we went to see the lights one Christmas. I know I have shared this before, but I plan to put up all the pages that I submitted that were not published and then create a few more to add to it, just for fun. I might even post a few page sketches too. Anyway, enjoy!

He Giveth More

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction he addeth his mercy,
To multiplied trials, his multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limit, his grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of his infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.

by Annie Johnson Flint

Saturday, March 08, 2008

speaking of nurses...

Today I took Haeley to the ballet. Our friend, Becky E., is playing the part of Cinderella and she did an amazing job! I mean amazing! Haeley loved it. We arrived early - I didn't know how close we'd get to park. So in walks this lady that I instantly recognized and she and her girls and her mother ended up sitting right behind us. She was my nurse during my chemo sessions, a cancer survivor herself, and so bright and happy. She such an amazing example to me. She always makes me feel like a million bucks. Today she said, "Look at you! You are gorgeous! I love that cut on on you and your hair is so thick and full now. I love it!" We got to talking about her family and how she was doing. She said, You know, I still have that scrapbook page you made for me. I told her that it was going to be published in the April/May Issue of Digital Scrapbooking, along with several other scrapbook pages, an article, and a photo. She said how proud she was of me and we both got teary eyed. You know, I truly couldn't have made it through if it weren't for all the wonderful people that helped me. During chemo I went in on Wednesdays for 5 hours and got filled with red cool aide and other nasty but helpful stuff. Thursday I would go back for my neulasta shot - I'll tell the truth, I am grateful for the extra white blood cells but it's painful. And if I had been throwing up a lot, they'd hook back into the port in my chest and dose me up with anti nausea meds. Then the next Wed it was back for blood checks and red blood cell shots (procrit & something else) if needed - $2000 each. So having great nurses and a kind doctor was very important to me. It was so good to see her today, her contagious smile, and her beautiful family. It really was!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Almost 2! already?

Coleton and I were goofing around yesterday taking photos and I have the greatest series of silly photos. I decided to use one of them on his birthday invitation. He puts his arms up in the air when he goes down his slide. It's so cute. One day soon I hope to catch it on video. I just ordered them and they'll be coming your way as soon as I get them! We are keeping it simple since he is still so young and it's cold outside, aunts & uncles, grandparents, and cousins and right after Grandma's Easter egg hunt and casual dinner (the formal Easter dinner is on Sunday along with A's baby's blessing and all of her family too and I am so glad I am not in charge of that one!).

My goal this weekend is to put a list of my favorite Digital Scrapbooking websites on this blog.

My article and scrapbook pages on my cancer experience will be coming out soon. I will be concentrating a little more on my cancer experience for the next little while, including some scrapbook pages that didn't make the cut. I am looking forward to sharing a little more and I really hope that I can encourage others to be positive during their experience and for those who are caregivers or relatives to see the power in a card, letter, or gift scrapbook page to someone with cancer. It's important to feel cared about and sometimes it can be a very lonely experience. You can't have a lot of visitors. I couldn't go to church or help in Haeley's preschool class. Mostly it was visiting the DR and nurses - who were incredible about making me feel better. There were those who brought meals and visited for a little bit, and family who helped with the kids. And sometimes people would call out of the blue or come over for a minute - usually in answer to prayer. We really are each other's angels. But when I was all alone, sometimes I just flipped through my scrapbook pages and gained strength and felt love from those who had sent them. That was better than watching tv any day! Of course I spent a lot of time reading books (when my eyes could hold still) and studying scriptures. And that brought peace. There is just something about feeling loved and needed by other people. I'll share my self esteem boosting moment in a few days.
Relay For Life Album 2007

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Reading Goals

Haeley has been learning about goals. She was struggling to get her reading done each day. She has to read her little book 3 times and then return it to school the next day. So I made her a chart. The first goal was a My Little Pony. She read 10 books - 3 times. This time she read 15 books 3 times. Yes, this books says 14 - but there was a bonus book before Set 3 started - so she did read all 15 books and she got her Barbie today. We haven't figured out what to do next. We may just give her some time and see how she does without a 'reward'. The books are starting to get more interesting. I am very proud of her. She's learned a lot through all of this goal setting and accomplishment.

And here is Tyler, outside working a few days ago - mostly to get some sunlight. We sold our old snowmobile. It was in better shape than when we bought it - some nicer parts and such. Tyler is handy with tools and has friends who are pro snowmobile racers. We sold it for a little more than we bought it for. We are really looking forward to SPRING!

oh and we heard tonight that the elk are now at the end of our street. There is a local herd here but they have never been this close. They've been bothering the neighbor's barn where he stores his dairy cattle feed. We do live out in the boonies for sure!