Friday, December 30, 2011


I picked up Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred DVD this week.

I may or may not have poached some of my son's store credit from a returned Christmas gift. Moving on.

The reason I picked up the video is because I know I need exercise. I also know I don't have time or extra funds to join any sort of gym situation. Daniel is working out of town, so I can't go for a run. So, every night after Emily goes to bed (and by every night I mean 3 so far...) my family room becomes a workout zone. I'm laughing. Nothing near me has ever been, nor ever will be referred to as a workout zone. Let's just say, I attempt to follow the video in my family room and leave it at that.

When I picked up the video, Drew immediately needed to know all about it. Once I told him it was exercising, he begged me to let him do it with me. What could be better than an evening with Jillian? How about Jillian and your five year old? Yeah...

The first question he had (which if you know him, you know one question is just getting started) concerned why the ladies on the video were showing their belly buttons. I explained they were not very modest and how it is always a bad choice for a lady to go around showing off her belly button. I left out the part where they have washboard abs and probably deserve to show a little belly button after what was surely some form of gym torture to have a stomach that looks that way.

I have been so sore the last two days. Which is HILARIOUS. It's a twenty minute workout. I should not be sore after a twenty minute workout. But I am. I nearly had a real emergency today when I needed to cough. Painful. I should point out that I am also potty training Emily this week. More on that later, but suffice it to say, at the end of my day with her I wanted nothing more than to curl up on the couch and eat junk food.

But Coach Drew had other plans. "C'mon Mom! We gotta exercise! You can do it!" Guh. He's already completely appalled about my being on level one. "When are we going to move up to level two??' Sheesh. What could I say? "No, Momma's too lazy to do a twenty minute workout. Let's eat some chocolate..."

So, I screwed up my courage and shredded it up with Jillian and Drew again tonight. I will say watching him "exercise" is a nice little comic break during all the shredding. However. Tonight he said, "Mom, how come you don't show your belly button when you exercise?" I simply explained that I don't like to, hoping he'd hearken back to our little modesty conversation. He would realize I'm a true lady.

"It's because of your scrunchy stomach, huh Mom?"


Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Jerking of the Rug

Mom's been having pain in her side for several months now. Her primary care doctor told her it was probably a pulled muscle.

A pulled muscle.

My mom has been more than diligent in keeping up with her care over the last years. She has had the same primary care doctor for over twenty of those years. She has faithfully had mammograms, colonoscopies, blood tests, and CT scans. She's no hypochondriac, but she is also not stubborn about getting things checked out.

Two months ago she had hip replacement surgery. Mom was born with a hip disorder called Legg-Perthes disease. As a child my mom endured all sorts of things including a very extended stint with crutches. One of my very favorite pictures of my mom is one of her at a dance recital on a pair of crutches. There is no image that sums her up more than this one. Over the years the pain in her hip increased and finally reached the point where she needed to have something done. In the meantime, her abdominal pain was bothering her and she went to see her doctor. He ran blood tests and did a CT scan. He reported to her no findings. This is when he diagnosed her with a pulled muscle and signed off on a release for her hip surgery.

She located a surgeon in Nashville who performs a new hip replacement procedure. (If you ever know someone having hip replacement, this is the way to go!) It cuts the recovery time in half. I felt so positive as we moved into this surgery. By Christmas, I thought, Mom is going to feel like a new person.

In all of her post-op blood work, her liver enzymes came back slightly elevated. And each time we were assured it was nothing to worry about. Mom recovered from her surgery like a champ. She ditched the walker after about 3 days. The hip surgeon declared her the "poster child" for hip replacement.

Because of her surgery she was required to take a blood thinner. Because of this, she had to quit taking ibuprofen for her abdominal pain. The pain continued to mount, culminating in a trip to the ER. This began the journey leading us to where we are today.

Even as we started down this road, I had no inkling where we were headed. I'm usually a tiny bit psychic. Able to sort of see what might be coming. I did not see this coming. Doctor after doctor, test after test, all her levels were "borderline". There might be a little something, we're not sure. My mom and my sister Kristin exhausted themselves trying to get to the bottom of what exactly was going on. Finally, the Lord sent a special surgeon into the picture. I say the Lord sent him because the story of why he is in Knoxville is just that. He believes the Lord called him there. He examined Mom once, and could not hide his suspicions. He believed it was cancer.

Surely, though, because of the levels and the CTs and everything else it was just a tiny cancer right? How could it be really serious and no one have caught it to this point?

I will never forget sitting in the office at work listening to Katy tell me it was cancer and it had already spread to her liver. I had googled enough to know what this meant. The doctor said 6 months. SIX MONTHS. Chemo will only buy her time. To this point, I had not cried about any of it yet. In that tiny office with the blinds closed (thank goodness) the dam burst. My preschool family waiting outside the door, hurting me for me, because that's who they are.

It was the day of Drew's fifth birthday party. I was supposed to leave for Monkey Joe's in half an hour. I had no idea what to do. Daniel arrived-he was having lunch with our "Star of the Week". I collapsed on him. "Just tell me what to do." Mom wanted us to come, and so, of course, we would. Daniel would do the party, flanked by some of my best friends in Nashville who just happen to be preschool teachers. "Go," they said, "we got this." I packed up my things and was surrounded in prayer and laying on of hands. I ran home grabbed my bag, threw in some random clothes and went to get Katy.

As we got in the car we just looked at each other. What could we possibly say for the next excruciating three hours?? At the time we did not know it, but we were both nervous to see her. But when we walked into her condo, it was just her. My little mom. We ran to her and cried our eyes out. The next two days were some of the sweetest time we have had in a long time. It was just mom and her babies. Three girls and a boy, sitting in their PJs soaking her in. We're a talky bunch, and so we hashed and rehashed it all from every angle-physical, emotional, and mostly spiritual. We want to be faithful in these days, but OH how it hurts.

I have three brave, beautiful friends who have lost parents very suddenly in recent days. I thought about them all weekend, knowing what they would have given for one more day to sit on the couch with their loved ones. And so, I sat. Numb and in pain, but with HER.

Over and over I have said I have no idea how to do this. I don't know how to simultaneously beg God for a miracle and walk with someone as they face death. I don't know what to say. I don't know how to help. So, I pray. I pray for as many days as possible of hearing her voice.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

On a Break...


Deep breath.

3 1/2 months since my last post. By far the longest time I've gone between posts.

There are a whole lot of reasons I haven't been around. Some simple: started graduate school, dealing with new evaluations at preschool, committed to a book club.

Some not so simple. I still haven't decided if and when I'll be sharing about any of that. Suffice it to say, the last year of my life has been about coming completely undone. Completely. Honestly, I just haven't had words.

Slowly, though, the words are coming back. And for the first time in a very long time, I've found myself thinking, "Hmm, I should write about that." It turns out I'm a writer. And I don't mean that as in I'm aspiring to anything, or actually good at anything. I just mean I have learned about myself, that life doesn't work right for me if I am not, in some way, writing. I am in deep process about what that really means.

Are you weighed down by all the heavy yet?? Just wait.

After a year of peeling back layer after layer emotionally, I thought I was finished. Well, as finished as one ever gets this side of heaven. Finished for now, I guess. Taking a break from all the hard. But, I'm not. My sweet momma was just diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. Yes, it's breath taking, and not in a good way. Yes, It's horrible. Yes, it's incredibly scary. Any words you can think of to describe the situation-yes, it's that. I'm finding it hard to write much about it. There is not much to say, other than I guess I get to learn and grow some more. In that not very comfortable way.

I'm weary. I'm sad. I keep waiting for normal...

I don't think normal is coming back!!

I will say, one of the things I worked really hard on through the past year's trials is giving thanks everyday for something, no matter what. As Ann Voskamp describes it "the hard eucharisteo". I have learned that something pretty special happens in one's heart when they dig down deep in the midst of awful circumstances to say thank you to God. And when we can say thank you for the very thing, the awful thing, that's happening...well, it can be pretty amazing.

So, I walk through each day looking intently for all the things I can thank Him for. And mostly I thank Him for being with me, all the time, no matter what. I didn't expect to find myself back in the hard valley so soon, but man, oh man, am I thankful He is here with me.

I will be writing here, but it will probably be a big downer. Just a disclaimer. Although I think at this point the only person reading is my fab little brother (What up Uncle Sam?? Holla!) And, there have been quite a few laugh out loud moments this holiday season. Six kids, ages 5 and under (3 five year olds, 3 two year olds!!) all drunk with the Christmas spirit brings out hilarity.

I hope your Christmas was amazing. Despite the circumstances, our family had THE BEST time! I love these people of mine. They are an amazing group.