Family Control Center

This is not going to a spiritual uplifting post but a little more practical.  From time to time I will make posts here regarding things that are working for us as a family and for homeschooling.  This is one of those posts.

Towards the end of December, I always had to look for a new calendar for the kitchen.  This calendar was the family calendar where everyone could see at a moment’s notice who had what, when, and where.  I had to buy the big calendar with the 5 spaces for family members names (Travis and I shared a space).  The spaces never seemed big enough and I had to buy a new one every year.

This year I have done something different.  I can not take credit for this idea.  I saw it in a Real Simple magazine.  This is our new Family Control Center in the kitchen:

I spent the same amount of money on all the supplies for this as I do on a calendar every year (about $25.00).  We love it so far.  It does require some work up front and through the year but next year I will be set because I will everything from the year before.  I am keeping the same color theme for 3 months at a time.  I made up the little circles for events.  As an event is scheduled, I write the time, person’s name and what they will be doing.  I then pin the morning events to the left side of the square, the afternoon on the right side and the evening events at the bottom.  Recently, when I took a trip I also wrote the flight # and the time on the circle.  Travis was able to check at a moment’s notice as to when I was coming in.  It also helped him throughout the week while I was gone to manage the things that the children were involved in.  As you can see from the picture, I did not take into account the width of ribbon when figuring out the placement so Saturday ended up being the smallest block.  It worked out okay for us because most of our stuff is during the week.

If you want directions and supply list, let me know.

136 Days and Last Week of Break

It has been a couple of weeks since I posted anything. Everything has pretty much remained the same for Travis. There is no new changes to report or anything significant happening, which is a blessing right now. The IM doctor did start Travis on some baseline insulin in the hopes that it would keep his blood sugar levels a little more stable and that seems to have worked pretty well. This is his last week of break. He will start round 2 of the Phase 2 chemo on the 28th. He had blood work today in order to make sure that his blood counts are adequate to begin the next round of chemo. We should get those results within the next day or so. Sometimes the side effects are cumulative so we will see how he responds to this round.

My biggest issue over the last few weeks has been insurance related, as if I needed anything else. Several days, I have had to spend hours on the phone trying to resolve issues and fix other people’s mistakes. This has caused me not only stress but a delay in getting some medications approved. We are hoping that on March 1st, all of these things resolve themselves. The headache of this alone has been more than I can take on some days.

I have struggled lately with grief and despair. There are mornings, when I am in that in-between place of asleep and awake when I think that my life is what it used to be. Then reality follows quickly on its heels and I realize that my life has completely changed. There are many days that this still feels surreal and I wonder how we got here. I know that God is here somehow in all of this and I am desperately searching for Him. Sometimes He just gives me the strength to get up every morning and do it all over again. The physical tasks but also the emotional upheaval as well.

I read recently that pain changes people and not always for the good. I can attest to the change part and yet I am still waiting to see what the change looks like on the other side. The book then states “Something wonderful survives everything terrible and it surfaces most clearly when we hurt.” Over the past couple of weeks, this his been my cry to God: Only you can bring something wonderful from this terrible thing. If I and our children have to hurt this bad, then please make it mean something.

I will post another update before he begins on the 28th and then of course, after that round is complete.

Thank you again for all your comments, emails, cards, gift cards and monetary gifts. These have blessed us in more ways than we can begin to tell you.

God of the Valley

1 Kings 20:22-23 , 28“Afterward the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, ‘Strengthen your position and see what must be done, because next spring the king of Aram will attack you again.’  Meanwhile, the officials of the king of Aram advised him, ‘Their gods are gods of the hills.  That is why they were too strong for us.  But if we fight them on the plains, surely we will be stronger than they.’….The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, ‘This is what the Lord says: ‘Because the Arameans think the Lord is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the Lord.'”

When I think of mountains, I think of majesty, awe, and overwhelmingly powerful.  Is not this how God seems to us when we are on the mountaintop.  Awe-inspiring, majestic, powerful and miraculous all at once.  Valleys are passages to the next mountain.  Things are different in the valley.  We feel alone, the mountains overshadow us and seem far above where we are.  Is not this how God seems as well?  We think He is distant, we almost cannot even see the mountaintop or remember Him from up there.  It is dark and fearsome and we are overwhelmed.  This is when the enemy of our souls comes, not on the mountaintop but in the valley.  But the God of the mountaintop is the God of the valley.  In the valley we learn of God’s faithfulness, love and concern for us.  He is still there with us just as on the mountaintop.  So what is the difference?  What we are focusing on.  On the mountaintop, we are focusing on God, His character, His goodness.  In the valley, we focus on our circumstances.

Where are you today?  What are you focusing on?

Phase 2 Has Begun

Last night Travis started had his first dose of the 2nd phase of chemo. We are still using a pill form of chemo at this point. He gets an anti-nausea pill about 2 hours before bed or if he has already decided to go to bed early, I just wake him up and give it to him. An hour later, he takes the chemo pills. By taking these at night, the thinking is that he sleeps off most of the effects. Last night he seemed to handle it fine and today there has been no ill effects.

Most of what we have heard from other patients in our tumor support group and from Dr. Pan himself is that the effects of this round will begin to show up about 2 to 3 days into this phase and the effects will most likely last for up a week or so after he has finished the round. I will most likely post another update at the end of this week as to his progress.

On Saturday, the whole family attended our first family support meeting at Moffitt. It was very beneficial I think for all of us, especially the children. Mostly, I think the children were able to walk away knowing that they were not alone in their emotions and in what their family is going through right now. It was very enlightening for me, as their mom, to also see the pictures they drew to describe their emotions during this time.

Last week, we actually accomplished some homeschooling. The children were less than thrilled but we persevered nevertheless.

We did not see much improvement in Travis’ symptoms with the steroid increase over the weekend, expect for his blood sugar levels elevating more. So on Monday, we reduced the steroid back down to where it had been originally.

Fatigue seems to be a pretty big factor still for Travis. We are trying to get in PT and OT exercises twice a day. We also are still at Moffitt several times a week with therapy visits and Internal Medicine appointments.

Not much else has changed for him. We are trying to find the “new” normal at home right now and for our family. Realizing that this may change again at anytime.