Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cautiously Optimistic

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer (again) and started treatment the plan was for six rounds of chemo, three treatments each round, three weeks apart. She recently finished her sixth round and yesterday she had her CT scan and oncologist appointment to determine where they were and if they needed to continue more treatments.

The last time she had a CT done the doc told her that they were making progress but not as much as she'd hoped. Mom has still been running low grade fever between treatments (a sign of the Hodgkin's disease) although it seems to not as bad as before. Frankly, I had no hope of her treatments being over and was hoping for 2-3 more rounds instead of another 4-6. Mom and Dad were thinking along the same lines and came to Jackson yesterday prepared to stay for a late treatment and come back today and tomorrow.


She's done. She'll go back in two months for anther CT because there are still two spots in the lymph nodes in her abdomen but they haven't changed since the last scan two months ago so the doc believes they may be "residual" spots, either dead lymph nodes or scaring or shadows or something that is not cancer. If those spots show any change during the next scan they will likely start more treatments. If not, they will begin the first year cancer-free checkups.

Holy cow. I did not see that coming.

My mom has been sick for a solid year. The disease started showing symptoms last January. Most of you know this is the second time she's had had cancer; the last time was earlier stage and concentrated in the thyroid. This time was stage four and spread throughout her abdomen and abdominal organs. The simple fact that six rounds of chemo seems to have knocked it out... I can't even...

I talked to Mom on the phone last night and then sat and cried because we are the most blessed people on Earth today. To beat lymphoma twice in six years is a pretty impressive feat. My mom is the strongest woman I've ever known.

Monday, September 30, 2013


Today is my seven  year wedding anniversary.

Which is awesome. I'm one of those people who truly loves being married to my hubby and I'm glad to see him every day.

I suspect we'll be together a very long time.

Largely because we have a rule that whoever runs away first has to take the kids.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Update on Stuff

You know what I hate? Baking stuff Luke can't eat. Like oatmeal raisin cookies. K loves them and loves making them. Greg likes them for breakfast to go. Poor Luke wants one so bad he can't stand it. The chocolate fudge GF cookie I gave him is obviously not as good.


Anyway, we're two days away from two weeks gluten free. His eczema is gone, except for a brief outbreak after we accidentally gave him some gluten laced french fries. His chronic diarrhea is still a problem but his pediatrician is finally taking me seriously about it. She thinks the gluten thing is over diagnosed and wants to test for a bunch of bacterial infection type issues. Three vials of blood and a stool sample later I'm still waiting on the last of the results. Should have those by Wednesday. Doc said to stay GF for now and eliminate as much sugar and dairy as possible. Not sure how I'll ever figure out what he's reacting to if I cut out everything at once, but I want him better ASAP so...

I wanted to test for the gluten allergy but it turns out our insurance won't pay for it unless it's ordered by a GI, allergy, or neurology specialist. Really? Really. So we can pay $250 out of pocket or we can go see a new doctor (and pay nearly as much on new doc visits).  I'm tired of new doctors. I'm tired of our old doctors. One thing at a time I guess. If none of these tests come back positive then we'll move on to something else.

His early intervention evaluation was last week and that was a disaster, but he should be starting in-home speech therapy within a month. Therapist hasn't actually called to schedule yet so we'll still be going to UMC for therapy in the  meantime. I swear over the weekend he said "turn it off" (regarding the light) and he still tells us "hereyougo" every time he hands us something, so maybe he's skipping words and moving straight to sentences?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Now Here's a Dilemma

Dilemma #1

Do you hope for a undesirable result just have an answer, or is it better to not know what's going on, but know it's not THAT?

Luke's EEG is scheduled for Monday, so by Tuesday we'll know if he's having seizures. If he is, I'd bet money he had on Monday night and that it was the second one since the possibility was mentioned two weeks ago.

So I don't want that to be the answer, but I want to know what's going on with him. If not that, what? Can't work on something if we don't know what it is. There are reasonable answers for all the weird things we've noticed except the speech and motor skill issues. I don't know what result to hope for here.

Dilemma #2

My mom started her second round of chemo yesterday. My cousin, who I haven't seen since my grandmother died two years ago, is going to be in Philly this weekend. Do I take the kids? Last time we did that Mom ended up in the hospital, but she swears it wasn't because of the kids and that her doctor said it was ok. I'm torn between going and not going. Mom wants us to go because she misses the kids. This is kind of a no win for me.

And you know what I've realized? This blog has become all about my mom's cancer and Luke's mystery issues. I need to work on that. But to be honest, those two issues pretty much sum up most of what's on my brain these days.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bad to Really Bad

So my mom wanted to see the kids this weekend and we packed them up to keep her happy. 

Sunday morning K starts running fever. I throw Tylenol at her and start packing up like a mad woman. The last thing a chemo patients needs is to snuggle with somebody who has fever. 

Today we saw the doc and K likely has hand foot and mouth. Great. Luke has a nasty sinus infection. Also great. I went to let my mom know and she's at the cancer center waiting to see an NP because her fever spiked last night. 

I just got word that they are admitting her for extremely low white blood count. 

I can't even go see her because I'm a giant carrier monkey. And I'm completely ignoring my scratchy throat because I absolutely cannot deal with that this week. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Second Child Syndrome

Ya'll are going to have to give me a few of paragraphs to rant before I get to my point on this one.

You know what I have a pet peeve about? People accusing parents of second child syndrome. Claiming all smugly that we are clearly treating out second children different than we treated our first.

Well duh.

Anybody who treats all of their children exactly the same clearly learned nothing from the first one. Frankly, I learned boat loads from K and I've used that knowledge to do things different with Luke. That doesn't mean he's inferior, it means he benefits from the fact that I learned from my mistakes.

Second, anybody who treats all of their children the same clearly never figured out that each kid is different. They do things differently, at different rates, and have different interests. You can't follow the same pattern for each one because they aren't identical. Why would you treat them identically?

Geez louise people irritate me.

Anyway, the point is that I'm very very glad Luke is our second child. He's totally different from K. Things she loved at this age he shows no interest in. Things she still doesn't care about he will obsess over. They're just different and it's fascinating. I also learned a lot from K that has made dealing with BL a whole lot easier.

For example, Luke has better hand-eye coordination at nearly 20 months than K has at nearly 4 years. His motor skills are off the charts. But where K was talking at 10 months, BL has nothing to say.

Unfortunately, I'm not exaggerating. He has nothing to say. He's picked up a few words off and on over the past few months but he has always dropped them within a couple of weeks. He's never said "mama" in proper context and while he has the "d" sound I'm not sure he's ever said "daddy" for real either.

We have had the luxury of Greg's job (he's the head geek over the telehealth program at UMMC) putting him in contact with some super awesome people at the Child Development Clinic at the hospital. He's worked on some long distance clinics for them and through the process he's gotten to know most of the doctors and staff. While chatting with some of  them earlier this year about our kids he mentioned Luke's brain damage at birth and the fact that we've been paying particularly close attention to his language development because of it. One of them told him that he should have about ten words by age 18 months and if he didn't they would be happy to evaluate him if we wanted.

At 18 months Luke had 2 words. He's since dropped them.

So a few weeks ago we had him evaluated and they agreed to refer him to an early intervention program and to work with him at the clinic for bridge therapy until we can get him set up. We've seen the NP (whose name is Jennifer, not to be confused with my BFF Jennifer who works with grieving children) for a few weeks now and have worked on some sign language, mirroring and motivational techniques. Last week at our session she mentioned that she noticed he was a little wobbly when we first started. I mentioned that he does that sometimes, particularly first thing in the morning or after naps. Takes him a few minutes to get steady...

So combine that with the fact that he's dropping all his language skills routinely and has dropped a few motor skills that were related to his words (i.e. waving bye and poking) and the doctor that originally evaluated him has decided that he needs an EEG to look for seizures. It's a guess and may not be the issue, but there's enough evidence for them to want to look. We aren't scheduled to see his neuro again until the end of the year so I'm really glad they are taking this seriously now. If it's a thing then the speech therapy won't help unless we work on that too. If it's not, then we may need to look elsewhere.

Now people (including his pediatrician, who I do adore) have been blowing me off about this stuff for months now because he's the second child and I shouldn't compare him to K (ummmm, it's long past ten months, people) and second children often talk later and he's a boy... Shut up. For reals. The kid should have "mama" down by now. And while it's normal at this age to drop some words when focusing on other new developmental skills, it's not normal to never get them back.

For the record, K never had an MRI or EEG in her life, so I guess I'm treating Luke differently again. Such a bad parent.

Mom Update

Most of you don't know my mom other than by reputation. I'm telling you now, straight up, my mom's a trooper. She's awesome. So many times in her life she could have taken the easy out but never once did. I want to be her when I grow up. I want my kids to know what an amazing person she is. We are all lucky to have her. 

She finished her first round of chemo this week (4 sessions over two weeks) and is feeling fantastic. No, really. It's like she's on crack. She hasn't felt this good in six months. She's been cooking and working in the yard and going into town. She asked me to bring the kids to see get this weekend. She wants to come spend the night with us one day next week. 

I blame the mega steroids. 

Whatever it is, I just want to soak up the happy energetic lady I love so much while she's feeling good. I fear it won't last much past the next few treatments but I can enjoy it now. 

Monday, July 29, 2013


You know what you want to do when you're facing round two of cancer and you feel so bad you're comparing it to how you felt on chemo last time?


Wait for tests
Wait for results
Wait for appointments
Wait for more tests
Wait for more results
Wait at the ER
Wait wait wait

So my mom's oncologist appointment was cancelled because they didn't have all the results back from her biopsy, but they had to have gotten some of them back because they scheduled her for a bone marrow aspiration last week. That's a clue, because the insurance wouldn't have paid for the procedure without cause, which means the results they did have weren't good.

She goes back this Wednesday for all the results. We already know the cancer is back. Mom feel awful. She can't eat; she's lost weight; she sleeps a LOT. We went up to see her for a day this weekend and she couldn't hardly play with the kids, which is the opposite of my mom.

On her last visit to the ER she overheard the doc saying "Hodgkin's lymphoma." Last time around it was non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of the thyroid. This time they are looking at her liver. I'm praying they didn't find anything in the bone marrow.

We will all be super relieved to have an official diagnosis and treatment plan. The waiting sucks. It's been over a month since she first called her oncologist to schedule the PET. It's been three months or more since she started suspecting her cancer was back. It's been seven months since she started getting sick again. It's time to get this party started.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Things we tried to name our kitten which were vetoed by my daughter:

Perry the Platypus

Monday, July 15, 2013


There are things I can't talk about in the daylight.

Like how my mom's cancer is back.

But it's dark and I've been awake since 3am anyway.

She was declared cancer free for 5 years this past December. She started getting weird fevers and illnesses in January.

Last week she had another PET scan that showed two suspicious areas, one near her liver and one near the spleen.

This week they are doing the biopsy and getting results on Friday.

But everybody has already moved past that and started thinking about treatment. Even her oncologist, who is basically waiting to see which type of cell it is to determine what's next.

I don't want her to have to do this again. It's too much. And it's not fair.

And I can't think about it because if I do I'm afraid it'll crush me.

And now the sun's coming up so I have to pretend it's not happening again and hope I sleep tomorrow night.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Conversations I didn't put on FB:

K - It's not easy to be a bigot sometimes...

(Context - she's a myna bird. Heard me say it wouldn't be easy to raise kids who weren't racist bigots while living in MS, but I thought we could do it.)

K - "Is Lauren being funny again?"

(Context - I looked at my phone and giggled.)

Me- I was going to do that a little gentler...
K - you mean more quieter?
Me - yes. Quieter. 
K - I must have missed that part. 

(Context - waking Luke from his nap with K screaming his name. I had told her to hush. She didn't. I asked her if she missed the part where I said hush...)

Monday, June 3, 2013

To Do List

So I'm kid-free for a couple of days. K went to my parents' house for swim lessons which may or may not actually happen since the pool they use is broken until Wednesday. But she's also going to the water park with her cousins on Tuesday so it's all good. Luke took off with my in-laws a few minutes ago and he'll be hanging with them a couple of days. It's been a while since I've been at home without without any kids. There's always the initial few minutes or so of, "What now?? It's so quiet. Nobody is asking for juice..." But then I find myself bombarded with my kid-free to do list...

1. Read more than three paragraphs at a time. And without grubby fingers trying to snatch my Kindle with all kinds of glee.

2. Take a long bath and leave all my stuff on the edge of tub, including my razor. But no toys.

3. Dig around on my bar and find the puzzle I started two months ago before all the crazy travel started. Contemplate whether or not all the pieces are still there. (They aren't. I know this. I should start a new one.)

4. Go to Walmart in the middle of the night (you know, 9 or 10pm) and roam around for an hour buying random things.

5. Stay up late. Sleep until 10.

6. Watch an actual movie. Either on at home or in a theater. Don't be in a rush about it either.

7. Eat a meal in a restaurant that doesn't involve a high chair. Don't be in a rush about that, either.

8. Turn on my computer. Maybe check facebook for real. Or read some blogs.

9. Plug things in and watch them stay plugged in. Like my Bluetooth speaker. And then use it and have it work.

10. Eat snacks without sharing.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Conversations With Greg

After I severely trounced him in a round of The Lord of the Rings Deck Building Game that I should have lost...

Greg: I don't even know why you let me join your little posse. 

Me: Posse? It's not a posse! It's a Fellowship!

Greg: A fellowship is what you have at church. You get a bunch of hobbits together and it's a posse! 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I'm An Idiot.

This story dedicated to my dear BFF Jen. Because these are the times she misses living with me. She calls these Stupid Susan moments.

Most of you know that I've suffered chronic back pain for the past 12 or so years. It's been mostly tolerable since I started living a life of leisure as a bon bon eating housewife with no responsibilities whatsoever. (That was sarcasm, people, shut up.) There's been a point with both my children, sometime around their first birthdays, when it becomes intolerable again. Something about hauling giant children around does that to me. Anyway, for the past month or so it's been mostly awful and I've been drugging myself to high heaven most days just to be able to move. The cream I'd been using as a topical backup plan is no longer widely available so I've had to resort to using a different brand which smells awful and burns like Hell. And yes, I used the proper noun there for a reason. Fast forward to about an hour ago...

I'd doused myself in muscle cream a few times this evening so as soon as the kids went to bed I jumped in a nice hot bath to soak my aching muscles and wash off the offending smell before I ran my poor hubby out of bed with it. I soaked for a few minutes, rubbed my shoulders a bit to help loosen things up, then went about getting clean. I slathered on the face cleanser first and let that sit for a second...


Rewind that and read it more carefully. This is a reading comprehension quiz. Note the order of events...

It took about 10 seconds for my face to start burning. CRAP. I'd rubbed my shoulders, covered in acid, and then smeared them all over my face! So of course I grab a washcloth, dunk it in the tub and start scrubbing my face.

You know how to activate muscle cream? Rub it in.

You see where this is going, right?

Also, I'd been soaking in that tub for a good ten minutes before this started, so the water was a wee bit contaminated with the stuff already...

I was smart enough at this point to rinse out the washcloth with cold water from the tap and splash my face. I figured I'd just have to let it run it's course for a minute for the burning to stop. In the meantime, I'd just distract myself from the agony by doing something useful. Like shaving my legs.

This is the part where BFF Jen is laughing at me, because she knows how much blood I lose shaving when my face isn't pealing off.

You wanna know what happens when a tub of water contaminated by acid meets an open cut on a freshly shaved leg? No. You don't. Meanwhile, one I realize that my face AND my leg is on fire, I react quickly... by slicing open my ankle with the aforementioned razor.

By this point I realize that an intelligent person would drain the offending water from the tub, run fresh water, and get the hell out of the tub. So I do. I dry off, sit down on the toilet seat to get my feet... and realize the cut on my ankle is worse than I thought and I have ruined my bathroom rug by bleeding all over it. As in, pools of blood soaking in. I bandage the wound, grab the rug, and try to figure out how to explain this one to Greg who is between me and the washer.

After avoiding his questions and throwing the rug in the washer I decided he knew I was an idiot when he married me. I turned to go back and explain the whole thing and realized I was bleeding again and had tracked blood all the way to the washer.

Because I'm an idiot, people. And if you didn't know it before, you know it now.

And Greg just offered to take me to the ER for my ankle. I think he was kidding. Maybe.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Little Competition

The Emmer boys may have a little competition for Kaycie's affection. Little Mason definitely has her attention!

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Hello, Paperwhite. Welcome.

Happy birthday to me.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bite Me.

I'm going to let this speak for itself.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Farm Exclusive

I've spent over a week trying to get a video of this, but my son refuses to be a trained monkey. After BFF Lauren chastised me for blog neglect last week I decided it would be awesome to get a video and post it here as a Farm Exclusive. It's not as good a video as I'd like, but it's better than nothing. And there's another one I'd like to get but again, not a trained monkey, so... I'll keep trying! Meanwhile, I give you 14 seconds of Lukester doing his thing, with a cameo by Casper the Pup.

He's only got a few moves in him at a time, but he's all about the practicing! Every time I get close he grabs my hand and makes me walk with him. He's ready to go, just lack the necessary balance!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Promise Is A Promise

I was severely chastised earlier today and as a result I swore on my Kindle Library that I'd post to the Farm sometime this week.

Because apparently it's been a while since Luke turned 9 months.

Yeah. It has.

And frankly, it's a miracle I've survived it. Since Thanksgiving it has been one illness after another in our house, mostly involving Luke. And let's not talk about our awesome Christmas travels where Greg stayed in bed for all but maybe an hour over a four day period. Or the fact that moments after we started a new year with a new insurance deductable (because we'd reached our out of pocket max last year and everything for Luke was FREE) we found out Luke needed tubes in his ears. Or Kaycie's fun with flu. For reals, people, we've been a house of carrier monkeys since November.

But survive we (mostly) have and I promised an update so here it is.

Luke is kinda walking. He's taking 4-5 steps at a time and is very proud of himself. It's not a full time occupation, more of a hobby at this point. But he's on it. He's also going through a sleep thing right now that makes me sad because he has been a totally awesome sleeper over the past six months or so. I think it's all the learning to walk that's messing him up. He did start going to Mother's Day Out with K back in Janaury and he's finally settling in there. They adore my little man, and the fact that he sleeps a good 2-3 hours for them every time! He still isn't really talking, but he's making enough appropriate sounds and seems to recognize a few words so I'm not worried about it. His brain trauma was in the speech and language development portion of the brain so it's something we've watched out for. His doc says it is common for second kids to talk later if their older siblings are big talkers, so I figure if he's talking by 3 it'll all be good! His sister is a talker!

Speaking of his sister, she turned 3 since we talked last. God help me, I hope she makes it to four. She's turning into quite the sassy, independent little lady. I won't recap the recent developmental leap that got her so much attention on Facebook, but let's just say she's lucky to be alive. She's still my smart, funny, sweet little girl. Or little bunny, as the case may be today. Some days she's Baby Bird. Some days she's a princess. Today's she's a bunny. We spend a lot of time playing imagination games and a lot of time playing board games and puzzles. And reading. And going places like the Science Museum and the zoo and the library. It's harder for us to find the opportunity to do the fun things we used to do because Lukezilla tends to want to explore what we're up to and it usually ends in disaster. I'd feel bad about that if she didn't love and support her little man so much. She's determined teach him to talk, walk, and right from wrong. At least her version of it... If she's awake before he is in the morning she gets antsy to wake him up. When he does start to stir she's the first one in his room to check on him, tell him it's ok and that she'll stay with him until Mama can get there. Sweet, sweet girl.

As for the adults in the house, we're rocking along, trying not to beat the kids (kidding people, really!), putting together puzzles and playing our table top games Right now we're enjoying a variety of games, including the nerdy deck building games Dominion and Legendary, but over the past few months we've played the daylights out of things like Pandemic (awesome game), Elder Sign, Castle Panic, and Zombie Flux. We had a blast traveling to Atlanta for a work thing last month and hope to make it back to Alabama, South Carolina and Texas over the next few months for a variety of purposes. And there's some potential big news on Greg's job front that may pup up in a few months, but he works for the State so I'm not counting those chickens until I see the paycheck...

So that's where we are. I'm posting more to my photo blog these days just because I've  started a puzzle project and it requires less effort. If you want to see what's going on there, along with the most recent pics of the kiddos, you can do that here.

And now I'm typing with my assistant in my lap because he was done with being ignored. What you got to say for yourself, Lukester?

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So there you go. Maybe that'll get me out of hot water for a day or two!