Sunday, April 17, 2016

I am still here...and an update on Josh

Hi all, I have been the worst blogger ever!!  
I have not given up on this old blog, I guess I have just been a little preoccupied with life at the moment.  

I thought I would update you on Josh's Cancer treatment 
(that is THANKFULLY coming to an end!!).  

Here is Josh's last email update (4/7/16):
I went into my oncologist's office today expecting to be admitted to the hospital for my next chemo. Unfortunately, my lab work came back and my cell counts were too low to start chemo today. We did have some good news from my MRI though (I had this test about 2 weeks ago). There is no sign of cancer growing back at this time. They did notice a little bit of fluid where the cancer was, but this is due to the surgery, as well as the previous radiation treatment. It should be gone in a few months. I will be going in to Ironwood tomorrow, Monday, and Tuesday to get shots to boost my white blood cells. I will be going back for my next appointment next Thursday, and I should be going in to the hospital after that. Only 2 more in-hospital chemo's left!

The past month has been a pretty nice break from chemo (although I am anxious to just finish). The break is due to the new chemo I started 2 months ago. It has a delayed cell death, so it requires a 1 month break in between chemo's. 

*ETA-Josh is actually in the hospital right now getting his last 
of 3 chemo treatments, so after this treatment, 
he only has more left!!
(one in the hospital and one in the doctors office)   

Mike and I are heading to AZ at the beginning of May to celebrate 
him being DONE!  I cannot wait to see the kids!!!

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I have so much that I want to blog about, so I am hoping that 
I can get my act together and start blogging again on a regular basis 
(because, I really do miss it!!), so don't give up on me yet :)  

I am almost done reading  THIS book (recommended by Ashley), and it resonated so much with me!!  I realized that we all need to cultivate creativity! 
I highly recommend it!!  
I think THIS one, is going to be my next read.

as always...
Enjoy Today!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

meal prepping - getting organized one project at a time...

I have been on somewhat of an organizational kick around here.  Not just with de-cluttering my stuff, but also trying to live a more organized life.  

One of the ways that I am doing this is meal prepping.  I have always loved seeing blog posts and pictures on Instagram of people who prep their lunches for the week, but I am not going to lie, that looked very intimidating to me.  I have always made a meal plan for our dinners each week, but I have noticed that working from home, a lot of times, I would forget to eat (for reals, can you believe it?).  I get so focused on getting things checked of my work list, that I honestly stay at my desk pretty much from 9-5 all day.

I had put on a few pounds over the holidays, and I realized that even though I was not eating a lot, the weight was not coming off.  I decided to get more strict with my eating and pulled out my Beyond Diet program.  After just one week of eating breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner, I lost the few pounds I was struggling with.  I was not eating enough!!  So I have jumped on the meal prep bandwagon (in baby steps of course).  

On the BD program, you have your menu planned out for you for the week, you can switch things around that you like and leave out the stuff you don't like (this program had really worked so well for me!).  I am one of those people that is completely happy having the same snack every day (apple and almond butter...YUM!).  I also make extra for dinner each night, so I have leftovers for lunch the next day.

I have been doing this type of meal planning for 3 weeks, and it has made my life so much easier!!  It does take a little extra work on the weekend, but I love when things run smoothly throughout the week.  

Here is my meal plan from last week.  
And because it has helped me stay on track...
I am sharing it with you.  
Get the blank meal planning template HERE.

I thought I would show you a few pictures from last weeks meal prep...
I made a batch of gluten free banana walnut muffins 
(these are really yummy!  and even hubby approved)

and some jar salads for my lunch.

Do you meal prep?  What has worked for you?  

Have a fabulous week!!

Enjoy Today!

Monday, January 18, 2016

the life-changing magic of tidying up

Have you heard of this book?

I read it a few months ago, and it was such an eye opener for me!!  I consider myself  a pretty organized person, but the light bulb went on for me (several times) throughout the book.

I highly recommend it if you are wanting to get your life organized in 2016!!  I will warn you,  there are a few "wonky" things in there (I think it is culture related), but for the most part, this book really kicked my organizing up a notch! 

I am in the process of going through my junk, stuff, LOL!  And I have to say it feels MARVELOUS to get rid of stuff that does not "SPARK JOY"!! 
(Marie Kondo, the author, suggests not starting the process until you finish reading the book, it was REALLY hard not to start digging in!!!)

Mike and I moved into a new house in October, and then the holidays hit, so my progress came to a little bit of a halt, but let me just say that moving was so much easier with the purging I did do before the move.  

I hope you will follow me on my de-cluttering and organizing journey... 

Enjoy Today!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

an update from Josh...

I hope you are having a great week!  I have been pretty busy with work, so I have not been able to post, but I do have some ideas for my blog coming soon :)

I wanted to thank you for all the sweet comments and emails regarding Josh!  It is so nice to know I have so many friends (near and far) keeping him in their thoughts and prayers.  

Josh has been sending out email updates throughout his cancer journey and I thought I would share his most recent update (I think he should start a blog).

I am definitely overdue for an update, but here it is...

I have been in the hospital the past 2 weeks or so getting 2 more rounds of chemotherapy.  (This leaves 7 more chemo's, 4 of which are in the hospital).  I am very excited to be done with going to the hospital...  I got out of the hospital last night, and I go in to my oncologist's tomorrow for my outpatient chemotherapy (they are really putting these things back to back now!).  I am still on track to finishing in March.

A month or so ago I noticed that my heart was feeling a little bit different.  Almost like it was weaker, or not working quite as it was before.  I notified my oncologist and he had me go in for another echo-cardiogram (heart ultrasound).  The results came back the other day while I was in the hospital and it looks like my heart is not working/pumping in the normal range at this time.  A cardiologist met with me and notified me it was congestive heart failure and that my heart was working between 45-50% (normal is above 55%).  They did not seem too worried, which was a relief and my cardiologist is optimistic that my heart should return to normal over time.  The cause of the heart issue is from the radiation treatments that I received (because they were near my heart) as well as one of the chemotherapy's that I receive called Adriamycine (which is toxic to the heart).  They recommend I keep active by walking daily to return my heart back to its original capacity.

**Edited...I spoke with Josh today and they are NOT going to continue with the Adriamycine, due to the heart related side effects.  They will give him another chemo medication in the same family but with less side effects for Josh's heart. (I am kinda happy about this!!!)
Jessica and I have been doing well since our last update.  We have mostly been in the hospital, so we cherish any time that we have at home together.  We are very excited to be nearing the end and we are planning out all of the things we want to do once this phase of our life is over.  Life is good.

I hope you are all doing well!  I will definitely try to send another update soon :)

Josh and Jess

Enjoy Today!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A look back at 2015...

I hope you are having a great week!
I have been thinking about what I want to blog about in 2016 and I have a few ideas up my sleeve, so stay tuned...

 I don't get super personal here, but wanted to share a little about what has been going on in 2015.  You may want to pour a cup of is a little long.

In November 2014 I moved to Williston ND, where Mike accepted a position as a pipeline operator for an oil company.  The thought of moving was very hard!! Leaving my kids behind in AZ, leaving warm and sunny AZ, starting over in a new state (with No Target), you get the idea...lots of mixed emotions.  I am so thankful my employer offered me the option to work remotely, it helped me keep a bit of normalcy.  

Since we moved in November, the weather in ND was COLD and SNOWY (luckily I grew up in Connecticut, so I wasn't too shocked at what winter was going to be like for me going forward).  Since I was still working 40 hours/week and learning my new surroundings (not a lot to learn...this may be a blog post), my blog took the back seat. It was a nice little break.  I am sorry that I didn't update you and let you know what was going on.  I have to say that every so often during my hiatus, I thought, I really need to start blogging again (I missed it), but I didn't know what I would blog about.  

At the end of May, 
Josh called me on his break at work to say "hi", after a little random chit chat, he mentioned he had a lump on his sternum.  He said he has been Googling it and jokingly said "mom, I have cancer".  I told him not to go online to get a diagnosis and to have his doctor check it out.  He said he would make an appointment.  Thankfully he kept his word!  He went to the doctor and they said they were 99% sure it was a stress fracture, but they wanted to have it biopsied to be sure.  He asked me if I thought he should do it, since he had not met his deductible yet.  I suggested to get it done for his own peace of mind!  I was not sure what he was going to decide, but I figured 99% is pretty good odds.  Luckily Jess (Josh's wife), told him to get it done.  

Fast forward a week or so....
I received another call from Josh on his break at work, this time, he told me that his doctor just called to let him know that his biopsy was CANCER (I was in total shock!!!).  I don't remember much from that day, I was numb, I kept thinking that I was in a bad dream (did I really just get that news??) I kept waiting to wake up and everything would be back to normal.  Unfortunately, it was not a dream.

What did this mean, 
what was going to happen? (so many unanswered questions!). Josh made an appointment with an Oncologist and found out that he had  Osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer, and his was fast growing).  His doctor assured him that they were going to set up an aggressive treatment plan and he was going to beat it (it was curable!)!  

I went to AZ for a visit in July, because I needed to see the kids, and I wanted to be with Josh during one of his chemo treatments (luckily I have been able to visit numerous times).  

Since his cancer was so aggressive, he has to get his chemo administered in the hospital in very large doses.  He had already had a couple of rounds of chemo and decided to shave his head, since his hair was starting to falling out. 

He and Jess have had such a positive attitude through all of this, I am so proud of them.  But I would change places with him in a heartbeat if I could!  It is heartbreaking to see your bald kiddo in the hospital getting poison pumped into his body.  But I choose to be positive, that poison is killing the cancer, and making my family stronger. 

I am so thankful for Ashley, Nate and Jess' family, who visit Josh in the hospital.  And I cannot express how thankful I am for Jessica (that deserves an entire blog post on its own)!!!!  She stays with Josh (overnight), during EVERY treatment, she is just so GREAT!!  It makes me feel so good to know that he has so many people that care and love him, especially when I cannot be there.

At the half way point...
In September, I flew to AZ for Josh's surgery.  He had his sternum removed. Let me just say, this was even harder to watch, seeing him in so much pain.  He handled it like a trooper and bounced back very quickly.  He got the results back and the margins were all clean!!  He is cancer free!  Such fantastic news!!  It was so great to get that part of the treatment behind us!  Josh started radiation and he said that part was a breeze (compared to everything else).  It was great to know that at least one part of this treatment wasn't too bad for him!  

Mike and I drove to AZ in November (with the dogs) to visit the kids.  It was so great to be together as a family!!  I enjoyed every minute of it.  I was glad that Mike was able to be with Josh during one of his chemo treatments too.  

Right now...
Josh is in the final stretch (however, it doesn't feel like that for him, I am sure).  He has 8 more chemo treatments to go and then he is DONE!!!  I am so excited for him to get back to his normal life and his job (he is getting a promotion when he returns, because...he is AWESOME!).  

I don't want to leave Ashley out...
Ashley's license request was approved by the board and she finally got her L.P.C. license (I am so proud of her!). She has had so many obstacles on this journey, what a relief that that part is done!  She has had her share of difficult situations last year as well (I am not sure she wants me to share them on the blog), but like her brother, she is getting through it and helping others as she goes.  I could not be more proud of the person she has become!!

As I mentioned above, I am able to work remotely, which I love (especially since I don't have to drive in the snow!).  It has also allowed me to fly to Arizona several times to visit the kids and work while I am there (to save on my vacation time and not miss much work), and I like seeing my co-workers too!

So there you have it!
It has been a crazy year!  I hope you will join me in 2016 by enjoying each moment and try not to sweat the small stuff!!  

Oh yeah, and always get the test done!!  Even if you are 99% sure it isn't serious!  And if it is bad news...try to remain positive and try to find humor in the hard times, that has kept me sane (and the roller coaster ride a little less scary).

Enjoy Today!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy 2016!!!!!

Happy New Year!
I am excited to be a little more active on my blog this year!  2015 was a very crazy year for our family  (I will post a little about that this week).  I am really looking forward to 2016!  I am not a big resolution maker, so nothing to post about that!  I am however, planning to worry less (easier said than done, ha ha!), and enjoy this crazy thing called life!  I hope you will follow along as we have the best 2016 EVER!

I thought it would be fun to post my Instagram #2015bestnine  to wrap up last year...(if you'd like, follow me @ gretchenclark).  

Enjoy Today!