Welcome to Life Through Bifocals

Life is not always clear and easy to figure out. So grab a cup of coffee and your bifocals and let's see what we can see.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Happy Birthday to Nurse Becke, the Wonder Dog

Today our Becke is officially 14 years old!! 
I've heard it said many times that we may not get the dog we want
But we get the dog we need.
Becke is truely is the dog we needed.  Her kindness, gentle spirit, and determantion have been
a source of joy and laughter for us.
If she wants you to pet her she will politly sit next net you and look at you, if you do nothing, she will
start to nudge your arm, if you do nothing she wil nudge harder.
Until she just about climbe into your lap with "I will Not Be Engored" look.
She is trained to the level of Therapy dog and Service dog and has been a reading dog as well in the past.
She is now retired form those as I'm sick but she is my therapy dog and servce dog and big sister to August. 
I tell her she has a lot to teach him so she needs to stay around a long time.  
I love my girl
Intregrety StarBeck
Becke Boo Boo
Becke, the wonder dog
I see Lobster in you future for dinner love.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A break from every day: Wednesday Hodgepodge.

I'm so glad that I feel well enough to join in the Hodgepodge this week, I missed it last week.   Thank you Joyce.

1. It's  been said that one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day. Do you think that's true? Do you find that an easy exercise most mornings? What's something positive you told yourself today? If you missed that boat, what's something positive you could tell yourself tomorrow?
Yes I believe that when you wake up with positive thoughts, it colors your day.  Recently I have learned to wake up with a smile on my face. After all, I DID wake up!

2. There will be karaoke at the next party you attend...are you in? Or will you be faking a sore throat?
SURE!! Especially if I can sing with someone else, at least the first time....

3. January 29th is National Puzzle Day...what's something you've found puzzling recently?
"Global Warming"  It's -5 up here in NH while I type this, parts of the country are going to -30 degrees. Alaska is warmer than the lower 48!  WARM  I don't think so!!!

4.  Jigsaw, crossword, acrostic, logic, sudoku, word search...what's your favorite kind of puzzle, and when did you last work one?
I like word search and sudoku and have both of them in my cell phone so I can play whenever I want.

5. Recently a writer by the name of Amy Glass ruffled feathers with a post she wrote saying she looks down on young women with husbands and kids and she's not sorry. Among other things, she says women will be equal with men when we stop saying house work and real work are equally important. You can read the whole piece by clicking here.

What say you? Do you think men and women are equal in the 21st century? Why or why not?
God made men and woman to be different, to have different roles, to fulfil different needs.  He made us to compliment each other, not to compete with each other.  The whole men/woman equal in the 21 century is a man made idea. If we follow what God wants for His people, we are equal, and still different.

6. What's a product you've noticed in the grocery store that you'd like to try, but haven't yet?
I haven't been to a grocery store in 3 weeks, I have no idea if there is anything new there.

7. The author, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) was born this week in 1832 (January 27th).  Which character from his celebrated novel, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, would you most like to meet, and why? Here's a link to a character list if you need help on this one.
The Cheshire Cat: I love the cats grin and ability to explain what is happening.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
As cold as it is around here I know that some in the Midwest and especially in the south are even colder. Up here the big thing is the flu!  Did you get it? I have so many coworkers with it and it's really a bad one.  I am looking forward to spring - are you?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Story of the 3 Bears

   In anticipation of stem cell harvesting I took the Saturday before to cook for my family. I wanted enough for Hubby and I for 2 full weeks and also for our dogs, as I cook for them as well.

   I gathered my list, went shopping, gathered the supplies and got to cooking. I had both racks in the oven going, all 4 burners on the stove, and my 3 Bears.

Meet Papa Bear - Momma Bear - Baby Bear and Pee Wee (not a real crock pot)

I used one of the gifts we got for Christmas, an absolutely beautiful cutting board pictured above.  I didn't want to cut on it at all, but the man who made it for us made me promise that I would use it so I did.

I chopped, I diced, I cut and I made food for all of us for the next two weeks.

In Papa Bear was beef stew

In Mama Bear was Veggie Barley soup with kielbasa

In Baby Bear was a depression favorite soup called Giblot (hot dog stew)

In the Pee Wee Bear was a stew for the dogs (without the onions, and many of the seasonings) Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of that one, plus it was just one meal and gone in no time!

In the oven was meat loaf

sweet potatoes fries

pork loin


On the stove top I make tater tot casserole

Suet cakes for the birds and the food for the dogs.
Once it was all cooked and had time to cool, I put it all in containers and put all of them in the freezer.

   It took me hours and we got a lot of food and the freezers were both full.

   We were set for hunkering down and eating well while I went through this ordeal.

   Ironically, I couldn't eat any of it!!  My diet after chemo and before harvesting consisted of Banana, Rice, Applesauce, Toast, Egg - known as the BRATE diet.
With all the wonderful food I had made, this is what I got for breakfast.

The weak tea was replaced with Ginger ale.

In place of toast, I could substitute 4 unsalted crackers.
YUM right!  

   So Hubby got a lot of good cooking!  He is one happy hubby and willing to make the sacrifice. As i was eating my BRATE diet and he was eating real food he would gag and tell me how horrible his food tasted. He's such a bad liar!
   So the dogs and the bids are happy and well fed, too.

   Some days all I can do is laugh!!!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Battle Scars

Thank you all for the well wishes, emails, cards, calls and concern, but thank you most of all for prayers, healing energy and thoughts to our Father in heaven who showered me in grace and got me through this.

It has been AS hard as we were told it was going to be.  I'm so thankful for all the tests that were done on me before I started this process and for the care that I have received from the wonderful staff at Norris Cotton Cancer Center both in Manchester and Lebanon NH. What a huge team and they are all so very nice.
Manchester, NH                          Lebanon NH      

The Chemo I received back on the 13th was 6 times stronger than anyone gets at one time.  I held up really well for the first 4 bags of drugs but in all there were 9 bags of drugs and hydration (I'll not go into detail about how I held up with the other 5 bags).  It required that I return on Tuesday for help with dealing with side effects.

Daily shots of  stem cell growth drugs and every other day blood draws filled up most of my week.  What I was told would happen or even could happen DID happen. Dealing with side effects was no fun either and I will not share that with you.

You're Welcome!

Through it all, we had God on our side. We knew it and we felt it. We saw Him use other people to let us know that we were not alone.  We have a God that Hubby and I have a history with. A history where He is there to comfort, to care, to listen to our tears, to give us strength and to cheer us on and laugh with us. He is not someone "Up there Somewhere", He is personal, He is our savior.  It's a long history and long histories are good.  We would remember other times when He was holding our hand.  We reminded each other about that.  Through it all we had HIM, God, Jehovah, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Yahweh.

We also had each other.  We have a 42 plus year history honoring our vows. For Better for Worst, in Sickness and in Health.  We knew together - all 3 of us- that no matter the physical outcome, We Were OK

We also had family members and friends who checked on us, kept sick family members away from us, checked our house, took in our mail, and started our pellet stove to warm up the house. Some friends sent IM's to check on me, sent out mass emails to spread the word on us and in so many ways  reminded us that we were not fighting this alone.

Battle Scars? Yes, but instead of dwelling on them, I will dwell on the joys and the fun of being alive. I am not the same person.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Popping In

Just popping in to let you all know that I'm alive.  I've had the chemo and it was as terrible as I was told. I'm now in the process of growing stems cells which means shots every day for the next week and blood test to see just how many I'm growing. It hurts - it burns - and it rots but I'm still here and not planning on giving in or giving up.  Thanks for all the prayers and good thoughts. I feel them.  If you could also pray for good weather, our January Thaw is about to end as we head north to harvest. The weather states more snow and very cold temps.  Thanks and I'll be back.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Before - Before the After

Here is my BEFORE photo.  This is my real hair. It's grown a lot over the last few months and this is my real color. I can't color my hair for a while so this is my real color. Still deciding if it's blond with lots of gray or gray with a bit of blond.  Or Brown with gray, maybe gray with brown???Anyhow, this is it.
SPOILER ALERT - This is a medical post, I know that some of you don't really like the idea of medical posts and I fully understand. So run to another blog and my feelings are not hurt at all. In fact, I would love to run away from this as well but unfortunately I have to live it. 

Just to remind you I have a blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma. It's not curable but treatable.  So far I've had 16 weeks of chemo (35 pills once a week, and a shot in the stomach once a week).  Then I had  8 more weeks of chemo again (shot in the stomach once a week, and a different chemo pill every day) and lots and lots of steroid drugs. I've gained a lot of weight!   My hair got very thin, and some parts fell out so I was wearing a wig for a bit, then I had super short hair that felt like straw and looked like it too.
Then I rested and tested to see where I was.  I am in remission!  

I call it my before photo because in a few weeks I will have an AFTER look.
You see we are moving forward with Stem Cells Harvesting.  It's a bit complicated but it involves a lot of steps for me.

I had a lot of tests to make sure that there is no issue with past chemo and that I am healthy enough for Harvesting.
Soon I will begin the process of Harvesting my own Stem Cells.  Each case and each person's walk is different.

 For me that includes:
More Chemo
  I will loose all the hair you see in the above photo. It's only one day of Chemo but I've been told it is very strong and that I WILL lose my hair.  

Then I will have 2 days of rest, followed by a shot a day of a growth hormone for between 9-13 days that will force my body to grow more stem cells than it needs, forcing those cells to spill out of the bones and into my blood stream. I will also have blood tests every other day to see if they can figure out how many stem cells I am growing.

I will then have surgery to put 2 new ports in my chest that will be used instead of the veins in my arms which are not good for this procedure.

Then I'll be hooked up to a machine and the stems cells will be pulled out of my blood and the blood returned to me.  5 hours a day for maybe 2 days (but it could be 3 days)

Finally, surgery to get the 2 new ports out of my chest and then it's done!! Then I rest up, recover, take a maintenance dose of chemo drugs and live my life normally.  

 In all it's about 14 days from Chemo to the end of Harvesting. Sounds scary doesn't it? Yes it does but I'm the girl that has had 4 Bone Marrow Biopsys so I am not scared.  I 've been working on building up my stamina, staying healthy, and strong. More Importantly, I've Got God On My Side.  I've done all I can do, now it's in His Hands. And His Hands are Gentle, Loving, Trusting, and He only Wants the Best for me.   It's going to be a gruelling couple of weeks so if you don't see me much, this is why.

I start with the Chemo on Monday 1/13/14 and the Harvesting will be sometimes between 1/22/14 and 1/24/14. In between, I'm pretty much stuck at home and can only go out for doctor's appointments. 

  I'll post an AFTER photo when I feel strong about that.  

Keep us in your prayers, OK?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Winter/Snowman Time

I love snowmen, do you?  I put them up at Christmas time when I take out the Christmas decorations.  When the Christmas decorations go away, the snowmen stay out.  I keep them out for a few months more. They make me smile. I put them in the bathroom to smile at me when I get out of the shower.

They are tucked in among the dog treats in the kitchen, reminding me of those I love, and keeps me smiling.

One stands guard over the grand girls Lego toys and August goes over to check him out a lot.

And a bunch stand near the TV ready to brighten that corner of the room.

The Santa comes down of course but the snowmen stay up. Do you keep any winter decorations up till spring?  What? 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Hodgepodge! The Hodgepodge!!

Thank you again Joyce for the questions: Here are my answers, what are yours?

1. Every January 1st since 1976 Lake Superior University has published a list of words they'd like to see banished from the Queen's English.  Words may be banished due to misuse, overuse or just general uselessness (go here to read more about how the words were chosen).  Here are the words/phrases they'd like to see banished in 2014-
selfie, twerk/twerking, hashtag, Twittersphere, Mr. Mom, T-bone, ____on steroids, the suffixes-ageddon, and -pocalypse added to anything and everything, from the world of politics the words-intellectually/morally bankruptand Obamacare, and from the world of sports the words-adversity and fan base
Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Is there a word not on the list you'd like to add?

I will go with Twerking as it just is wrong on so many levels!

2. What one unfinished project nags at you begging to be completed in this new year?
Building with pallets.  I see so many craft projects using pallets and I want to do some too.

3. When did you last have a bowl of soup? What kind? Homemade or from a can? What's your favorite soup?
2 days ago I had some Progresso hearty tomato with pasta. I love tomato soups, all by itself or with pasta, sausage, or veggies tossed in.  Add a grilled cheese and that is a great meal for such cold nights.

4. Snowed in, snowed under, snow job...which one most applies to your life in recent days, figuratively speaking.
Snowed in and snowed under fits my life just right about now. I just want the next few weeks over with!!!

5. What's the funniest movie you've ever seen, or at least one of the funniest?
WOW this is a really hard question as most of the movies I watch are funny movies. When ever the Princess Bride comes on I watch it and the same with any of the Men In Black

6.  In general, would you say you're clumsy?
No, but our daughter sure is so she must get it from her dad.

7. Elvis Presley was born on Hodgepodge Day (January 8th) back in 1935.  Are you an Elvis fan?  What's your favorite Elvis tune? If that's too hard, which Elvis tune do you dislike the least?  Click here for a list of his songs.
Yes I lik Elvis - "Love me Tender" is my favorite and I also really like his gospel songs.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
COLD! It's just so bitter cold. Seems like most of the country is in the deep freeze.  Stories about cars off the road for hours, air lines canceling flights and passengers stranded in the airport for hours.  The kind that makes my lungs freeze as I try to exhale.  It hurts to breath and boy am I looking forward to spring.  

So join in, how would you answer these questions. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"Feed the Birds"

Do you have bird feeders in your yard?  We have three of them.  two are these suet cake feeders and one holds bird seeds.  The suet cakes are easy to find but are they cost a bit?  I was on Pinterrest the other day and found the recipe for home made suet cakes.  It sounded so easy I had to make some.

6 heaping scoops of Crisco
3 heaping scoops of Peanut butter
2 cups Cornmeal (or 2 cups of Oatmeal, or 1 cup each of Cornmeal and Oatmeal)
Wild bird seed to thicken

That's it for the base.  Put the Crisco and Peanut butter in a large pot and melt it all down, add the cornmeal (or oatmeal or mixture of both) and wild bird seed so that it's nice and thick.

Add raisins, apples, nuts, whatever you think the birds will like and cook it so it's nice and thick.  Allow to cool a bit to see if your mixture is too thick to hold together or too thin and add Crisco/peanut butter to thin it out a bit and make it all hold together or more bird seed/ raisins / fruit to thicken it up.

If you have the suet cakes you get in the store, keep the plastic container it comes in and fill with the new home made mixture. If you don't have the container, pour the mixture into a greased 9 x 14 pan and let cool.  Once cool, cut to the size of the suet feeder you have and wrap each in clear wrap and freeze until you're ready to use them.

We did an experiment where we put store bought suet cakes in some of the feeders and some of the home made suet cakes in some of the feeders and  watched to see which got eaten the fastest.

The store bought suet cakes took 2 weeks to be eaten, the home made ones were gone in 3 days!  So we are making them every week and the birds are coming to our house a lot.

So do you feed the birds and if so, what do you feed them?

Monday, January 6, 2014

The One Blue Light

Every year we put 1 blue light in the window.  Only one. No other lights in any of the other windows, just this one.
A single blue light.
To light up the window
To remember all those police officers
Who gave it all
Who gave all they had
Who will never be coming home at the end of their shift
Because they gave all
Because they saved someone else
Because they ran into trouble when others run away
Because they went to work
Because they didn't come home
Because their families will never see them again
So every year, we put 1 blue light in the window to show those officers in blue that we know. We know that some will not go home.
We know that working at Christmas time is a lonely act.
We thank all those police officers who work on the holidays
We thank all those police officers who get up, get dressed, kiss their family good by and know that they may not come home.
We thank all those police officers families who share their loved ones with us knowing that they may not come home.
So we thank all those police officers and their families with 1 blue light.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Well Hello 2014!!

Joyce really wanted to start the new year off right so here is the very first Hodgepodge for 2014.  Join in and have some fun.

1. Times Square is the setting for the infamous ball drop signaling a brand new year....when did you last 'drop the ball' on something?
Ok so the first questionn is hard. I'm sure I forgot a lot of things. 2013 was the year of a lot of doctors appointments and medical terms. There were times when I had to look at the calendar on the fridge to see where I was suppose to be or see so I'm sure I forgot cards to people or calls to people or saying thank you for something.

2. What is one thing you resolved to do in 2013 that you actually did?
I didn't make any resolutions for 2013 so I didn't have anything to have to actually do.  It was the first year that I didn't make any resolutions.

3. Jack London is quoted as saying, "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." Agree or disagree? Why? 
There are seasons in ones life when this is true. Times when one feels dried up, when one feels like they are sanding still.  In those times, yes, grab a club a go swinging.  Fight for what you need or want. 

4. What was the best thing you ate in 2013?
I enjoy food, but more than that I enjoy the company while I'm enjoying food. So as for the food, I can't remember but as for the company----

5.  Share an anti-resolution...that is, something you plan to keep on doing in the new year.
Slow down.  Last year was a year of slowing down. Don't worry so much about the clean house, or height of the grass.  Slow down. Stop looking at the smart phone and look at the grand daughters who want to color with me.  Slow down.  Enjoy a meal with friends, tell them you love them. Slow down. Let the chemo drugs wash over me and know that it will be over soon. YUP Slow down. I plan to do more of that in 2014.

6. The Pantone color of the year for 2014 is radiant orchid.  Like or no like? Would I find this color anywhere in your home or wardrobe? Will you add something in this shade to either?
I like the color and yes you would find in my wardrobe and in our bedroom. It screams summer to me and on days like today when it's 18 degrees (feels like 11) I need summer.

I guess I'm just ahead of the times, because this has been our bedroom for about 3 years now. 

7. In three words or less sum up your 2013.CANCER REALLY ROTS

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
2014 starts off with a bang for us.  Our cancer fights continues.  Yes, I'm still in remissions and that is good. We are moving forward in our fight and will be harvesting my own stem cells in January for future transplant. It's very involved and not a topic for such a beautiful day but I'll talk about it soon.  
Have a wonderful and Happy New Year all.