Drum Roll…..Our version of the movie, “Up!”

I told ya’ll in a blog past that changes were a’comin.  Well, they are here and can be made public.  The mover contract is signed, the job contract was signed a while ago, and family and close friends have been told.  These two kids, and their dust and years of memories, are Chicago bound.  (Don’t gasp, I did that enough for you already!)  Yes, this chick who dreams of white sandy beaches and a year-round temperature of 82 degrees, is now headed to the Windy City…land of frozen nose hairs!

Changes

(Funny story here-when Leebo and I first started talking about maybe seeing what was out there and all that jazz, we quickly put geographical limitations on it…..NC, SC, TX, TN, FL…..basically we wanted either a warm and sandy beach or closer to more family.  Well, let me just tell ya’ll, that God laughed at us very loudly….we didn’t get into the specifics on the “beach” part I guess and he led us to the “beaches” of the Great Lakes….he also shut every single door of opportunity in our “chosen” states.  I keep telling myself God knows best, but man oh man…my toes had already gotten into shape for the sand wiggling that takes place on those white beaches of Florida.  Guess my toes will use that exercise for frostbite prevention now.)

We have never been the folks that did things the “normal” way…we always have kinda done things backwards from conventional wisdom, so a move at this stage of our life…well…kinda seems normal for us!  Where we live, by the time a family moves in, they have already had several moves as they worked their way up in the company to one day land in the “treasure trove” known as Wal-Mart land.  We, on the other hand, have never had that career path….we made a decision a long time ago that our kids would grow up in one school district.  It was something I never had as a child and longed for my children to experience.  So, my Leebo, parked his career and has patiently waited for the time to fly.  That time is now!

Won’t even pretend that I have not been freaking out on some days leading up to the “move date.”  Moving without kiddos in school….no built in “meet grown-ups” prop….just two kids who are slightly older than they were all those years ago embarking on a new adventure. It’s silly to be this age and actually be wondering if anyone will like us or invite us to things….normal folks passed that phase a long time ago………..then again……we are not normal! (Our children will confirm this factoid.)  Our baby boy could not be more excited and has encouraged it from day one…he is  my “city” kid and who knows…maybe he will earn that tenured chair with the Chicago Symphony one day!  It’s going to be so nice to be able to travel by air so easily to wherever he lands for graduate school and for his future career!

So, we are leaving behind twenty years of memories, friends, an amazing church home….we are leaving comfortable for well….not comfortable!  Don’t most guys get a Harley during this phase of life?  Just wondering..no, really, I could not be more proud of Leebo.  From finishing his degree, to putting his career on hold while our kids grew up, to being brave enough to leave a comfortable job here for a job that will be in “fix it” mode for the foreseeable future.

I like to think that those friends here that are my “forever” friends will be so no matter where my zip code is. There are still roots here and those roots will bring us back occasionally, and this area will always be incredibly special to me…to Leebo.  See, growing up, longevity in one area was not in the cards.  The longest I had ever lived in one area prior to moving here was seven years.  Back then, that was uncommon..now..people are so mobile in this world connected by technology that it’s not uncommon to run into several folks who have short stays in different areas.  We are a very mobile society, especially here in the U.S.

How can you not love this?

How can you not love this?

So, we are moving to the greater Chicago area. Will it be Naperville, Wheaton, Bartlett, Geneva, Glen Ellyn….or points in between?  Homeless in Illinois is kinda our mantra right now as we will be leaving shortly to go find housing. Let me be very honest. This weekend, as we began to pack pictures and the home suddenly simply looked like a house-tears did flow. I will miss here terribly….this is where my kiddos grew up….my baby boy was born here, so every first was here.  Teachers, SS teachers, folks at the grocery store-the familiarity will be missed.  I will miss the beauty of the mountains in the fall, but not the insanity of 540.  (Ok, maybe I am trading the 540 madness for even more madness, but at least I will have options on which madness I take!)  I will miss the beauty of Crystal Bridges and I think I might even miss the calling of the Hogs….maybe.  I will miss you-the folks who were my “peeps.”  I won’t miss having really only one grocery store option…..at all.  I won’t miss the airfare costs out of XNA.  I won’t miss our roads after snowfalls. I won’t have to miss Chick-Fil-A or Cracker Barrel (one of the first things I checked).    I will miss you.  The people.  My church.  

Some of you know, but this has all been such an incredible God event.  Along the way, He has shown us this was the way to keep walking.  It’s a huge leap of faith for us both, but I have to trust that if this is His plan….the church, the church family, the friends, all those things that make somewhere feel like “home” are waiting for us.  (While waiting for God to reveal those things, I do have Nordstroms,

Yep...FOUR to be exact...plus Nordstrom Rack!

Yep…FOUR to be exact…plus Nordstrom Rack!

and that makes me very happy!)  For RRP, I will finally have quality doctors (notice the plural use) to treat me without traveling.  That, in itself, could be more of God’s plan in this than anything….we are excited to watch this journey unfold and look back in five years and just stand amazed.

So, if you know peeps in that greater Chicago area, or have any tips-any…..I would love to hear them and hear about your peeps.  We are leaning west of the greater Chicago area…to get us in a suburb that feels more like what we know….ok….let me clarify that….somewhere close to a Whole Foods.  (I’ve waited so long to be able to shop at Whole Foods, and it’s a priority on my list!)

The countdown has started……and the countdown to our first Christmas in Chicago has started as well…it looks fabulous.  I have seen the sweetest memories here and as we have been purging areas of the house for the move, I have ran across memories that just make your heart smile.  Life is about change and these two kids are leaping feet first.   I will miss you.  The people.  My church.  

PS-If you can hook up a girl with tickets to the Blackhawks in a 100 section….well….she would be forever grateful.

Tis the Season

When asked how my mindset has changed towards Christmas over the years, what a tangled web of thoughts come across my mind.  While the meaning of Christmas has never changed, the way I celebrate it and what I wish for out of the Season has.  The celebration of His birth has grown more meaningful with maturity, but the importance placed on the gifts under tree….well, that has become such a small part of what the Season is for that I would be perfectly “ok” if there was never another gift under the tree.  I know my children, all grown, are gasping for air at that remark.  Don’t worry….I’m not going all crazy on you….yet.  It just seems that with each passing day leading up to Christmas Day, the gifts take on more and more significance.  The hustle and bustle of shopping, this party, that party..this event, that event….do this and do that, because that’s what is expected…..and then Christmas Day comes and goes and Jesus seemed to have such a small role in all of it.  That’s how the Season is changing for me….less on the stuff and fluff…and a feeble attempt to try to lesson the world’s view of the celebration and return my celebration to the reason we even have Christmas.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Getting Seasonal.”

Christmas, Friends, and a Book

santa

One of the best parts of the Christmas season is it gives us gals the perfect excuse to “get together.”  Whether it’s over coffee, Cracker Barrel (yummy), together at a party, or in the parking lot when you just happen to run into one another…..Christmas just seems to get us all in that “let’s hang out” mood.

I have been able to spend time with friends that I have known over fifteen years and friends that I just met a few months ago.  Friendships that are unique and contribute something to who I am as a person….compliment who I am and stretch me towards where I hope to be as I mature.  (Not get old..mature!)

I know how blessed I am to have girlfriends.  Shoot, even if I could only say one name when asked, that’s still more than I could possibly deserve….cause, shhhh…don’t tell anyone…but this chick is one hot mess most days!  I sometimes call my life “organized chaos.”

There was a time in my younger life that I would see “Sally” and think to myself…”I want Sally as my friend.”  See that phrase “I want?”  Well, I learned (with many bruises), that “I want” is the last phrase you can use as you travel through seasons and God brings women into your life.  Friendship takes effort, but the friendships God has sent for you…well…they come easily.  You get to be you…nothing more..nothing less…and then it’s up to you to grow and foster that relationship.  Sorta like that plant on the deck……ignore it…it dies.  Give it some attention…and it will grow. (Wait…maybe that doesn’t apply to me, because anything with a root brought past my driveway…dies.  No, seriously, who else can kill pansies???)

I think back to those times in my younger life that I would see a “group” and long to be included.  Maturity teaches you that “that group” is for them…..and God knows it’s not for you and that’s why that thick wall around “that group” never seems to thin.  God has you a group…it may be one person plus you..or it may be five people or more….that’s the group you want.  God’s group for you.  Then again, we may have times where all we want or need is God in our group…and that’s more than enough.  Seasons….

So, as the Christmas season has quickly come and is quickly approaching “the day”, I’ll be honest…..a speed-bump by Satan himself, was put on my path where my heart lies.  You know, one of those bumps in the road that forces you to pick up that Bible and remind yourself of God’s promises….and that bump that maybe brings you back to a book you read a while back…..and that brings us to “the Book” in the blog title.

This is a recommendation for every single female out there….fifteen and up.  Go now…and purchase “Grown-Up Girlfriends” by Erin Smalley and Carrie Oliver.  It’s filled with Biblical knowledge, wonderful words of wisdom and timely guidance in how to navigate those female relationships.

grown up girlfriends

Topics such as: The Grown-Up Friend is Committed to Knowing Herself, Setting Boundaries, Embracing Differences, Forgiveness in Friendship, Overcoming Destructive Friendships (Ya’ll know these happen.), When to Let Go of a Friend, and Friendship Requires Us to Grow Up!

Some of the words, verses that I just go back to and want to share are these:

Proverbs 17:9  He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.  (Gals, ya’ll get this one?  Don’t gossip, don’t run to Sally with an matter of an offense about Mary-go to Mary…..oh. how us gals have to work so hard on this one.)

Good friendships are fragile things and require as much care as any other fragile and precious thing. Randolph Bourne

I think one of my favorite pages is page 67.  Women, by nature, are quick to let Satan start putting fear in their minds…and on page 67 a list of “fears” and how those fears may sound in our head or in our word vomit to ourselves and others…..just a wonderful list of how powerful Satan is when it comes to being divisive in friendship and how he longs to prevent us from knowing that special gift God has for us women….

This is Christmas and today I am so grateful for my friends….those who came in at a season and are now gone…those in my season now and those very rare and special forever friends…..each helping to shape who I am and who I am to be.  How cool is that!

Friends

Friends

Aunts can be friends!

Aunts can be friends!

My dear sweet forever friend...we met in junior high.

My dear sweet forever friend…we met in junior high.

One of my first friends when we moved to Arkansas and a friend who grew up just miles from me...and we met here.

One of my first friends when we moved to Arkansas and a friend who grew up just miles from me…and we met here.

See...we know how to party!

See…we know how to party!

Oh my Shelley Trusty!

Oh my Shelley Trusty!

Change……

changes

Change…..if you look at the dictionary, you can find no less than twenty different ways to use the word “change.”  In the end though, it all comes to do something different…not the same as before.  Sometimes change is good, sometimes it isn’t, sometimes change leads to something better even if it seems pretty elusive during the initial moments.

Life is about change.  A toddler is not the same as an infant, a high school student is not the same as a fifth grader…….the wife you are after 25 years is not the same as the wife the walked up the aisle after saying “I do.”  (This is a good thing, btw!) Change.

Christine Caine has a saying about “not getting stuck in a moment.”  That whole statement comes down to change.  X event happens and you either leave the same…stuck…or you change…to grow.

The way the people react around you to change is rather curious as well.  As change occurs, you will have some cheering you on as you walk one foot in front of the other in that change…or you may have others that seem to try to put super glue at every step….change for you can mean unwanted change for others.  I remember how that feeling of unwanted change swept over me as my daughter was preparing to marry.  I did not want that change.  I wanted to keep her longer.  Change still came…with or without my support or cheerleader attitude.  Looking back, I was being the super glue…change.

As I sat in church today, watching another Sunday of something so much bigger than any of us humans can understand, I began to think of how the church has changed.  God’s word..it hasn’t…but the church has.  What if the church had clinged so tightly to the rules of the 1800’s….again…God’s word hasn’t changed..not one bit…but the rules…those aren’t God’s rules….most of what we do by ritual nature at church is created by man.  Just as we no longer birth our babies out in the fields during harvest season, we don’t do the same things in church.  We don’t sing the same songs…or at least the same version…and we don’t remove members from the role when they fall down….Jesus doesn’t remove us….

So, change is all around us.  Some of it is impacting us directly moment by moment…while other change is something that we barely notice.  (Sorta like the shrinking boxes of cereal, but the price remains the same….kinda didn’t notice.)

Change is happening all around this house…in this house….and more is to come….(that blog post is coming very soon).  Change is happening in my church….in my town….all around in ways that I can’t even comprehend.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  Hebrews 11:8

Sixty days of wondering….and the importance of details.

When I began this blog journey, I promised that I would remain as real and as authentic as I could.  The past sixty days have been very real and while I won’t share every single detail, today is about sixty days of wondering and the importance of details.  Vague enough for you?

Ya’ll remember that blog post I did on the fun of a chemical stress test?  That’s where my sixty days begins-well, actually a couple weeks prior.  I had been dealing with these odd pains across my chest and they just didn’t get my strong message that I did not have time to deal with them or anything else that would upset my little apple cart routine.  Then, one afternoon, before the stress test, I had finally reached that line in the sand where I was just simply annoyed by them.  So, off to the doctor this wonderfully obedient patient went. (If you know me, you know that is oozing sarcasm.)  I’m sitting in the exam room laughing, making fun of my ailments when well….”Mrs. X, you need to head on over to the ER.  We are telling them you are on your way.”  Ok…now would be the time most people would at least have a moment of “uh-oh”…..but…..when you have lived with a health condition your entire life….it takes a WHOLE lot more than the word ER to get a pause!

As I continue this story, let me just say this….you go into an ER with “chest pain” anywhere around your name and it’s like watching the ER in fast forward.  I don’t get impressed with the medical world much anymore, but I did find the reaction and process to be very impressive.  So, EKG…normal.  Blood pressure…ok.  Let’s do some more tests…so off to another room where I got the full “ER” workup.  Now we can talk about my veins….I wasn’t asking for any pain meds (although I was asked many times), so I guess my request of a local before the IV did not seem extreme.  (See stress test blog for more details about my veins and IV’s….it’s a comic strip.)  Emergency cardiac event has been ruled out…now let’s see if it’s something lung oriented.  (Still joking around, making fun of my spouse who was “resting his eyes” as we waited for each test/event.)  X-RAY-clear.  Ok…..so…for some odd reason, this is where Kim decides to pay a little more attention to what’s going on around her and ask a few questions.  (Remember, this whole day started because I was beyond annoyed at those pains that kept coming and I was still annoyed.)  So, out of nothing more than being annoyed that those pains just kept coming, I made the suggestion to the ER doc that “Hey, my IV is in….and I have RRP…..could we just go ahead and get a CT just to make sure nothing crazy (like papilloma) is going on?”  And this is where the “importance of details” begins to take hold in this story.  See, RRP is rare.  I cannot tell you how many doctors have no clue what it is or its process.  I’m talking about even doctors of high stature in their respective field not knowing what it is.  (More on that in a bit.)  After some resistance, she agreed and the CT was ordered.  During the CT, I should have known things were about to get real….as when the contrast was injected the cap came off the line!  Seriously…who does that happen to!!!  Blood is going everywhere!  I’m laughing.  I’m sure when I walked back to the ER room, those who saw me wondered if the attack of the Zombies had occurred and I would soon be coming after their brains for a snack.  I wish I could tell you while we waited for those results I prayed, read my Bible or something wise and Godly…..but I will be honest.  I was texting, checking Facebook, taking pics of my IV to send my sister who honestly had rather seen pics of the blood……I was done with this whole day and ready to leave and grab some dinner and just accept those annoying pains.  (Remember the word details….had I not been a patient who is well versed in my condition and all that comes along with it….I would have left after the chest X-RAY with a doctor saying well…maybe it’s reflux. Details matter…even the smallest ones.)

So….I’m being all “in the world” while I wait…….then my doctor walks in.  Not the ER doctor. If you know my doctor, you know joking around is kinda how it goes.  So, he walks in and the first thing I say is a comment about him having on a Razorback shirt…he is a huge OU fan!  We joke about that and his bright sneakers and such…and then the conversation just became fuzzy.  “Kim, there are two spots on your lungs, and it could be cancer.”  There ya go……. “But…go on vacation (we were leaving in two days-a big part of why I was so annoyed by this whole day…ain’t got time for this!) and when you get back lets get that stress test done and we will decide what is next on the nodules.”  (To be honest, after that “C” word…everything else was a blur.)

And now…sixty days of wondering……details……advocate……I sit here right now wondering do I type this as a story or just bullet point the circus of my sixty days…….because the point of this isn’t my story…but the importance of details…..hmm….maybe another cup of coffee will help me decide.

Let’s bullet the highlights and see where that takes us….

  • ER CT 2014-(no prior images available-details)
  • Follow-Up to ER CT-two weeks later due to vacation (I had my records with me.  If I had not, the doctor thought it was just one spot and that it was smaller than what CT indicated….details.)
  • One day later-Visit to same doctor above for what would be Strep throat. (Details.)
  • PET/CT scan-one week later
  • Call to GP two days later-still sick. (New ABX called in.  Details.)
  • Asked for referral to Pulmonary for following of nodules.(Details, I had to ask.)
  • Pulmonary Appointment-still no official radiology report (see below), so appointment was ran off my history and PET images. Due to PET images, biopsy of a node and two nodules was being recommended.  Due to my prior health, a clearance from ENT was required due to airway. (Details-no report available and remember that “no prior images” detail.)
  • PET/CT scan official radiology report-one week later (Details….new transcriptionist has delayed almost all results.)
  • PET/CT results day-I sit in the car as I open my copy of the results (doctor offices were to get their own copy via the exchange in place-details.)
  • Day after PET/CT results-Cannot have MRI, so a full breast ultrasound was performed.  Two spots confirmed.  Prior images reviewed.  Stable 24+ months.  Clear.  (Details-take care of your breast health-my diligence over caring for high density breasts prevented two unnecessary biopsies for PET activity.)
  • Following Friday-ENT visit.  Scope of airway in office.  (Such fun times..imagine a small snake being shoved down your airway while you are awake and told to relax….seriously…let’s trade seats here.)
    The scope.........

    The scope………

    No notation from prior appointments in this sixty days of waiting regarding illness.  Not cleared for biopsy methods presented. (Details…..no notation of prior illness…and remember that “no prior images”.)

  • Referral to Center for Chest Care at HOG.  (This is Friday-details….told I would hear Monday afternoon.)
  • Tuesday…..no call.  Called my GP.  (Referral had not taken place-details…last appointment at specialist on a Friday….details.)
  • And we are now at seven weeks post ER CT.  (Details-no prior images available, illnesses, RRP)
  • Eight weeks post ER CT-visit with Chest Clinic.

I think it’s time to come off bullets and get back to the story, because this is where details and diligence and being your own advocate in your healthcare really come into play.  Eight weeks have gone by with this chick wondering if she had cancer or not…..lung cancer to be exact.  A paratracheal node that lit up like a Christmas tree on the PET as well as the area around my trach site.  A Christmas tree going on in a few areas…..btw..bright yellow is NOT a good thing on a PET…..and even more frustrating is that on a PET, infection, inflammation and cancer all can light up the same!

So, I’m at the Center for Chest Care…the place I was assured would come up with the plan of action and bring this circus (yes, that’s what I was calling it by this point) into some type of controlled situation.  You meet with a Cardio-Thoracic surgeon and then that night, your entire case file (with images and reports) is reviewed by an eight person committee at HOG to determine plan of action.

I showed up prepared.  I had all my radiology reports, CD’s of all my scans….and….remember that “no prior images” all the way back up at the ER CT?????  Well……that wasn’t true.  There was a prior CT available…just NO one…not one single doctor or radiologist had viewed it.  Kim, little ole me, just happened to remember it one day at the house and called and got the report/images.  So, I had this with me on this date.  Oh and remember the strep throat and second course of abx??? Yes…not in any of the medical reports either.  Details…..it’s all in the details….(Oh…and remember my little comment above about doctors not knowing about RRP….clueless…simply clueless.)

So, this doctor is telling me what he thinks, his ideas of what will happen in committee and I ask him if he had the “no prior images” scan that I had with me.  “No, but don’t worry, we can pull it up tonight….” And he jots down NW-2011 scan. I ask if he knew of the infections taking place a week prior to ER CT or that I was ill during PET but did not know it yet.  “No.”  Details.

So, I leave with confidence that in a day or two I would have a clear plan of action given to me by a well informed committee.

The call comes.  “You can’t have surgery here.  It needs to be biopsied.”  What needs to be biopsied?  The nodules, both/one, the lymph node?  I’m confused.  I already knew that before I went to clinic and into committee.  “We think you should go back to the needle biopsy process.”  Wait..what?  I wasn’t cleared for that already by ENT.  ENT also didn’t clear me for any biopsy procedure other than a VATS.  Wait…I’m so confused.

Ok, folks, this is where Kim is probably not shining her light very bright….but by this point…I’m so annoyed and angry that well…..my husband knows when it comes to my medical care..when I reach this point…just step aside.

And I am wondering if true....

And I am wondering if true….

I call pulmonary office ready to pull teeth…..I pop a message to my GP (ya know…the doctor that this journey began with at the ER)….and then I learn NOT ONE DOCTOR has yet to view the prior scan that I have been asking about for two weeks…NOT ONE….the committee did not view it either after I specifically brought it up and the doctor said he didn’t need my copy.  Pulmonary agreed that the needle biopsy was off the table and that if a biopsy occurred, it had to be under general (VATS).  It can’t be done locally…would have to be done by a children’s group due to my child size airway.  I told pulmonary, I will drive these records down to you today.  I did.  While down there, I just had to hear why that “famed” committee accomplished no more than we had already accomplished over the prior seven weeks.  (See above where I learned the prior scan was not viewed.)

And now…it’s viewed.  Pulmonary views prior scans and compares to current imaging.  Committee is looking at my file again this week.  (Ya know…now that they have everything…even though they could have had it the first time had the doctor just taken it from me.)

So…back to all those details….that one prior CT, the infections taking place around the time of the PET scan…..

And we are at today….well…we still have committee tomorrow night…but there’s some confidence in where we are today…all because of those details…details that not one single doctor would have put together without my diligence as a patient to my own healthcare.  (More on this in a bit.)

That node that had some folks running in circles…that node that lit up like the bright northern star….seems no one realized it was calcified…and had been.  Given the acute illness during scans, that’s why it likely lit up.  The activity around my trach…..I coughed nonstop during PET resting period and had just finished course of abx for strep……that’s probably why it lit up like all of NYC.  The two lung nodules that are of a size that is concerning…..one has been stable since that prior scan.  One radiologist even said what it was…and now that the pulmonary doctor has seen prior scan….agrees.  One biopsy removed from the plan.

So today, due to that prior scan finally being seen and my constant “word vomit” about infections…..I’m going to committee again tomorrow and they should agree with the current course of action on the table.  I’m super close to that magic three month rescan date that will help show if the growth rate of the nodule in question is a current growing pattern or a pattern that has been stable, or at least at a benign growth rate.  I still have a biopsy coming, but it’s not today.  It can’t be local, so we have to begin working on those referrals so we can get it done.

So, this is my lung cancer scare.(Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer related deaths. It’s not just a smoker’s disease.)  It’s not totally over (still have that one in the upper lobe that isn’t behaving), but it looks so much better than it did just ten days ago.  I tell my story mostly to show how IMPORTANT it is to take charge of your healthcare.  Doctors are not omnipotent.  You cannot assume your records get from point a to point b.  Take notes, keep a notebook, get copies of everything (STAY OFF OF GOOGLE)…..get copies but do not use them to have a Google fest…you will be convinced you have some rare jungle disease…..it’s ok to challenge a doctor or nurse to get the care you should get.  It’s ok to question what’s taking place.  Now, don’t go be all “Jerk Patient”….but do be in charge of your own path.

I’ve lost confidence in my current healthcare here.  One hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing and that’s concerning.  Electronic health records were put in place to start plugging these holes…but I’ve learned it’s not a fail-proof system.  (Remember that “no prior imaging”….seems I had two medical record numbers with a healthcare system.)

I think of my RRP journey and how far we have come as a community with that disease….all because patients became their own advocates.  Parents, patients, a small group of medical professionals….

Ask questions.  Watch the details.  Follow-up.

A 2012 article in the Annals of Family Medicine noted that the average primary-care physician has about 2,300 patients on his “panel”— that is, the total under his or her care. Worse, it said that each physician would have to “spend 21.7 hours per day to provide all recommended acute, chronic and preventive care for a panel of 2,500 patients.”

That above, is just a GP/PC stat.  The stat load for other areas of practice are just as staggering.  Our system is on overload…and with the cuts in payments to doctors from insurance providers….the pressure is on to see more patients in less time.  It’s unrealistic to expect any doctor to remember the “details” of your case….that’s now our job.

So, peace out for today…and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

Christmas Past

It’s been a busy shopping season in this house.  Not for my own personal list, but shopping as part of Santa’s crew for the Christmas Store at our church.  If you have not walked the toy aisles in a few years, I want to encourage you to do so….man…there’s some really cool stuff now!  (And some not so cool stuff too, but we will just look away.)  I have to admit, I am VERY thankful both of my kiddos were kids before the age of electronic technology really took off and that they have memories of life without gadgets…ya know…real play type toys under the tree.  Toys that allow imagination and creativity….toys that are a zillion pieces and Santa stays up all night making sure it’s put together perfectly.

All this shopping in the toy section got me to thinking back on my childhood Christmas’.  There were some years we had a tree with presents spilling out half way into the den, then there were other years where one or two gifts was all there was.  I don’t remember 85% of what I ever was given for Christmas, but I do think we all have that “one” gift we remember forever.  Today, my Christmas Past story is to remember that special gift.  I can’t wait to hear what your Christmas Past story is…..

I cannot recall my age, but I do recall we were in Baytown.  To this day, I remember my Barbie dream house!  Ken and Barbie had it going on!  Living large!  To me, who lived in an apartment most of her childhood, that dream house was truly a dream house.

Not mine, but this is it.

Not mine, but this is it.

The life of luxury all in pink…I mean..what wasn’t to love!  I don’t know how this gift was kept secret from me as I was the queen of snooping.  I was the kid who would seek out gifts around the home and even if wrapped, I had the skills of a Ninja…I almost always knew what was under the tree or in the Easter basket before that morning!

That’s the gift…that one gift out of probably a hundred over the years that stands out….a pink, plastic house that is home to an anatomically impossible figure. My heart smiles.

While we are talking about Christmas Past memories and such….this is the second Christmas without my Mom.  She loved Christmas…..worked on her tree for probably a month.  Growing up, we may not have had much, but we had some beautiful Christmas trees.  Some years they would be flocked a certain color and everything on it would be color coordinated.  Some years, I gasp thinking about the clean-up as an adult, those silver icicles would be tossed on in a deliberate pattern.  Now that Mom is gone, I can see a lot more of her in myself and the Christmas tree…well….while not as “intense”, I do carry-on the controlling nature of decorating the tree and the obsession with enough lights to guide Rudolph across the globe.  I am so thankful that in her last decade she made these beautiful glass, hand-painted ornaments.  My tree is full of them today and because of that, I know as long as those ornaments are hanging….she is celebrating here with us.

Oh how I remember...

Oh how I remember…

Hope you are enjoying the hustle and bustle of the Season and may we always remember that it’s not about presents under the tree, or how many party invites you get….it’s about the gift given to us in Christ and about the party invite we have in Heaven….that ultimate celebration!

Merry Christmas….and let’s just admit that Barbie is really cool!

Thanksgiving and all the trimmings…

Today is December 1st!  I can’t believe it.  Seems we just celebrated the New Year…..but if today is December 1st, that means we are all just now coming out of our Thanksgiving food coma.  It’s easy to forget just how much we have to be thankful for…clean water, heat, food on the table, a warm coat to wear on the cold days….it’s also easy to forget many of our fellow neighbors don’t have those things or are at risk of nothing having those things on any given month.  We can easily get so caught up in the things we want and don’t have, that we miss the things we have been blessed with that matter.

This year, I want to be sure I stop and remember how thankful I am for love, joy, the good health of those around me, the fact God has always supplied my needs.  I want to be sure to be thankful for today…not skipping to tomorrow-not staying stuck in yesterday.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

So, as we officially enter Winter and the Christmas season….may we always remember to be thankful…even on the days it’s not “Thanksgiving.”

I want to leave you with one of the hits of our Holiday Feast….Buttermilk Chocolate Cake.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

One of the classics at our table.

One of the classics at our table.

1 3/4 cup flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup strong coffee

In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients (the first six listed above). Whisk to combine. In another bowl combine all the wet ingredients (the last 5 listed). Whisk to combine. Stir the dry ingredients in with the wet ingredients until nearly no lumps remain. Pour into two round baking pans lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350°F for 35-38 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from pans. **Start checking your cakes at 30 minutes.**

Frost with cream cheese frosting. 🙂  Yummy!!!