Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Happenings on the Home Front

-Summer is well underway! The #1 thing I am thankful for right now is that my friend Michelle and her family put in a pool this spring. We have had a fun time swimming and playing with friends the last couple of weeks. This could very well be the summer savior!

A lot of little girls...and my cowboys.

Me and my gang

-Today is chemo #5. People around the globe are petitioning God on my behalf for an easier recovery.

-The little cowboys went to their grandparents' house in West Texas for the week so that I may suffer in silence. Since they've been gone, my dad-in-law's uncle died and the 5 of them are making a trip to Oklahoma to attend the funeral. No, the boys will not go to the service, and yes, they will find fun things to do there.

-It was Father's Day this weekend. My man got a Barbeque Bible and a gift card to Barnes and Noble. BBQ and books--2 of his favorite things for our amazing daddy!

Baby loves his daddy!

-Father's Day reminded me how very much I still miss my Grandad. He's been with Jesus for just over 2 years now. The last time I was in Houston I left a Team Allyson bracelet with the flowers at his grave.

-I've lived in the Great State of Texas for my entire life, yet I am surprised every summer at how hellishly hot it can be here.

-Three different people have caught me totally off guard in the last few weeks by announcing that they are expecting babies.

-Last week I got to work at VBS at our church. I taught in Little Middle's class...something that had its ups and downs. I had so much fun getting to know the kids and planting everlasting seeds in their hearts and minds. However, if I never hear the theme song for "Saddle Ridge Ranch" again, it will still be too soon.

-My best friend is on summer vacation, and I love it that I get to talk to her much more frequently!

-I worry that I am too old and not enough fun to plan a bachelorette party.

-My sister is getting married in 18 days!

-For the first time in a very VERY long time, all of the laundry in my whole house was washed, dried, folded, and put away. And then Hubby came back from a weekend trip.

-Not only did Hubby come home with dirty laundry, he brought home a new dog. A second dog has been an ongoing "discussion" between us for several years. I finally gave in because a) I want him to be happy; and b) we already have a dog, a rabbit, a gerbil, 2 dwarf frogs, a bearded dragon, a snake, and 3 sons. I'm not sure that a puppy will really make that much difference.

World, meet Gus.

-I bought some new goggles for Little Middle to take to the pool. He wanted to try them out right away!

-My almost-sister-in-law came to visit this weekend while all of my boys were gone. We had a lovely time shopping, having dinner out, and eating Blue Bell in our pajamas in front of the TV. My brother has good taste.

-Goliath and Little Middle are on lawn duty. Goliath mows the front yard, Little Middle mows the back. Baby's job is to pick up all the toys/cups/trash that get left out and put them away. He complains about it, but I bet he'll complain a lot more when he is big enough to push a lawn mower!

-Goliath worked his first car wash in a 7-11 parking lot over the weekend. I took my car and donated $8 to him and his friends for making it shine!

-Chemo brain is real! I have tried to make whipped cream in the toaster, put a gallon of ice cream in the refrigerator, and misplaced a loaf of bread.

-At this time next year, I will be sending my oldest son to camp for the first time and getting ready to send my youngest to kindergarten.

-Our neighbors' hot water heater exploded a few days ago while they were out. The water got so high that at one point it reached an electrical outlet, causing sparks and smoke. They are so fortunate that their whole house did not burn down! They will have to replace all of the flooring, but the insurance company won't come out for another 1 1/2-2 weeks to evaluate the claim so that the water has time to do all the damage it's going to do. See...it can always be worse!

-I am holding fast to this promise today: " 'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the Lord, who has compassion on you." Isaiah 54:10

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

When Life Hands You Lemons...

I received a gift yesterday from some friends. Neither the gift nor the givers are what you might expect, but both are extraordinarily precious to me.

You see, the friends who gave me this gift are small--not much taller than 4 feet. And they are five years old and have not yet been to kindergarten. But their hearts are HUGE. Their gift was in a simple envelope addressed to "Ms. Allyson." The envelope contained a card that had this picture on the front:

Inside the card, there were 3 carefully written names. And money.

It took me a minute to put it together, but when I began to understand what exactly the gift was, I was stunned. My small friends had a lemonade stand. FOR ME.

The emotion I felt was overwhelming. I literally sank to the floor and wept. My little friends watched me carefully...I think they were worried that I was sad! I hugged and kissed them, assuring them that I was VERY happy with their gift to me. D said, "Ms. Allyson, you can give the lemonade money to the doctor and he can give you a lot of medicine so you can get well." Oh. My. Goodness.

According to the moms (also my friends) of these 3 delights, the kids have been wanting to do "something nice" for me since they found out that I am sick months ago. Together they came up with the idea for a lemonade stand and worked very hard to make it successful!

And successful it was! Trust me when I tell you that a lot of generous people must have been very thirsty on that hot summer morning. Apparently, an e-mail went out to many friends who showed up to help and/or buy lemonade. Lots of little ones took turns holding signs and manning the shop.

Every time I look at these pictures, I feel like my heart could explode with gratitude. And pride. And love. And JESUS. Because what these pictures really show is love in its sweetest, simplest form.

Thank you, friends. Life has handed me lemons, but you made lemonade for me. I am blessed beyond belief.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Deep Thinker

"Mommy, I bet it is very quiet in Sign Language Land."--Little Middle

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Kindergarten Graduate

My Little Middle graduated from kindergarten yesterday. Where did the year go? It seems like I just left him sitting at his little table on the first day of school, seeming very small and looking very much like he still needed me. Now he is a much taller, much more independent first grader!

Little Middle and his friends wowed their audience by demonstrating some of what they have learned this year. They said the pledges to the American and Texas flags, sang a string of songs, and showed off some awesome dance moves.

Then it was time for awards. As it should be when you are six years old, every friend got an award. But my kindergarten kid got THE award. At least, that's my humble opinion! I confess that my eyes filled with tears and my heart swelled with pride as I watched him accept his award for being the "Kindest Student." Mrs. W said that Little Middle is always the one who has a kind word to say or a helping hand to lend to anyone who needs one. It won't matter later on if he is the best artist or the quickest math whiz, but it will always matter how he treats people. This is a lesson he has learned well.

Daddy was unable to attend the graduation because of work, but Poppy was in town helping hold down the fort, and we were so glad he could come!

We finished the day with some celebration swimming in the backyard and a yummy dinner out at Freddy's. One more school day, and we will welcome summer!

Happy boys...proud mom.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Weight of Suffering

For four days now, I have hidden in the cocoon that is our bedroom, hunkered down beneath the raging storm of chemotherapy. I am sick. I am exhausted. The Caretakers tell me that at times I am hilarious. At one point yesterday, the cloud of nausea lifted enough that I actually felt hungry. I went to the kitchen and toasted an English muffin. Mom came in and asked what I was doing. I replied, "I'm just fixing myself a mid-morning snack." She laughed hard, because it was in fact 1:15 p.m. and morning had come and gone without me even knowing it!

I have been more out of it during this round of chemo than any other. I'm at the point now where if I could, I just might want to throw in the towel and forget the whole thing. Forget the nauseous, could-get-sick-at-any-minute feeling. Forget the ever-present disgusting taste in the back of my throat. Forget the leg pain that lingers and the endless supply of pharmaceuticals that are lined up in our bathroom cabinet. Forget the look on my Baby's face when he spotted the IV needle in my arm. Forget the bills pouring in and the incessant questions, poking, and prodding by strangers. FORGET CANCER.

But somewhere in the recesses of my clouded mind, a soft voice persists. It tells me to press on. It tells me that yes, I am definitely swimming in the deep now...deeper water than I've ever been in before. But that I am still safe. Just a little while longer. I am not treading water for nothing. That my name is engraved on the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16), and that those mighty hands can be trusted, even in the midst of my suffering.

The burden of suffering seems a tombstone hung about our necks, while in reality it is only the weight which is necessary to keep down the diver while he is hunting for pearls.
--Jean Paul Richter

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What Cancer Can Not Do

Cancer is limited:

It can’t cripple love,

It cannot corrode faith,

It cannot eat away peace,

It cannot destroy confidence,

It cannot kill a friendship,

It cannot shut out memories,

It cannot silence courage,

It cannot invade the soul,

It cannot reduce eternal life,

If cannot quench the spirit,

It cannot lesson the power of the resurrection.

Charles Swindoll, The Finishing Touch

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Two-Word Tuesday

Tux Fitting

Helping Mommy

Shaped Pancakes

Zoo Brothers

Funny Flamingos

Lunch Break

Icky Snake

Anniversary Cobbler

Puppy Love
Good Friends

Melting Pot

Happy Anniversary!

Chemo Day