Saturday, June 29, 2013



Abby was my birthday gift from Hubby the first year we were married.  We were newly married, living in our first apartment in Dallas.  He went away for a weekend hunting trip, and came home with the cutest beagle puppy!  It was love at first sight.  Her ears were bigger than the rest of her, and she sometimes stepped on them when she walked.  Her legs were so short that she couldn't manage the stairs to the loft.  We were inseparable from the beginning.

She sat on our heads and perched on the back of the sofa like a cat.  She watched TV, and she would bark furiously at any dog that appeared on the screen.  She rode in the car everywhere with me.  She slept in our bed. 

Abby saw us transition from a couple to parents.  Then again.  And again.  From the very first day that we brought Goliath home, she loved and protected the babies.  And they loved her.


Almost fifteen years with the best dog ever has left an Abby-size hole in our family that can never be filled.  I am thankful for the memories that she gave us.  I'm thankful that it is still funny when I remember how, as a puppy, she jumped out the window of Rachel's car at Sonic and nearly hung herself on her bejeweled glittery leash.  I'm grateful for the snuggles and the kisses we shared.  I laugh when I remember all the times that her beagle instinct to sniff drew her out of our yard and Hubby would have to track her down while I stood on the lawn and panicked.  Or the time when she went under the fence and sauntered through a pasture right up to the horse who lived there, unintimidated by their size difference.  Or after baby Goliath learned how to walk and she started having panic attacks, so our vet put her on steroids to control her stress levels.  And who could forget when Seester and I did the garage sale at Mom and Dad's, and someone tried to buy Abby?!? 
We miss you, Abs.  We miss the jingle of the tags on your collar.  We miss your nails clicking on the wood floor.  We miss the way you hovered under the table at meal time, and I hate that I have to actually sweep the floor when food spills now.  You were the most loyal, faithful fur-friend there could ever be, and I was lucky to have been your person.

Rest in peace, Princess Pup.  Thank you for everything.
 I will always love you.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

High and Stormy Gale

Early this morning we dropped the cowboys off with a friend so they could go to VBS and we nervously fought rush hour traffic to get to Dr. F's office.
We had every reason to be anxious.
I had a CT scan on Friday.  The scan shows at least four new tumors that have developed since April.  The existing masses are enlarged, and there is some growth into lymph nodes.
Four new tumors.
Three little cowboys.

When darkness veils His lovely face I rest on His unchanging grace.

There are two choices: 

1)  Surgery.
Further examination led Dr. F to solemnly tell us that surgery would be difficult.  The tumors are growing at such a rapid rate that they are jam-packed in my body.  He believes that there are parts that are even attached to bone.  Surgery would require a 2-week hospital stay, followed by a lengthy recovery at home.  The result would mean a huge lifestyle change for me, and there is no guarantee that such an operation would be successful in eradicating Monster.

2)  Nothing.
I can continue as I am, treating the pain and other symptoms as they come along with medication.

In every high and stormy gale my anchor holds within the veil.
Neither seems like a good option to me.  I don't even have a backup plan anymore, as my team at M.D. Anderson has done everything they can do for me.  Dr. F suggested that I might consider making a trip to New York to Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital, to seek any resources that might not be at our disposal here in Texas.  Part of me thinks that is a great idea!  Part of me thinks that if I didn't get it at MDA, I won't get it at MSK.  And a third, hidden, terrible part of me wants to stick out her tongue and stamp her foot at the very idea that her first trip to New York City would be on Monster's behalf!  Really...the nerve!!!
His oath, His covenant, His blood, support me in the whelming flood.
This isn't just a little summer shower of "oh, drat".  This is a full-fledged, gale-force, torrential deluge of "DAMN IT!!!"  This is a monstrosity of a storm.  These are rising flood waters that threaten everything I hold dear.  This squall refuses to be quieted or calmed.  This is my life.
When all around my soul gives way He then is all my hope and stay.
All around me today everything fell apart...again.  I went into that little room not even expecting a miracle.  I had only hoped that Monster might have just been contained for the last few months.  To find out that he is growing faster than Little Middle (who is eating us out of house and home, by the way) was like taking a sucker punch to the gut. 
But God.
...So loved Allyson that He gave His only son.  So that no matter what I come across in this broken old world:  heartache, loss, sickness, fear--I have hope. 
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Bucket List 2013

School is out, and summer is in full swing!  The 2013 summer bucket list is posted on the refrigerator, just waiting for us to start crossing things off.

We started the bucket list thing last year when Pinterest was a big deal.  I thought I was being a good mom because I was pinning our summer on a board somewhere in cyberspace that the boys would never see.  The list made my ideas a reality and provided a loose structure to our time together.  The cowboys loved it, and we began planning this year's list back in April!
Of course, the concept of a "bucket list" feels much different to me this year.  Loose structure has become great pressure to get it done.  ALL OF IT.  This is their list, their ideas (well, not the reading and the volunteering), and frankly, I don't know if I will be around for the 2014 list.  So I want to be with my Goliath, Little Middle, and Baby.  I want to listen to what they have to say.  I want to teach them how to do things and tell them stories from my childhood.  I want to squeeze it all in and soak them up. 
Little Middle, who is in a funk because his best buddy moved away, pointed out to me yesterday, "Mom, you haven't taken us to do one thing on the summer bucket list!"  And he's right.  Grumpy, but right.  But then today happened.  Today, I served pancakes with colored sprinkles to my men for breakfast.  Little Middle slept late, then came straight to me for a hug.  I played with my boys in the pool, and then watched them play (happily) together.  Baby had the very important job of being in charge of the grocery list at The Kroger, and without him we would not have any "dish det" (my abbreviation for dishwasher detergent.  He was stumped.).  I coached Goliath through making my favorite peach cobbler recipe. 
Another day is done, and the bucket list is no closer to being completed than it was yesterday.  But so what?  There is plenty of joy in the togetherness of an ordinary day.  Plenty of noise and irritation, to be sure, but more than enough joy.  This mom's heart is checking it off.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Insomniac Blogging: Fifth Edition

I am sleepless in Texas.  Here's what's up:

--If you follow me on Facebook, you have seen the link to this little gem that perfectly explains how it feels to be a mom at the end of the school year.  I am that mom!  On Friday I was offering the cowboys cash if they would just please, pretty please, buy their lunches so I didn't have to pack them.  Little Middle brought me his behavior chart to sign.  He said, "Mom, you forgot to sign it last week, too."  And the week before that, and the week before that...  Poor guy.  Baby's class had Silly Slipper Day, which IS silly because it's 90 degrees every day and who wears slippers?!?  My boy has outgrown his and I refused to run to Target at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday night to buy new ones, so he took matters into his own hands and wore his Christmas socks.  Whatevs.  I stopped checking their folders about two weeks ago.  I just ask them if there is anything big going on at school that I should know about, volunteer for, or send money for.  Foolish, I know, but I just can't bear to search through their stuff. 3 1/2 more days....come on, summer!
--Abby Dog is consistently becoming worse.  She is just shy of her 15-and-105th birthday.  That's a lot for an old girl.  Her old mom's heart is filled with crushing love and unquestionable compassion.  The truth?  I know what I need to do to show her the ultimate kindness.  My own selfishness stands in the way.
--I feel slightly justified in my selfishness because The Other Heartache goes on...and on...and on.  It is disruptive in every possible way that it could be to my life and the lives of my children.  Abby Dog is my constant.  I'd rather have her not at her best than not have her at all.  :(
--Gus the Terrible ran away again this week.  I was chopping fresh tarragon in preparation to cook a special dinner when our little friends next door started ringing the doorbell and yelling , "Ms. Allyson!  Gus got out!  Gus is running!!!"  For about 30 seconds I stood there and thought, "I could pretend like I'm not home.  I will not go get him.  I will not."  And I continued to chop tarragon.
--My conscience took over and I DID chase him.  Little Middle and his friend were running fools (barefoot, I might add), aided by a couple of random teenage boys who felt sorry for me.   After the five of us ran, cajoled, whistled, called, ran more, reached, missed, and ran faster, that stupid dog RAN HOME and waited for us. I hate that dog.
--I am in a situation where I am living out Proverbs 15:1 on a daily basis:  "A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger."
--America's Got Talent premieres this week.  This is good news in our house!
--Last weekend we traveled to Houston to celebrate Reese the Niece's first birthday.  It's hard to believe it's been a year since I became "Auntie!"  Goodness, I love, love, LOVE that girl.  Wanna know who else really loves her?  Her 3 cousins.

--Speaking of cousins, check this out:
In the picture is, of course, Goliath, Baby, Reese the Niece, Little Middle, and...Aunt Chelsea's tummy, where the new Conner cousin is growing!  He/she will debut in November.  I'm going to be an Auntie again!
--We've had some crazy weather this week with random rainstorms, but our grass looks like a lovely green carpet.
--The Monster lives on.  He encourages his friends Exhaustion and Discomfort to come over to play from time to time.  I have a CT scan scheduled for June 21 to see what he has been doing in there.
--My sons are my world.  They are the three reasons that I get out of bed every morning.  Often, they are why I want to keep breathing.  I love being their mom.
--We went on a double dinner date with friends.  In the parking lot someone had dumped a huge pile of fried rice.  It put a whole new spin on "Chinese take-out."
--Buccees.  It's a Texas thang.
--I spent quality time with my son this weekend cleaning OUT (not UP) his room.  By hour five, we were both tired of the job and tired of each other.  I asked him to bring his overflowing laundry basket downstairs.  He said, "I am your son, not your slave!", to which I retorted, "I am your mother, not your maid!"  Two points for me on the Awesome Comeback Scoreboard.
--Goliath attended a birthday party at a retirement facility!  The birthday girl's grandmother lives there, and the 5th graders came in and took over the pool.  It was greatness.
--The people who make it on to the mid-day court shows are crazy.  I would love to find out how to sit in the gallery of Judge Alex's courtroom just to watch him in action.
--Band update:  Goliath is now a tuba player.  There are too many girls who play clarinet, and he didn't want to be a part of that.
--Little Middle's best buddy is moving at the end of this week.  Too far for playdates and sleepovers, but never too far for Facetime and perhaps a long summer roadtrip.  We are all so sad.
--The boys and I are finalizing our summer bucket list.  It's a little more ambitious than last year's list!  It does not appear that they are thinking that running through the sprinkler in the backyard is the definition of summer fun. I'm feeling a little apprehensive....
--'Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.