Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

We had to cancel our annual New Year's Eve celebrations at a friend's house. I felt my all time worst. Maggie went on without us and was able to have a good time. When she got home Maggie and Ian watched the ball drop in Times Square on TV. We almost had to go to the ER but the Dr. on call decided to try one more thing...his concoction of 3 drugs he uses for his own patients. Huge worked! Happy New Year!!!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

41st birthday

My 41st birthday came and went without much attention. I felt horrible. Jennifer came over and brought flowers and presents and mom/Howard brought a coffee cake. Small celebration... that's all I could muster.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I just want to report that Monica had her 2nd chemo treatment yesterday. She was feeling good going into it, and the process went fine, but she was hit again last night with nausea. She's feeling pretty miserable, but so far she's been able to stay home. She is currently there, trying to rest, and trying to stay hydrated. It seems that she's able to do a slightly better job of that this time than she was last week, so hopefully that means she'll be able to avoid the ER. She was hoping that only getting one drug this week (Gemcitabibe) rather than the two combo from last week (Gem + Cisplatin) would minimize the nausea, but so far the difference isn't noticeable although being able to stay out of the hospital is a good thing! - Jennifer

Monday, December 28, 2009


I LOVE that on the top of Maggie's list to Santa this year was a big lollipop!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

sweetie pie

Maggie showing off her new shirt!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

We had a nice Christmas. Quiet. We had a small gathering of family and enjoyed the day together.

Christmas 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Love Thursday

Maggie made me this BEAUTIFUL origami heart out of 1 piece of wrapping paper...I love it and it is now one of my favorites! Today is Christmas Eve and I was not able to make it to Christmas Eve services...I didn't even catch Maggie in her Christmas dress. Others reported back to me that she looked like an angel.

Monica has been admitted to a room in MDA to try to keep her hydrated and manage the side effects she's experiencing. They have been taking care of her in the ER from when she went in Tuesday night to this morning. One thing I did learn today that I was unaware of is that one of the two drugs she received on Monday she gets only once a month. That drug is particularly harsh and the reason why they will always keep her in the hospital at least overnight after the first day of each 4-week cycle. The hope is that means maybe the other three weeks of her cycle will be more manageable. At least it will be one less chemo drug. She is trying to rest she has her phone turned off for now. I imagine we won't be seeing her active on FB for a while, either. Just know that she's working on the fight. Maggie and Ian will be attending Christmas Eve services at Palmer this evening. Hopefully they will have Monica home for Christmas. However, in the big picture, of course, we want her to be where she can be best taken care of. - Jennifer

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Poor Monica hasn't been able to keep even water down. She was doing fine while at the hospital, but I guess the anti-nausea medication they sent home wasn't as good as what she was getting in the IV. That's really just my guess...I don't really have any facts. Anyway, she went back to the hospital last night and is still there. I don't know if she's still in the ER or has been admitted. I'll let you know when I hear more. - Jennifer

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Every year Clementine claims his favorite spot to nap...under the Christmas tree!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mags and Rose

We seem to have a lot of these...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Love Thursday

Maggie loves the bottle cap necklaces and was pleased to make her own bottle caps with a kit she received as a Christmas gift!

Good news from MDACC. Monica's bone scan shows only the one spot of cancer on her spine, noting else (as far as bones go). She'd been very worried about the pain she's been experiencing in her shoulder, but it looks like that's surgery related. The other good news she has to share is that she actually hasn't had any pain today, so hopefully that means healing is happening! That's all for now. Thanks for your thoughts, prayers, meals, FB chatting, etc.! - Jennifer

Polar Express Day

Today was "Polar Express Day" in 1st grade at school. Even though I am not teaching anymore, I couldn't pass up a day to visit in my PJ's. This is me with the rest of my 1st grade team I teach with...I really miss being at school! It's all I know...

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Rosie is such silly, weird dog sometimes! She lays like this all the she is comfortable!

Friday, December 11, 2009


Monica went in for a bone scan today. and while she was there they told her that they've decided to push her chemo back a week. Basically, they feel like she needs more time to heal from the larynx surgery she just had. So, chemo starts Monday, December 21...week of Christmas. It's 4 weeks of treatment, a week off, then another 4 weeks of treatment before she is restaged. - Jennifer

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Love Thursday

Monica went to see her oncologist today. Here's what the doctor said: her cancer is very aggressive. A new CAT scan shows cancer in her spine now and new growth in both her sizable one in both the right and left lobes. Sizable, we think, is around 1 cm range. If you remember, these were not there on earlier scans, and certainly the growths in her lungs were not there when she had her lung surgery on November 9. So, the fight is on! She will start chemo on Monday. This will be once a week for 4 weeks in a row. After 2 cycles of this, they'll do more tests to see if everything is working. If it is, she'll keep on that program. If not, go to plan B (don't know what that is right after now). She will be on a trial - this is an additional drug that they will add on to what she'd be doing anyway, so she won't be missing out on anything. this is not a placebo test. They do, however, have two different groups p one that gets the extra drug right away and one that gets it a little later. She doesn't know yet which group she'll fall in. She'll spend the night at MDACC after the first round each cycle just to be sure she gets and stays hydrated. - Jennifer

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

container overload!

One drawback of accepting so many meals...we have a million containers that are pouring out of our cabinets! We have reorganized, cleaned out and thrown away a lot...

Monday, December 7, 2009


Monica is out of surgery. The doctor said that the implant went well. Her voice will be stronger, probably a bit higher. Hopefully it will help her with her low energy, as this has been a continuing problem for her. She will be out of the hospital late tomorrow morning and is not allowed to talk for 48 hours. while she can't talk, please send her FB messages, as that's her preferred means of communication right now, and I think it's important for her to keep up contact. Monica has along the process tended to push herself too far, resulting in some real set-backs. We'll hope that she can avoid that this time but then, when it's appropriate, work to get her strength back. That's going to be important as she moves forward with chemotherapy. She also visited the pain management doctors, and they are going to start stepping her off the medications she's been on since her original surgery. As you may know, Monica has continued to have a lot of problems with nausea, and the hope is that this is tide to the pain medication she's been on. again, getting her appetite and strength back is what we need to support her on in prep for chemo. - Jennifer

Sunday, December 6, 2009


I thought it was time to give Maggie her own email address! Times sure have changed since I was 10 years old!!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Maggie & Momma

How many 10 year-olds will wear a matching shirt with their momma? Maggie!!! Always my Maggie.

gingerbread house

Gingerbread house building is always a fun day at our house. Each year our house always seems to have a different design. The heart on the roof was a first this year.

Maggie's tree

More tradition...Maggie puts up a little tree in her room every year.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Winter is here!

Something amazing happened today. It actually snowed all day today...all day and I missed it. I had 9 appointments at MDACC and missed it all! :-(

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Love Thursday

Hello, everyone. Just wanted to let you know that Monica has some plans in place now. She was at MDACC this morning and will be there again all day tomorrow visiting different doctors and having different tests run. This is mostly all in preparation for the surgery on her larynx, which will be Monday, and her oncology appointment next Thursday. She will stay overnight at MDACC and should only stay one day. As for the oncologist, she seems to be running s ton of different tests, and hopefully that means she'll be ready to give Monica a plan of action come Thursday. I want to pass on how grateful they are for all of the meals you continue to bring! Not having to use her energy to cook has allowed Monica to focus on healing and spending time with Maggie in the afternoons. Particularly with all the nausea she's had, it's been a huge blessing to not have to prepare food. Thanks! - Jennifer

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Hi, everyone. Monica has been battling nausea lately, and finally got so dehydrated that she spent the day in the ER Monday.The good news is that she is better and home resting. She got home Monday night but still pretty worn out. The thought is that this is all medication-related, so it sounds like they will be changing some of her drug routine up. The other good news is that she has 9 appointments scheduled with a whole slew of folks at MDACC between now and next Thursday. So, the show is getting on the road with oncology, voice issues, etc. She is hearing that chemo is very likely (which is a good thing - nice to be able to do something), and hopefully she'll learn more about that during this set of visits. Thank you, everyone, for your calls and emails checking on her this week. As always, everyone's concern, prayers, good thoughts mean the world to Monica and her family. - Jennifer

Sunday, November 29, 2009

too much fun...

Whose idea was this? Not a great night...ending up being really sick after spending time with friends at our house this evening.

advent wreaths

We love all the tradition around the holidays! One of which is advent wreaths made at church. Of course, lighting them is another story after we almost burned our house down a few years ago by forgetting to blow the candles out Christmas Day!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

1st gift of Christmas!

The tree is up, the stockings are hung...and the 1st gift of Christmas is wrapped!

Christmas tree

I LOVE getting the Christmas tree up the weekend after just feels right!

Friday, November 27, 2009

flannel sheets

Yea!!! New Flannel sheets! It's been getting REALLY cold in Houston this year.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Love Thursday

I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and let you know how thankful I am for everyone's support. I am so blessed to be a part of such a wonderful community. Many prayers have been answered...successful surgery and I ended up with a voice! Please continue sending your positive thoughts and prayers my way...I still have quite a battle ahead of me! Y'all give me such strength! Stay tuned. My next surgery will be scheduled soon for my voice box implant and more news about how we will take on the cancer in my right lung! Sincerely Yours, Monica

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

tree house

Maggie has always wanted a swing of some sort or a tree house of some kind in a tree on our property. Unfortunately, we never had the right kind of tree on our property to make this dream a reality. Luckily, our neighbors behind us have something of the sort right at our fence line...and that counts! Thank God!

Happiness is...

Happiness is being able to hula hoop. I used to be able to do this endlessly...I just can't do it anymore!

garden update

Our peppers and tomatoes are coming along nicely...

garden stones

Maggie painted 3 garden stones for me...LOVE, HAPPINESS and PEACE.

how sweet!

Maggie made me lunch...presentation is VERY important to her. How could I not eat every bite?


We had Maggie's friend, Catherine over for the evening. Such a nice girl. My hope is that they are friends for a long time...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

a girl's best friend

I'm so glad we have Rosie...she is so loved!
Today Monica saw a head and neck specialist to start working on her voice. She had a laryngoscopy done where they basically put a camera down her throat and checked out how her larynx was working. She got to watch afterwards, which she said was really interesting! The test confirmed that her left vocal chord is essentially paralyzed as a result of the lung surgery. She was given 2 choices: one that would last 3-6 months and one that is permanent. Monica has chosen to go the permanent route, which means she'll have another surgery soon to insert an implant that will help her chords close properly. One really interesting thing the specialist told her is that the tiredness and shortness of breath she's experiencing are directly related to her larynx problems...not her lungs. On other notes, she is healing well but still struggling with nausea. She was free of this for a good 5-6 days, so don't know if this is a reaction to medication or a bug. Thanks, everyone, for so many prayers and good thoughts! - Jennifer

Monday, November 23, 2009

Maggie and Bridget planned to dress alike today at school. I SO remember doing that in 5th grade (and beyond) with Diane! Good memories.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

mosaics run in the family

Maggie made this elephant mosaic today...must run in her blood!
Rosie wants badly to have Maggie's bed to herself!

never too old

Despite out of town guests, food being brought over, etc... we are trying to still maintain our "normal."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

day of the elephants

This was not the reason we were at the zoo today...but it was nice to see them!

I'm so glad I was able to take Maggie to a "behind the scenes" look at the elephant exhibit today! It was worth it...even riding around in a wheelchair! Maggie was in total heaven and in such awe. I believe this was the first time she actually got to be so close to an elephant...close enough to touch! Wonderful day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

organic apples!

We got a nice surprise in the mail today...a case of 85 organic apples from my cousin's apple orchard! Cool. We got right to work and juiced them!
Monica's report from pathology reports that her cancer is indeed original to her transitional cell kidney cancer. The good news is that she is healing nicely. Both lungs still have tiny cancerous lesions in them but there wasn't anything that could be done about that. Now she goes on to her oncologist to figure out her plan-forward. The appointment isn't set yet, but soon! Another bit of great news from my own perspective is that Monica really sounds great. She had an extremely hard week, but I can hear in her voice that she's feeling much better. That counts for a lot! - Jennifer

Sunday, November 15, 2009

better days to come...

One of many roses in our side flower garden.

Monica had to be rushed to the MDACC ER last night after what seemed like an allergic reaction to one of her perscriptions - a Lidoderm patch for pain. They've done blood work and x-rays and have told her to wait to talk to the surgical team in the morning. Monica is very worried and is going through quite a bit of pain. We pray that time goes quickly and that all this makes sense soon!
UPDATE: After meeting with her doctors, everything points to an allergic reaction. She has to promise to never touch a Lidoderm patch again! I don't hink it was a hard promise to make. Anyway, the silver lining in her being in the ER unexpectedly is that they see she's dealing with more pain than they'd like her to be in, so they've sent her up to the pain management specialists. She will also have a brain scan this afternoon, which is purely precautionary and has been on her schedule for a while. That's all for now, Jennifer

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Rosie and Clemy

It's not just friends and family...the animals want to stick close by, too!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

new juicer

I got a new juicer after reading a book a friend of mine gave me. We tested it out tonight by making pomegranate juice...yummy!

Great news! Monica went home this afternoon. They even dropped by Maggie's school to pick her up from school!! Wow. Her plan now is to settle in and spend some quiet time together as a family. She is still quite tired and trying hard to manage her pain (switching from IV to oral meds takes some getting used to). Monica is anxious to see friends but is trying to be smart about taking that step and not doing too much too soon. Thanks for understanding, Jennifer

doing better!

Hi, everyone! I saw Monica last night, and I think she's doing great. She was doing laps around the nurses' station when I got there. They are keeping her up and making her active, so that means more pain than when sitting still, but I'm telling you, she's doing great! Each day she makes tremendous progress! Nausea is under control, so thanks for those prayers. She even ate a little salmon last night. Home maybe today or tomorrow. She passed a bunch of tests today. The doctors were expecting a host of swallowing and speaking issues from the removal of nerves from the lung surgery. Her voice seems to be getting stronger. Miracles seem to keep happening...she is convinced God listens to children's prayers a little more closely! I'll keep you posted! - Jennifer

a new day...

Okay, friends, yesterday was pain - that's way more manageable now. Today she's fighting nausea, so focus the prayers and thoughts on that. She had a spell of being better, but getting up and moving to a chair brought on a serious bout of motion sickness. So, that's no good...we need to make that go away! - Jennifer

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I have a message to pass on to y'all from Monica. She actually emailed me this morning that yesterday when she was fighting significant pain as well as fighting the haze of medication, her mom opened her Facebook page and read everyone's wonderful messages and good wishes to her. They helped her tremendously! Please keep them coming, they really do help carry her through. You know that friends are so important to Monica - this is what's keeping her feel connected. Her note this morning also said she woke up with much less pain! Yeah!!! Thanks, everyone, for prayers, notes, thoughts, messages...all of it! - Jennifer

Monday, November 9, 2009

surgery - done!

I am sooooo happy to be writing this to you! Monica has gotten out of surgery, and her doctor was very positive. Basically, he removed the one big tumor that was causing the most problems with breathing, it was in fact eating into the chest wall, which meant there were some nerves that needed to be sacrificed. There were 4 other sizable tumors he removed, and all in all took 1/3 of her left lung. They've sent it all to pathology, and will know for sure what the source is in 5 days. Monica is headed to recovery now and will be watched very closely. Thank you for your wonderful wishes and prayers. I will keep the reports up and let everyone know when she is open for visitors! - Jennifer

Sunday, November 8, 2009

paper dolls

I love that Maggie is 10 years old and still loves to play with dolls! Just like the paper dolls, she has no idea how fragile her life will become...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

last v-ball game

Tonight was Maggie's last volleyball game for the fall season. I'm so happy she loves it so much! My desire is that it continues on to middle school and she can play on a school team! Anyway, we've been blessed with wonderful coaches and look forward to the spring season!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

sweet memories

We had a lovely visit with 2 favorite people we never see anymore...Mrs. Ellen and Ms. Jill. They are mother daughter and also happen to be Maggie's infant and toddler teacher's from her Bethany days. They came to visit me and of course, Maggie!

I am so happy to share some good news! Monica and Ian were referred to a thoracic surgeon quite unexpectedly at MDACC and met with him this morning! He said he could take the tumor out of her lung since there was no other cancer found! This is good news and she has been scheduled for surgery on Monday! This is the first time that she has been told they could remove it, so this is really great! As I mentioned before, the source of the cancer is important when designing any kind of this is really important. The surgery she's having is called a thoracotomy, and her doctor is Dr. Reza Mehran. As for the surgery itself, he says that while it is a big-deal surgery, it will be similar in risk and recovery as to when Monica had her kidney removed 4 years ago, so she has a reference and knows what is coming. Thanks for your continued support and prayers, and keep them coming! - Jennifer

Monday, November 2, 2009

Maggie's garden project

Not exactly the garden we had imagined...but it was a creative way to learn the different types of science lab tools!

Monica had an appointment with her new oncologist specialist this morning. She wants to run more tests for 2 reasons: 1) they want to be sure they have it identified correctly as a metastases of the kidney rather than primary lung cancer because the chemo protocol would be different, and 2) they want to do more scans to be sure it isn't anywhere else. This will delay the beginning of chemo treatments, but the doctor has assured her that while this is frustrating, nothing is really going to change between now and when she'll get started. As for guidelines, healthy eating is in order. She also said to keep her strength up, which does not mean sitting around inactive. She gave her permission to do the things that make her happy, so expect to see Monica around! Monica is overwhelmed by the fact that so many people have already signed up on the care calendar for meals in less than 24 hours! Wow...thank you! The best of all is notes and prayers, these will help sustain them through this fight. That's about it for now, friends. _ Jennifer

Sunday, November 1, 2009

baptism anyone?

I love that our church does one of their baptism days on All Saints' Day...just seems perfect to me. I enjoy being on the baptism banner guild...I have no idea who else is on it...I suspect little old ladies! I've always wished Maggie had been baptized at Palmer...her baptism wasn't quite so memorable. I may try to find time to make her a banner of her own anyway...she's always wanted one, why not?