our pad

our pad

Friday, November 13, 2015

Halloween Fun

We had a great Halloween in our new neighborhood. There was a pizza pre-party with neighbors, a big pack of kids trick-or-treating, and lots of lots of candy, enough to satisfy even the most pregnant of bellies! Jameson went off with friends as did Cameron (unchaperoned for the first time). Still laughing thinking about Cam dropping his loot, all 50lbs of candy, on the ground when he got home as he began recounting his night for me, in all its glory, "Don't get me wrong mom, it wasn't easy. There were many times over the course of the night where we thought about turning back. We thought about giving in. But then we decided to just focus on the end result and we pushed on. We refueled when we needed to, asked for water at a few houses when we couldn't stand the thirst anymore but we did it, we did it." Love that grit and determination and how it sounded like he was telling the story of a  courageous battle to win a war and not just a quest to fill up his bag with candy.
Cam went as a spy, Jameson dressed as Doc from Back to the Future, Avery and Ella both went as fashionable and brightly colored witches, and Addie went as a Pop Star who only answered to the name "Lady Goo Goo."

Jim and I were invited to a friend's Halloween party (Adults only), and since we had prize worthy costumes last year, knew this year's must be pretty creative too. I decided to work the pregnancy into the costume and made myself into a can of "Prego" Tomato Sauce. Jim, was the Italian chef, of course. I wore red tights and a red long sleeve shirt. I peeled a label off a jar of Prego, brought it to Staples where it was enlarged and printed on poster-board. I used tape to secure around me in the back and held up with red suspenders. Viola! We got Jim an apron and a chef hat then used yellow yarn for spaghetti, and styrofoam balls which painted brown for meatballs. We hot glued these onto his apron and hat to jazz up a bit. Such fun!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Comeback

I'm back at it, dusting off the old keyboard and updating the blog for the first time in about 8 months. So much has happened in that time, I don't even know where to start.  Crazy changes, exciting changes, and if you asked me as I closed out my last post, I never would have predicted how much our lives would have changed in such a short period of time. For starters, we moved to a new, albeit, neighboring town this summer, and into an awesome new house in a great new neighborhood. All five kids started at brand new schools this fall. I cut back at work and am no longer going into the office, only working freelance from home, pretty limited hours, but still teaching ballet one day a week. But the biggest change and definitely most exciting is that the Lily Pad is growing. I'm pregnant and expecting baby number 6, on New Year's Day! We are all beyond excited for the new little blessing to join our family. After my two year check-up with my oncologist yesterday, I am reminded just what a sweet miracle this is, how far we have come, and how fortunate I am to have this new lease on life and new life growing inside me.  Walking around the hospital today, moving from waiting room to waiting room, from blood work in the laboratory up to the all too familiar blood cancer floor, where I got reassuring news from my doctor, was just so surreal and emotional.  All the anxiety and worry and fear from the six months I spent there came flooding back. This was met with appreciation for the doctors and nurses that treated me and continue to help patients facing ups and downs everyday. My heart ached for all those people in the waiting room who were just starting their treatment and facing so many unknowns. I felt guilt for those who looked at my belly wondering if they would ever get the chance to start their families. I wondered when, if ever, these visits would get easier and what exactly it all means. All this turned to thankfulness for all that has brought me to where to I am today, almost 34 weeks pregnant with my sixth child, wife to my amazing husband, surrounded by friendship, family and most of all hopefulness for what is to come.    

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mini Monets

Ella, family sketch, age 6

Here is some recent work from my little artists. If I preserve it on the blog, I am then free to remove it from the fridge and quietly move it to the recycling bin, right? These girls are very prolific colorers...

Avery, gearing up for St. Patrick's Day,Age 6

Avery, always fashionable, and accessorizing with a rainbow kitty
Avery, who forgot to write, "I liked to build a snowman in the winter, like the first time it snowed a foot, but then not so much when the snow got to be 8 feet high."
Ella, hopefully some lamb days commin' soon
Addie, we'll say...experimenting with colors
And how could I forget my sweet, "Abbie's" school work:

Great work Abbie, now if we could spend less time coloring and more time working on your letters...

Friday, March 6, 2015

Well Hello Again...

I realize it has been over a year since I last posted. I needed to take some time off, share a little less, grow a little more, but recently I've been wanting a creative outlet for all my thoughts and ideas. I gave up Facebook for Lent- so here I am. Life has mostly returned to normal if any such thing actually ever existed with seven people under one roof , but I try. I am now working in the corporate world three days a week and back to teaching ballet one afternoon a week. We are crazy busy, but busy is good. We just got back from a great trip to Florida and managed to escape for a week, what promises to be the snowiest winter in history.  We visited with Nanny and Papa in Jupiter, beached and pooled it, then headed up to Disney for a couple days just in time for the first frost Florida has seen all season long. The frigid temps (by souther standards) scared the crowds away from the park the day we visited Animal Kingdom so there were hardly any lines and the kids thought it was the best day we ever spent together as a family. Magic Kingdom the next day was pretty magical too and I hope they all remember this trip for a long time.

Now we are back to the snow- lots of it, and back to grind, but trying to have some fun along the way. So on to what you’ve all been waiting for: The Updates on the kids.

Addie: My little whippersnapper is just as cute and cuddly as ever but boy is she a firecracker. She can be difficult as all get up and knows all my buttons to push although she is a complete mommy’s girl. Lots of transitions for this peanut this year with a move, a new school and full day Pre-K,  and she is not a fan of change so no wonder she has taken to acting out a bit. But she is just the funniest, most affectionate little thing so I can’t hold it against her. She’s taking ballet at the studio where I teach and grew up dancing so seeing her in her ballet leotard melts my heart. She has learned so much in school this year; is sounding out letters, writing numbers up to 100 and is just crazy about her teacher. She loves to play “school” and can still be found talking to herself out in her own imaginary world. She is always playing or trying to play with her big sisters and when they aren’t fighting they get along great-ha! She is smart smart and sassy but can’t pronounce either of those words because of the cutest little lisp you’ve ever heard. Although she will be 5 this spring she is definitely the baby of the family.

Avery: This has been a big year for Avery, in kindergarten and learning by leaps and bounds. She is reading and writing and brings home so much beautiful artwork everyday which reads- From: Avery To: Mom. She has become Miss Independent, as I split her and Ella into separate classes and I think its been good for everyone. She has made some very sweet friends and its nice for each of the girls, as identical twins,  to have their own identity.  Avery is also enjoying dancing and even auditioned and got a part as a mouse in a professional Nutcracker. Both girls did amazing and I was oh so proud.  She is still a girlie-girl and loves fashion and dressing up and make-up. Although she can have a mind of her own at times and is the most vocal of all my kids when things don’t go her way, she is a good listener and a sweetheart. She enjoyed skiing a couple times this winter and is pretty good about trying new things. She is generally willing to compromise and I for one appreciate that in a kid...

Ella: My girl is acing kindergarten, is reading and writing and follows directions and remembers everything. She's got some self confidence and the attitude to go along with it. She knows what she wants and is not the least bit timid in going after it. She has a very tight group of friends,  yet her twin is still her BFF.  Ballet and gymnastics come pretty easily to her so of course it drives me crazy when she says she doesn't want to go to these activities anymore- she can be oh so stubborn! She still loves animals of all sizes and varieties- I think she'll be a vet when she grows up- she has such a big heart.   

Cameron- Cameron is in fifth grade and enjoying switching classes for the first time. I can’t believe my littles boy is almost done with Elementary School. Despite 3 feet of snow on the ground he is gearing up for baseball season and had his first practice last week. He did  swim team this winter and got skiing a few times, just not quite as much as he would have liked. He is proving he is a responsible eleven year old through pet ownership. Santa brought him a guinea pig this christmas and I have been happy with how well he cares for it. He was a Lost Boy in his school play of Peter Pan and has really enjoyed some great after-school clubs. Now we are to the science fair and he loves this kind if thing, me- not so much!

Jameson- My first baby is almost done with middle school. He has had a very busy winter, in addition to playing hockey and on two basketball teams he is applying to high schools which is a very time consuming process for kids an parents alike. So far he has gotten into to both schools he applied to and received prestigious academic scholarships to both- it will be hard to choose. We are so proud of this kid’s accomplishments and can’t wait to see what is in store next. While still sweet and innocent and by far the easiest going kid around, I'm starting too see glimpses of a teenager- texting with friends, shaving that horrible fuzz above the lip, and tuning me out in favor of his phone-he is clearly growing up! This does come with it's perks, however, and with some small kids at home I am reaping the benefits- I have a built in babysitter. I can run an errand here, drive a kid there and not have to load everyone into the car. On the weekends Jim and I can put the girls to bed early then J and Cam watch a movie while we sneak out for dinner. He is more than responsible, has his phone close by and is First- Aid trained . Did I mention he saved Addie's life on a Christmas Eve when she choked on a necklace locket? Although adults were home at the time, he sprang into action and did the Heimlich Manuever until she finally threw up the silver star. Thankful for this kid!!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Out with the old, in with the New!

Good bye 2013! What a year it was. Last year at this time I felt the freshness in the air, a new beginning, the hope for good things to come, a clean slate and the renewed sense of hope and promise. Little did I know what lie ahead, how 2013 would challenge me, what changes it would bring to our family, our routine and everything we took for granted. Little did I know how we would be tested, the pain, fear and anxiety that would be thrust upon is. How blind I was to the life altering diagnosis that was in my future. Last year at this very time, I knew we stood on the verge of change, but had no idea that that change would involve my own battle with cancer. I had no idea I would never look at a New Year, or a new month, week or day the same way again.  I also had no idea that 2013 would bring me closer to my breaking point but bring me closer to God. I had no idea that in challenging everything I once knew I would strengthen my connections with family and friends. I had no idea that my initial feelings of loss and isolation would lead to finding comfort from the warmth of strangers. I had no idea that 2013 was going to be a year I would never forget, but for now goodbye 2013, goodbye..

Hello to 2014, to new beginnings, to health and to happiness. Hello to fresh starts, to hope and to rebirth.

Hello to a New Year, a new month, a new week, and brand new day...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Clearer Days

The post treatment wait for my scan passed more quickly than I feared. The five week interlude is standard to give the chemo more time to do its job and allow some of the inflammation to subside. Physically, I began to feel a lot better, regained much of my energy, but continued to have some side effects; continuing hair loss, some taste bud damage, peeling skin, strange nail changes, and blufferitis of the eyes, all of which were tolerable.
It was an anxiety filled few weeks but I kept busy and had a lot of pleasant distractions to help take my mind off of the looming tests.  My amazing group of college friends had a get together for me where I received a few wonderful surprises and enjoyed a day catching up with these special ladies.
I had a weekend getaway to Nantucket with another group of wonderful friends where we relaxed, shopped, took walks on the beach, ate out, cooked in, and drank lots and lots of wine (making up for six months of no alcohol consumption). I had a dear friend from high school fly in for a night out in Boston with our other high school bestie, we had dinner at a nice restaurant and stayed overnight in the city. I had a couple of girls' lunch dates and some special family time highlighted by a long weekend trip to the white mountains of New Hampshire.
We hiked and took in the amazing foliage, sat around a cozy fire and enjoyed each other's company away from it all.

I took time to stop in church from time to time over the waiting period and visit a prayer circle where an intention was made in my name. Over this waiting period friends lit candles for me in Rome and relatives made a pilgrimage to Medjagorie, returning with blessed Rosary Beads and Holy Water. Although I had my moments of worry, and one panic when I thought I felt a lump, which thankfully turned out to be nothing, I tried to remain positive and focus on the outcome I wanted. I heard from so many people who told me they were praying for me and so many sending well wishes and positive thoughts my way.  I continued to pray for a full recovery and felt the energy of the prayers around me. I had a few signs leading up to my test which helped me to keep the faith and reminded me to trust in God's plan for me. Perhaps I'm reading to much into it, perhaps they were mere coincidence, perhaps I'm conducting a desperate search for meaning, or perhaps, God really does reveal himself when we need him the most. The first was exactly one week before my test, I happened to step outside in the late afternoon to see the most unusual pink cotton candy sky. I walked to the middle of my road to get a better view and a beautiful double rainbow appeared in the sky above me. I put the kids in the car to drive and try and get a better view and we made it to an opening where we could see the full arc in all its glory.
The kids suggested we should follow the rainbow to the end in hopes of finding a pot of gold. To humor them, I set off driving in the direction of the end of the rainbow, them directing me, "that way, now that way." Soon we were one street away from our house, looking at the rainbow which disappeared into our very own roof line. "I guess we found the end of the rainbow", they exclaimed and we headed home to our own pot of gold. Just that week in school, Cameron had learned the rainbow is a symbol of God's promise to His people. The rainbow leading to our house was a reminder that God's love was all around me and my family during this time and always. More uplifting moments came as I watched John Lester pitch two amazing games helping lead the Red Sox to victory in the World Series. He is a lymphoma survivor and seeing how well he is doing just two years after completing treatment served to give me hope for a full recovery and more good things to come in my future. The afternoon before my scan, I had some time to myself, I did a little retail therapy, then headed to church to say some prayers.  I found the church empty, so I walked in, made my way to front pew and knelt down, resting my head in my hands . The calm was soon interrupted as I opened my eyes to the sound of hammering. A man had quietly entered the church and immediately began working on the alter. He was wearing a tool belt and I noticed that the altar was off balance and he was working to secure it. I grew annoyed as he took out a drill and began screwing in a piece of wood. I only wanted a few moments of peace and quiet, time to myself to pray, and  now there was a full construction zone taking place  on the altar. I closed my eyes and tried to tune out the noise, and when I opened them again I saw the man kneeling at the alter, bowing before the cross. I looked down, burying my face in my hands to give him some privacy in his moment of quiet reflection and when I looked up again he was gone.  My annoyance turned to peace as I realized that this was perhaps another sign. A carpenter, sharing the the same profession as Jesus, appearing out of the blue in the church and leaving as quickly as he came, symbolizing the fact that the Lord was in that moment, right there watching over me.
The last sign came as I headed into Boston for my PET scan. It was slightly overcast, clouds dotted the morning sky; I notice the sky more now than ever before. As we drove I saw beams of light shining down from the clouds. I thought back to riding in  a friend's car when we were young and her pointing to the rays saying that in her family they call those, "God's fingertips". And now when I needed a touch of grace, God stretched his fingertips down from the Heavens, giving me the confidence to enter the Hospital, strength to take the elevator down two levels to radiology and the faith to leave everything else up to Him.
After I had labs drawn and received the injection of the radioactive contrast, I sat in an isolated room for an hour then was brought in for the scan where I could still feel the rays of light shining down. Afterwards, I met Jim in the waiting room and we left together knowing that a long anxiety filled weekend awaited. I tried to put the looming results out of my head and accept that it was no longer in my control. I then focused on making the most of the weekend with my family. We had a family celebration at home for the twins 5th Birthday.
Preparing for this helped to take my mind off of the test and focus on this positive occasion instead; celebrating the fact that my identical twin girls, born prematurely weighing just 4 pounds, were now healthy and happy five year-olds.
They love to perform, sing and dance. They love fashion and puppies and baby dolls. They love to color and paint and pump on the swings. They love to play elaborate imaginary games. They love their family and each other and their mom. And nothing I want more than to be around to see them grow up, see how they maintain their twin bond as they grow, see what kind of strong, independent and compassionate women they become.
Tuesday was there actual birthday and the day I was to receive my results.  To make the morning special for them, Jim and I filled their room with dozens of purple and pink balloons.
We prepared a yummy breakfast, took them to school together then headed into Dana Farber. There we were met by my sister and father in the waiting room.  The wait was nerve wracking and the air felt heavy around me. I could feel my heart beating hard inside my chest and my hand sweating inside Jim's.  We were brought into my Dr.s office and a long wait commenced again.  My doctor finally entered and without hesitation, immediately delivered the good news, the news I had been waiting over six long months to hear; my scan came back clear! There was no longer evidence of the disease. We all cried with joy and what an emotional release it was. There will be a lot of follow-up going forward, I will be closely monitored, the port will stay in place for awhile  until the doctor feels confident that it can be removed, I will have appointments every 3 weeks initially to have the port flushed, a check up in six weeks then scans every six months going forward. The fear of relapse will be ever-present but for now I am thrilled to be celebrating every moment and enjoying every glass of champagne that comes my way.

Thank You for all the prayers, they worked, and there is no better feeling than that.

Monday, September 23, 2013


Tomorrow I am scheduled for what will hopefully be my last chemotherapy infusion. Almost six months of treatments and, hopefully, my last one is less than 24-hours away! I say "hopefully" because I do not yet know if I am in remission and will not know until I have a PET scan, four weeks later and the course of care going forward weighs heavily upon the results of that scan. The waiting for the test to determine if the cancer is completely gone, will likely be the hardest part of the entire ordeal. My body will slowly recover from the toll that chemo has taken, but my mind will be anxious and fearful of the unknown. Now, during the course of my therapy I feel as though I am doing all I can to destroy the cancer, but after Tuesday when I am no longer receiving active treatment, the fear and worry will set in. "Scan-xiety" is a very real part of recovering from lymphoma as scans are scheduled at regular intervals during remission than gradually spread out until the five year mark- a major milestone, I already have my sights on. During the course of the wait, I plan to combat the worry by staying busy, regaining a normal level of activity, staying positive, enjoying time with family and saying lots of prayers. I have a couple of girls getaway weekends planned, a few dinners out lined up and some fun events to look forward to, but will wait until after a clean, cancer-free scan to let the real celebrating begin...