Friday, December 21, 2012

Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies

We had a cookie exchange at our homeschool co-op. I was really excited to see what kind of cookies everyone would make. These kinds of things make me really excited. It's the type of person Moni is. The day that I baked, I kept repeating that I had to make three dozen cookies. I know myself too well to not do that. I had A2 count and recount the cookies. There were a little over three dozen cookies.

When my husband came home, I looked him in the eyes and told him not to eat the cookies because I had to take them to the cookie exchange. I didn't want to take any chances. I could picture myself going to the bathroom and coming back to six less cookies. I fed him a cookie and told him not to touch anymore because I needed to take three dozen cookies.

My children had so much fun scooping out the dough. (Side note: if you make cookies, you need a small ice cream scooper! I learned that very late in my cookie making.) They couldn't wait to taste the cookies! My house smelled so good as we waited! When they were done, we each tried one. All my kids gave their thumbs up for the recipe.

The next day I went to the co-op with my three dozen cookies. I took my cookies to the area that everyone else had set up their cookie trays. I started talking to another mom and then learned... that I was supposed to make four dozen cookies! They had even sent an email. This is my life. This is me. I pulled a moni! All that counting. All that repeating. This is why I need a personal assistant.

I had also forgotten that I was supposed to bake cookies for A1's science class. A double moni! So what did I do? I went to a local grocery store and bought some cookies from the bakery section. They were freshly baked, but not by me!

This was the first time that I had used this recipe. I really like the taste of molasses, but I wasn't sure how the kids would react. In the end, we all really liked this cookie recipe. The cookie is chewy and the sugar coating gives it a little crunch.


Chewy Molasses-Spice Cookies
adapted from marthastewart.com

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses

Directions

1.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.   Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in medium sized bowl.


3.   Set aside 1/2 cup of sugar in a small bowl.
4.   With a mixer (stand or handheld), beat butter and remaining 1 cup of sugar until combined.
5.   Beat in egg and then molasses. Mixing well after each one.


6.   Put one third of the dry ingredients into the mixer.


7.   Mix.
8.   Do the same with the next third, and then the last third.
9.   Mix until well combined.
10. Place in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes (to make it easier to handle).
11. Use a small ice cream scooper (approximately 1 tablespoon of dough) to scoop into reserved sugar.
12. Roll balls in sugar.


13. Optional (what I like to do): Cut parchment paper to fit baking sheets. This makes it easier to clean and reuse the pans.
14. Arrange balls on baking sheet. Three inches apart.


15. Bake one sheet at a time, until edges are firm. (10-15 minutes)
16. After taking out of oven, cool on the baking sheets for one minute.


17. Transfer to cookie rack (another must if you are going to bake cookies) to cool.
18. Store in airtight container.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Too Many Needles

The new CT stuff that I had to drink was amazing. It had no taste! I drank it with water, and it tasted like water. It was so good to drink something that didn't have a "I want to forget you" taste, but it made me wonder what chemicals made the stuff have no taste? Then, right before the CT scan, they made me drink another cup of the old CT stuff. Why, oh, why? It left a bad taste in my mouth. Literally.

There was a bit of drama at the nuclear medicine side (where I get my bone scan). I went in at 8:30 am to get the IV port set up on my arm. The tech that I had was someone that I had never seen before. He told me that he had 6 years experience. I've never had a tech tell me that before. Then, he stuck the needle in my arm and tried to wiggle around for a vein. It hurt. It didn't work. He ended up blowing the vein, making it unusable. So what did he do next? He looked at me and told me that he had to find a vein on my hand. Doesn't sound pleasant. It wasn't. I ended up saying, "Ouch." He was wiggling the needle again, trying to find another vein.


After he finished, I went back to the waiting area to be called for the CT scan. When they brought me to the CT scan area, the nurse was mad. She asked me why they had put the port on my hand. She said that they couldn't use that port for the CT scan. She would have to find ANOTHER vein. She wasn't mad at me. She was mad that they had made such a painful (for me) mistake. She put a warm blanket around my arm (it helps them find a vein) and proceeded to go to the nuclear medicine side to tell the tech that he had messed up. When she came back, she found a vein on my arm. 


I was so thankful for that nurse. I am always thankful for nurses who are gentle and know how to set up a port on your arm.



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Scheduled Scans and Stomach Flips

It's that time again! Time for my quarterly CT and bone scans. It was perfectly timed so that I could get my scans, go to the Kona DTS, come back, and get my scans again.

Today, I will be getting my bone scan injection at 8:30 am. Getting my CT scan at 9:00 am. And then getting my bone scan at 10:30 am.

The CT liquid that I have to drink is going to be a bit different this time. I guess they switched to another type of liquid "stuff." This one is called Omnipaque. Sound appetizing? The nurse who explained this new "CT stuff" to me told me that this was supposed to be easier to drink than the past "CT stuff."

I can start drinking it the morning of the scan. I will have to drink 48 oz of this stuff within 3 hours. The past "CT stuff" used to clear my system. As I waited for my bone scan, I would have to go to the bathroom - repeatedly. I was always worried that I might have to go to the bathroom during the scan. Thank the Lord that that never happened. We have to wait and see about this stuff.

When I went to pick up the Omnipaque, I had to wait for a nurse to explain the new "CT stuff" to me. As I was waiting, I saw her - the nurse who made me afraid of getting stabbed by needles at my last CT/bone scan. Seeing her made my stomach do a back flip. She did some serious psychological damage.

Please pray that all the scans will go well and that the scans/radioactive injection/CT contrasts won't cause further damage to my body. Also pray that that nurse won't be in the building.

Over the past few weeks, I have felt an increasing pain in my lower, right back. Please pray that the cancer hasn't spread and that all is well.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Words That Make You Go "Hmm"

A few months back, another mom made a comment to me. I know her enough to say that she wasn't trying to hurt me. It was her genuine, very straight forward thought. She just didn't filter it. Basically, she said something like this to me, "You're lucky because of your (fatal) illness because you can live each day as if it's your last day."

Don't get mad. I didn't. Like I said, I know her enough that I know that she didn't intend any malice.

To be quite honest, it made me think.

After I had recuperated from my surgeries, I got caught up with life again. Teaching the kids, taking care of things around the house, driving the kids to different activities, serving at church, getting mad at little things that are so frivolous that it's embarrassing, thinking about my thinning hair... life.

I started to forget. To forget that I really don't know about tomorrow. That I need to live each day purposefully. That I need to invest in the things that really matter: my relationship with God, my family, those that I love...

Maybe I needed that kick in the behind to remind me?


by JD366312


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

BPPV, Still

At the end of November, I went to my monthly oncologist visit. I was a bit scared to go. The reason was that Dr. K had given me a referral for my vertigo, but I had not even called the office to make an appointment. I know, I know. And yes, she was very frustrated when I went to see her. But, I had heard a story of someone with vertigo going for physical therapy and throwing up and not being able to leave the office because of the nausea. It scared me dizzy!

I have had benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) since October 9th. I am so thankful that it has gotten so much better, but it is still with me. There are three semi-circular canals in your inner ear which contain little crystals. When you get bopped on the head or move your head in a funny way, those crystals can come out. Then, your world begins to spin, you can't keep your balance, and you feel so much nausea. Physical therapy is the only treatment for BPPV. There is no medicine that will drive those crystals back where they belong.

BPPV is so common that they have physical therapists that specialize in this.  I went to one of these BPPV physical therapists. I had to wear these special glasses so she could see my eye movements. She made me lay down, wait a little, moved my head to the opposite side, wait a little, made me get up, and put my chin down against my body.

They can tell which canal the crystals came out of by watching your eye movements. During a dizzy spell, your eyes will move in specific directions that will show the therapist which canal the crystals came out of. Once they figure out which canal it is, they do specific exercises to get the crystals back into that specific canal.

During my session, I only had a very mild dizzy spell. I closed my eyes when I shouldn't have so she couldn't see which canal it might have been. She kind of got an idea and proceeded with the exercises. Funny how you have a problem and when you get to the doctor, the symptoms don't appear. When I got home, I lay down on my bed and I got another dizzy spell.

One thing that came to light was that my hearing isn't so sharp on the right side. I had been noticing that  when talking to someone, I kept tilting my right ear towards the person. When the PT did a slight hearing test, I had a hard time hearing with my right ear.

Please pray that I will be back to normal soon and that they will figure out what is going on with my right ear.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pray More

We started the Kona DTS application process late. I am sure that there were some people who applied at the beginning of 2012 and throughout the summer. But, we had no choice. We had to wait for the church to approve my husband's sabbatical. We didn't even know that he would have a sabbatical. We knew that we had to do what we could, and that God would take care of the rest.

My husband and I had a small window of time to get things ready (one month before the program began). We got all the paperwork and medical forms ready. We called the Korean DTS office to see what we would need to do. (They have a Korean DTS office and Korean translation at the DTS because there are so many Korean speakers that attend).

My husband called our airline credit card company to see if we could use our points to go to Hawaii. He asked about January and was told that we had just enough for round trip tickets for all of us. Ten plus years of using that airline credit card had finally paid off! He also looked into taking money out of his life insurance policy, and tried to figure out when we could get our tax refund check. Unfortunately, both would be after the program started. I believe that God wanted us to depend on Him, not those checks.

I wrote someone who had gone to the Kona DTS. They are also in ministry. They also have a family of five. She told me that they were penniless before they went (sounds very familiar). She told me that if God wanted us to go, He would provide. He had provided all the funds for their family. Her words encouraged me so much.

Our whole married/ministry life, we have seen God provide for all of our needs and even some of our wants. Our home, our cars, the furniture in our house, a dream refrigerator, dream washer/dryer, the children's clothes... and so much more. He had provided all of those things for us. He showed us that as long as we trusted Him and served Him, HE would provide. He has shown us time and time again that HE is Jehovah Jireh, our Provider!

But, then... we were told

  • that the DTS children's school was filled
  • that they didn't have any more on-campus housing
  • that the time that we had to go in January was peak season and that we would have to use double our airline points
  • that we hadn't been accepted, but actually wait-listed, and second on that list

But my husband said, "God is just telling us to pray more." So, we did. 

On Sunday, everything was approved for us to go on sabbatical. We used our airline points to purchase one way tickets to Kona before the points were raised even more. We left the way back to God. I know that sounds crazy, but we know that He will take care of it.

On Monday, I had this thought that we should check to see if our application status had changed. I asked my husband to check, and he told me that we would get an email if we had been accepted. I checked my email, and there it was! The letter stating that we had been accepted!

We are still praying about the funds, but we know He knows.



Monday, December 10, 2012

Time of Rest

There is some exciting news that I can finally share with all of you. The elder board, deacons, and congregation have passed something very exciting for our family. My husband has been given a three month sabbatical!!!!! It will be from January until March.

We have been at our current church for the past ten years. Those ten years have been filled with so many blessings but also many hardships. My husband is at the point where he can't function any more - which isn't like him. He's burnt out. He needs some time to be recharged and refocused.

Everything has come on quite suddenly so my husband and I had to pray about where we could go during that time. Staying here wasn't an option because we live three minutes from the church. My husband would be too tempted to check up on things. The purpose of a sabbatical is to take a break.

If you know my husband, you will also know that he is not the type to sit around doing nothing. He did not want this precious time given to us to just be about sitting around resting. He wanted the time to have purpose. To study. To draw closer to God.

As we prayed, something kept coming up in my husband's mind: Hawaii. Hey, when I heard that word, I was on board! Who wouldn't be? But his reasons were twofold. The first reason was the YWAM Kona DTS. It is a program that trains Christians to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to all nations. There can be 600+ people on campus per session. We would be involved in the three month program that is focused on NE Asia (China, North Korea, and Japan). We could learn, be refreshed, be renewed, and use our time purposefully for Jesus.

When I heard that it was focused on NE Asia, I cried. Specifically, when I heard North Korea. My heart has been there since my childhood. It is where my mother was born. Where I still might have family. Where there has been so much spiritual oppression and physical suffering. My dream had been to adopt a child... from North Korea. But with my health being what it is, I had to give that dream to Him. He knows.

The second reason my husband wanted to go to the DTS in Hawaii was because of my health. My husband thought that being in a warm, relaxing climate could be good for me. Really. He knows how cold I have been since October. He felt that being in that type of climate and environment could help my health physically and spiritually.

We have always talked about DTS in the past. It has been one of those things on our bucket lists. We know many people who have gone to that program and have been so abundantly blessed! We want to be blessed also! And renewed! And refreshed! And refocused!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Les Miz

My sister introduced me to musicals when I was in high school. She bought tickets to the Les Miserables show in Urbana, Illinois. I think that we had just missed the Chicago show. My brother was attending school there, so my sister and I drove down to watch it all together. I remember her purchasing really good seats for us (she had just gotten her first job as a CPA). After that, I was hooked on musicals. I saw The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Aspects of Love... but the undertones of God in Les Miz moved me greatly.

I ended up seeing that musical 3 more times. I saw it with some church friends in Chicago. Also saw it in Korea - in Korean. I was a bit disappointed because I couldn't sing along in English, but I still was amazed. Then, I saw in New York City with my husband. AND, he fell asleep. He says that he won't fall asleep if he sees it again. Too high of a price to pay for a chronic movie/musical sleeper...

My youth pastor even used the story in his sermon. He spoke about grace. One of the characters was shown grace by a priest. He couldn't understand why, but he used the grace he was shown to live his life uprightly, doing good. Another character was shown grace and he couldn't take it. He didn't understand why, so he decided that he had to kill himself.

Pastor Paul tried to teach us that we needed to open our eyes to the grace that God was trying to extend to us - even though we didn't deserve it. He wanted us to realize this truth and to run with it. Run with it to do good. To share God's love with others. To live our lives in a manner worthy of the grace given to us.

This past summer, I discovered that Youtube has the 25th anniversary show of Les Miserables - the London production. I watched it all. So many familiar faces came out to sing. It made me cry as I heard the songs. One of my favorite lines from one of those songs has always been: To love another person is to see the face of God.

I will warn that this musical isn't for young children. There are some raunchy scenes, which show some of the harsh realities of this world. I chose to pick out the good. Every time I hear the songs from this musical, I am reminded of God's grace. I find myself asking, "Why have you shown me so much grace?" But then I come to realize that it is not because of me. It is because of who God is.

by t3hfiasc0


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

CBS or BSF

Have you heard of either of these?

or

Both of these organizations offer Bible studies for women and men across this country and around the world. There are Bible studies during the day, but also at night. Both groups are interdenominational, so people of different denominations can come to study God's Word together. You don't talk about your denomination. Simply and purely, you study God's Word.

I had heard about these Bible study organizations from quite a few people. Very good things. I just never got around to attending one. I was too busy with the young'uns, homeschooling, church, or just didn't think that I had the time (or energy) to go to one. They even have a wonderful children's program, but I still didn't think that I had the time to join.

This past Fall, I finally set it in my heart to join for me. I had been teaching and running around driving my children to different activities but not doing anything for my own refreshment. I am still reading through the Bible (in a year), but I thought that I needed to be in a Bible study with others. What made this Bible study even better was that they had a children's program for homeschoolers. My children could go and study the same book of the Bible as me.

I must confess that I was a bit skeptical when I heard that we were studying the book of Mark. Not only is it one of the gospels (which I have read and studied many times), but it is also the shortest of the gospels. I wondered how much I could get out of the study. Pride is never good. But God was patient with me.

Each week, I was amazed at the different facets that were being revealed to me. Different facets of Jesus and different facets of familiar stories. I was humbled week after week after week. Yesterday was the last class for 2012, and I was amazed at how blessed I had been this past semester. There is power in studying God's Word alone and together.

The format of these groups is very similar:

Large group starter
Small group Bible study
Large group teaching and wrap up

You get a Bible study book. You complete the study during the week. You go over it with your small group. Finally, the large group leader teaches/wraps up the passage. Then, you go home and read the commentary pages that are given to you to reflect on the passage once again.

Simple.
Bible study.
Refreshment.
What more can you ask for?


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Go to Sleep!

I have this very bad habit of staying up late. I am more of a night owl rather than an early bird. During college, you have no choice but to stay up studying. When I was single and teaching, it was my time to spend talking with friends, exercising, or reading. When I had children, it was "my" time. I justified staying up because it was the only quiet time I had to myself. It was my veg out time. Don't all moms experience this?

Unfortunately, those stay up late habits stuck with me. My husband constantly nags tells me, to go to sleep. You see, he is an early bird. He goes to the early morning prayer service at our church every day. At 5:30 AM. Don't freak out. This is one of the strengths of the Korean church. They start the day in His Word and prayer.

On Monday, I read an article about the connection between aggressive breast cancer and lack of sleep. It was a bit eye opening. Apparently, there is a connection between lack of sleep and more aggressive breast cancer tumors. Breast cancer patients NEED to be well rested. I need to follow this. Unni, you need to post this article on your walls!

If we don't take care of the physical bodies that God has given us, who will? Don't wait until you are sick!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

One Year Blogiversary!

Today is the one year anniversary of this blog! One year ago, I was recovering from my surgery and started writing this blog. I had tried for so long to start a blog and was finally able to! I wanted to keep everyone up to date on my condition and recovery. I look back on that time and think about how crazy I was. I should have been resting some more, but instead I started writing and making snack mix!

Thank you so much for reading this blog. It means a lot to me that so many of you take the time to read what I have written. I have really enjoyed writing, taking pictures, and writing. I still can't believe that I have been maintaining a blog for this long! It has been a blessing and an outlet for me.

One very interesting tidbit is that the most popular blog post has been the one titled, "Overwhelmed." I wrote it thanking all those people who had been so kind and generous to our family during those crazy days after the surgery. But, I believe that random people typed that word on their computers hoping to find... something. Hoping that they might get the answer they were looking for by typing it on their computer search engines. I am thinking of writing some blog posts titled, "Desperation" or "Loneliness" so that people who are feeling those things can be redirected to the One who can heal their desperate or lonely or broken heart.

On another note, today is also my hubby's birthday! He grew up in a family where they never celebrated birthdays. He never got presents or a cake for his birthday. Never. That is why when we were dating, he passed my birthday by. I was steaming mad and so embarrassed-all the girls at the dorm kept asking me what he had gotten me. He wasn't even around. He had gone to a friend's house in another town. I thought that he was going to surprise me, but he never did. Okay, a day later he did when he realized how mad I was. I still have that scarf. It reminds me of that time and how important it is to know your loved one's family culture.

Happy birthday, Hubby! I still love you even though you passed by my first birthday because you weren't used to celebrating birthdays because your family never did!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

P.O.N.

For the past few weeks that feeling has creeped up on me again. That feeling of being paralyzed, overwhelmed, and non-productive. I haven't been able to function. Just been out of it. There are so many things to do! They are always at the back of my mind, but I just can't seem to get myself to do them. Including this blog.

Just... want... to... go... under... a... blanket... and... sleep... until... everything... is... ok.

But, I can't. So I need some focused time with Jesus. He can help me. My only hope in this world.


by yodiyodiyodiyo


Friday, November 16, 2012

Already

It is hard to believe that this Saturday will be the one year anniversary of my mastectomy / thyroidectomy. For the past few weeks, I have been constantly reminded of the 17th of November.


There are so many memories...

Multiple surgeons working together.

Seven hour surgery.

Morphine. Spinning and spinning and throwing up.

Bandaged neck that made me feel like I was going to choke.

The bruises. Even in unexpected places.

Noise and smell sensitivities.

Whispering.

The look on my children's faces when they came to the hospital for the first time.


I am having difficulty verbalizing all my feelings about that time.

Will have to write again because there so many more things I want to write.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

There's Something About Moni

Last week there were two incidents. The first occurred at the weekly Bible study that I am involved in. This particular week, it was my groups turn to help in the children's ministry. I was assigned to the preschool classroom. Basically, I went into the classroom and helped the teachers with the various activities. The first incident happened at the end of the class, one of the sweet, little girls pointed to my face and asked, "What is that?" She kind of caught me off guard.

Then, two or three days later, there was another incident. My friend's boy asked to sit on my lap. He needed some hugging. He hugged and snuggled. Then, he looked at me and asked, "What is that?" He pointed to my face.

What was the little girl pointing at? What was my friend's boy pointing at? My jum, of course. Is the jum on my face too big? Or, is it getting bigger? I was getting a little paranoid.

So I asked A3, "Do you think Mommy should get this jum removed?"
A3 quickly replied, "No, Mommy. Keep it!" He likes it. Really, really.

I told my husband about the curiosity children seem to have towards my jum... told him all the details of these two incidents. Then, I asked him, "Do you think that I should have this jum removed?"

My hubby said, "No, I liked that about you when we met." He likes jums. Really, really. Either way, good answer.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It Does Matter

More and more doctors are speaking out, and risking being marginalized in the medical community. Food and the products that we use do make a difference to our health. Many who are healthy just laugh at the notion, but when you are sick, you start looking at things from a different perspective. Once again, I ask that you read up on these things. And, don't wait until you're sick.


And yes, she is the sister of the governor of New York.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Vertigo and Sore Shoulders

Vertigo must love me. It is still with me. It will be 5 weeks on Tuesday. So thankful that is a lot, lot better, but I still have to be careful. Sometimes, I get the occasional, nauseating, dizzy spell, but it is so much better. My oncologist wrote a referral to see the physical therapist. That seems to be the only way to get things back into those little, inner ear tubes so that you can be balanced again. I have to confess that I have been putting it off a bit because I don't want to throw up in one of those physical therapy sessions (I've heard stories). Pray for me! Please!

My husband came back, and then my body lost all energy. The tiredness of the week before caught up with me. The day after he came back, I slept past 9 a.m. Okay, I woke up here a there but I didn't get out of bed until past 9 a.m. Even then, I was still exhausted. It is slowly getting better.

I did make a mistake last week... one of hundreds actually. While my friend was taking her two boys out of their car seats, I told her that I would hold her one year old. After a minute or two, I could feel my shoulders being pulled from their sockets. Okay, maybe not so dramatic, but I felt a very uncomfortable and a bit painful pull on my shoulders. When I tried to put "R" down so that I could walk her inside the building, she wrapped her legs around me. She wouldn't let go... even when another friend tried to help. I quickly proceeded into the building so that I could sit down with "R" so that the pressure would be taken from my shoulders. I got to a seat, but the damage was done.

My body is not what it used to be.

This is such a difficult realization to come to.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Just Tired

For the past ten days, my husband has been out of town. I was so glad that he had this opportunity to rest and spend focused time with God. We sent him off with smiles and blessings.

Then, reality set in.

I cannot begin to tell you about all the activities that came up during that first week. A forgotten field trip. A church trick-or-treat alternative party. Two doctors' appointments. Homeschool co-op. Not to mention all the other activities my children participate in. My husband would call me to see how things were going and I would just tear up. 

God was so good in sending so many people with food. I didn't even have to ask. He knew that I needed that extra help. I just had to warm things up and feed my children. That helped me so much! 

There are times when everything comes at me like a tidal wave of activity. This was one of those times. Oh, the stories that I could tell...

But, today... my husband is coming back!

Thank You, Lord!


Friday, November 2, 2012

What Do You Do With Broken Dreams? Part V

What Do You Do With Broken Dreams? Part I
What Do You Do With Broken Dreams? Part II

But then my cancer.

What do you do when you have a lifelong dream, and you come to the realization that it cannot be?

I cried. I mourned. I was really confused.

Hadn't it been God who had given me those desires?

Hadn't it been God who had led me down that path?

Hadn't it been God who had broken my heart with those issues?

Now what?

I wish I had an answer, but I don't.

I feel as if a door has been closed on a part of my life that I had waited for with great anticipation. A door that I desperately want to open now, but can't.

So, I wait. I wait for Him to show me. I wait for Him to speak.

I know that all things/situations can be used for His glory.

I know that He can turn an impossible situation into one that is possible.

This is my comfort.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Vegan Black Bean Brownies, That's Right!

When I came across this recipe, I gasped. How could it be possible? How was it that no flour was used? How could I get my kids to eat it? So many questions... all I had to do was make it and get some people to taste test for me.

I apologize for no pictures, but it was dark, chocolate-fudge-brownie-like. And it was very good.

I pulled this recipe out, and A3 saw it. He said, "Yum Mom, can you make more?"

Hope to make these some time this week! Will try and take pictures and post them later.


Vegan Black Bean Brownies
adapted from mealmakeovermoms.com

1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1/3 very ripe banana
6 tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

optional:
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

3 eggs instead of 6 tablespoons applesauce (for a non-Vegan version)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place beans in food processor and mix until smooth.
3. Add bananas and applesauce and blend.
4. Add vanilla extract, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder.
5. Blend together.
6. **You can also add half of your chocolate chips and blend.
7. Line brownie pan with parchment paper for easy pan removal.
8. Pour batter into pan (can place remaining chocolate chips on top).
9. Bake for 20 minute intervals, checking to see if a toothpick comes out clean.
10. It took me over 1 1/2 hours to bake because of the applesauce. If you use eggs, it can take 35    minutes.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Resident Standers

Yesterday, I had my one year appointment with my endocrinologist. Can you believe it? A year has almost passed since my thyroidectomy/mastectomy! It is hard to believe that it was almost one year ago... Now, when I think of Thanksgiving, I think of my surgeries and how good it was to spend it with my family... at home. Who can forget?

Everything went well with my appointment. I did bring up my hair loss, and he is going to do some blood work to see my iron levels. Unlike some doctors, Dr. W takes his time with each patient. I might have to wait a little bit longer because he is talking quite a bit with the patient before me, but unrushed time with your doctor is such a blessing. He also remembers all my complicated medical facts without looking at the computer. I don't even remember sometimes. Things like that make such a difference to me.

But, I have to tell you about the medical student that came in with Dr. W. They both entered the room and Dr. W took a seat in front of me. There was a third chair in the room, but the medical student didn't sit down. They never do. I noticed this when the occasional medical student would come in with my oncologist. Some would come in before my oncologist to ask a few routine questions, and they would sit down. But as soon as the doctor entered the room, they would stand up.

I was in the room with Dr. W for 30 minutes or so. The medical student was standing the whole time. There was a chair right next to him, but he didn't dare sit. He just stood there. I started to feel uncomfortable. He looked uncomfortable. It was quite a sight. The doctor, the patient, and the standing medical student.

Why can't medical students sit down?


Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy

My sister lives in New Jersey and she is in the middle of Super Storm Sandy. I talked to her in the late afternoon, and her power went out as we were talking. She freaked out, and it freaked me out.

I asked her if she had enough bread.

The last time I went to New Jersey, we experienced Hurricane Irene. It was a very scary situation with the wind, crashing trees, and fear of an electrical/gas/everything outage. You're waiting and waiting and not knowing what to expect. Her basement has flooded a few times because of hurricanes. Before Hurricane Irene hit, we went to the grocery store, and the bread aisle was empty. People bought all the bread, just in case. It was like nothing I had ever experienced in my life.

My sister has enough bread.

Please pray for the safety of those out on the East Coast. They our prayers.


Friday, October 26, 2012

What Do You Do With Broken Dreams, Part IV

What Do You Do With Broken Dreams? Part I
What Do You Do With Broken Dreams? Part II
What Do You Do With Broken Dreams? Part III

Giving birth was never easy for me. I had three c-sections and a lot of scar tissue. Each surgery got longer: 30 minutes (A1), 1 hour (A2), and 2 hours (A3).  After A2 was born, I was strongly advised to not have anymore children. Everything was stuck together with scar tissue. This made it very difficult to get the baby out. The doctor had to cut and suture. Cut and suture.

When A3 was about to be born, the doctor called for another doctor to help her because I was a scar tissue mess. I remember her saying, "Get Caroline! Tell her to come in and help me!" I also remember her saying,  "I can't find her bladder. Where's her bladder?" After getting through all the scar tissue and finding my bladder, she got on top of a stool and pushed him out by pressing on top of my stomach. I didn't realize until I went in to get the staples removed that I was completely bruised up. Another doctor took out my staples and the first thing she said was, "you poor thing, what happened to you?" That's when I realized how beat up my body had been.

In some ways, I felt as if God had closed this door to having more children. If I could have, I would have had a fourth child. But, I knew that He knew better. Maybe this was His way of directing our focus more on what we had desired for so along: adoption?

This longing grew stronger and stronger. Reading His Word, continued reinforcing God's heart for orphans: that He wants us to care for them. We met so many families who had adopted and shared their stories with us. Was this the time?

I felt as if there was a missing member to our family. Sometimes, I would cry thinking and praying for our fourth child. She was out there, but we weren't together yet. These pangs of pain for our special, fourth child were reinforced by my children. They would keep asking for a little sister. I would just pray for God to allow us to find and adopt our little one.

But then, my cancer.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

What Do You Do With Broken Dreams? Part III

What Do You Do With Broken Dreams? Part I
What Do You Do With Broken Dreams? Part II

My husband and I met at the seminary that I attended in Korea. We were in the same group that went to an orphanage to tutor the children. (One day I will write about the details of our courtship, but not today). I LOVED the fact that we met in this specific way: serving God and serving orphans.

Our hearts were in agreement that someday we would adopt. We felt that God had put that desire in our hearts (even before meeting each other) and that He would continue to lead us in that direction. I would scan the internet to find out about the adoption process. I would listen to Christian radio programs about adoption. I would read books about issues in adoption.

We knew we wanted to do adopt. We just didn't know how or when. My husband's pastor's salary didn't allow us to have an extra $20,000. But, we knew that if it was God's will, He would provide a way like He always had.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

In Between

I know that I was in the middle of a series of posts, but I wanted to give an update on the vertigo. It is still with me, but a lot better than two weeks ago. I shudder to think of the first two days of my vertigo. I can move my head a little bit more in each direction, but I still have to be careful with how much of an angle. I get dizzy spells all the time as I bend to pick something up, but I keep going with what I was doing.

On Monday, I tried driving again. Had to go to Target. The drive went well. I just have to be careful not to suddenly tilt my head in any direction. As long as I take it slow, I am fine.  

Please keep praying that all will be as close to normal as soon as possible...


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What Do You Do With Broken Dreams? Part II

What Do You Do With Broken Dreams? Part I

Knowing what I knew about my mom left a deep impression on my heart. I could not even begin to imagine a life lived without a mother or father. How did orphans live? I found my heart being pulled in a direction that I could not stop. Who would take care of them?

When I was in high school, I remember watching an episode on 20/20 about orphans in Romania. I was sitting in the basement watching the program by myself. As I saw the rows and rows of cribs... as I saw the children inside those cribs rocking themselves back and forth... as I saw the faces devoid of emotion and hopelessness... who could not have their heart broken? Tears poured.

Taking to heart World Vision's founder's life theme: "Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God."

When I went to Korea for what I thought would be one year, I went with some other English teachers to an orphanage for younger children. We helped a grandmother who took care of 6+ children in one room. All of those children had special needs. I would cradle and hold this little girl who could not see, talk, or walk. One day, I heard the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit speaking into my heart. Whatever you do for one of the least of these, you are doing unto me. That thought was overwhelming. I tried to hold her closer and closer. I wanted to hold Jesus.

Looking at pictures of starving North Korean orphans...

My last year in Korea, I was at a Korean seminary. There was a group of students who would go to a nearby orphanage and tutor the children. This orphanage had children from 1st/2nd grade until high school. There was some supervision but not a mother's individual care. Children were hardened to newcomers. It took a lot of time, patience, and love to break through. The girl I was tutoring had been abandoned by her mother. She still remembered being left at an outdoor food stand. Her mother promising to return, but never to be seen again.

Amy Carmichael's ministry in India...

And who could ignore God's constant reminder in His Word to care for orphans?


Monday, October 22, 2012

What Do You Do With Broken Dreams? Part I

My mother was tough, industrious, but full of compassion to those in need. She always told me to take care of people who were in need. To be kind to them. Not to look down on them. She always gave to people when she could. She gave and didn't expect anything back.

When we lived in Korea, she took in a runaway girl who had been beaten repeatedly by her father. She lived with my parents and helped take care of my sister, brother, and eventually me. She lived with my parents for many years. When we moved to Argentina, my grandmother would not let my mother bring the girl with us. It made my mom very sad.

Here is a picture of the girl, me, and my brother. Yes, I don't look too happy. Yes, my brother had a perm and long white socks.


My mom lost her parents during the Korean War. Her mother stayed in North Korea with my mom's older sister, while my mother, her father, and brother, fled to the South. My grandfather was later killed for his negative and very vocal views of the North.

My mother grew up being taken care of by aunts, uncles, and other family friends. She has many happy memories, but many painful memories as well. Growing up in Korea without parents wasn't an easy thing. But she clung to her drive to never let anyone say that she acted like a person without parents.

Looking back on her life, my mom said that she could see that God had been in her life. Even though she didn't know Him at the time, He was there. He sent people to help her, encourage her, and love her. She experienced much kindness and love from others.

Out of that heart, she poured into mine. To look out for those in need. To quietly and secretly help those who were the neediest.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Spicy Kale Chips


I know, when I first heard about kale chips, I wasn't too eager either. Then, I kept reading about how good they were in a lot of blogs. So, I had to try them. I added a bunch of different spices to match my taste, and in the end, they were really good! The crispiness made them quite addictive, I must say. A very good alternative to potato chips but super healthy!

I made these in June and kept forgetting to put the recipe on the blog. Oops! Try these! They are so good! I would recommend that you eat them the day that you make them. The second day, they get a bit soggy. Still good, but crispy is better! Also, I used two bunches of kale instead of one. I was a bit ambitious that day!




Spicy Kale Chips

1 bunch of kale
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon agave
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder                  **Please feel free to adjust spices to your taste!**
1/8 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon tumeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1.   Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.   Rinse and drain kale.
3.   Remove leaves from inner stem.



4.   Cut into small, bite size pieces.


5.   Place in a large bowl.
6.   Place the EVOO, agave, salt, pepper, garlic powder, curry, turmeric, and cayenne pepper, in a     bowl.
7.   Mix with a whisk.
8.   Pour over kale and mix with hands.


9.   Place kale on baking sheet.


10. Bake for 15 minutes. Keep checking at 10 minute intervals after this.
11. Move the kale around so that the wetter pieces get baked.


12. Your goal at this point is to get all the kale crispy.



**You have to be vigilant about checking the kale. It burns easily.
**You can take out the pieces that have crisped and leave the soggy ones to continue to dry out in the oven.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

By Jove, I Think She's Got It!

So my vertigo raged on, and then one of my friends left a comment on one of my recent posts. She wrote about her husband who had been diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) at the beginning of the year. I looked it up. I read about it. I self diagnosed. And, I determined that that's what I had.

When I read about BPPV, things began to come together for me. Basically, I had done something that damaged my inner ear (controls your balance) and brought me to this dizzy reality. And, I remember what!


The Monday before my vertigo began, I had washed my hair using the shower head attachment. Okay, I was too lazy to take a full body shower. Don't judge. My hair wasn't in such great shape so I leaned forward and used the shower head to wash my hair. (Note: had not washed my hair in this way in a really long time.) As I was rinsing off the shampoo, I twisted my head in a weird way. I remember feeling something and thinking in my head, "I shouldn't have done that." For the rest of that day, my head wasn't feeling good. It felt a bit achey. 


The next day, I woke up to a dizzy, dizzy world.


Now what?


I'm trying to do some of the recommended exercises that try to put everything back in place in your inner ear. I did 5-6 repetitions on our love seat. (These are exercises that a doctor is supposed to help you with. I did it searching the internet because my MRI came back with nothing wrong.)


  1. I sat in the middle of the love seat facing forward.
  2. I slowly lay on my right side.
  3. Waited until the dizziness subsided.
  4. Waited 1 minute.
  5. Got up.
  6. Waited until the dizziness subsided.
  7. Waited 1 minute.
  8. Slowly lay down on my left side.
  9. Waited 1 minute.
  10. Got back up.
  11. Waited 1 minute.
  12. Started with the right side again.

As I did these exercises, I realized something. When I lay on my left side, the room didn't really spin. It was bad on my right side, but there was very little spinning on my left. This helped me to strategize when I lay down to rest. If I lay down on my left side, there would be minimal spinning. Then, I could quickly flip on my back. Hopefully, there won't be any dizzy dramas. 

About the motion sickness medication: hasn't kicked in. The dizziness is still there, but something else has kicked in. Something that I can't quite put into words. My body was drained of energy. I was really, really tired. There was this "buzzy" feeling. As if I was shaking like a florescent light. At times, things seemed to go in slow motion but they weren't. Does any of this make sense? Bottom line, I experience all the side effects of all drugs.

Pray for me, please!

Also, if you are past 40 (like me), remember that you can't do the same things you did when you were in your 20's or even 30's. Don't try and wash your hair in positions that might cause your inner ear tubes to mess up and bring you to a dizzy, dizzy world! You will regret it!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Results

Got a call from the oncologist today. She said that everything looked fine on my MRI. She still isn't sure why I have been so dizzy. She gave me a prescription for motion sickness medication. I took one last night and am praying that I can wake up to a non-dizzy world.

Thank you for all of your prayers! Please keep praying for healing.

My mom thinks that it might be because of menopause. Her vertigo happened after menopause. She said that it was because of her hormone fluctuations. I saw online, and it seems to happen to a lot of women during menopause. Who knew? Well, now you do. Prepare. Tell your husbands to prepare. Tell your children to prepare.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Unnecessary Force

Usually, my scans and tests at the hospital are in the morning. On Monday, I had a late afternoon appointment for an MRI. It's so different when you go at different times because you don't see the usual people working. Emotionally, I wasn't doing so well because the dizziness had gotten worse on Sunday. Every little movement of my head seemed to send me into a dizzy frenzy. I was thankful that the dizzy spells only lasted a few seconds.

Once in the scanning area, the MRI tech asked me if it was hard finding veins on my arms. I told her that it was. I guess I have small, thin veins... at least, that's what I've been told. The tech said that she would get the nurse. You see, they have a special nurse for these types of situations. They help find veins in arms that seem veinless. You would think that they would be gentle...

Well, let me tell you what happened on Monday. The nurse came and got my arm prepped for the port. THEN, she jammed the needle into my arm so hard that my head went back, I yelped, and I almost got out of the chair. Then, my head started to spin because I had put my head back. Usually, the nurses stick the needle slightly parallel to my arm - at an angle. I believe that this nurse stuck the needle straight into the depths of my arm. Like an intramuscular shot. With a lot of force. No gentleness.

I will tell you that I don't shy away when they poke me with needles. I look away, but I don't pull my arm away. Getting poked with needles is a part of my life now. But, this instance takes the cake! I have never pulled my head back nor tried to jump out of the chair like this day. IT HURT! It hurt even after she said that she was done. It hurt 45 minutes later, when the tech pulled the port out. It still feels a bit sore.

YIKES!

I didn't pray like I should have. Always need to pray for techs/nurses that are gentle with needles... because some are not!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Once Again

Unfortunately, the dizziness has not gone away. Every time I get up out of bed, lay down, go down the stairs, move too quickly... I get another dizzy spell. I called my oncologist on Friday, and she wants me to get an MRI of my head. Just to be safe. So, at 3:00 pm, I will be getting another MRI. Please pray for me.

Just like it was after my surgeries, I just want to get back to the way my life used to be...


Friday, October 12, 2012

Spinning

Tuesday started off in a really terrible way. I tried to get up out of bed and nearly fell over. The room kept spinning and spinning. I thought that it was because it was so early and because I was half asleep. Bad memories of my surgery crept up, but I went back to sleep praying that everything was okay.

Unfortunately, it didn't get better. It got worse. When I woke up again, the spinning was unbearable. I couldn't lift my head off my pillow. I had to grab onto whatever was near me to keep stationary. Also, my husband had left on a trip and was not going to return until Wednesday night. I called my mom but my dad had gone golfing. No ride. Had to call my sister-in-law to see if she could drive my mother to my house. My sister-in-law was also sick. My brother ended up driving with my sister-in-law to my mother's and then to my house. Interrupted everyone's day.

Could not shower for 72 hours. Could not open my eyes because of the spinning and nausea. Could not go to the bathroom as often as I would have liked because it required great effort. Writing about the whole experience makes me nauseous.

This type of experience has happened to me, maybe, 3 times before. All when I was pregnant. I attributed all those episodes to indigestion. Growing up, I had watched this happen to my mother when she had eaten something that didn't agree with her. Then, I saw it happen to my brother. My sister must have my dad's iron stomach because this never happened to her.

Here I was experiencing the spinning once again, and I wasn't even pregnant! Don't worry! Oophorectomy, remember! It actually brought back memories of my surgeries and the reaction to morphine and anesthesia. Flashbacks kept creeping up on me. Double yikes! Not pleasant.

On Wednesday, there was less spinning but the nausea hadn't left. Once I got out of bed, I had to stay seated on a chair. The spinning only occurred when I got up out of bed or lay down. To avoid this, I had to sit because it was too dizzying (is this a word?) to lay down again and get back up, dizzying again, to go to the bathroom. So, I sat in a chair with my eyes closed listening to Moody radio. Not back friendly but less dizziness.

I am writing this on Thursday night. I was finally able to go downstairs. Couldn't come back up, but I was downstairs. As long as I kept my head straight, everything was okay. No moving my head in any way to the front, back, or sides. Had to keep the kids from running into me or bouncing on the couch next to me. I could finally keep my eyes open for long periods of time after lunchtime. Then, it was a lot better.

I am not 100%, but I am so much better. I have been begging God to wash the dizziness and nausea away. Too many things that a mom has to do. Not having these two around is such a blessing. Please pray for me. Please!

One last thing: the whites of my eyeballs were alarmingly white. Why? Because I had rested my eyes for 48 hours. Hadn't seen them that white in many years. Who would have thought?


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Acupuncture/Acupressure


This is my right shoulder. 


This is my left shoulder.

Pretty freaky?

Pretty cool?

Just acupuncture needles in my shoulder
and cupping glass thing-a-ma-jiggers making my skin look really freakish. 

Don't give me that look. 

These are traditional Eastern methods that have worked for thousands of years.

Someone in my church had studied acupressure. She gave me weekly acupressure massages (since September) and it was incredible to see how effective they were. I could lift my arms higher than I had ever been able to lift them since my surgery (which was almost one year ago). The massages were once a week and it was mind bending to see the improvement in movement in my arms.

One week I was walking to the room where she was going to massage my shoulders and was sidetracked by someone. I talked to that person and forgot why I was going in the direction that I was. I proceeded to my car and remembered 30 minutes later that I was supposed to go to get the massage. Don't judge, accept me for no-short-term-memory me. That week, I felt the difference. I was sore and couldn't move as well.

But, why are there needles and cupping thing-a-ma-jiggers?

My friend took me to an acupuncture/acupressurist for my birthday. Turns out her husband's fellow pain management doctor went to this acupuncture/acupressurist for frozen shoulder and was cured. No medicine required. No side effects felt. Really!

Now, I am going twice a week to this acupuncture/acupressurist. This is also a long story, but I will skip the details on this blog. You can ask me about it if you see me or talk to me on the phone... It can only be God!

BUT, the big question remains: does it hurt!?!?

Yes and no. 

It does not hurt when she sticks the needles into my flesh. Really. The needles are very thin. It does hurt when she hits that sore spot... and jiggles the needle a bit. But, the pain is quick and temporary. Still a lot better than getting that tear-inducing cortisone shot. Really.

Then, she sticks a flame into the cupping glass and sticks the glass onto my arm. No pain whatsoever. The hot air inside the glass suctions your skin. This is supposed to improve circulation in the area that is being treated. It also leaves dark, red marks on your arm. Temporarily. It will fade with time. So glad that it is cold and not summer, short sleeve weather.

The acupuncture/acupressurist waits a while and then jiggles the needles one more time. Not as big of an ouch. Temporary. After more time passes, she takes the cupping thing-a-ma-jiggers out, takes out the needles out (no pain), and then gives an acupressure massage. Very nice.

I will keep you updated on this treatment.

I will keep you updated on the pain levels. 

Who would have thought that I would get acupuncture needles and acupressure massages?

Not me.

But, here I am.

So thankful to God for it.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Coconut Hot Oil Treatment for Hair


I could tell that the weather was getting colder because my coconut oil solidified. This is the jar that I keep in my medicine cabinet. I use it to remove my makeup at the end of the day. During the summer months, it was in clear, liquid form. It was really interesting to watch the changes in the weather and in my coconut oil. Coconut oil turns into liquid form as soon as you touch it because it has a melting point of around 75 - 76 degrees.

Coconut oil can be used in so many ways. It can be used for cooking, makeup removal, shaving, as a moisturizer, and today I am going to show you how to use it as a hot oil treatment. You know, like those Vidal Sassoon hot oil treatments that were all the rage in the 80's and 90's.

A week and a half ago, I gave it a try because it was said to soften and help hair regrowth. Personally, I needed both of those results. Here are the steps that I took:


Coconut Hot Oil Treatment for Hair

  1. Heat 1/4 cup (might need up to 1/2 cup if you have longer hair) of coconut oil in the microwave for 20 seconds (or until warm).
  2. Make sure the coconut oil is not too hot.
  3. Spread the oil into your hair using your fingers.
  4. Massage into scalp and hair.
  5. If your hair is long enough, tie into a ponytail.
  6. If your hair is not long enough, spread hair across your head.
  7. Have another person, plastic wrap your hair around your head. My husband thought that I was really weird, but he did it for me.
  8. Wait 1-2 hours or sleep with your plastic wrapped head. 
  9. Shampoo a few times to get the oil out of your hair.
  10. Condition and style as usual.


Friday, October 5, 2012

A-Okay

Had to change the day of the week that I normally go to the oncologist. The day of the week that I used to go on was in conflict with our homeschool co-op days. In the past, I went in the early morning. Now, I am going in the afternoon. Don't have to wake up super early to go. I didn't see the usual people when I went. Threw me off a bit, but then I got to see some new faces.

Got my blood drawn. I always pray that God will give me a tech that is gentle with the needle. The tech I got this time jammed the needle in. I think that he thought that if he just stuck the needle in really quick, it wouldn't hurt. Still hurt.

Saw my oncologist. It is always good to see her. I don't envy her job. She sees a lot of pain. She sees a lot of things that the majority of people don't see. Must take a lot out of her. Well, she told me that all my scans came out well. No new growths. No larger growths. Keeping my cancer contained is the goal of my treatment.

Got my Xgeva shot. The needle didn't hurt going in. For a second, I thought that, just maybe, it wouldn't hurt this time. Then, the nurse administered the medicine through the needle. Then it really hurt. Can't get around this painful, intramuscular shot. Thank you, Lord, that it only lasts for a few seconds.

Had a disturbing dream the night before. Made me feel a little contemplative and a little blue. Can you tell?


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Small House

We live in a small townhouse. It fits our needs, and we are so thankful for a home. Over the years, I have learned two important things from having a smaller home:

1. You can't be a hoarder (addictive show, by the way). There is no room so I have to go through our things and purge our small home of "stuff." Constantly. I keep a bag in the closet that I fill with things that I need to donate. As I clean, I place various items in the bag. When it fills up, I take it to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Makes you feel better that it is helping someone else.

2. When you live in a smaller home, you can't hide from your family. I've tried this. Many times. But, I still have to face them. It keeps me in check. No one can go to their room for the whole day and not be seen. We have to interact and be in each other's faces lives. Sounds crazy sometimes, but in the long term, it's what we need.

So thankful...


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

In His Care

This past weekend, something happened that I didn't know how to handle. I got a call on Saturday and I didn't know what to do. I sent a "Yikes!" text to my husband telling him what someone had done for me. He sent a "Yikes!" text back to me. I grappled with it the whole weekend. I asked God what I was to do.

You see, a person we know had done something I never expected anyone to do for me. On top of that, she's a widow! Time and time again, the Bible tells us to take care of widows, orphans, and aliens. She was taking care of me when I should be the one taking care of her... giving to her.

I saw her on Sunday and got to talk to her about what she had done. Didn't know how to face her. I was ready to explode because I felt so bad... didn't know how to take all of this in. She told me that she felt that God had placed it on her heart to do what she did. (Sorry, I am being so vague, but I need to.) Sometimes it is so hard to receive.

On Monday, I felt like God spoke. I was sharing with someone about what that widow had done for me. A quiet voice spoke. God was showing me that He was going to take care of me using unlikely people. Even a widow. Just like He had taken care of the prophet Elijah (I Kings 17:8-15) during a severe drought. God didn't send Elijah to a rich man's house. He sent him to a poor widow's house. Everyday of that drought, God provided food for Elijah through that widow. Who would have thought? No one. It could only be God.

He is so good...


Monday, October 1, 2012

Carrot, Apple, Green Shake


This was my dinner a few nights ago. You would be surprised at how full you get from drinking a green shake. During the day, I ate something that wasn't so healthy so I needed to balance things out. It is easier and less time consuming to drink my veggies vs. eating them. You would be really surprised at how full you get from one of these shakes. I get the food, nutrients, and energy, to get me going until the next meal. Wouldn't think it, but it's true.


As you know, I really enjoy watching documentaries. Lately, it has been documentaries about food. I really encourage people to watch these types of documentaries. Awareness... it is really enlightening. Like I have said many times before, don't wait until you are sick. Here are some of the food documentaries I saw on Netflix:

Food, Inc.
Food Matters
Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead
Deconstructing Supper
Supersize Me (I think this was the title)



Carrot, Apple, Green Shake

1 apple (with peel, no core)
1 banana
2 carrots
2 purple cabbage leaves
2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds
3 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
1-2 cups ricemilk
1 cup coconut water

1. Cut hard vegetables and fruits.
2. Put in blender.
3. Mix.
4. Expect to be full.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Baking Soda Shampoo

For the past few weeks, I have been experimenting... again. It has been with my hair. It has not been a vanity thing of trying to get more beautiful hair. Simply put: I was trying to find an all natural shampoo (that was easy on the budget). The more natural, less chemicals, the better. There are too many parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and other chemicals in hair products (which have been found in breast cancer tissue and urine in adults throughout the U.S.). My system doesn't need any more of these types of chemicals.

The last time I experimented with natural shampoo/conditioner products, I tried natural soap shampoo and apple cider vinegar as a conditioner. I made some mistakes and ended up stopping. The soap was too drying for my type of hair and the apple cider vinegar... well, let's say that I used too much. I forgot to dilute it. Me and my memory again. It just wasn't pretty...smelling.

This time around, I tried baking soda shampoo. Yes, the stuff that you bake with or deodorize your refrigerator with. I had read about a lot of people giving up shampoo and using this instead. Basically, you put 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda in a jar with one cup of hot water. You shake it until it is mixed and then you pour it over your hair. Then, you massage it into your scalp and rinse.

For a conditioner, I use apple cider vinegar... again. It is supposed to restore your hair's pH levels. This time around, I put 2 tablespoons in a jar with a cup of hot water. I swirled it, poured it over my hair, waited a minute or two before I rinsed it out. Yes, after a while, the smell dissipates. This "conditioner" actually amazes me because it detangles and makes my hair soft. Please make sure (if you give it a try) not to get it into your eyes. Not pleasant. Just keep your eyes tightly closed.

I do still shampoo my hair with the 365 brand shampoo from Whole Foods. It is paraben and sulfate free and $4.99 for a 32 ounce bottle. I use the baking soda/apple cider vinegar in between. Sometimes, I use the baking soda a few days in between. I am still having a hard time psychologically letting go of store bought shampoo. I have been trained that that is what I need. And to not use it... would be total weirdness. But, it is not. It works minus the cancerous chemicals.

I really encourage people to read up on these issues. I rarely did in the past. I thought that it was "hippie" stuff. Getting sick changes things. You start to read up on things that you never questioned. Why would you when you're not sick? Please don't wait until you are sick. You will regret it. I do.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

FYI on Comments

Now, you can leave a comment without any red tape. Just type and publish. Hope this helps.


Rotisserie Chicken and Hummus Sandwiches


My friend's daughter was eating this on an ice skating play date. It looked really good, and she told me that it was really good. Couldn't stop thinking about it. I was curious to see how the chicken, hummus, and radish would come together. So, I grabbed a rotisserie chicken and the other ingredients and made it for my family. And it was really, really good!

A3 happened to come by as I was typing this post. He saw the picture of the sandwich and commented, "Mom, that was really good." My kids loved this sandwich. We didn't put as many radish slices on their sandwiches, but they still ate everything up.



Rotisserie Chicken and Hummus Sandwich
adapted from Barefoot Contessa


Ingredients

1/2 rotisserie chicken (deboned, shredded the night before)
1/4 cup minced celery
2 tablespoons onion
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Sourdough bread, sliced
Hummus (store bought or homemade)
Fresh radishes (thinly sliced)


Directions

1. Place chicken, celery, onion, lemon juice, mayo, mustard, salt, and ground pepper in a bowl. Mix together.
2. Refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors soak in. Or, just eat.
3. Toast bread.
4. Spread a generous amount of hummus.
5. Layer radish slices over hummus.
6. Spread chicken salad on bread.
7. Serve.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cry Baby

Spent a lot of Saturday trying to get a grip on my hormones. Wanted to cry. Didn't want to do anything. But, we had to go somewhere and I baked mattcha rice flour cupcakes.

[I want to clarify that the majority of times (95% or so) that I want to cry are NOT because of my cancer. I have cried that 4% for my children and husband because of my cancer, but I don't really cry for my cancer. Hope that clarifies. Doesn't seem true, but all I can say is that it can only be God.]

This past Saturday, the hormones were doing their thing. Just wanted to cry... to cry. The physical act of crying. Just wanted to get them tears out. Don't know why. Just wanted to cry. Can't explain it. Maybe, if you have gone through menopause or have hormonal issues, you might understand. Just pray for me. I hate when this happens.

Well, I did cry. This day happened to require a lot more crying than usual. I cried and cried and required tissue to blow my nose. I pretended to wipe my nose on my husband's shirt. Got him grossed out. Got a kick out of that. Anyways, I cried and cried and cried some more and finally, I was fine. As if nothing had happened. Split personality? Psychotic? No, just hormonal, menopausal. What can I say?

If you relate, leave a message. Leave a, "You're not alone, sister!" message. Leave a, "Hormones are like that!" message. Leave a, "I don't think you have a split personality!" message.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Watermelon Juice


Some things are so simple that we often overlook them. This is one of those things. I had some cut up watermelon, and I wanted to make a snack for my kids. I put everything in the blender and served it to my children. It was so refreshingly good! My kids wanted more and more, but I had to save some for my hubby. Naturally sweet, no sugar, freshly made, and no added anything. What else can you ask for?

I also had a variation of this when I went to my friend Judi's house. She packed the blender with watermelon, ice, and a slice of lime. She blended everything and gave me a glass! It was so refreshing! I never would have thought of that combination, but it was a winner! Try it for yourself!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012


One of the things that I had wanted to do for very long time was bike riding. I would watch people riding their bicycles in the neighborhood or near the forest preserve trails and sigh with envy. There was always the temptation of pushing people off their bikes and taking off with the bicycles... just kidding... I would never do that... I think. Anyways, I longed to just ride and ride and ride through those forest preserve trails. Maybe it was all those triathlons that I had watched?

I couldn't believe it when the opportunity arose for me to fulfill this wish of mine... at South Carolina. The coooolest part was that we could ride on the sand! Yes, that's right! On the sand! The beach at Hilton Head was like one that I had never seen. The sand was packed into the ground. Unfortunately, this made it difficult to build sandcastles and bury the kids. Digging required some heavy duty shovels. But, we could ride on the beach! And it was allowed! Every morning and night, we could see people riding bicycles on the beach.

At first, I was a bit afraid to ride because I had not ridden a bike in a very long time. If you know me and remember a time, tell me because I forgot. Well, actually, I just remembered that I had tried to ride my children's bikes. It wasn't too easy because the bikes were too small for me. So I guess I have ridden a bicycle. Oh yeah, and the time I rode one of the church kid's bike at the church parking lot. Well, I hadn't ridden an adult bike. I think.

There I am riding the bicycle in the picture above. If you look at the middle, top part of the picture, you can see a slight shadow. No, it's not a smudge on your computer screen. I think that it is a dolphin (my husband does also). Oh yeah, we saw dolphins there. It was so neat to see them so close to shore. My brother saw them one morning while out riding a bicycle. A few mornings later, I was looking out the window when I saw 2 - 3 of them.

So thankful for that time...


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Forks Over Knives

If you have a Netflix account, I highly recommend watching a documentary titled Forks Over Knives. Before I found out about my cancer, I probably wouldn't have watched something like this. Why would I? I was healthy... or so I thought. I had put great effort into choosing healthy things for my family. After getting my diagnosis, I started to read a lot of books on health, nutrition, and the connection to many illnesses. A lot of my basic beliefs about what I ate and fed my family were shattered. There is a lot more than mere health that drives what we are told is healthy for us. Read up or watch documentaries like this. Stay informed. The truth can shock you.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Five

Four or so years ago, I lost a considerable amount of weight. I had not been dieting. I had not been trying to lose weight. The weight just came off without my realizing it. In retrospect, I think that it was my thyroid and stress.

I didn't realized how much (didn't own a scale) until I weighed myself somewhere... don't know where... but I weighed myself... somewhere. I had dropped down to my early high school years weight. I remember being afraid to tell my husband how much I had lost... didn't want to worry him.

People made comments about how thin I looked, but I thought that I had lost my 3 children baby weight. Most people had only seen the after-having-huge-babies-Moni (A1 had been 9 lbs. 7 oz). They hadn't seen pre-huge-babies-Moni.

Fast forward to menopause. I don't believe that having the monthly menopause-inducing shots put me into full-blown menopause. Having the oophorectomy did. Right away, I noticed a lot of changes in my body. The one that I hated the most (besides the mood swings and hair loss) was the added padding around my stomach area. It kept getting squishier. Or, as A3 said, "Mom, are you pregnant again?"

A few months after my oophorectomy, I noticed that I had gained 2 pounds (we had a scale in our house then). I saw it as something good. Some pants started to fit better. Then, we went on vacation.

During our time in South Carolina, I tried to eat healthy but also ate what everyone else was eating. There was nonstop eating and rationalization that it was okay to eat a huge portion because we were on vacation. Doesn't everyone do that on vacation?

There was a lot of laundry going on during that time. With a house full of 17 people, there were many loads tumbling in the washer and dryer each day. I would get pants back and they would be a bit snug. I assumed that it was like that because it had just been washed. I would do a few squats to loosen the pants, but they wouldn't loosen. I was a bit puzzled, but with my short-term memory issues, I quickly forgot.

On my last oncology visit, I was weighed, as usual, and that is when it hit me. I had gained 5 pounds. For four years I had been the same weight. Now, within an eight month period, I had gained 5 pounds. I am now at my before-I-got-married-weight. People have made a lot of comments on how my face looks more filled in and healthy. I hope it fills in my wrinkles. Just don't tell me that my head got bigger because that taps into my complex about having a big, Asian head that some members of my family gave me...


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Super Simple Homemade Lotion Redo - If You Want...

I really enjoy making and using the Super Simple Homemade Lotion recipe. I used this lotion throughout the summer. It was super hot and humid outside, but my skin would get really dry (when I didn't put on lotion). Didn't understand, so I tried to keep lotionizing (Julia L., don't know if you read this blog, but this is a term I picked up from you at CCA).

One thing about this recipe was that the lotion had a bit of grittiness. It was due to the shea butter. But, let me tell you, as soon as you rubbed it onto your skin, the little, shea butter "grits" would melt into your skin. No problem. But, it could turn someone who has anal tendencies off.

The other day, I had to make more lotion, so I experimented. I took the coconut oil, shea butter, sweet almond oil, and aloe vera and melted it in a double boiler. Then, I let it cool on the counter until it was warm to the touch. I added the essential oil, and then mixed it together with the whisk attachment on my immersion blender. When everything cooled, I tried it out and the "grit" problem was solved.

So in conclusion, if you don't mind grit and don't like to be bothered with extra steps, just mix it together in your immersion blender. If you don't like those little grits and want them to go away, double boil, cool, and then mix. Hope this helps.



Super Easy Homemade Lotion Redo
adapted from gorgeouslygreen.com

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon shea butter
2 tablespoons sweet almond oil
2 teaspoons aloe vera gel
15 drops essential oil

1 dark colored glass container
rubbing alcohol
paper towel


1. Sterilize jar or bottle in boiling water or spray and wipe with alcohol.
2. Put coconut oil, shea butter, sweet almond oil, and aloe vera gel in a heatproof bowl.
3. Place on a double boiler.
4. Once all the ingredients are melted, take the bowl off of the double boiler.
5. Let cool.
6. Add essential oils.
7. Mix with whisk attachment in immersion blender.
8. Store in dark glass jar or bottle.