Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Okay, so Koreans are very into having clear faces. Clear of pimples. Clear of beauty marks. Clear of any discolorations. Clear of scars. Clear of everything on their faces.

Hello, my name is Monica and I don't have a clear face. I have a mole (jum) on my face.

Koreans are really in tune with my jum. I cannot tell you how many conversations I have had with people suggesting that I get my mole removed. My mother-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, friends in Korea, the owner at the beauty salon my mother goes to, my friend's mother, strangers, people here, people there, people everywhere... I have even been in conversations with people and have seen their eyes wander to my mole. Maybe it's mesmerizing? Last week we met with someone, and I found out, today, that he had suggested to my husband that I get it removed.

I always joke with my husband that I should change my Korean name from Hyunjung to Hyunjum.

Even my friend's daughter got into this. This was a conversation that occurred between my friend's daughter and I. She had been indifferent to me most of the day. When I was kneeling near their dog, she looked at me for quite a while and asked:

J: What is that?
Me: What is what? (even though I could see where her eyes were focused)
J: That on your face?
Me: A jum.
J: What's a jum?
Me: A mole.
J: Oh.
Me: Why, what did you think it was? (Something in me told me to ask this)
J: A wart.

Can you spot the differences?


God doesn't make mistakes. He created me with a special mark on my face. I have never found the need to have it removed. If it was harmful to me, I would. But, it isn't.

God gave me a husband who, since his childhood, always admired people with jums on their faces. I've asked him if he thought that I should get it removed. He always said, "No, I like it." Good answer.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Last Friday, I went to my monthly appointment with my oncologist. I had to give her a note from my occupational therapist - felt like grade school. The OT felt that there was something more to the aches in my right shoulder. Usually, therapy will push you past the "ouch" factor and help you to get moving again. Going to therapy had actually made my arm worse. The more exercise, the more joint pain. It is difficult to tell if it is the rheumatoid arthritis or the side effects of my hormone drug (Femara). Dr. K suggested that I take Advil for a week to bring any inflammation down. We are going to see if this helps.

Since it has been 3 months since my last round of scans, Dr. K ordered another round minus the MRI. This Wednesday, I am scheduled to get a CT and bone scan. I can go in, get the radioactive injection for the bone scan, have the CT scan done, and then go back for the bone scan after the radioactive material has settled in my bones (2 hours after the injection).

Friday was just so crazy. I came home completely exhausted. It had been the first time that I had driven to the hospital by myself since my surgery. It was also the third time that I had driven since my surgery. I don't have full range of motion in my arm but it is enough to drive. I left my house at 8:20 am and got home at 2:30 pm because I had to go to the plastic surgeon's office also.

So thankful that my parents could take care of my children. So thankful for all of the doctors and nurses who care for me. So thankful that my pain is minimal. So thankful for all of your prayers.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Job 19:25-27

"I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see Him with my own eyes -- I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!"

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Homeschool Odyssey, Part 1

Homeschooling was something foreign to me. I envisioned a super patient mom sitting patiently with her children as she patiently taught them. The children would respond in a polite manner and all would be well. The mom would wear a jean jumper and the children would be a little, well... socially deprived. That was something that, I felt, God had definitely not called me to. I was already a pastor's wife!

The idea of homeschooling entered my world when my oldest, A1, went to a nearby Christian preschool. It was there that I met a mom who had 5 children and was a homeschooler. She would send her children to that school for preschool and kindergarten to get their phonics basics. Then she would start homeschooling them in first grade. I would ask her about her schedule and how she got things done. I was amazed that she was able to pull it off without pulling her hair out. She was really encouraging. Then, she would challenge me with the idea. I thought she was crazy. 

I used to teach in the public school system and was more willing to teach a classroom of students rather than my own children. Somehow I had patience for other children but not my own?? I envisioned a lot yelling and screaming and crying. I would go home and tell my husband what Mrs. L had challenged me with. He would laugh. He would say that he envisioned a lot of yelling and screaming and crying. So, I just put it to that part of my mind that read "impossible / no way / never."

I kept seeing Mrs. L because she had a lot of children. We would talk and I would ask more questions about homeschooling. I was genuinely curious. It felt like God was opening my heart to the idea. Then, she would challenge me once again. I would talk to my husband and he would laugh. Then I would put that idea away again.

By this time, Mrs. L had six children and A2 was going to preschool. A3 had been born and A1 was in public school. He had a ready-to-retire teacher and some wonderfully encouraging teachers afterwards. He had some good experiences and some scarring experiences. This was a typical day for him:

  • Wake up.
  • A lot of coercing to get ready.
  • A lot of pushing to eat fast.
  • (After school) A lot of hollering to eat his snack... fast.
  • Activity
  • A lot of lamenting to do homework while I prepared dinner.
  • A lot of shouting to get ready for bed.
  • A lot of yelling to go to sleep.

As you can see, there was a lot of stress and tension going on. So much had to be done and so much busyness but I hardly got to see A1. In between school and activities, There was little meaningful interaction with him because of the busyness. I saw him at the busiest part of any mom's day (3:00-night). I had to drive him to activities, make dinner, make sure he did his homework, make sure he had everything for the next day... I felt cheated because I didn't get to see my son and wasn't getting a chance to know him.

By this time, I felt that God was slowly opening the door to the idea of me actually homeschooling. I thought of the possibility but my husband still said no.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Another Day

Today was my third appointment with the occupational therapist. We were trying to figure out if the shoulder pain that I have been experiencing is from the rheumatoid arthritis, stretching exercises, or a side effect from my hormone drug (Femara).

This past weekend, I was only able to do a few of the arm exercises due to the pain/stiffness in my right shoulder. Lifting my arms in front of me was semi-okay, but lifting my arms sideways was a challenge. If I twisted in the wrong way, pain would shoot through my right arm. This also made it hard to sleep because I kept tossing and turning trying to find a comfortable position for my arms.

As the OT massaged and stretched my right arm, she asked me to try and pinpoint the areas of pain. At the end of the session, she felt that it might be my rheumatoid arthritis. She suggested that I ask my oncologist for a referral to a rheumatologist. This was something that had been put off due to my more pressing medical issues. This Friday is my monthly meeting with my oncologist, so I will ask her what she thinks.

Later in the afternoon, I had an appointment with a hepatologist about my hepatitis c. This was in the same building that my cancer had been misdiagnosed. We were a bit late so I was able to rush in without much thought. The receptionists were not so friendly. Can I tell you what a difference that makes when you walk into a new doctor's office? My husband said that I was spoiled by the courteous service at the hospital that I go to. But, needless to say, I really liked the doctor. My oncologist had already communicated with him. He was just waiting for me to come in.  Once again, I felt blessed.

The doctor said that he wanted to have me tested for hepatitis c again. He felt my liver and said that it didn't feel enlarged. The usual profile of people who have hepatitis c are people who: have had blood transfusions, have gotten tattoos, have shared needles with other drug users, or have a partner who has hepatitis c. Not me. There is also a small category of people who have unexplained hepatitis c. Me.

When I go, this Friday, for my monthly oncologist appointment, I will have extra blood drawn to check for hepatitis c. There is a possibility that my initial blood test gave a false positive result. This is what I am praying for. In my weird mind, I can take the cancers and the rheumatoid arthritis. The hepatitis c throws me off balance. I always think of my liver when I take my medications. That is why I only want to take the necessary medications and nothing more. I don't even want to take Tylenol for my aches. Does my logic make sense?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chocolate Banana Chia Pudding

I had to share this recipe tonight. This is a variation of the Pumpkin Chia Pudding. This is a healthy, super good, sweet treat. I made this tonight and was blown away by how good it tasted. I liked the pumpkin chia pudding, but this one made me yell, "This is so good!," to my husband (even though he was standing 2 feet from me),  It fed my chocolate, sweets, and I-need-a-sweet-snack-after-my-kids-are-sleeping cravings. I ate it all and felt no guilt. No sugar or sweeteners needed! You can eat this for breakfast, as a snack, or for dessert.

Chocolate Banana Chia Pudding

1 banana (or 2 if you like)
3 tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 cup rice milk
1-2 teaspoons unsweetened chocolate powder

  1. Place banana in a bowl or glass. Smash with a fork. 
  2. Add chia seeds and rice milk. Mix together. 
  3. Add unsweetened chocolate powder. Mix. Make sure to break up any powder clumps. 
  4. Wait 10-15 minutes. The chia seeds will expand and form a gel. 
  5. Mix again before eating.

Pumpkin Chia Pudding

This was something that I had wanted to try for quite some time. I heard that chia seeds + any liquid made a gel-like substance. I just wasn't sure about how it would taste. We put it on our rice and salads, but we had never ventured into the gel zone.

This recipe was surprisingly easy to make and quite good. I tested it on my children, and my older two gave a thumbs up. A3 was holding out. Next time, I think that I am going to try it with bananas and some berries on top. How does cocoa powder and strawberries sound? The possibilities are endless. This is an easy, good-for-you snack, that really fills you up.

Pumpkin Chia Pudding
(adapted from choosingraw.com)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 cup rice milk
2-4 tablespoons of maple syrup (the real stuff) or agave (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon (to taste)
Sprinkle of Nutmeg (to taste)

Put all the ingredients in a glass and mix. Wait 10-15 minutes. The chia seeds will expand and form a gel. Enjoy.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Please Pray

My friend sent me an email about a friend who also has been diagnosed with cancer. I read through part of the blog that her husband started but couldn't read it all... It was a bit difficult for me.

I would like to encourage you to read it and pray for Kim and her family.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Natural Fabric Softener

Last summer, I bought a t-shirt from a resale shop in my area. It was a brand that I really like, was in excellent condition, and was the right price. When I got it home, I noticed that it had a scent to it. Nothing funky. I think that the store might have sprayed some type of fabric refresher in the store, and it might have gotten on this shirt.

Due to my hormone drugs, I have gotten a bit more sensitive to smells (I already was sensitive to smells). I tried to wear the shirt even though it smelled like fabric refresher but it was too strong for my sensitive nose. Of course, I had washed the shirt before wearing it, but the smell would not go away. So, I washed the shirt, tried to wear it,  took it off because of the smell, and then washed it again. I must have washed that shirt 4-5 times. It still smells like fabric refresher. 

This other time, I was doing laundry and I dropped the box of fabric softener sheets. I had to pick up the different sheets and put them back in the box. Being the hand washer that I am, I washed my hands after touching the fabric softener sheets. To my dismay, the smell didn't go away. I kept trying to wash my hands with different soaps to try and get the smell off, but it wasn't happening. 

After these incidents, I became more aware of the chemical perfumes in products. They are strong, and some do smell good, but do we really need those chemical scents/perfumes? As far as fabric softeners go, you have to think about your skin absorbing all of these chemicals into your body 24 hours a day. Look it up and you will be shocked.

The solution to my problem: white, distilled vinegar. Vinegar is one of those miracle, "it does everything" products.  I get a huge jug of it at Costco for $3.50? I put half a cup of vinegar in the fabric softener compartment in my washing machine and that's it. Vinegar is a natural antibacterial, removes soap scum, keeps colors bright, and naturally softens clothes. My laundry is soft and has no smell. Having no smell was something to get used to because we're trained to think that having a scent makes your laundry smell clean

At first, I was skeptical about vinegar. I mean, who wants to smell like vinegar? But, I learned that there is absolutely no vinegar smell when it comes out of the dryer. So once I tried it, I couldn't go back. I really like that my clothes have no heavy scents/perfumes. The cherry on top is that it is affordable and not harmful to me or my family.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


On Tuesday, I went to my first session with the occupational therapist. She measured how far I could stretch my arms, showed me how to massage my neck scar so that it would unstick from my neck (I have scar tissue issues), showed me different stretches and exercises for my arm, and told me to come twice a week for the next 4 weeks. I'm not where I need to be.

As she stretched my right arm and tried to teach me different exercises, I could hear myself grunting and yowling... in pain. I tried really hard to stop myself but it was really weird how those grunts kept coming out. Then there was the breathing issue. Each time I did an exercise, I would stop breathing. Just as I noticed this strange phenomenon, the OT noticed it and told me to remember to breathe. In between my grunting and yowling, she would keep reminding me to breathe. I felt like a little kid.

My OT had told me that I needed to stretch and exercise certain muscles because I had not used them in so long. If I continued to ignore them, they would atrophy (degenerate or waste away). This would mean less strength and less movement in those muscles.

Wednesday morning I woke up thinking about my OT session. Thoughts of how painful it was, how much I didn't want to do those stretches and exercises, and how much I needed to do them, flooded my mind. As I lay in bed in between half asleepdom and half awakedom, I was reminded of my life as a Christian. My spiritual muscles cannot be ignored if I want to live a vibrant life for Him. I need to keep studying His Word. I need to keep seeking Him in prayer. I need to keep giving myself in service to Him. I need to keep living for Him and not myself. I need to keep on my spiritual toes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You Know Better Than I

*I typed out my post, had some technical difficulties, lost my entire post, and had to rewrite everything. 
I did learn why I had technical difficulties. What can you do?*

I have always loved reading the story of Joseph. When I was in college, I remember having QT (devotions) through the book of Genesis. I had wanted to see how the stories in Genesis flowed into Joseph's story. I read a small passage each day because I didn't want to miss anything. It took me a month and half before I got to Joseph. I wanted to know how Joseph had endured his painful past and allowed God to help him to forgive... so that he could live. There was such beauty, heartbreak, and challenge.

Can you tell where I am in my Bible reading?

The world saw Joseph and laughed. They saw someone who they thought had been forsaken by God. Joseph's brothers hated him so much that they wanted to murder him. They ended up selling him as a slave so that, at least, they could earn a profit. He became a slave, was falsely accused, put into prison, and left there to rot.

God saw something that the world could not. He saw someone that could be used for His glory. He saw someone that He could pour His blessings upon. He saw someone that He dearly loved.

There is an animated version of Joseph's life. I watched it many times with my children and the children at church. Unfortunately, the dvd broke. Fortunately, for those of you with Netflix, it is there for you to watch at any time.

I am so glad that He knows better than I...

Youtube: by AngelGirl023

You Know Better Than I

I thought I did what's right
I thought I had the answers
I thought I chose the surest road
But that road brought me here
So I put up a fight
And told you how to help me
Now just when I have given up
The truth is coming clear

You know better than I
You know the way
I've let go the need to now why
For You know better than I

If this has been a test
I cannot see the reason
But maybe knowing
I don't know is part of getting through
I tried to do what's best
But faith has made it easy
To see the best thing I can do
Is to put my trust in You.

For, You know better than I
You know the way
I've let go the need to know why
For You know better than I


I saw one cloud and thought it was a sky
I saw a bird and thought that I could follow
But it was You taught that bird to fly
If I let You reach me
Will You teach me.

Repeat Chorus
For, You know better than I
You know the way
I've let go the need to know why
I'll take what answers you supply
You know better than I

Monday, January 16, 2012

Rose Oil

My skin, my skin... what can I say about it? I broke out all over my forehead when I was eleven. Later, I broke out on the rest of my face. I used to spend thirty minutes in the bathroom trying to cleanse my face to prevent future breakouts. Adolescence was a bit hard, especially when the rest of my family had clear skin and couldn't understand why I had breakouts.

I remember being so envious of people who could put any type of lotion on their face - my mom, sister, brother, friends, everyone else in the world... In high school, my friend gave me a gift set from Crabtree & Evelyn. It was winter break and I couldn't wait to try it. I tried it, broke out in a deep red, itchy rash, and was miserable for the rest of the break. After getting married, I tried using a Neutrogena cleanser and experienced the same thing. After that incident my husband understood my sensitive, acne-prone, skin predicament.

A few years ago, I had a eureka moment. I realized that as soon as I feel any type of tingling on my face after applying a new product, I need to run to the bathroom and wash my face really fast. This has prevented many rashes and breakouts. I know, I know, I should have realized this sooner. Accept me for me, please. Needless to say, I am not one to try new products. I have pretty much stuck to the same skincare line.

Well, in my pursuit of a more chemical-free lifestyle, I thought that I should start using 100% natural, paraben free, phthalate free, sulfate free, petroleum free products. Doesn't everyone have these types of demands?

I was searching for products to make my own body butter (I will talk about this another time), when I came across Wild Rose Facial Oil. I wasn't sure about putting oil on my oily but turning dry skin but I was willing to try it because the price was very reasonable.

As soon as I received it in the mail, I washed my face and put the oil on my face. Here is my review:

  • No rash, no breakouts, no adverse reactions.
  • The smell seems strong at first but you get used to it.
  • I use one drop in the morning and two at night. One drop sinks in, while two drops makes your skin feel oily because it's an oil. 
  • I put lotion on my face after applying the rose oil.
  • After using it for 2 days my parents came over and my dad made a comment on how good my face looked.
  • My husband saw a difference in my skin and started using it.
  • People have commented on my husband's skin.
  • I noticed that after my husband started using it, his face looked less oily.
  • I notice that I have less hardened oil around my nose - women, you know what I'm talking about! 

This product is not for everyone, but if I can use it... 

Friday, January 13, 2012


Got a lot done today. That is, in the world of appointments (thank you for your prayers). If you remember, I have had a hard time getting myself to make appointments to see various doctors. It just didn't happen. Mental block. Emotional strain. I don't know. Well, today, it happened!

My plastic surgeon's office had called yesterday about scheduling the next surgery for mid February. The receptionist said that she had called the other doctor's office (gynecologic oncologist) to coordinate the time for the surgeries. They told her that I had not called to make an appointment. Then, I had to explain that I had gone to the office to make the appointment but that the receptionist told me that they had to get my records, have the doctor look it over, and then call me for an appointment. Well, I ended up calling the gynecologic oncologist's office today and they made an appointment for me for the beginning of February. There was a little more confusion with the p.s.'s office, but everything turned out okay.

My breast surgeon had also recommended that I go to physical/occupational therapy. The movement in my arms has not been ideal. My husband also said that the knot(s) in my neck and shoulders seem to be getting worse. He sees it and I can feel it. I had to call the hospital to make this appointment. I called and made two appointments to see a physical therapist. I just hope that they don't crack any of my bones or make me cry in pain.

Lastly, I had to make an appointment with the gastroentrologist concerning my hepatitis c. My oncologist had given me the doctor's name and phone number in December. I waited until today because today was the day to make all the appointments that I had been procrastinating! This office was the easiest to make an appointment with. I have that appointment at the end of the month. Unfortunately, when I asked them where his office was located, the receptionist told me that it was in the same building as my past primary care doctor - the one who had misdiagnosed me. Kind of made me cringe a little, but I have to do what I have to do.

Four appointments in one day. Not bad... for me.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Long Day

We went to Legoland today with our homeschool group. It was a lot of fun for the kids. The last time we had gone was two years ago with the same group. The kids rode the rides, built cars, watched 4D movies, played in the play area, played Lego games, and enjoyed time with friends. I mostly sat around and talked to my mommy friends.

A lot of people requested the Bible reading schedule that I follow. It was really encouraging to see so many people wanting to read the Bible together. So far, I have been able to keep up with all the reading. I better have! I started on January 1 and it has only been two weeks!

Reading through Genesis showed me how so many people could be blessed because of one person. As I read, I couldn't help but see the way Lot, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob, were blessed because of Abraham. God kept pouring blessing upon blessing into Abraham's life, but there were definite times of waiting and testing.

It makes me wonder if I have been blessed as a result of the faithfulness of others in my life. I believe that I have. The harder question is: have others been blessed because of me? It is a really humbling question. Really humbling. That is when I realize that I have a really long way to go! I need more of Him and less of me...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Super Green Drink

After I got sick, I read different books on healthy eating for cancer patients. This is one of the things that people kept recommending: the green drink. It is a super food! It says so on the label! Read for yourself! There are many brands but this is the one that I chose. Where did I get it? Whole Foods, of course. I think that you can get it on Amazon also.

The green drink is packed with nutrients and helps to boost your immune system. It is a raw (uncooked) and organic food. It is easier to drink this than to eat a bunch of wheat grass or spinach. Drink this a few times a day, and you will achieve your daily 5-9 daily servings of vegetables. Pretty amazing.

I actually got the regular flavor (orange container). It is green. It tastes green. And, well, smells green. Someone told me that it "tastes like grass." When I first got it, I mixed it with almond milk and some agave nectar to help me get it down. It wasn't that bad. Slowly, I reduced the amount of agave and was able to drink it without any sweeteners. I actually like it now. It almost reminds me of the mate that I drank growing up in Argentina.

The only thing that bothered me about the green drink was that some clumps would form. I would make it, drink it, and get some leftover globs in my mouth. I don't like globs. Then, I went to my cousin's house. She is the wonder woman who buys organic wheat, mills it at home, and bakes her own bread. Yes, bakes her own bread. Did I mention that she has a daughter who is 6 and a set of twins who will be 3 soon? Oh yeah, she also homeschools. Don't worry, she doesn't wear jean jumpers or anything like that.

When I went to my cousin's house, she had the chocolate flavored version. I had avoided it because I thought that it might taste artificial. I don't know what I was thinking?? The whole concept behind this drink is no artificial anything. My cousin put a scoop in a glass, added a little water, stirred it, then added some chocolate almond milk.

I told her how I hated those clumps and she asked me if I added water at the beginning. I told her that I did not. That is when she told me that you are supposed to add water in the beginning so that the mixture dissolves well. She said, "It says so on the instructions." Just another Moni moment. These types of scenarios occur often in my life.

Well, let me tell you. The chocolate flavored drink was really good, especially with the chocolate almond milk. I couldn't even taste anything green. It tasted like chocolate milk! Those of you who don't like anything "green" will like the chocolate flavored mix with chocolate almond milk. (I wouldn't recommend the chocolate soy milk because of the soy. Remember, soy doesn't like me and I don't like it.) Then, I would slowly ease off of the chocolate almond milk until you can just drink it with plain, old almond or rice milk. It is possible.

Well, my cousin told my uncle that I liked the chocolate green drink and he got me two huge containers of it. I'm still finishing them up. I drink it with a little water and rice milk - no clumps! The regular and the chocolate are both good to me. Someone I know got the berry flavored one and she adds that to her shakes. Try one and see if you like it. Or buy it for your parents. It's good for them!

How to mix a green drink:

1. Pour a little water into a mug.
2. Dump one scoop into the mug.
3. Swirl the mixture (don't even need a spoon at this point).
4. Watch the powder mix into the water.
5. Add almond or rice milk (I use rice milk now - got it at Costco).
6. Mix with a spoon.
7. Drink!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

7 Days, 3 Specialists

Last Tuesday, I met with my endocrinologist to talk about my thyroid. It had been, approximately, 6 weeks since my surgery. Usually, after thyroid cancer surgery, you have to become radioactive. Yes, radioactive. You drink a radioactive drink and then move to a place where no one can come near you. This is especially true of young children and pregnant women. You wait it out for a few days until the radioactivity subsides.

Dr. W told me the exciting news that I do not have to become radioactive! One less yucky thing to drink and I won't have to worry about making everything in my house radioactive. Also, the less medicine and radioactivity, the better for my body.

On Friday, I went to the plastic surgeon's office. Dr. R usually waits at least 3 months before switching out the expander with an implant. Now, all that needs to be done is meet with the surgeon for the oophorectomy (removal of ovaries). Once I do that, she can coordinate with him for my next surgery.

Yesterday, I met with my breast surgeon. Everything is healing really well. Although the surgery pain in minimal, the aches in my shoulders seem to be getting worse. Maybe the cold weather? The past few days I have woken up having difficulty moving my shoulders and arms. I mentioned it to Dr. M and she recommended that I go to physical therapy. I was a bit hesitant because of distance, my poor husband, and pain. Now, I just have to make the appointment...

You will be proud to hear that I did make the appointment with the gynecologic oncologist. Well, sort of. I went to his office and tried to make the appointment (it was in the same building as my breast surgeon). The receptionist said that she had to get my records from my oncologist, have the doctor look them over, and then call me to make an appointment. Although I don't have cancer in my ovaries, my oncologist talked to this gynecologic oncologist to perform the surgery.

Now, I just have to get in contact with the gastroenterologist about my hepatitis c and the primary care physician... pray for me.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Maple Cinnamon Oatmeal

My children really, really like it when I make this oatmeal for them. They hug me and say, "Thank you, Mommy, for making this for us!" When I was hanging out at Whole Foods a lot, I found that they had organic old fashioned oats for around $1.69/lb. or so (at the bulk section). You can actually get a lot for the same price as a container with the guy with the funny haircut on it. I thought that it would be fun to experiment different ways to make homemade oatmeal.

The first thing I did was pick the old fashioned rolled oats versus the instant ones because they sounded healthier. Don't you agree? Instant or quick oats are actually processed more, cut up, and have a mushier texture. I found that the old fashioned oats are chewy and really hearty. It takes more time to cook, but I think that it is worth it. This is simple, hot, and just plain good!

Here are the ingredients you will need. Minus the rice milk. Forgot to add it to the photo.

Ch ch chia is a superfood. Read for yourself. It says so on the package! It is full omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber. It is better than flax because it has no plant estrogen. It has a very mild flavor and adds crunch to foods. My children love it on oatmeal, rice, yogurt...

As easy as mix, boil, and simmer.

Sprinkle chia seeds on top of oatmeal before serving.

Maple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Makes 4 servings

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
3 1/2 cups rice milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/8 cup maple syrup (the real stuff)
chia seeds (yes, ch ch chia)

1. Pour rolled oats, rice milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup in a small pot.
2. Cover the pot and cook over medium-high heat.
3. Stir occasionally.
4. Bring to a boil.
5. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
6. Pour into individual bowls.
7. Sprinkle chia seeds on top.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Part B

The plan is to encourage as many people possible to read through the Bible in a year with me. Let's do it! You can do it! Really! If you email me at morethanmoni@yahoo.com, I will email you the reading plan I typed out. You can read and check off each passage, write notes, write applications, or whatever you would like to do. You won't regret it! I even took the time to think and write about the ABCs of what God does in your life when you read His Word.

Reading through the Bible...

  • alleviates our everyday worries
  • balances our imperfections
  • carries us when we feel no hope
  • develops our character
  • explains how we are to live
  • flowers beauty in our lives 
  • gives us a picture of God's heart 
  • heals our inmost being
  • invites us to a great adventure
  • janitors our not-so-clean lives
  • kicks us when we need it
  • lowers our heads at His throne
  • moves us to action
  • navigates us through the storms
  • opens our arms to others
  • pierces the numbness in our hearts
  • quantifies His character
  • reminds us that we're not home yet
  • showers us with courage and strength
  • teaches us to love
  • unites our heart to His
  • verifies Jesus' claims
  • watches over us
  • x-rays our hearts
  • yields an abundant harvest
  • zippers us in His love

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Plan, Part A

My plan for this year is a little scary. I almost don't want to share it for fear of failure. But, it needs to be shared. I need the accountability and, hopefully, it will challenge you. Yes, you!

My plan is the read through the Bible in a year. This will be my 5th time. I have upcoming surgeries and everything, but I want to set this plan. Actually, I have already started it.

Growing up, I never thought that I could read through the Bible. I thought that it was something for old, scholarly, super spiritual people. Too intimidating. So, I just scratched it off my list. I had read through many books of the Bible, been in many Bible studies, and had memorized many verses, but had never read through the whole Bible. There was also that factor of, well, boredom. What if I fell asleep while reading through the Old Testament?

Then, I went to Korea. I taught at a school in one city and served at a church far, far away. It was at this far, far away church that I was challenged to read through the Bible. The students (elementary and junior high) were taking the challenge. As a teacher there, I had to. It was exactly what I needed! We alternated between the Old Testament and New Testament. Following the goal that we had set, we read through the Bible in two years. It was a lot of reading each week but it was so exciting! Yes, exciting!

A lot of things happened after this. I entered graduate school in Korea, met my husband, got married,  moved back to the States, taught at an elementary school, had one, two, three children, ministry, do I have to say more? Those were busy, busy years. I continued to do Q.T. and read different books of the Bible, but never the whole Bible.

Then, something began to grow in me: the desire to read through the Bible again. I had felt this desire before but this time it was much stronger. I think my husband was pushing me also. He is a pastor, you know.

Finally, I set it in my heart to read. I had read through the NIV translation in Korea, so this time I wanted to read a different translation. I got a NASB study Bible, but I needed a structure to follow. People, I am not ashamed to say that I need structure. Luckily, the new Bible had a Bible reading plan. It went through the Bible in chronological order. I typed out the plan, printed it out, and was ready to go.

This is what I did when reading through the Bible:

  • (2008) Wrote down a lot of notes as I read. 
  • (2009) Wrote general thoughts and applications on the passages.
  • (2010) Checked off my reading, no notes, and did Q.T. in a different passage. Finished in January of 2011.
  • (2011) Well, I took the year off knowing that I would be going to Korea and having a crazy schedule. Also, I was exhausted. Completely exhausted.

The picture at the top of this post shows the notes that I kept from my readings. Having a paper that I had to write in every day kept me on my toes. Of course, there were days that I missed the reading and had to read double on other days. I am human. At the end of each year, I never had regrets of reading through the Bible.

Think about reading through the Bible. Chew on the idea. Let it digest. Then, come back tomorrow.

to be continued...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gobe? Agobe?

The day after my surgery, my children went to the homeschool co-op that we participate in. I didn't want to disrupt their regular schedule. I wanted them to go somewhere where they could try to forget that Mommy was in the hospital.

I can't remember who drove them to co-op, but I know that my close friend, Gloria, drove them home. On the way home, she did something that my kids will always remember... No, it wasn't a trip to McDonald's. Although she might have taken them? You know about my memory... Gloria took my children to the Dollar Store. She told each of them to pick something to give to Mommy.

They each took their time and picked different items. It is really interesting because they each picked things that say a lot about their personalities. A1, my oldest, picked a nativity, Christmas ornament and a dolphin keychain that had a flashlight. It showed A1's serious and silly side. A2 picked a bouquet of poinsettias. She is girl who knows her momma. A3 picked out a stuffed animal. Such a "youngest" child.

My children got to come and see me at the hospital on Saturday. They came in with this bag to give to Mommy. They were so proud. I think that it made them feel like they could do something for Mommy. I was so thankful to Gloria for doing such a simple and creative thing. 

We all tried to think of a name for the stuffed animal A3 had picked. The stuffed animal looked like a mix between a gopher and a bear to me, so we came up with the name Gobe. He is small, shaggy, and a little oddly shaped. His left ear is slightly more towards the back of his head. His nose is crooked. He has a really narrow neck. He also has this crazy piece of fur sticking out of his left ear. But, you can't help but love his irregularities. A3 would put him on my bed and tell Gobe to take care of his momma. Then, the other two started making sure that Gobe was on my bed. We all would start saying, "Gobe! Gobe! Gobe!"

My husband thought that we should name him Agobe because all of our children's names, including his,  start with the letter A. Either name is fine with me. I just like the fact that this is a reminder to them that they did something for Mommy when they thought they couldn't... and I know that that means a lot to them.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

They're Back...

Before my surgery, I had some joint aches and pains. I would get up out of a chair and would feel like a grandma - groaning and all. It would take me a while to slowly straighten my back. Also, if I sat too long with my legs bent in one position, it would kill to straighten them out. Same thing with my arms. I blamed my rheumatoid arthritis which had mostly been in my fingers. After talking to my oncologist, I found out that it was one of the side effects of the hormone drug I take. I was relieved to know that it was because of the medication but the aches were still there.

My oncologist said that she could prescribe something for the pain. I didn't want to take more medication. She urged me to, at least, take some ibuprofen to relieve the pain. She didn't want me to wait too long before taking something because it might not be as effective by that time. Unfortunately, I don't like taking too much medication, even if it is over the counter.

After my surgery, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I didn't have those aches. It was weird at first. I thought that I was rid of the painful creeks in my life. But, I guess I had more painful aches to deal with. Bigger pains trump smaller ones.

Within the last two weeks, I have slowly felt those pains creep back into my body as the surgery pain levels have gone down. This time it has been more targeted in my right shoulder. I guess that they're baaaack!

I can't tell you how much I appreciate zippered jackets, cardigans, stretchy tops... Sometimes when I am changing my shirt, I get stuck and I can't move. My shoulder kind of locks in place. During those situations, I call my husband or my daughter, A2. When I am alone, I have to try several times before I can get that shirt over my shoulders. Sometimes it make me want to laugh at the picture of me trying to get the shirt over my shoulders. Sometimes it makes me want to cry with pain and frustration.

Today was one of those days that the pain was particularly not pleasant in my shoulder. The cold, January weather seemed to make it worse. Then, I remembered a woman at my church who has rheumatoid arthritis. Her arthritis is pretty bad. There were days when she couldn't even get out of bed. I thought of how much more her whole body must ache during these cold months. That's when I realize that my pain is back but it ain't so bad.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Monthly Routines

Each month I have a routine. My parents usually come to our house and watch the kids. Then, my husband and I drive to the hospital. I go to the lab, write my name on the board, and wait for my turn. When they call my name, I go to one of the little rooms to get four vials of blood drawn. Each time I pray that I will get a technician who will be gentle when she pokes for a vein. Most of the time, they are gentle. Once in a while, they aren't so gentle.

One of the technicians showed me a trick when getting blood drawn. Just before getting poked with the needle, take a deep breath. It really helps. Also, don't look. I never do.

After going to the lab, I go upstairs to my oncologist's office. She examines me, checks my surgery scars,  and answers any questions that I might have. She also coordinates between all the specialists that I have to visit. She has meetings with them and tells me what I have to do.

Then, I go across the street to another building. I go to an outpatient lab and wait for my shots. The first is my Xgeva shot. This binds with the calcium in my blood and brings it to my bones. This helps the cancer in my spine. It is given on the back of my upper arm. This one really, really hurts. I don't know how to describe it. I have to brace myself before this one. It burns. It makes my arm feel like it is slowly dying... not exaggerating. It makes me tap my foot in expectation of the shot being over. The nurses have tried to give it quickly and slowly. Either way, it hurts... a lot.

Since my cancer diagnosis, I have been poked and prodded more than I can count. From being poked repeatedly for my thyroid and breast biopsies, poked for blood samples, poked for IVs for MRIs and CT scans, poked for shots... I thought I had been pretty tough in enduring these pokes and prods. Then, I came across my Xgeva shot.

After my Xgeva shot, the nurse prepares the Lupron shot. This shot is my menopause shot. It shuts down my ovaries so that they don't produce any more estrogen. Estrogen is not my friend because it is what fueled my breast cancer. This shot is given on my hip. The nurses showed me a trick to help alleviate the pain of a shot on the hip. You have to take the weight off of the side that you are getting your shot. It works. I mean, it's still a shot, but it is bearable.

My routine usually takes 4 hours from home to hospital to home again.  When I come home, I don't want to do anything. My children are warned not to squeeze or run into Mommy. I am covered in bandaids but am usually back to normal after a few hours.