What’s this? A blog post within days of each other? 

It’s been a long two days so I thought I’d share.

You know this is basically my journal and journaling can be like therapy for me, so here I am.

Just so you know, this does have a happy ending but these two days were scary.

You can be strong and scared at the same time. I’m learning.

I recently found a lump in my breast. Ugh.

Two days ago I had a regularly scheduled appointment with my oncologist and she gave me an exam to check out this new lump. It seemed like the size of a marble.

Damn these breast. Even these new ones made of my belly tissue have me all emotional and worried. I remind you all to do a monthly self breast exam while I’m over here doing them daily.

Last Christmas I found a lump in my new reconstructed breast.  A tiny hard spot about the size of a pea in my left breast. That truly freaked me out. I was certain the cancer was back and I was trying to figure out how I would help Tess plan her wedding while dealing with all of it. Turned out to be a cyst. Praise the Lord. The cyst has now disappeared. Nothing. Zilch. Gone. 

I did learn from my doctor however that any time I feel any changes, I need to call and have it checked out. This goes for everyone.

Just when I’m ready to celebrate two years (August 31st!) cancer free and celebrate completing all of the reconstruction phase, a new worry. I tried not to worry, to put it in the back of my head, to stay positive, but worry kept creeping to the front of my head. All of the “what ifs” were floating around in my mind. 

After the exam, it was decided an ultra sound was a good idea. Basically it’s your doctor saying, lets make sure that lump isn’t a cancer reoccurrence. 

Today I had a mammogram, then an ultra sound, then met with my breast surgeon. It seems as though my new lump is fat necrosis (dead fat) that has formed into a hard knot following my fat grafting procedure in April. Phew! It’s just dead fat!

When I go for these check ups, the entrance to the building is the same entrance that I walked through on the morning of my double mastectomy.  I was there today from 11:00 am until 3:30 pm. Way too much time to sit and think. The waiting room is filled with cancer patients and it is just an emotional place to be, for me anyhow. I can’t help but think about how many people are there that don’t have my story. I know people that don’t have my story. It’s just a hard place to be.

My breast surgeon made me feel great though in telling me that my worries were completely expected and normal. She did tell me that after you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you can’t help but wonder if it will come back. It sucks but it’s a real concern that is valid. She also told me that many women actually start to process everything that happened…..when it’s all over. Family and friends accept and process everything as it is happening, but many patients accept and process everything after it is all over. I think that’s me. I’m fine, but I’m definitely oddly thinking about all of it a lot recently. 

So, the great news is that I am completely fine. I really am.

Amen.

So, more good news came out of todays visit. I was also scheduled to have my biometric screening? Lets call it that. After having lymph nodes removed, you are checked regularly for lymphedema. They now have this fancy new machine that does the work, but prior to this machine, the lymphedema nurse would take measurements of my arms and legs with a tape measure.

I was one of the first patients to use the new machine at this location back in December. You stand on it with your bare feet and place your hands on it as well. It measures the fluid in your body, along with your body fat and your skeletal mass. Basically a fancy and expensive BMI machine. 

Back in December I asked if I could take a picture of the screen since they do not send all of the specific results out to the patients.

Here is December. I weighed 183. Fat Mass 62.6 lbs. – 34.2%

 

Here is today. I weigh 172. Fat Mass 51..0 lbs – 29.6%

Yay!

 

I also was feeling pretty good about this because I’ve been trying to get back to 172 forever and to actually see it on the doctors scale felt like a big deal. The doctor scale ALWAYS weighs heavy. (You know it does)

 

I was now in a pretty damned good mood after finding out my weight is good and my lump is just a chunk of dead fat!

 

I was so happy I came home, cranked up the tunes, danced around the kitchen and cooked up a couple of meals for the week. Mike was so happy, he went golfing. Okay, he always golfs on Wednesday, but still, we were both happy.

I made this favorite, 40 Aprons Egg Roll in a Bowl

 

I also roasted up some Veggies and Salmon.

 

What are you making this week? I’d love to know whats cooking in your kitchen!

Mike was with me the whole time, right by my side. In case I needed a hand to hold.

“love the life you live, live the life you love”

 

Ten years ago today, I walked into a Weight Watchers location (for my seventh time) weighing more than I had ever weighed. I was 42 years old. I had made up my mind that from that day forward I would forever be a WW member. I would surround myself with like minded people and I would take care of myself.

I was overweight, I was depressed and I was lost. I had put myself and my health at the bottom of the priority list and I knew that had to change, forever.

Ten years later I am feeling better than ever. I’m so thankful for all that WW has taught me. I’m so happy to now be employed by WW and truly be surrounded by like minded people. I’ve learned so much about myself and I’m so happy for the decision that I made a decade ago. I had no idea the impact that decision would make on my life. 

This blog evolved because of that decision. My Instagram page evolved from that decision and that has been such a surprising source of inspiration for me. I had no idea the relationships that would develop via the blog and Instagram.  

Thanks for sticking with me if you’ve been around for a while.

This week I got back to my happy 172! Now to get back into the 160’s.

Last weekend was camping trip number three. Such a great trip and so many interesting and fun people.

Headed out of dads yard together where I store my trailer.

 

I even took the kayak! This was my first trip taking the trailer and the kayak. I was ecstatic.

Effie, Lari and Little Red. Aren’t they the cutest family?

 

Following dad to the campground is one of my favorite parts of the trip!

 

So many cute trailers there! This is my next door neighbor at the campsite. They were SO sweet! Check out the Toronado they pull their trailer with! See me in the woods behind them?

 

After they got her all set up! Some of these awnings are simply the icing on the cake!

 

More cuties.

 

Below is my new friend Melissa and her trailer, Huck Finn.

Get this. She was going through my moms line at Target in April. My mom commented on her cute purchases. She mentioned she had bought a trailer and she was decorating. My mom got her Instagram name. This was just a few short days before I had even purchased Effie. Fast forward four months and a few Instagram exchanges later, we end up two campsites away from each other! We both stayed an extra night and spent some time Sunday on the lake on our kayaks! I’m so glad we did that!

 

This particular weekend was a Vintage Trailer Rally with over 50 Vintage trailers registered. The theme for the weekend was Retro. On Saturday, we opened up our trailers to the public from 10-2 and invited them inside to see out trailers. I had SO much fun talking about Effie!

I dressed up just a little Retro.

 

I put out a guest book and a few people actually signed it! See my shoes? My trailer is a 1964 but I was feeling the retro theme with the group.

 

My first trip with my new awning!

 

I absolutely LOVE the evenings in the campground.

 

They had a car show at the rally too!

 

This was the prettiest campground I’ve been to so far. I drove around and wrote down my favorite campsite numbers for future trips.

 

This is Sunday when only Melissa and Huck Finn and Effie and I were left on this stretch of road. So peaceful.

 

Best morning coffee, ever.

 

Sunday afternoon on the lake.

 

We had such a great time getting to know each other! Sweet soul right here.

 

Eggs, Avocados, Chicken Sausages, Tuna Salad, Fruit, Raw Veggies, Coffee Creamer, Yogurt, Shrimp and Nut Butter. 

 

Breakfast food! Eggs, Ham and Smashed Avocado. Basically just like home.

 

Lunch….Tuna Salad and Veggies.

 

Snack time…

Yogurt with Berries and Granola.

 

Sunday night we spent with two other ladies that decided to stay on Sunday night too! We all brought what ever we had left to eat over to Melissa’s campsite and enjoyed the campfire, cooked sausages over the open flame, sipped wine and had great conversation, just like I dreamed. Really. This is a night I dreamed of. 

 

Such a great hostess! She surprised us all with a beverage! Cheers to new friends!

 

Waking up on a Monday at the lake in my camper does not suck. Well, except the part where I have to pack up.

 

The next trip with my pops is to Branson where there will be close to 100 Vintage trailers! I can’t wait! We leave September 5th!

 

I found some adorable new glass knobs at Home Goods this week. I’m obsessed with finding new things for Effie.

 

I hope you are living your best life!

“love the life you live, live the life you love”

Catching Up on Summer

August 13, 2019

I hope you all are having a Happy and Healthy summer and that you are staying cool. I’m so ready for Fall. It’s my favorite season. All things Fall really can not some soon enough for me. 

Here are a few highlights of whats going on in life right now.

The Blog

I have wanted to update the look of the blog for sometime now. I finally met with a Blog Consultant? Thats what I’ll call her anyhow. She does free lance work outside of her regular job making websites and blogs look their best. I have a few ideas and together we will come up with a new look. Also, I’m hoping that will encourage me to come up with a regular blogging schedule. I’ll never have time to do a daily post like I did for so many years, but committing to once a week is something I’d like to work on for me, my accountability and for you the reader. I really love ya’ll so much! 

Fun stuff to come with the blog!

My Health

I’m feeling really good. Mentally and physically. Still a lot of  joint discomfort from the Tamoxifen (estrogen blocker) but it is tolerable. It seems the more I keep moving, the better I feel, so I just keep moving. Really thats good for anyone!

Friday was my first four mile walk in over a year!

The 1st of June I began playing with the idea of intermittent fasting. (Not WW recommended.) There are a few different ways to do this, but I am certainly no expert. I’m basically eating between 12-8 each day. It’s been an adjustment but I’m used to it now. Tamoxifen can make weight loss difficult and I had just gotten to the point where I was feeling really good and was eager to see if I could start working at getting a few pounds off. This seems to be working for me. It’s slow, but the scale had not budged in some time so it feels good to see the number on the scale go down a tad and fit into some of my pants better. Yay! Progress!

 

One Last Follow up for Breast Reconstruction. – I am Done!

 

Family Time

We enjoyed an adult night out with our children and their spouses. It was Anne’s birthday and her husband organized a surprise dinner for her. I love our nights out with the kids. We don’t get nights like this very ofter.

Anne and her husband Cortney.

 

The girls. Left to right. Mike’s mom Rita, daughter Kate, Daughter in law Jordan, Anne, Me and Anne’s best friends Ali. Such a great night!

Our son Jake takes his camera with him everywhere. He was feeling the black and white mood.

 

Mikes parents with Anne.

 

Lots of fun lately with the grandkids. City Market, camping in my dads backyard, swimming at our neighborhood pool, movies and some really good laughs.

Face Painting this past weekend at City Market.

 

 

It feels so good to be able to take the kids to the pool!

 

Fun with Friends

I spent three nights at the lake with girlfriends recently.

 

It felt so good to be able to go on a walk with the girls, hop on the jet ski, paddle around the cove in the kayak and just enjoy time with friends.

 

The WW Ambassador program is such a great program to be a part of. They send us some wonderful gifts! This is a most recent gift and one of my faovirties. We recently discussed a Positive Body Image in the WW Studio, so having this towel and posting a picture of myself showing my legs was kind of a big deal.

 

My childhood friend Ashley (far left) just moved back to Kansas City from Raleigh, NC and it feels good to have the four of us back in the same city! All Junior High friends. These are my beach girls if you’ve been reading the blog for a while.

Me Time

Obviously, being an empty nester makes “me time” easier but I highly recommend everyone schedule a little time for yourself to do the things that make you feel good.

Read a good book, get a pedicure, go to a movie, take a nap.

Wednesday I’m getting my monthly massage.

There is something to be said for a good long hot bath.

Food and Cooking

Along with blogging, cooking has become less and less. I used to cook dinner every single night, so not cooking still seems like something I should be doing more regularly but just can’t seem to work into the regular schedule. I’m working on that.

I signed up for a couple of weeks of Meal Delivery to force me into the kitchen and even if it is 8:00 pm, I cook the food. 

I’m currently cooking up Paleo meals from Green Chef.

These are my most recent. Pretty good food! Small portions in my opinion, but the quality is great!

 

I did make time to cook up a Spaghetti Squash. I tried slicing it a tad different and it made a great bowl!

When I’m not cooking, I’m grabbing a salad bar or eating raw veggies and rotisserie chicken or a greek yogurt. Pretty simple food really. Once I started the intermittent fasting, my pretty breakfast pictures became an occasional lunch post. If I have a snack, it’s raw nuts, chicken or tuna salad.

I’m getting in 80-100 ounces of water a day and that has been one of those healthy habits that I incorporated some time ago that helps me to feel full and keeps me hydrated. I know when I’m getting my water in I have less desire to snack.

Here is a typical QT stop. My how choices have changed over the years!

 

Camping

On Friday I leave for my third camping trip with my pops. This will be my first official Vintage Trailer Rally. I don’t even know how many Vintage Trailers will be there. You can register to enter contest for Most Original, Best Glamper, Most Creative, all sorts of categories to be judged on. Since I’m just enjoying camping and consider “Effie” to still be “under construction”, I’m not planning to be judged on anything, but I am SO looking forward to the Saturday afternoon Open House. All campers open up their campers for everyone to come look at. I can hardly wait to see all of the creativity and come home with some new ideas for my own trailer.

We have two tripes scheduled in September that will be similar to the trip we are getting ready to take. Maybe I’ll enter “Effie” in one of those.

I’m mostly excited to camp in cooler weather this Fall. Some of the local campgrounds around the Kansas City area that I was looking forward to camping at have been closed due to flooding. They are now starting to open so I hope to be able to camp out lakeside sometime in October.

An awesome surprise from my good friend Stephanie. I’m so excited to use it this weekend!

 

I think she’s ready!

2019 Bringing Joy!

I said 2019 would bring great things and it is!

Tess and Manuel married March 30th, then immediately began house shopping. They bought a house and closed last weekend! I’m so happy for them. I hopped on a plane after work last Friday and went to Dallas. The house is perfect. They have a few things that they would like to do before they move in and thankfully they don’t have to be out of their apartment until the end of September, so they have time.

While I was there, I went to town cleaning. How easy is it to clean a completely empty house?? I also painted the dining room. The room with the least amount of wall space!

Unfortunately, Tess was in a car wreck several weeks ago and her back is really giving her a hard time, so she did a little supervising.

So happy for them.

 

That about wraps up life over here. Busy and Happy. Also, very hot.

See you in a week!

“Love the life you live, live the life you love”

 

Feeling All the Feelings

July 21, 2019

Hi Friends!

Here is my Instagram post from my most recent camping trip with my pops.

My blog and my Instagram page have taken a backseat to my…….well, my life I suppose. I’m not sure if this is a post cancer thing, or an empty nester thing, or a 52 year old thing, I’m not really sure what this is but all I know is that I am truly living Life Well right now and it feels pretty damn good. I’m spending more time with family, I’m putting my heart into my job as a WW Coach, and I’m spending free time doing things I’ve wanted to do for a really long time. I’m out the door to meet up with my pops and we are headed out on camping trip number two! It’s gonna be a hot one!

So that Instagram post pretty much sums up life right now!

Life just feels good. Life feels different than it did just two years ago and I’m not certain that I can explain it fully.

Time with family is more precious. I’m not holding back on the things that I have been wanting to do. I’m making each day have purpose, even if that day is something simple that only matters to me. I’m appreciating the moment. I’m being present.

Two years ago today (July 21, 2017) I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

On Monday, I finally was able to close the door on the reconstruction phase of this cancer thing. In April I had nipple reconstruction and on Monday, I got my permanent areola tattoos. I’m all done! Almost exactly two years! Done!

This is Brad. Brads mom had breast cancer over 20 years ago and as a professional tattoo artist, Brad decided that everyone was doing the whole 3D Nipple Tattoo thing just plain wrong.  So, for the last 20 years while Brad has remained a tattoo artist being creative and fulfilling tattoo dreams at the tattoo parlor/shop/store? Not sure what he calls it, he is also regularly at the doctors office helping women get their bodies back in a way that feels more and more like they did before cancer.

I liked Brad.

 

My first look. I have no idea why I got so emotional, but after I left there that day, I totally lost it.

 

Just an hour after leaving, I had my Monday night WW Workshop to Coach. Again, the emotions. Our topic this week was body confidence and I suppose I was just having all the feels. I got choked up and seemed to have a hard time pulling myself together.

When I posted a picture of my legs in my last post, I did not realized the topic coming up was body confidence. I’ve come a long way in feeling more confident in what my body allows me to do and not thinking so much about what my body looks like, but that’s not to say that sometimes those raw emotions don’t seem to surface.

I think it was a combo of closing the chapter on reconstruction, thinking about all of the emotions two years ago when diagnosed, thinking about where I am now with my life and oh yeah, remembering my body is still going through a ton of hormonal stuff.

I have an appointment with my therapist on Thursday, and knowing that feels good.

If you’ve ever felt like you needed therapy but were afraid to take that step, please give it a try if you think it will help you. I went for the first time in my 20’s after my parents divorced. I think the biggest thing that I take away from going to  therapy when I’m struggling with something is knowing that my thoughts and feelings are completely validated for whatever I might be going through at the time. Therapy is NOT a sign of weakness. It can be a very important part of your self care.

I’ll be taking the estrogen blocker Tamoxifen for four more years, and that’s kind of a bummer due to some of the side effects, but I am managing them as best as I can and I have to remind myself that taking that reduces the risk of reocuurancre for me from 12% down to 6%. 

So I’ll still be talking cancer on occasion because I want ALL of my readers to be informed, have your annual physicals, do your monthly self breast exams, schedule your mammograms, get your colonoscopies, whatever screenings you have available to you, do that! Schedule them. Remind your family and friends to do them too! We have so many things that we can do to take good care of ourselves. So get on it! K? Thank you!

 

Now….here are a few fun things I’ve been up to since my last blog post.

Jake and Jordan and Wrenley came over one night to hang out. This was her first Bubble Bath in our tub, which all of the grandkids seem to love, but also her first bubble bath ever!

I had my feet in the tub and she insisted on washing them. I’m not sure who was happier!

 

Tess and Manuel (even Tucker) came in from Dallas and we spent the 4th at our daughters (Kate) house and had a great time, even though it poured rain most of the night. This was the first time that we’ve seen Tess and Manuel since the wedding in March! How is that even possible??

 

Dinner this week with our daughter Anne and her family. Look at this smile! He is going to be two next month!

 

While Tess and Manuel were here, we had a Happy Hour in my little trailer, Effie. Checkers and Beer. I was ecstatic to have guest! Tess posted to Instagram. lol

 

This is Madi. Tess and Madi have been friends since grade school. Madi was to be in the wedding, but this little angel was due close to the wedding date so Madi wasn’t able to travel to Dallas. This was the first time that Tess got to meet her baby. Baby girl number two for Madi. So sweet to see these girls together celebrating so many years of friendship. 

 

Camping trip number two was a success!

One of my favorite parts of this new hobby for me is the drive to the campsite. One of my dads favorite parts too. I grew up attending antique car shows/rallies with my pops and part of the fun was the orchestrated caravan of antique cars on the way to the get together. 

This was a beautiful drive following my dad in his vintage trailer. We even had a Airstream coincidentally in front of us for several miles.

 

I didn’t get great pictures but I’ll work on that for our next trip. There were 9 vintage trailers there this past trip.

 

Me beside my dad. While this blue canopy came in handy ( I moved it around all day to provide shade!) my custom ordered awning came this week! I can’t wait to camp with it. It is adorable! Pictures to come. 

 

I took this picture yesterday from the inside of my trailer looking out with my new awning on. Excited to set up camp and take some cute pictures to share.

 

I took a short drive away from the campsite to find a walking trail on Saturday morning and found an absolutely beautiful trail! Just off of the parking lot was this beautiful bridge to cross over.

 

Then about 25′ down the trail a mommy and two baby deer greeted me. Precious. I knew I’d found a great trail!

Columbia, Missouri 

 

Then I started to hear voices but couldn’t see anyone. Then I discovered this path of sand off of the trail.

 

As I followed the sand path the voices grew louder until finally I was at this beautiful little stream.

 

People, dogs….

 

Rock climbers!

 

I plopped down on a big rock and just hung out there for over an hour. It was incredibly peaceful. I watched the pups play in the stream. I watched a group of people working on their rock climbing skills. I had lots of things keeping me entertained!

Back at the campsite, a quiet lunch staring at my new little toy, Effie. I’m having so much fun with her. 

 

Each morning I enjoyed my coffee and wrote in my “camping journal”. I loved this part of my weekend.

 

On Saturday we all had breakfast as a group at one of the sites and I took everything to make Yogurt Parfaits.

.

Saturday the campsite hosted a huge spaghetti dinner for ALL campers. They just ask that you bring a side dish. I took a caesar salad.

 

There are certainly lots of temptations at these get togethers, and while I do plan to enjoy myself, I can not let these trips be an excuse to simply eat whatever I want and as much as I want. Not gonna lie. This part is hard.

I’m drinking like GALLONS of water. 

 

Sunday breakfast was on our own and I had fun cooking. I’m seriously playing house here and loving every minute of it!

 

So…..this is glamping. Have you heard the term? Glamorous Camping. I have no A/C and it’s in the 90’s during the day and this is my bathroom.

I ask you. Is this really Glamping? Ha!

 

Okay, lots of salad bars and very simple meals lately.

Lunch/Snack On the Go Ideas…..

I order a grilled chicken sandwich, no mayo, no bun. Easy peasy. The protein keeps me full until my next snack or meal. Always keep nuts or fruit handy to add to it!

 

Keep a small cooler in the car for easy to go lunches. Simple Rotisserie Chicken Breast with veggies. Zero SmartPoints lunch on the go.

 

Grab a quick Salad Bar at the grocery store. The only Smartpoints on this salad are the cheese and a drizzle of Olive Oil.

 

I ordered 4 grilled chicken tenders and a cup of water. I got my order and pulled away. When I finally was able to get parked to eat my lunch I opened the bag to find this!

 

I was starving and had not planned to find bread and fries with my chicken! It smelled absolutely amazing. Bread and fires are fine but they simply were not in my plan for the day. You have no idea how fast and furious I was trying to find the closest trash can as I was eating in my car and all I could smell were those fries!

SUCESS! These sneaky little fellas ended up finding a home in the trash can.

 

Grabbing something out?

This is Mahi Mahi Tacos ordered over a bed of greens and minus the tortillas. Delicious. Only Smartoiints are for the cheese and dressing.

 

Salmon is a fav!

Lots of green veggies here and the only Smartpoints are the butter and oil. There was plenty of that too as I didn’t think to order these perhaps steamed.

 

Love me a Salmon Salad, dressing on the side and no croutons is the way I like to order it. You do you.

 

Easy meal here. Caulirice topped with seasoned shredded chicken, cheese, smashed avocado and a few sweet tomatoes. It’s nice to look at too!

 

Missing my breakfast photos as I have been less creative in the kitchen.

Veggies, Chicken Sausage all topped with Eggs and a nice little Avocado Rose. Happy Face here. 

 

Have you tried the Chocolate Hummus from Aldi? I thought it sounded so gross but I love it!

 

Easy meal that I had this week.

Cook veggies as directed. Microwave in bag for 5 minutes.

Scramble 1 egg in a skillet. Add 1/2 the cooked veggies to the skillet with a little coconut aminos (you could use soy sauce here as well) and a little salt and pepper.

Only THREE ingredients and easy and ZERO SmartPoints!

 

Enjoy!

 

I hope you are all taking time to enjoy yourself, enjoy your life, enjoy your family and friends.

WW continues to teach me how to do all of those things and for that I am so appreciative.

 

 

“love the life you live, live the life you love”

June and Gratitude

July 2, 2019

What a great month it was.

I chose a “word” for the year at the beginning of 2019. My word is “Mindful”. I also went into 2019 knowing for a fact that the year would bring many wonderful things for me and my family,

A few weeks back at the WW Studios the topic was Gratitude. I love this topic. I love discussing my passion for the word “gratitude” and how practicing gratitude can impact your daily life and your health and happiness.

I feel like I have regularly practiced gratitude for a really long time. It’s what gets me through the tough stuff, big and small, and keeps me living life with a positive attitude. I’m grateful for so many things on a daily basis. Grateful for family and friends, a job, a roof over my head, fresh water at my fingertips, the opportunity to buy and prepare delicious food, the sky and all of the glorious colors that certain sunrises and sunsets bring, 70 degree days with no humidity (there were a few of those here in June and they were amazing) and I realize how fortunate I am that I was born in a place that allows me so many opportunities that others in the world do not have. I’m a pretty grateful person.

The last three weeks have been full of challenges for some of my family, and while I certainly had concern for all of them, I started and ended each day practicing gratitude, being thankful to God and being mindful of all that surrounds me. I’m so grateful for time together with friends and family, grateful for access to health care, grateful for a sense of humor and grateful for so many people to love.

One of my WW members shared that she has been writing in a Gratitude Journal every morning for the last year and a half. She writes 3 things each day that she is grateful for and no one thing can ever be repeated. She said that can be tough at times but that it also has taught her to really appreciate something out of each and every day.

I love the idea of a daily Gratitude Journal so a few days ago, I started one!

Do you have a Gratitude Journal?  I would love to hear how many of you make practicing Gratitude a regular part of your day.

 

This is a 16 week journal that was included in my Fab Fit Fun box! I’m excited about the gratitude part of the journal and I’m working on the fitness part. I’m randomly getting in walks and Yoga and I’m very active but I’ve had no real Fitness Plan for quite some time now. I think I’m ready.

 

When pulling this journal out of my desk, I browsed through a few old journals of mine. I have been journaling since grade school. Extremely therapeutic for me. I stopped writing/journaling on paper when I started the blog. This routine over the last few days felt really good. 

Do you journal?

 

Here are a few other things that have been happening in life.

I finally got the kayak out! It was a perfect day. More of these days to come!

 

I really wanted to take my oldest granddaughter on a camping trip recently, but with very little experience myself, I was hesitant to take off with just her and I pulling my travel trailer in the forecasted rain, or a possible thunderstorm. Instead of traveling, I promised her a fun filled weekend with “camping” things thrown in.

She spent the night with us on Friday and Saturday morning she and I headed over to my camper (parked at my dads on his one acre lot). There we made breakfast and pretended to be at a campsite. She hadn’t seen the trailer yet and she loved it! I loved having her there too!

 

After that, to the park for a little lake activity. Of course the weather was gorgeous and now I was having tiny regrets of not just getting in the camper Friday night and heading to a close campsite. We rented a Pedal Boat and enjoyed a gorgeous view. She’s such a fun person to hang out with. Talk about grateful. She truly appreciates everything. 

 

Then, to the neighborhood pool. I was so ready for a big crowd. Apparently they were all there earlier in the day, or due to the weather forecast, made other Saturday plans. We had the entire pool to ourselves! I had so much fun playing in the water with her and giving her random water tricks to do.

I challenged her to make a boat out of pool noodles and then paddle, so she did. lol

 

It felt great to jump in and play, then dry off in the hot sun.

 

Saturday night, staying true to our “camping” theme, we made a fire in the ridiculously high heat and humidity and made S’mores in the driveway. I was loving my day with her and didn’t want it to end.

We enjoyed several s’mores just before the real storm came! Mike gave us a warning that a storm was a comin’ so we scurried around to clean everything up and came inside. We ended the night freshly showered and curled up in bed each reading our own book.

What a great weekend we had but I truly can not wait to take this girl on a real camping trip with me!

I’ve spent a LOT of time over at my dads house since buying my travel trailer. I really can’t explain how much fun I am having hanging with my pops. We see each other regularly, but it’s usually for coffee or lunch and we chat and get caught up. But actually doing something together has been a completely different experience. I’m truly loving this time together. 

Sunday we tackled plumbing in the trailer. Um, yuck. The outside hook up for the water needs to be replaced because it leaks, so as he tells me exactly what to do, I do it. Mind you, it’s ridiculously HOT here. I’m crawling into this very small space under the sink, where the mini fridge goes, trying to undo the existing plumbing. After hooking up all of the new plumbing, it appears as though I was not successful and I had water going everywhere inside the walls of my trailer for a few scary seconds. We’ve got a little more work to do. For now, I’ll use bottles of water. We have another trip booked for July 12th. I’m super excited! I have electricity and tons of fans. Like more fans than you can fit into a small travel trailer. Who buys a trailer with no A/C? This girl. 

I finally made my bed area into the couch it should be while the bed is not in use and I think it’s super cute. More room to move around. I also purchased a new black fridge and got rid of the old white one that was in there. Things are coming along. I’m so happy I can camp in her as she is while also having a few projects to work on. 

She’s ready to host a Happy Hour with my girlfriends. Just need some cooler temps.

 

Mike and I went to a surprise 49.5 birthday party for a friend on Fridday night. We were fairly certain we would only know a few people there. I was surprised to see this guy there! I totally forgot my friends were friends with him. This is an old junior high/high school friend of mine! So good to see old friends and share memories. Just three weeks ago he had a heart attack! Thankfully he is now doing great. Totally different party discussions when you’re in your 50’s!! 

 

I have been doing very little cooking. Lots of salad bars on the go and dinners out.

The WW Freestyle plan makes it so easy to eat out or grab something on the go! WW Freestyle points you towards all of these amazing Zero Smartpoint foods like fruits, veggies, chicken breast, turkey breast, seafood, fish, eggs, beans, lentils and nonfat plain yogurt. Then, YOU decided what you’d like to spend your daily Smartpoints on. It is my most favorite WW plan ever. Just eat good food!

Here are a few of the meals that I have had recently. Anywhere from a QT lunch to a nice dinner out with friends. 

Quik Trip

Eggs (they actually tasted good. I was skeptical), string cheese, almonds and a dill pickle that didn’t make the picture.

 

Dinner out with the girls.

This was a combo platter swimming in butter, but the majority of this plate was Trout, Scallops and Veggies. Delish!

 

Brunch at First Watch

I’ve been ordering the Farmhouse Hash, but asking to sub out the bed of potatoes that it is usually served on for more veggies, typically mushrooms and zucchini. I am in love with this new combo!

 

Always love me a Whole Foods salad bar. Lots of great options and I usually drizzle with a little Olive Oil for my dressing.

 

Another delicious meal at a seafood restaurant.

Salmon in some sort of amazing sauce with lots of yummy veggies.

Oh look! I did make a meal at home.

Burgers with a grilled Portabella Mushroom as the bun. Lightly coated with Olive Oil and Sea Salt and grilled for about 1 minute on each side.

This bun requires a full napkin for every bite! No joke.

 

 

 

My new favorite Greek Yogurt for 2 Smartpoints. 

Top this with Cinnamon, or Almond Butter, or Berries, or Roasted Almonds or all of these! I’ve recently hosted two brunches and made a Yogurt Parfait Bar and all yogurt lovers  loved this yogurt!

 

My weight. I haven’t talked about my weight in a really long time. Two reasons.

  1. How I feel has been much more important to me than what the scale says.
  2. The estrogen blocker to reduce the risk of breast cancer reoccurance that I take daily makes it almost impossible to lose weight, but the oncologist tells me that it is possible and as long as I continue my healthy habits the weight may come off. 

That being said, I still weigh myself regularly at home if I can’t make it to a WW Workshop. I like to know where I’m at. I’ve been hanging out in the upper 170’s and into the 180’s at times. For a really long time before cancer, I maintained 172 and that felt good to me. My official WW goal is 160.

Recently, a few pounds fell off and I’m not sure why. It could have something to do with the days spent at my dads house working on my camper all day in the heat and sweating off any and all bodily fluids and being so busy I forgot to eat.

Now that I type all that out, that’s likely it. Ha!

Or, it could just be that as my oncologist said, continue to live the healthy life that you live and eventually the extra weight will come off. 

Either way, these very few pounds have made a difference in the way my pants fit and that feels great! That’s as close to 172 as I have been in a really long time. 

Back to dads house to work in the heat!!

 

I never take pictures of my legs because I do not like the way they look, but in keeping consistent with this “Gratitude” post, I am extremely grateful for what these legs allow me to do. The independence they give me, the strength and the mobility they give me. I mean, they allow me to do whatever the heck I want! Camp, Kayak, Yard Work, so many things!! I gotta be grateful for them!

I love you chubby stubby strong legs. One oddly chubbier than the other. lol 

Do you have a part of your body you don’t love?

Think about all that your body can do for you and learn to love it, just the way it is. (This took me YEARS!!)

 

All scars are healing nicely and one boob is bigger than the other, just like real boobs. lol

 

Okay, now for the most important part of this post.

Your monthly reminder to check your breast for any lumps, bumps, dimples or changes in skin. This goes for you men too!

 

Two years ago this month, I felt a lump in my left breast. I was 50 years old and feeling better than ever! I had a 3-D mammogram just six months earlier and everything was fine. 

I’m so happy that I was paying attention to my body. I had done just enough self breast exams to know that something felt different. Now two years later, a double mastectomy, Diepflap breast reconstruction, a hysterectomy to reduce estrogen production, nipple reconstruction and a daily dose of an estrogen blocker, Tamoxifen, for five years to reduce the risk of reoccurrence (a double mastectomy does not reduce the risk of reoccurrence to zero) here I am, still practicing regular self breast exams. The scars are my reminder that I was paying attention to my body and because I found my cancer early, I was fortunate enough to have options. Not all breast cancer can be found with a self breast exam so please schedule your mammogram as well. 

Please make this a part of your self care. Know your body. Check for any lumps, bumps, dimples or changes in skin. Be your own advocate. Breast cancer affects men and women. Share this with your family and friends as a reminder for them as well.

Huge hug to all my breast cancer sisters and brothers! You’ve got this!

“love the life you live, live the life you love”

Well that was just as fun as I was expecting it to be with a few little surprises thrown in.

Friday started off rough, but in the end everything was wonderful!

My dad was so happy that the weather was going to be nice and he could pull his 1967 travel trailer with his 1967 Pickup. Four blocks from home, the old truck died.

He was eventually able to get it started and we headed back to his house to get the modern day truck.

We had a few other rough spells getting to the campsite and setting up camp, but by late afternoon we were set up and I was ready to meet the others in our group and share Effie with my new friends. Luckily, this first trip was less than 30 miles away and the weather was absolutely perfect.

What a great group of people! I felt very welcomed and it was so much fun seeing inside everyones vintage campers and inviting them over to see mine.

We spent the evening together Friday sharing appetizers and playing Jenga in a large grassy area of the campsite. It was a rather small campsite so everyone was fairly close to each other, but I still hit 10,000 steps before the end of the day! We all had breakfast together Saturday morning in the same area. These are some experienced campers! Several of them brought amazing Crockpot Breakfast Casseroles while I showed up with a large platter of berries. I’m learning. However, they all loved that I brought fruit, so I’d likely do that again.

Saturday night we all had dinner together and more games. Such a friendly group!

One of my favorite parts of the weekend was waking up on Saturday morning to make my first pot of coffee. I woke up at 5:30 and couldn’t stand it any longer, so I got up. I’m certain that was the best cup of coffee that I’ve ever had. 

I also met an unexpected friend over the weekend.

One of the things I had thought about before even going was the people that I would meet over the weekend. 

Two campsites down from me was an enormous old white bus. While I was setting up my camp there was a lady walking by me and we waved at each other and started up a conversation. I asked if she was the bus owner. She was. She looked about my age and I was really interested to hear her story. I love a good story. She was in month two of living in her bus full time. She pulled a car behind it for getting around town. She has a job that allows her to work remote and she said that she has always been the one in the family seeking adventure. We really hit it off and assured one another that we would get together later. I really wanted to see inside of her bus and learn more about her.

Saturday night after dinner with my group I headed back to my site so I could just sit and look at Effie. I think I’m in love with her. lol 

I started my first campfire and just sat. It was a perfect Saturday night and it was just as I dreamed that it would be. 

Pretty soon my new friend showed up. We had a great chat, she invited me over to see the bus, and then we came back to my campsite and she got a tour of Effie. I really enjoyed my evening.

Sunday morning I had coffee at my place, then walked to my dads and stepmoms campsite to drink their coffee. The weather was absolutely perfect!  A nice morning breeze with sunshine. Other campers in our group stopped by to visit.

Eventually I headed back to Effie to cook my first meal in her. Dad said he’d be more than happy to come eat my food. Ha! I fixed breakfast while dad sat at my table and chatted with me. I was so enjoying this time with my dad. Christy, his wife actually fell on Friday while we were setting up their canopy. She was trooper all weekend. She fell hard and landed on her wrist and I know she wasn’t feeling great by Sunday morning. Swollen and sore. She wasn’t really feeling in the breakfast mood on Sunday.

While dad and I were having breakfast, one of the campers in our group came by to say hi and I invited her in. I was having so much fun sitting at the table and having company! I was giddy and it was ridiculous. I offered my guest some breakfast since I had plenty. She accepted my offer and that made me even happier! I think I was playing house!

Moments later, my bus friend came by. My dad was like, come on in! We’re having a party! I offered her coffee in one of my vintage cups. She said she didn’t really want any coffee but that she did want to drink out of my cute cups. SHE’S MY BEST FRIEND!  She totally got me! She had coffee.

The four of us had the best conversation. This was my favorite part of the weekend. Sitting around my little dinette area that I had built. Conversation with my dad and two wonderful people that I had only know for hours. At the end of this conversation, my new bus friend shared with us that she lost her dad within the last year and that they were very close. She said that my relationship with my dad reminded her of her and her dad and she thanked me for sharing my dad with her that morning. Now I was handing out tissues to everyone. 

Before she left she asked my dad if she could give him a hug. They hugged forever and she said…”You give hugs just like my dad did. I feel like he is here with us.”

I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying!

I love people.

Yes. I have her contact info.

We were packed up and ready to go by noon. I followed dad to where we would exit the highway and go in opposite directions home. As we exited the highway, he yelled to me out of his open window and over two open lanes, “Nice trailer!! Maybe we could take a trip together sometime”

Classic dad. Always with a joke.

Here are a few pics from the weekend.

 

I have a custom made awning ordered, but in the meantime, Dad let me borrow a spare canopy. I was happy to have this as the noon sun was HOT!

My appetizer contribution for Friday night. 

 

My daughter in law gave me this journal about three years ago and the only entry in it before this weekend was the fact that she gave it to me. It is perfect to keep in Effie and journal every trip!

 

Getting my Berry Platter ready to go meet the others for breakfast. 

 

They even made pancakes outside on the griddle! I skipped those and went with the eggs, but I was super impressed with the variety of foods!

 

I did snap a few pictures of the other trailers. Sooooo cute!

 

Not vintage but with our group and OH SO cute! There is a full shower in here!!

 

I kept my food fairly simple with healthy choices. Lunch on Saturday afternoon while Dad and Christy hit a few flea markets close by. I didn’t want to leave Effie!

 

This is Gary. He lives two doors up from me in our neighborhood and he is maybe just as excited for me and my new toy as my dad is! He came out to the campsite to visit. I was so surprised to see him and so happy he was so interested! I was able to introduce him to a few of the others as well.

 

This is the daughter of a mother/daughter duo that own a tiny 10′ trailer that I got to see inside of and forgot to take a picture of. It was sooo cute!

Her and her mom hosted this event. Sloppy Joes on the griddle made by one the campers in our group for dinner on Saturday. I took a container of Potato Salad. I didn’t put a lot of effort into food. I think I was more focused on….”Do I have everything I need?”

 

So many nice and interesting people!

 

Saturday night, me back at my place.

 

Sunday morning Coffee.

Dad visiting me. 

 

 

I can think of a million things that I can make in this little 8″ electric skillet!

 

Happy Place……

 

I forgot to mention that my new friend was almost run over by her car just a few days before we arrived! She is okay, but showing off her scratches and bruises here while enjoying coffee out of my little cups. 

 

 

I am who I am because of this man. Thanks for always supporting me and believing in me and for your sense of humor which I believe I have inherited. 

I LOVE YOU DAD!

“love the life you live, live the life you love”

A Happy Place

June 7, 2019

I am happy to report that life is pretty awesome right now.

I’ve determined that I need to “not commit” to when I will be able to post a blog. When it can happen, it will happen.

I am going back to where I was at the beginning of this blog in 2011. This is my journal. I come here when I need to write. If sharing my day to day life, hobbies, experiences, struggles and challenges, successes, can help someone, then I am extremely grateful for that.

There are many of you that have followed me for a very long time and I think about you when I am not blogging. I feel connected and obligated to many of you. I feel guilty for not blogging because I feel as though I have been a support source for you as I blog through my own experiences.

I am a people pleaser. However, as I go through life and figure out what it is that I need for myself to be happy and healthy, I have learned to prioritize, and for me that means fitting in a blog post when I have the time to put my heart into it. The only blog post that matter must have my full attention and all of the emotions.

That all being said, Hi!

So many great things are happening right now and 2019 is going to be one to remember for sure. 

I’m just going to highlight a few things, or else this would be a novel and I’d still be writing into July and August….and the fall and winter and into 2020.

Work

I can not possibly love my job as a WW Coach any more than I do. Each week I am having conversations with members where I get to know them on a personal level and we have such great conversations. I feel like a therapist and I feel like I am in therapy. I truly could not be happier. I feel extremely fortunate to have this job. 

WW Ambassador

As a WW Ambassador, we are given all sorts of great opportunities. WW sends us products to try, we get a sneak peek at what’s coming up and we are given the opportunity to host parties.

WW is currently featuring many of the Ambassadors on their stories in a series of #whatieatinaday. They send readers over to the Ambassadors page to watch their story. They featured me last week and it was kind of a fun thing to get to participate in!

Seeing this on the WW page was a nice reminder that even though I’m above my lowest weight, I’m much healthier than I was in this before picture.

 

 

This year, the WW Ambassadors were offered a Spring Brunch Party Box. I decided to make this one a Breasties Brunch, and I invited a six Breast Cancer Survivors over so we could talk healthy eating and boobs. Can you believe that I know SIX women (I actually know more than that!) that have been diagnosed with Breast Cancer within the last two years? We are all at different stages of breast reconstruction. I thought it might be nice to get together and share our stories. Some of these ladies had met each other, or already knew each other, and a few had not. They are all lovely strong ladies and I knew it would be a great group together.

I loved this day and the conversation around the table was even better than I was expecting it to be. I think we all learned a few things and it was a great opportunity for each of us to share our story with someone who really understood. It was a perfect morning of coffee, mimosas and food.

Nipple Tattoos are the final phase of breast reconstruction, so typically you go a pretty long time with no nipples. I had no chemo or radiation and I’m still two years out with no nipples, so for some it is soooo much longer.

I found these amazing Temporary Tattoos and I have shared them with several friends of mine going through breast reconstruction after cancer. I thought it would be nice to share them with the ladies at brunch, so I plopped them right on the their plates with their place card!

Please give this info to a friend that you think might be interested. They really are great during that time while waiting for the final phases of reconstruction.

 

Mimos Bar with Orange Juice, 5 calorie Cranberry Juice and 5 calorie Grapefruit Juice with the new Cense Sparkling Wine.

You can find the wine on Censewines.com. Only 3 Smartpoints per serving.

 

 

I kept the menu simple so I could enjoy the conversation.

Egg Casserole, Blueberry Cobbler, Yogurt Parfaits, a coffee bar and Mimosas.

 

I hadn’t made this in forever and it was just as good as I remember.

Blueberry Cobbler – 3 SP perserving

 

Wonderful day. Beautiful ladies.

 

Eats and Activity

I’ve spent so much time working on my new little travel trailer that I’ve spent little time in the kitchen. I’ve been eating salad bars from the grocery store, grabbing food to go (usually some type of salad ) snacking on Zero SmartPoint Turkey and pickles, eggs, nuts and berries. I think my adrenaline rush has affected my appetite. I don’t remember the last time that I actually felt hungry. I’m getting in right around 10,000 steps just working on my new toy! I’m exhausted and excited all at the same time! 

“Effie”

I have wanted a vintage trailer since the summer of 2016 (really maybe before that) when I went to Branson for a Vintage Trailer Rally. Now, I have one. My dad and I have been working on “Effie” together for the last few weeks preparing for our first camping weekend. We are leaving tomorrow!

I’m having a hard time sleeping at night because I’m so frickin excited!! My dad also has a vintage trailer and we will be camping together. I followed him around as a kid watching him work on projects around the house. I was always eager to help and interested in what he was working on. He was always building something. I remember the excitement when he would let me jump in and hammer in a few nails.

Years later and we’re working together. Making new memories and bringing up so many memories for me as a kid.

My dad has taught me a lot over the last few weeks. I was pretty adamant that I wanted to do this project on my own, but with his guidance. He has taught me to use a few different saws and drills. I’ve changed out the existing light fixtures and replaced them with new ones. We’ve had a great time coming up with ideas and watching them come together.

I still have several small projects, but she is ready for her first outing and I am beyond excited!

I will be camping with my dad and stepmom but I wanted my mom to be able to have some fun with this too so I asked her if she would make me some simple curtains. She was so happy to have a part in this little project and I think the curtains make the whole camper cozy and super cute!

“Effie” is sitting over at my dads house. Thank goodness he has room to keep her!

She needs an outside paint job. I’m thinking about tackling that this Fall. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe.

There was no dinette area in her when I bought her. There was a table with a table cloth that made it look pretty. My dad assured me that we could build one. I believed him. He’s my dad.

We emptied her out to check out her bones. 

 

We discovered that I have trunk access from inside the trailer. Nice for rainy nights if I need something!

 

 

 

I cut all of the wood. I’ve learned I love a power saw!

 

I changed out all of the light fixtures!

 

Come on in!

 

I made the seat cushions (not very well I might add) and I’m using pillows for the back cushions for now. 

 

 

 

This area makes into a bed. I can’t wait to take the grandkids with me after I get a little experience.

 

 

 

My Bedroom/Couch area. Can’t wait to snuggle up in there with a journal and a good book.

 

I did not want a travel trailer with a lot of maintenance, so while this little cutie does have electricity (I can hardly wait for that first morning making coffee in my little kitchen!) it has no bathroom. I do have a portable potty. (It’s basically a 5 gallon bucket with a plastic toilet seat! lol) That should come in handy camping by myself at 2:00 am, because that’s totally going to happen.

Oh, and no A/C. So while it feels all cute and fun, this girl is gonna be hot!

It’s been fun sharing with you!

I’ve got to get some sleep. I feel like tomorrow is Christmas and I’m a kid again!

I love this!

“love the life you live, live the life you love”

Goals Set, Goals Met

May 15, 2019

(I am healing really well and am pleased with my recent phase of breast reconstruction. I am happy to say that I have zero regrets!)

I knew that 2019 would bring a fabulous wedding (pictures are coming…..soon!) and I truly hoped that it would bring a Vintage Camper too. Goals set. Goals met!

I’ve watched my dad enjoy his vintage camper since 2016 and joining him seemed like a great way to spend time together. We spent a lot of time on projects together when I was a kid. I would have much rather have been outside building something than inside cooking. Funny, now I love to cook!

I always enjoyed listening to my dad tell stories and watch his creativity over the years. He was always building something when I was a kid and he has continued to do that his entire life.

Finding a vintage trailer so I could camp alongside my pops was something that was really important to me. I also look forward to seeking out campsites with friends, with grandkids or on my own and meeting other vintage camper owners and campers in general. I’ve been following several campers on Instagram and it seems to be a great community of people enjoying the outdoors and sharing similar interest. I have a lot to learn about camping, but I’m eager to get out there. It’s nice to have my pops along side me to show me all the trailer do’s and do not’s while also looking forward to spending time together at the campsite.

I officially signed up to join Sister’s on the Fly! This will be a great way to meet other women campers enjoying the great outdoors! I currently have no plans to fish, but you don’t have to have an interest in Fly Fishing to be a member. News to me!

On Saturday, my dad and I went to pick up my trailer at the trailer store. I was having it all checked out for safety. Turns out it was not ready after all. Today, I was able to pick it up! Today was my first trip alone hooking up the jack, then unhooking at my dads house after backing in to my parking spot at his house. SUCCESS!

I played in her all afternoon. I took window measurements for curtains, I took measurements for the new dinette area that my dad will guide me through building, and I made list upon list of what I’d like to do and what I think I will need for my first camping trip next month.

My color scheme and ideas I’m playing with. Thanks for my cute camper pillow Steph!

 

I had fun playing today. Not much to do in this end of the trailer but make it cozy for sleeping and maybe a snack.

 

My dad had a pretty specific spot he’d like for me to park the trailer in for the summer. I backed her in there all by myself. No one around. I think it’s a big deal. lol

Trailer goals.

 

This is not 100% complete. Still needs handle hardware, but this happened Friday night at almost midnight! This booger is heavy! Mike and I carried it out of the garage, in the front door and up the stairs which has a 45 degree turn midway. This was NO easy task, but we did it! I originally blogged about wanting a Barn Door in the master over 3 years ago. Goals met!

 

Mike built the door and the headboard and bed frame after completing the master bath remodel. I love it all!

 

More goals. Time to get back to regular blogging and planning activity challenges for myself.

I’ve been getting in some good walks and I’m ready to make that happen regularly. My current goal is to walk 5 days a week and do Yoga 2 times a week. I haven’t had a regular routine for sometime, so this feels good to me for now.

 

Monday I hit 10,000 steps. Barely, but I got em in! Felt good to simply put my Fitbit back on!

Do you have a daily step goal?

 

 

WW has been really spoiling the Ambassadors these last few weeks. I’m excited to share what they have been sending us in some upcoming post!

One recent fun gift was this adorable water bottle. We all received personalized bottles. Having a new water bottle was just what I needed to get me back to my 80-100 oz of water daily.

What tricks do you use for getting in your water?

 

Favorite new snack for 4 SmartPoints and 15g of Protein.

I’m really liking the Vanilla!

Yogurt – 2 SmartPoints – 12 g protein

1/2 T Almond Butter – 1 SmartPoints – 1 1/2 g protein

7g Slivered Almonds -1 SmartPoint – 1 1/2 g protein

Blackberries – 0 SP

 

Also great on top of your favorite pancakes!

 

How about this 1 SmartPoint Snack?

Dill pickle wrapped in Cream Cheese and Turkey sprinkled with EBTB Seasoning.

 

I hope that you all have had an awesome day! Believe in yourself!

Believe you can, and you will.

“love the life you live, live the life you love”

I’ve Got Nipples!

May 8, 2019

It’s been three weeks since getting my new nipples and these last three weeks have just been…….odd.

I’m trying to imagine the expression on ones face if this is the first blog post of mine that they have ever read. 

Hi. I’m Julie and I write weird stuff and post weird pictures, while trying to inform, yet not embarrass myself or my readers. For years I’ve blogged about WW and my personal successes and challenges.

Now I also talk about Breast Cancer.

I will be posting pictures in this post of my nipple reconstruction because I am sharing my experience in case you or someone you know is considering nipple reconstruction. It’s actually quite fascinating. I encourage any questions and nothing is off limits here.

I had to come back and edit this post today based on what a member asked me at a WW Workshop I was coaching this morning. 

First of all, she is adorable and I am just getting to know her. Her question to me at the scale while I was weighing her…..

“You look great. Now are you wearing Spanx?’

I giggled.

That question allowed me to share my story with her of breast reconstruction via DIEP flap. I told her that I was not wearing Spanx but my tummy is flat because after a double mastectomy, my genius doctor was able to transfer belly tissue along with blood vessels up to my chest and make me two new breast! She was amazed. Then I said, not only that, but three weeks ago the doc made nipples for me out of my own breast skin! 

It lead to a great conversation and she thanked me for sharing my story. It was a great opportunity to then open the Workshop by sharing our conversation and reminding all of my members to do monthly self breast exams. 

WW is such a great place to learn how to live your best life, and a huge part of living your best life, your healthiest life, includes annual physicals, a colonoscopy if recommended by your doctor, mammograms, screening of anything your doctor has suggested and knowing your family history if it is available to you.

It was a great Workshop and I appreciate my members so much. It really is an honor to be able to reach so many people.

Now…..nipples.

I had my nipple reconstruction surgery on Tuesday the 16th. I took my doctor’s advice, and I took the remainder of the week off of work. This was a good decision. My body was wrapped up like a mummy and I feel like I spent the next two weeks in a strange fog and operated through life on auto pilot. I was just going through the motions. Mind you, the following day I went to a coffee at a friends house, then a happy hour at another friends house (I sipped on tea and water), and I believe the day after that I ran a few errands and kept myself busy. A few days later was Easter and Mike and I went to our annual Easter dinner with his side of the family.

The following week I did go to work and I think I appeared to be my normal self. I’ve actually had three very full weeks, but it’s all so oddly foggy. I had one of the granddaughters over for a sleepover, I shopped on three different days for pillows, blankets, fabric for curtains, jack stands, bug spray, and all sorts of accessories for my trailer/camper that I recently purchased. I took my trailer to a trailer shop to have it checked out for safety, I’ve taken a few good walks and one Saturday evening Mike and I went to a beautiful Celebration of Life for a friend of mines mother that recently passed. So, I have certainly remained busy, but busy and in a fog all at the same time. Outta sorts if you will.

Finally, going into this last weekend, I felt like the fog was lifting and I could think clearly.

Along with the nipple reconstruction, I had some scar tissue removed and fat grafting was done (harvested fat from hips and thighs is used to fill in areas of the breast to make the breast look more full and natural).

The scar tissue removal was a success and I’m very happy that I decided to have that done. It was uncomfortable and I would have always wondered…should I have?

Fat grafting. Ugh. My thighs actually still hurt, and unfortunately, they still look the same. I’m not sure how that’s possible, but I guess it is. I do not like the way my legs look, but I do appreciate what they do for me. I keep telling myself that. I appreciate what my legs do for me. I appreciate what my legs do for me. It’s on repeat in my head. Positive self talk. 

Pre surgery. Marked up and ready to go! The areas marked are where he injected the fat to give my breast a better shape and fill in some of the empty spaces where the breast tissue was removed. 

 

More notable in this picture with me standing up.

 

Three days post nipple reconstruction, I was allowed to remove the bandages and nipple shields and shower. What I saw I was NOT prepared for at all. 

My doctor explained this to me basically like origami, but with your skin. Kinda.

My right nipple looked as expected in size, (approximately 1/4″ in diameter and in depth) but I was not prepared for the 20+ black stitches surrounding it. I had 20+ stitches on each nipple! I guess I wasn’t expecting to see so many! I also just assumed they would be the kind that dissolve. They were not.

My left nipple however, was twice as long as my right nipple! (1/4″ wide but a good 1/2″ long) That’s right. It was sticking wayyyy out there.  It looked awful. The stitches on my left side looked nothing like the stitches on the right side as far as the actual incision. It looked like two different doctors worked on me. Then I was unclear about how to care for these new nipples over the weekend leading up to my follow up visit 7 days post surgery. My post care paperwork was vague. Possibly the fog I was in. Then my phone call to the office was not returned. I was a little bit of a mess. I didn’t like the way I looked and I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be doing.

With each surgery I have asked 1001 questions, and for some reason I did not do that this time. Therefore, I was feeling disappointed with everything, I was feeling foggy, and I knew this meant a revision of some sort. Ugh. Can we just be done?

Thankfully I have my friend Nancy that is going through the same exact thing. I called her for advice. She had nipple reconstruction about 4 weeks before me at the same office with the same plastic surgeon and she helped  me figure out what to do over the weekend and also told me what to expect over the next few days. She was also surprised at the amount of stitches and at the appearance of her nipples when removing her bandages. There is certainly something to be said for knowing someone that knows exactly what you are feeling and experiencing, physically and emotionally. I was happy I had her, but I was feeling uneasy about my outcome.

A part of me was now beginning to feel a bit vain for even having nipple reconstruction. It’s the first time since being diagnosed with breast cancer that I questioned one of my decisions. I hated that I was experiencing some regret. Why did I add more surgery? Why did I think I needed nipples? Why wasn’t I just happy to not have cancer and to have breast and just move on? Mike didn’t care if I had nipples or not. Why did I? Was it worth it?

Then another part of me (the more sensible side of me and the side I like a bit better) reminded myself that these incredible doctors have worked hard to make this even a possibility for women that have had a mastectomy and I’m extremely fortunate to have this opportunity. It’s okay for me to want to look more natural.  It’s okay for me to want to have nipples. It’s okay for me to want to tattoo an areola on my body later. It’s okay for me to want as much of me back as I can get. I need to not be in a hurry. I am so fortunate to be here and I do not forget that. I can be grateful that I don’t have cancer and also get me back to feeling comfortable with what I see in the mirror.

I have now had three post op appointments.

First appointment, the doc just looked at everything to see if I was healing well. There I expressed my disappointment. There was also a large knot of fat in the middle of my chest. He said that I could massage it and that it would go down. It was visible. He assured me that I would be pleased with my end results. I doubted it.

Last week I had my second post op appointment. They removed every other stitch and it was obvious that I would be returning this week for a procedure to reduce the size of my left nipple. This sounded absolutely awful. Most women lose all feeling in their breast after mastectomy. My breast are mostly numb. However, I have been noticing quite a bit of sensation on my skin and on different areas of my breast. This is apparently unusual, but for me, nice for the future of me and my breast! I felt the nurse remove some of the stitches! Thinking about what the doc would actually be doing to reduce the size of my 1/2″ long nipple at my next appointment had me freaked out just a bit!

While in a fog those first couple of weeks, I was feeling all sorts of emotions. I never came here to blog because I didn’t really know what to say. Imagine that. Me? No words? Doesn’t happen often.

Here are the last three weeks in pictures.

After surgery. I do not remember posting this on Instagram.

 

Nor do I remember this on the ride home.

 

Me, for the first three days after surgery. (So glad I didn’t go to work.) After the fat harvesting (liposuction), you have to be wrapped up pretty good! Remember when I said my thighs don’t look any different? I do not lie.

 

This is three days after surgery. This I remember. The compression pants were part of the post surgery care. I was basically one big bruise. I was so nervous to take these blue shields off and take a look. Don’t judge my underwear. I’ve had that pair for years! They’re comfy.

 

Me convincing myself to just do it. I was SO not expecting this process to be so emotional. Emotional? Yes. Just not like this. There’s no going back. 

 

I was not pleased when I saw how different my nipples looked and when I saw how oddly large and long my left nipple appeared to be. I knew it meant another procedure but I didn’t know what would be involved. I also was not expecting to see so many stitches. Nor was I expecting to do this on my own at home. I guess I just assumed they would do this at the office. I was just all around unprepared for this.

 

Yesterday, I had my third post op appointment. They have a “procedure” room at the office. It looked like a miniature surgery room. Doc numbed me up with a local anesthesia just in case I was feeling anything. He turned on the tunes and we chatted a bit about what he was going to do. Lynn, my nurse, helped me relax and we got started.

He actually gave me two additional doses of anesthesia during the procedure because I was feeling a bit of what he was doing. So strange to be awake while knowing what was going on with my body. It ended up being one of those situations where the anxiety leading up to it was actually worse than the procedure.

He removed the stitches in my left breast while nurse Lynn removed the stitches from my right breast. Right nipple looks great!

He actually used a tape measure on my right nipple to see how long it was. He then went to the left nipple, measured and made a mark. I watched all of this and it was just weird.

He then reduced the size of my left nipple (I watched none of this!) to match the right nipple. It wasn’t so bad. I’m feeling so much better. The fat knot in the middle of my chest seems to have gone down with me massaging it. The fog has lifted. My emotions are in check.

While the stitches are now removed from the nipple reconstruction three weeks ago, I have new stitches that will come out in about 10 days on the left breast. Along with reducing the size of that nipple, there was also an odd skin fold/pucker on my breast that he fixed with another 6-8 stitches. Things actually look pretty good on each side.

This whole process has been such a learning experience, an emotional experience, and an experience I am happy to have the opportunity to share in hopes of helping others understand the process of breast reconstruction after cancer.

This is my right reconstructed nipple. My scars will fade. Areola tattoo to come. So far all of my scars have healed nicely and faded well. My areola tattoo will cover most of the stitch scars that do show and eventually, I will be able to put this chapter behind me.

I think it is all extremely fascinating. 

 

Fun stuff over the last three weeks.

Sleepover with this little ball of energy and smiles and hugs.

 

Our small annual Easter Sunday with Mike’s family. So many wonderful people in this room. 

 

Fun things going in my trailer next week!

 

It’s already feeling more and more like mine and the above items aren’t even in her yet!

 

Mike and I celebrated our 20th Anniversary over the weekend. On our 15th Anniversary we took a beautiful trip through California Wine Country and talked about how for our 20th, we’d like to go to Hawaii.

Here we are on Saturday at an annual local art fair that we enjoy. Not Hawaii. We spent the entire day together doing things around Kansas City that we like to do. It was a perfect day for the convertible and we enjoyed our time together. He looks adorable, I’m just trying to fit us both in the picture and smile. I’m also likely directing him. Lean in. Move over. Okay, smile now. I took four pictures. This was the best one of me. He looked good in all of them. 

 

A lot has happened over the last 5 years, and as much as I would love for us to go to Hawaii one day, spending the weekend together in town was a great way to celebrate us. 

Our actual anniversary is today, the 8th. Tradition says that the 20th is celebrated with china or platinum, so tonight we’re going out for Chinese Food. No Joke. Maybe we will have a platinum candle stick on our table. I’m not finding any information about nipples being a 20th anniversary gift, but somehow I think we ought to celebrate that!

How fortunate I am to be celebrating my 20th anniversary. I am thankful everyday. Thankful for great doctors and nurses, thankful for support from family and friends, thankful that I paid attention to my body and thankful for you that take the time to come here and read when I post. Thankful for many of you that have stuck with me when I’ve slacked off. Thankful for your kind comments, well wishes and prayers.

 

Pro and Con of Nipple Reconstruction

Pro – You have nipples.

Con- You ALWAYS have nipples.

I’m okay with that. 

 

Please remember to feel your breast monthly. Mark your calendar for a time of the month that works best for you.

Check for any lumps, bumps, dimples in skin or changes in skin color. If you feel or see something unusual, please have it checked out. It can be scary, but you can also be saving your life.

Share this message with your family and friends. 

This is for women AND men.

Breast cancer is much more common in men than I realized.

No one wants to think that it can happen to them, and we certainly hope that it doesn’t, but I can not believe how many people I know personally (one friends 90 year old father) that have been diagnosed with breast cancer just since my diagnosis.

Be your own advocate. Know your body. Pay attention to any changes.

Did you know that there was a law passed in1998 called the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) in order to provide protection to patients who choose to have breast reconstruction in connection with a mastectomy? That’s right. It’s the law. You have the right to choose breast reconstruction, nipple reconstruction and a areola tattoo and have insurance pay for it.

After my mastectomy, pathology reports showed markers of a different type of cancer in my other breast. I would likely have developed cancer in the other breast as well. This law allowed me to have a double mastectomy with reconstruction of both breast. I never knew that. One of my concerns when making this decision was cost. My doctor told me about this law right away. 

Visit CMS.gov for more information.

Are YOU practicing a monthly self breast exam?

“Love the life you live, live the life you love”

Follow Your Dreams

April 16, 2019

Good morning!

I don’t want to post pictures from the wedding that Tess has not had a chance to share, so I’m waiting patiently for that to happen. The photos from the photographer are not in yet. I will however sneak in just a few family pictures here that our son Jake took.

Tess and Manuel LOVE to dance so I had to share this one. It’s one of my favorites.

 

Our son Jake and his family.

 

Our daughter Kate and her family.

 

Our daughter Anne and her family.

 

This has been a very full last two weeks.

Mike finished this gorgeous Headboard and framed in the bed. I am in love with all of it. He is working now on a Barn Door that will go between the Master and the Master Bath.

 

 

We spent Palm Sunday at my In-Laws. They are both 80 and you’d never know it! They host and his mom is always right there playing with all of her great grandkds.

Love this pic!

 

It was a beautiful day outside for an easter egg hunt and an Egg Art project!

 

Love these cuties.

 

Since the summer of 2017, I’ve spent many days feeling like I was waiting for life to get back to normal. I realized one day, this life I’m living is normal, it’s just that some days, weeks, or months are much fuller than others and over the last two years, my life has changed. A lot.

During the last two years, my time spent here blogging has slowed way down due to the fact that my time spent working with WW has increased significantly. Also during the last two years, two of our daughters have married and we’ve had three new babies come into our family. Oh, and I had breast cancer, and knee surgery and wrist surgery.

Those are all things that have affected my life a great deal and changed my priorities.

After my breast cancer diagnosis, I had my mastectomy in August 2017. Since then, I have had a surgery every three to four months.

Today, I am having surgery number six.

This is the last phase in my breast reconstruction. I scheduled this surgery a few months ago, so I have been preparing. I wanted to wait until after the wedding.

Today I am having some scar tissue removed that is bothering me, I am having some fat grafting done to fill in the less full areas on the top of my breast (currently it looks like there are dents on the top of each breast where the breast tissue was removed. This is common in breast reconstruction and fat grafting is used to fill in those spaces).

 

Also today, I AM GETTING NIPPLES!

That’s right. These genius doctors that made new breast for me from my own belly tissue, will now make nipples from skin on my breast.

I was planning to only have 3-D nipple tattoos made, and not have the actual nipples made, but I have a friend going through exactly what I am right now, even with the same doctor, and she recently had nipples made and she said that it made her feel complete and that she was very happy, so on with the nipples!

I will have to wait 8 weeks after todays surgery, then I can have the areola tattooed on each breast. Then I will be done with my breast reconstruction!!

 

In other super duper I can hardly believe it good news…….

I left my house on Saturday morning at 6:00 am. I picked up my dad and we drove 5 1/2 hours to a small town in Iowa. A vintage trailer was recently listed for sale and I had been chatting with the owner. I had to check it out. I first fell in love with these little vintage trailers the summer of 2016 when I met my dad down in Branson, Missouri at the KOA campground where they were having a Vintage Trailer Rally. I knew then that one day, I would have one.

Guess what? I bought her and I brought her home!

Meet Effie!

 

I knew when I bought the truck last year that a trailer would soon follow.

 

Larry and Effie. Don’t they make a cute couple?

 

The below pictures are the way that she had it decorated, and as cute as it is, I left all of the decorations with her. 

I want to make Effie my own.

 

We came home late Saturday night so we just parked her and I went home and went to bed. On Sunday morning I went over to my dads house and had my coffee in her, planning what I want to do with her. I can’t wait to make her my own.

 

My dad and stepmom came out to the trailer with a pot of coffee. My came over too and we all had coffee together in Effie. It was such a great morning.

I was hoping to find a trailer that was ready to camp in, and luckily, she is! I have electricity and water and working lights on the inside and out. I have several things I want to change but they are things that my dad and I will be able to do as fun weekend projects and nothing needs to be done in any hurry.

We’ve already got three trips booked!

My dad and brother also have vintage trailers, so I”ve been looking forward to joining them in their hobby.

I’m looking forward to taking the grandkids with me and making great memories! We can even camp out at my dads house. He’s got plenty of room on a large lot.

I’m so excited!

I am on top of the world right now. Life is so good and full. 

Follow your dreams. Chase your dreams. Live your dreams. Whatever dreams you are dreaming, if it is within your reach, grab it!

I’ve got to go now. If I’m not too doped up tomorrow, while I’m resting, I fill you in on the rest of life and share some links to recipes I’ve been trying.

Have a great day!

 

“love the life you live, live the life you love”