I'm Afraid of October

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Although I am actually feeling pretty ready for fall, with the cool weather, fall flowers, sweatshirts, snuggles under blankets, seat warmers, trick or treating... I have to admit that there is something that is heavily weighing on my mind.

My one year anniversary of diagnosis.

I keep telling Wes, and this probably sounds silly, that it's hard to pick a one year anniversary because there were are so many October dates, that just the mention of the day, brings back that sinking feeling in my stomach. Is it October 9th, the day I found the lump? Is it October 14th, the day I got my mammogram and biopsy and was told it was cancer? Is it October 16th, the day we got the official phone call with the biopsy results? Is it October 17th, the day we met with surgeons to start the process? Or maybe it's November 18th, the day of my surgery, the day I officially became cancer free?

At the shear mention of any of those dates, I feel sick to my stomach. The minute I think about Jack's upcoming pumpkin patch trip, I feel sick to my stomach. Despite the fact that I'm probably in the most positive place of my life right now, I'm still very afraid of October and what it represents.

I'm afraid of what I'm going to feel like on each of those days.

I'm afraid that all those awful, indescribable feelings I had a year ago, are going to come flooding back, despite my best intentions to celebrate a year later.

I'm afraid to feel like I felt the day I broke in half, and cried in Wes's arms after the mammogram. I'm afraid to feel like I did when I thought about having to call to tell my family, especially my mother.

I'm afraid to feel like I did when I saw my parents for the first time that night, like it was all my fault that I had to put them through this.

I'm afraid to feel like I did the next morning, sobbing in the shower before trying to put myself together to go on Jack's field trip like I promised him I would.

I'm afraid to remember all the days where Wes broke down, and I felt like it was my fault.

I'm afraid to feel like I did the day we met the surgeons, seeing pictures of what my body was going to look like after surgery. 

I'm afraid to feel that anger again. That anger that I felt at God.

I'm afraid to feel that weight on my shoulders again. The weight of trying to keep a smile on my face when I was crumbling on the inside.

I'm afraid to feel like I did waiting in the back room, alone, in between mammogram pictures, where it just seemed never ending. One more. No, two more pictures. No, even more. 

I want to celebrate the fact that this changed my life, for the better. 

I want to celebrate the fact that I made it through, that I won. 

I want to celebrate the fact that I feel more blessed then ever.

I want to celebrate the fact that I'm strong then I ever thought I was.

But I just don't know if I can focus on celebrating, with it all still so raw some days.

Jack's field trip to the pumpkin patch this year is on October 16th, the one year anniversary of the biopsy results. I don't know whether to go, and basically give cancer the big middle finger and say. well, look at my now (while trying not to burst into tears every six minutes)! Or, do I take the day off work, and go visit my grandmother's grave, because I KNOW, she is the guardian angel that led me to find the lump. Or do I just go to work that day, and not let cancer take one more minute away from my normal life.

These are the times where I don't feel very much like an inspiration. So many people that have reached out and been so supportive over the past year, and especially lately, have told me that I'm an inspiration to them. Well these are the types of days where I don't see how. But I feel like if I am truly going to share my story, I need to share about the bad days too. The days where it's not all sunshine and rainbows. The days where I struggle, or where I'm afraid.

Tasty Tuesday: Tex-Mex Chicken Chili with Lime

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's "Tasty Tuesday"!

This week's Tasty Tuesday is one of our all time favorite chili recipes. We searched for a long time for a good chicken chili or a white chili and had the hardest time! This would also be super easy to make a clean version of (which we are going to try next time). The kids will actually eat this as well, but granted we do need to pick through it a bit and really only give them the broth, chicken, sweet potatoes and beans.

We got this recipe from Southern Living Magazine a few years back and it's always a hit when we make it for guests too! To make the cook time even shorter, you can use store-bought rotisserie chicken (we like to cook our own though since the rotisserie chicken can be pretty salty). We hope you enjoy it!

Tex-Mex Chicken Chili with Lime

What You'll Need for Chili:
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 poblano or bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red or green jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 16oz cans of navy beans, drained
  • 1 12oz bottle while ale (optional)
  • 4 cups shredded chicken
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • Toppings: Lime Cream (see below), fresh cilantro, green onions, lime wedges

What You'll Need for Lime Cream:
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 lime
  • salt (to taste)

We usually bake our own chicken to shred, so simply toss it in the oven at 425 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts. Or if you use the rotisserie chicken you can skip this step!

Melt butter with oil in a Dutch oven (we just use a giant pot haha) over medium heat. Add the white onion and next 7 ingredients, and saute for about 8 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.

Stir in the beans and beer (although we actually skip the beer most of the time) and cook for 5 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Add chicken and broth, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes until thickened.

For the lime cream, simply combine one cup of sour cream and the juice and zest of one lime. Salt to taste. Serve with the lime cream and any toppings you would like!! Enjoy!

Tasty Tuesday: Clean Eating Chocolate Chip Protein Bars

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It's "Tasty Tuesday"! 

Well...actually....umm...technically it's "Tasty Wednesday" this week. But work with me here. Sheesh, you are so picky! :)

This week's Tasty Tuesday Wednesday is another breakfast recipe! And check this out, this is a Clean Eating version of Chocolate Chip Protein Bars (from The Gracious Pantry)! When Wes and I started our new journey, one of the things we set out to tackle early on was finding some healthier options for on-the-go breakfasts, especially for the kids. During the work-week, Wes and I usually use our Shakeology as breakfast (he adds to his breakfast with Shakeology, I use it as a meal replacement) but the kids were usually grabbing a pop-tart or cereal bar along with some fruit on the go. Now that Emma is in Kindergarten, she has some more time at home for a less-rushed breakfast but The Squishy and I are usually rushing to get out the door so I can drop him off at preschool on my way to work.

Insert our new love of Clean Eating Chocolate Chip Protein Bars. The kids TOTALLY dig this recipe, especially our pickiest eater Emma Kathryn. There are tons of different versions out there and I can't wait to give some others a try but you know the old saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." This is another recipe that the kids love to get involved in making and I love it because it's SUPER easy to whip up a batch on the weekend so you are all set for the week.

Clean Eating Chocolate Chip Protein Bars

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup natural (clean) peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup clean honey
  • 1/2 unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbls grain sweetened chocolate chips
  • 1 cup whey protein powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbls chia seeds

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and roast oats in the oven without oil for 10 - 15 minutes, let cool completely (or they will melt your chocolate chips)!

Mix all ingredients in large mixing bowl and spread out the batter on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes or until the bars are a nice golden brown. Cut and let cool and store in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware container. And Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: (serving size is 1 bar)
Calories: 311, Total Fat: 12 g, Sodium: 4 mg, Total Fiber: 5 g, Protein: 21g, Carbohydrates: 29g

Keeping It Real

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I bet some of the readers of our blog (mostly our family members) are probably thinking that its looking a little different lately since we started our health journey. Although we've made a lot of changes and although some may have appeared "sales-y", that will never be the intention of this blog.

I started this blog almost SIX years ago now (whoa) so we would have a way to share our pregnancy journey with our long distance family members. We kicked this baby off with the announcement that Emma Kathryn was on the way. We have been through our ups and downs with the blog. I've taken breaks from it when I've needed to. I've posted things that have upset family members before. But I've always been open and honest and all these changes that you are seeing aren't going to change that. It's always been an unbelievable outlet for me, a way to share our story, no matter what that story looked like.

It just feels indescribable to finally be able to share our new story. We are happier then we have ever been. And we just want to share how we got here.

I've been in the market for a new phone lately and I was just realizing that I'll finally have to avoid my fears and upload everything to The Cloud so I don't lose all of my pictures and videos since our home computer is still somewhat out of commission. So that started me into looking back through all my pictures and of course there are tons where the kids were little that just struck me how much time was flying by. Then there were the pictures that came after my diagnosis. Those pictures are much harder to look at.

Like this one. This picture is from October 15th, 2013. This was the day right in the middle of diagnosis. The Monday before was when I went in for my first mammogram and pretty much got diagnosed right then and there. The day after this was the day I got the call with the biopsy results that sealed the deal. But that day in between? That was the day I went on Jack's first field trip to the pumpkin patch. I had those sunglasses on all day because I just kept crying. I kept getting phone calls from the hospital, trying to set up meetings with surgeons. Probably one of the hardest days out of all of them. But you know what, I kept up with life, and my Squishy had an awesome day at the Pumpkin Patch. Even though Mommy was a hot mess.

This picture was taken on October 19th, the Saturday after diagnosis. I didn't know what to do with myself this day. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball under a blanket with the babies. It still didn't seem real. I think the kids knew something was wrong, but maybe just not sure what. But they stuck by my side that day. I remember being so torn with my thoughts because I just kept saying to myself that I didn't FEEL sick, so I should get up and do something. Then the next minute I just kept saying to myself, no, you have CANCER, you need to rest. I didn't know what to do.

Here's another tough one. I both love and hate this picture. I love it because it's probably the best picture I have of me and my girl. She was so excited to go see the photographer for pictures. But I hate this picture at the same time because of the reason behind it. This was ten days after my official diagnosis and it was a spur of the moment family photo shoot because I was afraid I wasn't going to have any pictures of my family for a long time. I had no idea outside of surgery what kind of treatment I was in store for, but deep down I just had a feeling that chemo was in the cards. And I was scared. I have a smile on my face but I was scared to death as to what was to come.

Here is another picture that is pretty high on the list. It's probably the cutest picture of my kids like ever (but seriously, they are pretty damn cute right?). This was less than a month after my surgery and I was still having trouble recovering. I had a ton of trouble sleeping, and it took me a good six weeks to be able to get out of sleeping in a recliner in our bedroom. This was the first snow day of the season last year, and the kids were begging me to go play outside with them. But I felt awful. So I had to sit back and watch as Daddy got to build a snowman, make snow angels, you name it. They were so excited. I remember walking outside just briefly to snap a few pictures and they just didn't understand why Mommy couldn't play. It was heartbreaking.

This was on December 16th, exactly two months from diagnosis. This was the day I was headed to meet my oncologist for the first time and figure out what the plan was. I never wore my hair down. Like ever. But I just knew what was coming that day. I just knew I was going to get signed up for chemo. And for some reason, I felt like as soon as my oncologist said those words, my hair would fall out. So I felt like it was the last picture I would ever take with my hair down. I know, seems stupid. But that's what it felt like. That appointment was like getting kicked in the stomach repeatedly. Too many phrases like "because of the higher risk nature of your breast cancer..." and "worst possible side effects are heart failure and leukemia..." and "complete genetic counseling/testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes...". That last one is what scared me the most. To this day I have yet to fill out the paperwork to get the genetic testing done because I'm scared to death to find out that I'm a mutation-carrier, and could have passed that on to Emma.

My oncologist gave me until after the holidays before starting treatment, so right after the new year, on January 3rd I headed in for my pre-chemo visit. I got six different prescriptions that day, and we talked IN DEPTH about all the side effects of both the AC and the Taxol chemo treatments. For the first time I saw the schedule, that had procedure for port placement on January 7th, a start date of January 13th and an end date of not until May 28th. I could barely even see past the next day, let alone five months from then. It felt like as soon as you picked yourself back up from getting kicked during the first appointment, you were back there before you knew it, still getting kicked. Needless to say I left that appointment and drove straight to the mall to a hair salon that accepted walk ins. I got most of it cut off and donated my hair. One of those I'm smiling in the picture but secretly full of sadness on the inside.

This was taken on January 13th, my first day of chemo. Wes and I actually laughed a lot that day because it was our defense mechanism. We didn't know what to do. We didn't know how to act. We didn't know what I was going to feel like. We were still having trouble with our insurance company clearing my nausea meds and we didn't get that all sorted out until too late. I had always heard "Day 3" was the worst, so I wasn't expecting it when it hit me a few hours later. That night was probably the worst I felt the entire time. It's much harder to chase down the nausea after it's already set in, then when you keep up with it so that night the medications basically didn't work at all.

This was the last of my four big AC treatments. Man, these were gnarly. Looking back I honestly don't know how I worked the week after each treatment, especially near the end. By the third and fourth treatment I was having a lot of issues with anticipatory nausea. Basically, my body started to realize what was coming so I would feel very sick before I even started. By treatment number four, I couldn't even look at those vials of the red devil. I couldn't watch the nurse push it into the IV cords. I just wanted to leave. I had to BLAST my music so I couldn't hear what was going on. I had to almost completely leave my body, go somewhere else mentally. I couldn't bare to think of that stuff coursing through my veins anymore. I couldn't bare to think of the smell of it as I sweated it out laying in bed. I couldn't bare the smells of the oncologist lobby, or of the alcohol wipes that were being used every time you turned around. I can't wear that little white hoodie anymore because it's what I wore to almost every treatment so they could easily access my port.

But you know what...

after all that...

the pictures on my phone now look like this...

They are proof that I am taking time out for MYSELF. 
I'm becoming a better person. Better friend. Better wife. Better mother. Better everything.

I'm facing my fears because my self confidence is building by the day.
I'm back to being me again. And maybe even a better version.

I'm having a ton of fun with my family. 
These are genuine smiles. Not fake ones. Or ones where I'm dying inside.

I'm happy. Like, stupid happy. 
Like, the happiest I've ever been.

I have big goals and big dreams for our family now. 
Not just goals of how much money I want to make in life.

I'm straightening out my priorities. 
They still may not be perfect yet, but I'm on the right track.

I'm focused on helping my family THRIVE. 
I'm no longer focused on just "making it through each day".

I'm focused on all the things we wanted to do before, but couldn't. 
Or that I couldn't truly enjoy.

So the next time that one of our posts seems "sales-y", just know that's not our intention. It's just a by-product of what has helped us get to this positive, happy, fulfilling place in life. We don't want to sell you. We just want to share what is working for us because if it worked for us, it can work for anyone.

Tasty Tuesday: Healthy Turkey Meatloaf

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's "Tasty Tuesday"! 

This week's Tasty Tuesday is a good one for the nights where you just need that little bit of comfort food, but don't want to go too crazy and try to keep it healthy! This meal is SUPER easy to make, with only a handful of ingredients which is great. The only slight downside is like with any meatloaf, usually takes a little while to cook. So for us, this is another good weekend meal, or we will just cook it over the weekend and then eat it later during the week when we are pressed for time!

Both Wes and I thought this recipe was pretty good. Jackson also thought it was pretty good and didn't mind the veggies in it (so that's a win in my book!) He even helped me make the sauce for the top. Of course our pickiest of eaters, Emma Kathryn, basically wouldn't touch it because she saw green things in it (on other occasions she has HOUNDED meatloaf). So I'm thinking of trying to almost puree the veggies so she can't see them as much next time. I think I also might just trying putting straight ketchup on top for the kiddos. Our kiddos seem to think that the glaze with the Dijon mustard is too spicy.

This recipe is actually also great for the end of the week when you are trying to figure out what to do with some veggies because you can put pretty much any veggie you want in here! By the time we made it, we only had zucchini left so for our first try that's all we used. But you could really do anything!

The other thing I wanted to mention too, is that I originally didn't realize that the amounts called out in the recipe didn't really match the amount of ground turkey we had, so we ended up almost doubling the recipe (except I kept the same veggie amount for the first go around). So just a heads up to make sure you check the amounts on the below recipe when compared to your ground turkey too!

Healthy Garden Turkey Meatloaf

Healthy Turkey Meatloaf

What You'll Need For Meatloaf:
  • 2 cups assorted chopped vegetables (such as mushrooms, zucchini, red peppers, spinach, etc)
  • 12 oz 99% lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs (or regular if you have those instead)
  • 1/4 cup fat-free evaporated milk
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbls ketchup
  • 1 tbls fresh chives, rinsed, dried and chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 tbls fresh parsley, rinsed, dried and chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
  • Nonstick cooking spray

What You'll Need For Glaze:
  • 1 tbls ketchup
  • 1 tbls honey
  • 1 tbls Dijon mustard

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and steam or lightly saute your veggies. 
Combine the veggies and the rest of the meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well! Spray a loaf pan with some nonstick cooking spray and spread the meatloaf mixture evenly in the pan.
Combine all the ingredients in the glaze and brush it on top of the meatloaf.
Bake the meatloaf in the oven for 40 - 45 minutes (keep in mind if you double the recipe it might take longer) to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: (serving size is 2 slices)
Calories: 180, Total Fat: 2 g, Sodium: 368 mg, Total Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 25g, Carbohydrates: 17g

Tasty Tuesday: Homemade Pecan Waffles

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

It's "Tasty Tuesday"! 

So this week's Tasty Tuesday marks the first time that we tried whole wheat flour in waffles. One of the kid's FAVORITE dinners each week is "breakfast dinner". They usually have some scrambled eggs, fruit and maybe another side but we are trying to mix it up a bit. So this week, we tried some Pecan Waffles with Whole Wheat flour.

This recipe makes several extra waffles which works out great because we can save them and then use them during the week for an even quicker version of a healthy breakfast. The kids also helped a lot with this recipe which I think always makes it go over better with them. They were able to help mix the waffles and pick out their own toppings which they loved to do. To be completely honest, these were "okay" but we are totally willing to give them another shot. Much better when you had a bite of waffle along with a bite of fruit. Maybe we just weren't used to the non-sweet waffle, plus we also thought we had pecans but we only had walnuts. So I'm sure that would have changed the flavor. The Squishy was NOT a big fan of these to tell you the truth, but Emma loved them and ate a huge plate. So we will probably give it another shot with pecan to see if The Squishy just wasn't used to the lower sugar. What toppings would you try?

Homemade Oatmeal Pecan Waffles

What You'll Need for the Waffles:
  • 1 cup Whole-Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup Quick Cooking Oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pecans, chopped
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free (skim) milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat waffle iron while you combine the flour, oats, baking powder, sugar and pecans in a large bowl. Then, in a separate bowl, combine egg yolks, milk and vegetable oil and mix well.

Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and stir together. But be careful not to over mix! The mixture should be a bit lumpy!

Whip eggs whites to medium peaks and gently fold egg whites into the batter. Then simply cook your waffles in your preheated waffle iron!

For the topping, you can really use any kind of fruit! For our first try we just used strawberries and blackberries. I'm pretty sure we had blueberries planned as well but the little fruit snatchers ate them before we got to breakfast dinner night. 

Oh, and don't forget to sprinkle with a bit of powdered sugar!

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: (serving size is one large waffle)
Calories: 340, Total Fat: 11 g, Sodium: 331 mg, Total Fiber: 9 g, Protein: 14g

New P90 Program Review!

I am so excited about what's coming!! I'm guessing most of you have heard of Tony Horton, the trainer behind the super popular P90X (which Wes and I did a few years back), P90X2, P90X3, 10-Minute Trainer and now, the new P90 fitness program!

New P90 Program Review

I can't wait to try this one out because not only did Wes and I love P90X a few years ago, we had trouble sticking with it because of the length of the programs and it was a tough program to start out with when you are just trying to build up your fitness level. Well that's exactly why Tony Horton created the new P90 program. P90 is a great opportunity for anyone, regardless of age or your fitness level! Plus, it's shorter workouts so its easy to start with when you are trying to get in the habit of working fitness into your daily routine. So whether you haven't exercised in the past ten years, or if you are just looking to maintain what you have accomplished so far, this is a great way to do it.

New P90 Program Review: Whats The Difference?

I had heard about this new program for a while and was always wondering what the difference was (sometimes it's tricky to figure out by the names) so in a nutshell, it's basically a less intense, quicker version of P90X, that will still give you some major results!

New P90 Program Review: Program Details

P90 is the same overall program length of Tony Horton's previous workouts at 90 days. The workout length ranges from 25 to 45 minutes. The base kit comes with 10 workouts plus 1 bonus workout.

New P90 Program Review: Release Date

We are expecting the new P90 program to be released sometime this fall. Wes and I are heading to a local Super Saturday event at the end of September where we will actually get to try out one of the workouts from P90 so I can't wait to give you an updated P90 Program Review!
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