We Rise By Lifting Others

Dear sweet friends of Elastamom,

Hi there! I’m Sarah and I am guest posting on her blog today!

Quickly, let me share my my connection with Tiffany: Turn time back to 1999, and I am fairly certain I walked into her classroom as a freshman with overly “sun in’d” short hair, big ol’ silver braces, clunky Dr. Marten sandals, with my hand-me-down Abercrombie and Fitch attire. I was a total dork trying to fit it. Immediately I knew I had a super cool teacher and we would be friends at some point in our lifetime. The rest is history! I adore this woman, and I have been blessed to have her in my life for so long.

As most of you have probably read, Tiffany was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. This news is not only unfortunate, but downright gut-wrenching. It is with great comfort we know that Tiffany is under the care of amazing doctors, and she has a kick ass support system! Yet, the pain and the anger, and the daily burdens of life with cancer are still there. It’s so hard to fathom that in the mix of “normal” life, (whatever normal looks like) now, Tiffany will be dealing with the cancer life too.

Locally, different efforts are being made to raise money and provide meals for Tiffany and her family. However, I wanted to make sure all her faithful blogger friends had the chance to participate, should the desire arise. Bethany Gurzynski at Toledo Threads designed a shirt for Tiffany so we can show our love and support! If you want a shirt, please click on the link below.

http://teespring.com/Sylvania

shirt

Let’s love on this family during this tough time and especially on this resilient, authentic, amazing woman.

WE RISE BY LIFTING OTHERS!!!

Thank you!!!

Happy This Week

It’s been a rough week, I’m not going to lie. The mental part of this whole journey is ┬áreally tough. I’m sure the physical parts will be tough too, but I was anticipating that. But…I still found some happy this week!!!

My students and coworkers and friends and neighbors have overwhelmed us (in a good way) with love and support. Every day we’ve received a little something to make us smile or know we are loved or help us out in some way.

Olivia had four teeth removed today and she did very well. She’s a little out of it and her mouth is swollen, but other than that, she did great!

Starbucks coffee makes me smile almost every day. Thank goodness for gift cards to enable my vice.

My friends and their husbands joined Matt and I last weekend for Trapped Toledo. It’s basically where you’re locked in a room with a mystery to solve. We had dinner before hand and went out to the bar after. We didn’t get home until 2! It was a blast and just what Matt and I needed!

Stacia, a blogging friend, had a clay Elastamom made for me. I was so touched by this gift. We have it hanging on our calendar in the kitchen to remind us all that we are tough and will get through this.

My former student and friend, Leah, made us a beautiful collage of the kids’ pictures, our family picture and the words “All you need is love” on a canvas through Shutterfly and had it sent to us. We put it in the hall so we can see it every morning and remember that, love, is truly all we need.

My friend, Andrea, who is our 8th grade school counselor, talked to my students on Tuesday when I was out so they would know what was going on. I am so thankful to her for doing that for me because I don’t think I could have done it without bawling and I didn’t want them to see me upset.

I was inundated with cards, emails, etc., from my students when I came back on Wednesday. They are the best and help me take my mind off of things even if just for a few minutes.

One of my boys went home and told his mom, late after his orchestra concert, that they had to make me cupcakes. (His mom owns a local bakery company and makes the most amazing cupcakes…”Cake Me Away” in Perrysburg, OH) He brought me a hug and a dozen pink cupcakes the very next day.

One of my girls made me balloons with magnets on the back that say “Be Happy”, “Be Positive”, “Be Strong”. Definitely need that reminder each day!

My coworkers and Matt’s coworkers gave us a ton of gift cards to help us through this journey. We are so thankful for their love and support.

Matthew was selected as “Bobcat Best” this week at his school. He gets to have breakfast with the principal. He was so excited and it couldn’t have come at a better time!

Matt bought me a “Stefon” mug (our favorite SNL character) from the NBC store to cheer me up. It worked.

I’d say there was still a lot of happy this week, wouldn’t you? What made you happy this week?

Cancer Chronicles I: Good Bad News

Cancer Chronicles brought to you by Elastamom’s Experts…whattya think?? I promise my blog will still be about my family and my special girl, but it’s also going to be about cancer now. It’s my new reality and, just like being a Mom of a daughter with special needs, I want to share and help anyone who needs it.

I had my appointment at the University of Michigan yesterday. We got 14 inches of snow between Saturday and Monday morning so we were nervous we wouldn’t be able to make it there. But we did! It was a little treacherous but we made it. Thank goodness because I just wanted to get it over with.

I had another mammogram and an ultrasound when we got there. (By the way…almost all of my doctors were 12. Seriously.) Then we met with a doctor who told us our treatment plan. My cancer is stage 2, which is worse than I thought, but it’s still early and small. I have to have chemo, which I was really hoping I wouldn’t, but I do. For a year. Yes. A year. I am HER2 positive so that’s why I have to have chemo for that long. But it’s only every three weeks for now. I decided to have a lumpectomy after looking at all the pros and cons. That will be followed by six weeks of radiation every day. And chemo.

When they do my lumpectomy, they’ll do a sentinel node biopsy to see how at risk I am for recurrence. If I’m at increased risk, they’ll add another chemo to my HER2 chemo. I may also have to have a mastectomy down the road depending on results, but we’re going to try the lumpectomy first. Like my surgeon said, we can always go forward but we can’t go back. When I’m all done, because I tested positive for hormone receptors (which is a good thing!), I’ll take a medicine for the next five to ten years that will also lessen the chance of recurrence.

We are completely overwhelmed, a little angry (I lied…a lot…), scared and still in a little bit of denial. We keep asking each other “Is this really happening?”. We have cried often, but laughed even more. We are absolutely swamped with love and support and it feels so good. We are so blessed to have an amazing family, wonderful friends and a fantastic community who love us and will help us in any way that we need. Right now we’re not really sure what we need, but when we do, everyone will be there for us and, that, is just a feeling you can’t measure.

To all of you who have sent us messages, texts, phone calls, cards, gifts, etc….we can’t thank you enough. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers…we can feel it!!

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My dear friend, Bethany, has a t-shirt company online and has made t-shirts for a fundraiser for myself and my friend, Melinda, who is also battling breast cancer. If you’d like to buy one (they are awesome!), see the link below.

http://teespring.com/Sylvania

Happy This Week

I took Olivia with me to my nail appointment on Saturday. She got her first manicure. She really enjoyed getting them done but she promptly picked it all off on the way home! I guess she didn’t like the way it felt. But she enjoyed the experience!!

We also went to the Walleye (local Toledo hockey) game on Saturday. It was Olivia’s first time and she loved it. She got to meet all of the mascots and loved it when the players banged against the glass. She also got a huge kick out of the screaming contests!

We went out for pizza on Wednesday night. It was so nice to just sit and relax on a school night, just the five of us.

My friends yarn-bombed my front and backyard and hung up a lighted LOVE sign in the backyard. It was a nice surprise to wake up to Tuesday morning!!! Some of my friends changed their profile picture on FB to the LOVE picture. I feel very loved.

I’ve gotten a few letters and emails and FB messages from former students who wanted me to know they were praying for me. It’s so nice to know I made a difference in their life!

I bought the Taylor Swift and Sam Smith albums this week. I figure I’ll be needing some music distractions soon.

My friend, Diana, sent me this video. I’ve decided it’s my new theme song.

My kids and I named my tumor “Voldemort”. It made them laugh and we all get a kick out of saying that Mom’s going to kick Voldemort’s ass.

I am determined to stay positive and not lose my sense of humor or become bitter through this whole thing. I’ve been making cancer jokes and I think they’re quite funny. It helps. Like someone brought me a coffee the other day, along with a sweet hug and kind words, and I jokingly said to my work-wife Ashley…Cancer Perk! If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, right?

The love and support my family and I have felt this week has been overwhelming. There aren’t big enough words to say thank you. It helps to know we are loved and people are praying for us.

What made you happy this week?

Good Thoughts and Prayers Requested

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I haven’t written in a while because I’ve been waiting and waiting on some test results and couldn’t form thoughts or write about the what-ifs without driving myself insane.

Well, there’s no easy way to say this, I got results today and I have breast cancer.

I. Have. Breast. Cancer.

It still doesn’t seem real. I’m 38. No family history. I had all of my kids before the age of 30 and I breastfed them all. It just happened. I still can’t believe it.

I went in for my annual OBGYN check up two weeks ago and she felt a lump. I was shocked. I do self exams, but I never felt it. So I went last week (after almost 10 days of waiting I might add) for a diagnostic mammogram. They found another suspicious area in my other breast. So I had three biopsies last Thursday. I got the results today. Invasive ductal carcinoma, grade 1. That’s the good news. If you’re going to get breast cancer, this is the one to get. It’s common, treatable and we caught it super early. Thank God. All good news, right? I have an appointment at the University of Michigan on Monday where we will get more results and a treatment plan. I’m definitely having surgery and possibly radiation and chemo. I still can’t believe those words are part of my vocab right now.

We are in shock. And scared. And angry. And in disbelief. We told the boys but not Olivia because we don’t think she’ll understand since I don’t look sick at all. We’ll tell her as things roll along. The boys were upset but they’re OK. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I worry about them the most. Hopefully it won’t be as bad for them as I imagine. The worst part for me is putting all of this burden on my family and my friends. I know what it’s like to feel helpless and want to do something, ANYTHING, but there’s not much you can do.

Luckily, we’ve been in a similar spot before. This is similar to what it felt like when we got Olivia’s diagnosis. Very similar. And that turned out more than OK. We’re stronger because of it. We will be a stronger family because of this too.

We are so lucky to be surrounded by so much love and support. Our families are close, we have wonderful friends and coworkers and we will be surrounded with love and support at every turn. Thank God.

We would really appreciate if you would pray and send good thoughts. Pretty please. Prayers or good thoughts or good juju or whatever you believe in that I will heal and my family and friends will be OK. I have WAY too much life left to live so I’m not going anywhere!!!

Thank you.

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Happy This Week

I have the most wonderful husband in the world. Truly.

My kids are amazing and bring me so much joy.

I have a perfect Mom who is my best friend.

My sister loves me.

I couldn’t ask for better friends.

I am surrounded…absolutely surrounded…by love. So much love.

What more is there?

What made you happy this week?

Happy This Week

We finally had school this week after two weeks of break and four snow days!! We were all ready for routine and go back to school.

My Mom, sister and I got matching tattoos last weekend. If was so fun and it looks awesome! It’s a mother daughter symbol.

tattoos

I might just have the best friends in the whole world. I am a lucky girl.

We’ve had a free pass to a gym and have been taking the kids swimming all week. They are going to work with us on a membership just for Olivia to go swim! I’m so excited we’ve found a warm, uncrowded pool for her to use! She LOOOOVVVVEEEESSSS it!

I wrote four blog posts this week!

My BFF and I worked out on Monday and ended up walking on the treadmill for an hour because we had so much catching up to do. It was such a treat…working out by yourself is so boring!

You know how you think you can’t love your husband more…and then you do? That’s been this week.

A three-day weekend this weekend! Woo hoo! We haven’t had one of those in a while. ;)

What made you happy this week?

Simplify

Last year, my word for 2014 was Free. I definitely made progress towards my goal of being truly free…but I’m not there yet. But I’m still working on it. I won’t give up because it’s too important to me.

This year, I decided my word for 2015 would be…simplify. Simplify. Everything. My thoughts. My life. My schedule. My being. Everything. Simplify.

calm life

If I want to say no, I will say no.

Simplify.

no

If something comes up, and it will add too much stress to my life or our lives, we simply won’t do it.

Simplify.

busy

It’s important to our family that we spend quality time together. A lot of quality time together. The kids need it, Matt and I need it, our family needs it. In order to get this accomplished, I need to simplify my life.

choice quote

I won’t say yes when I really want to say no.

I won’t feel guilty for saying no and I won’t do things out of guilt.

I will remember that it’s wonderful, for all of us, to have Saturdays with nothing to do and Sundays free for board games or picnics or afternoon movies.

I will remember my priorities: Matt, Olivia, Gabe, Matthew. They will always be first and they will always be my choice.

I will remember that my children will remember the time we spent together and the love they felt more than anything else from their childhood.

Simplify.

I can do this.

What’s your word for 2015?

sprinkle quote

My Children

“For me, it was a revelation. There, was revealed a completely different Anne to the child that I had lost. I had no idea of the depths of her thoughts and feelings. And My Conclusion Is, Since I Had Been in Very Good Terms With Anne, That Most Parents Don’t Really Know Their Children.” — Otto Frank

Every single day, at some point, I look at each of my children and think to myself “I am the luckiest woman alive.” I love these children of mine so much, it takes my breath away. Truly.

I look at Matthew and he’s all arms and legs and no more baby cheeks and I marvel at how beautiful he is, inside and out. Time is flying. Absolutely flying.

M 8

I look at Gabe and he’s still got his baby face and his voice hasn’t changed and he hasn’t had his growth spurt yet…but you can almost see it coming. I know one morning he’s going to wake up with a deep voice and grow six inches and look like a man. I just stare at him and think about how special he is, how gorgeous he is, how perfectly Gabe he is.

G 7

I look at Olivia and I just swell with pride. She is so beautiful, so loving, so happy. She doesn’t have it easy in this life, yet you would never know it. She is the sun personified.

o 7

daughters eyes

I talk to them about their days, we share highs and lows at dinner, we discuss friends and girlfriends and homework and sports and everything. But then they’ll say something that makes me think I don’t know them at all. There is so much about my children that I don’t know, even though I feel like I know so much. I would love to be a fly on the wall and follow them around school. I would love to get inside their heads and truly know what their thinking. But I can’t and I shouldn’t. That’s how it’s supposed to be. They’re becoming their own person, thinking their own thoughts, dreaming their own dreams.

good mom quote

It’s so mystifying watching them grow up. It really is. One day they are your babies, depend on you for everything, and then the next minute, poof, they’re teenagers. It really does fly by. But I am so enjoying watching them grow up into these wonderful people they’re becoming. I’m trying not to worry about the piling laundry, the dirty floors and the constant dirty dishes and, instead, be so very thankful that I get to mother these three beautiful and miraculous human beings.

It’s difficult to put into words how it feels…being their mother really feels like a miracle.

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That Damn Elf on the Shelf…Who I love!

I know it’s really late (and maybe lame?) to be posting my elf on the shelf pictures, but we (meaning Gabe, to be honest), did some really cool things with our elf. My friend Kelly, whose kids are too old for an elf, really wanted to see pictures of all of the cool things Buddy did this year. So I’m sharing…a little late. ;) I have to say it’s soooooo nice to have Gabe on board so that, at 9:00 when I’m already snuggled in bed for the night and I forgot to do anything with the elf, he’s more that happy to cook something up.

This was my favorite one that Gabe came up with…astronaut Buddy!

buddy astronaut 2

He tried the wrong cookies!

 

 

buddy dog cookies 2

Then he played a little golf…

Buddy golfing 1

 

 

We caught him using my camera to take pictures of his friends…with mustaches!

buddy mickey jessie mustaches

I lied…this one was my favorite! Gabe made a mountain climbing Buddy…complete with backpack and ice pick!

buddy mountain 1

buddy mountain 5

He was our tiny tree topper too!

buddy tree topper 2

He had to try out our new Frozen Trouble game too!

buddy trouble 1

He caught the Grinch and tied him up good to keep him out of trouble!

grinch buddy 2

He was tired and made himself a hammock…

hammock buddy 1

Buddy was hiding a la E.T. one morning…

hiding buddy 1

Maybe the time he made himself out of Legos was my favorite…

lego buddy 2

lego buddy 4

Being our elf is hard work…he needed a nap…

napping buddy

He went “sledding” down our railing…

railing buddy 2

and read A Charlie Brown Christmas…

reading buddy 2

and left reminders to be nice, listen and clean up after themselves!

reminders buddy 1

And was practicing riding Rudolph home…

rudolph buddy

Being silly as a sandwich…

sandwich buddy 1

and did some target shooting…

shootin buddy

and channeled his inner Gabe…

soccer buddy 1

and felt a little adventurous on a flying trapeze…

trapeze buddy 2

trapeze buddy

and needed to relax a little…just like Mom…

wine buddy

and ziplining across the dining room!

ziplining buddy 1

ziplining buddy 2

He also got stuck outside one night…but someone forgot to take a picture! On the last night he left the kids a sweet poem before he went home with Santa. I’m always glad when he comes back…but even happier when he goes home! Honestly though, even though it’s a pain, we have so much fun planning things for him to do each day. We all love watching Matthew and Olivia run down the stairs each morning to see what he’s been up to!