Friday, September 30, 2011

my mom.

this post has been a long time coming. just needed the time to sit and write it. i drove my mom to the airport yesterday and she is safe and sound back in tulsa. it was sad. ava asked for oma this morning to which i had to respond..."oma is bye bye." for nine days she unpacked. organized. labeled. sewed. ran errands. played with ava. cleaned. arranged the tv cords in such a way that they are now hidden. organized and hung every item of clothes i own. ran more errands. did returns. helped me pick fabrics and colors. loved ava. loved justin. but loved me the most. since i am her little girl. even though i am 27 and i sometimes do not do well with that whole thing. i realize i will always be my mom's little girl. the youngest of three. but since i went to grad school, got married, moved, got my first job, gave birth to ava, had cancer, and moved again...i think i am an adult. which i am. but i am also her daughter. you can have both. i think i will always be her daughter and of course as i get older our relationship changes and develops. it is only natural.

last august when my family went to the outer banks to be together when we heard i had mom and i were not on the same page. not because we did not want to be. we just did not know how to be. i was dealing with the fact that i had cancer. which i did not even know what that meant or how to feel or what to do or what that meant for me, justin, and ava. i was not in a place to really understand or even care where other people were coming from. especially my mom. mom's seem to get the worst of it sometimes. she said to me that week..."imagine if ava was sick." at the time i could not handle that. i could not wrap my head around being sick personally...let alone what it would be like if our sweet ava was sick. so i yelled and got mad. i did not mean too. i was taking a lot of vicodin. not an excuse. i just could not go there yet.

but now...13 months later i am at a place where i can hear her heart. where i want to know how she felt and what it was like to have a daughter with cancer and be on the other side of the country.  i wanted to have those conversations while she was here. but we didn't really. it was too hard. my aunt deb is very sick with cancer and my mom had just been with her for a couple weeks before coming here. so we find ourselves in all too familiar territory. but i thought i was ready. but i'm not. it is just hard. not too hard. just hard. i think it is so important and a part of the healing/grief process to talk through things that are uncomfortable and hard...but i just could not do it. not sure why. but someday.

i emailed family and friends a while back about writing a guest post for the blog. to help other dad's sister's, mom's, friends, etc as they deal with loving and caring for someone while they are sick. i asked my mom about it and why she had not written, yet. ( ps offer is still open to whomever. please share).

"libby. i can't. not because i do not want to but how do i possibly put into words what it was like. to think about losing you."

i said. "i did it. i wrote. all the time." but i realized in that would you ever put it into words. nothing seems to do it justice. i think about the often when i sit to write. no words. not one word in the english dictionary can articulate my heart. the depth of it. the pain. the joy. the ache. the gratitude. i think about writing a book. sharing our story. i want to. it is a dream of mine. i will need a good editor for sure. but i love to write. i want to share our story with the world. not because we are cool or that our story is that different from many other's out there. but it is a dream and i think you need to follow those dreams. maybe one day.

what was incredible about these past nine days is that my mom did not stop. early mornings and late nights...all spent on making this house a home. it was such a glimpse of her heart for me and my family. my mom had some reservations about our move. it seemed like a lot considering the valley we had just walked through.  so her being here and making it happen in the midst of so much was such a gift. i am an adult now with my own family and i will make decisions with my husband that not everyone will agree with and that is okay. but i am beginning to understand that no matter what my age...i am still my mom's daughter. her little girl. even though i think i am all grown up and know everything. i know i do not know it all. not even close. my mom can do so many things so well. much better than me. she has so much to teach me and i am excited to learn. even if i do not act like it when she is showing me how to do a french knot for our pillow or sew a curtain. i am listening. you teach me. i teach ava. that is what happens with moms and daughters.

it was our best visit to date. do you agree? thank you does not even begin to do it justice.

 ava, oma, and a giant bear. loves her so much. oma and the bear.

i talked a lot about how cancer changed me when i was sick. here is a specific way it changed me. everything is a gift. when i think about where were last year i can not type without tears. everything from this point on is a gift. a little bonus. a surprise. undeserved. so thankful. we are not guaranteed anything. let's live in such a way where nothing is wasted or taken for granted. but instead we are grateful. genuinely thankful for where the Lord took us and where He is taking us.

first real legit heartfelt blog post in our new house. different. no river. but still good in a new way.

***blog will be under construction tonight. got a new blog look coming your way***

yay for friday. enjoy it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

a little home preview.

justin and i had an incredible less than 24 hour trip to greenville, sc for our friend's wedding. the six hour drive flew by. we love ava...but we seriously loved a road trip without the little babe. we talked. reconnected. encouraged each other. prayed. listened to music. ate bojangles. it was good. we really needed this time together. i will try and borrow some pictures from the wedding and post them this week. but it was beautiful. outdoors. under the lights. a-m-a-z-i-n-g cupcakes. pumpkin and reeses peanut butter. i ate like five. they were small. we danced. ate. laughed. all the things you love best about a wedding happened at this wedding.
 in the car. justin pumped to have a six hour drive with just me.

the best part besides the marriage between shannon and andy...seeing friends. our friends in lexington, ky honestly are so incredible. they went above and beyond when i was sick i can not even put it into words. they are still amazing...but they all rose to the occasion like nothing i have ever seen from friends. thank you. thank you. thank you. we were reminded...yet again after saturday night what a gift you all are.

we returned to a house with NO BOXES. my incredible mother had successfully unpacked every last box. she did this with a little ava running around. no easy task. now we are onto organizing, decorating and setting this place up right. ava loved her special time with oma too. i have my mom here for a few more days and we are getting so so so close to having this place in order. there is still much to be painted and of course the on going joy of setting up a home. looking for sales. antique stores. a few projects. spray paint. craigslist. garage sales. the decorating never stops. i do not think i will ever come to a place of..."okay we are done." i get inspired or pretend to be crafty or see something new we need/want or pinterest takes over. you know how it goes. not many people in the world can do what my mom has done over this past week. she has a gift. we are so thankful.

here is a little peek. we are going colorful this time around.

fabric duct taped to the back of the book case. i love it. the walls are not yellow. the iphone did that.
 recovered the bench for the second time. we went from red damask to white and yellow stripes. classic.
 navy and knaki ticking fabric. my mom told me that is its name. we have the old fashioned radiators in each room so they will just hang to the sides. more for looks than actually function. yes the shutters are two different heights. house came like that. lastly, the drill is not usually that close to ava when she is in her seat eating.
 more fabric on the back of the bookcase. this is in the living room.
my "u." when i was out looking for pillows i saw this giant U. i wanted it because i love letters and it was $2. but i didn't buy it because what does the letter U have to do with anything? but i laid in bed that night thinking about how i journal. when i write i write to God. but i never write...dear God. i write...dear u. i told justin we needed that for our bedroom. so i went back two days later and there it was. waiting for me on the clearance aisle at ross.

so there is a little bitty glimpse of our new home. i could not have done any of this without my mom. this is move number 5 for us. we have only been married 4.5 years. that is a lot and we are not even in the military. but this move more than any other has been hard for me. not because i am not happy to be here. but leaving the river was difficult and this whole process has been exhausting. my mom has helped ease that burden. thank you. there is nothing like your momma. no matter how old you are...

thoughts on the new place?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

lots of boxes.

my mom is here and all we have been doing is unpacking. non-stop. i am tired. but we are getting there. i just can not decide what colors i want to paint things or use in each room. i love this process. but i hate how indecisive i am. but we are okay. i have been very anxious lately. not about anyone or anything specifically but simply all that moving entails. little a has been great. not so good today running errands. but she did pull herself together enough to get a giant teddy bear from her oma. we were at tj maxx and she spotted this huge bear. she ran over and gave it a hug. then found a blanket in the next aisle and brought it to the bear. then decided the bear needed a towel. it had to come home with us. so it did. thanks oma.

this is what happens when your daughter helps you unpack boxes. she wants to try it all on. a sweater from aunt allison. wings from last halloween. necklaces from oma. whatever she can get her hands on.

we are off to south carolina for the weekend. just the two of us. going to see one of our dearest friends get married and spend some much needed time with our closest friends from lexington, ky. i am about ten blog entries behind. moving will do that.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

no Internet yet.

I am writing from my phone this morning as I lay in bed. comcast will be here today to bring us back to the world. we returned from Chesapeake after a great week at home. more to come on that...I need a legit computer to really write. the unpacking process began yesterday and after a small anxiety "attack" about the current status of our home. my husband said "one box at a time. set one goal and do it." so I did. ava is in her new bedroom for the first time. I glanced at the screen of the monitor and thought she was gone. but she is hiding in the small corner where I could barely see her. when she saw her crib was up and back as it should be all she wanted was to play "night night" in her bed. in and out in and out. she missed her bed. just like me. my mom arrives tonight to help make our new house a home. she has a gift for that. I miss my family. I am looking forward to someone very familiar to be with us in our new
town. thankful it's my mom.

I have been thinking a lot about being joyful. finding joy in everything and being thankful. it seems like that should be so natural. considering the way the Lord loves us and cares
for us every second of every day. but I quickly loose sight. I see this move impacting me in many ways already. a fresh start. a new view on life. I am ready. sometimes a little nervous to be honest about this new place and all that comes with that. but I can not stop thinking about this video I watched about another young couples journey with cancer. stand firm. that was what the husband kept hearing from the Lord. stand firm.stand firm. I will stand firm.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

our little a.

ava has been exceptional lately. in so many ways. i think i fell in love with her all over again day.
just like day one.

we just put her to bed and justin and i are preparing our talks for this weekend.

so i leave you with this little tiny video of ava.
watch it here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

just checking in.

life is a bit crazy at this point so i do not have the time to write like i want to. ava is on a walk with some dear friends while i work on my ever growing to-do list. i need to shower like five minutes ago.

-we moved into our new house in harrisonburg. with tons of help it happened within an hour or two. but we are covered in boxes. justin did paint ava's room and i love it. we also got our bed set up and we slept in it for the first time in weeks. it was magical. without seeming dramatic or was so nice.
-we enjoyed it for a few hours and then drove to chesapeake.
-two parties later (they are very much blog worthy. but at a later date) we are getting settled into the week. some lose ends from moving and people to see. i like that. not the loose ends but spending time with people i love and will miss dearly.
-this weekend is the leader weekend with jmu in sandbridge. near the beach. justin and i will be sharing this weekend. about jesus. the holy spirit. cancer and suffering. i need to plan what i am sharing. tonight. i will do that tonight.
-then we head back home. to our house full of boxes and much organizing to do. thankfully my mother is coming in from OK to help. she has a gift for this stuff. i need her.
-ava is okay. rough day yesterday but in general going with the flow pretty well.
-i sat around the with three women yesterday and discussed this new season of life and how i am looking forward to getting into a routine with ava. with my husband. trying new things. making harrisonburg a home. this takes time. i tend to rush things. dive in and not stop. but this has been a HUGE year. i want to ease into this. i need to. i hope i can do it. we have had a lot of new transitions and seasons. maybe this is life and it never stops. but maybe. even if only for a little bit i would like to slow down. i think i need to slow down.
-although last night was tearful as i shared a bit of my heart to a room full of some of the most important people in our lives...i know we will be okay. much is in store for us in this new place. new people. new relationships. new adventures. i know it is good. i just want to take it slow.

off to shower. pack up. dr appt. move into a new place to stay for the week. hang with ally. put ava to bed. prepare for this weekend's talk. then watch pregnant rachel zoe on bravo.

enjoy your tuesday.

Friday, September 9, 2011

short hair and our "see you later" party in chesapeake.

i sat down this morning to blog about something entirely different than what i am about to write. i like that. about two minutes ago i was on the couch and decided to watch the video justin made from when i cut my hair before i lost it all (which never ended up happening). as soon as the music started ava ran over from the other side of the room and got right up next to me to watch the video. she yelled "momma" and then a second later looked at me and then back at the movie and said in almost a way of reassurance to herself..."momma. hair. momma hair." i cried. because that is what i do. but i loved that for a quick second although she knew it was me in that video...something looked different. she then reached over the touched the back of my head. my short hair. which is nearly a mullet. but i am trying to grow it back out so there will be some not too cute stages that i think i am okay with...but we will see. this was the first time i watched that video since april and the very first time ever with ava. sweet girl has no idea. no idea that one of the main reasons i cut my hair when i did was because she would pull it sometimes and hair would get stuck in her fingers and all over my back and on the furniture. losing your hair as a women is traumatic. at least it was for me at times. when i see women who voluntarily choose to cut their hair, i respect you. you are way more brave than me. i am not that hip to rock the short hair on my own. i had to do this. just thankful i never lost all my hair due to chemo. happy that my little girl knows who her momma is no matter what length of hair. even though i desperately want my hair long again. i feel a little naked without it. i had long hair for almost my entire life. but it will grow. it's just hair... right?

the first weekend in september of last year my friend laura and i went to the chic wigs and bought my wig for when i lost my hair. my dear friend helen bought it for me as a gift. she had read on the blog that i thought i would just wear scarves so she wrote me an emailing encouraging me to get a wig...just in case. so sweet helen who was battling her own fight with cancer bought it for me. i ended up not needing it so a while back i thought about selling it on ebay or something. i did not want it in my closet anymore. justin suggested we keep it and see if someone may need it and we could give it away. he is much for thoughtful than me. so i did. i kept it hidden in my closet and even tried it on once for my friend ally. well a month or so ago i received an email from a blog reader in tennessee about a young women who was recently diagnosed with cancer as well. lymphoma too. i knew this was where it should go. so i got her address and my friend katie mailed it off to christi (we were gone for two weeks so i did not want to wait to mail it until we got back). a week ago she sent me picture wearing her new wig. my old one. never used. i guess it was always meant for christi and i like that.
 she looks good in it i think. we praying for your christi.

in other news...not sure how to transition so i wont try.
there is a going away party for our family in chesapeake this coming sunday.

505 madera drive. chesapeake. va. 23322
@ the carrs house. 
you can bring a little a dish to pass or something like that.

EVERYONE is welcome. seriously everyone. please come. even if it just for five minutes to give us a hug we would appreciate it so much. we love chesapeake. our time there was so special. special does not even do it justice. chespeake will remain so dear to our hearts. so much has happened for our little family in this place. the community and relationships in this city is like nothing i have ever known before. it was a significant four years. new life long friendships. students parents. camp trips. lots of starbucks. bible studies. sleepovers. mancakes. our leadership and committee. baby ava. late night conversations. campaigners in our first place. lots of grassfield. lots and lots of grassfield. surfing and even a little cancer. we are so thankful that the carr family is hosting this goodbye party for us. it helps us so much. now we can say bye to anyone and everyone who can make it. if you are in the area we hope to see you there.

please come. please come. please come. seriously if you think you might miss us even a little bit. 
just come.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

i had cancer.

since it is leukemia and lymphoma awareness month i thought it was appropriate to blog about this new site i was introduced to this summer. a little while back a sweet women emailed me after she had found our blog online. she is the community manager for this phenomenal new social support network for cancer patients, survivors, and supporters. she encouraged me to check out this new site after reading about our cancer story.

I Had Cancer allows cancer survivors, fighters and those newly diagnosed and their supporters, the friends & families of those affected to connect with one another and share their stories and experience of dealing with the deadly disease. Because every 23 seconds someone in the US is diagnosed with cancer (what! i had no idea) and for these people and their loved ones that feeling of isolation isn’t going to go away on its own.(from the I Had Cancer website).

I Had Cancer launched in july of this past year. not too long ago and has been rapidly grow daily. it is a free social support network focused on connecting people based on experiences with cancer so that they can easily communicate with one another and share information. you can register for free, create a profile, and connect with people who may have the same type of cancer, treatment, or live in the same city. share stories. it really is an amazing means of support for people who may feel very alone during and after treatment. after browsing through the site it became so evident to me that many cancer patients, survivors, and their supporters are not/did not receive the incredible overwhelming love, prayers, and support our family did during our cancer journey. as i read other people's stories i was stunned at how many people felt so alone and isolated. although i struggled with that occasionally i am so thankful, yet again, for the incredible way that people literally (you know what i mean) went through this journey with us both near and far. i will never be able to express how that has transformed me see people rally alongside us. one more time...thank you.

since we all have had some experience with cancer. in one way or another. maybe this site can be a resource for you or someone you love to connect with those sharing similar stories as your own. check out this video from the I Had Cancer founders. watch it HERE.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

september is good.

this month is good for many reasons. but tonight i will mention just one of those reasons. this month is national leukemia and lympthoma awareness month. we will remember where we were just one year ago. one chemo treatment down and eleven to go. that seemed like such a big number at the time. this month last year i had completed one chemo treatment. a newly decorated house. lots of visitors. flowers. gifts. meals. phone calls. emails. texts. prayers. lots of prayers. but we made it to the other side. i am cancer free. so this month we hope to make more people aware of this cancer. the cancer that changed who we are forever. i learned (just to name a few) to love. how to fight. how to persevere. how to endure more than i thought i could. how to rest. how to pray. how to not waste anything. not one little thing in life. how the Lord gets all the glory. every last bit of it. i am in tears as i type this short little post because i am so thankful to be on the other side. i like it here much better.

it has been raining for two days straight. i like the rain sometimes. it slows us down. we needed that.
that face. she is so concerned. i love it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

feeling a bit all over the place.

things are a bit unsettled here. not in our house yet. the whole river house is in storage. i forgot to pack many clothes as i only kept my toms and rainbow flip flops out to wear. the hunters too. perfect for the rainy day we had. since we are not in our place yet and things feel all over the place i am feeling the same way when it comes to this blog. what to share. what not to share. so much going on that i am not even sure what to say. just not sure what to do with myself. how to spend my time. where to go. what to do. i guess this is apart of the this new adventure and all the transitions that come with it. but in all seriousness it really does feel like this will make a good home for us. i am looking forward to making this our home. where ava will grow up. where our marriage and family will grow. build new relationships. it will be good. it is good. but still feels a little like we are just on a trip and then we will go home. but this is our home. it will just take sometime. that is all for now. ava is sleeping. justin is on his way home. i promise i will share more of my heart soon. i like to do that. i am just adjusting to the new changes and what is to come for our family.
 little A just doing her make up. we like bronzer in this house.

Friday, September 2, 2011

we made it.

we are here. we moved. wednesday we saw my dr for the last time. it was a good report. everything looks fine. we drove 30 minutes to get our uhaul. went to lunch at taco bell real quick. which turned into a 45 minute fast food stop. arrived to our house where people had already began bringing boxes outside. justin's dad and his girlfriend came up to help make the move happen. within a couple hours the truck was packed. we said good bye to the river. i cried a little. we took a few pictures and got on the road.ted in the uhaul. justin in the 4 runner. shirl in ted's truck. ava and i in the accord. a nice little caravan. we drove about an hour and stayed in a hotel. we wanted to go further but every hotel we called in richmond was sold out. a lot of people still without power. so the guys and ava swam at the pool and shirl and i picked up dinner. it was so great to relax and talk and take a minute to sit down. it has been a crazy few days. get up and grab breakfast and get on the road. after a couple stops we arrive in harrisonburg through a nasty little thunderstorm. check in to another hotel so ava can nap and we can all hang out together. justin and i go get the stroage unit to store everything in the uhaul until the house we are renting is available. which could be any day. but we needed to return the truck. justin and ted along with a ton of jmu yl leaders help unpack the truck. shirl, ava, and i go swimming instead. ava has been great. not perfect...but wow. we have been on the go since we evacuated chesapeake. sweet girl has slept in five different places. she really has been so good. little one has no idea we even moved. (side note to all our chesapeake friends....giant going away party on sunday september 11. look for details on facebook, text, and twitter. come say bye. please please please). it all happened so fast but we want to see you.

so now justin is at work. i am at our friend's house where we are staying until our house is available. unpacked the car and started some laundry. just moved ava from a bedroom to a bathroom because she likes to sleep in scary pitch black room. she is out. i am stopping utility service. paying bills. catching up on emails. about to lay down. i need a second.

it will be nice to be settled into our new home. i do not think being here will really feel normal or even real until then. i am excited to begin a new chapter together in harrisonburg. people have been so incredible already. ava and i will meet all the yl leaders tonight and tomorrow justin and i are having our first date night in our new town.

since it is almost the weekend. finally. let's enjoy it by watching THIS VIDEO of little ava at gymnastics. justin surprised me last week and put it together. it's a good one.

thanks ted and shirl for your help and for just being with us. we loved it. thanks for all of you that helped in chesapeake too...packing. moving. watching ava. you all are special special people.