Wednesday, March 9, 2016

get your moles checked!

A few years ago, when I was pregnant for Emmett; my body was growing and my skin was stretching. So, I didn't give it much thought when a mole near my hip started to grow and became crusty and itchy. I wrote it off as due to the pregnancy. I saw my doctor many times over the duration of two pregnancies and numerous well child visits. Never once did it cross my mind to ask him about it. Finallly, at my six week well child checkup after I had Tori, I thought what the heck... and I showed it to him. His response when he saw it: "oh yeah, we need to do something about that." So, he scheduled for me to come back two days later to have a biopsy done.

Then, a few days later, at 9pm, his cell phone number showed up on my caller id. That's never good- a doctor calling late at night from his cell phone. I knew right away it wasn't good news. I had melanoma.

Dirty bugger.

Thankfully, it was superficial- not to the deep tissue yet- so easy to treat. I had to have surgery to have more of the area removed and I had to see a dermatologist (as I will for the rest of my life) to make sure there weren't any other questionable spots. Which, there was. He did a biopsy and cauterized it and sent me on my way. A couple days later, I got a call that it was atypical but they got all of it when they did the biopsy. Phew! That was so much easier than letting it go and finding out you need surgery to get it removed!

So now, as I said, I have to go to the dermatologist every year and get looked over and they'll do what they need to do to keep me healthy.

It's so weird for me to say I had cancer. I hear stories daily about people battling cancer and going through chemo and facing major health setbacks due to their cancer. This was not the case with me, thank God. I don't even feel like it's fair for me to say I'm a cancer survivor. But the reality of it is melanoma is the least common of skin cancers but also the deadliest. And it was there, living on my body, leeching off of me!

This picture is of me and the big kids in 2011. In February. In Michigan. DO YOU SEE HOW TAN I WAS?!

Nowadays, I am diligent in making sure my kids and I don't get too much sun. I will never be that tan again, not even in July. Not even if I ever make it somewhere sunny in January. And if any questionable spots arise, I don't hesitate to ask about them. And I want to encourage you to do the same. Imagine if I had let that go just a little bit longer. As it was, they were concerned that it may have been in my lymph nodes- which is a whole different ball game. Very scary stuff and really, quite preventable. Minimize sun exposure and ASK if you have any questions!! It can't hurt (except the numbing shots. and the healing, stitched up incision.) But in all seriousness, IF it does end up being "something," you'll be glad you didn't wait! I'm surprised (and very thankful!) that mine wasn't worse after letting it go for two years! Here is what's left of the culprit:

Pretty big scar for a little mole, eh? That's what happens when you let it go too long. The one on my back that they caught early is just a speck. Notice how WHITE I am. In March. In Michigan :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Gooey Chocolately Goodness

The other day, we had a couple of my oldest boy's friends over for his birthday and he had requested brownies and ice cream for dessert. Oh the yummy goodness of brownies and ice cream with homemade hot fudge!

I had already told myself that I wasn't going to have any because I did the night before when my inlaws were over so it wasn't a big deal when we ran out of brownies. However, the there was plenty of ice cream and plenty of hot fudge and I REALLY wanted some so I had a bright idea: I'd look online for a brownie in a mug recipe. I've never made a cake/brownie/cookie/whathaveyou in a mug before but I was going to give it a shot! I found what looked like an easy, basic recipe from Simply Recipes and while it was truly simple, I simplified it a bit and here's what I did:

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil

Place flour, sugar and cocoa in a mug and stir to break up clumps. Add water and oil and mix until smooth. Microwave for 1 minute, 30 seconds. VOILA! Brownie in a mug perfection.

Top that with some ice cream and homemade hot fudge and you have gooey chocolatey goodness!

Here is my homemade hot fudge recipe:

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
2 T flour
1 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar, cocoa, and flour in a sauce pan, making sure to break up clumps. Add milk, butter, and vanilla. Stir over medium heat, stirring frequently until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes.

Obviously, hot fudge can go on many things- my 9 year old actually added some to milk the next day to make chocolate milk. But whatever you use it for, it's sure to please!


Now, time for my afternoon workout. I think I need it!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


At the end of a year, do you look back on the last 12 months and reflect on the events of the year? I thought this was something that everyone did but it has recently come to my attention that I was wrong! Two of my favorite people, my husband and my sister, both think there's no point in looking back. And I see their point, looking back can be hurtful and it's easy to get stuck in the past but I also think there is value in reflection.

The way this whole thing came about was I had told them that this past year was the worst year of my life. And yes, I could get stuck in that and wallow in it. But I'm not going to. I'm going to learn from it and look forward to the next year to come! 

For instance, I started to give a recap of the past year and in doing so realized it wasn't all THAT bad. Perhaps because I got a full 7 hours of sleep last night. ha! Things look so different through well rested eyes as opposed to sleep deprived ones. And honestly, I think that's been a lot of the problem. Me and lack of sleep do not get along. I know plenty of people who do it, whose kids are equally as bad of sleepers as mine are, and they seem fine but me, not so much. I'm a wreck, an emotional crazy lady when I don't get a half way decent night's sleep (meaning a solid 4 hour block). And I had a LOT of those last year. We expanded our family which is truly a delight but we also have a two year old who is trying to cope with not being the baby any more. I had melanoma and had to have it removed. Dealing with blended family stuff. Tween. Still newly married but with two little ones, can't seem to find time to connect. All things that aren't terrible but add a severe lack of sleep and everything to me was just miserable. Just being honest. And some people may not like me saying it and some people may not like to hear it but you know what? I say it not to complain but to encourage you.

Whatever it is you are facing, whatever last year brought or this year has in store, hang in there. Keep your head high,

I just started reading the book Glory Days by Max Lucado and also got the study guide and just half way through the first session, I'm learning so much! The past is important, it is a part of who I am and it is part of my story but I am moving forward. The past isn't going to keep me from that! God has promised me victory and abundant joy and I am chasing that, not wallowing in the past!

Picture of my computer screen taken while watching the Glory Days session 1 video.