Now that we’re home, we are enjoying our final days of summer before school begins. This year, along with getting Ace ready for fourth grade, we’re also beginning a new adventure–homeschooling Lucky for Kindergarten. [Read more...]
I can’t believe that summer is nearly over!! School begins next week and we’ll have the
displeasure of waking up at 6:00 a.m. every morning again. Yay. Can you hear my enthusiasm?
Thank God, we had another terrific summer again, though. We checked quite a few things off of our Summer Bucket List, which was fun. I sort of took an internet break while we were away, and only posted via my iPhone, so I have lots to share with you guys. If you follow my facebook or instagram, you might have seen some photos here and there of this years grand adventure. If not, you can check them all out now!
Happy Fourth of July!
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved the fourth of July. I loved watching all of our neighbors walk from backyard to backyard bringing homemade foods and desserts and the smell of barbeque that went on for blocks. Picnic tables were decorated with red and white checked cloths and full of cherry and apple pies, corn of the cob, and Coca-Cola. Those days were full of swimming, fireworks, good food and even better company.
That feeling is contagious because now I see it in my boy’s eyes. They’re proud to be Americans and I’m proud that they are.
This year, we are already busy coloring handmade cards and baking red, white & blue goodies to deliver to our local firehouse to thank the firefighters for their service to our community. The boys got to pick out their own fireworks yesterday too, so they’re anxious to get outside and start shooting them off and swimming a little before we head to the town square for some more holiday fun and the big fireworks show tonight. I can hardly wait.
I am home from the hospital safe and sound. Still a little sore and a whole lot hungry. I’m on Day 6 of no food, just liquids. Thank God for my juicer, I’ve been using it quite a bit every day. Yesterday, I started seriously questioning whether or not a ham could be juiced. I still have over a week of this diet left, so if I try anything crazy and it actually works I’ll let you know…
Since I’m unable to move around a lot or do any lifting, I’ve been spending some of this free time working on a couple of different projects and have also started to plan our summer vacation. We’ll be loading up the minivan and roadtripping to Virginia, then Ohio, and while in Ohio we’ll be taking our girl’s trip to NYC again, so I’ve been busy as a bee creating lists of things to do and places to see.
While, looking through all my old notes and photos from last year’s New York trip, I realized I never posted about it! So, I decided to highlight some of my favorite moments for you in this “Top 21 Reasons to Take a Girl’s Trip” post. Because 20 just wasn’t enough…
So, without further adieu, here it is, complete with a photo gallery of some of my favorite NY Moments: [Read more...]
This morning, I am blogging on location from my hospital bed.
Glory to God my surgery went well. I had the cyst removed on Monday, which was a triple treat because not only was it the feast of the Holy Spirit, but the Nativity of St. John the Forerunner and our Geronda Ephraim’s birthday (just in case some of you don’t know, Geronda’s name before being tonsured what John, so he was born the same day as his patron saint)!
You all know how much I love those little mercies from God. I feel like it’s his way of reminding me that He is with me. Anytime anything big is scheduled, I run to the calendar to see what day it falls on.
The first surgeon who did my endoscopic ultrasound advised me to just leave it alone. He said the symptoms weren’t so problematic that it was worth such a major surgery. But when I went back to my regular GI doctor, he didn’t feel comfortable with that and recommended I schedule an appointment with a thoracic surgeon to get a second opinion. And thank God he did that because the thoracic surgeon recommended surgery immediately. He said it was already huge and the type of cyst that he thought it was had a tendency to grow quickly and surgery was ultimately inevitable. I felt comfortable with his decision because I’d heard he’s one of the best in this field. Also, the other doctor who is a thoracic/cardio surgeon is Greek Orthodox.
Of course, my family all tried to persuade me to let them come down and as much as I wanted them too, I knew that the time they’d need to take off to be here would be time they couldn’t take off when I go visit them in a few short weeks.
So, we came in Monday afternoon to have it removed. I prayed for the peace of Holy Spirit to wash over me and for Christ to send Panagia and Sts. Panteleimon and Nektarios to guide the doctors and nurses caring for me and to be at my side.
The surgery was just under 4 hours long and my one lung had to be collapsed in order to reach the back of my esophagus where the cyst was. Originally, back in November they told me the cyst was 5 cm. Before surgery they told me on the most recent cat scan it appeared to be larger, around 8 cm.
When they went in, the cyst was actually growing behind a major blood vessel to my heart. They had to divide the blood vessel and carefully cut the cyst out of the muscle behind my esophagus.
When they cut the cyst out of the muscle, they couldn’t believe how large it was. It was literally the size of a plastic easter egg! I hope you guys aren’t too grossed out by these pictures, but this was so crazy to me that I just had to share at least these two. Sorry, if I ruined your lunch.
When I stand up straight, it actually feels like something is missing from inside of my chest. I can’t believe that thing was inside of me. My sweet sister-in-law Maria, said I need to hang a picture of it on my refrigerator to remind myself of how mortal we really are. And it’s true.
The next morning, I woke up feeling a little achy from the incisions and they had to spread my rib cage a bit to make room to work. My throat is still pretty sore and I’m really hoarse from the tube that was down my throat during surgery. I still managed to facetime my parents and sis a couple of times though. I love that facetime makes it feel like they’re really here with me and I think them being able to see that I was really feeling good and not just saying that for their sake, put them at ease a little, too. I feel like a positive attitude makes all the difference. I could have easily sat here and depressed myself with the fact that they weren’t here and all of this was happening, but I just don’t believe in doing that. Things are only as bad as we allow them to be. We have to have faith that God will get us through what He brings us to and that He never gives us more than we can handle. We just have to toughen up and deal with it with joy and thankfulness. Find the silver lining. The joy in everything. The devil will always be right around the corner trying to bring us down but we have to fight him with prayer. He’ll get us every now and then that’s for sure but we have to take Christ’s outstretched hand and get back up.
I have four small incisions on my side, three from the surgery itself and one from the chest tube. The chest tube itself was pretty uncomfortable and needless to say I was very happy to have it removed yesterday afternoon. Considering everything that was done, I feel really good. There were a couple of moments where I became a little overwhelmed, like yesterday afternoon when I was dying of thirst and hunger. I hadn’t had a drink of anything for over 30 hours and food for almost 43 hours. They sent me for a test to make sure there were no leaks in my esophagus or lungs and told me if it all looked good I could have water. So, I went back to my room and called for a glass of water. In the meantime, I nodded off for a bit and when the nurse woke me up to tell me I had to wait for the doctor to give the ok, I got pretty annoyed. (See, the devil around my corner) It makes sense, I know, but at that point I got frustrated and started to cry a little. I’m such a baby, lol.
After two more hours, they finally brought me a cup of ice water and a few hours after that I got to feast on a cup of chicken broth and apple juice. Seriously, I had no idea chicken broth could taste so good. I was starving!!
Then, later on at dinner time, I got the dessert of all desserts. Lime Jell-O. I was officially a happy lady again. Now that I felt half human again, I took out my Bible and started doing a little Bible Study.
They will probably release me either later on today or tomorrow but I have strict orders not to do any lifting and to stay on my soft diet for two more weeks. Lots of smoothies and ice cream for me. Don’t you feel bad for me?
I am so grateful to everyone who helped me out through all of this. My doctors were the best, truly. DH was able to stay with me during the day because mom and dad-in-law and sis and bro-in-law (Valadou and George), came up to keep an eye on the kids. So, my boys were busy having playing with their cousins and not sitting at home worrying about me or being cooped up in the hospital room. George and Valadou planned a whole day full of fun activities like water balloon fights and homerun derbies. They all had such a blast! And two of my dearest friends, took turns spending the night with me so DH could be home with the boys.
My phone didn’t stop dinging with well wishes from all of my family and friends and it made me really happy to read all their messages of encouragement and prayer.
Life is such a blessing and I am so grateful for the amazing family and friends God has given me. Both my surgery and recovery went much better than even the doctors expected and I owe that all to the mercy of God and your prayers. Thank you so very much. I love you guys. xoxo
You know I’m a huge fan of lists. Mostly due to the fact that I’m dependent on them. They help keep things fresh on my mind and quite honestly, I remember next to nothing without them. So, lists are very good in my opinion.
Before Ace started Kindergarten at Harvard, we had a list of 100 things we wanted to do that summer. Now, four years later Lucky is preparing for Kindergarten. Even as I type those words, I don’t believe it. It still has not gotten any easier sending them off to school. Instead of Kindergarten Blues, I’ve had First, Second and Third Grade Blues. It stinks not having my little army of men at home with me all day and I am dreading having two of them away instead of one.
But, I am determined to make this summer as fun as possible for Lucky, the same way I did for Ace. So, we started by making a list of things he wanted to do. The list started like this:
We’ve already done a few things on the list and it’s grown significantly since we first started it.
And apparently, I’m not the only one with a list dependency because now these lists have a title: Bucket Lists. Every time you turn around, someone is making a bucket list for a different season or holiday.
I found this great printable Summer Bucket List on Pinterest. There are a ton of them out there, but I wanted a blank one that we could fill in with things that sounded fun or special to us specifically. So, we used this one from Three Monkeys Studio.
Some of the other things we added to our list are:
- Make Bubble Snakes
- Go swimming
- Picnic at Park
- Play Legos a lot
- Read a Book a Day
- Bake macarons
- Go to the Zoo
- Pack a lunch and Visit a Museum
- Root Beer Float Date
- Have a Water Balloon Fight
- Go Fishing
- Opposite Day
- Go Roller Skating
- Bake Cookies for Fire Station
- Go to a Festival
- Trace Our Shadows
- Make Ice Cube Sidewalk Chalk
- Visit a Monastery (out of state)
- Go for a Walk in our PJ’s
- Play in the Rain
- Catch Crawfish in the Creek
- Have Breakfast for Dinner
- Catch Lightning Bugs
- Play Kick the Can
- Earn Prizes from Summer Reading Program
- Go Camping
- Finger Paint
- Hike a Trail
- Make a Nature Rubbing
- Attempt to Break a World Record
- Bake a Pie
- Eat a Giant Cupcake
- Have a Bonfire and Make S’mores
- Put Sprinkles on Everything for a Day
- Play Flashlight Tag
- Go to the Drive-In
- Tie-Dye T-shirts
- Make Slime
- Go Canoeing
and it’s still growing! I’ll continue updating this list as we add things to ours! Any suggestions?
Xristos Anesti! Christ is Risen!
i cannot tell you how excited i have been to finally convert the dining room we’ve never used into a home office for me! i feel like a little kid finally getting their own bedroom.
i’ve had a desk in the dining room but with the wrong floor plan and no privacy it has rarely been used. plus the desk was really small and not very practical for spreading out books, notebooks and computers. the room has spent the past nine years being a multi-purpose room and i have done all my work in more a traveling office. traveling as in, kitchen table to living room table to dining room floor to card table in the middle of the house, lol.
so, my sweet dh put up a wall to semi-close the room in and it has made all the difference!
inspector sprout giving the frame his o.k.
once the wall was up, i started painting. i chose a subtle pink (lady pink by olympic from lowe’s)
and a nice shade of gray (metropolitan by valspar, from lowe’s). i’m going to add something more to this wall, either a french inspired stenciling in lady pink or white chevron stripes, to add a little more design to that wall. the curtains i chose are solid, too, so i need a little pattern to break it up.
the next thing that i really needed was a desk. i looked at so many online and in furniture stores, including IKEA which i love, but couldn’t find what i wanted (a decent desk at a reasonable price). i found a couple on pinterest and etsy that i absolutely loved but the price tags were way above what i was willing to spend. like this one below. i looooved this desk.
but yeah, $895.00? not going to happen. i was obsessed with the antique scrolls on this desk though and the colors fit perfectly with the palette I had chosen for the room. i really wanted a sort of shabby or french chic look because i love that fresh, airy, vintage-y feeling. i know well enough not to get any specific thing stuck in my head though because one rarely finds it.
so, i moved my search to used desks and clicked through sites like freecycle and craigslist for a few weeks. finally, i found one that i really liked. it even had the scrolling like the etsy one!
it is solid wood and at least 60+ years old, according to the owner. i brought it home, sanded it down, primed, painted, distressed, and sealed it. i’ll be posting a diy on exactly what materials i used and how i did it soon.
this was the final result! i couldn’t believe how great it felt to do it myself! i picked up some really pretty drawer liner from tj maxx and finished the inside with it.
now that i was officially addicted to redoing already owned furniture, i pulled out the office chair i’d been “saving” that belonged to my grandfather.
i’ve always loved this chair and was thrilled to finally have a use for it. like the desk, i sanded it down, primed and then began the painting and distressing.
i painted it the same tiffany kind of blue as the top of the desk first (sea wave by valspar, from lowe’s), then painted over it with the white (du jour by valspar, from lowe’s). this way, when i distressed it, the blue would show through just a bit and they would look like a set. the end result was perfect. i’m still hunting for the right size wheels to add to the bottom of the chair since two of the originals are missing, but other than that it is all finished.
i just love, love, love the way they both turned out. i’m doing a bookshelf that dh made in woodshop class as a boy. i can’t wait to show you the whole room when it’s all finished!
**UPDATE: There’s still SO much more to do but I am loving every minute of it! Click the photo to see what else I’ve been up to…
Xristos Anesti! Christ is Risen!
Last week, I had the blessing of speaking to the parents and contestants of the 2013 St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival for the Atlanta Metropolis. We discussed topics like being Modern Day Apostles, Practicing the Jesus Prayer and Creating a Home Church. I was overwhelmed and humbled by the response my presentation received. It’s nice to know that what I say out loud actually makes sense to someone other than myself.
It was such a pleasure meeting all of the contestants and their families. God bless the parents for encouraging and supporting their children with their spiritual efforts. That is such a big deal! And it is apparent through each one of them. Watching them gave me such hope for the futures of my own children. Hearing them talk about things their parents did at home while they were little and what sort of things stand out in their minds as important, really made me think and gave me the encouragement I need as a mother of three young children; a push to keep going. It whispered, “Keep pressing forward. One day this will all be worth it.” I’m always surprised when people invite me to speak because I always bring home more than I could ever offer. And for that, I am so grateful.
Ace wanted to come with me to help with my presentation and listen to the students. So, he filled folders with a handout I created (can be downloaded for free below), some bookmarks and pens. It was great for him to be there. I think seeing older kids taking their faith seriously, really gave him something to think about. He watched and listened to them pretty intensely. I had also brought some prayer ropes for the contestants that Metropolitan Alexios passed out. Since then, Ace has been doing his prayer rope more often without me asking him to. I wonder if maybe by my talking to others about the importance of the Jesus Prayer, it made more of an impression on him. I tend to get a little preachy at home, so hearing all of those things indirectly may really have proven more effective.
I was totally caught off guard by the impact the student’s essays had on me. I was literally in tears through most of them. The level of awareness of Orthodoxy and God’s teachings that these kids had literally stunned me. Honestly, they had a clearer idea than many adults. They are not deterred by things of this world, they realize that these things are nothing and are working toward a greater prize.
I cannot say enough about them. They were one phenomenal group of kids, that’s all I can say. Each and every one of them will have a positive impact on the world if they continue the path they are on right now. I don’t know how the judges chose, it would have been impossible for me. Every essay, even the ones on the same topic, were so completely different and conveyed such powerful messages. I wish I could have recorded them for DH to hear and for Ace to hear again.
Giving my presentation:
Metropolitan Alexios passing prayer ropes out to the Junior Division:
Metropolitan Alexios and me:
Junior Division (plus a photo bomb by Ace, lol):
Senior Division Contestant (and winner) Sarah Hunt:
It was such a great experience that I feel very blessed to have been a part of. I look forward to seeing who wins the National Finals coming up in June. Good luck to everyone and it was a pleasure meeting all of you!
Also, if you’re interested in seeing the handout I distributed, it can be downloaded here: Modern Apostles Handout
i want to thank all of you who reached out and left comments or sent private emails after my through His strength, i am fearless post. you guys are incredible and the personal stories, thoughts and prayers you sent my way mean so very much to me. i can’t tell you how touched i was, and still am, by all of your kindness. i seriously love you all to pieces. ❤
for those of you wondering what’s going on…my endoscopy proved to be uneventful. there is nothing going on in my esophagus or digestive system, but the lump they saw in the scans is outside of my esophagus and is definitely pressing in on it, causing the difficulty swallowing and the “something is stuck in my throat” feeling i’ve been having. i have another appointment on march 5 where they’ll do another scope but there will be a needle on the end that will go through the esophagus into the lump and will remove tissue to biopsy.
with all of those recent issues, i’m trying to be even more aware of what we are putting into our bodies. [Read more...]