Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's all downhill from here...

My knees are getting creaky and sore...

I get up to go to the kitchen and can't remember what I got up for...

I don't seem to know where I am and when...

My back feels so icky when I try to bend...

Now that I'm 30, life has brought on many changes.  Some more significant than others.  The most important in my mind right now is that I am on round 12 of chemo, meaning that if I go to the full extent (2 years), I am OFFICIALLY halfway there!!  Each new round will bring me one step closer to the end of chemo time!  Yay!  So cheers to being 30 and back pain and creaky knees and everything--especially the chemo--going all downhill from here!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Yes, I was completely surprised.

This was initially going to be a post about our trip to Indy last weekend or Thanksgiving or something else random in my life.

Instead, I am going to post my gratitude and amazed incredulity to all the loves in my life who got together to throw me the best 30th birthday surprise party EVER!!!!

Thanks to...

The delightfully merry chefs who worked hard into the wee hours of the night preparing the delicious feast!

Almost my ENTIRE family who came in from out of town to be there and in costume!!!  

My moms--who encouraged Adam in this venture and should have dressed up as saints for all of the hard work they put into the party!

My sister-in-law, Sarah and her partner in crime, James.  Slide-show/Party-planning queen and the Supervisor/Sampling king. 

Harriet Potter aka, Laura, who somehow managed to talk to me about twice a week without once spilling the beans about her super-stealthy plans!  Amazing!  P.S. Her birthday is on Tuesday!

And of course, my amazing family.  Adam, the man to whom the words "planning in advance" mean very little to, who managed to pull off the biggest, most incredible pre-planned surprise costume birthday party for his eternally grateful wife.  And my children, who, like me, were blissfully unaware of the party and patient with Dada as he planned the whole shindig while Mama was at work.

Finally, thanks to ALL of you who came, wanted to come, contributed stories or pictures or quotes or thoughts.  All of you who help remind me to be grateful for being able to wake up every day and get out and live my life!  Life is good!

Monday, November 21, 2011


Ahhhh...The Glass Rooster Cannery...such a beautiful, idyllic location for a family get-together.  The weather was just right for playing outside and enjoying the setting.  And the kids really love going there.  But let us be clear about one thing.  They love going to there to "help".

Helper #2 riding the stationary bike
 As mentioned in a previous post, Adam has a wee bit of an obsession when it comes to the children working at a cannery.  We're still not sure why, however recent speculations include the desire for canned lamb to be introduced into the household on a more regular basis.  Of course, now that there is a convenient cannery, he has already filled out the applications for the children and submitted them to the appropriate personnel.  Did I mention it was an obsession?

Two little helpers having so much fun
 Despite Adam's odd fixation, the children have grown to love going to the cannery, but they do insist, that they are only going to "help".  Certainly not "work".  Heaven help you if you say the "w" word to them.

The rooster
 So the cannery has officially gained two very eager and very tiny helpers.  And one very relieved mother.  Hopefully, now that we have adopted the appropriate terminology, the therapy bills won't be so big due to cannery work-induced anxiety.

Grandma and Nora "helping"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Exercise And Cancer: Reducing The Risk, Enhancing The Treatment

Today, guest blogger, David Haas a fellow cancer survivor, blogger, and advocate requested to write a special post about exercise and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.  I agreed to this because I know the importance of staying active to keep healthy.  Enjoy!
According to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), exercise may reduce the risk of endometrial, colon, and invasive breast cancer. It may also increase the prostate cancer survival rate. Regular physical activity can even reduce a smoker’s risk of lung cancer, although quitting smoking is still the best action.

Numerous studies funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and other organizations suggest that exercise, combined with adequate rest, can lower the overall cancer risk. This applies whether a cancer is rare mesothelioma or common carcinomas. Although researchers are unclear as to how exercise does this, it may have something to do with the effect of exercise on weight, hormones, and immune function.

Not only can exercise lower cancer risk, but it plays an important role in cancer treatment, too. While it cannot cure cancer or treat the disease alone, it makes a good complement to conventional medicine. Exercise enables patients to cope with the side effects of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. And it maximizes a patient’s long-term well-being.

Exercise has the same benefits for cancer patients as it does for healthy adults. Increased fitness, greater strength, improved mood, and more energy are just some of the benefits of regular activity. But for cancer patients, exercise has additional benefits; it can actually enhance treatment.

Weight loss or gain is an area of special concern for nearly all cancer patients. Dramatic weight change is tied to both cancer and treatment symptoms. Regular activity helps to control weight, reduce cancer recurrence, and increase survival rates.

Exercise can also help patients better deal with the treatment symptoms associated with chemotherapy. Aggressive therapies take a toll on the body and mind. Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, headaches, fatigue, and depression are just some of the side effects of cancer treatment. Exercise strengthens the whole body, so patients can handle their treatments better.

Research has produced compelling evidence that exercise is safe for most cancer patients, both during and after treatment -- as long as they do not push themselves. Patients should consult with their doctor before starting a cancer fitness program. Doctors and patients should work together to tailor a healthy exercise plan.

Different situations require different regimens, of course, but patients should avoid inactivity unless recommended by their doctor. Whether they choose jogging, swimming, bike riding, or yoga -- or just a stretch in bed and a walk down the hall -- cancer patients need some form of movement.

Ideally, they should strive to get the same amount of exercise that the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends for healthy adults -- 150 minutes per week, or about 20 minutes a day. The best plans combine aerobic activity with flexibility exercises and strength training for the best health benefits.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chemo and MRI

I was supposed to go through chemo this weekend, but my doctor postponed it for next weekend after my MRI.  This makes me extremely happy because with the timing of things, I was going to have a chemo weekend ON MY BIRTHDAY next month!!!  Aaah!  Thankfully, I won't have to go through that!

Speaking of my birthday, as many of you know, I made a goal back in June to lose 30 before 30.  I liked the concept because it was catchy and because losing 30 would do me some good.  Well, here I am, 20 pounds down and well on my way to 30.  I have only 1 more month, and being the realistic gal that I am, I don't think I'm going to reach 30 before 30.

However, this does not bother me at all because I have discovered so many wonderful things along the way.  Thanks to my awesome health coach, Erica, I have set reasonable weekly goals for myself that have completely changed our family lifestyle!  I have taken on a very difficult task for a working mother of 2: I have decided to eat a minimum of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  Now, this may not seem difficult, but after having actually tried to do it, it has proven itself a challenge.  It is my new lifestyle.  This means incorporating some fruits/vegetables into my snacks and/or breakfast so that my dinner doesn't become a feast of veggies.  We have been doing some awesome family-style workouts over the last 5 months.  Bike rides, walks, and yoga.  Nothing crazy, boring, out-of-my realm, or unreasonable.  The main component of these workouts was fun with Adam and the kiddos.  And now, I'm down 20 and I know that I will reach my goal of 30 soon.  Maybe not by the big day, but definitely soon after.  I'm thrilled.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Visit to KI

Mama: "Who wants to go to Kings Island?"
Kids: "Meeeeee!!!"

Ayisha: "Hanann, you need to buy a crazy hat and wear it all day at Kings Island."
Hanann: "Okay.  Is this crazy enough?"

L: "Mama, can I wear the crazy hat, please?"
Mama: "Like auntie, like niece."

My mom's favorite ride?  The train.  She was prepared to ride twice in a row!  What a wild woman!  :o)

Mama: "How are the bumper cars?"

Sunday, October 16, 2011


It all started with a chair.  First day of art class, 9th grade year.  I'm certain that I sat in it first, she insisted that she had the chair first.  There was a brief moment of indignant attitude.  "Didn't you see my backpack there?"  said Cassie.  "But my notebook was on the desk!"  I would retort.  However, we quickly discovered that it didn't matter who had the chair first, what mattered was how quickly we would become friends.  We both shared a mutual exasperation of our art teacher, yet loved art.  We liked hanging out and doing fun sewing/craft/art projects, writing notes, volunteering, and generally just having fun.  Even though the years brought physical distance, marriage, and children, we still manage to hang out and have fun.  This time with kids....and (mostly) no arguments about chairs.  

Annabelle, doing her best to not look at the camera at COSI.  So cute!

Isaac at COSI, pretty excited about being at COSI.

Cassie and Annabelle (and Brian!) at the water table.

I'm pretty sure she has the fountain of youth in her backyard!  Thanks for visiting, friends!  We can't wait for next time!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Woot woot!

Once again, it's been too long since I posted.  And once again, it is due to some major busy-ness in my life.  But now, I have time to sit down and catch you up on the happenings in my life.

First, we celebrated Eid with my family.  We were all together at my parents' beautiful new house.  And what Eid wouldn't be complete without hugs from Uncle Haythem?  It was a wonderful time, full of peaceful reflection on the past year and a reminder of all that we have to be thankful for.

We also had a family wedding to attend in Mansfield, OH--congrats to cousin Jennifer and her new husband, George!  We had all kinds of fun visiting with family, riding a carousel, and sampling from the delicious assortment of candies at the wedding.

Why yes, I am 16 lbs. down!
Lilla and Aiden making silly faces at the wedding
 My last chemo treatment kicked my tush to the curb.  It came right after my MRI (the results of which are still "stable", aka no change) and also in conjunction with my first week of FULL TIME WORK!!!!!

That's right, I am also a full time working woman!  I am very excited to share that I am now the Service-learning and National Initiatives Coordinator for After-School All-Stars Columbus.  Basically, I'm coordinating service-learning opportunities for our students after school and ensuring that we are successfully incorporating our national initiatives into programming.  The job comes with many perks, including (but not limited to) regular pay, full health insurance benefits, a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and the opportunity to take care of my family financially.  While the job is keeping me busy and preventing me from regularly updating my blog, I'm loving it and can't wait to keep you updating on all that I'm doing!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Under Pressure

Under Pressure.

MRI coming up on Friday.  Anxious because I've been feeling tingling in my fingers and teeth, reminiscent of past seizures.  Hoping it's just the new anti-seizure medication and nothing more.

Under Pressure.

Watched "It's Kind of a Funny Story" about a kid who checks himself into the psychiatric ward at the hospital.  It was kind of a funny story.  I especially enjoyed this scene:

Under Pressure.


Under Pressure.

It's Freddie Mercury's  birthday.  Wasn't sure how to commemorate it.  So I thought I'd blog about it.  And sing about how I feel under pressure and then do a complete air guitar/air piano version of Bohemian Rhapsody.  Happy Birthday, Freddie Mercury!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Prettiest Little Flex Meal This Side of the Mississippi

Working, chemo, 90th birthday party in Evansville, IN, more working.  My days have been super full over the last two weeks.  My tummy has also been super full too.  And not just with the delicious fried chicken that comes with 90th birthday parties, either.  Last week we made the prettiest flex meal I have seen yet.

Caribbean Black Bean Couscous
 This caribbean dish has yummy fresh mango, black beans, couscous, and red peppers.  The lime juice and the mango flavor play off of each other perfectly.  We all agreed that this is one of our favorites.  With all of its colors, it was so beautiful to look at--and fragrant, too!  This was definitely a meal for the senses.

Isaac gives a finger up and a finger sideways 
Lilla gives a strong thumbs up and a smile to go with it
Well, we have reached the end of our 5 week flex plan and are ready for the next step.  We are now going through and picking our favorites to try again with any changes that we thought the recipes needed.  I am 13 pounds down now and have 17 to go!  All my clothes are feeling loose, but I'm trying not to buy anything new until I hit my birthday.  We'll see if I can tolerate the pants-falling-down look until then.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


I spent most of the last week in Chicago with a student of mine, learning about public speaking, service-learning, and ways to infuse improv into the after school program.  It was awesome.  I learned so much and made some new friends.  I also had the opportunity to go on a boat tour (pic below) and to a White Sox game where we got to experience a real Chicago downpour:

On the rooftop of Cellular Field w/ skyline in the background
(before the downpour)
The trouble with traveling and trying to lose weight is that we were offered potatoes with every single meal option.  Often multiple potato options (waffle fries or roasted potatoes?). And those tater tots were very difficult to resist.  However, before I left, I spoke with my health coach (Erica) and she told me that I could make a portion plate that is 1/4 protein, 1/4 grains, and 1/2 veggie/fruit.  Here is my attempt at a portion plate that also includes tots.  

It was too cute to not photograph
I realized how difficult it can be to count calories when you're away or even make healthy decisions.  While eating at Bruegger's, do I get the huge bagel with cream cheese or do I get the huge bagel with butter?  I just don't know the answer to those kind of questions.

Picture from the boat tour--it did not disappoint
I learned that as long as I try to watch my portions and stick to the portion plate, I should be fine.  And to not say "no" to the pizza.  Definitely do NOT say no to the pizza in Chicago.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Few Flex Pics

Our cooking conquests from this past week have been pretty successful.  With the exception of the zucchini pancakes, we are excited to make it all over again.  Luckily, flexing is working!  I have lost 9 pounds total so far!  Almost a third of the way to my goal!  Woohoo!

Vanilla-Spice French Toast with Berry Syrup

Greek Chopped Pita Salad--So much goodness in one pita!

Roasted Tomato and White Bean Penne--Yum!

Adam was excited about the Spicy Tofu Reuben.
Not pretty to photograph, but SO good!
Next week, I'm looking forward to the Spicy Peanut and Edamame Wrap and the Pumpkin-Spice Oatmeal with Hazelnuts!  Yum, yum, yum!!  :o)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Flex Plan Days 3 thru 10

The best part about cooking, is sharing the meal with friends and family.  And over the last week, we have certainly had the opportunity to do both!  We were able to welcome our friends, Joanna and Tirzah to the homestead, along with Joanna's parents, 2 brothers, and sister-in-law.  It was a fun crowd to have around, for sure!  Not only did we get to sample some Jeni's Ice Cream--maybe more than once--but we also got to check out a few new recipes from the Flex Diet.

Here are a few pictures of some of our successful ventures in cooking over the last week!

Isaac, giving numerous fingers up
Barbecue, Tofu, Kale and Sweet Potatoes--Yum!
Lilla gives a big THUMBS UP!
Black Bean and Zucchini Quesadillas
Fresh Artichoke and Tomato Panzella Salad

Apricot Almond and Brown Rice
Barley Basilico with Garlic Eggplant--bring mints!
Thumbs up to the quesadillas

Thumbs way up!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

30 Before 30--Day 2

Today we had the advantage of two additional food critics--grandma and grandpa!  They generously assisted us with the tasting and evaluating of our low-cal meals.  For breakfast today we had Figgy-Flaxseed Oatmeal.

It was delicious and got two thumbs up from everyone.  The flavor wasn't too sweet and the consistency was perfect.  Every time you encountered a piece of fig was incredible.  Yum.

Lunch was avocado black bean wraps.  With mashed black beans, salsa, and a burst of lime juice it was muy delicioso!

Grandma and Grandpa adopted Isaac's form of evaluation and gave the wraps many fingers up.

Finally, for dinner we had Portabello Pesto Penne.  We liked it, however we would have altered it just slightly.  With lots of fresh basil, the texture turned out slightly dry.  We definitely will put some reserved olive oil on at the end and allow the basil to cook in with the warmed pasta and mushrooms.  All in all we agreed, thumbs up.

I can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring!