Saturday, March 31, 2012

Family Update...

It's time for another family update.

Jim had his appointment with his oncologist on Thursday. We all felt the cancer had spread because of his symptoms and unfortunately we were correct. Some of the original spots had increased in size and there were also some new ones.

Since Jim hadn't responded to the hormone therapy he began chemo the same day. The doctor said that the chemo he would be receiving wouldn't be anything like Reid's chemo. In fact, Jim didn't even need a chemo port since this chemo can be given directly into a vein. (Reid joked that his wasn't at all fair.)

The doctor asked if Jim would consider having a bone marrow aspiration done for research purposes. It would have to be done before the chemo began. Reid had gone along with us for the appointment and he has had many of those done, so he encouraged Jim to agree. Reid has said in the past that although it's not pleasant it's definitely tolerable. So, Jim had that done before the chemo began.

Needless to say, it was another long day for us down at MD Anderson. We were talking recently and wondering how many hours we've actually spent down there, how many miles we've put on the vehicles, and how much we've spent for parking. We couldn't even begin to figure it out. In the last two and a half years it's been many!

We all get so tired. It's an hour each way and then we spend a lot of time waiting between appointments. They have plenty of comfortable areas to sit with couches, recliners, etc., but it does get boring. Many times we've been gone from home 10-12 hours. The next day is always a wasted day. It's like we need a day to recover. Reid joked one time that they must put something in the A/C to calm and relax everyone and that's why we get so tired. Personally, I think the stress has a lot to do with it. It just never seems to end.

Anyway, Jim is actually feeling a little better than he had been, but the doctor said that the Prednisone he would receive before the chemo would probably give him extra energy for a couple of days and then he'd feel fatigued. This is totally different from what Reid experienced...thank goodness! Jim is able to eat and hasn't had any nausea. He'll go back again in three weeks for another infusion.  Hopefully, this is the way it will always be.

Meanwhile, Reid goes on April 9th for all his scans. His first appointment that day is 6:45 and the last one is at 3:00 which actually means he probably won't be done until 5:00 or 6:00, so it will be another very long day. Hopefully, that one lymph node they've been watching will have shrunk and he won't need another biopsy.

I kind of thought by now we'd be able to resume a somewhat normal life, but it doesn't look like that will happen anytime soon.  I guess this is our "new normal" now.  Isn't that what they call it?

I  started walking again some weeks back, but it didn't last. I used to walk at least three miles a day, but that all came to a screeching halt when I got busy with my Dad and then Reid. I know I feel so much better when I exercise, but there's so much to do around here now after letting so many things go while we were busy with my Dad and Reid. I'm hoping I can get back to painting the dining room that we started before Christmas. It's about five or six different colors because I kept trying out paint colors on the woodwork. I bought more paint, so at least that's a start. With a little luck I might get some done this week.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to keep up with at least a weekly Alphabe-Thursday post. I don't spend much time online. Often I'm just too tired to get online in the evening and too busy during the day, but it's been that way for some time now.  The blog sure makes it easier for me to communicate.

Thank you so much for your support and prayers.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Alphabe-Thursday..."S" as in S'mores

Welcome to Alphabe-Thursday sponsored by Ms. Jenny at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent."  Today we are studying the letter "S" as in S'mores.  I love S'mores...don't you?

A while back (maybe a year ago) I stumbled across a recipe for You're Killin' Me Smalls (my son tells me that's a line from a movie) on someones blog.  Basically, these were S'more cupcakes.  It isn't a blog that I have saved, so I had to go do a google search in order to find it again so I could give credit where credit is due.  The blog is Lessons Of A Newlywed, but I don't know the author's name.

Anyway, I decided to finally bake them for this week's Alphabe-Thursday post.  Bake and test.  The sacrifices I make for Alphabe-Thursday.  I baked them this morning and  immediately ate two of them for you.  They were very good although I would make a couple of minor changes next time.

You can find the complete recipe here.

The main ingredients are French Vanilla cake mix, graham cracker crumbs, Hershey's Kisses and Marshmallow Creme.  Before baking you push a Hersey's Kiss into each cupcake.
 Then you sprinkle graham cracker crumbs on the top.
Bake them and then add some Marshmallow Creme on the top.  Return to oven to melt.
OK, but I wanted it to look more like S'mores.  So, I stuck them under the broiler for a short while.  I don't know how long because I just watched them carefully until they started to turn brown.  Some did brown more than others, but I think that's just the heating coil in my oven.  I was a little nervous because I wasn't sure if the cupcake liners could catch on fire, but they didn't.  (Try this at your own risk.)
Next time I'm going to add two Hershey Kisses to each one or maybe even a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup.  I would have preferred a little more of a chocolate taste.  The gal who originally posted this recipe said she used chocolate chips in each one because she didn't have any Hersey Kisses on hand.  I might try that too.

While I was making these I caught Shelby stealing dog treats.  Zoom opened the cabinet and Shelby managed to get the cover off of her treats.  I don't know how many she got before I noticed, but I took this picture after I put the cover back on. Afterwards I secured the cabinet doors with a rubber band.  I need to buy another child proof latch.  We used to have one on this cabinet until it broke.

Meanwhile, I don't get online a whole lot these days.  I've been trying to get things done around here that have been left for too long.  Last Fall we got a new backdoor and although it was primed it needed to be painted.  I noticed some mold on the woodwork around the door, so I bleached it and then painted the trim and door.  That was a good chunk of two days.
 I still have to do the inside...groan.

I've also been getting some things done around the yard.  Our backyard has a lot of shade.  I came up with this idea for a mobile vegetable garden.  Every couple of hours I go out and move the wagon as the sun goes across the sky.  I'm trying to give these little buggers six hours of sun a day.   I'm not sure I can keep this up when the weather turns hot, but I'll try.  I actually took this picture a few days ago and they've all grown since then!  I've got a tomato plant, two tomatillo plants, and two jalapeno plants.  Blackie is keeping her eye on them for me.

Now head over to Ms. Jenny's blog so you can visit some more Alphabe-Thursday posts.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Alphabe-Thursday..."R" as in RICE

I can't believe we're already up to the letter "R" for this week's Alphabe-Thursday post.  I believe I've only missed one week this time around which is some kind of record.  If memory serves me correctly I only completed the entire alphabet the second time Ms. Jenny ran this event.  The first time I came in a week late and joined the class for the letter B.  Hopefully, one of these times I can complete the entire alphabet again.  I'm guessing this is round 5?  Has anyone been keeping track?  I think I missed one complete round, but have participated somehow in all the others.  It gets me posting at least once a week.  It's the one event I try and make time for on a pretty regular basis.

 This week in keeping with my recipe theme I'm doing "R" for RICE.  Make that brown RICE.  Back a while ago we met with a dietitian concerning a healthy diet.  At that time we discovered brown RICE.  Much to our surprise we found that we liked it much better than white RICE.  It kind of has a nutty taste and isn't as bland tasting as white RICE.  The only disadvantage is that it has to be cooked longer than white rice.

I looked around the Internet for some brown RICE recipes and found quite a few.  One of our favorites was on Epicurious and is called Nutty Brown Rice.  You can find the recipe here.

The rice is cooked in a saucepan for a little more than 40 minutes.  The recipe says 40, but I've found it takes a little longer.  Then chopped mixed nuts are browned in butter (perhaps this recipe isn't quite as healthy as some others).
Then the cooked rice is added to the nuts.
It ends up having a nice flavor with a little bit of crunch.

Another brown RICE recipe that I make often is Alton Brown's Baked Brown RICE.  I found this one on It's simple to put together and bakes in the oven for one hour.  Its' foolproof and comes out perfect every time.  You can find that recipe here.

I'd like to tell you that we now eat very healthy meals, but that would be a lie.  We were pretty good at one time, but kind of got away from it when Reid was having chemo.  Then it was more important that he just eat and we kind of tossed out the healthy meals and just haven't gotten completely back to it again.  We have a few healthy meals each week, but we really need to up it a little.

Now head over to Ms. Jenny's blog so you can visit some of the other Alphabe-Thursday participants.

Busy days...

I've been MIA again while I get some things done around here.  The last few years we've kind of let the yard go while we were busy with my Dad and Reid.  Now it's catching up with us and I decided I'd better get to work.

They told us heavy rains would be moving in this week and I decided to try and get the beds all outlined with a small ditch so I could better keep the St. Augustine grass from creeping in among the Monkey Grass and shrubs.  Right now it's not too hot and the ground is soft.  In another couple of months the ground will be as hard as concrete.
 The bushes had gotten bigger and the Monkey Grass was growing under them, so I enlarged the beds and plugged in some more Monkey Grass along the edges.  Last week I trimmed the bushes way back.  They love the heat and humidity here and grow very quickly.  In fact, some of them already need to be trimmed again.  They'll keep growing like this until it gets real hot and then they'll slow down a little.

Reid dug the edge along the side of the house.  I really didn't want him helping because he gets out of breath with physical work, but he wanted to help me with Jim not feeling well.  I plugged some Monkey Grass along there too.

I also dug the edge around the Pecan tree and mailbox.  It will make edging when I mow a lot easier.  I plan to do the mowing until the weather gets hot and then I'll hire someone.
 We were hurrying to get done because they kept saying we would get heavy rain and although the sky looked pretty dark it didn't rain until the next day.  You can see what I mean in this picture.  The Pecan tree is always the last tree to get leaves.
The lawn is full of weeds because we never got any weed and feed down.  I'll try and get that done by the weekend.

Yesterday was a long day down at MD Anderson for Jim.  The weather was horrible in the morning, so Reid drove us down in the truck in case there was high water.  We all believe Jim's cancer is spreading since he's having more and more problems with bone pain.  His PSA had gone way up and the doctor wanted to get another CT scan and bone scan.  They managed to get him a CT appointment for early evening, so we came home to let the dog out, and then Jim and I went back down.  They were running way behind and we didn't get home until almost 10:30 last night.  This morning he had to be back at 7:00 for the bone scan, so he's home now and sleeping.  He'll see his oncologist again next week.  We discussed the possibility of a clinical trial and his doctor was going to see what is available.

Meanwhile, Reid received his next appointments in the mail.  He'll be having all his scans on April 9th.  I was looking forward to him not being scanned again for a while, but the clinical trial he was in requires scans at certain intervals and so he'll be back down there again all day for those appointments.  I'll try and go along and keep him company if I can.

All of our lives have certainly changed over the last several years.  When things are going well you tend to take it for granted until the "you know what" hits the fan.  A wise person once said, "Cancer is something that happens to the other guy until it happens to you."  Who was that wise person?  Reid.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Alphabe Thursday..."Q" as in Quesadillas

Welcome once again to Alphabe-Thursday sponsored by Ms. Jenny over at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent" and the letter "Q" as in Quesadillas.  Johnsonville Chipolte Monterey Jack Cheese Chicken Sausage Quesadillas to be exact.  (Talk about a title for a recipe!)  Last night we made these for dinner after finding the recipe on

I wish I could tell you how delicious they were, but that would be a lie.  Reid and I hated them, but my husband actually thought they were OK.  The problem we had was that the sausage tasted like slightly spicy hot dogs.  We served them with salsa and guacamole, but it really didn't help.

I'm not going to bother typing the recipe out.  You can find it here.  There is an error in the recipe.  In the ingredients list it calls for 12 (8 inch) flour tortillas, but the recipe only calls for 6.

Anyway, here's how they looked before we put the top tortillas on.  (We only made four of them and were going to make more until we discovered we didn't like them.)

They had to go under the broiler for two minutes on each side.  We found that was a little too long because some of the tortillas started to burn.
So, try at your own risk!  (Or better yet...don't try at all.)  I've got this recipe theme going for Alphabe-Thursday and there just wasn't time to try another recipe.

Meanwhile, Spring is here!  We had lots of rain this past weekend and once again we're growing mushrooms in the backyard.
And sweet little Blackie followed me around the backyard.  She is the nicest cat and I don't believe she ever leaves the yard.  She sleeps on the deck during the day and I lock her and Baby in the garage at night.  Baby wonders off a little during the day, but not Blackie.  She knows she found a good deal when she showed up here hungry some months back.  They don't come much sweeter than this cat.  And to think I was afraid of her initially because she would growl when I came near her.  Not anymore.  Now it's all purrs.
Most of our trees have leaves now.  They're not completely out on this tree, but almost.
These leaves are completely out and shading the house now.
Hopefully, it will be Spring soon where you live too.  Most days we're running the A/C here.

Now head over to Ms. Jenny's at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent" so you can visit more Alphabe-Thursday posts.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy Rebirthday Reid!

On Sunday we celebrated Reid's first Rebirthday.  It was the one year anniversary of his stem cell transplant or rebirth.  He has been cancer free for one year!  On Thursday he had the last infusion for the clinical trial, so that is now in his past too.

Keith came from Austin for the weekend.  As a joke he baked a heart scan cake, so we could also celebrate the good heart scan results he had from his last physical.  (He loves to rib Reid.)

Actually, he did a good job on the cake.  It was a red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. We had that on Saturday and it was delicious.  (I'm not sure it's too heart healthy though.)

We let him do the honors...

Then on Sunday we celebrated Reid's Rebirthday.  We had a special gift for him.

What could it be?

Yes, a can of creamed corn.  What wonderful memories!  A year ago his hospital room smelled like creamed corn.  We had been warned beforehand that the stem cells are kept in a preservative that smells like creamed corn, and they weren't kidding.  A can of creamed corn seemed appropriate.

Jim and Keith kept a watchful eye on the festivities.

In the afternoon we went to Kings Biergarten for some German food and a little celebration.

There was even a cake...

A Rebirthday cake, of course.

One year old and he can already walk and talk!

"Yes, Mom...I always wash down my cake with beer."

And a good time was had by all!



Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Alphabe-Thursday..."P" as in PINK Salad

Time has really been flying by and it's time again for another week of Alphabe-Thursday sponsored by Ms. Jenny over at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent." This week we are studying the letter "P" as in PINK Salad or PINK Stuff.

Before we talk about PINK Salad I wanted to apologize for missing class last week. I started with this recipe theme for Alphabe-Thursday and didn't really have a recipe ready for the letter "O" or time to come up with something edible. So, I skipped class. I don't know what will happen when we get to "X" and "Z" (and "Q" for next week!), but we'll see how it goes.

This week I thought I'd share one of our favorites...PINK Salad. I've posted this recipe before and it's one of those things that brings people to my blog in a Google search from time to time. I got this recipe from a friend when we were living in Virginia Beach back in the 1970's. She called it congealed salad, but my family has always called it PINK Salad or PINK stuff.

Congealed Salad (AKA PINK Salad or PINK Stuff)

1 small can crushed pineapple
1 6 oz. Jello (any flavor…I like raspberry)
1 12 oz. Carton Cool Whip
2 c. buttermilk
½ - 1 cup chopped nuts

Combine undrained pineapple and Jello in small saucepan. Heat until Jello dissolves. Mix Cool Whip and buttermilk; add nuts. Stir in gelatin mixture, mixing thoroughly. Put in mold or long rectangular pan. Let set for 4 hours. (I do it overnight.) I find it helpful to spray the mold lightly with Pam…it comes out of the mold a lot easier. Serves: 12. (I use a wire whisk for mixing the ingredients together.)

When I took the picture I got a little fancy and garnished it with some strawberries and blueberries.

I'm actually making PINK Stuff for my family this weekend. We're hoping to all work in the yard on Saturday (weather they're calling for rain) and I thought I'd throw hamburgers on the grill and we'd have macaroni and cheese and PINK Stuff. Then on Sunday we'll be celebrating Reid's "rebirth" with a small gathering at a favorite restaurant. March 11, 2012 is the one year anniversary of Reid's stem cell transplant and his life post cancer. We'll have a "rebirth" cake, balloons, etc. It's like he has two birthdays now...the original one on January 28th and the "rebirth" one on March 11th.

Now head over to Ms. Jenny's blog for a list of this week's participants so you can visit some more Alphabe-Thursday posts.