Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Millers!

Have a blessed day with your family and friends! 

By the time this posts, we should be well on the road driving to New Orleans for a two week construction outreach trip with our church.  Six of us are leaving today and the rest will follow tomorrow. 

I probably won't be keeping up this blog much over the next couple of weeks but if you would like to follow along with our outreach trip check out  We will be updating it daily once we all "land" in New Orleans. 
What we did last year is also there for your perusal.  :)


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”- Luke 2:16-20

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I'm not a mutant!

Well, at least some of my cells aren't!

I received the best early Christmas present this week. 

I don't have the BRCA1 cell mutation that causes hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.  (click here to read the original post)

I wasn't supposed to find out the results of the test I had done earlier this month until January, but the test came back quicker than expected and they had a cancellation so DH & I were able to meet with the genetic team Thursday afternoon.  We went prepared for the worst, but were given good news instead.  We were very suprised.  My family history is loaded so we fully expected that I carried this gene.

They did however, recommend I have one more test done which detects something called Lynch syndrome, the hereditary colon and uterine cancer gene.  My Mother died from colon and uterine cancer in 1983.    

For right now, though, I'm focusing on the good report at hand.

Can you say Merry Christmas to me?!? 

Monday, December 14, 2009

This is my church. 
Crossroads Community Church
I thought I would give you a glimpse of where we go to worship our Lord.  
I like what they did with the stage Christmas decorations this year.  The snowflakes and lighted branches at the sides of the stage are gorgeous and the lit creche I absolutely love. 

And no, this isn't what our typical attendance looks like :). 
I was at the church early last week doing a stint as service coordinator and caught the worship team mid-practice.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sure does a mama's heart good

The weekend after Thanksgiving, my daughter-in-law, Heidi suggested we have a cookie baking day.  Of course, I said sure right away but then had a few second thoughts remembering how much work it was.  However, I wrote it on the calendar and we know if it's on the calendar, it's not negotiable, right?

When the boys were young, baking and decorating sugar cookies was a yearly tradition but as they got older, I ended up doing most of the rolling, cutting, baking, frosting and decorating myself as they had most definitely lost interest.  Work, cars and girls seemed to take priority over baking with Mom.  Go figure!

I finally gave it up as well because
a) it was a whole lotta work to do alone
c) DH doesn't like sugar cookies
b) because I couldn't stay out of them myself - there's not much better than a frosted sugar cookie, especially if they've been frozen
c) I gave up sweets few years back
d) again, all I could remember was the work!

A tad of  a "poor me" attitude, you say?  Yeah, pretty much!

As it turned out though....sometimes the things we "think" we don't want to do the most turn out to be the biggest blessing of them all, don't they? 

We had a wonderful day together!  I really did very little other than mix the cookie dough and frosting.  I got to watch and enjoy!

Heidi and the grandkids came, DIL Laurie helped until she & Luke had to leave late morning, Soon-to-be DIL Kristen helped and even Joe, Jon and their friend Steve got in on the act.  It was so much fun watching our grown boys, DIL's and the grandkids decorate cookies.  I did feel a little sorry for Steve.  I highly doubt that he thought he would be doing that when he stopped over to see the boys but he was a great sport and seemed to have fun with it anyway.

It was a day that sure gave this mama's heart a much needed boost. 
Thank you Heidi for suggesting it.  You're the best!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Storm aftermath

A few pictures from my workplace this morning.  It really is pretty to look at but, it's cold outside!   -2 with a even worse wind chill!

This is all from yesterday's snowstorm.  We had no snow on the ground before then.

This is the reason I always look up before I leave my building in the wintertime.
See that snow hanging over the eaves?  Yeah, I've watched that drop before.  I saw a guy one day standing under one of these smoking a cigarette when a huge chunk came down right behind him.  I'm pretty certain he had to go home and change his underwear.  Of course, me, being the sensitive soul that I am, laughed my butt off.  :) 

That one could poke an eye out!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

and so Winter begins....

We had a skiff of snow on the ground yesterday morning with  much more forecasted last night and today.

The time has come where I have to warm up the car before I leave for work in the morning.

The view from the parking lot at work yesterday morning.

The college was closed due to the weather today so I got a SNOW DAY, bonus day!  Oh how I love a good old fashioned snow day!

This is what our deck looked like at 6 am this morning.

At 9am we had almost 11" on the deck and it snowed hard for a couple of hours after that yet, so I'm guessing we probably have had close to 13" by now.  Frankly, I didn't go back out and measure again.  I'm kind of preferring my nice warm house to the great outdoors today.

 Now the winds are kicking in. Oh yea! It sure looks like winter is here! :(

I hope your staying warm and dry whereever you are!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sometimes genetics are just no fun :(

Disclaimer #1:
For the few of you men out there who read this…if you don’t like the mention of the words ovary or breast, you might want to skip this post. Sorry, but being up front right from the start.

Disclaimer #2:
This post is long but important to read if you have a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer. Sorry, it’s not the most uplifting subject but it’s important nonetheless.

A year ago, a cousin of mine I’ll refer to as “F” had the BRCA analysis done. For those of you who have not heard of this, a BRCA analysis is a relatively simple, one vial, albeit expensive blood test, to see if a person carries a hereditary gene called BRCA1 or BRCA2. Hereditary cancers make up only 12-15% of breast and ovarian cancer, the other 85% is called sporadic(no heredity involved). However out of that 12-15%, if you carry one of the BRCA genes, your risk of getting breast cancer increases to 85% and ovarian cancer 45%.

The BRCA test along with a family history of early or young (50’s or younger) onset of this disease determines if a person is at high risk. Let’s just say my family medical history is loaded! My great grandmother was 41 when she died of breast and ovarian. My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at 48, a cousin with breast in her early 40’s, another with ovarian cousin in her 50’s, yet another cousin in her 50’s with fallopian tube, an aunt with ovarian in her mid 40’s, an aunt with breast and my mother with uterine in their 50’s, etc. See the heritage? I’ve always had the belief of not “if” I get cancer, but a matter of “when” I get cancer and have accepted that as a reality. Three years ago I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer which is not related to breast or ovarian but the realization that my body can and will grow the crap was brought home to me.

My cousin, “F” and her son, “S” both tested positive for the BRCA 1 gene. A year ago, after their testing, “F” sent out a letter telling others of us in the family about their positive results. At the time I received the letter, I promptly and ignorantly filed it away, thinking what would I do with the results if I was tested anyway? (I guess I didn’t read it very close so didn’t realize it also tested for ovarian cancer and not just breast.) My thought was that I do everything I can already (regular exams and mammograms) to check for breast cancer so what good would that information do me. It more than likely would just be an added stress and worry, so why deal with that, right? File it away…outta sight…outta mind.

In October, a friend who is currently going through treatment for breast cancer invited me to a Breast Cancer Awareness seminar. The lead speaker talked about genetics and the BRCA testing. During this seminar I learned the BRCA test also includes ovarian cancer. I had a hysterectomy almost ten years ago but they left the ovaries since I was young and they didn’t want to throw me into menopause. This has always been a concern of mine as ovarian cancer is typically fairly symptomless and goes undetected until it’s in the advanced stages. My gyne has wanted to do an ovarian ultrasound in the past but insurance wouldn’t cover it as it wasn’t “medically necessary.”

After much thought and prayer, I talked with my gyne who recommended a doctor who specializes in genetics at a local hospital. I called and set up an appointment with his genetic counselor. She told me what steps I needed to take to see if my insurance would cover this test. She also said most insurance companies now cover the cost. Lo and behold, my company will! So since they will cover the cost what am I out, right? I made an appointment which was last week and spent nearly 3 hours with the counselor and an oncologist RN learning all about gene make-up and what this test could show.

If a person has one or more first degree relatives with the gene, a person has a 50/50 chance of carrying the gene as well. If I test positive which frankly, I’ll be surprised if I don’t, there is a 50/50 chance that it’s been passed on to my sons and they in turn have a 50/50 chance of passing it along to their children. Yes, males can also carry the gene. Obviously they won’t get ovarian cancer, but can get, albeit rare, breast cancer. This gene can also surface in males as prostrate or colon cancer.

I went ahead with the blood test which takes four weeks to get the results. I go back on January 21st and meet with the counselor, RN and doctor to get my results and develop a possible care plan.

A question you say? If I test positive, what good will this information be to me?

In my case, step one would more than likely lead to the removal of my ovaries, which I’m perfectly fine with. Menopause has already begun. Not using them anyway, so get rid of them I say.
This procedure is called an oopherectomy(sp). Now, doesn’t that sound like something out of “Who-ville”???

The nurse also said most insurance companies will cover this now too if I am BRCA 1 positive and with my family history. She said insurance companies have decided it’s much more cost effective to pay for a surgery or two than rounds of chemotherapy and radiation.

They will also monitor my breasts much more closely. Instead of doing a regular mammogram, it will more than likely be an MRI of the breasts instead. Some women have even went as radical as a double mastectomy with reconstruction. I’m not quite sure where I stand on that yet. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

If I test positive for the BRCA1 gene and have my ovaries removed, it lessens the chance of me getting breast cancer by 45%! If I would go through with the double mastectomy (again, no decision on this one yet), it lessens the chance of breast cancer by 85 – 95%!

I’m looking at it this way…if I had a heart problem and had to change my diet or have a surgery to take the risk of a defect away, I would do it. There is not a diet I can change for breast or ovarian cancer but I can have this testing and maybe take more aggressive testing or preventative methods to monitor things.  I'm viewing as being proactive instead of reactive.

Also, this information could be helpful to my sons and their children in the future.

This is not something I will dwell on as that typically isn’t my style, but it’s a real threat for me so I feel I owe it to myself to find out the facts and go from there.

I like the way the Myriad Testing website says it….
“When it comes to breaking the cycle of inherited cancer, knowledge is power and hope.”

Lots to pray about and think about, huh?

If you want to learn more about the BRCA testing, click here.

To Music or not to music?

To music or not to music...that is the question.

I've been contemplating taking the music off of my blog. 

  • Do you listen to the music on others blogs?

  • Do you get tired of waiting for it to load?

  • Do you turn your sound down because you can't stand it?

  • Do you turn it up because you love it?

  • What do you think - music or no music?

I'd love to hear what your thoughts are.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Midwest Muscle Car Review

Now, doesn't a title like that just scream testesterone?  

Lots and lots of chrome!

Our son, Joe works in a body shop that specializes in muscle and classic cars. They entered a few of these cars in the Midwest Muscle Car Review & Corvette Nationals show in Rosemont, a Chicago burb. We hemhawed around a bit about going as driving in to "the city" is not one of our favorite things to do. If we go to "the city" we usually take the commuter train, so virtually no stress. Well, the commuter train didn't go to where we needed to be so toll money in hand and nerves of steel in place off we went and were really glad we did.

Joe painted both of these cars but I forget which one got which points.  Aren't I a great Mom to not remember that?

The car show runs on a point system with 999 being the highest points possible.  999 is rarely awarded as the judges usually find something wrong with the car, i.e. a speck of dust in the paint, a fingerprint.  Yup, I said a fingerprint.  Let me tell you, it's a whole other world in the car show circuit.  My car that is full of salt spray and hasn't been vacuumed in months wouldn't quite cut the mustard so to speak.

Joe was awarded a 993, 997 & a 999 for the cars he painted!  The owner of the 999 point car said there are guys at the show that have been in the business many years and never achieved a 999 so it is quite an honor for Joe.  We were excited for him and the car is gorgeous!  This car, a 1970 Chevelle has been in process for almost 5 years.   It was a complete frame-off restoration. 

The "perfect" car
This Chevelle also won the "Emerald Award" which is the top award for a car that's being shown for the first time.

Joe and the car owner, Chuck

Thanks for allowing me bragging rights for a few minutes.  We were just so excited for him.

Sorry for the pictures not being lined up.  Blogger is not cooperating at all.

Rude awakening

Woke to the sound of a snowplow this morning.  Ugh! 

Winter appears to be here with a couple of inches overnight and a blizzard forecasted for Tuesday and Wednesday this week.  double ugh!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I'm back!

No, I wasn't abducted by aliens and
no, I didn't fall in a hole somewhere
or got caught in the Bermuda triangle. 

I've been busy and sick
or sick and busy
or sick of being busy
or maybe all of the above. 
There's just been "shtuff" going on and this blog has most definitely been neglected but I'm back now (or at least until the next time life gets overwhelming).

We've been to ...
  • a car show in the "big city"
  • was down and out (literally) with the stomach flu for a week - I don't remember the last time that's happened, if ever.
  • decorated for Christmas
  • had all the kids home Thanksgiving weekend
  • sewed eight pair of pajama pants
  • baked Christmas cookies with the kids and grandkids - I haven't done that in years and it was so much fun!  I was smart though, I sent them home with the kids so I wasn't tempted.  There is nothing better than a frozen frosted sugar cookie - oh yeah, that's what I'm saying! 
  • celebrated our immediate family Christmas
  • babysat a bit
  • been involved in activities at church
  • and even slipped in some genetic testing -- huh? 
More on the genetics and some of these other activites in another post or two or three or four  :)

Just wanted to let you know that I'm alive and well and will be posting on some of this "shtuff" in the very near future.

Hope everyone's Christmas season is off to a wonderful start!