Thursday, December 30, 2010

thorns, roses, and rosebuds

I was checking in on Allie's blog and stumbled upon a friend of hers blog.

Jana started a meme called 'Thorns, Roses, and Rosebuds', and I absolutely adore the concept and have decided to participate.

A 'thorn' is a not-so-fun, bad, or sad thing that has happened to you.

A 'rose' is the highlight of your day, or in this case of your 2010.

And a 'rosebud' is a goal or something you are looking forward to.

Jana uses this meme as a tool for discussing her son's day with him when she puts him to bed at night...which I think is a terrific way of staying in the loop with your kids...especially if they are getting older or are even just soft spoken children who don't really talk about their day much.

This meme will only be once a year, and it kind of a replacement of those New Year's Resolutions that most of us don't tend to keep.  I think it's a wonderful way to reflect back on your year as a whole and to stop long enough to think about what you are really looking forward to in the year to come.

So without further ado....

My 'thorn' in 2010 was definitely all the medical stuff.  It's been one of the most emotionally draining and stressful years of my life. 

But through those thorns my 'roses' appeared.  Not only did my marriage NOT crumble under the intense stress situations like this cause, but it grew in ways I never dreamed it could.  I realized more than ever how much my husband took to heart those vows 'for better or for worse, in SICKNESS and in health' to heart.  He's stood by me in a situation that causes so many spouses to crumble.  I've truly learned the value of time with my family.  I've gained so many new friends (mostly through this blog), and their encouraging words have, honestly, pulled me through some very tough days.  And most importantly, my relationship with God is stronger than it has ever been!!!

The 'rosebud' I think I'm most looking forward to is continuing in my walk with the Lord, and seeing how strengthening that relationship improves all the other relationships in my life. 

I hope you all have a blessed New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. 

Don't forget to jump on over and check out Jana's blog.

A Cheese Ball and a Little Bit of Christmas

So this post is a little delayed.  

I've been enjoying the past few days with just my littlest girl.

Funny how the days FLY by when you're having fun!

It's been a little different this week cooking for basically just the two of us (Breanna doesn't eat that much!)

But nonetheless, I've had the opportunity to try out a few new recipes I wasn't sure the bigger kids would like.  

So, expect more food blogs in the near future.  :)

This is a family favorite during the Holidays.  My brother-in-law claims ALL left-overs, if there are any.

2 containers Whipped Cream Cheese

Add in a couple Tbsp's of Worcestershire sauce.

DO NOT skip this step.

I've been told (after forgetting to tell my sister to add this) that it ruins the whole cheese ball if this step is omitted. 

Add 1/2 a diced onion.

1/3 bag shredded cheese

Dice one package of Budding ham and one package Budding beef

Add to the mixture and give it a good stir.


I serve these with Chicken N Biscuit crackers and I could seriously eat the entire thing.

Now for some Christmas fun.....

Playing with their Orbeez makers Nana got them.

Santa came!!!


Opening her new boots.


The same boots Aunt Lisa bought Ava.

Opening his new three wheeled skateboard.

V-Tech vReader books.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I've had a few friends who've asked me about feeding a family of six on a budget and how I incorporate meal planning in to that.

Before I go to the grocery, I write out a menu for the week.  I break the menu down into the components that each meal requires, and then I go to my cupboards to see what I have and mark off the items that I don't need to purchase.  I do try to make meals that will use similar ingredients as well.  This allows me to buy in bulk, which in turn, saves a few bucks.

I found the above blog hop on Laura's blog, and I love seeing what everyone else's menu's are for the week.  Especially the week's following Holidays where you know there are going to be TONS of left-overs to try and incorporate.

This week (with only 1 kid at home) our menu will definitely be scaled back and a little more simplistic. 

Without further ado here's our menu for the week:

Monday: Chicken Enchiladas (I've never posted this recipe.  My neighbor brought them over one day and they are so delicious and SO easy to make!)

Tuesday:  Poppy Seed Chicken

Wednesday: Baked Spaghetti

Thursday: BLT's

Friday: Breakfast for supper....Hash Brown Crusted Frittata's and Biscuits and Gravy

Saturday: Date night w/our littlest blessing.  Not sure what restuarant we will be visiting.

Sunday: Roast, Potatoes, and Carrots

What's on your all's menu's this week?

It might get emotional

First off....I want to say, I hope you all had a great Christmas.  I know we sure did...and it was the first time in A LONG time that I remember everything being super relaxed, stress free, and honestly, just FUN! You see between us having a 'mixed' household, and being the product of a 'mixed' household, holiday scheduling sometimes gets a little crazy to coordinate.  This year, everything just fell into place.  We got to spend time with everybody without rushing from one place to another, and it was just, a really great Christmas.

With that being said....I still CAN'T WAIT for the New Year.

I know most of you who follow along with me here (and I'm not counting family because y'all know the whole story)...but my fellow bloggians know the story behind what has transpired in the past six months of my life.

What I have never really talked about on here is, all the rest.

Not counting my c-sections, I've had nine...yes, NINE, surgeries to date.  With my c-sections included, I've had TWELVE!  And I'm only 28 years old!!!

Some minor, others, not so much.

It all started when I was four and kept having recurrences of strep throat.  So, at five, I had a tonsillectomy.  Really not that big of a deal, and the ONLY thing I remember about it was getting 'the shot' they gave you 20 some-off-years-ago to make you fall asleep, and waking up in a recovery room with multiple other people and being sick to my stomach.  The nurse couldn't find a 'puke pan' so she handed me a...are you ready for this?....paper plate while she went off to find one.  I remember the fact that she was extremely rude.  Probably because at five years old, you don't come into contact with many rude people, or at least I didn't.  But back to the surgery, it was very uneventful.  And if I know my grandma, I'm sure I was fed LOTS of jello and ice cream following it.

When I was 13, in preparation for corrective jaw surgery I had my wisdom teeth cut out.  It was in office, and I was out in no time.  I remember being really dizzy.  To the point my dad picked me up and carried me to my moms car.  It wore off enough by the time we drove half-way across town that I decided it was a good idea to go into Walmart with my mom. Yeah, that wasn't such a great idea. At the time, my dad lived a few hours away, in the next state over, because he had gotten re-married 3 months prior.  My step-brother, Jeff, was one my very best friends, and he was worried sick that there would be complications with the anesthesia, so my parents let him skip school that day and come to my procedure.  Before I went back, he handed me a 3 page letter.  It detailed what all of my favorite things to do and foods were, my past, my friends, etc.  just in case I got amnesia.  Still to this day, it might be the most heart-felt, sincere thing anyone has ever done for me.  The point of that surgery was that part of the corrective jaw surgery involved me getting pins put in my jaw where the wisdom teeth were removed.

7 months later, I had the corrective jaw surgery.  The worst part of it, was having my jaw clamped shut, and not being able to eat much of anything.  I had to wear these ridiculous ice packs wrapped around my head for a week, because my face was so swollen.  I looked like I had been beat.  I remember for the first time, realizing how mean people can be, when some 'friends' stopped by and laughed at how swollen my face was.  It was the only time in my life that I've cried because someone made fun of me.  I healed, I did some purging in the friend department, and life went on.

I was 18 when I discovered the first lump in my right breast.  It was Christmastime.  I remember being afraid to tell my parents because I thought if I said it 'OUTLOUD' to my parents that it would make it more real, and I'd have to face the possibility of something actually being wrong.  Long story short, it was monitored for two years, and by the time I was 20, the tumor had doubled in size.  In January of 2003, I had my first lumpectomy.  It was pretty uneventful.  In fact, I had surgery on a Thursday, and went back to work the following Monday....7 weeks after having my first daughter by c-section.

In 2005, while breastfeeding my second daughter, I developed a clogged milk duct.  It was the result of another tumor blocking the milk duct.  I went through the whole biopsy procedure and lumpectomy with that tumor, as well.

In early 2007, while pregnant with my youngest daughter, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes while I was in the hospital for some other complications.  It was a little bit of a shock.  I had to adjust the what I ate and the amount.  I had to learn to check my blood glucose and give myself insulin injections.  It was life-changing.

When my youngest daughter was a year old, I started having some substantial stomach pain.  Chris took me to the ER where we found out that my gallbladder was 90% full of gull stones.   I had surgery a few weeks later.  Surgery and the majority of recovery were a breeze.  The gas pain from where they blow up your abdomen was hands down the worst part of the whole procedure.

While I was pregnant with Breanna, I also found out that I had severe cervical dysplasia and would need to have a cone biopsy after I had her. (I had this just a couple weeks after she came home from Riley's).  Everything was fine until mid-year 2009 when I started having very heavy menstrual cycles and had two abnormal paps smears.  My doctor felt because of my previous history with the dysplasia combined with the fact that I had had a tubal ligation after having Breanna and the fact that cervical and uterine cancer does run in my family, that a hysterectomy would be in my best interest.  So, a month before my 27th June 2009, I had a hysterectomy. 

Chris would jokingly tell me, 'NOTHING ELSE WORSE CAN HAPPEN.'

Little did we know, in a year from that time, I'd undergo a bilateral mastectomy, reconstruction and exchange.

Lastly, I also take cardiac medication because I have an abnormal heart beat. 

When I write it all down on paper, it seems I should be reading about a combination of things that happen to multiple people.  Although, I'd never wish any one of these individual things on anybody.

There are days that, if it weren't for my responsibilities as a mother and wife, I wouldn't want to get out of bed.  If I had the time, I might spend some time absorbed in self-pity, but I simply just DON'T have the time.  I have four children who need me to be at my best, and keep things running normally for them, despite whatever I am struggling with internally.

So, where does my faith play into all of this?

I whole heartedly believe that God has given me a 'special missions' in this life...even if I don't fully understand what they are yet.  I believe He knew if I didn't have some inspiration, that I would never have mentally survived the past several years of my life.  Having a child with health issues....watching her overcome so much....and never letting anything hold her say she is truly my hero would be an understatement.  She's the strongest person I've ever met in my life.  And she makes me want to strive to handle these missions with grace.

I believe that He WILL carry me through on those days when I feel myself slipping into despair.

I believe He and He alone has the ability to keep my children healthy.

I believe  He has the ability to heal my heartache, and He understands, even when I don't.

My actual only prayer the past six months has been for Him to please, just let me be here to raise my girls.

Today, I was at a family Christmas grandpa (who is ordained minister and who is deeply religious) was talking to me about the past several months.  He looked at me and said, 'Casondra, the only prayer I've been praying for you is that He allows your body to hold out until your girls are grown.'

He may not give me that much time....he may give me way more than that.  I don't know.  The one thing I do know, is He will carry me and my family through whatever comes our way.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Parmesan and Herb Crusted Chicken with Peppered Chive Cream Sauce

It's my first 'real' day back in the kitchen since my surgery.  I've made the standard easy crock pot meals and soups, but I haven't done any REAL....and as in real, I mean, looking in my fridge/cabinets and coming up with something we've never had

It feels good to be back to making tasty recipes for my family.

Few things make me more happy than watching my kids eat in 2.5 seconds flat and asking for seconds before I even get a chance to sit down.  (Actually, that's usually where Chris jumps in and gets seconds so I can eat, because I've already taken my insulin and it's necessary for me to sit down and eat.)

I can not even being to describe how heavenly my kitchen smelled while cooking STILL does!

So without further ado....

What you'll need:  Italian Bread Crumbs, Grated Parmesan, Shredded Parmesan, Pepperocini's, Heavy Whipping Cream, Chive Cream Cheese, Minced Garlic, Butter, and Chicken Breast

Mix together equal parts of grated parmesan and bread crumbs

Melt butter

Tenderize chicken breasts

Coat with bread crumb/parmesan  mix

Fry over medium heat.  Approximately 10 minutes per side

And NOW.....for the YUMMY sauce!

Diced up pepperocini's.

Look at all those yummy browned bits

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil

Add in heavy whipping cream, minced garlic, and pepperocini's.  Bring to a boil for about 1 minute

Reduce heat and add in cream cheese.  let simmer for a few minutes

Add in shredded parmesan and pepper

The only thing missing from this plate is some roasted asparagus spears....because I don't have any.  


*insert the big YUM you hear the chef say at the end of all cooking shows when they are sampling the food*

ps)Kate and Elsa, you both will appreciate the yummmmmy-NESS of this sauce!


mix 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs, and 1 cup parmesan cheese.  coat chicken breast and fry over medium heat.

Add 2 cups chicken broth, and bring to a boil (scrapping browned bits off bottom of pan).  Add in 1 1/2 containers heavy whipping cream (school milk sized), 1 tsp garlic, and 1 Tbsp pepperocini's (chopped).  let boil 1 minute.  reduce heat and add 3 Tbsp chive cream cheese.  mix well.  add in 1 tsp pepper and 1/2 cup parmesan.

Pour over chicken and serve.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Juke Kartel

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Debbie Downer Wanna Be

I always, ALWAYS get annoyed when I get on a social forum, like Facebook, and at least 50% of the status updates I read are negative.  I've contemplated deleting it more than a few times because of the fact, but always talk myself out of it because of those few friends who always seem to lift my spirit up.

I try REALLY hard NOT to be a 'Debbie Downer' and instead shift my focus on what I'm doing with this 'special mission' God gave me, and how I can use it to glorify Him.  I'm not always the best at it.  I don't often go around quoting scripture.  I've actually found that just the testimony of what we've been through in the past few years seems leave people in awe of the miracles He HAS performed and they realize, 'There's no way this family could have survived all of this without their faith in the Lord.'

But sometimes....I retreat to the 'why's' and I DO, very much, get angry.

Yesterday, a twitter friend of mine, Allie had to have, yet another, breast surgery.  Granted it was a fat transfer and was part of the 'reconstruction' process, but it just makes me angry.  Why at 31 years old is she having to endure these plastic surgery procedures to 'reconstruct' what is one of the things that defines us a women?  Because breast cancer took them from her!  And it's not fair.  It's not fair that our version of 'normal' is so far from what we cold have ever envisioned for our lives.  It's not fair that at the respective ages of 28 and 31 we have both in the years 2009 and 2010 had mastectomies, reconstructive surgeries, AND hysterectomies.  It's not fair that literally months before she found out she had cancer she got a divorce, and NOW, she has a wonderful, supportive boyfriend, but will never be able to have more biological children.  (She has ONE child!)

It's not fair that today, her body is so bruised and in so much pain that she can barely move.  And when she does, the pain is so intense that she is diminished to tears.  It's not fair that I had a PT/OT evaluation today for my arm (which is messed up as a result of these surgeries) and the PT told me she thinks the damage is might be severe enough that they can't help me.

It's not fair, and today, I'm ANGRY! I'm angry for her, I'm angry for me, I'm angry breast cancer took my aunt just a few months ago, and I'm angry that a new friend, Lisa, was just diagnosed a couple weeks ago, and has already spent SO much time in the hospital.  It's not fair that Lisa is cutting her hair very short today in preparation for her hair to fall out.  I'm angry for her!

I realize now, that that is OK.

It's okay to be hurt, and scared, and just flat-out TICKED OFF!

I don't have to understand the why's or the how's, because he meets me in my questions and moments of uncertainty.

I can post Avi pictures in support of these girls and #BoobieWed, because it's one way for us to 'support' each other from afar.  And let's face it, in situations like these, we all need a good support system.  I can walk in the Relay for Life and Susan G Komen walks, I can donate money to breast cancer awareness and research, I can use my story to convince other women that early detection is KEY.  But most importantly, I can pray and know that God can and WILL be carrying my friends through these "special missions" in their lives.

Allie posted this picture on her blog.... and I think it COMPLETELY sums up how most every single person on one of these 'special missions' feels....

The sign says....'I don't want to have to be tough and brave and inspiring.  I don't want this to be my life.  But I sure don't want it to be someone else's life, either.'

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A few new updates sister's place of employment can't do my PT/OT because I'm not 'homebound'.  Darn the luck.  It would have been a lot more convenient for me to have her or one of her co-workers come to my house instead of me having to find a babysitter or drag the kids out to these appointments with me.

oh goes on, right?!

I did, however, talk to one of the places here in town today, and got my assessment appointment set up for next Tuesday.

Hopefully, all goes well!

Kinsey has a doctor's appointment on Monday, and while I'm not going to go into details (because it's something that just popped up and I don't want to announce it to my family here)....I would like to ask all of you to pray that the reason we are taking her to the doctor turns out to be nothing of concern.

Thanks!  I know I can always count on you, my fellow prayer warriors, to lift us up when we need it the most!!!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Semi-off-the-hook until January

So, I had my post-op appointment with Ryan today.

I have a considerable more amount of swelling in my left side, which he said is because he had to do so much more pocket work on that side.  Incision sites look good, but a few of my stitches that are holding the muscle and Alloderm together are starting to poke through my skin.  He said these could break off, but if they start to become painful or irritated to call in, and Angie can cut them out for me.  Other than that, he ordered me to start my 'massages' to keep the implants soft and so it keeps the scar tissue broke up.

Amanda laughed and said, "Chris will definitely be wanting to assist with that."

Have I mentioned that I love having friends who can keep things with this whole process light?!  Because I totally do!

The other issue we addressed was the pain in my left arm.  He decided the best plan of action is to start physical and occupational therapy.  I did speak to my sister about it today (remember she's a physical therapist!)....she seems to also think there is nerve issues occurring, but because I'm having the numbness/tingling in my hand she said it could be possible that there is a blood-flow issue or something of the sorts. And, NO, she DID NOT tell me that to get me worried, but because she knows I like to be prepared for all possibilities.  I handle things much better when the are thrown at me, IF, I've known they were a possibility. At this point, I'm just anxious to get my evaluation done and getting a plan of treatment going.  I'm aware it's going to be painful, BUT after the ridiculous recovery for the actual mastectomy, I'm pretty sure I can handle it. :)

With therapy aside, I don't have a single doctor's appointment for a MONTH!!!  That's RIGHT....I'm semi-off-the-hook from all sorts of torture until January.  Can you sense my relief???  Because I TOTALLY AM.....relieved!

If you could though, please pray that all of this just turns out to be a pinched nerve, or just post surgical issues that can be corrected through therapy and NOT anything that could possibly require another surgery to fix.  Honestly, I'm just a little surgeried out!!!

on a side note:  Kristin and I are having a girls evening and getting our hair done.  YAYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!  I'm just a tad excited!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

An easy sandwich and cheese fries

Fry up some ground beef.

Add some canned manwich mix, or make your own, if you prefer to do things like that.

I was a tad busy tonight, so I opted for the canned version.

The homemade is really good though.

Let it simmer on low for awhile to get the flavor nice and soaked into the meat. 

Put the meat on the bottom part of the bun, and cheese on the top and bake at 350 until the cheese is melted. 

Or you can broil it if you prefer your bun be toasty.

Fry up come fries.

I prefer seasoned for cheese fries, but use whatever kind makes your heart sing.

Check out my new spider strainer my LOVING husband bought me.

It was supposed to be a Christmas gift from the kids but he let me bust it out tonight since I was making cheese fries! hehe

I line my pan with foil, but I also put down a paper towel to absorb the excess grease, and then I just remove it before putting the fries in the oven.

Cover with your choice of shredded cheese and bacon, and put in the oven at 350 until cheese is melted.

And that, my friends, is an easy, throw together meal for those busy evenings.

If you do prefer homemade manwich sauce, here's the recipe:

1 1/4 lb ground beef
1 chopped onion
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup steak sauce
1/2 cup bbq sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
salt to taste

brown meat / onions. add rest of ingredients and cook for about 13-16 min to reduce (stir as needed) 


A couple weeks ago I was contacted by Katie at Imperfect People about sharing my testimony.   Before I go any further I have to add that I have read on Katie's blog, and I absolutely ADORE it....and I know all of you will too!

I was, honestly, a little shocked that someone outside of my realm of friends and family was touched by our (Breanna's) story.  I don't know why.....I mean, even her cardio-thoracic surgeon told us her surgery and recovery were nothing short of a miracle.  And I know I share pieces of our life here on 'Pieces of my Heaven on Earth' and several people follow along with us, but to have someone want to share it with their was say the least.

We've emailed back and forth the past couple weeks, with me telling her pieces of our story....from my divorce, to meeting and falling in love with Chris, to have Breanna, her subsequent health problems, and all of mine.  Katie complied it all together and the end product had me in tears as I read through/mentally went back to that place in my life.  Thank you, Katie!

Without further here to read it.