Monday, April 23, 2018

A Healthy Dose of Gratitude...

As Spongebob Squarepants (and many others) once said...you've got to have "an attitude of gratitude".  As I'm sitting here on the plane I've been stuck on for 2 hours, after an hour delay, I find myself thinking those words.  I don't know that the original delay was about, but the longest portion of our on-board delay was due to discrepancies on the flight manifest.  While this is incredibly annoying, I keep thinking how important it really is to make sure that those who are supposed to be on board are...and those who aren't supposed to be on board are not.  Our most recent delay is due to the pilots on-duty time expiring.  Again...safety first.
I love that quote.  Perspective is so important.  This morning, I had a check-up with my leukemia doctor at MD Anderson.  It is always such a humbling experience.  Even when I was at my sickest, I was never as sick as most of the people there.  While there, I spend most of my free-time giving thanks for my health and the medical professionals and advancements that have gotten me here...and praying for those who are not as fortunate as me.  In my last health-related blog post (here), things were looking a little more grim.  Although I was hopeful, it was still very uncertain and scary.  Now, 10 months later, things are definitely looking up.  
Back in June, even though I knew things were bad, I didn't really know just how bad they were.  But come to find out my heart was at a very high risk of failing.  I guess it's a good thing I didn't know about that when I was gallivanting around the beaches of Florida and Harry Potter world with the family.  I was able to fully focus on them and the memories we were making.  Now, my heart is no longer enlarged, no longer at risk of failure, and my pulmonary-arterial pressure is almost back to normal.  This is all due to stopping my leukemia medication and starting 2 pulmonary hypertension medications (including Viagra...I know, I know...funny, right?).  I'm getting a right-heart catheterization in June to see if they can start weaning me off of those meds.  YAY!!  In the meantime, though, that means that I have not had any treatment for the leukemia since May.  My intermittent blood work has been normal, and while we're waiting for the results of a more detailed test from MD Anderson, my doctor says there's no reason to think that I haven't achieved a state of "treatment free remission".  

WOOHOO!  I've been living with CML for almost 12 years.  This is huge!  Now, as with any remission, there's always a chance I could relapse in the future.  But the longer I go, the slimmer the chances are.  And there are cases of people relapsing with CML even 10+ years after having a stem-cell transplant.  So only time will tell.  But as Master Oogway said in Kung Fu Panda, "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift...that is why it is called the present".









Sunday, February 4, 2018

13 Things...


Today is Mason's 13th birthday, and I am a hot-bed of emotions.  I am both sad and thrilled that he is a teenager now.  I am both longing for the days of his cute speech problems and eager for the days of him giving speeches.  I am both worried and confident, comforted and awed.  And I could go on and on.  But in honor of this day 13 years ago, I will say just 13 things:

1) Mason was an absolutely adorable baby.  He has gone from being that adorable baby to a handsome young man.

2) Mason is an oxymoron.  He is both the jock and band nerd.  He is a creative and flexible thinker while being stubborn and unwavering in his ideas.  He is incredibly sarcastic and incredibly sensitive.  He is both confidently independent and in need of praise and approval.

3) Having 2 teenagers in the house is something I have dreaded and looked forward to for years.  It is terrifying and thrilling all at once, and it has only just begun.

4) I see moments of the child Mason used to be coming right along side glimpses of the man he is going to be and it makes me immensely proud.

5) Mason is projected to be between 5' 11" and 6' 1".  He's still got a ways to go, but he seems like he's getting taller every day.

6) He is delightfully sweet and wickedly funny.

7) He still doesn't shy away from my hugs.  My heart breaks at the mere thought that someday he will.

8) Mason has always taken a lot and put up with a lot from Hannah.  While she is lovely and amazing, she has a mean streak when it comes to Mason.  He is finally getting to the point where he will fight back a little.  But he always stops to weigh the risks of getting back at her when he knows full well it won't end with that, since she always has to get "revenge times a thousand".

9) He is coming into his own.  He is trying to figure out how he wants to carry himself and present himself.  He is experimenting with his hair and his smile.  He is a bit awkward.  But he can laugh at himself and his awkwardness with the best of them.

10) He is truly interesting.  Because he has such a wide variety of interests, he can hold an interesting conversation with just about anyone.  He can talk sports and entertainment, engineering and geography, bit-coin and audio-visual technology, and so much more.

11) Mason is kind-hearted and well-mannered.  He is helpful and joyful.

12) I am already confident that whoever said that teenage boys eat and sleep all the time is right.  He hasn't really started eating us out of house and home yet, but he sure does love a good nap when he gets home from school on most days.

13) While I am clinging to the time we still have with Mason at home as I know it will fly by, I truly cannot wait to see where this life will take him.  He has so many talents and so much potential.  I am sure he will amaze us all while doing nothing less than what we all expect him to do.

Happy 13th Birthday to Mason!!

Enjoy a little trip down memory lane... https://www.photosnack.com/tracycakes615/mason.html




Sunday, October 8, 2017

Fruits, Strengths, and Personalities..

So, today at church our priest talked a little bit about prayer and the Fruits of the Holy Spirit.  He said that often people will tell him that they find it hard to find time for prayer.  He then told us talked about how prayer doesn't just have to be those quiet moments where we are reciting our traditional prayers, giving thanks, or asking for help.  We can "pray" by doing what we do every day, IF we do it with Him in mind and for His glory.  We can "pray" by living our lives in a way that uses the Fruits of the Holy Spirit in our work and in our relationships and interactions with others.  But you can't just be lazy about it.  You must be intentional.  I thought it was an interesting take on prayer, and I thought it was a great reminder about using these fruits as strengths in our lives.

Speaking of strengths:  I've been meaning to blog about strengths for more than a year now.  Last school year, our school district started a "strengths" initiative.  All of the DISD staff members and select grade levels took the Gallup Strengths Finder/Clifton Strengths test.  Through extensive research in countries all over the world, the Gallup company has found 34 strengths that all people (regardless of age, race, gender, religion, etc.) possess.  This test will rank the presence of those strengths in your personality and give you your top 5.  Everyone I've talked to seems to be amazed at how accurate the results are.  But the idea is that "your greatest room for overall personal improvement isn't where you're weakest, but rather where you're strongest".  Below is a summary of my Top 5:

  • Developer You see the potential in others. Very often, in fact, potential is all you see. In your view no individual is fully formed. On the contrary, each individual is a work in progress, alive with possibilities. And you are drawn toward people for this very reason. When you interact with others, your goal is to help them experience success. You look for ways to challenge them. 
  • Empathy You can sense the emotions of those around you. You can feel what they are feeling as though their feelings are your own. Intuitively, you are able to see the world through their eyes and share their perspective. This instinctive ability to understand is powerful. You hear the unvoiced questions. You anticipate the need.
  • Achiever Your Achiever theme helps explain your drive. Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself.  No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied. You have an internal fire burning inside you. It pushes you to do more, to achieve more. 
  • Relator Relator describes your attitude toward your relationships. In simple terms, the Relator theme pulls you toward people you already know. You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people, but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends. You are comfortable with intimacy. Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship
  • Positivity You are generous with praise, quick to smile, and always on the lookout for the positive in the situation. Some call you lighthearted. Others just wish that their glass were as full as yours seems to be. You celebrate every achievement. Somehow you can’t quite escape your conviction that it is good to be alive, that work can be fun, and that no matter what the setbacks, one must never lose one’s sense of humor. 
And if I think about using the Fruits of the Holy Spirit as strengths as well, I think that all 9 of them fit right in with my top 5...and probably with everyone's top 5.  

In researching the idea of strengths (especially knowing that Hannah, as a freshman, would be taking the strengths finder test at school), I also came across another test.  This one is the Myers/Briggs Personality Test.  You can take a free (knock-off) version of the test here:  https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test

I don't know how much that free version lines up with the official version, but I was pretty pleased with my results (ISFJ):  
That website will also tell you some famous people that have the same "personality" as you.  But when I Googled mine to try to find out more, I came across these cool things:



Neville, C-3PO, Wolverine, and Ned Stark?!  I'm in pretty good company...I'll take it!

If any of you have taken the Gallup-Clifton and/or Myers-Briggs tests, I'd love to know your results.  Here's to using the Fruits to strengthen our Strengths and enhance our Personalities all to the glory of God.  

Saturday, August 5, 2017

#RelationshipGoals...


I don't have a Twitter.  I have an Instagram, but I don't post.  So, I don't hashtag.  But today I'm feeling inspired.  2 TV shows have me inspired:  Friday Night Lights and The Office.  Kevin, the kids, and I have watched The Office multiple times.  We tend to just have it playing almost non-stop at the house, and it never gets old.  We are just now working our way through Friday Night Lights (it's the 3rd time for Cakes and me).  Now, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that there are multiple moments when each of the couple on LOST could have been though of as #relationshipgoals, but there isn't one that was a steady standout.  

So if there are any of you out there who still haven't watched these shows, you should really remedy that situation.  But in the meantime, let's just enjoy how wonderful these couples are.  And then afterward, we can see how well Kevin and I are living up to the #relationshipgoals that they have set.   :)

The Office - Jim and Pam


....I know...they're amazing.
  • Now, you need to go start binge-watching the whole show.  

Friday Night Lights - Eric and Tami Taylor
Real Life - Kevin and Tracy Prickett
  • First, you need to check this out:  A week or so ago, after just over 15 years of wedded bliss, Kevin, the kids, and I went to CiCi's for lunch with my mom, my sister, and her family.  After eating our super healthy and super classy food, Kevin and I went into the "arcade" with the kids.  We mocked each other, our kids, and our nephews just having a grand ol' time.  As we are laughing and hugging, Kevin pulls up my shorts and gives me the wedgie of a lifetime.  Then I look at him and see that he has a little something in his nose.  I lovingly point it out to him, and he takes his napkin to try to handle the situation and just ends up making it worse.  Being the loving wife that I am, I continue to tell him where his boogers are and he continues to try to fix it...all the while, we are both laughing hysterically as my mother watches and laughs in the middle of the CiCi's.  Finally, he gets himself all cleaned up and shoves his napkin in my open laughing mouth.  I squeal, reach for my drink and exclaim, "Ew!  I can't even rinse my mouth, because you put food in my drink!"  While I take a drink of his water, he lets out a gut-busting, high pitch laugh, which causes me to almost do a spit take and maybe more than almost pee a little.  
  • Now, how's that for #relationshipgoals?

This whole post also reminded me of those sweet old couples from When Harry Met Sally, so I'll end with them.  Enjoy your relationships, everyone!



Friday, August 4, 2017

A Case of the Definitelies...


So if you've ever watched The Office, you know that the two people below are not a couple.  Pam is married to Jim, and Andy is a bit of a mess.  Anyhoo, in this particular episode they go on a sales call together and the person they are trying to sell paper to assumes they are a couple and are soon to be parents.  Well, Pam is quick to correct the person "Oh. No, no. We're not together. No, no, no. Definitely not. Definitely not. No. We just work together."  Andy then gets a little offended and says, "Looks like somebody's got a case of the definitelies."

Image result for pam and andy sales call


Well lately, I think I've got a case of the definitelies about a few things:

1* I'm definitely not ready for school to start.
2* I definitely have the world's kindest friends.
3* I definitely have a daughter who's playing high school volleyball.
4* I definitely don't feel old enough to have a daughter in high school.
5* I'm definitely a little jealous that Mason chose to take Kevin to the Queen concert tonight over me.
6* I have definitely started biting my nails again.  After years of not.  Maybe I'm a little stressed.
7* I definitely have old looking hands (despite 4 and partially because of 6)
8* I'm definitely married to an amazingly funny, handsome, and loving guy.
9* I can definitely barely tell the difference between him and Nathaniel Rateliff 😊:


10* I definitely think that if you've never heard of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats, you should give them a listen.
11* I'm definitely a little nervous about my doctor's appointment on Monday.
12* I definitely work with some incredibly helpful people.
13* I am definitely thankful that my mom is able to come watch the kids for us.
14* I definitely have a cute new puppy whose big brother is still a little unsure.


15* I am definitely enjoying being able to order groceries online and just pick them up.
16* I'm definitely not relishing the idea of getting Mason to school at 6:30 in the morning for football practice each day.
17* I'm definitely thinking I can add that to my ever-growing list of reasons why NOT to workout.


That was definitely more definitelies than I realized.   😄


Friday, June 2, 2017

Emotions...


As you know, I am a very emotional person.  Some might say I wear my emotions on my sleeve.  Others might say I wear my emotions on my sleeve, collar, hem, pant legs, and everywhere else.  But whatever.  I didn't earn the title of runner up in the "Most Likely to Cry" competition at work for nothing.

Well, the last 10 days have brought a lot of emotions with them.  This blog post will be dedicated to a few of them:

Amazement, Joy, Sadness, Pride, Awe, and Excitement:  Hannah had her last day of middle school yesterday.  That's right, folks.  Kevin and I are the parents of a High Schooler!  All of the cliches are true:  time flies, they grow in the blink of an eye, it'll be over before you know it, it just gets better, etc.  She has grown and changed so much.  But she is still our sweet, sassy, funny, spit-fire of a girl.  She work so hard in school and had another year on the A/B Honor Roll.  She got a commended score on the Math STAAR test for the first time, and earned an achievement award in math class.  She published a novel, is one of only 4 freshman to make the "varsity" choir, and is going to work diligently to try to earn herself a spot on the high school volleyball team.  I am so sad that the years are going by so fast, but I am so excited to see what her future holds!


First Grade

 Third Grade





Uncertainty, Relief, Fear, Hope, Peace, Guilt, and Excitement:  I have been having some shortness of breath for a while.  It had gradually gotten worse.  So I was breathing hard when I walked up the stairs (big deal...I know I'm terribly out of shape).  But I now huff and puff going from the parking lot into a building, bending over to pick things up 5 or 6 times, walking at a normal pace in the grocery store, talking for long periods of time (pretty awesome as a teacher), etc.  I had a CT scan done a couple of weeks ago, followed by an echo-cardiogram which showed the right side of my heart to be enlarged.  I went to the ER to have another CT scan and an ultrasound of my legs done to look for fluid on the lungs and clots, and they didn't find any.  Meanwhile, the wonderful ladies I work with were taking care of things for my sub the next day.  After the persistence of my oncologist, the ER doctor called the on-call pulmonologist who said it was pulmonary hypertension.  The ER doctor couldn't really tell me much about it, so while I was waiting to be discharged I started googling.  Yep, my symptoms match.  But holy smokes this thing sounds like a beast.  The life expectancy isn't great.  So on my drive home, all I do is worry about what 7 years would get me and how much of the kids' lives I would miss.  I worry about the stress and anxiety I am bringing on Kevin.  I worry about how worried my parents are.  And as I am crying myself to sleep, I pray.  I pray for peace and to be here for my kids.  I do just a little more googling and see that there is a connection between pulmonary hypertension and the medication I take for my CML...that it could all just be a side effect.  And just like that I have some hope.  God is good.  When I wake up in the morning with a slew of phone calls, emails, and appointments to make, I get a phone call from my oncologist who tells me how likely he thinks it is that this is all just a rare side effect, and that I am to stop taking my CML meds right away.  More hope and peace of mind.  However, after an appointment with the local pulmonologist who is referring me to the experts at UT Southwestern, the only way to know for sure if it is a side effect that will reverse over time, is to give it time.  It could take weeks to months before I notice any improvement.  Weeks to months that I will be closely monitored by pulmonologists, cardiologists, and my oncologist to make sure that my CML doesn't rare back up while we wait.  And hopefully, it will reverse, and I will start a new CML medication.

I am surrounded by the most caring and generous people at work who have supported me not once, not twice, but 3 times now when my health has gone wonky.  I have the most amazing husband who loves me, cares for me, and makes me laugh.  I have the most wonderful kids who help me out, keep me on my toes, and make me laugh.  I have the most loving, thoughtful, and supportive parents, siblings, and in-laws.  And while I am SO incredibly grateful and beyond appreciative for these things I hate being the cause of their pain, stress, and worry.  I can't stand being a burden and having to ask for help.  I feel so incredibly guilty for all of it.

So, while things remain a bit scary and uncertain, I have hope and some peace of mind.  At least for now.  And I am going to go on a road trip vacation to Florida with Kevin and the kids.  I am going to huff and puff my way through the beach at Pensacola and walk slowly & breathlessly through Harry Potter World at Universal.  We are going to have an amazing fun, rain, and laugh-filled week, and I just can't wait!


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Women...

Today is International Women's Day.  Today, while I would normally be at work (working a job that is both a right and a privilege for me to have), I am honoring the most important woman in my life.  My mother.  She is in the hospital, recovering from a surgery and waiting for more tests to try to get to the bottom of her health concerns.  She is the best woman that I know.  She has shown me what it means to be a woman who: works hard and loves harder, both succeeds and fails gracefully, laughs at herself even more than she laughs at others, is both strong and tender, is hopeful, prayerful, faithful, and joyful.  I strive to be as good as her and fall short of it on a daily basis.

So, in honor of my mom and women in general, here are some of my favorite quotes from or about women (the last of which is a quote from Mom):