When Your Dog Loves Accessories as Much as You Do

Hi friends!

Today, Carolina and I want to tell you about our new friends at The Buddy Bandana.

The Buddy Bandana has the cutest bandana’s for your fur baby, along with matching human scrunchies and headbands.  You know scrunchies are a thing again, right?  I mean, every girl of the 90’s has a scrunchie obsession, even if they don’t admit it.  Trust me.  The peeps at The Buddy Bandana KNOW how much we humans love to do weird things for our fur children, like wear matching accessories, which brought their company to life this year!

Besides the really cute prints they have available online at thebuddybandana.com, they are now one of my personal favorite brands to support, because they have a really strong mission behind their brand, which is to spread awareness and raise money for rescue organizations across the country.  Every purchase helps to feed and support dogs in no kill rescue shelters.  That’s a cause I can support 110%.  Their website is also equipped to take donations, if you cannot make a purchase.

Please go take a look at their site, thebuddybandana.com and pick out a matching set for yourself and your precious fur baby, then pat yourself on the back for helping rescue a sweet dog in need. Use my code ‘woof’ for an additional 40% off!

 

*Carolina and I are wearing the Pinknic print (her bandana is a size L) and I can’t tell ya how much I love the watermelon print as well!

 

xoxox

Mary

 

 

Never In a Million Years…

It’s taken me 3 months to write a post about this.  If ya’ll know me, you know I don’t sit on things I want to write about, but I didn’t know if I wanted to write about this.  It was throwing me off.  I barely even wanted to talk about it with friends and didn’t and still (to this day) don’t know how to process it.  Here it is.

On March 13th this year, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Just writing that makes me want to punch the keyboard and throw my computer against a damn wall.  My mom.  My mom, whom, is one of my best friends, that watches our boys, that goes on vacations with us, that lives 5 minutes from us, that is around us everyday, and that is always there when we need her.  Yep, that mom.

Now that I’ve gotten the worst part out of the way (actually typing the word and seeing it written in front of me), I’ll tell you some more about what happened.

In February, my parents went to Destin for 4 days for a mini vacay over President’s Day weekend.  She told me she was getting a mammogram when they got back, because it had been a couple years and the year 2019 was going to be the year she caught back up with everything, medically.  She went in for her procedure and we went about her business.  They’d always been normal before.  Also, I should note, not that it really matters these days, but we have NO FAMILY HISTORY of breast cancer, or any type of cancer on my mom’s side of the family that we know of.  Even on my dad’s side of the family, there’s been no breast cancer.  The next day, they called to say they saw something very small, but couldn’t tell what it was, and wanted her to come back and have a diagnostic mammogram.  I had urged her to get the diagnostic before she went in for the initial appointment because they are the type I always have to have, and there’s less chance of them seeing thickened tissue or fibrous tissue and thinking it’s something else.  She went in for the diagnostic and they saw the same small spot, but couldn’t tell if it was a tumor or not because of the size (less than 1MM), so they did a biopsy and told her it would be 2-10 days before she would hear anything, but probably sooner rather than later.

On March 13th, Mason had a teddy bear parade for Pre-K.  It’s a big deal to the kiddos; they make a float and put their favorite stuffed animals in it, and walk around the gymnasium (a la parade) for the guests.  Then, after the parade, a special guest gets to stay for a picnic.  Mason had chosen me to stay after with him, but my mom was with me for the parade.  When we were going to gather his float after the parade before the picnic, one of his teachers invited my mom to stay for the picnic as well.  I could tell my mom was anxious because it had been 2 days and she was expecting to hear from the doctor.  I was completely thinking everything was going to be fine.  I mean, my mom is the picture of health, minus her addiction to baked goods.  She had left her phone in her car accidentally while we were watching the parade and having our picnic with Mase and I’m so glad she did.  😦

After the picnic, I went home to grab a PB sandwich to go back to work and on the way back to work, I got “the call”.  Invasive lobular carcinoma, very small-less than 1MM, stage 1.  What the actual hell do you say?  What do you think?  I can tell you what happens:  You don’t think.  You don’t say much.  You have a dark cloud in your brain that won’t go away.  It’s not real, after all.  It’s not real.  It’s not real.  It will all be OK, because it’s certainly not real.  I told my mom the doctors had found it very early and everything would be OK.  I went to work and called Brock and started to feel the knot in my throat.  At work, one of my favorite co-workers came in to hand me something and I told her.  When I said the word, I just started crying.  About that time my boss called me for something.  I can’t even remember the conversation I had with her, but it was between sobs.  I told my therapist.  I figured she was going to have to deal with me at my worst and wanted to prepare her.

My mom had already gotten an appointment the next day with the doctor in the women’s center and 3 people had asked if I was going to the appointment.  It honestly hadn’t crossed my mind.  Newbie over here at this kind of thing.  I figured she and my dad would want to handle it themselves.  Also, it was early March and as all of my readers know, I have contamination OCD, and the flu was still going around, and the appointment was at the hospital….I’ll let you put the pieces together.  I finally texted my mom to ask if she cared if I went to the appointment, because I had a lot of questions to ask and I needed to hear the answers from the doctor herself.  I figured every single person in the room would interpret what the doctor was saying differently, and I needed to take notes and really understand what was going on.  If you don’t already know this about me, you should know I go down medical rabbit holes I never come out of.  Mostly because of my OCD, but also I’m a nutrition NERD, so I’m pretty good with medical jargon.  I had reached out to one of my oldest friends in the midst of all of this.  She was always so close with my family and offered to watch Mason while I went to the hospital with my parents.  It was all happening so fast and still felt like I was outside my body, just going through the motions.

In the appointment I tried to do what I do best in awkward situations, I tried to make them all smile by making dumb jokes.  If there’s one thing I know, it’s to ALWAYS look for the silver linings.  Always.  I tried to make sense what was being told to us, and to the doctor’s credit, she was literally drawing everything out for us, which helped a ton.  I heard about hormones, and sizes and treatments and through it all, I kept my calm.  The nurse for the nutritionist came in next and you guys, I’m not kidding when I tell you that the nutritionist’s name was Dr. Macaroni.  No lie.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  The nurse was explaining some basic things to my mom and I was chiming in with what I knew.  Finally, she suggested that I make my mom an eating plan since she said I was telling my mom the things she would suggest anyways.  To end our visit, a nursing assistant came in, sweet as ever, and gave my mom a binder with references and information on just about anything and everything.  Then, she said, she had forgotten my mom’s bag, and came back with a bag that had a crocheted hat in it, a stuffed animal and blanket.  THAT put me over the edge.  No, my mom wasn’t having chemo, she wouldn’t lose her hair, why did she need a stuffed animal?  I get it….volunteers do these projects for the hospitals and it’s very sweet.  Very thoughtful, but nope….it suddenly made it seem more real.  I couldn’t have that. Because, you know, it still wasn’t real.  Since my mom’s doctor was able to get her in so soon, we were still waiting on the hormone test to come back.  If it was HER2 (I think that’s what it’s called) negative, like the doctor anticipated, then no chemo would be required.  She would take a hormone pill for the next 5 years and have mild radiation after surgery that that would be the end of it.

I left the doctor that day feeling numb.  I kept asking myself what was happening.  We had asked the doctor what her thoughts were that caused it and she said likely environmental and nutrition factors.  But, they weren’t for sure, of course.  Like I mentioned above, my mom is the picture of health, tall, decently skinny and hasn’t had prior medical issues.  But, she likes her sugar.  I know sugar feeds cancer cells similar to throwing a steak at a dog.  All I kept thinking about was how I was going to fix it, how I could help and what I could do.  We had a plan after that appointment, dependent on the hormone test that was due to come back in the next few days, and that made me feel a little better.  I felt like we were organized and had dates and kind of sort of knew what was headed our way.

You know, grief is weird.  Denial is weird.  I remember that Friday I went to Chipolte to get dinner and just cried in the parking lot.  I started opening up to a few more friends and to my surprise, a lot of their mothers/mother in laws/grandmothers/aunts etc. had a bout with breast cancer as well.  When I went to see my therapist the next week I told her it was so unreal to me that it felt like nothing was even happening.  She explained to me that when we love someone so incredibly hard, and something bad happens, our brain puts up an incredible force shield in the form of the strongest denial you can experience.  She said both my mom and I were feeling this.  I’ll be really honest here, to this day (post surgery, and radiation) I still don’t feel like it’s real.

My mom was only concerned about one thing.  Getting the tumor out.  ASAP.  She was advocate for herself, calling the doctor daily until surgery was scheduled (2 weeks sooner than planned) and I’ve honestly never seen someone so excited and in a rush to have a surgery.  She decided on a lumpectomy.  The hormone test came back, just as the doctor anticipated, HER2 negative (Praise Jesus!), so no chemo was on the horizon.  Also, they were relieved to find that it had not spread and nothing was in her lymph nodes.  The man upstairs was taking care of my mom, for sure, and still very much is.  The surgery went extremely well.  She was so happy it was out of her body.  She was groggy the day after surgery when I came over with the boys to see her.  All she kept talking about was how relieved she was that the poison was out of her body.  Honestly, I would have handled it the same way as she did.  “Ok, this blows, but let’s get this sucker out … right this minute!!”  With a mastectomy, the chance of it ever coming back was 1% or less.  With a lumpectomy, the chance was less than 2%.  I personally would have hacked both of my boobs off and went through the painful surgeries to get new ones, but I respected my mom’s decision to get a lumpectomy.

About 2 weeks after the surgery, she started the process of preparing for radiation.  So many new things were coming up that I was learning about.  For example, they mold a “bed” for you at the radiologist, so you can basically slide right in and be hooked up and out as soon as possible.  After meeting with her radiologist and getting a CT scan (that came back great) and a few other tests, he suggested that she just come for a month, for only 15 minutes a day.  Basically, she had one of the lowest forms of treatment, which again, was such a blessing.  We prepared our schedules (my boss is AMAZING by the way) and worked radiation in every single day of the week (Saturday and Sunday were off days) for a month.  She was proudly able to “ring the bell” on May 29th.  Looking back, I wish we could have been there when she rang that bell (I had the boys and Brayden had conditioning camp), because it was just another hurdle she hopped through with grace and courage.

The next step was starting the hormone pills.  She hated the idea of going to the oncologist, because it kinda just reiterated that she had ONCE had “the c word”, as she says.  She had blood work and a bone density test done before starting her pills.  All of that came back great, so she started the pill last Wednesday.  The pills scare her, just because of their menopause-like reputation.  And, I get that.  It took her around 8 years to go through menopause, so the idea of reliving all the hot flashes and night sweats and mood changes is, I’m sure, no walk in the park to think about.  However, we know we are all very blessed in that she only has to take a pill and doesn’t have to go through chemotherapy.  She will be on this pill for 5-10 years depending on how her follow ups go.

So, here we are.  July 1.  I feel like yesterday was March 13th.  Call it denial, call it, I don’t know, whatever you want, but it still doesn’t feel real to any of us.  My mom has handled everything like a rock star.  Whizzed through surgery, healed up awesomely, went through the entire month of radiation with no side effects and has had amazing test results.  There is still, and will be, so much emotion wrapped up in this.  I think the reassurance the doctors are giving all of us is letting us just run right through everything.  My mom told me that one day the radiologist looked right at her at one of her follow up appointments and said “Patty, you do NOT have cancer, remember that.  It’s gone now.”  When she told me that, I wanted to drive to Avon and give him a high five and a hug and I’ve never even met him.  Little reassurances like that.  They are so important.  In my mind, this battle has been won.  I cannot even tell you how strongly my mind is SET on that.  I keep telling my mom this was just a bump in the long, exciting road of life.  Oh and I told her we should take vacations more..haha.

So, that’s what has been going on with our family since February.  We are so incredibly thankful for those who reached out, who asked questions, who checked on her, who checked on my family, and those who called and texted.  My friend Danielle that willingly gave up most of her day to watch Mason so I could go to my mom’s initial doctor’s appointment, Mason’s pre-K teachers who prayed for my mom and always checked in, my amazing co-workers and friends who were literally checking on her everyday and my friends and mother in law who reached out to my mom and sent her cards and flowers.   Everyone has been so amazing.  I wasn’t sure about…literally, anything, when all of this happened, except for that my mom would be OK.  That’s all I could think about.  It’s surreal.  It’s one day at a time and one foot in front of the other.

See, my mom is such a big part of our lives, that there’s no other way to look at things.  It’s all a marathon she’s going to continue to win.  The “c word” as she calls it, is GONE.  Now we move forward in a healthy way.  She’s touched so many people and so many people have been inspired by her.  I was proud of her when she put her story on Facebook.  I was glad she wanted to talk about it and share the good news.  I can’t even describe to you all how wrapped up in the clouds of Heaven that I feel.  Is that a thing?  I mean, can you be wrapped up in clouds?  I don’t know, but I envision them to be perfectly fluffy and something that just engulfs a person in the best possible way.  I know how extremely blessed my family is.  I know not every family gets this and I’m not naive enough to think we all have all the time in the world.  I know life is about one day at a time.  But, I can tell you that every day is a wonderful day, a cherished one, a fortunate one and one filled with a lot of love.

My ask is this.  Please continue to pray for my mom and our family.  Always keep her in your thoughts and in the back of your mind.  She’s on the tail end of this journey and has come out of this with flying colors, but we pray for continued great health.

A final thought and PSA.  Get a mammogram.  Even if you are under 40, even if you are under 30, even under 25.  Don’t be scared to get a mammogram.  It literally saved my mom’s life in every way (with a healing hand from Jesus).  I’ve had to get them since I was 23 because of fibrocystic tissue and the year they came out with the diagnostic mammogram, or “3D” mammogram, I switched to that.  It doesn’t matter what age you are, if you feel ANYTHING out of the ordinary, go, run, to your nearest women’s center and get one.  And if you are at the age that they are required, please, please go every year and get yours.  They are a blessing and a gift.  Truly.

xoxoxo

Mary

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March 13, the day of “the call”

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Throwing it back to 2002

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Brock and I’s wedding

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Beachin

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Throwing it way back!

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A little Holiday World fun!

Things Having Kids Has Taught Me

* That the definition of “me time” is completely different than it used to be.

Gone are the days where Brock and I would just go out somewhere for a beer or actually go to a restaurant for a meal during the week.  Also much harder to accomplish- making a full meal with more than 10 ingredients  with sides and a dessert.  Reading a book in 2 days may not happen again for a few years; more like 2 months and that’s pushing it.  Going to the gym at any time of the night, meeting our friends who don’t have kids yet for a night out at the drop of a hat and actually having plenty extra funds every week for shopping trips to my fav stores are all things that have taken a backseat.

But you know what?  When Brock and I are 40 and sad because our boys are living their own lives, I know I will wish more than anything to have these crazy no “me time” days every day again.  Family time trumps “me time”–every time.  Memories are priceless!

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*That you will never have an organized house again.

I’m so type A and I dream of the day that I come home and sort out the mail into coupons/bills to pay/save and file containers and cook in my uncluttered kitchen with countertops that are free of paperwork and appliances.  Afterwards I would go upstairs to a room with a bed that has been made (throw pillows and all!) and a floor clean of scattered clothes.  The reality is our house is clean-but it’s normal for it to carry some load of clutter when you have kids, especially more than 1 kiddo, as I have recently learned!  I’m definitely not one to throw my hands up and say “F it!”  Part of me says “do the best you can” and the other part says “you will have the most organized house ever–when the boys are in college.”  Ha!

I feel like you should learn to be happy with a good in-between.  We are teaching Brayden to do simple things around the house.  For example, he is learning to pick up his toys in the evening, and I always stress to him that it’s important to put one toy up before getting out another.  He also knows to hang up his jacket, let the dogs out and put his dirty clothes in the laundry room.  Baby steps, I know-but I’m so very appreciative that he likes to help his momma!  He loves to help clean his play room as long as Brock or I help him and he was completely pumped about the chore chart we keep on the front of the fridge for him.

I want our boys to be helpful and mindful of why we are asking them to carry their (small) loads.  I don’t want them to grow up and not know how to clean a room, do dishes or hang up clothes.  But, at the same time I also realize Brayden is only 5 and he should get to be a kid, which is why we are only asking very simple things of him and try to make it fun along the way.

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Brayden trains with Gavin

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* That the more pets, the merrier sounds great until you start having kiddos.

Brock and I are so very guilty of this!  I seriously wish we could tell our pre-kids self that 2 animals should have been our limit, or even smarter–1!  We have boxers and if any of you are boxer owners then you know that these doggies never really “calm down” and they will act like a puppies until the end.  I personally love this characteristic about them!  However, throw some babies into the mix and things can get overwhelming fast!  Until recently, we had 3 boxers and to be honest, some days were just total chaos when Brock and I were adjusting to taking care of 1 baby, then again when we had 2.  I’m a firm believer in taking care of every responsibility you have and I don’t think you should ever take on an animal or a child without being able to pay for their care.  $75.00 per month for heartworm preventative and $60.00 per month in food is extremely manageable until you add in an extra $50 per week in formula costs and $60 per month (approximately) for diapers.  And you can’t forget all the other daily expenses like clothes, babysitting/childcare, baby gear, a major rise in health insurance costs (going from husband and wife to family plans) and several other items you have to start purchasing.  Suddenly the $200 a month in pet expenses seems a little steep.  Still, the pets are still there and depending on you, as their owner, to provide them with the best of environments and living the lifestyle they were used to living before kids.  Some days I seriously found myself saying to Brock that I wished I had 1 five pound dog that didn’t ever shed who’s only expenses per month included a $10 bag of food, a $20 flea/heartworm pill and a grooming session every other month.

Our boxers are awesome and I wish like crazy my Stella was still with us.  Our dogs love us and love our kids more than I can even explain.  My point is this:  if you plan to ever have kids one day, think about all the possible what if’s in your future before you bring a dog(s) into your family.

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(Miss you, Stella Marie!!)

* That $100 doesn’t get you anywhere these days.

This can apply to married peeps with or without kids. No explanation required! Can I get an amen!?

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*That I am capable of so much more than I ever thought.

Parenthood brings out a side of me that makes me a stronger person.  I no longer come first, my family comes first.  Whatever they need, whatever helps them thrive, whatever makes them smile; that’s what I want to give them.  I also realize that every day I’m teaching our kids.  Teaching them right from wrong, what’s good for them, how to be kind and considerate, how to have manners and even how to pray.  It’s true what they say, kids are little sponges and they are listening even when you think they aren’t.  I love watching Brayden and Mason learn by exploring the world around them.  I love watching Brayden take Mason under his wing and protect him.  It comes so natural and makes Brock and I so proud.  There is a strength that comes with knowing you are behind all of these wonderful and amazing things.  I never knew I was capable of teaching, mentoring, helping and guiding until I became a parent.  It’s pretty freaking awesome and I’m so very happy with our boys!

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*That you never know what this kind of happy is until you have it.

Five fingers, five toes, that toothless grin, first smiles, the chubby belly, the curls, the rolls and the perfect little ears.

This is happy, this is love…..

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mason hospital july 13

 

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