Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkin Fail

I grew up in Oregon, which meant every Halloween you had to not only come up with a costume for trick or treating, but it had to look good with either a raincoat or a winter coat. And the pumpkins you carved could last outside until Thanksgiving it you let them.

In Texas it's still 90 degrees. So instead or warmth you are trying to stay cool with your costume choices. And when you carved pumpkins, they won't last longer than 4 days outside. We carved pumpkins last weekend and lets just say the pumpkins did not last until Halloween.

Luckily I took some photos of our awesome pumpkins before they turn into a pile of moldy mush.

Bryce's bat, which he cut out by himself.
Connor's scary ghost
A kitty cat pumpkin
Our oldest son; Daniel

We decided to try again, but this time we painted the pumpkins instead.
It was a pumpkin fail, but in the end the kids look pretty happy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I miss my foster babies....

I have been doing chemo since August and it's still not going great. Not that chemo should go great, but I thought by now my body would start doing better. It's not. I'm still having some pretty nasty side affects. So last night I decided to cheer myself up and sat here and looked through pics of my kids. (Please tell me you do this too)

I came across pics from last Halloween, and it made me tear up. There was my sweet little J-man smiling back at me. I miss that sweet baby boy. (For those who are new to our story, J-man was our foster son for 7 months) We haven't had any foster babies in our house since the end of July and that makes me very sad. J-man was the sweetest baby with a smile that could brighten everyone's day. Which got me thinking. This is one reason why I fight the way that I do.

You see we aren't fostering while I'm doing treatments, it is just not a good idea. But we will foster again (and maybe eventually adopt) and it gives me something to fight for when this cancer journey gets hard.

And his smile cheered me up.

Maybe you need something to bring a smile to your face today, and J-man can do that. I'm sorry that we can't show his face, but it is the rule.
These two were so adorable. We called them "our twins" and they LOVED each other so much.
Bryce and J-man
Teaching J-man how to walk.
My Dad was J-man's favorite person in the whole world. They were such buddies.

Did it work? Are you smiling now?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bye Bye Binky

The second year is a big year in the McManus house. It's the year my babies become NOT BABIES! And it is breaking me up. Because I am NOT ready for my baby girl to NOT be a baby anymore.

At the same time, I'm very excited for my little girl and how big she is getting. This week was another big step toward "little girl-hood" for her. She is now sleeping in a big girl bed. She is going on the potty. And now this week, she gave up her BINKY.

This is a big deal in our house. My babies LOVE binkys. I have no idea why, but they all have. When McManus babies turn 1 they can only have their binkys when it is nighttime. And then at 2 and 1/2 it is time to say bye bye binky.

We teach our babies that they need to "give" their binkys away to another baby. That now they are big boys or girls and that another little baby needs their binkys. We have our kiddos decorate a box or a bag, put their binkys in it, and put it in the mailbox. Later the bag or box is gone and we explain that it has been sent to a baby.

My kids have done great with this. They are proud of giving their binkys away and excited that they did it all by themselves. I love it, because I am not the bad guy who took their precious binky away. And we don't really have a hard time with them after they give the binkys away, because they are the ones who did it. They know that the binky is gone and so we don't really have big problems.

Alexis was such a trooper and was very proud of becoming a big girl. She slept perfect last night. (naptime she had a little bit of a hard time, but I expected that) And tonight she went to bed again with no problems. I'm very proud, but a little sad that my baby girl is growing up.
Very excited about the bag she decorated.
Putting the binky in the mailbox. Bryce was a good big brother and helped her every step of the way.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekend in Pictures

I get sick of having cancer. Sick of being so sick all the time. Sick of doctor appointments. Sick of shots and pills. Sick of being on the couch. Sick of fighting.

When the weekend hit. I wanted one thing; to NOT be any of those things anymore. I needed to be just Jen, Mom, Friend, and Wife. So that is what I did this weekend......
We spent Saturday morning at our gym's Spooktacular carnival. The kids were SOOOO excited about wearing their costumes.
And who doesn't love coloring? (especially a kitty mask)
And the coolest balloon artist I have ever seen.
Cool, right?
She loved that little monkey.

Later that night I went to a Halloween party with my bootcamp girls.
I was a gypsy.
And we had a blast!

Sunday was a great day too. We went and visited our friend, Chris Marlow who spoke at Austin New Church. He works for HELP and we love the work they are doing around the world. I got to write some curriculum last year for them and I am so excited to hear that more and more churches around the country are doing garage sales for orphans. Have you ever thought about doing one?

We ended the weekend going to Target, just me and my husband. It was a rare moment and we had a blast! Just walking around shopping, talking, laughing, and having alone time.

Overall it was a great weekend, but I am spent. Exhausted and very sick. It was worth it. And I'm so glad that God gave me another weekend with my family. How was your weekend?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Q and A

What are you doing to stay strong?

I'm trying to eat as healthy as I can at this point. But this is difficult because I'm so sick. Unfortunately I find myself having to eat lot's of bread because it's the best thing for my stomach. We have started juicing and I try my best to have 2 juice concoctions a day. I'm trying to not get too consumed with dieting right now, which is hard for me. One of the side effects of the chemo I am on is weight GAIN. Horrifying right?? So I am trying to not freak out, stay strong, and eat well.

I'm also going to the gym 3 times a week. (I'm used to going 5 plus times a week) I'm doing bootcamp with an awesome group of ladies. My trainer Mike lost his Mom to cancer last year and he is helping me A LOT. I'm not as strong or fast as I used to be, but it feels good going to the gym. At the gym I don't think about cancer or chemo. I just try to do my best work. And I feel like it is so good for me right now to stay as strong as I can.

I also LOVE that my kids get a place to just play, hang out with other kids, RUN, and overall have a blast. We go to an awesome gym with an exceptional kids club. They play outside on the playground, do games on the basketball courts, have computer time, do crafts, and fee play. They love it and I love the time I get for myself. I also get a SHOWER by myself. I get to take my time and wash every part of my body and SHAVE!!! No interruptions and I love that!

*picture by Daniel Davis

How are your checkups going?

I'm still only taking half dosage of chemo right now. My doctor is watching my labs closely and I talk to him weekly about the side effects I am experiencing. We're in a good routine right now. I take chemo shots Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays. My body is still struggling, but it is getting better. I still get high fevers, nausea, body aches, and bad headaches. But one of the worst things, is the medications I am taking to help with the side effects. I don't like the way I feel on them and I get other side effects to deal with from the pills. At the end of the day I feel like a pill taking machine and I hate that.

When I mention you in prayer...what do you need the most in the way of support?

I need everyone to continue to pray that my body stays strong. I need this chemo and I need to take it for a long time. In the next week or so we will try to get the dosage back up and I want my body to handle it well.

I need my mind to stay strong too. This chemo has a high depression side effect and I don't need that battle too. So far so good, but I could use prayer.

My kids are doing great and you can continue to pray that they don't feel stressed by this.

I love to laugh, so finding ways to help me smile is always the best way to help.

I do have a question, have you ever heard of s flax oil cottage cheese diet? It's more known as the Budwig diet, it may be something to try?

There are too many diets out there for me to keep track of. I could go crazy trying them all. At the end of the day, we all know the right things to eat. Lot's of fruit and veggies, protein, and whole grains. I talk to my doctor a lot, and he is great. We feel like the treatment plan I am on right now will give me the best shot at beating this.

Thanks for the questions.....We'll do it again next week!

Monday, October 17, 2011


I need YOUR help!!!!!!

It's hard to know what to write about on here sometimes. I'm trying to be honest about my cancer journey. But I don't want to write about stuff no body cares about. Writing has helped me get a lot of my feelings, concerns, joys, and fears out there. And that does help me out a lot. But that is NOT why I am writing. I feel like God has a beautiful story to tell and I want to be apart of that. At the end of the day I want my cancer journey to draw people closer to Him.

And so I need your help. Send me some questions. They can be anonymous or you can leave your name. But I need questions.(Please just leave a comment on this post) And I promise to do my best to answer them.

What do you want to know?

Do you want to know more about the treatments I am on? The side effects?

How my husband and my kids are handling this?

What brings me joy?

What makes me scared?

Am I afraid of death?

Do I miss my hair?

Anything. I'd love to answer questions and share them with all my readers every week. Can you help me?
I can handle any question.....I dare you to bring it!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sometimes being on chemo makes me a better Mom...

There are days when I feel like I don't have cancer. That I'm not sick at all. There are days when life just feels normal. My biggest worries on those days is how clean my house is, whether I put the laundry in the dryer, or if my kids have eaten their veggies.

But then there are the other days..... (and unfortunately there are lot's of these days)

Days when cancer is kicking my butt. They are the days when chemo has made me so sick, I don't want to get out of bed. I don't care if the laundry has not been done. And my kids could eat bread all day if they wanted to. Those days are hard. It's hard to smile, to clean, to be a Mom. And yet.....My kids think I am an AWESOME Mom on those days.

I'm tired and very sick. So there is LOTS of free play on those days. And my kids love it! I forget to get on them about chores or school or even brushing their teeth. We just play. (Well, the kids play, and I lay there and watch them) On one of those days, I decided to get my camera (which I still don't really know how to use) out and have a fashion show. I laid on the couch and took pictures of the kids trying on different costumes from the dress-up closet. There were lots of laughs, some interesting costume choices, and I didn't feel as sick once we were done.

But in all seriousness, cancer/chemo has made me slow down. I'm stuck on the couch a lot, which means a lot more cuddle time with my kids. Just last night I laid on the couch with Connor playing a puzzle game on my phone for a long time. I'm ashamed to admit that sometimes I forget to just drop everything and love on my kids sometimes.

Cancer has made me do that. And that is why sometimes being on chemo makes me a better Mom.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Marriage is broken

Adam and I have been teaching a newly/nearly wed class for 4 semesters now. We love it. It's one of my favorite nights of the week. And this week we got to talk about needs, roles, and responsibilities in marriage.

It is a rough night for a lot of women. And the reason is simply because we don't like the word "submissive". That's it for a lot of us. We don't like that word. It makes the hair on the back on our neck stand up. It makes us feel weak and inferior.

But for a moment I'd like you to open your heart and mind to what I'm going to say. What if it's not the role of helper that we don't like? But instead it's our own sin. Sin that is blinding us to the beauty that is "equal yet different" roles in marriage.

Take a look at this video.

You see we (every one of us) broke marriage. It was perfect. And we broke it with sin, with pride, with our messed up hearts. And because we broke it, marriage is just that.....kind of broken. It doesn't work well. And it doesn't work well because we are broken.

And yet???!!!!

With the hope of the gospel, we can live a good, perfect marriage. With the gospel, the word "submissive" is not scary. It's beautiful. It's the same relationship Jesus had with the Father. With the gospel, being helper to our husbands is exactly where we are supposed to be. With the gospel, we can be strong, beautiful women who love and respect our husbands. With the gospel we can give our husbands a chance to lead us and enjoy it.

With the gospel, Satan does NOT destroy marriage. He tried a long time ago. And in that moment it really did look like marriage was broken. But God rescued us, He saved us, and one day Satan will lose.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I have a love-hate relationship with vacations. I love to get away, do something new, see new places, have adventures, and experience new things with my family. But traveling with 3 small kids is just so hard sometimes. My kids are AWESOME travelers. But when we get home? Ugh it is rough. So this week we've been playing vacation catch-up. (And I've been having a rough couple of days on chemo.)

But this time last week we were living the vacation high-life. Adam had been working like a crazy person on a new Gowalla. And I had chemo and had to be a single Mom while Adam worked so hard. We needed a little break. So we headed to the beach. Don't you just love the beach?

Me too. We headed to Galveston and enjoyed 3 days ON A BOAT. Yup you heard me right. On a boat. Adam's parents live on their boat and we got to join them.
Adam's parents live at a fantastic marina!

With fantastic pools. We spent every evening here swimming and hot-tubbing. LOVED!
This made me tear up a bit. My oldest driving the motorboat all by himself. He is growing up so fast.
Hitting the beach.

Eating out, right on the beach.
He's a happy camper, shrimp stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon.
This little girl, wouldn't let me leave her sight. It wasn't annoying one bit. (Literally could not go take a shower without her. I think she was paranoid that I was going to leave her) I just love her.

It was a wonderful couple of days and a perfect break. If you could take a vacation right now, where would you go?
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