2015 Year in Review

Christmas#1

2015 has been an amazing year.

As a family one of the greatest joys we’ve had this year has been joining the Launch Team for Hartford City Church.  This is a new church plant of the Evangelical Covenant Church, East Coast Conference.  Our mission is to glorify Jesus Christ and bless the city of Hartford.  The vision of the church is to participate in and experience God’s Beautiful Restoration in Hartford, CT (and beyond), Isaiah 61:1-4 is our seed verse.

Esther is in 3rd grade and doing great!  She loves her friends and is kind and caring.  She and Naomi are on the same indoor soccer team this Winter. Her favorite part of this year was taking our various trips to Old Sturbridge Village, with family and friends.

Naomi is in 1st grade and is also doing fabulously!  She is more quiet than Esther but just as sweet and kind.  She loves playing soccer with her friends from school and town.  Her favorite part of 2015 was having a play date with her friend Cam.

Matt has seen a busy year for work but he continues to grow in his position at Aetna and has a great team to work with.  He began brewing his first beer in January and made a few more batches over the year.  Ever the connoisseur, he was pleased with some and decidedly unpleased with others.  May brought knee surgery to repair a ruptured patellar tendon (it had ripped off his knee cap).  Matt’s surgery and recovery have been smooth and better than expected.  2016 will hold a return to running and golf for Matt, as both were put on hold during recovery.

Carey began 2015 by finishing her radiation treatment in January.  Over the summer she finished her Herceptin infusions and celebrated one year of having no evidence of cancer (aka remission).  There have been some setbacks this Fall with reconstruction, caused by an infection that brought a week at Hartford Hospital and removal of the implant used to reconstruct the right side (cancer side).  This means that 2016 will be the year in which Carey finishes reconstruction.  In the midst of the Fall’s challenges Carey began serving with MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers) as a Ministry Coach, working to support and assist the MOPS groups across CT and into NY.  Carey experienced the support and friendships that come from MOPS groups and communities and is very excited to be beginning to give back to this organization.

We have certainly had our challenges this year, but we have seen God’s hand carrying us through each day and challenge.  As people seeking to follow Jesus we know that Life will always have challenges, they are what shape us and build our character as well as our hope.

Our prayer for 2016 is that God would continue to draw us close to Him, that He would give us the strength and grace to meet each new challenge.  Our world can seem so dark at times, whether it is the individual challenges we face or the broader global challenges facing humanity.  We pray that 2016 would be a year that brings Hope, that as we celebrate the birth of Christ we would be reminded of the Hope that He came to give us.  As we go into the new year may we love and care for those around us with strength, humility, and grace, just as Christ did.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Love the Penneys

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The Surgery

Bilateral mastectomy with sentinel lymph node dissection and possible axiliary tail dissection with reconstruction.

That is the name of the surgery I will be having tomorrow morning (8/11) at 11:15.  In non-medical terms it means I will be having both breasts removed, during surgery the Doctors will remove and biopsy the primary lymph nodes, there’s a possibility of removing more lymph nodes but that will be determined during surgery.  The plastic surgeon will also begin reconstruction, this process will take a few months to be finish.

I am as ready as I can be for this surgery.  This is what I had decided to do in March and I haven’t really had any doubts about whether this was the best option for me, it is.  Removing the breast that has the cancer is kind of a no brainer for me, since I have two confirmed tumors and a possible third (which was not biopsied because I planned to do a mastectomy) even if a Doctor would recommend a lumpectomy there would be very little breast tissue left.  Most Doctors that I have spoken with recommend a mastectomy because of the multiple locations and that the locations are in different quadrants of the breast (they view the breast as a pie divided into quarters, the tumors are in different quarters).  Removing the unaffected breast isn’t really necessary from a medical standpoint, the statistics say it is very unlikely that the cancer would move to the other breast in the case of recurrence.  So while I am only changing my chance of recurrence by 1-2% I still feel that 1-2% and some peace of mind is worth the extra recovery time.  And to be honest I like symmetry and let’s face it a single mastectomy with reconstruction would not be symmetrical.

This is clearly a deeply personal and difficult decision.  Breasts are a source of cultural controversy and over-sexualization in our world today, whether it’s talk of public breast-feeding or the exploitation of women it’s easy to forget that at the end of the day this appendage can nourish my children and attempt to kill me. 😉  All joking aside, this is not a completely simple choice, though in some ways it was for me, I have spent many hours working through this choice.  For the many women that face breast cancer each day this choice looks different and there is no “right” decision, there’s also no “right” way to come to a decision.

So as we stare down the final hours before surgery I have complete peace in my choice, in my Doctors (seriously, they are great!), and in this time.  I know that recovery will take time and effort and will bring pain, but nothing in life is easy and the plan is for this to bring me many more years of life so it’s worth the work.  If you pray, please join with us tomorrow and know that the support, care and love we have felt is simply overwhelming.  Thank you all for loving us.

This verse was shared with me and it has carried me through much of this time:
Isaiah 43:2
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

 

Love, Hope, and Laughter!!

Happy Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day is fun and even during my more “bitter” times I liked the day.  A chance to tell people more pointedly that you love and care for them is great.  Its kind of like a Thanksgiving for people.

I start with my immediate family and then head out through family and friends and I am thankful for each of you.  For the friendship and the fun times and character building times.  So who are your valentines?  Here are some of mine.

 

Biggest Little

Littlest Little

Love & BL - Sledding

LL - Waiting her turn

Love & LL - Sledding

 

A special lunch

I realized as I was about to make lunch that we have community dinner at church tonight (read: I don’t have to cook supper) so instead of our favorite peanut butter and jam I opted for a little more special lunch.  Matt will come home for supper so he can get some studying in while the rest of us are at church so I made more than we needed giving him a supper that isn’t something he’s already had.

I started with 2 boxes of Annie’s Shells and  Cheese, some leftover cream of mushroom soup (about 1 cup), 1 can of tuna, drained (I love the no salt added Trader Joe’s tuna) and a large handful of baby spinach (I have long fingers/big hands so it might be more like 2 handfuls).

I cooked the shells and drained the water.  After returning to the pot I added the soup and the “cheese” mix to the pasta.  Once that was combined I added the tuna and mixed that in as well as breaking the chunks of tuna I finished it off with the baby spinach which I tore a little as I was adding it.  I covered the pot and let it set (off the heat) for a few minutes to let the spinach wilt.

Viola.  A not-completely-unhealthy, warm and yummy lunch.  The kids gobbled it up and had seconds and we have leftovers for a side dish or (more likely) Matt’s supper tonight.

Tuna Shell Lunch

The Flower Girl

January is over and the entire month seems like a blur.  We had a number of big events on our calendar this month so it flew by and now I am working to reclaim my house.  All the events were fun and well worth our time to be at or in them but the most memorable is our friend’s wedding.  Our biggest Little was the flower girl and a good friend of her’s was the ring bearer.  They were WAY too cute!  I give you Natalie and Mike’s wedding pictures (well really just a few of the all important flower girl and ring bearer):

Practicing THE walk at the rehearsal

Lets get those pre-wedding jitters out and some of that energy too.

Walking on the big day. They both did a great job!

Posing Littles

And now for the FUN!

He is a bit of a binge drinker. Really he'll down an entire sippy in 60 seconds!! 🙂

Not a binge drinker but still both had water (for the record).

Let the dancing begin. Note: she had her shoes off after the first song.

And it continues...

Our little flower girl danced and danced.  We had to drag her away, not quite kicking and screaming but pulling her away to go home after dancing for over 2 hours.  Pretty much straight through.  Oh to have that energy again!!

Saturday

So my Love is off with the Littles to our local children’s museum (The Lutz Children’s Museum) and I am left to a quite house except for Pup’s pattering and the radio.  To my fellow moms is there a nicer thing after a week of kids all the time and lots of snow?

Quiet…

Peace…

OK that was nice now its time to shower and run errands.  We are out of milk and our old house is leaking cold air like… well like old houses will do in the middle of winter.  So the day keeps going albeit a bit more quietly.  I hope you’re having a great weekend and enjoy whatever quiet and peace that you have in your day.

Short changes

When my first Little was born I had short hair, think pixie short.  I knew I’d never get it cut often enough to maintain that, plus my hair grew so fast during pregnancy I had to let it get a bit longer.  I had been working with pediatric hematology/oncology patients and their families during my pregnancy so I decided to let my hair grow and possibly donate it in the future.

Cut to (no pun intended) three years, or so, later and I was ready to donate.  Last Wednesday I cut off 13 inches of hair, then to get the cut about another 5 inches went.  Here’s the photographic evidence of the event (read: fantastic event).

Front before

Back

Front after

Back 🙂

So I have 13 inches of hair being sent into Pantene Beautiful Lengths: (http://www.pantene.com/en-US/beautiful-lengths-cause/Pages/default.aspx).  I’ve had my hair all sorts of different lengths from very long to very short.  I have never donated my hair before and I’m not sure that I will again but I’m glad that I am this time. 🙂