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

One Year

The past few weeks have been a procession of “One year” thoughts for me.  It was one year ago on February 17th that I first noticed a lump, closely followed by my appointment with my Dr, then mammogram and ultrasound, onto breast surgeon and wrapping up with my first biopsy.

Today, 3/4/15, marks one year since receiving the call with my diagnosis.  I will forever be grateful to Dr. Heather King, my breast surgeon, for preparing me to receive this call.  I remember precisely where I was, the chair by the windows in my living room, my friend Suzanne was over and we were sharing conversation and tea, or maybe coffee.  I remember the immediate feeling of peace that I had, I didn’t feel some huge sense of loss or fear, but more a feeling of surety.  Surety that while this would be a difficult fight it would be a fight that ends in life and hope.  I’m sure that I was also in shock, our brains are amazing in their ability to portion out stress in the midst of a crisis.  Even one year on I’m not sure that I’ve ever felt the entire gravity of breast cancer at one time.  And for that I thank God!

One year on, I’m facing fatigue from ongoing treatment and some of the side effects that go with that, both physical and emotional.  I’m facing frustrations that I’ve gained as much weight as I did in my pregnancies, but I will not be delivering a tiny human to jump start weight loss.  I’m facing that big huge unknown commonly referred to as “The New Normal”, whatever that means.  I am certainly shell shocked, following months of intense treatment, decisions, Doctor appointments, physical therapy, etc.  Things seem eerily quiet now, I’ve gone from more than five appointments a week to maybe 2-3.  I’m facing the uncertainty of “could the cancer come back?”.

One year on, I’m also facing Life.  Perspective.  Joy.  Freedom.  New friends.  Hope.  And this is where I choose to dwell.  To think of all the amazing women and men that I have met and been inspired by, fellow patients, nurses, technicians, doctors, staff, volunteers, everyone that participates in even the little areas of supporting and treating cancer patients.  I feel stronger, not because I did some amazing thing; I didn’t do anything spectacular, I simply showed up to my appointments.  But I do feel stronger knowing that I made it through the year, my family made it through the year.  We’re war torn, for sure, but I’m alive, we’re alive.  We faced a death dealer and said “Not today”.  We are facing our unknown future together and with a strength that we did not have a year ago.

One year on, I have felt peace, hope, joy, love, comfort, care, strength from God in ways more tangible than I ever could have imagined.  That sense of surety that regardless of what would or can, still, happen, my fight always ends with LIFE.  The countless people that sent cards, seriously SO many amazing cards.  The delicious meals.  The random cake balls and treats.  The prayer shawls and blankets.  The house cleaning help.  The childcare and playdates.  And the list goes on, these things often occurred at times when I or we needed encouragement and lifting.  Before we began treatment my father-in-law passed along a passage from the Bible that has been a constant source of encouragement, through chemo, surgery, radiation, and all the moments in between.
“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.”
Isaiah 43:2

Thank you.  Thank you for the prayers, the cards, the gifts, the meals, the dusting, the childcare, the laughter, the joy, and most of all thank you for using your gifts to point us toward hope.  I could not have made it through this year alone.  We could not have made it through this year alone.  And we did not make it through this year alone, thanks for joining us for the ride.

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

 

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!!

2011!

Some days I can’t believe how time has flown.  I remember thinking when I was younger (like high school or middle school) that I would be 23 in the year 2000.  And I remember thinking how far away that seemed.  As it turns out it still seems far away, funny how that works.  One guarantee we have in life is that it will keep moving.  We’ll keep aging.  Our children (whether ours or those in our lives) will keep growing and learning new, exciting things.  Time is not a respecter of persons, it moves regardless of who we are.

So this year I hope to do my part to slow time down.  To savor the moments that I have with my kids, my friends, those around me.  To make the most out of the time we have not in a carpe diem can’t-say-no-to-anything kind of way but in a I-only-get-this-moment-once way.  Cheers and I hope you and your’s have a very happy and healthy New Year!

Beautiful Girls

My Littles love Veggie Tales, I mean they really love Veggie Tales.  If they could live in the produce aisle I think they would.  As they were watching SweetPea Beauty the other day I heard this song from the other room and backed the video up to hear it again.  As a mom to two little girls and a woman that has looked in the mirror and not liked what I’ve seen, this song really struck a chord.  Our culture can be so shallow with regard to appearance and what is considered beautiful.  True beauty is a deep, deep thing that is very hard to explain but stunning to see.  You’ve seen it, the person that helps another just because they need a hand; the child that chooses not to tease; the volunteer at the hospital or nursing home; those acts of beauty that sneak up on us and sometimes we get to witness and see this true beauty.

Here are the lyrics for the song as well as a link to the video.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLaqNbQNo4w

BEAUTIFUL FOR ME Lyrics
Nichole Nordeman

Every girl young and old has to face her own reflection
Twirl around, stare it down
What’s the mirror gonna say
With some luck, you’ll measure up
But you might not hold a candle to the rest
“Is that your best?” says the mirror to the mess

But there’s a whisper in the noise
Can you hear a little voice
and he says

Has anybody told you you’re beautiful?
You might agree if you could see what I see
Oh
‘Cuz everything about you is incredible
You should have seen me smile the day that I made you beautiful for me

If it’s true beauty lies in the eye of the beholder
What my life and what’s inside to give him something to behold
I want a heart that’s captivating
I wanna hear my Father say

Has anybody told you you’re beautiful?
You might agree if you could see what I see
Oh
‘Cuz everything about you is incredible
You should have seen me smile the day that I made you beautiful for me

Close your eyes
Look inside
Let me see the you that you’ve been trying to hide
Long ago, I made you so very beautiful
So I ought to know you’re beautiful


Has anybody told you you’re beautiful?
You might agree if you could see what I see
Yeah
‘Cuz everything about you is incredible
You should have seen me smile the day that I made you beautiful
You’re so beautiful
Beautiful for me
So beautiful for me
Has anybody told you?

In case no one has told you today, this month or year.  You are beautiful!  YOU are so very beautiful!

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.  ~ Proverbs 31:30

Christmas Past

Can you believe that Christmas day has past already??  I am a believer in stretching the celebration out so I like to be Christmas-y for a while after (and of course before).  We don’t typically celebrate the Epiphany but that is another good way to stretch the holiday.

Our Christmas was fantastic!  We got our Littles two Bitty Babies (1 each) from American Girl.  I am very impressed with the overall quality and the speed of delivery.  This was the gift I was most excited to give.  And boy, oh boy, were they well received!  Our eldest likes baby dolls and we had planned on giving her a Bitty this Christmas, but our youngest likes baby dolls even more and while she is a little on the young side (at least officially) we decided to do one for each.  It was definitely the right decision.  In only one had received a Bitty we would be in treaty negotiations for a long time.

Here are pictures of the Littles opening their babes.  Catch that joy!!

We could not get the box open quickly enough for her. Thankfully we didn't need a sawzall to open the box.

She really realy wanted me to see this fantastic gift! "Mommy, kiss baby! Kiss baby!"