Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas with Cancer

This Christmas is different.
This Christmas I am more thankful for my life.
I am grabbing every opportunity to celebrate and find the joys of the season with my family.
I am aware with perfect clarity that we don't know when those opportunities will be gone.

The image above shows the lumps that remain in my breast.
I was scheduled for a mastectomy this week against my doctor's advice.
I just wanted to remove those lumps and feel like I had done everything I could.
But the latest studies show that the mastectomy does not improve my chances.
Those who receive it and those who don't live just as long.

The weekend after I had this ultrasound done was very hard for me.
The fear crept in and paralyzed me.
I lay in my bed and thought about dying and leaving my children.
I couldn't shake the feeling, and I was miserable.

That Sunday I went to church and my inspired leader spoke about fear.
He spoke about the blessings that the Lord has for us 
when we put aside our fear and have faith in Him.
And I need all the blessings I can get!

And so I decided to trust my oncologist, who has taken remarkable care of me.
And have faith that the Lord will take care of my children, 
with or without me here to raise them.
I have been blessed with the gift of optimism, 
but I have to tell you that facing death tests my ability to remain joyful.
My greatest desire is to remain here on earth with my family.
And so I will fight!
I will not give up.
I will keep the faith.
And I will build a legacy of faith for my children, not fear!

I am stage 4.
My diagnosis is different.
The cancer spread out into my body.
I will never be in remission; 
my treatments will not end until I die.
My cancer will never be cured, only controlled.

But I am extremely blessed that the infusions and medication I receive don't make me sick!
The side effects are minimal and allow me to live a normal, busy mom life.
I have recently received the job of my dreams, 
librarian at my kids' school, and could not be more happy!

I have always wanted to do something important, to be someone important.
The cancer is helping me to make a difference.
Not only do I reach out with greater enthusiasm and love, but others do too.
I hear stories of people who have renewed their faith in God.
People who have begun praying.
People who hug more and love more.
And that makes me know that it's worth it, all that I have suffered and will suffer.
It has made the world a better place.

Smile with your whole face, teeth and all!
Never miss a chance to tell someone how important they are.
Share what you have, it was just on loan from God.
Forgive and be gentle with others and yourself, we are all doing our best.

I love you.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Etnies Holiday Giving GIVEAWAY!

We are super excited!!
Etnies is having a $500 Holiday Giveaway!
You could get Etnies for the whole family!

People are always asking me where we got our cool shoes!
We love our Etnies for so many reasons.
I love supporting local companies who give back to the community.
Etnies gave 300 pairs of shoes to needy children this month,
and 2000 pairs of shoes to the homeless every year!
And for every pair of kids shoes you buy, a tree is planted as part of their
Happy Feet, Happy Forests reforestation program!

Now etnies wants to reward YOU for giving back! 
Simply snap & share a pic of you giving back to your community/favorite cause 
(volunteering, donating clothes/shoes, etc.) and you could win $500 in prizes! 

Share your photo on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram 
with #get4giving & it’ll automatically upload to the gallery. 
Or, upload it here:
The pic with the most votes wins the $250 grand prize! 
*Must include hashtag to count (Runs Dec. 5- Jan. 5)

 What are you waiting for??
Go enter today to win your etnies shopping spree!

*This post brought to you by etnies. All opinions are my own!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Knott's NYE Celebration and GIVEAWAY!

Where will your family be on New Year's Eve??
Will you be joining me for the biggest party on the West Coast?
Knott's Berry Farm has got everything you need for your family to have an amazing New Year's Eve! 

With special fireworks, live entertainment, and extended hours, plus rides and attractions, 
Knott’s is the place to ring in 2015!

Knott's Berry Farm will be open from 10AM - 1AM on New Year's Eve, 
and the whole park will be filled with family friendly entertainment!

 Krazy Kirk & The Hillbillies! 
From the deep country hills of Anaheim, these blue grass
boys will have toes tappin’, hands clappin’, and guts bustin’ during the best darn
musical comedy show ever performed in the historic Bird Cage Theatre.

The Clueless Remix
A non-stop live music adventure where old school R&B meets
new school dance & hip hop in a seamless, continuous flow much like that of a DJ
spinning turntables. And before The Clueless Remix takes the stage, DJ Howly spins
popular high energy music in the Calico Square.

Salsa Dancing with DJ JC & Snoopy
You're invited to show off your dance moves at Fiesta
Plaza and groove to the beat of this spicy music scene that’s Hot, Hot, Hot!

Adam Christing - Family friendly comedian
Brings his hilarious comedy, magic and fun audience interaction 
to Ghost Town’s Wagon Camp. 

And all your favorites will still be at the park from Knott's Merry Farm,
like Snoopy on Ice, special holiday treats, and snow and glow as the sun sets!

With the online discounted price of $40 per ticket,
Knott's Berry Farm is a great way for your whole family to celebrate together!

And now for the best part!
You can WIN 2 tickets for you and a guest to join us for Knott's NYE!


Saturday, December 6, 2014

It's a Merry Christmas at Knott's Merry Farm!

Our family had the opportunity to visit Knott's Merry Farm 
and sample all the fun activities they have this 2014 Christmas season!

One of our favorite stops at Knott's Merry Farm was Santa's Christmas Cabin!
It smelled amazing in there!
We ate hot roasted nuts, bakery delights and my kids' favorite, the Snoopy cookie!

Santa was there too, waiting to see the kids and listen to their Christmas lists!
You can have your picture taken with him and they will print it right out for you!

The shows are always one of our favorite things to see!
Lucy's Wish List in the Camp Snoopy Theatre had a special surprise...SNOW!

My favorite is always Snoopy On Ice!
Each song is so beautifully choreographed,
and the costumes are so fun!

The day was complete with the lighting of the Knott's Merry Farm Christmas tree!
Come see it all lit up until January 4!

Buy your Knott's 2015 Season Passes and get one free visit in 2014 
to have fun with your family at Knott's Merry Farm!

See you at Knott's!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

There is ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS Something to be Thankful For!

I have always considered myself to be the luckiest girl ever.
This year really tested my ability to find my blessings some days.
But I know that even on the worst days, 
there is always, always, always something to be thankful for!

It became kind of like a game sometimes, to find that something.
On days when I couldn't get out of bed, I could be thankful I had a bed.
Thankful I was alive, thankful my family was there, 
thankful for the beautiful view out my window.

I am not perfect at it, but I have become more thankful.
And it's easier for me to see the blessings in my life and in other's lives too!
Can you imagine how joyful our world could be 
if we all focused on our blessings instead of our trials??

Brighten your corner of the world by playing the thankful game!
You will make a difference and inspire others to do the same.
You are more powerful than you know!


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Power Crunch: The Genius Behind Protein!

This week I had the opportunity to visit the Southern California headquarters for Power Crunch!
I had never heard of this company and was intrigued as I have become an on-the-go mommy
needing to grab something quick for a meal between work,
 driving kids around and endless doctor appointments!

Power Crunch founder Kevin Lawrence explained his vision born from his own experience 
with his newborn son who could not digest breastmilk or formula and became very sick.
Kevin developed a protein formula so gentle that his infant son could digest it and saved his life!

This formula is the basis for all Power Crunch products.
It is gentle to the system so you get all the protein benefits without gas and bloating!
Check out the Power Crunch website for more about the science behind it.

The Proto Whey Protein Powder comes in four different flavors:
Double Chocolate
Vanilla Creme
Cafe Mocha
Cookies and Cream

I love this powder because it is protein power punch with 20 grams of protein and only 5 grams of sugar!
I like this because I find that a lot of "health foods" have way too much sugar,
negating the benefit of the other healthy ingredients.
I also love that the Proto Whey is best mixed with water!
I love dairy but I know it's not that great for me, and I try to limit it.

This product is also great for cancer patients who are having trouble getting the nutrition they need.
Gentle on the stomach and full of nutrients, I wish I had this when I went through chemo!
I'm excited to share it with my cancer friends now!

The Power Crunch bars are a great on-the-go treat to keep you satisfied with several flavor options!
I sampled a few tasty options and am excited for the new Salted Caramel coming in January 2015!

There are also mini bars and protein beverages!
My daughter has been sneaking them out of my bag!
I love that they are safe for the whole family!

Power Crunch is truly the genius of protein!
It's smart protein!
I love these products, but even more important I love this company!

For more information, check out Power Crunch online!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Guest Post: Greek Lemon Potatoes by Engineer Mommy

I'm excited today to introduce you to Jennifer from Engineer Mommy!
She has a tasty dinner dish to share with us that I can't wait to try!

Hey, everyone! My name is Jennifer and I blog over at Engineer Mommy
I am so thrilled to be over here at Polkadots on Parade today!
 Jaime is such an incredibly talented woman and I am honored that she has invited me 
to share this easy recipe for Greek Lemon Potatoes with you today!

I am always on the lookout for easy, delicious recipes to feed my family. 
With a 3 year old and a 15 month old occupying my every moment, 
I am usually short on time - there will be no marathon cooking sessions in my kitchen anytime soon! 
I need recipes that require minimal prep time while still producing flavorful, healthy meals. 
And these Greek Lemon Potatoes deliver just that! 

Preparing these potatoes requires combining some ingredients 
and popping them in the oven for about an hour, 
during which time I can concentrate on far more important tasks - 
you know, like building a sand castle or playing "tag" with the kiddos! :)

My kids are picky eaters, and even they cannot get enough of these Greek Lemon Potatoes. 
Bursting with the delicious flavors of lemon & garlic, 
these potatoes are sure to become a favorite side dish in your house, as they have in mine. 
Plus, they're so versatile, they will complement any entrĂ©e you may be serving: chicken, beef, fish, etc. 
Just make sure you have enough on hand - people will likely want second servings!
Let's get to the recipe now, shall we?

Greek Lemon Potatoes

Greek Lemon Potatoes


3 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3/4 cup chicken broth

Greek Lemon Potatoes Ingredients

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine all the ingredients in a large baking dish 
and toss the potatoes to ensure that they are fully coated by the sauce.
Bake for 1 hour, turning the potatoes once halfway through the cooking time.
Optional: For crispier edges and more color on the potatoes,
 preheat the broiler and broil the potatoes for an additional 5-10 minutes until they are golden brown.

Greek Lemon Potatoes

I've made this a few times beforehand so I can tell you that the chicken broth is essential - 
it infuses a rich flavor into the potatoes and keeps them moist. 
Also, even though it's not necessary, I always place these in the broiler afterward. 
It only takes an extra 5-10 minutes, but it really imparts a lovely color and crispness to the finished product!

Greek Lemon Potatoes

It has been a pleasure sharing this with you all today! 
If you'd like to see what else I've been up to recently, 
feel free to check out some of my easy DIY tutorials
some fun kids' crafts, and some other delicious recipes!
 Thanks again, Jaime, for having me!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Winds of Change

This year has been one of many changes for our family.

A year ago our life looked something like this:
Every morning we would sleep in til 8 or so until the children went off to get breakfast.
 I stayed in my bed until 9 when we started school in our pajamas
 and stayed in them until right before Daddy came home 
when I showered and changed into clean pajamas.
My wardrobe consisted of church clothes and pajamas, with a couple every day outfits.

We left the house maybe once or twice a week for groceries or some other random errand.
We went to the doctor every couple of years when we got too sick.
We mocked those people running around crazy with school schedules.
Our life was simple and relaxed, and relatively easy.

And then bit by bit, our simple life changed.

We started school, as independent study students at a charter school.
We started going a couple days a week, and now our children are there full-time, 
with me working as the librarian.

Cancer came on the scene, and our years of infrequent doctor visits were a thing of the past.
We were at the doctor multiple times a week, 
filling more prescriptions than I've had my whole life.

We are up every morning and out the door fully dressed with no idea when we'll be home again.
My wardrobe has evened out and my pajamas don't dominate the drawers anymore.
I have makeup on everyday.
My hair has gone from long to short.
And my world is bigger and more satisfying because of all the people I have come to know.

When I read this quote recently, it rang so true for me.
I have watched people fight the changes in their lives and it has made them sad.

I promise that if you will have the faith to build a windmill,
you can harness the power of the winds of change in your life
and use them to move you forward to a bigger and better destiny!

I know because this year we have been blown, but not blown about,
as we have embraced our new reality and rejoiced in the blessings of change.


Friday, November 14, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Irvine Park Railroad Christmas Train and Christmas Tree!

One of our favorite Christmas memories 
is visiting the Irvine Park Railroad at Christmastime!

The park is transformed into a twinkling winter wonderland
 with Christmas trees and lights everywhere!

The train is decorated as well!
You can buy your tickets and climb aboard 
for a magical ride to see Santa!

The kids were so excited to sit with Santa 
and tell him all their Christmas wishes!
Santa has a photographer to capture your kids' happy faces
or bring your own camera!

Besides the Christmas train, there are other fun activities!

- Decorate Christmas Cookies
- Enjoy storytime with Mrs. Claus
- Play Carnival Games
- Go Ice Fishing
- Jump in Santa's Bounce House
- Color a Christmas Picture

And this year you can visit the Christmas Tree Ranch 
next to the Irvine Park Railroad train station
and choose the perfect tree for your home 
from their selection of Douglas, Grand and Noble Firs
 ranging in size from 4 to 12 feet tall!

The Christmas Train and activity tickets are on sale now for the dates listed below!

Christmas Train Dates
Christmas Train Hours
Christmas Train Activities
November 28th and 29th
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Activities open at 10:00 am.
November 30th
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Activities open at 10:00 am.
December 5th - 6th
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Activities open at 4:00 pm.
December 7th
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Activities open at 4:00 pm.
December 12th
4:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Activities open at 3:00 pm.
December 13th and 14th
2:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Activities open at 10:00 am.
December 15th through 19th
4:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Activities open at 3:00 pm.
December 20th and 21st
2:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Activities open at 10:00 am.
December 22nd and 23rd
4:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Activities open at 3:00 pm.

And now for the best part!
I have tickets for you and a Christmas tree!

Here's what you can win!

- 4 Christmas Train tickets
- 6 Christmas Train activity tickets
- 1 Wheel Fun Rentals® at Irvine Park bike rental (excludes the double surrey)
- 1 Wheel Fun Rentals® at Irvine Park paddle boat rental 
- 1 Christmas Tree valued up to $75



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