Life Lessons

As parents, we want to teach our kids many things. We want them to be good people who are kind and think of others’ feelings and needs. We want them to be respectful, but assertive. We want them to speak up, but to also listen. We want them to be aware and active.

We can tell them all the the things we want, but we all know that experience is the best teacher.

Eddie loves fun. He loves to be social and try new things. He has eagerly tried soccer, baseball, swimming, discovery camps, scouts, and this year he wanted to try basketball.

Eddie is also not a natural athlete. Thankfully he is not like me–a complete disaster when it comes to any sort of sport that requires coordination (so everything but running). He could be good if he practiced and stuck with something, but he really just wants to be good enough to not suck and to have fun.

And that is about where he is, but when things get competitive and tough rather than just fun, he tends to quit.

Soccer got too serious–and had way too much running for his liking. He really loved baseball (and had an excellent coach one season), but once he was in Little League and not just rec ball where everyone got a chance to do everything, his interest waned. Swimming was fun until he got to the point where he had to work on strokes and do laps.

The past couple summers we have had a basketball hoop in our driveway, and Eddie enjoyed shooting hoops. He mentioned interested in learning how to play on a team, so we signed him up for 4 on 4 rec basketball this winter.

From the start it seemed like a good fit for him: there was lots of running, but only for 5 minutes of a 10 minute quarter because then they would sub out. He was willing to go hard for 5 minutes knowing he would get to rest after.

He admitted that he was not the best on the team, but that the drills were fun and he liked the kids on his team as well as his coaches.

His coaches pushed Eddie to learn the game and get better.

After the first game, it was evident than most of the boys needed some more practice, and that Eddie didn’t know much about the rules of basketball. Let’s just say there were a LOT of calls for double dribbling.

Each game after, though, we watched the team come together. They encouraged each other. They passed to each other. They dominated the court not because they were miles better than every team, but because they truly learned to work together and include all four boys on the court.

Eddie continued to do his best, but he was not the most talented on the team. Nonetheless, the coaches and team continued to included him so he could get the practice he needed.

Last week, after leaving Eddie in a little extra long after subs were called, he finally got his first basket. Everyone in the gym realized what was going on: the team continued to pass to him over and over. And when the ball went through the hoop, you would have thought he got the game-winning shot!

The gym erupted.

My eyes teared up not just because Eddie’s dimples were showing all the way from the court, but because everyone–the coaches, the team, the parents–were on Eddie’s side. The players were slapping him on the back like he won them the game.

After the game came another surprise to all of us.

The head ref gave out a “character” award for the most improved player on both teams playing that morning, and Eddie was the recipient for the yellow team.

Again, when his name was called, the gym went crazy. And I openly cried.

Eddie learned more about teamwork and supporting people from his basketball team than anything Cortney and I could ever tell him. Experiencing what it feels like to work hard and be recognized for doing your best and improving–even if you aren’t the star of the team–is something only experience could teach him.

I’m proud of Eddie because he is so willing to try new things. It’s not ever without whining that he wishes he didn’t sign up for it (he is a bit of a homebody and doesn’t love to have to give up couch time to go to practice or a game). Once he gets to practice or the game, though, his mood usually changes and he gets into it.

Basketball taught Eddie that he can do hard things. He can grow and improve with practice. And just because you are not the best on the team, does not mean that you are not an important part of the team.

This is what youth sport and activities are all about.

How to Love on Someone Through Treatment

Since my cancer diagnosis and treatment, I’ve had a bunch of people message me that someone they love is about to go through or is currently going through a cancer diagnosis and needs treatment. They all want to know what was the most helpful thing that was done for me and/or my family while we were deep in the trenches. In fact, I have been asked so many times, I decided to write it all down in my notebook and turn it in to a blog post.

The day of my lumpectomy: May 10, 2018

Meals: This is the one we think of first, right? Especially if we live close or are in a community with the person (church, work, neighborhood, etc). Meals can be GREAT and we loved the ones we got, but ask first. And then don’t be discouraged if the person says they don’t need one. Cooking or baking might be your love language, but in our case, we have picky eaters and honestly, visitors stressed me out. We had a schedule people could sign up on if they wanted to provide a meal, and we weren’t afraid to be specific about what our family would actually eat.

Snacks: Even though meals were sort of overwhelming, snacks were not! We got some awesome deliveries of snacks for the kids (both healthy and fun), an edible arrangement (I ate most of that because FRUIT!), and other treats in care packages. These are great because they can be dropped on a porch or sent in the mail and no one feels like they have to entertain you (or put on pants to answer the door), AND they can be consumed gradually.

Also beer and wine on my doorstep were never a sad thing. Because yes, you can still drink when you’re going through chemotherapy (or at least I could. Just not on the day of treatment–not that I wanted to. Ugg.)

The Mother’s Day Basket my school sent after my surgery.

Cards and notes: If you live far away or you aren’t super close with someone, cards and notes are the way to go. I think sometimes people think, “who cares about a card?” But I am here to tell you that every card or note sent to me (snail mail is really the best) or even every email or private message I received, I kept. They are all tucked in a bag under my bed. When things got really shitty, I would re-read them. Or just hold the weight of them because it reminded me that I went through all those minds and hearts enough for them to specifically take time to send it.

This was all of them as of my last chemo treatment. I have added more to this pile!

Gift Cards: If you want to go beyond the card, but meals are not your thing or an option, gift cards are the way to go. People want to feed you and your family when you are out of commission, and that is a GREAT thing! We got TONS of gift cards to local restaurants that have take out or eat in, that way we could choose when and how we wanted our meals. Another reason this was great was because some days that we thought would be fine, were very not fine and the gift cards were there for those unplanned inability to prepare food. Plus everyone could get what they like. And the ones to ice cream or dessert places? Well those were just fun treats!

We were also sent gift cards for non-food stuff–especially for our kids (Target, the local toy store, activities, etc.) These were true gifts for our kids in the middle of a pretty scary, uncertain summer. All three dealt with my chemotherapy differently, and the kindness of both friends and strangers sustained them and gave them things to look forward to outside of seeing mom comatose.

Shipt or some other service: I swear I am not getting compensated for this, and actually we turned down the offer twice before one friend finally said, “too bad, this is what we want to gift you.” Shipt was so helpful for grocery shopping/delivery, that we renewed it for a full year after our gifted subscription ran out.

Cozy, fun things: I would be remiss not to mention the thoughtful gifts people sent. Earbuds for chemo (there are quite a few loud-talking elderly people there), blankets (chemo patients get COLD fast), hats, fuzzy socks, notebooks and pens, books (even though I couldn’t read during chemo, books are always a comfort to me), music to listen to at chemo, Bible verses, coffee mugs, tea, the list goes on! None of them were needs…or even wants I knew I had! But when they showed up, they comforted me.

Stuff that made me feel pretty: When you go through cancer treatment, you do not feel glamorous, let alone pretty. You feel like you are crawling through life. So when cute hats (that had SPF or were warm), lotions, make-up stuff, nail polish (no manicures or pedicures when you are doing chemo, so you have to do them yourself…or have a husband who will do it), even flavored lip balm or lip glosses showed up, it may have seemed frivolous, but to me it gave me back a little of my femininity. It made me feel pretty again.

Take The Kids: This is a tricky one. One of the best things people did for us was arrange fun childcare for our kids while I was at my worst. The tricky part is we had many offers, but only took up a handful of people on this because we wanted our kids to feel comfortable and natural and not like they were being sent away to someone they don’t know. Our kids were not just well-cared for, they had FUN while I felt like garbage. Some of their best memories of the summer were from the times they spent with friends and family while I was at my lowest. This helped me get the rest I needed because I knew my kids were having a ball.

Flowers: Who doesn’t love flowers? Again, this one seems like something everyone would do, but it’s not. I received some beautiful arrangements sent from professional places, but people also brought vases filled from their gardens or the farmer’s market. Since I couldn’t go outside much, it felt good to smell the fresh flowers in the house.

Ask them out: Ask them to do things when they are feeling good. Get fun stuff on their calendar. This was HUGE for me. I needed things to look forward to so I could remember that it wouldn’t always suck. We went to a minor league baseball game with friends (that I thought was going to back out of, but didn’t and I am glad about it), a Pearl Jam concert, and I got my make-up done with a friend. We also went to a cottage with my parents for a long weekend. Doing stuff when I wasn’t “sick” was necessary to my recovery. I took it slow and I made sure to rest, but I did things. This was crucial for my mental health too!

And lastly, just be there. Make sure they know they can tell you that they feel like shit and that you won’t try to talk them out of that (because you can’t. They just have to go through it). Be there when they are feeling good and help them celebrate that too.

The Names We Give Them

Edward Steven
Edward Bear
Eddie Bear
Number One
Brother Bear

Charles Thomas
Charlie Bird
Bird Dog
Charlie Tom
Buddy boo
Number Two
Birdie Boo
Brother Bird
Middle Child

Alice Katherine
Alice Beans
Bean Dip
Beansy Girl
Beanie Boo
B Girl
Allie Buckets
Pickle Pants
Little Sister
Sister Bear

Sluiter Sibs
Sluiter kids
Team Sluiter
Sluiter Crew
Cortney Sluiter Family

Whatever we call them, they are our favorite three people on this Earth.

Photographs by Erin Barkel Photography

PSA: Follow Doctor’s Orders

My Timehop app reminded me that one year ago today was my annual physical. “Annual” is used loosely here since I had not been in for a physical since Alice was born in 2015. I made the appointment because I was turning 40 and figured that was a good age to make sure everything was working like it was supposed to.

Look at that great hair!

I also knew that my doctor would probably order some blood work to check stuff that hadn’t been checked since before Alice was born (thyroid, cholesterol, etc) as well as a mammogram because I have family history and 40 seems to be the magic number for having your boobs checked.

I was right: blood work and mammogram were ordered, my mental health was discussed, and refills on my antidepressant were called in.

My mammogram was schedule for March–right before my 40th birthday.

After my breast cancer diagnosis, many of the nurses commented on how lucky it was that I actually went and had my mammogram done. I couldn’t believe it–who wouldn’t go get a test done that their doctor prescribed?

It wasn’t luck that got me to my mammogram; it was my (and Cortney’s) firm belief in preventative health care. Get regular check-ups. Call the doctor when you feel yucky. Do the tests (and vaccines) that doctors recommend.

It wasn’t luck. It was common sense.

I am thankful for our common sense because I am alive today because of it.

My doctor did a breast exam, didn’t feel anything unusual, but ordered the mammogram anyway because I was turning 40 and had family history.

Had I not followed through, and I waited until I noticed something was wrong, my prognosis would have been so, so much worse.

Consider this your Public Service Announcement: take care of yourself by getting regular check-up and following doctor advice.

Preventative care saves lives, yo.


Donate to my classroom library today by sending a book from our classroom wishlist!

No More Nursery

Just a little over ten years ago we decided on a nursery theme for our babies. We picked something that didn’t have any pre-determined gender bias–the jungle.

We registered for all of the items in the theme and what we didn’t get at the baby showers, we bought. It wasn’t a necessity, I know, but it was cute and it made everything feel like it worked together as our baby’s room.

For each baby, the nursery stayed pretty much the same but for a couple minor changes to make it personalized to each kid.

It was the cutest little nursery ever. Even when I found out Alice was a girl, I didn’t want to change it. I just loved those animals welcoming my baby.

The little elephant on the wall by the changing table was each of my baby’s first “friend” who they smiled and babbled to. I rocked each baby to sleep in that jungle room.

So you can imagine that when Alice started dropping not-so-subtle hints (Mom, I want pink walls. Not green animal walls), my heart sank a little.

The crib is now a bed. Alice is out of diapers. And now she wants the traces of nursery vanished.

When I first sarted putting away the tiny baby stuff like the crib bedding, I put it all in Alice’s closet with the idea that I didn’t think I could actually get rid of it. I just couldn’t pack it up and drop it off for donation somewhere, even though I knew I should.

It was too personal. Too close.

Last weekend, Alice asked me to please get her unicorns and mermaids for her room. And pink walls. I told her that when she is four (in March), we would redecorate her room.

I sat in the jungle room and wondered what would become of our beloved nursery.

Then Cortney suggested that our cousin (on his side of the family), may need nursery things for her baby who was due any time. So I reached out, and sure enough, she could use it.

This weekend that tiny beautiful baby was born, and went home today. After church we packed up the nursery stuff and headed over.

Great Grandma Sluiter with great grandbaby #52

My heart filled with joy and I knew it was in the right place. Seeing all the nursery stuff being opened and loved made me happy, but more importantly, it will be loved and used by someone we love very much.

I hope Katelyn and Karter enjoy talking about and to the animals as much as my children did. I hope the light from the lamp falls softly in the night as a pacifier is replaced or a reassuring kiss and hug are given. I hope the sheets and bedding are as cozy as they were for Eddie, Charlie, and Alice.

I hope it nourishes comfort and love like it did for us.

Some Words About Hair

Today I had my first salon appointment since June. Well, that’s not entirely true. I had my hair cut and styled the week before chemo started (didn’t bother with color because it was all going to fall out anyway). Cortney shaved my head three weeks later. I went in twice while I was “bald” to have my neck shaved and everything evened out. But I don’t really count those as being salon appointments. That was just “bald head maintenance.”

Today my hair was not only long enough to be trimmed up and shaped around my ears and neck, but it was long enough for color!

As my hair grows back in, almost everyone–students, teachers, friends, family–have commented that it’s cute short and that the grey coming in looks sort of cute.

I disagreed on both counts.

I don’t hate the short, but I did hate the grey. Really hate it. On me, anyway. Yes, I know people pay good money to dye their hair grey (this is something I do not understand, but to each their own). And someone said the “salt and pepper” was distinguished.

No. It’s not. Not on me.

I applaud those who choose to go grey or embrace their grey or whatever. They make the choice and do it with confidence.

I was not given the choice. I have not had a choice about my hair since I chose to shave it seven months ago. And that wasn’t really my choice either since if I got to pick, I would have kept ALL my hair.

But anyway.

Before my hair fell out, I had finally found a color I absolutely loved. My stylist is a magician with color, and I was deeply in love with what she mixed up for me. And I loved my cut. For the first time in a really long time, I had hair that was my favorite part of my body.

And then cancer and chemo stole those things from me.

It was hard, I won’t lie. After everything, losing my hair still stands out as the toughest part. Because it wasn’t about passing pain or fatigue. It was something that I had to endure through all of it.

Feel like garbage? You are also bald.

Feel so tired you feel half dead? You are also bald.

Your skin is sore and itchy and you want to rip it off? You are also bald.

I can’t speak for all women, but for me, my hair was not just one of my favorite things about myself, it was a big part of my identity. People recognize you by your hair. It shows off your personality. I would do my hair one way for school and another way for going out. I could spend extra time on it when I wanted to look extra nice.

Then it was gone.

“It’s just hair,” we all say. “It will grow back.”

I used to say these things too when I would choose to get a short cut. Or choose to change my hair color.

But I didn’t choose this; it was forced on me. Which is why I have been scrutinizing my hair almost daily for when it would be long enough for a cut and color.

And today was that day!

I didn’t have much cut–it was mostly just shaped into a nicer looking pixie cut. But I did get my brown hair back! No fancy highlights or lowlights yet because it is still too short and that would look weird (also it’s not even possible…unless and I did frosted tips. HA HA HA HA…no.)

And because my stylist is the best, she put product in it, blew it dry, and showed me how to style it with product I already have at home.


pardon the hoodie…it is Saturday afternoon after all.

I would choose this short haircut if I still had long hair, but going from no hair at all, I am super happy with it.

I look better with short hair than I thought I would, and as it gets longer, I will get to experiment with all sorts of cute short cuts.

So stay tuned!

I currently have a fundraising project on Donors Choose to add some diverse titles to my classroom library. I’d love if you’d throw a couple bucks at it. I only need about $250 to make it happen. Check it out here.

Mission Complete

On Tuesday, April 10, 2018 after school got out, but before a monthly staff meeting, I got the call that my biopsy results were in: Breast Cancer.

On Thursday, January 10, 2019 at approximately 3:25pm, I walked out of the Lakeshore Radiation and Oncology Center for the last time: Breast Cancer treatment complete.

Diagnosis in April.

Lumpectomy in May.

Chemotherapy from June to October.

Radiation from November to January.

I’m done. Sort of.

I’ll still have to go on hormone receptor blockers, but my days of going to appointments for treatment are over.

I have been looking forward to this for nine months, obviously, but when I got in my car after that last treatment a shudder went through my body and tears sprung to my eyes.

And in that moment I understood why so many had asked me how I would celebrate. I hadn’t really given a celebration a thought–we didn’t have time for anything and just being done is a celebration, right? Well it suddenly seemed important.

So on the way home I stopped for cupcakes and champagne.

I should have known though…a few minutes after getting home, my dad showed up with a cake my mom sent over. Of course my mom sent a cake. It’s what she does!

Tonight we will go to some non-fancy chain restaurant that is kid-friendly to have a celebratory dinner with the kids. We will let them order soda AND dessert. It’s a celebration after all.

1/1 lumpectomies DONE
16/16 rounds of chemo DONE
30/30 rounds of radiation DONE



If you would like to donate to my classroom library, check out our wish list full of new titles!

How I’ve Made it Through the Past 9 Months

I’ve gotten some pretty great compliments this weekend from people who know I’m about done with my cancer treatments. I’ve been trying to accept compliments and not explain them away. It’s important to hear the great things people say about you.

I’m trying to believe that yes, I am strong. Yes, I am hopefully teaching my kids and my students about resilience and not giving up.

But here’s the thing: I did not do this in a vacuum.

While yes, some of that in just part of who I am. I want something so I work hard. I want to live. I want to be here for my kids. So I did all the hard stuff. But you would too.

Hell yes, I was scared. Terrified. I did a LOT of crying and cursing and trying to instruct God to take this all away.

I whined about pain and fatigue and appointments and my schedule and my work load (that was self-chosen, by the way).

Those of you have (wonderfully) told me that I have done this with strength and grace need to know that maybe that is what it looked like online, but it was messy and ugly and sad in real life. We all cried a lot around here.

I’ve mentioned that prayers got me through, and they did. But it would be a lie to say that is all that carried me (or us). I think being part of our church family definitely made a difference. If this had happened to me ten…shoot even 5…years ago, I don’t know that I would have managed as well as I did.

Prayers are great, but there is something to be said for having a lot of organized people on your team. I had friends who helped Cortney organized childcare–that was HUGE for me. Knowing I didn’t have to worry about caring for the kids while I was at my worst–and even when I just needed a break–was a major help. It meant I could actually rest when I needed to.

I also had friends who organized meals. I was encouraged to create a calendar for when our family needed meals the most and to be honest about what the kids would eat. Church families (shoot, all friends and families) love to cook for you when they can’t take your hurt away. Being honest about how picky our children were meant we got meals they would actually eat (and LOVE), with the bonus of us not having to worry about how the meals were going to happen.

We also had lots of friends give gift cards which was great when we needed a dinner on the quick or wanted to treat the kids (and us) to something fun.

Friends also gifted us with a Shipt subscription (which we loved so much we renewed).

People mailed or left care packages on our front stoop: books, the coziest blankets in the world, treats, notebooks, gift cards for the kids, beer, tea, fruits, cheeses, earbuds, music, lotion for my dry skin, and the list goes on. Little things that were not at all necessary to my healing, but contributed because they were things that made me smile through all the garbage.

And maybe the biggest thing: I continued to see my therapist through all of it. I have been with Dr. Melissa since I sought help for postpartum depression after Eddie was born. I have been with her for almost 8 years and I am so glad I keep my monthly appointments. I went more frequently during the time I was getting chemo because it did a number on my mental health.

I’m glad I did because a cancer diagnosis is really really hard to process. It’s unexpected and unwanted and really, really scary. So not only was I able to talk through my fears and my anxiety, but it was super helpful when I felt myself dipping into depression. And now, as I am coming out of all of it, I still have fears about recurrence and I think about my own mortality a lot.

I am getting through all of this because first and foremost: I have to. Not getting through it is just not an option.

But I am also getting through it because I have learned to let people take care of me and my family. I’ve learned that I have to take care of myself–all of myself: my mind and body.

27 radiation treatments out of 30 DONE.

3 more days left.

Just a Handful

I only have five radiation treatments left, and the last five are quicker and less broad than the previous 25. Up until today, my treatments were broadly applied to four “zones” so that the radiation hit all my lymph nodes and my left breast in the area that the cancer had been.

It’s been manageable, but not at all fun.

It looks like sunburn, but it’s not really sunburn. It’s not a burn from heat since radiation is not hot. Our skin normally sloughs off and regrows. With radiation, my skin is sloughing off, but not regenerating. So it’s raw. It’s itchy. In the places where my skin rubs on itself (my armpit), it’s tender.

I have some products that were gifted to me by friends that has been working to relieve most of the itching and to give my skin some moisture back, but it’s still very uncomfortable.

The last five treatments won’t contribute to anymore of this since they will be targeted only at my scar from the lumpectomy. But it will take some time for my skin to heal. It will get a bit worse before it gets better even without the radiation. And my scar spot will obviously still be raw from 5 more treatments.

Now that the holidays are over, I’m noticing the fatigue that comes with radiation as well. I am very tired even though I am trying to get a bunch of rest, and I can sleep for very, very¬†long periods of time. I’m thankful that I haven’t had homework or schoolwork to do over break because I have been pretty tired.

That said, I just have five left! By this time next week I will be DONE. I know there will be a transition period where my skin will need to heal and where I will have to slowly get my energy back, but the whole family is looking forward to no more appointments for treatment on the calendar.

Looking forward, I have a follow up appointment with my oncologist later this month and I will have my port removed as well. My next treatments step will be Tamoxifen which will block estrogen from attaching to the receptors in my breasts (my cancer was estrogen receptor positive) and reduce the recurrence of breast cancer. It will, however, push me into menopause. FUN. I will take this for 5-10 years.

But let’s focus on the GOOD, right?

My hair is growing back quickly! Yay! I have an actual salon appointment in a couple weeks! I hope to get it shaped/cleaned up into some semblance of a style. I also hope to find out it’s long enough to color because I miss my warm, brown that I had before I had to shave it. I LOVED my hair color and I am eager to have it back.

I also get to have my eyebrows waxed! Yay! I can’t wait to feel feminine again. That is something cancer has stolen from me–feeling like a pretty girl. It also took away my control over what I look like, and I am excited to get some of that back again.

So, just a handful of treatments left.

2018 in Review

It would be easy to say farewell to 2018 and write the whole year off as a pile of steamy turds. But that wouldn’t be fair or accurate. Despite the Big C being part of the year, we had some really great times too. In fact, I think it’s possible some of the best parts of 2018 came because of The Big C.

I started the year by hitting “submit” on my application to the English Education Doctoral Program at WMU.

In February, I had my annual check-up. I was turning 40, so I also scheduled a routine mammogram for March. Life moved on.

Alice turned three at the beginning of March!

And Charlie turned six!

I turned 40 and Cortney took me to Chicago to celebrate with my best friend.

Upon return, I found out I was accepted to my PhD program!

And then I found out I had breast cancer.

But we moved quickly and less than a month after my diagnosis, I had a lumpectomy. The cancer was removed from my breast and three lymph nodes were taken–one of which was found to have cancerous cells. That one bum lymph node changed my entire year because it meant I would have to do chemotherapy.

Thankfully, I was home and able to celebrate Mother’s Day with my family. Although Charlie was starting to show signs of anxiety even then.

But life moved on…

Baseball season was underway. Eddie played Little League for the first time (and according to him, the ONLY time).

And Charlie played coach pitch (he is signed up for more this spring because he loves ALL THE SPORTS)

Charlie is #6

We celebrated Memorial Day with friends.

After school got out in June, I had my port put in to prepare me to start chemotherapy.

Eddie advanced in cub scouts from Bear to Webelo.

And then chemotherapy began.

It became our summer routine. I had chemo every other Wednesday, and then felt like death until Sunday. Then I did my best to give the kids a fun summer before I had to start the cycle of horrible all over again.

Charlie even got his library card this summer!

Cortney and I celebrated 13 years of marriage in June just before my 2nd round of chemo took my hair.

We celebrated Eddie’s 9th birthday.

And then I lost my hair. Or rather, my hair started to fall out in clumps, so I asked Cortney to shave it. It’s a good thing we did because after this, I found tiny hairs on my pillow every night.

Throughout all this, people began to rally. Dinners were delivered. Gift cards showed up. Friends and family took our children in while I went through the worst of it.

The 4th of July happened.

And even though I was losing days to sleep after chemotherapy, Cortney and I managed to double-date with friends at the ballpark.

I went out for coffee and breakfast and lunch and dinner with friends. I was able to take the kids out for ice cream and other treats. It wasn’t the summer we had planned, but it was a good summer nonetheless.

We even made our annual trip to Pentwater with my parents for a big weekend where I was able to sit on a beach for a little while before the threat of burning sent us back to the cottage.

I found self-care in new places since I didn’t have salon appointments or pedicures to look forward to. Instead I made time for friends and for the first time ever, got a make-up lesson!

To wrap up the summer, Cortney and I traveled back to Chicago this time for a Pearl Jam show at Wrigley Field.

Alice left the crib for a Big Girl bed right before school started up again too.

School started for me mid-August, and after Labor Day for the kids. That meant soccer season for Charlie.

My first official PhD class took place this fall as well. I was able to take one that was a hybrid of online and in person.

October 24 was my last chemo treatment. Just in time for Halloween.

Before Thanksgiving, I traveled to Houston with my friend, G for the NCTE and ALAN conferences. It was the perfect break between cancer treatments.

After Thanksgiving, I started radiation and it was time to get ready for Christmas. I’ve currently had 23 treatments with just 7 left to go in 2019.

Oh! And Alice is finally potty training! Yay to leaving diapers in 2018! Nine years of diapers in this house has come to an end!

This year has been long and difficult for many reasons, but we have been shown so much love and have been showered in prayers. I’m not sad to see 2018 go, but there were some lovely moments in there.

I hope that the love will continue into 2019 along with healing for me and for my family. Cancer wounds more than just the person going through treatment. Our whole family experienced the trauma and we are all looking to heal in this new year.

Here we go, 2019.

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