#leroyremodel is a go. Again!


Well it’s that time of the year. The time where Jake and I plot out what we’re going to remodel in our house. We got the bug way back in the summer of 2015 when we renovated a large majority right when we moved in. But we had a couple big areas we held off on for financial reasons. Then as we renovated each area I took before and after pics and documented those areas on instagram with the hashtag “#leroyremodel” (I kept all those pics and write ups even after I deleted my instagram – see examples at the bottom of this post).

Last year, in the spring of 2016, we renovated our master bathroom.

This year? Going big.

Go big or go home, right? We’re remodeling our kitchen and getting all new floors throughout the first floor…with the exception of the family room that faces the backyard. That will stay as is for the foreseeable future.

We’re gonna tear down walls.

We’re gonna have an island.

We’re gonna have all new cupboards and counter tops and appliances.

We’re gonna spend a BOAT LOAD of money. Oh yeah. Lots of money being dropped on this.

But we won’t get into that now. Let’s just focus on the transformation.

No more three different types of flooring.

No more dining room that gets used only 2 times a year.

No more being separated by silly things like walls.

No more lusting after HGTV’s latest dream kitchen CAUSE IT WILL BE OURS!

So yeah, that’s what is happening. Not yet, but soon. Right now we just finalized the contractor we’ll be going with. Next up – the design phase.

Examples of #leroyremodel…




Back at it…


Well, to be honest I’m back at a lot of things. Back at work. Back to daycare pick ups.  Back to bedtime routines. Back to having to shave armpit hair. What? It wouldn’t grow when I was going through chemo. And also back to working out.

But today, most importantly, I’m back at it with Team in Training and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I ran my first half marathon with them in 2004, and look at me now…training with them once again.

Today was our kick off call and it got me pumped. So I made some updates to my fundraising page from the standard template they give you and I’m ready to do this!

Jamie’s fundraising page >

I’ll save you “the story” here and let you go read it on that page, but if you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you probably know the story already. So here are details about what’s going on.

What am I doing? Raising funds ($1,600) for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and training for Grandma’s half marathon through Team in Training.

Why am I doing it? Well, for one, because I just survived a lymphoma disease and also because I like to train for events.

Where is the race? Duluth, MN.

Why is it called Grandma’s? I don’t know. I’m sure there’s a good story behind it, though.

What do you have to do (you, the reader, that is)? It’s really up to you. You can just keep reading. You can donate. You can not donate. You can throw some water in my face when I’m running. You can NOT throw scalding hot coffee in my face when I’m running.

Have I started training yet? No, but I’m on week 3 of this couch to 5k program. It’s going as good as can be expected (which is basically awful until you build up some endurance)

When is the race? June 17, 2017.

More details will be forthcoming in the next weeks/months. In other news, though…

Suck it cancer!

…That was the name of the party we threw on Saturday. It was attended by so many loved friends and family and neighbors. It was a blast and I was more than slightly hungover on Sunday. It was one of those parties where I didn’t even have time to think about grabbing my phone to take some fun pics with friends because I was too busy talking to people…which is a great thing, really. But I do wish I had a couple more pics. Oh well, I’ll always have the memories…unless chemo brain takes those. 😉

That’s all I got and it’s a school night (work night), ya’ll so I’m going to bed now. Later!

A few good books from 2016

I was hoping to put together a list of my favorite reads from 2016, but sadly I didn’t do a great job of keeping track of all of these – and I get them in all different formats – through Amazon, Audible, library, Overdrive (electronic library), borrowing from friends and now Kindle, and so with my brain being mush, these are the favorites of the ones I can remember from 2016. So take it with a grain of salt.

Note: Each title is a link to the book’s Amazon listing, but I promise I’m not making money off of this (cause I’m too lazy to figure out how to do that right now). 

When Breath Becomes Air

(by Paul Kalanithi)


I actually wrote about this extensively a couple months ago. I remember reading it in April when I still hadn’t been diagnosed with cancer, and although it was sad, it was incredibly eye opening. To sum it up here, it’s basically a memoir told by a guy who is a doctor that deals with cancer patients every day, and then he himself finds out he has cancer and he talks through his differing perspectives and how actually living through the process has opened his eyes. The spoiler is in the previous blog post if you really want to know, but it’s an amazing book and definitely worth the read. For me, it was really interesting hearing the perspective from the doctor’s point of view.


(by Marissa Meyer)


This was the last book I read in 2016 and definitely one of my favorites. I was first alerted to Marissa’s Meyers works with her Lunar Chronicles. If I had read the Lunar Chronicles in 2016, I would have put them on this list, but those were at the end of 2015. But to give some background, the Lunar Chronicle books detailed the lives of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White in a futuristic, dystopian retelling of these classic tales. I LOVE classic fairytales (I’m also one of those people that watches “Once Upon a Time” so stop judging) and any retelling of those stories. Heartless continues in this way by taking a classic villain – the Queen of Hearts from the Alice and Wonderland tales – and details how she came to be the way she is. It’s a great origin story and I really hope Marissa does more like this.

Southern Reach trilogy: Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance

(by Jeff Vandermeer)


Hmmm. How to explain this one. You know that feeling you get when you’re about to pass out – you’re seeing stars, you’re getting tunnel vision, your mouth starts over producing saliva and you feel like you might puke? That’s kind of how I would explain this series. You’re in this perpetual state of WHAT IS HAPPENING? If you’re looking for books grounded in reality and tangible concepts…this is not for you. It was this trippiness that appealed to me, though. It was one of those book series where I thought, “I didn’t even know books like this existed.” It gave me this feeling like I could write anything, no matter how weird or crazy and it could become an actual book. That was refreshing. Reading this book? Not so refreshing, but super interesting and it might induce some paranoia. I’m really selling this, right? Well, check it out if you’re into weird things.

All the light we cannot see

(by Anthony Doerr)


This is one of those books that falls out of my typical list of genres, but I’d been seeing it on a lot of book lists and decided to give it a try. It’s historical fiction and takes place in the time of Nazi Germany, but is actually based in varying parts of France. The two main characters have very different stories and very different lives. One is a blind girl that lives with her father and they flee Paris to go live with her father’s reclusive uncle as Nazis invade their city. The other is an orphan boy that has special technical skills and is enlisted by the Hitler Youth to employ his skills to seek out the resistance. Eventually the stories collide in a heart-wrenching fashion, but all along the way the author builds this imagery of life in this time and how it’s experienced completely differently by these two protagonists. I read…or really, had this read to me…through audio books and it was so enjoyable that I completely got lost in time on my way to and from work. It’s a long book, but it’s entrancing. I highly suggest reading…or listening to it when you can.

Special shoutouts

These were solid books that I read in 2016. Maybe they didn’t make the list as “favorite” but they are definitely still worth checking out.

The Road (by Cormac McCarthy)

Chilling tale of a father and son wondering down a road in post apocalyptic setting where there are cannibals and it’s every man for himself. This is right in my wheelhouse.

Heart and Brain (by Nick Seluk)

Irreverent comic series about Heart and Brain…and later the other organs that I follow on a daily basis and finally got this series of comics in book form for Christmas.

People Who Knew Me (by Kim Hooper)

A tale of a woman that lives one life before 9/11 and a completely different life after 9/11. You’ll hate/love her. Or just hate her. Or just mildly tolerate her. But everything feels too real, like this could happen to any of us. As Kim’s first book, I think it’s a wonderful story.

The City of Mirrors (by Justin Cronin)

This is actually book 3 of The Passage trilogy so I don’t suggest reading this first, but I do suggest reading this trilogy, in general. Usually the third book is okay, but this one is exceptional. It’s not as great as the first book (I heart the first book of this series), but it was good enough to get a special shoutout because it wrapped up the series beautifully.


What are some books you’ve read that you think I should read in 2017? I’m taking recommendations, so let me know!

Oh and happy 2017!



Three quick things

Ackward Yeti: My new favorite comic.

My new favorite comic.


I’ve been meaning to write something for a bit. I’ve got one post in the works, but for now, I’ll just do a quick post with some updates. Super interesting, right? Well I told you it might get boring around here. 😉


First thing: Going back to work tomorrow.

Woohoo! I’m way more excited than anyone should be about dealing with content problems and being in meetings all day. But I am. Super pumped! I’ll be for most of tomorrow so I can get some face time with my peers, but then I’ll be mostly working from home for the next couple months while I’m still “Immune suppressed.”

Second thing: Max is getting snipped.

On Wednesday, Max is getting snipped. Good news for puppy overpopulation. Bad news for us for the next week or two as he’ll need to lay low. Have you tried not exercising your puppy? Well, it might drive us all mad, but it’s just a short term thing.

Also, he’s getting his dew claws on his back feet removed. It’s rare for dogs to have dew claws on their back legs. Think arctic breeds like Mastiffs and Saint Bernards and Anatolian Shepherds (that last one is what our vet suspects might be what he’s mixed with). If your dog is primarily an outdoor working dog, those dew claws aren’t a deal breaker. If your dog is a house dog…like most dogs in this country, those little guys have to go. They get caught on everything and it can be super painful if they get ripped off.

And finally he’ll be microchipped. Big, big day.

Third thing: There is no third thing.

I guess there were just two things. But I try to adhere to the rule of threes whenever possible. So here’s another Awkward Yeti comic in  lieu of a third thing.


Enjoy the last day of your holiday break!



Yesterday I had my final PET scan, and today the doctor read the results. COMPLETE REMISSION! NO SIGNS OF CANCER! NO RADIATION NEEDED! ALL IS GOOD AND RIGHT ONCE AGAIN! Okay, he didn’t say that last one, but he may as well have.

I am ecstatic! This is great news. I had a good feeling it was going to go this way, but finally KNOWING the outcome of this scan is amazeballs. Yes. AMAZEBALLS.

And the scan pictures? Well, to be honest, there was nothing to show you so I didn’t take any pictures. But believe me when I say…it’s all good.

Anything left to do? Well, I still have to get my port removed (the alien thingy in my chest where I had my IV placed for the chemo drugs). That and I’ll have one more pulmonary test to check my lungs.

I was off bleomyacin starting in September (one of the chemo drugs I was given), because it was suspected that I may have been experiencing lung toxicity…or more likely a pneumonia, but it could have been the bleomyacin. So anyway, now that we’re clear of that he wanted to check my lungs again to see if they’re back to normal. I mean, they’ll never be completely back to normal. I’ll have a lot of scar tissue in the upper left lobe of my lung that may never “re-inflate” as he mentioned today, but that is something that I can live with. I mean, many people live with one lung and do just fine. Me missing a little part of one lung should be fine. I likely won’t ever notice a difference. But he wants to see if it’s back to baseline goodness.

So I’ll be doing both of those things next week. Late next week…after we get back from seeing my family. Why next week? 1. Because I can. 2. Because of this little thing called, “I’ve hit my out of pocket and these things are basically free until the end of the year so get em done while you can!” Also, we’re switching insurance companies and I just don’t want to mess with that first thing in January. Blegh. Insurance companies.

Says the girl who works for insurance companies and third party providers. 

So yeah. Things are wrapping up. And this blog is about to get PRETTY boring. 😉

In other news…

So that’s not all that’s happened. I mean, it’s the most important news from the last week, but other things did happen in the last week.

First off is Jackson’s Christmas program at school. I missed a couple over the last couple months, so I was glad I could make it to this one.




Then on Friday, I made a trip to my hair stylist. The first time since she did the initial chop back in June, the day before my first round of chemo. It was so good to see her and be back in the chair! Sure there wasn’t much hair to cut, but the color is pretty rad, if I do say so myself.

So happy to be in her chair!

So happy to be in her chair!


That moment when you wonder if you should start singing a Slim Shady song.

That moment when you wonder if you should start singing a Slim Shady song.


(Platinum) blondes DO have more fun.

(Platinum) blondes DO have more fun.


What cancer?

What cancer?


Oh I GOT this.

Oh I GOT this.


Then finally I had my scan yesterday. This was my, “HEY I’M ABOUT TO HAVE MY FINAL SCAN!” face.



And finally, with a little help from snapchat and their Christmas filters (I’m not REALLY wearing that lipstick or green eyeshadow)…



So that’s it! Oh and Max continues to grow and grow and grow! He’s over forty pounds now and he just turned five months old. Such a big puppy!

Okay, calling it a night. And maybe grabbing a glass of wine to celebrate…after the kid goes to bed.

Hope you’re all having a great week before Christmas!

Cheers from a newly appointed CANCER SURVIVOR!

Chemo Karaoke – Last Round

As I’ve mentioned before, after a couple rounds of chemo I started this thing I called, “Chemo Karaoke” where I would sing silly songs on the way home from chemo. You can see the first round of those here.

Now that I’m done with Chemo and that is a thing of the past (woohoo!), I thought I’d show you the last round. Some of them have terrible lighting quality because we were driving home in the dark on some days…but you get the point.

Just as a warning, this next one is 4 minutes and 29 seconds. You’re gonna get sick of looking at my face.

Also, three posts in three days? What is this madness? Well, it’s cold and I’m still bored. But don’t expect this posting schedule to continue. I’ll be back to my one to two posts a week shortly.

As always, stay warm!

My “What cancer?” makeup routine


Caution: I am not an expert in makeup. Most of you will view this and think, “Sheesh. This girl has a long way to go.” I totally get it. But I’m super bored right now and it’s super cold outside so I’m really just doing this to kill some time.

I mentioned a while back that I’m starting to experiment a little more with makeup. I have a birchbox monthly subscription where they send me all these cool face and hair product samples (saving the hair products for when I actually need them). I’ve been watching makeup videos and reading makeup reviews and have made a couple purchases over the past couple months to see what all the fuss is about. Hair? I knew hair. Mostly. Makeup? Not much. I would slap on the same foundation and eye liner and mascara and call it a day. Most days that was fine. I had a big heap of hair to distract from the fact that I really had no clue how to do makeup.

And now? I’m learning. I’m not great. But I’m learning. So I’ll share with you my current makeup routine. You can critique and make fun of me if you’d like. It’s totally fine.

So here we go.

FYI: the results of each step are shown in the following step. I hope that makes sense. 

Baseline = me just out of the shower with a bit of moisturizer.


So here I am in all my…er…glory. Things that make me self conscious? Lack of eyebrows/very light eyebrows, red/yellow tints around my eyes, sunspots on my cheeks, forehead and nose, dark upper lip, colorless lips and light eyelashes. Also remember, we’re talking makeup here. Obviously I’m not a fan of my current hairstyle, but that’s a topic for another day (and spoiler alert, I have a hair appt on Friday so maybe it won’t bother me as much after that).

From here on out I’ll be going through each item I currently use. Some days I do a lot more of the “minimum” look and use fewer products, but that’s less fun so I’m going to bring you through the full “What cancer?” look that I try to achieve.

Step 1: Foundation


Before foundation


Lesson 1: You’re not using enough. Well, I wasn’t using enough. I used to just dab some on a sponge and swirl it around my face trying my best to blend. And then I realized (by watching lots of makeup videos) that that only really works for people with perfect skin. Discoloration? Lots of sun spots? You need FULL coverage and you need a lot of it. That doesn’t mean it has to feel cakey, you just have to find a good foundation. I’m actually wearing Almay – a drugstore brand – because I read a lot of great reviews about it. I took a chance on the color because I ordered most of this online while I was neutropenic, and I think it actually works. It looks light, but I was going WAY too dark before.

Lesson 2: Use a brush or your fingers. Don’t use a sponge. Sponges and beauty blenders are for you light coverage gals. I now use a brush or my fingers. The brush is kind of weird because…well this is a liquid. I don’t know if I’m doing it right but I like that the mess isn’t on my hands. When the brush gets gross and needs a good cleaning, though, I just use my fingers.

Lesson 3: Don’t stop at foundation. With all that foundation, you should be good, right? WRONG. Even with full coverage foundation, I found that I still needed some extra help with concealer. The two go gloriously together. But remember to blend!

Step 2: Concealer


Before concealer


Lesson 1: Apply and blend. You can apply directly to your skin (like you’re drawing on it with a pencil) or you can put some on your fingertips and apply that way. I do the first one. Get. It. On There. I use it over all of my sunspots and any other red parts of my face. Which brings me to…

Lesson 2: Get that eye area. This thing works miracles on erasing those red/yellowish tinted eyelids and under eyes. Bu-bye side effect of cancer. You have met your match.

Step 3: Add the color back in.

Now that my skin has been spackled and corrected so it doesn’t look nuts, it’s time to get some color back in there.


I screwed up the camera angle here. You’re supposed to see me pointing to the blush I’m using. You can kind of see it if you look closely.


Lesson: Blush: Not everyone does blush, but I’ve always liked it. I just apply a brush stroke or two to the apples of my cheeks.



Again, not a great camera angle. I’m pointing to the bronzer/lighter one that looks used.


Lesson: Use bronzer…sparingly. This one is interesting. I’ve seen a lot of tutorials that show you how to use bronzer to contour your face. I have not perfected that. And also, that seems too drastic for my pasty Midwestern face. But I do like this one trick I learned…to go around the outside of your face with bronzer to still give you some color. So that’s what I do. And then I blend like crazy.

Step 4: Setting powder


It’s not the amazing Kat Von Dee Translucent setting powder that might cost your first born, but it had a lot of great reviews on Amazon, so I went for it. I use this to basically set everything on my face. In the old days, I would have used a matching beige powder to put on top of my foundation. But then, I educated myself. First off – that creates a cakey effect. Second, a good foundation should shine on its own. But with the setting powder, you can keep that look and also make sure you don’t get all oily and your makeup will run off. No oily makeup runoff for this girl…not with this little guy. But blend well because this is the thing celebs always get caught with that make people think there’s remnants of coke on their face if the flash goes off. I mean, it may also be coke on their faces. I don’t know.

Step 5: Eye shadow

This is where my lack of makeup expertise REALLY shows. I am terrible at creating a smokey eye. I am terrible at creating some holiday-party-worthy gold sparkly eye. What I can do is throw some purple on there and call it a day. Why purple? I’ve heard it works well with green eyes. So this old, crusty (but trusty) pallette has been my go to for a while.


Dark purple eye shadow


Lesson: Apply a darker shadow to your lid. Maybe even just the outside of your lid…I think that’s a thing people do. Also apply right above your eyelid.


Light sparkly purple eyeshadow


Lesson: Apply a light eyeshadow to the inner part of your eyelid. Sometimes if this gets too light, I go back over it with a little more of the darker eyeshadow.

Step 6: Eye liner


Black eyeshadow. NOT just for eyelids.


Alright kids. This is one they’re NOT going to show you in the tutorials. I learned this from my girlfriend many moons ago (Shout out to Drea!) and I’ve been doing this ever since. Instead of using actual eye liner, I use a black eye shadow. I take the edge of any applicator that comes with the pallete, rub it in the black, stretch my eyelid out and sweep it on like you would eye liner. Why do I do this? You guys, I’ve tried eye liner. It’s so…precise and fine pointed and I NEVER EVER get it looking right. To this day, I still try it once in a while and I feel like I’m always doing it wrong. But with this? It goes where it should AND it blends with the eyeshadow already on my eyes. If you’re going for a dramatic winged effect, this isn’t the right tool. If you’re looking for something that just helps outline your eyes and doesn’t go all squiggly? Then you should give this a try. I’m telling you, you’ll love it.

Step 7: Eyelash love


Eyelash curler and mascara are a must.


I don’t have any particularly useful lessons here. I curl my eyelashes and then I apply mascara. I don’t even know what kind of mascara works best. All I know is that I need something right now because all of my eyelashes are currently blonde. I don’t go overboard, I just do a coat or so on each eye and I’m done. Also, I don’t do my lower lashes. I’ve always just thought they’re too much on me.

Step 8: Lip stuff


Something that does Matte things.


This is an area where I WANT to be more adventurous. I just feel like with a short hair cut you can really bring attention to your face with a strong lip color. I’m just sort of…chicken…at this point, though. I found this one online, it got pretty good reviews. It supposed to be a “matte” lipstick. And yeah, maybe I do like that whole Kendall Jenner look even if I probably couldn’t ever pull it off, but a girl can dream, right? Next time I go out I’m going to find a makeup counter and do some experiments. For now, this is pretty good stuff.

Final step: Eyebrows


What is that expression? I apologize for my lack of camera skillz.


Okay. Let’s talk eyebrows. Eyebrows are cool right? We all like them? Maybe we like them a little TOO much in 2016? Maybe everyone is out of their damn minds with uber thick eyebrows or eyebrows that look like they’re cartoonish…clearly drawn on. That is not the look I’m going for. Mostly, I just want my dark unruly eyebrows back. But right now, I have very blonde, sort of there eyebrows. So I use an eyebrow pencil. I’ve tried a couple other products. Gels are weird…let me just say that. Some of them look like big ol’ crayons. Which might be fine if you’re filling in eyebrows that are already there. For me? The pencil with a fine point works the best. I can make teeny tiny strokes that sort of look like hair, and I just use the current shape of my eyebrows and go over that. So, wherever there is blonde eyebrow hair, I just go over that. When I first started doing this, I was going bigger and making outlines that were more in line with how my eyebrows used to be. It wasn’t good. I felt like Uncle Leo from Seinfeld. So now I’m back to just slight strokes and if they look thin, well at least they’ll look more real than super big drawn on eyebrows.

The final look…


So here it is. This is my “What cancer?” look. And the reason I have my glasses on is, well because I always have my glasses on. But also, sometimes when I’m doing my eye makeup I think “This looks so clownish! I’m just going to Target!” But then I see myself with my glasses on and I think, “Oh, I can’t even really see most of my eye makeup behind the glasses.” So it kind of reassures me that I don’t look that clownish.

Here’s the before and after, in case you’re interested…


I’m not going to be like, “I look amazing!” but I think I look normal. And that’s pretty much what I want to achieve with makeup on a daily basis. To just look and feel normal. The hair? It’s got a long ways to go. But at least I can know my face looks normal when I’m out in public. Or at least what I consider “normal.” 😉

So that’s it. That’s all I got. Stay warm!

Almost living that not-neutropenic good life


As of Saturday or Sunday (I don’t really know which, but one of those), I became NOT NEUTROPENIC. Woohoo! So what did I do? I went with my family to our friend’s house and had my first drink since March of this year. Okay, maybe also my second and third drink too. It was a good thing Jake was driving.

To clarify, being neutropenic didn’t mean I couldn’t drink, it just meant I couldn’t go out in public. The no drinking ban was 1. Because every drink was super painful when the cancer was still in my body and 2. Because drinking wasn’t the best for my liver and kidneys while I was going through treatment. It would have been like a double whammy of toxic drugs and toxic drinks. No bueno, for sure.

So yeah, Saturday was good. What’s not good is that I’ve come down with a cold and it’s been hanging on for the last week and a half (that obviously didn’t stop me from having fun on Saturday). No fevers and no weird cough/phlegm where I need to call my doctor, just a lot of congestion and drainage and snoring at night. Cool, right? Anyway, since my immune system is still making it’s way back to full capacity, it’s not unusual for this cold to be hanging around a little longer than normal. I accept this. I don’t like it. But I’ll accept it.

But the bummer is that I was SOOO ready to start living that good not-neutropenic life this week. I mean, I’m running errands and picking my son up from school, now, but this cold is still keeping me from some of the other things I wanted to do. Mostly getting back to the gym. I REALLY want to start running again. Do I need a gym to do this? Um, do you know what’s happening outside in the midwest right now? Yes, a gym is necessary. I also want to start doing yoga and bodypump…basically I want to get back to an overall good fitness level. So getting back to that is on hold for another week.

One thing I have started doing this week…cause guys, I have a lot of time on my hands…is meal planning and making some seriously delicious dinner meals. Yesterday was a sort of Chicken Cordon Bleu. It was delightful and I’m going to down those leftovers for lunch today. Tonight is just going to be something simpler because Jackson has swim lessons, but tomorrow I’ve got another recipe ready to go – Pot roast with carrots and homemade mashed potatoes. Yummy!

Also, yesterday and Sunday, I rented a carpet cleaner from Home Depot and took care of part of our family room (there were some puppy accidents in there that needed some serious scrubbing power) and then our entire dining room and living room. It was hard work, for sure. You basically rent this huge carpet cleaner that you see professional carpet cleaner people use. No wonder why they’re always sweaty when they’re done. It’s not easy to move those things. But it is SO worth it. And it was less than $30. I am a believer and will be doing that again in the spring. Probably for the entire house, next time.

What else, what else? Max is doing good. He seems to be getting into a good routine. Usually we do a longer morning walk and a lot of smaller trips out to the backyard to throw the ball throughout the day. And sometimes the stars will align and the neighborhood dogs will be out and he’ll get some playtime with them in the cul de sac. For the next couple days, though, we’re going to keep outside time to a minimum. Because it’s way too cold for both of us. There’s also some nice dog parks in the area too. We’ve been to one, but once it gets a bit nicer we’ll try some of the other ones.

That’s the extent of my not-neutropenic life this week. Just a lot of snuggling down, and maybe going through the eight million emails that have amassed on my work email account since I’ve been gone.

Stay warm!


Make Jamie Great Again

This guy is going to be the mascot for the “Make Jamie Great Again” movement. Get on board, people! 

I’ve been struggling with what to write about what should be this post-chemotherapy new world. I’m grateful and excited and optimistic, but there’s nothing really new about this world after chemotherapy. I’m really just returning to the world as it was before I started chemotherapy. Which is fine by me, but I feel like maybe there’s this expectation that as someone who’s gotten through twelve rounds of chemotherapy that maybe I should see everything in a new light…or that things might go differently than before and that I might have some new insights to share with you about that. But I don’t. I think this is because I didn’t have any huge problems lingering in my life before being diagnosed with cancer. I’ve learned that cancer puts a big spotlight on those issues and if they were hidden, they come out of hiding to cause some damage…as if you needed more problems after getting a cancer diagnosis. I’m not speaking from experience, just reflecting on the stories of others.

For example, if you have crappy friends before cancer that you just put up with, suddenly you find that you can no longer justify how crappy those friends are and they flee given the news of your diagnosis. Or, if you’re in an unstable relationship, maybe the girlfriend/boyfriend leaves because they’re not sure how to deal with your diagnosis. Or maybe the problem is you – maybe you’re not a particularly good person and you come to find out this harsh truth when you finally decide to confide in others who aren’t so willing to lend an ear…or a helping hand.

These are all terrible things to go through when you’re also dealing with a cancer diagnosis, but they totally happen! I’ve been reading about them for months and I feel really sorry for these people. But also, these are the types of cancer survivors that have this whole new insight once they’ve crossed the finish line. They see the error of their ways. They finally make efforts to turn their life around now that they’ve been given a second chance. And I applaud them for that, obviously. It’s just that I don’t have a story like that.

I’m surrounded by amazing friends and family. I didn’t lose anyone when I found out I had cancer. I didn’t realize that I’d been a horrible person this whole time (but you’d tell me if I was, right?). I mean, I’m not impervious, I do put a lot more value in my close relationships, but that wasn’t a big leap for me to make. It just kind of refocused me a bit more. That’s about all I can say for this post chemo world. I’m a bit more refocused. But I feel like it’s the same thing anyone would say after an extended leave of absence or a sabbatical of some sort.

So there’s that. I guess I do have a couple other realizations that I’ll share with you. That’s what happens when you start writing…these things just come to you.

I feel incredibly lucky

Okay, maybe you wouldn’t consider me lucky…you might even consider me maybe the most unlucky person you know. I don’t know. But I really do feel lucky in the sense of how I experienced my chemotherapy and how I felt throughout treatment. I’ve listed my side effects for you all a couple of times on here, and they’re not great. But to be honest, they could have been so much worse. I feel lucky I didn’t have any dangerous reactions to the chemo. I feel lucky that my body so readily accepted the drugs and worked so quickly on all of the millions of cancerous cells in my body. I feel lucky that other than the first few weeks of chemotherapy, I was able to get to sleep at night…lying flat on my back in my bed. That wasn’t a thing I could do for about a month before!  I feel lucky that I really only needed a couple of pills to minimize my side effects and even then it was just on the bad weeks. I feel lucky that my good weeks made me feel like a brand new person. I feel lucky that even though I can’t go out in public, that I live in this amazing neighborhood where I can hang out with my family or take long walks if I want. I feel lucky, yes LUCKY that my only time being admitted to the hospital was for pneumonia, not because of something even more dangerous. And finally, I feel super lucky that I have such amazing caregivers and people who stepped up to help me and my family throughout my treatment.

I’m a minimizer

You might have gotten a sense of this from the above. Maybe you feel like it’s a #humblebrag. It might be. I’m not that humble. But I am a minimizer of achievements. Don’t get me wrong, I’m gracious. I say thank you when someone gives me a compliment, but if it’s for something I achieved I usually follow that up with “Thank you! But seriously, anyone could have done this.” I know I’m not alone on this. And this isn’t unexpected for me. From the moment I accomplished my first half marathon…the thing I had thought was the hardest thing to do EVER IN LIFE…I had this feeling like, “Well geez, if I can do it, then anyone can do it.” I mean seriously, my first half marathon I think I ran 30% of it and walked the rest because I did a really poor job at training and I kind of fractured my ankle (It’s a long story)…but I still went through with it. My time was atrocious, obviously, but I finished it. I got a medal and everything. And instead of thinking “Heck yeah! I have perseverance! I can do this! I am awesome!”…mostly I thought to myself, “Wow…they must just give these medals away. Seriously, I was like a snail out there. And I’m not even remotely fit right now. I even saw speed walkers pass me. So really, if I can do this, then LITERALLY anyone can do this.”

And then that little minimizing voice just kept going and going each time I would reach a new height of accomplishment. Chemotherapy was definitely a new height for me. Before I’d gone through it, I didn’t know a lot of people that had gone through it. Pretty much just my sister. So she was a rockstar in my mind. She went through (I think) eight rounds of chemotherapy and then also had radiation after that. She did it when she was 23 and I thought (and still think), “HOLY CRAP, SHE WAS SO STRONG TO GO THROUGH THAT!” And a part of me can see the ridiculousness that I don’t hold myself to that level of awesomeness, but there’s still that minimizing voice inside me that once again says, “If you can do twelve rounds of chemo, then LITERALLY anyone can do twelve rounds of chemo. There is nothing special about you that makes you more impervious to chemo than other people. It’s a thing people do all of the time.” So yeah, that’s kind of where my mind’s at on that. And if you congratulate me, I will be gracious, but just know that I secretly also believe that anyone could do what I do and that I’m not more special because of my experience. I’m just sayin.

The kid gloves can come off now…if you’re ready. 

I got a lot of help while I was going through treatment. So this last week or so has been an interesting transition point. I’ve been trying to transition out of “helpless, sick Jamie” into “MAKE JAMIE GREAT AGAIN!” haha. I kid. But there’s some truth to it. This will be my last week of being neutropenic and I’m excited to both get out into the world and take on a bit more responsibility. And I’m ready. Really ready. It’s Wednesday of my good week. My last good week (I mean…they’re all good weeks after this week so that’s not a bad thing, it just doesn’t require a name anymore). I’m ready to go out with friends. I’m ready to go to a movie with my family. I’m ready to split our parenting duties a little more evenly again. I’m ready to help out when needed or take on projects. I’m ready to get back to work. I’m ready to go back to how life was before I was diagnosed with cancer. But I’ve found that maybe not everyone else is on the same page. I think some people may still walk on eggshells around me, and it’s not really up to me to force them into my “Make Jamie Great Again” mantra, so this is my formal way of saying…you can take off the kid gloves…if you’re ready. If you’re not, I’ll be understanding…up to a certain point. Because just like our presidential election, “Make Jamie Great Again” is happening whether you like it or not. I mean, I hope you like it. Let’s hope it’s less controversial. If anyone wants me to continue to be sick, I encourage you to stop reading this blog. Did that make sense? I hope so. Now I’m going to go start my “Thank You” tour. 😉

A lot of awkward conversations in my future.

One of the great things about being a shut in for six months is OF COURSE that I don’t have to wear makeup most days, but also, I haven’t had to deal with “the public” for a really long time. I don’t have to think about if I’m getting weird looks…which for the record I really don’t get because I never lost all my hair…and to be honest, I’m not perceptive enough to notice these things even if I was getting weird looks. I digress.

But anyway, I haven’t had to think about…how to explain the last six months if and when it comes up in conversation with people who don’t know what I’ve been going through. But all of that is about to change, very soon.

Yesterday, for example, I was out taking Max for a walk and we met a new dog named Bella who was a full on German Shephard. She is only a year old, but she’s a beautiful creature. Her owner and I talked about the dogs and training and where the good dog parks were and I was super happy to meet a new neighbor that shared this common interest. We introduced ourselves and told each other a little about our families and how long we’d lived in the neighborhood…normal stuff…and then it just kind of came up. No, I don’t introduce myself by immediately telling people I had cancer, but then I had treatment and now I’m good. That seems supremely awkward and way too much info for an initial introduction. This is how it came up.

Her: Oh so your son, does he go to 4k at Donges Bay elementary? 

Me: Actually no. We decided to just do the 4k program through his daycare…well…because…I had cancer…BUT I GOT TREATMENT AND I’M GOOD….I’M GOOD!…but to cut down on germs and new environments, we decided to keep him where he’s at, and he’ll just start there for Kindergarten next year. 

Her: Oh man, well I’m glad everything is good! 

Me: Yes. Totally good. I’m going back to work in January, and I’ll be working from home for the next couple months. 

Her: Oh that’s great! Especially when you have a puppy. 

Me: Yes, for sure! 


Now, you…being a more eloquent person than I…may have found a better way to have that conversation go down. Or…you may have decided that it’s really none of this new person’s business to know WHY we decided to keep him at his current daycare and been okay with that. Well, I am not you and I am not that forward thinking. So yeah, there will be a lot more awkward conversations in my future. With new people. With coworkers. Just in general, I suppose. It’s a part of my life that I now have to give as an elevator speech and make sure I don’t leave the person feelings of dread in about 10 seconds of time. It’s weird. And obviously I haven’t perfected it yet.

Look at the time…

Okay, this post got super long and I need to take Max for a walk, so I’m going to table chemo karaoke and some other topics for another post. Have a great Wednesday!

Best Christmas Movies

It’s Friday. The Friday of my last bad week. I’m still processing this and still in awe of the fact that my LAST chemo was last week, so I don’t have a post for that yet. But what I do have is a post about the best Christmas movies. Why? Because I. Love. CHRISTMAS.

This isn’t a standard ranking, because I can’t pick just ONE best Christmas movie, so I have categories of best based on my super-biased pointed of view.

So here we go.

Best Christmas movie I’ve claimed to have seen but haven’t actually seen

It's a Wonderful Life Movie Poster

It’s a Wonderful Life: So yeah. I haven’t actually seen this all the way through. I pretty much know the plot. Guy gets to a low point, considers suicide and then figures out family is more important or something like that? I feel like you’re judging me, and you’re right to do so. Maybe I’ll watch it today. I mean, let’s be honest, I’ve got some time on my hands.

Best Christmas movie to give you the feels

The Family Stone Movie Poster

The Family Stone: I just watched this last night and it continues to be a movie where I go from laughing to crying to laughing quicker than any other movie I know. And even though I cry half the time, I still love watching this every time. It’s about a family that comes together at Christmas, they’re kind of judgey of the new girl, some weird things happen with her sister, hijinx ensue, oh and the mom is dying of breast cancer. GAHHHH!!!! That’s probably a terrible description, but it still continues to be one of my favorite Christmas movies…maybe even one of my favorite movies of all time (but just so we’re clear, Christmas movies and favorite movies go hand and hand so that’s not really a shocker for me).

Best Christmas movie from the Eighties

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Movie Poster

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: I just had the pleasure of watching this last night. It is absolutely delightful. This is one of those movies that every family that has even a touch of crazy in them can relate to. And the older you get, the more you appreciate the plight of a man just trying to have the best Christmas gathering he can muster for his slightly off extended family. Does it all go wrong? Of course. But then he finds redemption in the end. And it also makes you remember the good ol’ 80s when large bonus checks were possible (well…once he got over the jelly of the month club thing). My generation will likely never know bonus checks that big.

Best Christmas movie from the Nineties

Home Alone movie poster

Home Alone: Oh Kevin McCallister. You rascally scamp. This movie was the movie to see when I was young. Bonus that the main character was roughly my age in the movie. I have vivid memories of my brother and I repeating lines in the back of the van on our way home from somewhere.

“I’m gonna give you to the count of the 10, to get your ugly, yella, no-good keister off my property…1… 2… 10!”

And then we’d pretend shoot each other. It was a simpler time, back then.

But in case you’ve been living under a rock, and don’t know what it’s about – it’s about a seven-year-old boy that gets left home alone when his parents fly to France without him and he has to defend the home from burglers. As a kid, I related to this movie. As a parent, I am sort of sickened by the thought of this movie…but I go back to my childhood memories in order to still love the crap out of this movie.

Best Christmas movie from the early 2000’s

Elf Movie PosterElf: If I were to make a top ten list of Christmas movies…but I’m not…but if I were to do that, this might be #1. The minute this movie came out, I was obsessed! Obsessed. I would watch it at least 15 times each Christmas season. I would say the obsession has gone down slightly, but not much. This is the epitome of a feel-good Christmas movie that is fun for the whole family. It’s about a boy that gets adopted and raised by one of Santa’s elves and goes off to find his real father…and family…in New York City. They’re not sure if they’re going to accept him, he’s having a hard time fitting in, but in the end, it all works out and he gets to live the best of both worlds. If you haven’t seen this, then I’m judging you…hardcore.

Best Christmas movie to make you appreciate your husband or wife

The Family Man Movie Poster

The Family Man: I’m actually watching this with Jake, as I type. Even he said, “I’m surprised at how much I really like this movie.” So, of all the movies I’ve listed this is probably the least about Christmas, but that’s a pivotal point in the movie so we’ll include it here. It’s a movie about a man that chose one path for his life, and then he gets a glimpse of what his life would be like if he had gone down the other path. Basically, he goes from being self-obsessed and money grubbing to…a family man. And of course the family man is WAY more likable and he sees what he’s really missing out on. Watch this with your spouse. You’ll both love it.

Best Christmas movie that uses Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas”

Love Actually Movie Poster

Love Actually: I am not a fan of “encore” movies where there is a huge cast of big names and ten different story lines. I’m not a fan…except for this movie. Yes, it’s quirky. Yes, maybe two of them are porn stars. Yes, it’s British and I can’t even describe the plot because there are about ten of them happening. But it’s got character and it’s endearing and most importantly, a little girl belts out “All I want for Christmas” at a school Christmas program and it’s kind of amazing. Watch it for the laughs and try to forget that they openly mock a curvier woman (I mean, those characters are meanies, and she gets the guy anyways).

Best Christmas movie that makes you wonder if your dad could secretly be Santa Clause.

The Santa Clause Movie Poster

The Santa Clause: This is Tim Allen at his finest. I was a little bit older when this came out, but I still remember watching it quite a bit. It’s about a guy named Scott Calvin (same initials as Santa Clause, conveniently) who accidentally knocks Santa off a roof and unknowingly takes over his job. Over the next year, he morphs into Santa Clause and goes from being a cynic to a believer and a firm supporter of all things Santa Clause and the spirit of Christmas. Watch it with the kids so you can PROVE that Santa exists. At least for a couple more years, right?

Best Christmas movie featuring the former Governor of California

Jingle all the Way Movie Poster

Jingle All the Way: It’s like someone said, “How can we take ‘Kindergarten Cop’ and make it again…but with a Christmasy feel to it?” And that was the birth of this movie. Coming from a parent that hears the pleas of exactly what my kid wants for Christmas and probably will for the next however many years, this movie speaks to me. You just want to make them happy, right? Throw in a little Sinbad as a disgruntled postman and you’ve got yourself an action-packed Christmas movie. Also, was Iron Man modeled after that toy? The resemblance is striking.

Best Christmas movie that has been remade multiple times and you’ll watch every version because it’s such a classic tale

Mickey's Christmas Carol Movie Poster

Some version of…

“A Christmas Carol”…preferably Mickey’s Christmas Carol: I’m pretty sure everyone knows the tale of the Christmas Carol, so I won’t rehash it here, but I still love this story…for a lot of the same reasons I like the Family Man, I guess. It’s about redemption and finding out what really matters in life. I’ve seen it in movie form a bunch of times, and seen it in play form a bunch of times. My favorite is still the Mickey Christmas Carol. It’s all of twenty five minutes, go find it on Youtube.

Best Christmas movie that makes you appreciate claymation AND makes you really nostalgic for those times when your grandma babysat you and your siblings and you watched shows like this when they came on TV…which was rare and had to be planned because we didn’t have streaming devices or DVR back then.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Movie Poster

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Last, but certainly not least, is a classic childhood favorite. This was the one. The one that I waited all Christmas season to see. Yes, the abominable snowman scared me, but I stuck it out for Hermey the Dentist, Yukon Cornelious and the rest of Rudolph and his friends…and the eventual turnaround of the abominable snowman. It’s the song every kid knows by heart at a young age and it’s the story that encompasses all things Christmas. And now as a parent, I look forward to watching it with our son every year.

So that’s it. That’s my list. There are plenty of other honorable mentions that I didn’t list here, but this pretty much sums up my favorites. Which ones would you have included?

Happy first week of December!