Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thyroid Cancer

On July 16th I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer.
It was a complete surprise.  Physically I feel fine.  As fine as a mother of 5 typically feels--completely exhausted and scatterbrained.  But at my physical, the doctor found a lump in my neck.
Two ultrasounds and a very long and tiny needle later, and I have Papillary Cancer and my thyroid will have to be removed.
I wanted to 'announce' my diagnosis to my friends on line in a light-hearted way, and in a way that I wouldn't have to keep answering the same questions over and over again.  So I made a video and posted it on facebook.  I'll post it here too.

Or you can watch it on youtube.

I am in denial and terrified all at the same time.  But I am also very blessed because I am surrounded by family, supportive friends and good doctors, and this cancer is not aggressive and it is easily treated.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Assateague Island

Friday we went to Assateague Island.
We needed a cheap, new, vacation idea for this year.  We can't spend the night--we have no camping equipment and hotels are out of our price range this summer, especially since we would have to get two rooms.
In the spring, Maire checked out a book at the library about the ponies on Assateague Island and I began trying to plan a trip there before school started again.  It was actually quite difficult to get the information I was looking for; how to plan your day, what things cost, what the beach is like, are there any events or things we should try to see, and how likely is it that you will see a pony?
Eric and I finally set a date to go and just decided to go blind and find out what we could.  We knew we needed bug spray and that there is a beach.  Then Thursday I finally found a blog that gave actual information that is useful here:  http://www.alandsuejohnson.com/chincoteague_planning.htm  (thanks Johnsons!)

I also found out that getting to see ponies is highly unlikely as the ponies do not roam freely any more and are penned in. There is a boat tour of the island that almost guarantees seeing ponies but it is about $40 per person. ($40x6=? um, nope not going to do the boat tour).
Then the weather forecast got gloomier.  Chance of thunderstorms all day long.
Thursday night we told the girls that we can still go but we might not be able to see any ponies and if there are thunderstorms we can't go to the beach.  Do they still want to go??  YES!!

We set off on an Adventure!!
Friday morning it was raining.  And raining.  And there was thunder here at our house.
But we prayed for better weather and packed up our swimsuits and ham and cheese sandwiches and drove.
We didn't get a very early start--left at 7:30am.  But we had no problem with traffic from Springfield to the Bay Bridge to the island.



Go away,

Come again some other day!
Erica sleeping

Sarah reading--I don't know how they can read in the car!

yes, everyone switched places at the bathroom breaks

Maire, "How much longer?"  

Here comes the sun!!

There was one seagull on to of each light pole going across a bridge. They looked so funny!

We made it to the Island and it was sunny!! Sunny, and windy, and bright, and hot!
And, we saw ponies.  Well, we saw what we knew were ponies.  They were far away in the distance.  Everyone used binoculars to see them.

in between the trees in the field there is a little group of horses.  
That was fun and all, but we spent the rest of our time on the beach.
Going to the beach with young children who are not strong swimmers is just a terrifying experience.  Every second is a life and death situation.  It is quite stressful.  And on top of that you have to apply sunscreen every hour with sand everywhere to 6 pale bodies that REALLY need sunblock.
But there is something about the ocean that is amazing.  You spend the day in awe of the power of the earth and the God who created it.  No man has any control of the waves yet they keep coming and the water pulls on you, inviting you to come and feel the sand, and the water, and the breeze.  It is terrifying and thrilling all at once.  How do you not go back?

There is a lot more to do on the island.  The beach is what we came for, but there are hiking and biking trails throughout the wildlife refuge.  There were many bikes.  You can also use a kayak or small boat to go up the inlets and look for wildlife.  There are eagles, falcons, dolphins, and of course the horses.  It is relatively untouched. There are also lots of mosquitoes, so if you ever go, don't forget the bug spray.  (at the beach there were no mosquitoes or bugs except in the parking lot near the dumpsters and outhouses).
One thing I am sorry we missed was the Pony Swim.  The last Wed and Thurs of July the ponies on the Virginia side of Assateague are taken across the water to Chincoteague Island to be auctioned off. Those that are not sold are taken back across the water to stay at the refuge until the following July.  That would be a fun thing to see.  They are rounded up by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department; a.k.a. The Saltwater Cowboys.  Maybe next year.

After we were sufficiently tired, wind blown, sun kissed, and sanded, we went home.  It was a great day.