November 30, 2018

I escaped chemo, and started radiation

As if you haven’t been able to tell from my previous posts, but chemo therapy was probably the absolute hardest four months of my life. I’ve talked to other people and I don’t think it effects everyone the same way, but it was incredibly miserable for me for the large majority of those days—between a super cloudy brain, severe constipation, nausea, aches and a plethora of other “small” symptoms, I was pretty much over chemo.

I was thrilled when I was done.

Two of my sisters took my out one night to celebrate! They took me to an escape room and gave me this t-shirt.

“I escaped chemo”!! So clever. Haha.

They also gave me this donut. 

I h’ate’ chemo.” Again so clever.

We played this escape room with 21 minutes left. He told us it was their hardest room. But if you get three Allen girls in a room, and if they can figure out which direction to hold the locks, the room stands no chance.

Some sweet friends also put together an end of chemo celebratory girl’s night. 

I am thankful for such good friends and to be surrounded by some fabulous women. Though I didn’t get pictures of everyone. It was such a nice evening.

And now I am three days into radiation. The doctor originally told me I would have 6 weeks of radiation, but when I went in to get my schedule I was scheduled for 7 weeks. Not the best news I’ve ever gotten, but I’ll take anything over chemo!

Almost two weeks before radiation I had to go into the office to get a quick (no contrast) CT scan and to make a mold. It was pretty simple and painless. They also marked up my body with a sharpie so I’d be aligned. On my first day of radiation they replaced my sharpie marks with 5 permanent freckle sized blue tattoos. That was the worst part of the day. This was one time I was grateful that I am still numb in some places so I only felt 4 of the tattoos. (Why anyone would choose to get a tattoo and suffer that pain I do not know!)

Radiation is pretty easy. I spend more time changing in and out of my pink gown that I do on the radiation table. There are lockers for my stuff and my own bag for my gown. 

When I’m called back, I lay on the radiation table on my pillow mold with my hands above my head. They line me up using my tattoos. They start the radiation and the machine moves around me. It’s kind of like a CT scan and an x-ray combined. My arms start to go numb. And then I’m done. As time goes on, I may get burned and tired, but so far (granted, this is just day 3!) it has been just fine. 

My favorite part has been when Eric and Brinny come with me. They wait in the waiting area. Eric says that Brinna is a star out in that room and all of the older people ooh and ahh and smile at her. Then when I’m finished and walk back out to meet them, she points at me and shouts “mama” and it is the best greeting in the world. Usually, someone in that room also tells me that she looks just like me. 

I also had a CT scan (with contrast) last week and we found out yesterday that everything looked good. I still have to do an mri again next week, but such a happy day to hear that so far everything is going well. 

November 28, 2018


With our zoo membership, there is a special night where we get to get into the Zoolights at a discounted price plus we get the added bonus that a few of the zoo experiences that usually cost money are free. We like to take advantage of this. 

When we went last year, it was a nice evening, but we had some grumpy kids and some fighting and tantrums and somebody lost the privilege to ride the carousel at the end of the night. I am so happy to report that this year the whole crew was in a much better mood and got along just fine. Thank goodness for that. It was a lovely evening. 

I will apologize up front for the fact that every single picture I am about to post is blurry to some extent. 

Perry was extremely excited to take pictures to show his class at school. So everywhere we went he asked me to take his picture to send to his teacher. Which I did and so he got to show the pictures to his class the next day and tell them all about it. He was heaven about that.

We loved touching the stingrays, seeing the reindeer, and watching the 4D Rudolph movie.

My personal favorite spot was the round lights on the cactus. Unfortunately this extremely blurry picture is all we got.

It is so magical to walk around in the splendor of Christmas lights. Especially when the weather was absolutely perfect like it was that night.

Eric snuck in the “creepy” hand (inside joke). Ha!

The grand finale of the night was the carousel. When the carousel started, little Brinna clutches on to me so tight. She didn’t know what to think and she tried to scramble up into my arms. By the end of the ride, she had calmed down, but I had to keep my arms tightly  around her while we rode.

I don’t think Eric was ready for this picture. Or he was just annoyed that I was taking another picture. Ha!

It really was a beautiful evening at the Zoolights and a great way to kick off the holidays.

November 24, 2018

cousins in town

My cousin Aly and her kids were in town for the weekend and we loved getting together with them a few times. (I know we took better pictures than this first one, but I think they are on my aunts phone...)

One night at Jacqui’s house, the kids put on a performance for us on the gymnastics bar.

This was also a favorite activity that night. They love these ride on toys! And Jacqui has the perfect hallway to zoom down.

We also spent a morning at the zoo with cousins.

I’m so glad we were able to spend time with cousins while they were here. Perry loved talking to me about the “new cousins” and Layla had a blast playing with the boys. Our babies are just a week apart so that was wonderful, too. We just love their family.

November 23, 2018

two wheels

Look who is on two wheels now! We tried really hard to teach her to ride her bike without training wheels last year, but she was psyching herself out too much. And then this week she surprised us all and she did it! She went outside when our cousins were here.  Our neighbor was out learning to ride her bike. Seeing a friend learning, too, helped her feel better and she quickly caught on and started riding on her own. She now tells us that she loves her bike and begs to go out to ride every day after school. We are so proud of her!

November 22, 2018

gratitude 2018

On Tuesday night we were all in the car on our way to the Zoolights. We went around the car and each took a turn saying as many things we are grateful for as we could in ten seconds. Then we went around again trying to beat the number we had said the first time. I loved hearing that we are all grateful first and foremost for each other and then, also, for “spicy juice”, friends, french fries, the scriptures, grandma, grandpa, our pool, ketchup, clothes, and more. Even Perry played and I was especially grateful to be doing an activity that everyone in the family was participating in (kind of rare around here).

I personally have so much to be thankful for this year. My heart is so full. Here are my 18 in 2018 (in no particular order).

I am grateful...

1. to be alive. To be breathing and seeing and thinking and hearing and feeling. That my body is functioning well.

2. for the scriptures and good books. My study time each day is probably my favorite time of the day. 

3. for podcasts. I love listening to podcasts like “happier with Gretchen Rubin”, and “Better than Happy” and a few others I’ve tried here and there. 

4. for a living prophet who is leading our church, guiding us, and who is not afraid to challenge us and make changes that will bring us closer to Christ.

5. for nice weather (finally!). I love that we can be outside walking, riding bikes, and playing at the park again. 

6. for good people that surround and bless me with their friendship, examples, support, love, and kindness. 

7. for pretty flowers in a vase on my table. 

8. for super hot showers at night.

9. for good doctors, physical therapists, and modern medicine. And that I am almost done with my cancer treatments.

10. for escape rooms, board games, and sudoku.

11. for laughter. Especially deep belly laughs.

12. for conversations with my teenagers, snuggles with my baby, something in between with my middle kids

13. for hair. And that my hair is starting to slowly grow back.

14. for comfy pillows and blankets. And a nice big bed.

15. for enough. We have always been blessed with enough of everything, and more.

16. for music, dance, and art. To experience and to create.

17. for travel and for vacations. Including the anticipation.

18. for Eric. my love, my best friend, my teacher, my rock, my everything.

November 21, 2018

puzzle obsessed

For the last few months, there has always been a puzzle in the works on this table. I think it's been a great form of stress relief for Eric. Sometimes the kids and I help out, but mostly it is E putting the pieces together. I think he is in the middle of puzzle number eight in the last six months. We've framed and hung a few of the puzzles up on the walls in the kids rooms (the kids helped out with those). We've also thought about hanging some of the bigger ones out in the garage for fun. I think I'm going to have to find some cool new puzzles for Christmas this year.

November 20, 2018

Brinna Bug

Little Brinny Lou is growing up way too quickly. She is looking more and more like a toddler.

She has two favorite cabinets to play in while we are in the kitchen. One contains her tub of bottles. She takes out all the pieces of the bottles and tries to put them together. But I think her most favorite is the cupboard where Layla hides her candy. Brinna has quickly learned how to open zip lock bags and find the tootsie rolls.


There is something so incredible about watching each of the older children develop a special relationship with Brinna. She gets so excited to see them when they come home from school. She really adores all of her older siblings. And I think brings out the best in the them—love, patience, fun, and gentleness. I found this selfie on my phone.