Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Stephen Update: Going Home (sniff sniff)

Hi everyone, I am in Houston for Spring Break with my family right now (trying to type on a tiny little iphone...)!but I just need to tell you about the update on Stephen I just got. They found another tumor growing in his neck next to his trachea. He is too weak to fight anymore. They are taking him home today, and it sounds like he isn't going to last much longer. His little body just doesn't have much left to give. They think he may only have about a week or so left in him. So, now I ask for your prayers again. Please pray for them to be able to get through this...I can't imagine what it would be like knowing that I only had a few days left with my child...UGH! *grabbing more kleenex* I can't even find any more words to say...it feels like being at the top of a huge roller coaster and I am looking down at the huge terrifying drop just ahead knowing that I can't change the course. I will face the terrifying drop whether I want to or not. All I know is we are going to need more kleenex.

If you want to read the full updates, click on this link to go to his Caring Bridge Journal.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Stephen Update

Here's the latest update on Stephen. I'm so happy he'll be getting to spend his last days at home before going HOME. Sweet, sweet little boy. He looks so exhausted. He has put up SUCH a good fight. He is my little hero. :)

* * *
Getting out!
I added a picture to yesterday's post. It is Stephen just a month or so before he was diagnosed. The picture on today's post is from 3 days ago. It shows what the last 5 months has done to him.

Stephen slept most of the day yesterday so I was determined to get him up and out today. At noon I was finally able to get him out of bed. I tried to get him down to the art room or over to the zoo but he wasn't interested. I finally decided to ask if he wanted to go spend his money. That did it. We got ready and went to Target. He got a Spongebob Lego set. I was able to keep him awake for about 4 hours. After a nap on the couch I was able to get him up again. I tried to get some food in him today but I didn't have much luck.

He started to work on his Lego set when he woke up. It was so sad to watch him attempt to build it. I remember how he used to sit for hours and follow the directions and build a huge Lego set all on his own. Today he struggled just to understand what the pictures were showing him. He fussed and cried about it for an hour. I helped him along the way but found that I was just rebuilding everything he had done because it was wrong. After the hour was up, he was so frustrated I told him to take a break. I put it away. He had only managed to get about 20 small pieces put together. He was frustrated because he knew that this was something he used to be able to do. He kept saying, I do these all the time, I don't need a break. I can do it by myself! I felt so bad for him. I don't know exactly why he is struggling so much. He shouldn't be having radiation effects this early. Maybe it is the drugs or just a lack of using his brain lately. It makes me sad.

I also figured out today that Stephen has lost 7 pounds since we arrived mid February. We have been back for 5 weeks today. That is more than a pound a week. He looks like a skeleton. His hip bones are poking out and his ribs are showing. He loses a little more weight every day. I do everything I can to get calories in him but I am lucky if I get in 800 calories. Most of the days, when he is being sedated for radiation, I get about 300-500 calories in him. He isn't allowed to eat before sedation and then sleeps for hours after. I am usually trying to get as much in him as I can between the hours of 5 and 8pm. He drinks well but won't eat. I am trying to make sure that everything he drinks has calories in it.

My sister Gaylynn is coming on Tuesday to stay with us. I am looking forward to spending time with her. I feel like I haven't really seen anyone in so long. We will be able to catch up again like Libby and I did. It has been nice to not have to be here alone for long periods of time.

Brent and the kids fought really bad wind the whole day but arrived at home safely to a dog that ran around like a crazed lunatic while she cried. It makes me feel so bad when she cries like that. She has been so lonely. I know she will love having me and Stephen home. The cat doesn't have much use for me, but I know my puppy loves me!

I am really hoping that this week goes smoothly with no surprises. I just want to get Stephen home safe and sound. Now that it is so close, I feel nervous. I want to give him that time at home. I hope we can make that happen for him.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Thrift Store Finds: HELP!

I went thrifting this week and I'm super excited about my finds! However...I need advice on what to do with them now! I'm torn between leaving them the way they are, or trying to change them up. What do you guys think???

The first thing I found was this owl cookie jar for $2.50! Should I leave it brown? Should I spray paint it a fun color? If you think spray paint it, what color would you choose?

My next find was this huge Coldwater Creek bag!$4. I spotted it from clear across the room. It's the perfect size for a Church bag or something. LOVE IT. Should I leave it or give it a pop of color, too?

Then, there is this. It's an original...by a local person, I think. $10. But OH MY GOSH, it's beautiful! The frame has really pretty details.

The painting is really pretty, too. I believe they are poppies...

So...what do I do!?! Do I leave it the way it is and hang it in my house? Do I take out the canvas and just use the cute frame? Do I paint the frame? Do I leave the frame? It already looks shabby chic... AHHH! I don't know what to do! Which doesn't happen very often...hahah!
So...what do you guys think?

Owl options:
Leave it.
Paint it.
Paint it-what color?

Purse options:
Leave it. Embellish it. Any ideas on how? Links PRETTY PRETTY please! :)

Painting options
Leave it alone and hang it.
Take out canvas and just use frame the way it is.
Take out canvas and paint frame- what color?
Do I leave the frame empty? Do I turn it into something like one of those chicken wire memo boards? Add mesh and turn it into a jewelry organizer?

I can't wait to hear your ideas! Thank you SOOO much!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

{Pin}spiration Copycat Week 5

This week's {Pin}spiration was in my Beauty Bin board. I've seen this around for a while and I wanted to try it out. Have you heard of washing your face with oil? It sounded so strange, and I just HAD to check it out. I was totally envisioning some lady putting Crisco all over her face or something. The Pin took me to Simple Mom where she had a really informative article on her experience with this whole washing your face with oil thing. It intrigued me. I have tried like EVERY skin treatment thing I could find on the shelf with no luck. Most things just irritated my face. My skin is really dry and acne prone and my skin tone is uneven. Well, at least it was 2 weeks ago! See? Click on it and you can see better....so embarrassing. I can see 3 monsters without even clicking on it! :(

Me: Oh my heck. I can't believe I'm about to put this on my blog for everyone to see...*gag*


true story.

When we were driving to church on Sunday morning my husband looked at me and said, "WOW, Nat...your complexion is looking REALLY nice! It looks so healthy!". That compliment coming from him meant so much to me...I almost started to cry. I mean, I can tell a difference, but the fact that a GUY could see a difference means it really must be working. I haven't had to use a moisturizer in 2 weeks. I haven't had a single huge zit, and the bumpy forehead I used to have is gone. I'm not even kidding!!! My face seriously looks like it glows (okay, not like, glow in the dark glows...you know what I mean!). I was pretty hesitant to put the oils all over my face the first time...thinking that it was just SOOOOO contrary to what we are usually told about facial skin care. I mean, oils are what make us break out, right? (WRONG!!! It's pores that have dirt and bacteria clogging them!) I was expecting to wake up the next morning either completely broken out in pimples or a total grease ball. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised! I am definitely a firm believer now. I will NEVER buy another drug store facial cleanser or moisturizer again. There's just no need to! Not to mention, these bottles of oils are going to last me forrrrever so they are really cost effective.

So, which oils do I use and how do I do it? Here's my run down. You can use different mixtures of oils for different complexions (she explains it better in her blog post at Simple Mom!)

As for me, I use:


A few drops of tea tree oil- it helps with my acne and is also an antibacterial. (I order my essential oils through Be Young Essential Oils. My MIL is a distributor, so that's why. BUT, you can find them all over!)

A few drops of lavender essential oil- it helps with inflammation and reduces scars.

A dime size drop of grapeseed oil- it's rich in nutrients and antioxidants, it balances both oily and dry patches, and I like how it moisturizes. It's not heavy. It's great at penetrating the pores. It's also a great carrier oil. Seriously...it's awesome stuff.

Some people use extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) instead of grapeseed oil. I tried it...it worked GREAT, but grapseed oil had a lot milder smell. If you can't find grapeseed oil, olive oil is the way to go for sure!!! Just make sure it's the extra virgin kind. (you can find this oil at any grocery store!)

And lastly, about another dime size drop of castor oil- basically...just another freaking awesome oil for your face. The oils have this magical way of moisturizing your face just right. Then, your pores don't produce extra oil because they don't need to. Which, in turn, reduces acne. It's really amazing. (you can find this oil in drugstores...I got mine from Walmart for about $3)

After I have it all in my hands I rub them together to get it mixed up really well and I massage it all over my face. I really work it into my pores. I love how the tea tree oil makes my skin feel kind of tingly, and the lavender is so relaxing. :)

Then, I take a wash cloth and hold it under really warm water, wring it out, and put it on my face until it cools off. This opens up the pores and the oils draw the dirt and crud out. I rinse out the washcloth, warm it back up with the water and put it on my face a few more times. Then I give my face a good rinsing and wipe any left over oil that might have gotten into my hairline away and I'm all done! OH!!! And the oils are an awesome makeup remover, too!

I LOOOOVE the way my skin feels after I do this! I am so happy I found this Pin!

And that's all I have to say about that. :) If you have any questions, let me know!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stephen Update: Most Difficult Decision of All

Here is today's update from Stephen's Dad

* * *

The Most Difficult Decision of All
This decision has been coming slowly for a while now. After talking in the waiting room this morning with Stephen asleep in our arms, Amber and I decided it is time for us to take him home to Albuquerque in anticipation of Stephen's return to his home above.

We will do so at the end of his current course of radiation.

At this point the longer we stay here and treat him, the more time we actually loose. He longs to be home with his family, in his own bed, surrounded by the comfort that only it can give him. Aside from the radiation to his pelvis, the other current treatments, potential future treatments, and nasty side-effects are only hurting him and preventing him from the peace and comfort he deserves.

Once we take him home we might expect anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months with him. Unfortunately the same is true if we subject him to 4-6 more months of torturous treatment away from home. We get the same end result with far too much suffering involved.

More than that, the chances are extremely high that he would not make it through the rest of the treatments. Even our doctor has said that Stephen is not a good candidate for chemotherapy now. He's just too weak. He would almost surely miss out entirely on those last good days if we pushed forward from here. The fungal infection only complicates issues further. The end would come 1000 miles away from home and family in a sterile, clinical environment. We can not risk it.

From the beginning, we promised ourselves that we would NOT try to keep Stephen in this world for our own selves. We promised to NOT to treat him at any expense to his own quality of life and happiness We used to be able to hold onto the idea that there would be a time where he would go home free of cancer. We hoped that pain and suffering endured would pay off... even if for a short number of years... or months... We wished that Stephen would feel well enough to go back to school and enjoy the life he had before. We desired that he would have some portion of a good quality of life. The time for that has now clearly passed.

What is best for Stephen has changed. It is now apparent that no amount of chemotherapy, anti-fungal, or radiation will give us what we want: a healthy, happy Stephen. We have done our very best. We have fought fiercely, tirelessly. Because of this, we can have no regrets.

It is not time to say goodbye yet, but the time has now come to leave the rest entirely in the Lord's hands. We know we must do so with all the faith, courage, love, and hope we can muster.

We have taken many small steps of great faith throughout the last five months. This is the giant leap they have all lead to and prepared us for. We must have the confidence that God will catch us in his arms. I KNOW he will. I just hope each of us, my wife, my children, each person reading this right now who loves Stephen don't have to fall too far before we feel his saving embrace. God be with us.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Free St. Patrick's Day Printable


Yup, that about says it! Want it?

Click {HERE} to download Kiss Me Anyway 8x10

Do you have the St. Patrick's Day bug, too? What are you planning on doing for the big day?

The kids in the Brimhall house will wake up to a LUCKY CHARMS breakfast...

and some fun St. Patrick's Day decorations

and discovering some LEPRECHAUN MISCHIEF....
(I'm totally going to do my husband's toilet too...he's going to FLIP OUT!!!)

We'll all be wearing some green, of course....

The girls will probably wear something fun like this in their hair...

We'll be doing fun RAINBOW KABOBS....

Fun Clover Hand Print art projects...

And making some fun little treats like this...

or this....

or this....

And watching a fun Youtube Video on why we even celebrate St. Patrick's Day in the first place...(I'm pretty sure it's by the same people who do Veggie Tales...so cute!)

May the LUCK O' THE IRISH be with you this week!


Stephen Update: How Many Tears?

Here's the latest update on Stephen for those of you who are following along with his journey battling AT/RT brain cancer. His parents keep an online journal for his friends and family to read, and this is where the updates come from. He is such a little fighter, and his family amazes me every day with their strength and determination. My heart absolutely aches for them...please continue to keep them in your prayers! Thanks. :)

* * *

There are days that I wonder if a person could actually run out of tears. I'm sure that over the next few months, I will test this question many times.

Today after Stephen was sedated, I went to get something for lunch. I passed his radiation oncologist in the hall as I walked. He stopped me and told me that he spoke with the radiation team and they have put their foot down. They will not allow him to do Stephen's radiation treatment the way he had planned. They have told him NO! I asked, once again, does this mean that when we stop treatment, the tumor will grow back more quickly than it would using your method? Yes, that is exactly what it means.

They have decided that there is no way to cure Stephen so using the more aggressive treatment isn't necessary. They believe that no matter what they do, the radiation will not get rid of the tumor so they might as well not do damage to surrounding areas. As I mentioned last night, this seems counter-intuitive to me. What does it matter if they damage something else if they know that this cancer will take his life? I want pain relief for my child for as long as possible.

After the quick conversation in the hall, I hurried to a private place and broke down. I sat, bent forward, watching my tears hit the floor. I watched a puddle form and wondered how I would ever get the tears to stop. I sat and wept for a while. I then got out my phone and headed outside to find a phone signal. I called Brent and told him about the decision the radiation team had made. I stood outside under an overhang and cried to Brent as the wind blew sheets of rain in different directions. It is always raining when we get bad news.

For the rest of the day, the tears have come and gone. My face turns bright red and swells up when I cry so I didn't go unnoticed, even when I had stopped crying. I let the nurses hug me but I didn't tell them why I was crying. I didn't want that awkward moment when they realized what I was telling them...the radiation doctors have sentenced my child to a painful death. They never quite know how to react to bad news. They always try to stay upbeat and positive and I just wasn't feeling very upbeat.

After much thought and consideration, Brent and I have decided that we are going to discontinue the anti-fungal infusion. It is messing with Stephen's blood chemistry too much. He is now on two different supplements to keep things under control. Just yesterday he started shaking an twitching. It is hard to explain but he just can't stop moving. This could be a side effect of low magnesium but after a few doses he is not improving. In fact he is much worse today. He has also been very confused today. He spent most of the day confused about where he was, who he was with and where we were going. He asked me a number of nonsense questions that I could never quite understand only to tell me he forgot what he was asking.

Regardless of what the scans show tomorrow about the yeast in his head, it is VERY unlikely that we will ever get to the point that we would start chemo. For that to happen, the tumor in his hip would have to get to microscopic size, the yeast nodule would have to be surgically removed, and a new shunt would have to be placed after the yeast surgery and further yeast treatment.

I think for now we will finish radiation, the new way, and watch the rest of Stephen's body for metastatic disease. Most likely, by the time we are done with radiation, the cancer will be somewhere else, if it isn't already, and we will come home. We will hope and pray that the tumor in his hip will have been shrunk enough to give him some time without pain. We just don't know what to expect.

We are both looking forward to Brent and the kids coming. Libby made a count down calendar for Stephen to mark off the days until they get here. We can't wait! HURRY, HURRY, HURRY!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Such A Tease


Spring is just around the corner...the temperatures are teasing me. I'm already stalking Old Navy, drooling over cute little swimsuits. I'm trying not to hold a grudge against the groundhog, who decided we needed more winter. Seriously, who does he think he is!?! :)



Friday, March 9, 2012

Glitter Giveaway WINNER!

Ladies and Gentlemen, (though...I don't recall any Gentlemen entering this contest...haha)
We have a winner!


According to Random.org's Random Number Generator, the lucky winner is.....

Mica, my dear, you have 48 hours to email me (at NatSpratblog@yahoo.com) which 2 colors you would like along with your mailing address! CONGRATULATIONS!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Toy Room Printables


Okay, my friends! Here are the long anticipated Printables from the Big Toy Room Reveal! Mine were 5.5 x 13.5 (I know...totally random size and it was a PAIN to print out.) So, yours will be an 8x10 version.


You can get these for your home now, too! You can find them here in my new etsy shop!
It's only $10 for the set! You also get to choose which of the EVERY CHILD IS AN ARTIST you want, there are 4 different colors to choose from. :) Ready...set...go!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

{Pin}spiration Copycat Week 4: Chalk Board Table

If you read my Toy Room Reveal post from yesterday then you already know my {Pin}spiration Copycat project for this week! It's a chalk board top table!


Here is my original {Pin}spiration. :)

So cute, huh! Well...I just HAD to have one! With a busy little 2 year old who likes to draw on EVERYTHING, it was kind of a must have.

Now...who wants a tutorial??? It is SOOOO easy, it's almost not right. Here's what you need.

1. A table/coffee table/whatever you want to turn into a chalkboard

2. A base color of paint
I used Krylon Dual Spray Paint in Cherry Red. I love this stuff! It's spray paint AND primer in one! My wood was pretty dark and I didn't want to do a zillion coats of spray paint. This stuff worked PERFECTLY!

3. Painters Tape
I got the wide one. Since it's spray paint it gets everywhere! This stuff creates a nice ledge to deflect the chalkboard paint and keep it from "floating" all over the rest of the table.

4. Chalkboard Paint
I used trusty ol' Krylon. I didn't even know they made chalkboard SPRAY paint! It was a very pleasant surprise! They also have chalkboard paint in 1 quart cans...and I've seen tutorials where you just add powdered grout to whatever color of paint you want to use to make your own chalkboard paint. But...this was inexpensive and easy to use.


Now, let the fun begin! First, I started spray painting in the garage. Then, I remembered that a certain handsome man who lives in my home and signed our wedding certificate told me to
pretty please don't spray paint in the garage EVER AGAIN. So, I moved it outside.

Step 1: Spray paint your table with the base coat color. (Mine was the Cherry Red...)

- do a really light sanding of the table with a fine grit sand paper to make the first coat of paint stick best.
- don't make the coats too thick or they'll start to drip and get messy.
- do light, even swipes across the furniture
- make sure the coat is all or at least MOSTLY (okay...so I'm impatient!) dry before applying another.


Step 2: Tape off the edges of the table with your painters tape. Make sure it's really pressed down well or the chalk board paint will seep into the crack!

Step 3: Spray on the chalk board spray paint! Use the same tips for spray painting as above.

Step 4: Wait for the paint to dry COMPLETELY...(yes, COMPLETELY). The can says 24 hours but mine was dry within 11 hours (yup...still impatient).

Step 5: Once it's completely dry, take a piece of chalk and rub it over the whole table. Then with a chalkboard eraser or a soft cloth wipe it off really well. This preps the chalkboard paint.


Step 6: You're DONE! Go buy some chalk and have fun! Yes, you WILL have to fight for a turn to draw on the table first. For real. And I won.

Want to see the first thing I drew???


Thanks for stopping by! Let me know if you have any questions!


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