Category: family

People, I just have to tell you, we are some happy folks in the old House of Nebel tonight.

Grandmother Nancy’s oncotype testing has finally come back from the lab, and it shows that the tumor she had is in a very low-risk category for recurrence. This is awesome news – it means (obviously) that there’s only the tee-tine-einsiest percentage of a chance that the cancer would come back – and more immediately and practically speaking, it means that she does not have to endure chemotherapy treatments.

 She will still be having radiation, but her doctors are waiting until her surgery incision site is fully healed before they begin that course of treatment. It probably won’t be much fun, but it will definitely be easier than chemo.

 Thank you for all your prayers, for her and for all of us, so far. I’ll keep you posted as to when the radiation starts.

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Well, I’m sure it’s not news to you: life is full of twists and turns and the inevitable ups and downs. It’s just not often that you hit both a high and a low in the same day.

Yesterday evening, we found out that Grandmother Nancy’s pathology report came back. It was a good-news, bad-news situation all on its own. The good news is that the lymph nodes that were taken out during her surgery all came back clear, no cancer! This is great, because it indicates that the cancer was localized in the tumor and had not had a chance to spread. YAY for early detection! (Reminder, ladies: do those Breast Self Exams and if you’re of age, you’d better be having your yearly mammograms.)

The bad news is that the tumor was 2 centimeters in size. Surgeons use the size of the tumor to place patients in the “stages” of cancer (Stage 1, Stage 2, etc) and to help them determine the appropriate course of treatment. If you want the long, complicated version of that information, email Chris – he is actually in the midst of a breast cancer research project right now at the hospital, so he knows LOTS about this subject. A tumor that is less than 1 centimeter is the best, lowest stage of cancer and often requires no chemotherapy — so that, of course, is what we were all hoping for. As it is right now, it looks like Nancy’s doctors are going to coordinate both radiation and chemo treatments for her. She’ll meet with them soon and I’ll have more information about the length of treatment and exact dates at that time.

For now, please continue to keep Nancy and the family in your prayers. Pray that she will be free from any anxiety about the treatments and that she will continue to mend and recover after her surgery. (She’s already gone back to work, so she’s feeling pretty good – she’s a trouper, that one!)

So that, dear friends, was our low last night. But then a few hours later, we hit a high! (And I saw it on a certain someone’s MySpace page this morning, so I know it’s okay to post about it. 😉 )

My brother Jason is engaged! 😀 It’s so exciting. He bought a beautiful ring a while back – oh, this boy is so romantic, you just wouldn’t believe it – and had the jeweler ADD more diamonds to it (girls, are you swooning yet?) so it was (a) a completely one of a kind, customized ring, and (b) he had to wait to pick it up. While he was waiting, he hatched his proposal plan (actually there were several and I’m lucky enough to have heard most of them! It was so cute!) and met with Sharon’s parents to ask for their blessing ask for their permission to propose (he corrected me in comments!) (again, with the swooning, right?) Last night, he proposed over a game of Monopoly — he slipped the ring into the bag of playing pieces, and he said Sharon literally did a double take when she saw it. And of course, she said YES! They’re planning an April 2009 wedding, as far as I know. (Which is good for me, because the gift I want to give is going to take some… uh, time and effort. So I need to get cracking!)

Ah. The high point – young love, excitement about a wedding, hearing their voices sound so happy.

I’m hoping for less of a roller coaster today, though, how about you?

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We got an update last night – Grandmother met with her surgeon, and she is scheduled to go in for the procedure on Thursday. The doctor feels good that they caught it early, probably at Stage 1, and that she’ll be able to go home Thursday afternoon! The plan is to remove the lump, and inject the sentinel node (which will tell them if any of the lymph nodes are affected with the disease).

After the surgery, she’ll do six weeks of radiation treatments. (If the lump turns out to be larger than 1 cm, or if any of the nodes turn out to be affected, then they’ll add a course of chemo treatments to the plan. Let’s pray that that is NOT the case.)

Please keep the family, the surgeon, the nurses and support staff, and of course Grandmother Nancy in your prayers this week.

…and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16b

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Well, it’s taken me two weeks but I’m finally getting around to telling you all about our Christmas. Settle in, this will be a long one.

Christmas started early for us, with an impromptu visit from Nonna, Poppa, Grandmother, and Pop. Jonas remembers Nonna & Poppa, of course, and made a beeline for him right away! (They play a game they call “Go, go, go!” where Jonas runs into Poppa’s arms about 90 miles an hour and Poppa pretends to be knocked over. After a while, poor Poppa is worn out and starts saying, “no, no, no!”)
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He didn’t take long to warm up to Grandmother (or, “mah-muh-mer” in Jonasese) and Pop. The new game he discovered with them, was pulling his hand inside his sleeve and then popping it back out! He thought it was HILARIOUS and Pop played along, laughing and clapping every time.
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We opened presents while they were here, and Jonas just LOVED his new choo-choo train and wooden vehicles. Plus, he finally realized what all those pretty boxes under the Christmas tree were doing there. (It was quite something to persuade him to wait to open the others!)
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It was a great visit -too short, but don’t all visits sort of feel that way? For the next several days, Jonas asked for all of them repeatedly. I think he finally figured out the answer was always going to be, “Nonna and Poppa are at their house. Grandmother and Pop are at their house.” Then, he started signing “telephone” and saying, “Hah, Poppa! Hah, Nonna! Hah, Pop!” …his way of asking me to call them on the phone. 🙂 He’s a smart one!
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Chris really hit the schedule jackpot, since he was off for Christmas Eve night, and Christmas all day! On the 24th, we opened presents from the other extended family members and friends. Aunt Laura & Uncle Scott sent a couple of cutie-patootie Gymboree outfits.
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Jamison (and Barb & Dave), our good friends in Nashville, gave Jonas a big “collection” book of several Backyardigans stories. I took this picture a second too late – you should have seen how big his eyes were when he first saw the cover!
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Grandmama & Granddaddy (a.k.a. Michelle’s parents) sent a set of dishes for his kitchen, a Hermie DVD, a big stuffed Uniqua and a Backyardigans lunch box. Again – I wish I could have captured the look on his face. Seeing that enormous “Kooka” doll pop out of her wrapping and then opening that lunch box, he was so funny. It was a look of total shock and joy.
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The great-grandMaxwells (Michelle’s Grandmama & Grandaddy) gave Jonas a cool set of aluminum pots & pans & utensils.
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And you know, Christmas wasn’t over! Before we went to bed, we set up Jonas’ kitchen and a few more packages downstairs in the playroom.
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When we woke up Christmas morning, I turned on the coffee pot and started the cinnamon rolls (a tradition from when I was a kid… but next year, I want to make them from scratch! I’ll let you know how that turns out. I have a recipe from my Aunt Linda that I’ve been ‘meaning’ to make for, oh, about five years now! 😀 ) Jonas woke up a little later – did he smell the coffee brewing? – and we snuggled in the big bed for a little while (a favorite way to start weekend mornings or days off around here), then got up for breakfast.

We headed down stairs, camera at the ready, and the funny thing was: Jonas didn’t even seem to notice the big fabric-covered heap or the presents at first! We steered him to that side of the room, though, and convinced him to check it out.
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You saw the earlier pictures I posted, but here are a few more of the rest of Christmas morning play:
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And you know what? Christmas still wasn’t over! We all got several gift cards and/or cash this year, so we got to extend the Christmas experience by shopping! 😉 One of my cards was to Michael’s, and hoo-boy, did I get a haul! I’ll be crafting for MONTHS will all this stuff!
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Chris got a few video games and movies with his cards/money; and as a family I think we’ve been out to eat at more restaurants this past couple of weeks than in the whole last few months!

A few days after Christmas, we took Jonas out to Toys’R’Us to spend some of his money (from Mimi, Grandpa Karl & Grandma Marty, and Great-Granny Corinne). We aren’t normally big fans of that place, but we were looking for a tricycle and their website had a HUGE selection. We were hoping that our local store would have one or two of the ones we liked, so we wouldn’t have to order online and pay shipping. I think we lucked out. 🙂 Jonas got a Radio Flyer trike and a new helmet!
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He still has some money left over! We’re planning to buy a set or two of wooden food – I need to try one or two more local stores, and if I can’t find it here then we’ll order from online.

I think that just about wraps up our holidays. I hope you all had as merry a Christmas as we did, and as happy a new year, too!

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We’ve had snow, lots of snow, fast and furious this morning. There was a brief lull around 10:30 when I went out to shovel our driveway and front steps (thank goodness for baby monitors and Baby Einstein). Now, at noon, it’s switched to a sleety rain mix. We’re supposed to warm up this evening and have more rain, but then between 1 and 3 more inches of snow tomorrow. (Between the forecast, and the fact that Jonas threw up on me AGAIN last night, I’d wager we won’t make it to church.)

Here’s our little piece of winter wonderland:
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It took me until naptime, but I did finally get our pictures uploaded and ready to go. You can see the whole album by clicking here.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, we had a suprise visit from Grandpa Karl & Marty. Chris’ grandfather & his wife live in the D.C. area, and though we’ve sent pictures, they had never met Jonas in person. We’d talked about a visit this fall, and finally this weekend presented itself as a good time for them to get away. Chris’ dad and stepmom decided that they wanted to be here to see the introduction of Jonas to his great-grandpa, so they came up to visit at the same time!

It was so great to have a house full of family. Jonas took a little while to warm up to Grandpa Karl, but once he did, they had so much fun together. The giggles were non-stop, I tell you!

Friday night, I made a roast with mashed potatoes, corn, & carrots. I’d built a new table leaf for our little table (which we got from Sharon Ellis a million years ago back when we were neighbors at the little apartments in Rome, remember that!?) with some phone consulting help from my dad, so the kitchen was full to bursting with all seven of us crowded around the table. What a wonderful feeling, to have all that laughter and conversation and a nice meal together.

We went out for breakfast on Saturday morning, and then ran over to Home Depot (it’s always something, isn’t it?) before coming home to put Jonas …and Nonna!…. down for their naps. 😉 Chris and Karl went out to the mall to shop for my birthday gift, and when they came back, Donna and I went over to Jo-Ann’s for some felt and embroidery thread for my latest project. (More on that another time!) Grandpa Karl and Marty were there when Jonas woke up, and we played and took more pictures for a few hours.

It was really important to us to take a “Four Generations” picture of the Nebel guys. Here’s Karl Wendell Nebel, Jr (Grandpa Karl); Karl Wendell Nebel, III (Poppa); Thomas Christopher Nebel (Daddy); and Jonas Patrick Nebel together. Aren’t they a fine-looking bunch?

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Grandpa Karl & Marty treated us all to a delicious dinner at Hoggy’s, a local barbeque place, that night. We celebrated his birthday and mine (we share the day! And, as a funny coincidence, Chris and Grandma Marty share a birthday, too! What are the odds of that?). Jonas got a balloon, and we all got totally stuffed! That’s a good night in any book.

The next morning, everyone had to leave – Chris for a day/night on-call, and all the grandparents for their homes. Jonas I headed to church, and the house felt SO empty when we got back home.

I spent Monday cleaning and cooking – I made a pumpkin pie and a pecan pie to freeze for Thanksgiving. They turned out beautifully!

Tuesday was my birthday. It was a really nice one. Chris got me a beautiful faux shearling coat from Lands’ End, and I got several giftcards from friends. My mom and dad sent a beautiful stair basket, stuffed with goodies to pamper me. And I got two new charms for my Pandora bracelet from Dad & Donna. The three of us went to dinner at Carraba’s, which was yummy and a lot of fun… until Jonas dumped my water glass all over himself. (You should have seen him – eyes as wide as dinner plates, and a little voice saying, “Oh….” At least we were almost done anyway.) We got our dessert to go, came home to change Jonas out of his wet clothes and get him to bed, and then shared that delightfully chocolatey, brownie-and-mousse concoction. Mmmmmm.

On Wednesday, Jonas & I drove up to Dayton to pick up Chris’ mom and sister from the airport. Traffic was wretched and the rain didn’t help…. so it was a long drive. But they made it here safe and sound, and we treated ourselves to Chinese takeout for dinner when we finally got home. Jonas was so happy to see them! He has trouble saying “Mimi” and “Aunt Andrea” but I think we did get it out of him once or twice before they left.

We got up Thursday morning and made a pot of coffee, started cooking our 14-lb bird, and turned on the Parade. It was wierd to not be at my Grandmama Maxwell’s house. I always miss my family so much on Thanksgiving. For some reason, being away from everyone on Christmas doesn’t bother me as much – maybe because we did Christmas so many different ways when I was growing up (sometimes at our own house, sometimes spread out over a week while we visited both grandparents’ houses) but Thanksgiving was almost always in Thomasville. Plus, this year was the first year my brother has ever brought a girlfriend for Thanksgiving, so I was really sad that I missed that. And she even got to go shopping the day after with my mom & grandmama! (Pout, pout! I really wish I’d have been there with them!). But anyway….

Chris got out of work pretty early for being post-call, and in a true Thanksgiving Miracle, they hadn’t had any trauma cases overnight so he was pretty well rested! That was a nice bonus, since it gave him more time to spend with his mom & sister instead of sleeping.

We ate our dinner around 2:30, and it was pretty good. Definitely not “Grandmama’s cookin’!” {you have to say that in my cousin Kaitlin’s voice to get the true effect, sorry, non-Maxwell readers} but not too bad.

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If I cook my own Thanksgiving meal again next year, I’m halving the green bean casserole and I’m on the search for a new stuffing/dressing recipe. And I’m going to figure out how to make a small dish of my grandmother’s sweet potatoes with the crunchy topping. And I’m going to remember the rolls. But other than that, it was okay.

On Friday, we woke up to the first snow of the year! It was a light accumulation – maybe a quarter-inch – and it flurried most of the morning, then melted off by the time Jonas woke up from his nap.

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We went out for a late breakfast and just snacked for lunch, and then I made oven fried chicken, baked mac & cheese, and corn for dinner. It was the perfect comfort food for a cold day! We had a really nice day, just relaxed and laid-back and time for Jonas to be with his aunt & grandmother. I love seeing them play together!

I started getting out the Christmas decorations, and did a little bit at a time. Right now I have most everything out. There are a few things that just don’t seem to have a place they “fit” in this house, so I’ll probably add them to my yard sale pile in the garage; and there are a few things I’d like to have that I never needed before (like garland for the half-wall and the stair bannister, and outdoor lights) which I still need to buy. But it’s really beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here!

Chris was on-call again on Saturday, and we had to take Mimi & Aunt Andrea back up to Dayton for their flight home. The weather was cold, but clear, which made the traffic a WORLD better than our drive on Wednesday! The round-trip took about 3 hours, and Jonas was a perfect angel. He slept the whole way up, woke up to say bye-bye, and then played with his toys, read his book, and ate his snack on the way home. I chatted with my mom for a good 45 minutes (she was on the road home from Thanksgiving in Thomasville) — thank goodness for Bluetooth! — and came home to an eerily quiet house!

It was a really busy couple of weeks, but it was wonderful to see everyone who came up to visit. I owe a few people phone calls, so if you’re reading this and you know who you are, I’m sorry! I’ll do my best this week. 😉

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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