Lets Build a House

Went for my Radiation Oncology follow-up this afternoon, and he was pleased with everything. It looks like Check ups at hospitals and scans will be a part of my life for some time to come. But, for now we are concentrating on building our house in Golden Bay. Because we are owner building and that requires a very hands on experience, We had to put it on hold while I had surgery and follow-up treatment for the Breast Cancer. Anyway, now it is full speed ahead.

I want to blog about this part of the journey, because even though I have done an owner builders course and looked up heaps of information, I thought it would be nice to show step by step the order we did things in.
Before I start I just want to say, I am definitely not an expert and this is just our experience and not an exhaustive list of how to Owner Build. If you are building two-story, or renovating, you would have other things to do that we do not. So please don’t yell at me or write nasty letters, if you think I have said something wrong.
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GET YOUR PLANS DRAWN UP AND APPROVED.
First, we had plans drawn up by our draftsman friend Ross. He must have done a great job because they got passed straight away. An engineering firm, checked the block, did site and soil testing and did working drawings of the footings etc to go with the house plans.

Got a quote and plan for electrical work to go with all the other stuff then we submitted all this to the Council. We didn’t realise that new builds now have to meet 6 star energy rating, so had to send our plans to an Energy Assessor to make sure they pass the 6 star rating. The only thing we needed to do was put blow in insulation in our living area as it gets the afternoon sun. Natalie our assessor, said if we can budget it in it would be great to do the whole house, so hopefully we will be able to do this and save a lot on energy bills. Rockingham City Council were great and sent out a list of Energy Assessors, Surveyors, Engineers etc in our local area. That was all good, and our plans were approved and sent back looking all official and stamped, ready to get building. The next day I found out I had breast cancer, which kind of spoilt things.

Before building in Western Australia you need to apply (online) to the Water Authority for permission, this was granted and we paid the application fee.

Our friend Glenn came with his Dingo and cleared our block. When we bought it it was flat with hardly any vegetation. Now it has been so long since we started, and being the last house on the street to build it now has brickies sand, great big clumps of cement, bags, cans, pavers, and roof tiles, along with limestone all dumped by the builders close by. I did complain to the builders next door, as the tiles match their build, but, they didn’t care, which, I expected, but, wanted to have my say anyway.

Next step will be the finish off of the site clear and prep. Will keep you posted.
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Meanwhile, took some time off from thinking about house stuff, and headed to the beach with Beau for a walk as we were babysitting him, he always has so much energy, its good to use some up, plus the exercise was great for us oldies.

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Enjoying the now

He just needs a mexican moustache and he is ready to go

He just needs a mexican moustache and he is ready to go

Daughter in law Dani, Hayley, Beau and I went on our Bi Yearly op-shop crawl. Last time we did the CBD, but, this time we stayed around Mandurah. Had a great day and got lots of bargains. Beau who is three just loves the variety of toys to play with as we move from shop to shop.
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We stopped for lunch at Grilled in Mandurah, and enjoyed not for the first time the pleasure of living in this lovely location, which in past years we only experienced when we were on holiday.
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Meanwhile, I am stalking building sites, trying to get my head around what needs to be on site, when. We hope to get the site works started really soon.


I find it all very exciting. Over the weekend we purchased an as new cupboard for the laundry, and a kitchen sink brand new off Gumtree. Our house is starting to fill up with French doors, wooden door jams, taps, lights and other assorted things for the fit out later. They say if you take care of the pennies the pounds will take care of themselves.
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Needless to say, this owner building has completely taken over my thought life, and so I realised I have completely forgotten about Breast Cancer.
My hair is growing back, it looks like dark grey felt, so not beautiful enough to show a picture of as yet. Will keep you posted.
Thursday is my follow-up appointment with Radiation Oncology, then in November will be my first Mammogram since this journey began. It is hard to believe that once that happens a year will have gone by already. Wow!
Have a fabulous week.

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Sick of Tired

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Tuesday was best forgotten, I was tired all day and only got a few things done. One of which wasn’t to cook Poppy our dog her food. I did make more dog biscuits for her and as we buy expensive dental bits for her as dry food, I thought she would just have to be happy with that for one night. By about seven o’clock she was fed up with waiting for her dinner which hadn’t arrived, so she jumped up on the lounge where I was lying watching telly, barked and jumped up and down, and without saying one word conveyed the clear message that she had been patient, but, now it was getting late and where was her homemade food. I did explain that there were children in the world worse off than her but I caved in and went and put her food on to cook. It really only took five minutes, and today now that I am a bit better than yesterday, I will pop cupfuls into sandwich bags to freeze. I make enough for about ten days at a time. We could actually eat it for dinner, it is just mince, brown or white rice, potatoes, carrots, pasta, and some sort of green vegetable with a spoon of vegemite stirred in. Her favourite is broccoli. We know this because the first time she had it with broccoli, she pulled the green chunks out and popped them on the mat, I thought she was removing them, turns out she was saving the best till last, and gobbled the green treasures down at the end. Weird little dog!
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For Christmas Sarah bought me gorgeous rose gold earrings, which I have worn a lot. One night I pulled them off in the dark and popped them on the night stand. In the morning they had disappeared. This was a couple of months back. We hunted high and low, pulled out draws, moved bedside tables – no earrings. Till last week, when I was rearranging the fancy pillows that are for decoration, I was thinking of washing them and as I flipped one over to pull the stuffing out, there at the bottom was the imprint of two earrings. I was sure I had checked in the cases at the beginning. Anyway, I knew they couldn’t just disappear, so it is nice to have my earrings back.
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While flicking through my photos, I found this picture of my foot, I was meant to be taking a photo of my friend Glenys while she was preaching, and accidentally took my foot. It made me miss my manicured nails. They are gradually growing back and although a bit rough, I may be able to paint my fingernails soon, and my hair is growing and quite dark. I was hoping for curls, but, I think it is just going to be short and dark grey, yuk! I can fix that with a trip to the hairdresser though, and will do when it is long enough. There is no medical reason to not dye your hair after Chemo, you are advised to wait because the hair is new, and a bit weak. Consequently, it may snap off!

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What Next

Allan was asking grandson Beau where the rain came from, he said it came from Gordon. I presume he meant God. That must be up there with the Sunday School child who said God’s name was Harold Wishart, he had heard it during prayer, you know Our father Wishart in heaven, Harold be thy name. Children are hilarious, Jenny our oldest granddaughter used to call Him Gawd, obviously heard an American preacher at some time. At the moment my favourite name for God is Jehovah Rapha, or my healer. I was speaking to a man through the week who had been through Chemo and Radiation three years ago for Lymphoma, and we were sharing that while going through treatment, you are focused on getting through all that, then suddenly it comes to an end and you think what now. Do I just sit around and be fearful that something may reoccur, well, for me the answer is no. It is probably quite normal to feel that abrupt end and there is that transition as you deliberately change focus not on morbid what ifs, but, on what to do next in life. Mostly enjoy it, and for us we are planning to start building our house in Golden Bay. We hope to be putting down the pad sometime in the very near future. (Not Allan and I personally but someone more qualified).
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While we were at Bunnings I found toilets I liked that were only $165 each, a bit better on the budget than the $300 ones I had originally wanted and a bit nicer than the very cheap type that I definitely didn’t want to settle on. Allan couldn’t believe someone could be so excited about toilets.
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Talk about the good old days, when we were first married we bought cheap lamb shanks from the butcher with our meat (our budget was $10 per week for food and lamb cutlets were 19 cents a pound) I would cook them up and give them to our little Pekenese dog Candy for her dinner. I couldn’t believe how expensive these shanks were at Woolies, they would be largely bone and not much meat and we certainly wouldn’t be giving them to the dog. To quote Gordan Macrae in the movie ‘On Moonlight Bay’ ‘You have to buy happiness these days.

I headed off to ‘Just for Her’ our ACC state women’s conference on Thursday with my friend who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent. While I was waiting at her house I grabbed two large cane chairs from the verge a little down her street and popped them in her garage to wait until we came back. While at the conference I had second thoughts, and decided I wouldn’t take them after all as they would be too much work. We arrived back in the afternoon to find the verge had been cleared. The following half hour was spent finding a street that still had rubbish and a verge in particular that was around a corner so we could dump the chairs without having an irate house owner asking what we were doing. We would have had to say this is what lovely Christian women do to pass the time of day – rubbish relocation. I should have taken a photo, we felt like we were in a Mission Impossible movie as we jumped back in her ute and zoomed off. At least the chairs got to go on a bit of a vacation before they ended up at the tip.
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I was just complaining to Allan that we never have time to just enjoy the day, our whole life seems to be just a continual pressure of what we need to do next, appointments, bills to pay the stress of living. My resolve is to take time to smell the roses, which has always been alien to me. This morning I woke up with nothing planned, and a very quiet week ahead for a change, and was pleasantly surprised when Troy and Lesa messaged and said they were coming down to Mandurah with little Chelsea and they took us out for lunch. It was lovely and relaxing and a great start to the week.

Spring fever has hit, and along with it the decorating bug.

If There is Anything Good

Niagara Falls, Canadian side

Niagara Falls, Canadian side

The World is not always a nice place.  Sure it is beautiful just look at the scenery, the wonderful buildings and bridges, a tiny child’s smile.  Sometimes though it can be all tragedy and drama, especially if you watch a lot of news and violent movies.  It can feel like everything is dark.

This video of baby piper seeing things clearly for the first time is precious.

Cancer seems to be epidemic, we have recently lost a friend to Kidney cancer, another has been going through treatment for Testicular cancer, my sisters best friend Breast cancer treatment and another dear friend Ovarian Cancer.  One could start to feel that life is falling apart.  Two weeks ago, I was sitting with some ladies at the Australian Darts Championships in Rockingham, Allan was taking photos for the Web site; one girl had survived bowl cancer, another ovarian cancer twenty years ago and me finishing up treatment after Breast Cancer.  About ten years ago, I was at a 40th birthday party and was chatting to the wives either side of me.  Within six months both of them had died, one at thirty six in a terrible car accident and the other at fifty from a sudden aneurism.  Stuff happens on a daily basis, we are exposed very quickly to news as it happens even though it is in Europe or the Arctic, it gets to us fast, so the information can be overwhelming.  What can we do.  Help others materially, physically or financially when and if we can, while realising that not everything is happening to us personally, or will it. One of my favourite Bible verses is in Phillipians and to paraphrase it says ‘if there is anything beautiful, lovely or of good report then think about these things’  If we dwell on the sad, the bad, and the ugly of life, we will all curl up in the foetal position and never leave the house.

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The specialists keep saying to me, live a good life style and be happy.  I am sure happy has a lot to do with it, stress is definitely not good for us.  Most of you would have heard the famous verse ‘a merry heart does good like a medicine’ and even though that was written thousands of years ago, medically it is proven to be correct.  I have shared before that there are laugh therapy classes.  You can save money though just by laughing where you are, go on I dare you, just start laughing, that’s right at nothing, your body doesn’t know the difference between real and pretend laughter and releases, endorphins or something good. If you do this on the bus make sure you have a book in your hand or they may drag you off to be assessed.

Even though I am doing well and have finished treatment, I am left feeling very, very, tired.  Apparently, post Chemo and Radiation tiredness CRF can last for a very long time, so I will just have to be kind to myself and not overdo it on the days when I do get waves of energy.

Beau mistook poppy for a Christmas tree

Beau mistook poppy for a Christmas tree

Meanwhile, life is to be lived, and we should embrace it with all the gusto, that our age and health will allow.  Change things that can be changed, drink water, even when you don’t feel thirsty, eat well and selectively, especially as we get older and don’t need as much food, be choosy, get some exercise.  If you lose the use of your legs you know what will happen, you join the ranks of Grannies parked outside the dress shops, while your daughters go try stuff on.

Good To Be Home

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We had a wonderful time in Sydney with Sarah, Jarrad and the grandchildren.  Sarah has made a lovely guest bedroom in her home as they often have people staying, and we were very comfortable, but, there is nothing like the feeling of coming home, having a shower, putting on clean PJ”s and sleeping in your own bed.  Spending time with family is a different kind of holiday.  We are really only there to hug the little darlings in person.

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There was a bit of time to do some sight-seeing, in between, School runs and meals etc. as their life goes on while we are there, so we did the Harbour Bridge, Opera House run one of the days and also  managed to do one of the things on my bucket list.  Years ago I saw the road that runs around the mountain on the coast in an advertisement (I think it was in one of the earlier Mission Impossible Movies as well) and always wanted to drive on it.  I thought it was on the way to Melbourne, turns out it is twenty minutes from Sarah and Jarrad’s house in Bangor, heading towards Wollongong.

I can't believe this is the baby of our family

I can’t believe this is the baby of our family

We arrived back from Sydney on Wednesday night and picked up our dog Poppy from her baby sitters, our dear friends who spoilt her while we were gone.  We had a quick cuppa with them, then headed home to Mandurah.  I thought I had better unpack straight away as the next day was Hayley’s Birthday and we were planning a family dinner to celebrate.  I didn’t fancy suitcases cluttering up the place to add to my stress levels.  I should have taken a picture for you of our cases, Everything goes into packing cubes, which were so good when we were travelling years ago and only in one place for a a day or two at a time before moving to the next city. You can find items easily as they become like little drawers, and keep everything in order. I had washed the day before we left Sydney, so most of our clothes were clean.  Cubes make unpacking really easy.  ie. One cube had all Allan’s T Shirts, short and long-sleeved, so you just take a cube over to the walk in and hang them all up.  Undies are all neatly in their cube and so quickly transferred to their rightful drawers.  Much easier than years ago, when I would be faced with a pile of rolled or folded clothes that needed to be gone through one by one.  Unpacking was super fast, and I was in bed by midnight (two am Sydney time). Who needs sleep?

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Someone asked me if I was in remission today and it made me think.  I feel like I had a cancerous tumour, my Breast Surgeon took it out with clear margins (they got it all) and I have had follow-up treatment.  The word remission, conjures up thoughts that you are just having a reprieve until it comes back again.  I feel like cancer is behind me and just want to get on with my life.  Having said that, I am off to Fiona Stanley Hospital on Tuesday for my check up, as it is already three months since my last Chemo Round.  Gosh time flies!

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Talk about time flying these Grandchildren our growing fast.  Our son Troy believes in starting them young, here are Granddaughters Chelsea and Mia on their Dad’s boat trying to catch something for dinner.

Now that things are saner and I am getting a bit of energy back, we will hopefully get started with building our Golden Bay house.  It won’t happen overnight, but, it will happen!

The Truth Is

I was reading another girls blog about her journey so far with first a lumpectomy and then down the track when some lumps resurfaced her having a full mastectomy. I experienced what some of you must feel as you read my blog.   She made jokes and lightheartedly told how her whole breast was taken and her subsequent follow-up Chemo then Radiation.  I thought, it isn’t funny why do we joke about something so awful.  The seriousness of her situation screamed louder at me than her funny stories.  I felt shocked as I read, and felt so sorry that she had to be going through something so tough.  The truth is that any brush with Cancer is serious, and there is also a chance that whatever we had could come back and that the result may be no laughing matter.  The opposite is also true, many people go through an ordeal and many years later are cancer free and living a full and healthy life.   It is not that we are in denial and putting on a brave face,  we can’t afford to let our mind go down the what if trail.  Dwelling on a worse case scenario that may never happen is a waste of precious time that could be used more productively.  It is what it is, there is no use saying, ‘why me’ and crying in our soup, none of us knows how long we are going to be here and while we are worrying that every twinge we feel is something life threatening we could be run over by a bus. I chose to give sickness as little of my time as possible, especially this bout with Cancer, which out of over 700 months in my life has only been a part of 10 of them.  Why should I allow the minority to rule.  Life is too short I have things to do and if I feel ok, I am going to do them. Meanwhile, some people (Poppy the dog) don’t have anything to worry about.  Lazy bones here heard a dog barking on television and couldn’t be bothered getting up so she just barked where she was lying without moving from her sleeping position on the lounge. FullSizeRender-50 The past eight months since I had my biopsy have been surreal.  A bit like I was in a cocoon, dropping out of the rat race into a world of Chemo and appointments, then Radiation and more appointments.  Sometimes I would feel quite tired and unwell, and although my brain was thinking of stuff I should be getting done, I would  have to think, well I just can’t do that right now, I am too tired.  That is a very weird feeling as I would normally if I had the slightest bit of energy, force myself to go on, so this was a valuable learning thing for me, letting go of my expectations on myself and just resting when I needed to.   Having gotten off  the merry-go-round  I am hesitant to get back on.  In a way I will miss having the time to sort lip glosses and other frivolous things one does while recuperating from illness, and I can feel life sucking me back in already, as those things I left undone while I had no energy to do them are starting to catch up with me. FullSizeRender-49 Spending time with grandchildren always makes me happy.  They are just so darling and do the cutest things.  Beau wanted to help me make our scrambled eggs for breakfast, and did a good job not touching the hot pan. FullSizeRender-54 FullSizeRender-53   Meanwhile, I woke up this morning feeling better than I have for ages, so started sorting out the pantry cupboard and got some baking going.  Pizza for lunch, some no-knead bread which I had been proofing over night, and easy muffins which I bake all the time and varying the fruit and nuts I put in.   We had muffins for brunch with Plum and Ginger jam which Hayley bought from Frans Jams at the Markets where she was selling her Sweet Esscentials candles, which are divine. FullSizeRender-52 Muffins : melt 50 grams butter, then add 1/2 cup milk (you may need a little more later), vanilla, 1 egg, and two mashed bananas, stir into dry ingredients till just combined. Dry ingredients: 2 cups flour any combination (I usually use 3/4 cup white, 3/4 cup wholemeal, 1/2 cup oats) 1 tsp baking powder, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup cranberries, 1/2 cup walnuts chopped. 2 tsp’s cinnamon.  I sprinkled mine with some pumpkin seeds. Makes 12 muffins, bake in moderate oven till golden. FullSizeRender-51   Allan and I visited his Mum today, who is in an aged care facility.  She needs to be turned every few hours and is unable to do a lot for herself.  It is so frustrating for her.  The days are very long for someone whose brain is still in top form, to sit in a chair gazing out the window, having very little interaction with other people.  Her very plain and boring room is off a storage area, and even with her hearing aid in, conversations are very hard.  It made me think we need to enjoy life while we can, if you can’t walk about and enjoy a chat and cup of tea, there is not a lot to live for. We are off to Sydney in a couple of days, so I don’t know why I am sorting the Pantry out instead of packing. Check us out on Facebook:  Breast Cancer Ready or Not