"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."


Merry Christmas!!

I can't believe Christmas is already over! I'm not ready for it to be over just yet. I want to hear more Christmas songs on the radio, feel the Christmas spirit at stores, on the road, outside. It just seems like this entire year flew by.

The past two weeks have been filled with tissue boxes, cold medicines and cough drops. The 'chest cold' ran through our house, even afflicting me. I was terrified at first, having a deep cough always takes me back to when I was sick with the Hodge. Of course, I kept saying I didn't care what happened, I was getting through Christmas and then going to the doctors. :) I did not want anything to ruin the holiday for me and luckily, we were on the tail end of it by Christmas Eve! My body was able to fight off the cold and not turn into a serious infection. Yay! The 100 day period from my sct is critical. They say you make it to 100 days without any serious complications and you'll be ok. To say the least, I was a bit anxious battling this cold out. The Hodge was always in the back of my mind. It will continue to be this next year as well. I just have to get through it one day at a time and before you know it I will be at the one year mark with clean scans!

So, we finally made it to Christmas relatively healthy. Another major milestone! We seem to have sick kids around holidays and birthdays. Don't know how we do it, but we do. :) Impeccable timing on our part. We normally spend Christmas Eve with Gabe's dad and step-mom, but this year they stayed in Saudi - well, actually Amsterdam for Christmas. So, we let the kids open their gifts from them Christmas Eve. At first, I thought maybe just one but that quickly turned into all of them! :) As you can see, they loved all their gifts!

The kids can't wait to see what Grandpa Ramon and Grandma Martha got them...

Olivia victoriously holds a Hannah Montana gift!

Valerie pointing out the beautiful Barbie horse!

Seth checking out his cool, new tent!

After all that excitement, trying to get the kids to sleep at a decent hour was futile. Gabe and I fell asleep before Olivia and Seth. So, we pop up at around 2am and start helping Santa put all the gifts under the tree and in their stockings. You know you're old when your kids outlast you at night. lol. Normally, my kids sleep in 'late' (7am). Not Christmas morning. I woke up to Olivia and Seth looking at the tree in awe at around 4:30 am. Since the babies were still sleeping (yeah, that's it!) I suggested we wait a few more hours to open the gifts. To my surprise, they didn't even try to open the gifts and waited patiently until around 6:30 am when they decided it was time to get everyone up. Who can blame them? :)

Merry Christmas Nicholas!

Valerie riding her pony from Santa!

Olivia realizing she got High School Musical...

Olivia trying out the Hannah Montana wig...

Seth the next Sith!

Nicholas riding his bog boy bike!

I love Christmas Morning. I love seeing the excitement and joy in their eyes and in their squeels. I love putting out the gifts in the middle of the night. I love leaving the reindeer food outside and then sweeping it up so they think it was eaten. I love making Santa cookies and leaving him milk. I love that they really believe in Santa. Well, I think Olivia has caught on. Santa brought her a Hannah Montana dress in a Macy's box and she was shocked that Santa shops at Macy's. Ooops! lol! It made me sad when she questioned him. Must they grow up so darn fast?

We are thankful for so much this year. Loving family, great friends, awesome doctors and God's love. I know 2008 is going to be a fantastic year full of good health and wonderful memories.

Wishing all my family and friends reading this a blessed 2008 filled with peace, love and happiness.

Brandy, Gabriel, Olivia, Seth, Nicholas and Valerie


Deb's Visit!

It was soooo good to see her! Although we were experiencing some typical Houston weather - aka HOT and HUMID and in the '80s! And to top it off, our AC had been out during that time!! Who knew your AC going out in December could be so miserable?! lol.

So, after we (well, she) played Martha Steward making the hell out of wreaths, we wined and dined at Carraba's, went shopping like mad women Saturday morning and then spent Saturday afternoon at Seth's Boy Scout Christmas party. She graciously volunteered to babysit for us so Gabe and I could have an evening out alone and I took her up on it! It's only been months since we've been able to do that. She also helped me get out of my fashion rut and chose some pretty cool clothes and shoes. She got me this totally awesome jacket and red patent shoes - she knew I wouldn't buy them myself and she was right! :)

Here is Deb showing off one of her many talents....she's so crafty!!

Here we are at Carraba's having some good food and even better wine!

Gabe and I before going out to PF Changs...mmmm....

So, right before she has to leave what does she decide to do? Cook 3 meals in less than 2 hours!?
How crazy was that?!

Here we are all nice and sweaty..errr. glistening...after cooking! :)

And this is why I love her - who else can do this with their tongue??? :D

As usual, time flew by and we could have easily spent another week together. But, there will be another time for get togethers. I can't wait to visit her in her new home sometime next year in Wisconsin, although I will make sure not to be there during December! lol!

Love ya, D!!


@#$$ Computer Virus!!

Arrgghh! We had a virus on our computer and it completely wreaked havoc. So, I've not been able to download any photos or update my blog here for a few days. I hate those things!!

So, things have been crazy at Casa de Vargas. We're all anxiously waiting until Good Ol' St. Nick arrives. Nicholas and I have started this tradition (while Valerie is napping) of going in the front yard with a blanket and just laying there looking up at the trees and sky or closing our eyes tightly and imagining all sorts of things. Well, here are some photos from the view down there.

And notice these suckers?? They are growing in super fast! Yee-Haw!! I have a face again! lol!

Olivia and I had a Girl Scouts outing at Memorial City Mall today. CRAZY!! We spent about 10 minutes just trying to find a parking space! But, the girls had a great time ice skating. Olivia did great being it was her first time! :)

At first, she and the rail were one...but by the end of the day she was out and about!

Nothing like ending your day on the carousel!



Happy Holidays from me and the kids!



p.s. I posted a new entry dated 11.10.07. I had started it then but didn't finish it until today. I thought it would have updated the date, but guess not. Read it if you have time.





My scans came back clean! I go back in a month to see my sct doc and then I redo the tests sometime in February. WOOHOO! We celebrated last night with a little bit of champagne, mmm...that was so yummy! I was also cleared to go back to work in late January. I'm coming back Liz and Lara!! :)

I did have a weird reaction to the CT scan iodine Thursday night. After it was all over with the tech noticed I was red in the face. I saw myself in the mirror and I had red blotchy patches over my face and neck area. I was hot and my blood pressure was 150/102! It's always been in the normal range and that scared me. So, I had to wait around for an hour, drinking lots of water and going to the restroom so I could flush it out. By the time I left, I was much better. My only other option next time is to have a dose of steroids before the exam. If that doesn't work, then I won't be able to have the CT scan since the iodine gives them a clean look at my insides. We'll probably just stick with the PET scan and they also do a CT scan, so I don't see why I needed the additional CT scan in the first place. But then again, I'm not a doctor getting paid buccoos of money now am I??? :P Also, my PET scan nurse asked me how old I was and if I was a teenager!?! I swear she was being serious!! She about died when I told her I was (gasp!) 34 and that I also had (gasp!) 4 kids!! That put a smile on my face! Gabriel didn't believe me, but I had to remind him it wasn't the first time that's happened. When I was in the hospital with premature labor pains with Nicholas, the nurse came in and we were chit chatting and she asks me if this is my first baby. I said no, I have two more and she looks at me weird and says I look like I'm 18 and if I was!! Of course, I had to break her bubble and reassure her I was 30! I used to hate my oily skin growing up. Now I'm glad I have it because it's keeping me in my teens....roflol!!!

Ok, back to reality. I wanted to upload some pics from Thanksgiving and the weekend. I'm still waiting to get the pics from my sister...cough...cough!

Here's Nicholas and Olivia Thanksgiving Day. We let her wear some makeup she got as a bday present from Grandma Martha and Grandpa Ramon! She loves it!

Thanksgiving weekend isn't Thanksgiving weekend without the beginning of Christmas! Since it was cold and wet, we held off on the tree but that didn't stop us from getting into the Christmas spirit!!

It was a big weekend for Olivia, too. She moved into her own room! She went with the Hannah Montana theme, what a shocker! LOL! I want my baby back!!! :)

Well, I can't believe December is already here! The past 5 months seem like one big blur of a memory, and all I kept thinking about was making it to December...Christmas, holiday music, being done with treatment...and now it's here!! One of my best friends is coming for a visit as well. I am so excited to see Deb next week. It's going to be a wonderful month!!!!

Love to all!