"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."


One Year Scans Are CLEAN!!!!!

I had my regularly scheduled scans, but this time around it marked my 1 year anniversary of getting back into remission for a second time. This was a really special moment, since I hadn't been clean for a whole year since being diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma back in 2006. It's also a time to exhale a bit more. Hitting the one year mark is a special milestone, it means you really might have a chance to beat this thing. Did I think I would be here, still in remission, back in January? No. I did not. I remember telling Gabriel that I didn't think I would make it to Christmas. But a lot has changed between January and today, the most important change would be my relationship with God. That has made all the difference in the world for me. I think had I not been able to embrace the Lord I would be suffering from anxiety, depression and fear. That's not to say I don't feel any of those still, of course I do. But I don't let it control my life like it so easily can when you are staring death in the face. The difference between now and then. I'm not scared to look death right back in the face. My soul is at peace. What a difference a year makes.

We've been having the most beautiful sunsets recently, so you can imagine me with my camera out just about every night. I wish I could carry my DSLR around with me as it takes much better pictures, but it's just too bulky. Which is why I bought a point and shoot for Christmas last year. I can pull this sucker out at a whims notice when I happen to see images like this driving home.


Last year I was carried through my treatments by wonderful angels around me, friends, family, co-workers. I want to post a special song one of my sorority sisters sent to me called Sheltering Tree. It really sums up my journey through cancer and back again and it's become one of my favorite songs!

Sheltering Tree by Newsong

it's been said a friend is like a mighty sheltering tree
a place of refuge we can run when trouble comes for you and me
someone we can count on through the thick and thin
when the storms of life are blowing, there's
just nothing like a friend (there's just nothing like a friend)

we all need sheltering trees
friends in our lives who'll get down on their knees
and lift us up before the king of kings
we all need sheltering trees

there've been days that i was sure that i couldn't make it through
clouds of doubt came rolling in and i didn't know what i would do
i would've given in and said i just can't go on
if it hadn't been for a friend that helped me to be strong
(helped me to be strong)

chorus :
we all need sheltering trees
friends in our lives who'll get down on their knees
and lift us up before the king of kings
we all need sheltering trees

you can face the highest mountain and
the climb won't feel so high
or cross the darkest valley and it won't seem so wide
nothing is impossible when a friend is by your side

we all need sheltering trees
friends in our lives who'll get down on their knees
and lift us up before the king of kings
we all need sheltering trees

Love to all my sheltering trees,


6 days and 12 hours after Ike - We finally have power!

Hurricane Ike blew in and we haven't been the same since. We lost power early Saturday morning and had been without it until this past Friday night. My mom's house and neighborhood is still without power as I type. The storm wasn't as bad as it could have been. Our 30 year old oak tree is still standing, as is our house! The only damage we incurred was the fence, but that can be easily fixed. Neighboring houses weren't so lucky. There were lots of overturned trees and houses with significant roof damage. Saturday was hot and rainy. Sunday night a cold front blew through, which is exactly what we needed sans AC. But that didn't last long. Luckily, my dad had his power restored the day after the storm, so we slept there at night. The kids have been out of school since the 12th. I was back at work this past Monday, so it was nice to be reconnected to the world after living off the radio for a few days. Here are some photos pre and post Ike. It was an interesting week, the kids actually learned that life can be lived "unplugged". We were lucky, we always found gas without waiting for hours, we always found ice without having to make a mad dash for it and we always had a nice home cooked meal thanks to our old smokey! Gabriel even attempted to wash clothes mid-week. Crunchy clothes makes you grateful for fabric softener! :)

Well, life is getting back to normal. Of course, that's for us on the west side of Houston. Those closer in town and in Galveston still have so much to do and rebuild before life is even close to what is was before Ike. Ike proved to be a stronger storm than it's Category 2 strength. I have so many fond memories of life on Bolivar at a friend's beach house. I still can't imagine that it's just not there anymore. I really will just have memories now to cling to.

Here are the photos from Ike:

On the way home Thursday before the storm, this is the parking lot of a high school football stadium getting filled with coach buses for people needing evacuation help.

Thursday night going home from work, the sky looked gloomy...

Friday night, 8pm and hours before Ike makes landfall, the sky looks beautiful...

What do you do while waiting for a Hurricane to hit? Grab some beers and hang out with the neighbors...

The kids in their shelter room aka the closet under the stairs!
I've never seen them so excited for bed before!

8am Saturday, this is the only damage to my mom's house...Not bad!
Front of mom's house...
Street sign wasn't so lucky...
Trying to get to our house would not be so easy...
Big tree in middle of road = reverse...
You saw this throughout all the neighborhoods...
Gotta love the local bar!
This used to be the awning on the gas station across the street from the Whataburger!
Finally get home and this is the extent of our damage....phew!
We had a little surprise on our porch, a newborn squirrel!
Life without power wasn't so bad....businesses were nice to those without power at home...
Mid-week we were desperate for clean clothes...gotta love Gabriel's ingenuity!
Mom's house already looking good and ready for a new fence!
The kids at my dad's house (one of the few with power most of the time!)
Kung Fu Olivia...
Grandma and Valerie...
Jedi Seth...
Doing some gymnastics in the yard...
Valerie thinks she did a cartwheel...shhh...it's our little secret!
Little Miss V!
What a week! Let's hope we can go another 25 years before a hurricane decides to hit us again...
Love to all,


The calm before the storm...

So, Hurricane Ike is hours away. We've decided to ride it out. We live fairly west of DT Houston , so we're not in the storm surge area. I clearly remember riding out Hurricane Alicia back in 1983 and the biggest problem was the power outages for two weeks after the storm. We're stocked up with our water, batteries, candles, flashlights, ice and food among the other items we've purchased to help ride this storm out. I do feel for the residents in Galveston. The storm surge sounds like it's going to be a historic one.

So, please keep everyone along the coast in your prayers. We will get through this, but it's going to get ugly for a few days. I'll update as soon as I can. I'm positive we will lose power, I just hope it's not for too long.



Daily observations in the day in the life of a Vargas...

First Day of School 2008...

I love sleeping baby pictures!

Sunrise out of my office....

Miss Valerie...

What's wrong with this picture??? Way too hot in August!

I know this girl!! Kelly Crabb (on the left) is on this season's The Amazing Race (which I LOVE) as well! Go Kelly!!

And last but not least, the kids' favorite song right now...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liq-2tIRgEM