« March 2011 | Main | May 2011 »

17 posts from April 2011

April 29, 2011

{this moment}:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. Onesimple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in the comments for all to find and see.





       Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  


April 27, 2011

"The good news:

Your skin looks great!" the doctor stated happily.

The bad news:  my skin looks too good.

Yesterday was doctor day for me.  Once a week, my stress level skyrockets and I come down with an instant case of white-coat syndrome as I have to meet with Dr. R, the radiation oncologist.  She might be nice, but she is a doctor and since last October anyone with an M.D. after their name has two strikes against them in my book (sorry non-vet doctor friends).  

We are supposed to meet, discuss how I'm doing and I go on my merry way.  Normally there is nothing else, no skin check (unless I request one) and I skedaddle so I can spend the next 23 hours forgetting what I will do the next morning.  Yesterday was different.

As I was getting off the table, the tech reminded me it was doctor day.  I nodded and then she went on, "And today she decides whether or not to stop the wet towels!"


You see, I have been receiving a "bolus" every other day.  Basically, it is supposed to increase (yes, shudder, vomit) the amount of radiation the site is receiving.  It's not bad enough I'm frying my chest to death, they do things to make it worse.  Now, I just assumed this was SOP for the entire time.   I'm only having 25 treatments, no boosts (extra frightening zaps at the end) and I was blissfully ignorant that my wet towel days might be numbered.

Then the tech continued, "But she's probably not going to stop because you are not crispy enough!"

Well, if telling me that there was a chance they could stop wasn't bad enough, she had to add insult to injury.  I have NO intention of becoming "crispy." I'm still against the radiation in the first place, but am doing the day-by-day thing and handling it well enough (I think).

I retreated to the dressing room, slathered and stretched, changed and sat down with Peter in the waiting area to share the not-so-great news.   He held out hope and I tried to be positive and perhaps inspire my chest to momentarily glare in the doctor's face and encourage her to believe that I should be finished with that whole bolus business.

No such luck.  She took one look and declared that my skin looked "GREAT!" so the towel treatments would continue every other day.  She then asked about range of motion (still besting Pete, so guessing it's okay) and if my skin was itchy.  She seemed surprised when I said no, but seemed happy that I am in good shape overall.  

She then reminded me that this was the last full week and next week we get to discuss follow-up appointments.  Really, the towel business wasn't bad enough, she had to throw that in there, too.  We had already informed her two weeks before (and before starting treatments) that we have no intention of sticking around beyond next summer.  She wants to see me (or have someone see me) everything three months for two years*.  She'll get her wish for the first 15 months, but then any other visits will be follow-ups with the breast surgeon (who wants to see me for another 4.5 years...blech).  I'm not wasting any more time here when I could be happily doing the expat thing elsewhere.  So, I'm trying not to stress about it because:

A.  Nothing is going to happen

B.  There are plenty of good doctors outside of the U.S.

C.  My other doctors already agreed that they don't need to see me more than once a year once we move (IF I don't find doctors locally/regionally at our next post)

D.  Nothing is going to happen

Six more days...six more days..six more days...it's like a mantra.




*The every 3 month thing is bizarre as the other doctors only want to see me every 6 months...but whatever.

April 26, 2011

Remember this?

Yesterday I was searching through my car in the hope of finding my lost mailbox key.  Yes, we have a key for our mailbox (which drives me insane) and not only is the easiest key in the world to lose, but it manages to skedaddle once a week or so.  I intensified my search as I found an item thought to have gone to the lost item black hole in the sky 9 months ago.  The finding offered me hope that my mailbox key might turn up quickly.

I did not find the key.  However, I did locate the following that I did not even know we were missing:

  1. One half-eaten whoopie pie*
  2. A crushed empty can of Cherry Vanilla Creme soda in the back pocket of the middle row passenger seat (you know, the one with the giant "recycle here" stamp on it?)
  3. A library book due that day (in the 3rd row, where library books go, of course)
  4. a non-library book
  5. An empty (thank God) stainless steel food container from God-knows-when
  6. Five crayons (not melted yet, yippee!)
  7. Pencils
  8. Crumbs
  9. Crumbs
  10. Crumbs
  11. More crumbs
  12. An empty can of Lays Stax, tucked neatly under the driver's seat.  I have never tried a "stax" but it looks to be similar to a Pringle. I'd blame it on the kids, but we all know that would never appear in my grocery cart, nor do my kids drive yet.  Hmm....

No mailbox key, sadly, but the item that led me to the search that turned up such treasures?  This little square of laminated plastic that has been sitting in my car for the past 9 months.  Remember the story? (Yes, I know, I am not the queen of DL photos).


I now can piece together exactly what happened.  Instead of putting into the little cubby just below the radio until I could park and put it in my wallet, I blindly put in the cup holder area.  It slid to the back and rested there happily until I removed the entire cup holder apparatus as it was suddenly not retracting all of the way.  I reached in and lo and behold, there is my old (now very useless) CA drivers license.  Given all of the hair-pulling and wrangling to get a new one, I would have been just as happy to not find it and assume that it was gone forever.  However, I think I will hold onto it just in case this (God forbid) ever happens again and I need more than one government-issued photo i.d. (my expired in 2006 military i.d. was the key to getting my current VA license).  

Funny when I think back to feeling like that would be the most exciting thing that happened to me all year...

*we went to the Farmers Market on Saturday, so it wasn't that old.  I should also thank the person who thoughtfully re-wrapped it before dumping it on the floor...


April 24, 2011

Easter Kept Us Hoppin'

Yesterday we dyed eggs in a new style, all natural method that did not require me to boil a dozen yellow onions or beets.  Peter was most excited to lead this task, as the instructions were in German.  It really just involved boiling the eggs in the water with the dye mixed-in, so a bit different but I think the colors came out quite well.  We haven't yet hunted these eggs, but will likely do as a fun late Easter treat tomorrow since we had such a busy day today.



From waking up and hunting for baskets...(the front hall closet...not much of a stretch, but at least they all found them at the same time)...


to wearing our Sunday best in a post-church photo at the Salty Dog homestead (did we mention Kelsey sang in the choir?), we were happily busy. A good thing we captured our true personalities, from the LG being a bit shy to Cait and a classic, goofy grin.  If you are wondering, yes, that is THE skirt that I mentioned in a Facebook status update recently.  More on that subject later, but due to my recent exercise and running shenanigans, I have been able to down-size in a good way.  The skirt is a size 8, likely the first I have worn since college.  A bit vain to point out I suppose, but I have worked hard with the healthy eating and exercise, so I'm enjoying a tiny bit of excitement at being able to slide into a smaller number for a change.


We enjoyed a yummy brunch, courtesy of the Salty Dog Crew.  Dr. Salty Dog did the lion's share of the work, but there were also treats from other friends and it was a feast to be sure.  After we rolled ourselves away from the table, it was egg hunt time.  The little guys & gals had their hunt out front...




while Caitlin and Kelsey vied for copious amounts of jellybeans and two golden eggs out back.  Note to self:  Have vision checked. It took me 20 minutes and nearly needing a GPS to find the very obvious second golden egg (Andrea, you are a top-notch egg-hider!) for Kelsey, who had not located it on her own.



We (by we, I mean Peter) followed up the hunt with a long nap, while the kids played and the adults tidied the kitchen.  It was a lovely day, perfect weather and amazing company as usual.  Ooh, almost forgot...it would not be a Crafty Dog event without the most perfect favors.  The best part?  One needs a key to open the cans (so Little Guys cannot access without help). 





Here's hoping you also had a hoppin' good and beautiful Easter wherever you are in the world.


April 22, 2011

{this moment}:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. One simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in the comments for all to find and see.


       Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  Photo courtesy of The Salty Dogs.





April 21, 2011

We all know

that I am not the crafty sort, at least when it comes to the traditional definition of arts and crafts. However, since Easter is nearly upon us, I thought it was high time we try something else with the Little Guy.  I wanted to make Easter cards for all of those near and dear (no, no, close your mailboxes and keep reading), so after perusing a friend's blog, unabashedly completely copied her idea for cute cards from the Quinn (it really is an easy and fun idea!).

IMG_1392 I had originally thought that I might make small cards, stamp them with an egg and have the kids color them in.  However, that sort of limits the design creativity and would really be a much smaller canvas than Nicholas might enjoy.  After reading about the above activity, I figured he would absolutely love it and spend hours painting.  

Well, I tried.

IMG_1395 The Q. had other ideas.  He loved the idea of finger painting giant Easter egg cards for friends, but realized after one that it is very labor intensive and took away from his construction vehicle play time.  It is also much more fun to randomly smear it everywhere than on just one small paper canvas.  His first (and only) card for Baby Nate was completed with much love and fun.  However, he realized that Caitlin was making different designs for the cards she was painting and this annoyed him and ended the activity a whopping 10 minutes after it started.

IMG_1394 It was originally supposed to be an activity for Nicholas to undertake while I took Kelsey out for a bit in the afternoon.  However, the prep was a little bit more work than just opening up the paints and letting him have at it.  We finally tried out new eco-friendly finger paints and despite the fact that it takes a few minutes to get them ready to use, I am now officially a huge fan.

Unlike other fingerpaints, they are not pre-mixed.  There are 5 colors that do not seem bright in the jar, but when mixed (1:1 ratio) with water, turned out to be extremely cheerful and perfect holiday colors. One only has to mix what is needed.  I ended up making way too much and even at that, I only used about 1.5 teaspoons of the powder.  

IMG_1400 The not-pre-mixed thing may seem like a giant hassle, but in reality is quite useful.  Nothing can dry out and Nicholas can't randomly grab a handful that effectively uses the entire jar in one sitting.  In fact, if I had to estimate, I'd say we easily have 20+ uses left in each jar, as I will use much less next time.  All colors are naturally derived and even though the paints sat around in the dishes for several hours, equipment (and table) clean up was a snap. I would think they are perfect for taking overseas if you don't want to take all of the ingredients and make your own.  There is no worry about leakage or drying out or being rejected in the mail due to the water content.

Despite the fact that he was not super into the activity this time, I think it might bode well for other future holiday cards. Even with his relatively short attention span, he really enjoyed it and loved the idea of making the cards. In fact, the biggest obstacle was encouraging him to wear a t-shirt, though the paints washed out so easily (and he was quite neat with his painting, as far as his clothes were concerned) that it really wasn't terribly necessary.  Overall, a great activity for a 3 year old and a very easy way to make a unique and fun card for anyone.  However, now that I am really aware of his attention span with this particular activity, I'm thinking maybe we should start the Christmas cards next week....


*Generally I would never refer someone to PBK, as one can usually find lower prices at many other online stores.  However, the paints are nearly half their original price right now and qualify for free shipping, so it might be the best bet.

April 20, 2011

We are kinda, sort of

On vacation. Since the Salty Dogs took the kids for a few days, we have spent the past day in St. Michaels. We are taking long walks, eating yummy food and just relaxing. It's been a while since our last night away and since I've been relatively un-stressed on said night away.

Now the beignet (Eastern shore style) and raspberry coulis are calling, so we must bid you adieu. Wish I had more pictures, but we are too busy just chilling...and it's pretty sweet. Takk fyrir, Salty Dogs!

We are kinda, sort of

April 18, 2011

And with that....

I am more than halfway finished with the radiation treatments.  Somewhere during all the buzzing and clicking today, I hit the 50% mark.  With little or no fanfare, I got off the table, left the room and had my weekly meeting with the nurse and substitute doctor.

Since I have decided to take things day to day, rather than freak out about the sum total of the treatments, life has been much easier.  The nurse noted asked about my apprehension (it was noted I was testing the new time slot and was debating continuing) and when I mentioned that I was just taking it one day at a time, she nodded her head and said, "Good."  I realized at this point that maybe, just maybe, this would be far more anti-climatic (as Dr. R. suspected), than I ever imagined.

The meeting with the nurse was followed up with a brief (as in 30 seconds, possibly a minute) meeting with the doctor.  No skin check, nothing invasive, just two questions about my overall health, the second of which targeted my level of exhaustion.

"So, are you fatigued?" he asked, ever so cheerfully.

"Um, no, actually I have more energy than before," I replied.

"Great!  We often say that when you are tired, you should exercise more and you will feel better!" Thrilled with my answers, he sent me on my semi-merry way and I trotted off to slather, stretch and change.

I really thought by now I would be exhausted, however, I was completely honest.  I am not as tired in the afternoons (and thus not as cranky, a bonus!) and while I am not getting as much sleep as I should, I have more energy than I probably thought possible.  Maybe it's the exercise or maybe, just maybe, it's the attitude.  If I don't see myself becoming exhausted, maybe I won't.  Mind over matter and for a change, in a very, very positive way.  

Now, it could also be that I am taking a day off this week.  A few weeks ago, the Salty Dogs very generously offered to take our kids for a few days over spring break.  An idea brewed in my mind and last week, we looked into a brief stay on St. Michael's Island in MD.  A one night getaway, just enough time to relax and recharge at a local bed & breakfast.  

We had mentioned the possibility to the doctor ages ago and she had no issues with my taking a day off. Given that folks do it for unhappier reasons (skin issues/need a break), there wasn't any problem with me delaying a day's treatment.  I also think she was probably so relieved I was going forward with the treatments that she would have said yes to a week if I had asked (not likely on my part).

It's not the two week R&R to Iceland and Italy that we had originally planned for this time period, but I think, for now, it's just what the doctor ordered.  


April 17, 2011

Pardon me?

Friday I was chatting with a friend, a very nice lady who hires Cait to babysit and thus, gives her spending money.  We *heart* her.  Her kids love Cait, Cait gets out and makes $$ and we are all very happy.  She mentioned that she heard I was going to undergo "treatments" soon.  I then mentioned I had already started and was nearly (as of Monday!) halfway finished.

"Oh!  Really?  How are you feeling?" she asked.

"Well, fine, I guess," I replied, not sure what else to say.  I mean, quite honestly, I am fine.  My skin is holding up (so far), I'm not bloody exhausted (yet), still doing the Couch to 5 K and am making it to appointments without the need for a mocha or xanax.

Then she asked very innocently,  "So, are you going to lose your hair soon?" 

Um, how does one answer that?  The question had been posed so casually, as though she was asking if I took cream with my coffee or did I notice that it was supposed to rain today.  

I looked at her, replied that it was 'only' radiation (there's nothing 'only' about anything blip-related, but...).  Not wanting to delve deeper into a topic I loathe, I left well enough alone and didn't mention body parts. After trying and failing to discuss more important issues, we said our good-byes.  

I walked home and just wondered...when people look at me, do they see me or do they just see a disease, symptoms or side effects that I don't have?  Are people watching and waiting for me to somehow fall apart one day? I had just recently finally gotten to the point where I didn't feel as though things were abnormal on a daily basis.  Oddly enough, doing the radiation and having no side effects thus far has helped me get there.  I know it was best to be open and honest about the situation...but I really hope I haven't permanently tatooed a red C on my forehead. 


April 15, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment(s)' in the comments for all to find and see.




       Idea courtesy of Soulemama.



April 13, 2011

Timing is everything

at least for me.

Two days ago I was stressed out to the max and ready to quit radiation.  My only qualm (as with everything) is that Peter still felt it was for the best and that I would be able to not only make it through, but do so without the horrifying side effects I used to find* (did you read that: used to find) on Google.

After my near-breakdown this weekend, I felt enough was enough.  I was not some sort of strong, brave person who could deal with this sort of thing.  I was tired of feeling like I was killing any good left inside my chest and simply wanted out.  I know I was supposed to come to this conclusion prior to beginning the sessions, but that simply isn't my luck.

Peter pushed me to make it until Tuesday, since that is the day we normally meet with the doctor. Thanks to oodles of bad traffic, I was nearly late and by the time I changed, it was my turn.  Unlike last week, I was having a treatment first and then meeting with the doctor.  There was not much I could do and I settled myself into the cold, hard slab and just...cried.

Yup, I cried (and, oh, goody, the techs probably caught it on film).  I couldn't come close to a contemplative, much less meditative state and gave up.  I did manage to keep myself from shaking too much, lest I fry other parts unnecessarily.  A few minutes later, it was all over and time to meet with the doctor.

I managed to change first, which salvaged some dignity for me.  Somehow meeting while still dressed in the robe (there's generally no exam) just adds insult to injury.  Peter and I huddled in the room, I alternated between trying to finalize my decision and bursting into tears.  I finally calmed myself, as I didn't think the doctor needed to see my outburst and then just as she walked in....

She immediately expressed concern and asked if I was okay.  I managed to explain that this wasn't the cakewalk I expected, I was having a difficult time with the entire process and I just wasn't sure I could continue.  Rather than lecture me, Dr. R. simply asked how I would feel if I were to stop now and then had a recurrence in 5 years.

Honestly?  I just don't feel I would be that upset.  Disappointed maybe, but I wouldn't blame it on not finishing radiation.  A. I don't believe it will happen, B. (more importantly) radiation does not completely reduce the risk...so theoretically, according to the doctors, there is still a small chance of something coming back.     

I explained all of the above, she nodded her head in understanding and said, "Well, if it's that stressful, then it's better to stop now."

No lecture, no eye-rolling, no yelling, just calm and reasonable.  Peter, who had been mostly listening at this point, then decided it was his turn.  He knew one of the big stressors was the timing of the appointments.  Having to get the kids up early, out of the house way early, and most importantly, pay for extra daycare was weighing heavily on me.  I also have to deal with a good deal of traffic (45 minutes or so after I drop off Nick) and it was just getting to be too much.

He offered a brief but detailed explanation of me feeling like I was putting us in a financial bind with the entire scenario.  From his early departure from Iraq to all of the unexpected expenses, I felt like every dollar spent, whether on daycare or gas to get me to treatments was wasteful spending...money that we should be spending on other things or simply saving.

Dr. R. seemed to get it and offered that perhaps she could be of assistance.  Another patient had a slightly later time and maybe that would ease the stress of getting in.  She left to converse with him/her and Peter stopped to ask me how much of my stress was tied up in the financials or even with the timing and how much was truly the treatments.  When it came right down to it, I realized it was probably 60% the treatments and 40% the drive and timing.

Five minutes later Dr. R. was back with the stellar news that the patient was happy to switch and I need not be at the center until 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday.  We could all 'sleep in', Nick would go to school at his normal time and the drive might be a tad bit less hectic.  I agreed to see if it helped at all, as it was only one more day and we left feeling a tiny bit less encumbered.

This morning wasn't exactly like clockwork, but we all woke up and got out of the house in a somewhat timely manner.  The drive wasn't fabulous, but I had left the house 10 minutes later than I should have.  I still arrived basically on time (just not early), and headed in feeling already quite a bit better.  

As I walked in, I was stopped by an older woman that I recognized from the waiting area.  She had a grandmotherly presence and kindly asked how long I had been coming there.  I replied that it had been about two weeks.  She just looked at me, smiled and said, "Honey, don't worry, it's gonna be okay."

Hmm, guess everyone knows I'm a stress basket?

Despite not being early, I had plenty of time for the skin check photo (don't worry, no slide show forthcoming, just for personal reference), the quick change and a good 5 minutes in the waiting room with Words With Friends (insert huge thank you to Jill, Christy, Heather, Bethany, and, of course, Pete, for helping to distract me by kicking my bum in said game).  The tech soon arrived to take me back.  

I climbed up on the table, managed chit-chat about the rain and after turning my head, put myself in meditation mode.  I did my best to avoid the buzz of the machine and soon it was over.  No tears, no stress and I realized I felt like I could go Thursday and perhaps have a similar experience.   More importantly, if I didn't, I could still make the decision to stop.  In fact, I could do that at any time...take each and every day as it comes, and if at some point it is suddenly too much, that will be that.

Today was not that day.  I thought it might be, but as I was leaving, I found myself asking the tech, "Same time tomorrow?"

"Same time, it's all yours," she said, grinning as usual.

"See you then," I said, walking off with my bag slung over my shoulder.

She quickly returned with, "See you tomorrow!"

I turned the corner, headed to the changing room and for the first time in two weeks, I left the center feeling nearly carefree.

 *a late-in-the-game Lenten promise...give up Googling stuff related to you-know-what

April 10, 2011

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

or in my case, radiate, slather & stretch (x8-10), repeat.

Treatments started on Thursday, March 31, and tomorrow will be session 8.  While I would like to say it has been smooth sailing, I am not quite there yet. I freak out from the moment I wake up until about two hours later when I arrive at the hospital.  

I check in with my little blue card, get changed, wait in the waiting area and freak out even more.  By the time the tech arrives, I am close to a complete and utter mess.  I have two techs who alternate working with me and have them convinced I am 'just not a morning person'.  The reality is that just going in each day has me close to a nervous breakdown.

Should I be?  Probably not, but that's the way it is for me.  I am doing everything possible in order to prevent damage from the radiation, but still fret for the fun of it.  From the moment I finish each day's treatment (which lasts a whopping 5 minutes), I am doing yoga stretches and slathering on the calendula in the changing room.  Since I am still in training for the Couch to 5 K in order to run with Kelsey on May 15, I generally head to the gym immediately following a session.

Since it has been maybe 45 minutes since I left the hospital, I slather on more calendula, then either run or do a warm-up, followed by weights and stretches.  These activities are, of course, followed by a slathering of the calendula and more stretches.  I drive home, shower more carefully than I ever have in my life (lest a drop of hot water burn my already sensitive skin), pat my skin dry and (drum roll) stretch and slather on the calendula.  

My afternoon is then stretch, slather, play with Nicholas, stretch, slather, plan dinner, stretch, slather, help the girls after school, stretch, slather, drive to an activity, stretch, slather, make dinner, stretch, slather, help get kids to bed, stretch, slather, work around the house, stretch, slather, relax, stretch, slather, bed.

Now some of you might think, ahem, overkill?  Nope, not possible.  I am sure I will soon bleed calendula if I get a cut (which will instantly heal), but I am not giving the side effects of radiation one chance to rule my life.  I will NOT deal with fibrosis or massive burns simply because I didn't want to deal with a few extra minutes of skin care or stretching.  Given that most of the stretches are simple and can be done standing in line at the grocery store (don't worry, I do look first to ensure I don't smack anyone), it would be silly do not do them as much as possible.  

I do limit myself to 2-3x a day for the 'official' stretches that the doctor gave me, but only as they require the use of the yoga ball and I must be at home or the gym for them.  And the calendula?  I have one tube with me at all times and 3 or more at home and apply every 1-2 hours at a minimum. We won't know the extent of the power of the calendula until the end, but if I believe it is staving off extra burning, who is to say it isn't?  I have only had 7 treatments, so not really at a point where I will notice much of a difference (though I do like to freak out in bad lighting, seeing a bright pink that simply doesn't exist).

I now have a mere (ha) 18 treatments left and am already quite over them.  I had a bit of a fit on Friday and decided I was completely finished.  I've since realized I was just extremely exhausted (think lack of sleep and running) and stressed and decided to give it one more go tomorrow.  It's not an easy schedule, as it is extremely early in the morning and everything must run like clockwork for it to happen.  We all have to get up at the crack of dawn so Kelsey can go to a friend's house, Nicholas can get to early daycare and I can then drive 45 minutes while stressing about the reason behind it.  

Perhaps if I weren't training for the 5K, things would be a bit different.  Maybe I wouldn't worry about possibly being tired from the treatments.  If summer wasn't right around the corner, I wouldn't stress about my skin as much (trying not to think of the damage I am doing....).  Easter is also coming up and I realized I have few if any plans and feel once again like I am letting the kids down.  What else is new, right?

I'd really like to say that I am just going to take in one day at a time, but I can't yet.  I have been able to do that with regard to other concerns, but I'm having trouble with the treatments.  I don't know why, but I simply can't believe that in the end, it will all be okay and I will be no worse off than in the beginning.  If only I had that magic mirror that allowed me to see my skin 6 months from now or confirmation that the treatments were actually doing good...maybe then it would seem worthwhile.

With that, it is time for my last nightly stretching session before I slather again....before I wake up, get all the gears at home in motion and head to the hospital.  Before I check in, already sweating bullets and change into the awful gown and robe uniform.  Before I sit in the waiting area, nervously stressing over Words With Friends, praying the tech isn't there saying it's my turn...before I go in, nearly undress and lay down on the table so the tech(s) can align my body for ten minutes and then finally tell me to turn my head.  I know at that point, it is only moments before the radiation will shoot out into my breast and I start praying that it's doing more good than harm...and then try to take myself away, anywhere.  I spend the next 5-7 minutes trying to put myself on the beach at Assateague Island (covered up, of course), watching the kids play, hearing the waves crash on the sand and trying not to remember the 25 sessions of sunburn 101.

Then I get up, get changed, slather & stretch, go the the gym, go home and try not to think about how I get to do it all over again tomorrow.  May 5 will not be here soon enough.




April 08, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment(s)' in the comments for all to find and see.


       Idea courtesy of Soulemama.




April 06, 2011

Rather than focus on the

negative, such as a possible federal government shutdown (yes, Peter is excepted and will be working should it happen), I am trying to think of happy, fun things.  Whether I will get to participate in such events is a whole 'nother matter, however, one can dream, right?

Yesterday, a friend shared a link to a page on this bit of news.  Not an hour later, I received an urgent (to me) message from Dr. Salty Dog regarding the very same issue:  A Little House on the Prairie Reunion Cruise.  Seriously?  Oh, my, yes.

Some of you may never have read (shame on you) the series, but I fell in love with it.  I also adored the show because as a child, I was absolutely convinced that if I could magic my way into the television, I could also run carefree in the prairie and have gorgeous hair that didn't end up in stubby, awful braids (unless it was two feet long).  I longed to toss the pig bladder, find homemade dolls in my stocking and listen to Pa's tales.  Now, I may just get my chance (well, for some of the aforementioned)!

20071105-02 Actually, I don't exactly know how many pig bladders will be tossed, but there will be at least 12 original cast members and I am hoping maybe a few more will sign on?  Yes, it's a cruise, not normally my thing, but being able to rub elbows with Almanzo for seven days? Sign me up!

Naturally, I thought this would be a great way to spend a week with Peter.  After all, what man wouldn't find utter joy in spending 7 days with Nellie and friends?  It's not like we'd all be stuck in a one room school house together!  

I then decided to mention the cruise to Caitlin.  I held off at first, but knew she would never forgive me if she learned I withheld such information.  While it would be a stiff competition, there is a possibility she could outrank me as a Little House on the Prairie fan.  After all, as much as I loved the books, Cait took her love to a new level with her 4th grade report on Laura and her life.  Oh, and please excuse the modern looking medical device.  We wanted it to be authentic and all, but cast removal would cross a line of sorts.

Cait's response to the cruise news:  I'm still scraping her off the ceiling.  If I went without her, have a feeling I'd find a stowaway at the airport.  Now off to put my $1/day into my cruise fund and pray for a lottery windfall (or at least a paycheck in two weeks...).


The photo is circa October 2007.  If you don't remember the story behind the cast (*shudder*), you can read more about it here.

April 03, 2011

Back in The Saddle Again

IMG_1311 IMG_1314 Last night we hosted had a party of 9 for our new 9 year-old, Kelsey D.  Without a doubt, the fiesta went off without a hitch.  Despite my worries that we would run out of food (best remember to freeze the extra bacon), we had more than enough everything, to include fantastic home-made cupcakes courtesy of Dr. Crafty Salty Dog and the Other Jen (Super Cake Lady).  

I was a bit worried when I had trouble waking up Saturday morning, as we still had much to do.  I also realized that since I was not stressed about heading to a treatment appointment, I could actually sleep.  Therefore, Peter and Nick 'cleaned' while I caught a few extra winks.  They took care of the mid-level, I finished up the basement and by early afternoon I was running grocery and decoration errands.  

IMG_1322 IMG_1323 We decorated with a few balloons and paper streamers to cheer up the dining room.  The kitchen was the crafting and cooking area, and thus a constant hub of activity.  We began cooking at 5 p.m. to ensure the girls could eat by 6:30 or so and by 5:58, the first girl had arrived.  Nicholas and Peter left for their guys night out and the girls trickled, stowed their sleeping bags in the basement and headed up to congregate and play in Kelsey's room. 

Once most of them arrived, we pulled out the craft of "decorate your own wooden door hanger." They loved this project and finished in time to enjoy chocolate chip and plain pancakes, homemade potatoes and bacon (cooked in the oven...so much easier and less mess!).  We followed up dinner with the A-Mazing cupcakes and even Nick joined in the fun, as GNO ended quite early (we suspect he knew cupcakes were on the agenda and he couldn't miss them...).

IMG_1326 The last event of the night was popcorn and a movie.  I caved on the popcorn and did microwave for the ease and the lack of the need for firefighters since I tend to scorch it.  I generally let Cait make it, but she was busy enjoying the party, too.  Everyone (including Nicholas), headed to the basement, arranged their pillows and sleeping bags and settled in for a viewing of Tangled.

An hour and twenty minutes later, the moms and dads arrived to pick up tired, but happy kids.  Despite my worries that A.  no one would like my cooking B.  the kids would not enjoy for some (any) reason, it all went extremely well.  Not overdoing it and giving them plenty of free time just to play and chat worked well as always and keeping things simple worked well for me.

As usual, I stressed too much...not because the kids wouldn't be fine, but due to me feeling like I just wasn't up to it.  I didn't want to disappoint Kelsey, and needed to prove to myself that we could pull off a simple, fun party at home with the help of a few friends.  I definitely can't say I did the lion's share (we all know who did the majority of the work, from cupcakes to favors), but was so glad we did something at home.  I finally felt like we were opening up our house and giving back a bit to other parents who had helped us over the past few months.  It's not the huge party we'd like to throw (might be in the works for a while), but it's a start.

April 01, 2011

It's no joke:

Img015 tomorrow we are having a party.  In fact, one might say it is the first true event we have hosted in our new home.  We won't go into the why of us not hosting a shin-dig sooner, though I'll give you a hint:  has to do with boxes and unpacking the basement.  Anywho, Kelsey wanted a party for her birthday and since the animal shelter party costs $200 AND caps the guest list at 15, well...I found the mojo I needed to re-organize the basement via shoving boxes in the garage...neatly...I think.

Now, once we decided to host said party, I realized we needed a theme of sorts.  Nothing fancy, no blow-up palaces or clowns, just an idea a bit beyond cupcakes and ice cream.   Kelsey immediately came up with a fabulous thought and shared with me that this would be the ideal year for a sleepover.  Suddenly, the animal shelter/limited list idea had overwhelming appeal.

When consulting with my party planner extraordinaire, she mentioned a 'faux pajama party'.  I had heard of this idea before, but always discounted it as silly.  Why have a pajama party if you aren't going to let the kids have all the fun of spending the night?  Suddenly visions of sleeping bags everywhere, hands in bowls of water, parents being iffy about sleepovers, 3 a.m. meltdowns and OMG, what if one of them got sick?! popped into my head.

Thus the theme of Kelsey's party was born.

Img016 Tomorrow night at 6 p.m. a hoard, I mean, 18 (we think, since only 6 have actually RSVP-ed and 2 can come if they don't "move to New Jersey") of Kelsey's nearest and dearest will descend upon the house jammified with sleeping bags and stuffed animals in hand.  We will decorate cosmetic bags*, nosh on free-range pancakes, potatoes & bacon, eat cupcakes that are going to be A-Freaking Mazing (The Other Jen** & Dr. Salty Dog are creating probably as I type...) and watch a movie.  Then, precisely at 9 p.m., the cupcakes turn into pumpkins and everyone heads home leaving us with a happy and tired Kelsey (and maybe one friend to spend the night) and a Jen who only needs to worry about a Little Guy waking her up in the middle of the night.  

The invites? I would LOVE to claim the creativity and folding talent that went into those...but guessing you already know who crafted up that idea!


*To clarify, no make-up will be harmed at this party.  The cosmetic bags are merely more of a reusable party favor and will hold those eye-pillow thingies, as we couldn't locate enough pillowcases to decorate.

**A friend and another cake-decorator and perfect party planner.


I just couldn't decide

{these moments} - A Friday ritual. Two photos - no words - capturing moments from the week. Two simple, special, extraordinary moments. Moments I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment(s)' in the comments for all to find and see.

 (My indecision:  The cat and his new hangout)



(or what happens when one 'eats' a mocha?) 


       Idea courtesy of Soulemama.