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11 posts from October 2011

October 31, 2011

I hope our kids

never outgrow Halloween or forget the fun of it.  I hope the girls don't ever forget how they came up with the ideas for the night and created the costumes with little or no help from me.  The Little Guy...well, he had a little help from Dad with his outfit.


I know I won't forget how the girls' outfits truly represented what they wanted, not what I thought they should be. They both knew exactly what to do and how to create the perfect look.  I did nothing other than purchase a few accessories and pin up a ponytail just so.


I hope they will never have any less fun running from house to house wondering what incredible trick or treat awaits them at the next stop.


I know I won't forget the Little Guy thanking each person who answered the door until he or she uttered, "You are welcome!"


Nor will I forget him complimenting our friends by way of an exuberant, "Your house was SPOOKY!" or when handing out candy with Peter, telling trick or treaters "Thank you for coming to our house and Happy Halloween!"  


I can't forget it because it was so normal...so blissfully normal.  A kind of normal that this time last year I thought might be unattainable.  Now I know it's not and I hope sticks around for a long, long time.






October 28, 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' in the comments for all to find and see.



Nicholas saw this photo and said, "Is that me helping you?  Because I love you and you are my princess?"  Yep...awww!  Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  


October 26, 2011

Aidin' and Abettin'

IMG_1242Before I confess my egregious sin, I should mention that in my previous post I neglected to add that I have a Kindle (love it!) and have even offered use of it to Cait.  However,  if you read her comment (#9 on the last post), you will know that my efforts are still to no avail.  

Quite honestly, I never thought I would love the idea of the eReader. Then we arrived at the beach house last summer and I realized I had no books, not a one for myself.  I had no intention of buying romances at the drugstore or trying to tackle anything Cait brought with her.  I just wanted a nice, easy beach read....and I got it, courtesy of the iPhone Kindle app.

IMG_1240Several months prior, Peter had thoughtfully installed the app on my phone.  I had not been curious about it until I had no other way of reading.  I decided it was time to give it a shot and within minutes had downloaded The Help, something that had been on my list for ages. We arrived at the beach, I sank into my chair, buried my feet in the sand and clicked open.  Within minutes, I was hooked.  

No worries about saving a page, no worries about packing too many books (or in our case, too few), and I could read in the dark (vs. waking up at 4 a.m. to turn off the light and realize I dropped my book and lost my page).  In short, I was in heaven.  I figured that if I was that impressed, the girls would be, too.  I was already envisioning purchasing readers as pre-move gifts in the next year or two, and thinking of how much room we'd save in our shipments.


I started with Kelsey and explained the benefits.  I offered to download a book that she could read while we were doing laundry mid-week (beach house's one fault:  no laundry).  She thought that was a great idea, but also wanted a hard copy.  I tried to explain how she wouldn't need one and she said she was happy to stick with regular books.

After that setback, I waited a bit to chat with Cait.  In fact, I didn't utter a word until after I was surprised with a Kindle for my birthday.  I quickly became enamored (though I do wish it had a backlight*) and was soon downloading a book a day.  I thought it was now time to introduce the idea to Cait.

I mentioned that I had a fabulous idea for the upcoming year.  

"Wouldn't you just LOVE your own Kindle or Nook?"

The look of horror was instantly painted across her face.  I thought she was going to throw police tape across her bookcase and hold some sort of protest.  


Well, that went smoothly.  I held out hope that she might change her mind, and even thought having her books well-organized would somehow make her realize that perhaps it was time to at least find a new way to store the books.  Even if she opted to schlep all of her current books to post, wouldn't it be nice to have any new books safely saved on a kindle?

IMG_1226 IMG_1241Apparently not.  Even worse?  Not a few hours after I wrote the last post, I contributed to even more weight gain in the book arena.  

It was so innocent.  We were just helping out, working at the Art & Book Fair run by AAFSW  at the State Department.  Cait offered to assist and we were having a lovely mother/daughter day.  Then I saw it:  a Cooking Light magazine.  A few good recipes and the price was right. It couldn't hurt, could it?

A few minutes later, I found a book that I needed for my new book club, followed by a read I knew that Kelsey would love.  I then happened upon a copy of both Jurassic Park AND The Lost World.  The cost couldn't be beat and Cait was in heaven, as she had "been looking for both for ages!"  The stack grew and multiplied.  By the time we checked out, we easily had 17 books between the two of us.  The total:  $18.55.

I know, I should be ashamed of myself.  I should be charging up the Kindle and reading the book club book for this month.  Instead?  I find myself drifting off...thinking of all of the books at the Art & Book Fair, and how next year if we work the first weekend, we may find even more treasures...and who knows, maybe when we move we'll be storing our sweaters and have more room for books.  Pipe dreams? We shall see....


*I know I can buy a light, I just like the idea of a light on the Kindle itself.

October 22, 2011

It might be time for an intervention

of sorts.

You see, we are a book family.  We LOVE books.  We spend hours at the library, at book stores and reading everything we can.  We have books scattered about the house, in various stages of being read. Reading logs, sent home from school, are virtually useless for our kids.  They end up wasting time trying to figure out what they've read (as in, how many pages/how much time) rather than spending more time reading.

They even read in the car and any trip out requires a minimum of two books per girl (my rule:  they have to carry them).  You can offer a fabulous lunch out for two with either girl  and your conversation will likely consist of only your own words.  You will talk to yourself while you stare at the spine of the latest book she is reading.

I'm okay with all of that.  I'm happy to explain to the teacher if Kelsey's reading log looks sparse (she fills it in, but it's clearly a down and dirty fill in just to have it finished), that no, really, she spends 2-3 hours a day reading, sometimes more.  I'm happy to stare at the spine of a book when taking Cait out, because her reading has expanded her interests so very much (mythology nut, much?).  The only time we all truly put our books down is at home for dinner.  Of course, since Nicholas is often busy showing us his 'new moves', this is not difficult.  No one wants to miss the Mister's dinner show!  However, I realized last week just how many books we have, even with our frequent trips to the library (translation: not buying many books).

I finally realized that I could no longer stand the cheap Ikea bookcases in the living room. I came up with a grand plan to move two downstairs and really get our books and scrapbooks organized. We don't have many knick-knacks and those we do were mostly owned by my mother.  So, I'll set those aside until I find a special display case.

Since I was no longer trying to artfully arrange things, I realized that we had plenty of space for our books on those two shelves (not the kids' stuff, just ours).  I then offered that Cait could have the third bookcase for the time being.  It's not gorgeous, but combined with her other shelf, would get books off the floor and out of boxes.  I figured then I could measure the space needed for her books and eventually find a really sturdy solid wood bookcase.  Peter lugged the thing upstairs and as this case was larger than her other one, she decided it would do and asked Pete to move the old one out.  

He told her maybe the next day, as he nearly broke his back getting it up the stairs.  I eyeballed the books and the shelves and asked her to at least fill up the new case and see if she had any books left over...then perhaps she could keep the other bookcase and have room for knick-knacks and photos.

I left for an evening out and an hour later received a text with a photo like this one:


Yes, both bookcases were completely filled to the brim.  My head is trying not to spin and calculate just how much weight that will be for our next move (knowing she will likely add books).  I'm not thinking of mounds of paper and boxes and then the bookcases needed to shelve them at said post...no, I'm thinking it's time for an intervention, in the name of a:


I know, fat chance, but it's worth a shot...right?

October 21, 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' in the comments for all to find and see.


(I totally foresee a kids Ergo doll carrier for him under the Christmas tree.) Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  



October 19, 2011

Last Call

for Fall Sales.  I know, I know, when was the first call?

Time has been slipping away quickly and I am several posts behind.  However, before I lose track of everything, thought I would send out the reminder that fall sales for the Girl Scouts ends for us tomorrow (around 6 p.m., to be exact).  Kelsey has made phone calls and sold to family and friends, but wanted to spread the net a bit further in case anyone else out there had a craving for cranberry nut mix or chocolate covered raisins.

IMG_1020 IMG_1021While some of the choices could seem extravagant, holiday season is almost upon us, a treat now and again doesn't hurt and let's not forget, it's for a good cause!  In fact, I will offer more details about that good cause (troop activities for Kelsey and her friends...see last week's "this moment") in an upcoming post.

I have listed added photos here and although technically the orders (and the money) are due tomorrow, I will gladly put in orders now and accept payment upon delivery. For those of you overseas with access to APO/DPO/FPO and/or pouch, I'll split the cost of shipping.  As with last year's Girl Scout cookies, you will also get a lovely thank you note from Kelsey.  



October 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' in the comments for all to find and see.


Technically taken a day late and published much later, but still a moment. Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  


October 13, 2011

I waved the white flag

and came out of the battle a winner...of sorts.  Oh, you weren't aware there was a war?

Well, not so much a war as a battle of the wits and I was at my wit's end.  It was a stand-off between the teenager and myself.  She was being very 13 and I was at the end of my rope.  I've dealt with too much crap over the past year and I simply didn't have the patience anymore.  So I gave up and suddenly there was peace.  Who knew it could be so...easy?

Now what was so stressful?  Believe it or not, it boiled down to Confirmation.  Cait is in 8th grade and it is the *typical* time that one receives the sacrament of Confirmation in the Catholic faith.  While she has attended religious ed faithfully and enjoyed the atmosphere (and the intense discussions), she remained ambivalent about Confirmation and this had led to several not-so-fun conversations.

Last night, we attended an informational meeting and everything came to a head.  She wanted nothing to do with it, wouldn't let me review the information, slouched, fiddled and basically ignored me.  She complained about various aspects, seemed unsure about doing it at all and suddenly the light clicked on:

It just didn't matter.

If she didn't do it this year, so what?  She could wait until she was sure it was the right step for her and then do it.  She would not be the first person (or the last) to take the extra time she needed and I would rather her be truly committed, than simply do it because of familial pressure. It's too important to place on her without her full involvement.

I texted Peter that I gave up and that she was not interested and that was that.  I figured we would politely sit, let the coordinator finish speaking and then leave. About 15 minutes later, something changed.  There was a sudden shift in the atmosphere.  Cait sat up, grabbed the folder and started filling out forms.  She asked about joining the children's choir and wanted to fill out the registration form that minute.  I told her we had to wait and then she launched into a discussion of what might be her choice for a confirmation name.

I don't know exactly what happened.  Maybe it was  a miracle of sorts, but not on her part...on mine.  I received the reminder I needed that we can guide our children, but we can't force every decision upon them, especially one regarding faith.  I want her to remember that this was her choice, her decision and her efforts, not mine or her father's.  Doing something to please us or meet what she feels are our expectations is far worse than simply admitting she's not ready.  

Maybe I'm not screwing up this mom-of-a-teenager thing after all...(or yet)...

October 08, 2011

It's Great Country Farms,

Nicholas Dinoia!  Today was our second annual trip to Great Country Farms in Bluemont, VA,  with the Salty Dog Crew.  We were lucky that, as like last year, extended crew included Baby Nate's grandparents and his cousin, Wes or "Wesselley" as Nick calls him.  We had so much fun with them last year that Nick started asking about it two months ago.  

"Do you remember last year when we rode the cow train?  Do you remember last year when we ate the popcorn?  Is Wesselley coming again?  I'm older, so I can watch him!"

(Being older is a big theme right now.  In fact, yesterday he reminded me that he's going to be 4 soon.  *Sniff*.)

We had a lazy morning and then headed out to the country in the early afternoon.  We parked, ambled in and after purchasing 'very bad for you but very tasty' crunchy pumpkin peanut brittle, we headed into the play area.  Of course, we took pictures first to see how tall we are.









Yes, Cait really is that tall and, no, she will not stop growing any time soon.  

We did the bouncy thing.

We rode the cow train.  (This was mandatory given how long we had been regaled with tales of last year's trip.)

IMG_1113 IMG_1115











We played in the corn bin and tried to ignore the folks who shunned the bin.  Seriously, one child said, "Ew, playing in corn, that's GROSS!"  The mom then said, "I KNOW!" and glared at those of us with kids playing there.  

Seriously, that's gross?  Woe to the poor child in that family who dares ever step in a mud puddle...

Anyway, my poor, apparently disgusting-thing liking child enjoyed playing in there (oh, the horror...) and I have the pictures to prove it!  This also made us very dirty and we are quite proud of that!

IMG_1119 IMG_1120IMG_1122

We rode on the rope swing.  Oh, and by "we," I do mean all of us, me included.  Sadly, there is no picture as Peter thought it would be funny to push me several times and then leaving me dangling there...and not even preserve the Kodak moment!  Men!

So, here is Kelsey, who is a far more elegant swinger.

Last, but not least, we played in the castle and drove tractors on the playground.  We had fun, fun, fun, til Great Country Farms closed for the day and I know all of us are already looking forward to next year's trip with the Crew!


Night, all!




October 07, 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' in the comments for all to find and see.


Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  


October 01, 2011

You might have noticed

that I have said little about "it" lately.  You know, the it that took over my life for a bit and colored every decision I made.  Over the past few months, I have finally let it take a back corner in my life and even on occasion (not often, but...) forget that it ever happened.

I know some people use this sort of situation as a turning point, but I don't see that at all.  I have no reason to believe that this needed to happen to me or that my life is somehow better because it did (my body certainly isn't).  Rather, I would like to simply forget that it happened.  Oh, I'll go to my doctor appointments, but other than those brief visits, I am simply not going to focus on it.  Why on earth should I?

The above is getting easier as time passes, and recently has been simplified even more by another stress reliever.  As you may recall, I was theoretically supposed to begin a bit of adjuvant hormonal therapy after the surgery.  I had researched the drug that I was supposed to take up, down and all around.  I talked with different doctors, received different opinions and also gathered information from those who had taken the drug.  The more I looked at it, though, the more frightened I became.

You know those drug ads that play late night at TV?  The kind that list the scariest side effects and make you wonder who on earth would take the stuff?  This is one of those drugs.  No, no television ads, but the list of side effects you receive from your doctor are scary enough.  Especially when one of those side effects killed one of your parents in the not-so-distant past (not from taking the drug).

Suffice it to say, I did not want to put this drug into my body.  While it supposedly lowers the recurrence rate (which I don't worry about anyway), there is no guarantee it will do anything.  There is no way to know if it's working and one has to be vigilant about checking for the side effects that can be deadly. While some may say the benefits outweigh the risks, that is simply not true for me.  Not only do I not want a daily reminder of this last year for the next 5 years, I don't want one that could well kill me.

I had seen an oncologist twice by the time I was post-surgical (the first time) and she gave me a start date of January 1 for the medication.  I tried to explain my fears about the blood clot possibility and my liver concerns and she blew them off.  She said she understood, but that I would be fine.  If I was that concerned, I could see an gastroenterologist who could assess my risk of liver damage, but I needn't worry about blood clots.  I did and he could not give me any sort of definitive answer, thus making me even more nervous about trying this medication.

I wrote to her again of my concerns and she asked me to visit her again to discuss in person.  This was now March of 2011.  I had a feeling the meeting would not go well and my fears were realized. You might recall that instead of gently encouraging me, helping me find a hematologist who could review my blood panels or simply calmly discussing the matters at hand, she lit into me.  

When I explained my fears about the blood clots, she told me that the two weeks I spent on birth control (years ago, one week each, several years apart) proved I would have no trouble with this medication.  I then reminded her about my mother and as I was explaining how she died in a hospital, under a doctor's care after having been misdiagnosed, she just rolled her eyes.  She then proceeded to tell me that I would take the medication and that she had to play "bad cop."

That, my friends, was the beginning of the end for her.  NO ONE tells me what to do with my body anymore, especially in light of my family history.  We left the appointment after doing more bloodwork and I vowed that I would never return to her, much less any other oncologist.  I had it with the attitude and the lack of understanding that this was MY decision and nearly ended future visits to anyone that day.

A week later I found myself in the new radiation oncologist's office.  I went through the whole story and since she was so much more understanding than the previous RO, I gave her the whole scoop on the business with the oncologist.  She had never heard of the previous oncologist (interesting in and of itself) and gave me a recommendation for a new one.  I was iffy, but Peter thought it would be a good idea to meet with her even if I had no plans of ever taking the medication.  Meanwhile, I thought day in and day out about the medication, whether or not to take it and researching it to death.  One day I would decide I could, the next day I would change my mind.  I even went so far as to fill the prescription, thinking somehow seeing it in person would make it less frightening.  This was not the case at all for me.  

It took months to get an appointment, thanks to the previous oncologist's office 'forgetting' to send my records over.  We finally had one made for late August and by the morning of the 18th, my blood pressure was through the roof.  I was so incredibly nervous about meeting with this doctor and admitting that not only hadn't I started the medicine, but why I might never consider it.

I don't know if Sibley and Johns Hopkins train their doctors differently, but I needn't have worried.  I went through the whole scenario from start to finish.  I explained each appointment, explained my history and explained my fears.  I explained how I became so stressed about the whole situation that I ended up talking with a neutral third party with whom I could discuss said fears.  How I was so stressed that I spent most of the summer not eating or sleeping and it took a long time before I felt like myself again.  I told her how Peter had told me not to consider taking the medication until I felt more like myself.  Her response?  

"Excellent advice!"

When I told the story of my mother's death, the oncologist was horrified, especially given the circumstances of the hospital knowing my mother had a history of that issue.  With that, she not only encouraged me to visit a better hematologist, but offered to set up the appointment herself.  He could give my blood a good scrubbing and determine if there was a true concern that the previous tests had missed.  She also offered the option of ovarian ablation vs. daily medication to assist with recurrence prevention, however, I have no desire to begin menopause any sooner, much less have monthly shots to encourage it.  Nor do I want to have to take additional medications to alleviate symptoms I shouldn't have to deal with for years to come.  If you are wondering, but haven't guessed, further body part removal is absolutely not an option for me.

I ended up meeting with the hematologist two weeks ago and had follow-up bloodwork the following week.  He was quite interested in my history and found it to be remarkable (translation: scary).  While the meeting was good overall, he spent a little too much time trying to convince me I'd be fine on the medication, even going so far as to suggest that I could take a blood thinner with the medication if it turned out I did have a predisposition to clotting.  Medication upon medication?  Then when does it end? That is a slippery slope at best and not one I am willing to climb.  I left with an appointment for blood work and the promise of a phone call when the results were available.

The oncologist and I were slated to meet again this week and we had both hoped the test results would be in.  Regardless of medication issues, it would be nice to know if I am truly predisposed to anything. Normally, I would say the meeting would have been pointless since no results were in.  However, this second visit gave me another glimpse into her personality.

We re-visited the ovarian ablation issue and I told her I was not interested.  When she gently asked why, I simply said I didn't want to start it any sooner than nature intended.  She simply answered, "Fair enough."  No pressure, no stress.

We then moved onto the medication and I explained that I still had fears, whether or not it turned out I was predisposed to blood clots.  She understood and didn't try to pressure me. She asked if I had received any other advice or consulations that might sway me either way and I indicated that I hadn't.  The oncologist understood this and then started talking about my feeling better with time passing.  I then feared we had reached a bad point when she said, "But we don't want you headed back in a bad direction."

My worst fears:  she was going to launch into a discussion of the whole recurrence bit.

As I was trying to formulate a response, she continued, "We want you to continue to feel good and your stress level to stay down."


She then said that since we had no results, we were basically in a holding pattern.  She wanted to get my vitamin D levels checked, reminded me about my yearly exam and said unless I decided to start the medicine not to worry about coming back for three more months.  And, with that, the appointment was over.  I ended up getting yet another high blood pressure reading of 117/76 (okay, normal for some, through the roof for me) for no good reason.

And now?

Well, that was Tuesday morning and as of this afternoon, still no blood test results.  I thought it would only take a few days, so now I am getting quite curious about the delay...but not so curious that I feel like calling.   

I still don't know about the medication.  However, right now I am not stressing about it as I have an oncologist willing to see me know matter what I decide.  If she wants to see me regardless of whether or not I take anything, that's fine with me.  Every 3 months?  Fine with me.  Will I ever take the stuff? I honestly don't know...however, I do know that if I do decide to take it, I finally feel like I have a health professional who is on my side and who I can trust.  That, my friends, is a huge relief in and of itself.

Now, I know some of you might think I am nuts.  Why, this medication is the gold standard! It's amazing!  It might be, but there will never be a way to know for sure.  Given my family history, I'm not going to risk a recurrence AND nasty side effects just to find out (there is still a chance of recurrence even with the medication), without being 100% sure I am making the right choice and 100% comfortable with said choice.

Instead, I am going to do what feels right for me.  For the first time since this whole crappy mess started, I finally feel good about a decision...because it is truly mine.  I'm not being forced into anything, and if I ever feel comfortable (and it is medically feasible) taking the medication, I have a doctor who will actually care for me vs. just handing me a blanket prescription.