Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cancer Schmancer....

For those of you who follow this blog that I haven't spoken to directly, I apologize for throwing it out there that "I'm angry my mom has cancer."  For those of who have been down this road, the individual conversations seem overwhelming.  And we have just recently "put it out there in the universe" by telling people.  All the updates at every little step of the way is too much to update every person on.

So, long story as short as I can make it.....The end of July my Mom got some news that she probably had Multiple Myeloma.  She went in for a "I'm 65 years old and Welcome to Medicare physical" and her Dr. thought something seemed funky with a blood test.  She then sent her to a blood specialist.

Definition:  Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the bone marrow. Although there is currently no cure for myeloma, it is an eminently treatable disease. Many patients go on to lead full lives for years, even decades, after diagnosis.

It is a very individual disease. It is is often slow moving, but can sometimes be more aggressive. While the doctor assesses each particular situation and recommends the best approach, the patient plays a central role in helping make these individual treatment decisions. It is important that patients and their families be well informed, ask questions, and give serious thought to alternative strategies or options.

Myeloma is a tumor involving specialized white blood cells in the bone marrow. The cells that are affected are plasma cells, which are our antibody-producing cells. A malignant or cancerous plasma cell is called a myeloma cell. Myeloma is called "multiple" since there are frequently multiple patches or areas in bone where tumors or lesions have developed.

So in disbelief after diagnosis confirmation at the very beginning August (who the heck has ever heard of this cancer?)  we embarked on a journey that we will continue together as a family.  Strong.  Resilient.  We are better together.  More fun together.  We've been through some stuff (hey, who hasn't?)  and really, we can do this.  We WILL do this.  Life has WAY too much to offer my mother at the age of 66 in January!  She has two rock-star daughters (hahahah...I brag) and two awesome son-in-laws and 4 grandchildren and an 86 year old mother still alive and an incredible sister and lots of magnificent extended family members and incredible friends.  

Our heads were spinning when we left the Marinette doctor and we thought treatment would begin as soon as we saw the Chicago doctor...  Drug names, stem cell transplants, blood tests, blah blah blah...........I'm sure my mom was having an outer-body experience but I was in business mode, asking questions, trying to get a grip on this whole thing as I knew I would be re-telling this story to all my family members many times over.  I work well in these situations.  No tears were shed.  Why cry now?  Let's take care of business.  Let's get the facts and a plan in place.  Dad's not here.  I am next in line.  I am the oldest child.  

We are thrilled that we would gain access to state-of-the-art doctors and treatment and options.  We are seeing a multiple myeloma specialist at Northwestern Hospital.  It doesn't hurt that Mom's doctor is  easy on the eyes!  It is so comforting to go to a facility that slightly resembles a fine hotel.  Dr. Mehta is so calm and relaxed that it makes us feel relieved after every visit.  This was caught in the earliest possible stages.  My mom has no symptoms.  After our research we found many people find out they have MM after breaking bones.........but their doctor doesn't catch it here........and the disease progresses until it is found even later. 
So we had a bit of a respite, but as of Monday, Mom started a drug treatment plan that includes some ridiculously priced cancer drugs (but she won't lose her hair or be really sick....just some little things possibly that anyone could deal with, because hey, this is your life! It's worth it!)  and what we can now call "Steroid Tuesday" to boost her good stem cells with a possible stem cell transplant on the horizon.  

The latest and greatest technology is to harvest your own good  stem cells after killing off anything remotely negative in your system (I think we can apply that "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger theory here) and then putting the good stem cells back in with hopes the MM is gone forever.  (50% chance here..........but hey, if you have a 50% chance of winning the lottery would you buy a ticket???)

I could write you a list of positive things.  One of them being that Mom has access to Northwestern but has a doctor in Marinette that can administer all the drug therapies, consult with her, etc.  Not having to travel to Chicago for every little thing is helpful.  Knowing we have the best of the best at the heart of her treatment is also comforting.  Dr. Mehta sees patients that travel to visit him from all over the world.  He has worked his whole career (he's only 43!) to head up the stem cell transplant program at Northwestern.  This is ground breaking research he is doing.  Fantastic!  

I plan to have Mom around for many, many, many more years to come.  God bless us all.  Thanks for your support and prayers.  We love you.  Our positive energy and spirit will reign supreme.  We are connected like a fine golden thread that weaves itself through our lives.  The great circle of life.

From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There's more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round

It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life

Life with Evan....

Dear Evan, 
How many times do I have to tell you to leave my lipstick alone?  Especially this lovely new red one I just bought.  And especially my new Aveda one which you found in my purse.  And really, this isn't your color.  I am not sure how you put that on your lips so perfectly but forget the nose next time.  Wait, there shall be NO next time.  And why are you crying?  It was MY NEW lipstick!
Are you trying to be a clown?  Oh, wait.  Yes you are.  And the Peppermint gum in my purse?  How many times do you have taste it before you'll realize you. don't. like. peppermint. gum.  Geesh.
I find it hard to believe you will TWO next week!  Where did the time go my precious little blondie? I love you so much I feel like my heart will burst.  And then you do things that make me so mad I am forced to drink wine.  Like dumping the entire bag of goldfish on the table 30 seconds after I walk in the door.  Like getting the step stool so you can reach anything you might desire at the moment. (the knife on the cutting board included or the gas burner on the stove)  Like climbing on everything like a little goat.  (Dad says its just a boy thing)  You are saying more and more words everyday and are now putting two words together.  I say you are a genius.  (for the record, I say the same thing about your sister just to keep it fair)
You are a curious little bugger.  But I guess that's what makes you so interesting.  Your sister was much more chill and calm.  But yeah, she's a girl and only really likes books and never plays with toys.  You love cars and trucks and tractors and lawn mowers and trains.  You try to figure out how things work and flip things over to investigate.
You love animals.

You love your momma.
You enjoy the occasional naked romp.
" Honey if you call and I'm not home I'll be at the gym or the gun club". (Jack Butler in Mr. Mom reference)
You are my Love Dog. Stay just the way you are.  
Love, Mom xoxoxox

Friday, November 26, 2010

Post-Turkey Day Run-Down....

The brined bird was the best turkey I have ever had in my life!  Hubby said "I feel like I've been missing out on this my whole life!"  We then discussed all the meat we could brine and the possibilities of deliciousness!  And the gravy was to die for!  I am not even a big gravy person, but I could have bathed in that glory gravy!  I jerry-rigged some carrots with a honey glaze and we had some left-over mashed tates, broccoli and ligonberry instead of cranberry.   Top it off with some croissants and it was delish!  (Because we haven't had enough butter yet!)

I took pics of the whole process......glorious pics....that beautiful browned bird.  We took pics last night at Aunt Margo's dinner too.  Lauren had the privilege of using our camera and took her own pics.  And AS IF I needed anything else to add to my anger issues (really, I'm fine now....it was just a day) I downloaded all the  pics to the computer from my camera and something glitchy happened and..........yep, no pics.  I'm trying to remain calm and be glad they weren't anything super special.  Like, you really don't care about brine photos and a golden turkey anyway, right?             

I didn't do any black Friday madness.  Really, I don't buy the kids much and my sleep is worth a few extra dollars I might pay for something I want.  From what I see there are many deals on Saturday too.  I did hit my local resale shop for 26% off.  I actually have a 20% off coupon for JcPenney for Sunday and from my calculations the deals will be excellent.   

Lauren decorated the tree yesterday while we watched the Macy's parade.  I emphasize LAUREN decorated the tree.  It was the last thing I wanted to do but she was so giddy and kept saying "this is so fun Mom, this is my favorite holiday, I love this day........"  Rip my heart out I'm an evil bitchy devil Mother.  I told her I was giving her $5 for her efforts for Santa workshop at school.       

I am very thankful that all my holiday decorations are up and the tree is good to go.  The kids are in bed and I'm relaxing and not caring about anything. I plan to eat more turkey before the night is over.  I really do love the holidays when my evil side calms down!  I feel like the mantel has looked exactly the same every year.  I'm kinda sick of it and need to think of a new plan for next year.  
This is our stained glass window turned into a "light box" that (duh!) lights up.  But that dreaded dangling white  cord (seen here camouflaged by greens) is not cute and it kinda bugs me so much I can't appreciate the loveliness of the stained glass.  AND, I should have gone with my decorating instincts and just hung it low like I wanted instead of centered on the brick.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Eve....

In an over-zealous attempt at today (remember I'm a gun-jumper?)  I went to the grocery store, went to Costco, took down my Fall decorations and put up Christmas.  (Not the tree!)  And it's only 5:00 pm.  Hurt me.  Am I crazy?  No, just mostly O-to-the-C-to the D.  And quite possibly insane.  I will admit the grocery store and Costco were pretty crazy but I got in and out pretty painlessly.  I've been a bitch on wheels all day and crying every two seconds over pretty much anything.

I emailed my sister to tell her the above.  She, as the good sister she is, confirmed all the reasons that I was perfectly justifiable to be a bitch and be crying.  In fact, she made a big list for me to read.  It was just what the doctor ordered!  I mean, REALLY, only a sissy can get another sister so well.  (So thank you for that!)

I was reading another blog I follow called Surrender Dorothy and in this particular post Rita was talking about her anger.  I sometimes think about my anger.  Like what the hell do I have to be angry about?  My BF Bobbi and I talk about this all the time.  She asks herself this question too.  So is it a SAHM thing?  Is it an age thing?  Really, I feel like I have such a glorious life.  That in these economic times we are relatively unscathed.  I could make a list a million miles long about what I have to be thankful about.  Good Lord, I gotta get outta my own head right now!  (My A#1 self-talk is "If it's not about you Tricia, life is better!)

So I went through this day being angry.  Angry that my sister lives in NJ.  Angry that my mom has cancer. Angry that my Dad died.  Angry that my whole family isn't together for turkey.  Angry that my Mom, sister and Aunt weren't here to help me decorate and drink and listen to Christmas music and laugh.  Angry that I had to lug all the totes out of the crawl space.  Lauren was so giddy and I was just angry and shitty.  Thank goodness kids are resilient and love us anyway.  I wonder sometimes if they will remember my anger.  But then again I don't so much remember my Mom's anger.  Just random times.  

I try to do too much.  But I sometimes think I have the energy of several people.  Then again, there is the anger thing.  And who wants to be a martyr?  Not I.  So anyway..........blah blah blah............get off your pity party and move on!!!!!!  My drink is poured and I will be much more relaxed and happy as Lauren and I decorate the tree while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade tomorrow morning.  (Our official tradition together!)  Evan woke up from his nap and was delighted with all the decorations!  He sorta gets its it this year.  These moments are fleeting.  Life goes by so fast.  I need to chill out.  (And brine a turkey!!!!!!!!!)

I am bringing pumpkin and apple pies to Aunt Margo's tomorrow.  Compliments of Costco.  I don't bake.  So there you have it chill pill!!!!!!!!!  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lauren's photos from her B-day

You never know what you are gonna get when you give a kid a camera.  I like to think of these as Lauren's eye-view of her birthday....(She took her camera to school for show and tell and apparently the teachers let her use her camera all day....)
 The new bike b-day present!  Big Girl....Big Shakes....(training wheels optional)
 Self-portrait showcasing new glasses
 Bike highlight
Portrait of Brother Bro (with Binky in mouth, per usual) looking up at his balloon
 Lauren's class acting goofy
 Lauren's birthday snack time!
 Lauren's cubby...
 Kids ALWAYS take pics of stuffed animals!  
 Lauren's turkey
Lots of learning going on here...

Bowling Birthday Buddies

I had the where-with-all and super mom-smarts to send the husband to Brunswick Zone with the kids for Lauren's B-day Bowling Bonanza!  In my testimony I stated "A bowling alley is no place for a 2-year old."  Genius.  I stayed at home with Evan and prepped the pizza and snacks while having adult beverages with my BF Bern.  It was fabulous.  AND, after pizza we all participating in a rockin' dance party.  Mostly Taylor Swift with some of our other fave jams mixed in so as not to make the adults go crazy!  It was good times had by all!  And I'm very glad another b-day has been completed.  I need some rest!
 Cousin Annika, (9) Lauren (5) and BF Neighbor Rachel (8)
 Gonna tear up the lanes!
 And the Hello Kitty Magic 8 Ball!

Gettin' in on the action!

Over Zealous....

My BF Brendan has called me a gun-jumper from way back.  I expressed my desire to get some nude platform pumps in an older post.   I searched the world over and broke down and bought these peep-toes from Kohl's.  (Because the price was oh-so-nice and affordable $33)  I really didn't want peep toes but I tried them on in the store and couldn't NOT buy them.  But I still want the non-peep-toe ones too.  I have a problem.

So do these shoes scream "stripper pole" or sophisticated Momma?  ha ha .......I wore them around the house the day the bought them and felt like a little mix of both.  (Is that wrong?)   It's the stay-at-home-mom thing...........you start to get a little crazy.  You gotta do whatever it takes to get through!

And this is a good one for me today:  If I clean the same thing in this house ONE MORE TIME I may stick a needle in my eye.
"If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will—to your surprise—miss them profoundly." - Pres. Thomas Monson
REALLY?  Will I really really miss a clean house without scattered toys everywhere?  Hmmmm.  Doubtful.  I'm O-C-D.  

And did I mention I am brining a turkey for Thanksgiving?  We are going to Aunt Margo's for dinner but I'm bustin' out our own bird for the lefties!  I am using The Pioneer Woman's favorite turkey brine.  I'll let you know how it shakes down.  I'm still trying to figure out how the hell I'm gonna have the inspiration or energy to put the Christmas decorations!  

Monday, November 22, 2010

Book Review.....

I just finished reading Unbearable-Lightness by Portia de Rossi.  I read it in about three days.  It can be described in one word:  RAW.  It was disturbing and yet as I read it I knew this was Portia's last purge.  Purging of this information that will now transform her life even more.  Some of Portia's self-torture and rituals were difficult to read.  Her self-hatred was almost unimaginable.  (Once again confirming that self-esteem and self-love are the keys to life in my book)  

I have never had an eating disorder, yet I was drawn to this book.  I knew it was much more than a book about anorexia, bulimia and addiction.  Portia does an incredible job of taking you on her journey.  I was right there with her every step of the way.  

In the epilogue I found my favorite statement in the whole book.  "You don't have to be emaciated or vomiting to be suffering.  All people who live their lives on a diet are suffering."  Portia mentioned on Oprah that people think the  "last five pounds" will be life changing.  It isn't and never will be.  

This was my favorite paragraph:  "If you can accept your natural body weight-the weight that is easy for you to maintain, or your "set point"-and not force it to beneath your body's natural, healthy weight, then you can live your life free of dieting, of restriction, of feeling guilty every time you eat a slice of your kid's birthday cake.  But the key is to accept your body just as it is.  Just as I have had to learn to accept that I have thighs that are a little bigger than I'd like, you may have to accept that your arms are naturally a little thicker or your hips are a little wider.  In other words, accept yourself.  Love your body the way it is and feel grateful toward it.  Most important, in order to find real happiness, you must learn to love yourself for the totality of who you are and not just what you look like."

All in all, I would recommend it.  It's an easy read and one you will find many gems in among the destruction.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Birthday Treat for School....

I was pretty delighted that Lauren's school let us bring a HOMEMADE treat for Lauren's B-day today!   The last two schools she attended did not let us.  Who doesn't love chocolate chip cookies with a Hershey's Kiss on top?
 She did most of the work herself!  But then I found all the kisses had the tops picked off and I had to unwrap a bunch myself!  Hmmm....wonder what happened to the tops?  (Lauren:  open mouth....eat)  What is so funny is that she thought I wasn't gonna notice?  KIDS.
I highly recommend the Pampered Chef Mini Muffin Pan.  I have used it so much.  Primarily for this reason...kids treats.

Dear Tanta Tracy,

 I love my gifts!  
I loved opening all the packages, individually wrapped!  
I totally wanted the new Taylor CD!
 I loved opening LOTS of things....
 I even let Buddy open one!  (Now, that is a good sissy!)
 You are the best Tanta ever and I love you very much!
 I just kept opening, and opening....I just wanted to start crafting!
And this outfit?  LOVE IT!  Wore it all day! : )
Love, Lauren xoxoxoxo

FLAWZ - New Video - Caitlin Crosby wants you to Embrace Your Flawz!

Lauren turns FIVE today and the one goal I have as her Mother is to teach her to LOVE HERSELF. (The things I adore about her may be the things she doesn't like.....red-hair, freckles, glasses....) In my mere 39 years of knowing anything, I have decided SELF-ESTEEM and being a good reader are the keys to life!!!!!!!!!!  Enjoy!  Tears were shed!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Random Thoughts.....

Will these pumps make me look like a stripper?  A whore?  Or stylish?  I'm obsessed with getting a pair of nude platform pumps.  The ones I want cost a small fortune.  These are from Forever 21.  They cost $25. Is that wrong?
This is Kim K.  You know her.  These are Jimmy Choo's.  They cost $695.  I'm not which is more wrong.  Her or the cost of those shoes.

How many water cups do two kids need at any given time?  I am dreaming of the day when all these cotton-picking sippy cups and water bottles will not be littering my cupboards.  And those valves for the sippy cups?  Get out.

Does a free-range, organic turkey really taste better or am I just spending more money?

Are my kids learning how to sigh and yell and rage from me?  hmmmm......They just got in each other's faces and  screamed their brains out.  I could really relate.

I took Evan's diaper off before we went upstairs to get dressed this morning and when he was running around upstairs (while I was brushing my teeth) he took a dumper on the floor.......just a few small turds (with raisins thank you very much.......oh, yeah.....he ate raisins at his Grandparents house on Sunday) and he stepped in it and ran into the bathroom, the hallway, his sister's room and the other bathroom.  Lord help me.  Lauren was slightly delighted and was freaking out all at the same time.  

Are Toot and Puddle gay and where are their parents?

Is it wrong that I kind of like the Electric Company and iCarly?

Is it really Thanksgiving next week and do I really have to lug and haul and decorate?  OMG.  I need to manufacture some serious inspirado.  And did I mention all my Christmas stuff is now housed in the crawl space?  Hurt me.  Help me.

Lauren got the new Taylor Swift CD for her birthday.  Is it wrong that the first song talks about "having a drawer at your house"?  Has Taylor changed or is it just me?  Is she really old enough to date Jake Gyllenhaal?

Can my baby girl REALLY and TRULY be turning FIVE tomorrow?  No way.  Get out.

Eggnog rocks and every season when I see that little container of it in the dairy case it makes me happy.  

Lauren's BF/neighbor friend Rachel brought her over a homemade card tonight.  It almost broke my heart in two.  She drew a picture of them playing on the play set in the backyard and it said "best wishes and may all your birthday dreams come true."  Tears.

Do you sometimes get your period and then think to yourself, "Wow.  That explains my psycho bitch anger last week and desire to kill everyone in my path.

That's it for now.  Thanks for allowing me to get this all out.  I feel so much better now!  And props to me for putting Toot and Puddle and Kim K all in the same blog : )