The Gang's All Here!

The Gang's All Here!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tuesday Truths

Right now I'm "supposed" to be cleaning up my house as we have some wonderful friends who offered to watch the kids while Steve and I attend chemopolooza tomorrow. I really would hate to have them see my house in it's current state. Even good, close friends shouldn't be subjected to the aftermath of "playtime". But alas, I'll get to it at some point today. More than likely, I'll be doing the "Flight of the Bumblebees" as Steve refers to it. What am I talking about? Oh, you know, that frantic cleaning mode where you've waited until the very last minute and then it's "shove-everything-into-any-available-closet/bin/basket/cabinet" and give the illusion of organized chaos. As a general rule, never, ever open a closet in my house unless asked to by me. Remember that episode of Friends when Joey and Chandler break into Monica's "secret" closet and are nearly killed by all of the stuff crammed in there? I'm a close second... but darn it, the rest of my house appears "clean".

Anyway, my point is that I don't have a lot of time today, but I did want to share something that I think is a happy coincidence. Another friend of mine pointed out to me yesterday a verse from the song by Baz Luhrman, "Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen". Remember that song? I do and I love it! The song came out when I was in college and was inspirational to me even then. So, the verse he reminded me of was this:

"The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your
worried mind: the kind that blindsides you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday."

Seriously, I was blown away, because that's just the way life works. I don't really know if it's a coincidence or not as to how this quote ties in so perfectly with my life these days, but I thought it was worth sharing. The rest of the song is amazing, a little food for the soul. Baz had a good point with the sunscreen too...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ants Marching

I received something very cool (and hilarious) in the mail the other day. A friend sent me a card wishing us well and in the card she included a new (and much improved) calendar. How does one improve a calendar? Why, by deleting Tuesdays, of course!! So, yes, my new calendar omits every Tuesday for the next several months. Freaking awesome! I'm thinking she should submit it to whoever is in charge of calendar making. I would love to be in charge of the world calendar for a year, or at least the American calendar. I would need to add a few holidays like: National Take Your Pet to Work Day (okay, completely unrealistic, but probably pee-your-pants funny), National Bread Day (who wouldn't love to eat bread all day?) or certainly the day after the superbowl should be National Hangover Day (food or alcohol related).

I have my third round of chemo on Friday. After Friday, I'll be halfway through my treatments, definitely a reason to celebrate! I'm happy that time is moving right along. If time could hurry up the terrible two's and Simon's meltdowns that would be great too. Holy COW what were we thinking have two kids so close in age??? My house is literally a 3 ring circus It's a wonder I haven't broken a leg or two tripping over random pieces of fake food (why has it spread to every corner of the downstairs?!?!), toddler books (they have turned my living room into an obstacle course) and not to mention 5,000 random parts to toys that I can't even identify! Add to that a 4 month old who is either deliriously happy or raging his brains out and one completely insane dog (who takes obscene pleasure in grabbing the fake food and chewing it to bits and barking at birds... as you can imagine, we have a lot of birds here). Somes days, like yesterday and Monday, I just want to walk out the door, shut it quietly and RUN AWAY as fast as I can. I know I'm not going to win any mother of the year awards (Stella locking me out of the house the other day probably sealed the deal for that one) but some days I really wonder what on earth I'm doing. Don't get me wrong, I love my children and the "joy" they bring to my life, but on the days when Stella is flailing her arms, yelling "YOU HEAR DAT?" at the top of her lungs 57 times in one minute and Simon is screaming because it's been 2 hours and 34 minutes since his last bottle and he needs to eat RIGHT NOW, I get a little crazy. And completely off-topic, but what else is new?

So, yes, the days are rolling along and summer is almost here, my favorite time of year. Of course, with summer, comes bugs. Ugh, they make me a special kind of crazy. To add to my insanity this week, the ants have decided to invade early this year. They just adore my kitchen counters. Perhaps this is a tribute to my cleaning abilities, I'm not sure. This would be annoying in it's own way, but normally this doesn't happen until's March. What does this mean for the summer? I'm a little scared to even think about what insects might be visiting in August if the ants are already here. Ants marching through my kitchen and children making me laugh at myself. Life is good :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Silver & Gold

Make new friends,
But keep the old.
One is silver and
The other gold

A circle is round,
It has no end,
That's how long
I'll be your friend

That's an old camp song that's been stuck in my head for a couple of weeks now. I miss summer camp!! I was an avid 4-H club member growing up. Each year, 4-H camp was hands down the best week of my summer. In my teens, I was a counselor which I think I loved even more. I loved camp so much that I was on perm staff (permanent staff) for an entire summer. What's not to love about camp? Ghost stories (our 4-H center was actually haunted), campfires, making new friends and reuniting with old, wildlife interfering with daily activities (read: snakes, bears, etc) and daily treks up and down the mountain.

One of the best memories (and opportunities) that I had as a teenager/ early college student was to be a counselor at Camp Fantastic. This camp was also held at the 4-H center, but it was different in that it was a camp only for kids with cancer. Each summer, the week I spent at Camp Fantastic was the most uplifting, gut-wrenching, crazy fun you could ever imagine. It's an experience everyone should have at least once. I mean, these kids are absolutely amazing and resilient. Childhood cancer is cruel and unfair, but these campers were so positive, so happy just to be doing something "normal", like going to camp for a week. The camp staff is unique in that they have a full crew of doctors, nurses and other essential people on hand for whatever a child might need. So, even some of the sickest kids were able to come to camp. How cool is that? And, oh the good times we had!! Singing camp songs around the campfire, carnival nights and talent shows, the fun went on and on. As a counselor, and someone who had not had cancer, at times I felt like the outsider and that was a very humbling feeling. I was welcomed with open arms by my campers, cancer or not. And that's something I've kept close to my heart, all of these years later. Children can be some of the best teachers, not to mention those who have had to endure so much, so young. On my down days, when I think about how unfair and ridiculous life can be, I remember my days at Camp Fantastic. Surely if those kids can handle cancer with a positive attitude, I can too.

I'm making friends in the chemo lounge. I met a wonderful woman named Carrie and her 21 year old daughter on Friday. Carrie just finished her chemo and has moved on to maintenence Herceptin until her mastectomy, which is next month. She's doing the same treatment process as me. She was so friendly and down to earth, as was her daughter. Carrie was also positive and honest, which I really appreciated. What's unique about her situation? She and her daughter BOTH have cancer. So, yes, things can always be worse and I can't even imagine what they're going through. But even with all of that, mother and daughter were both looking toward the future and enjoying the extra time they were given to spend together. If that's not inspiring, I don't know what is!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pretty Freaking Fantastic!

Tennis ball yellow. Yes, that's the color of anything outside this week. Every spring I forget just how gross the pollen actually is. However, this year I was thinking that it seemed worse, maybe because it's about 3 weeks ahead of schedule. Breaking news: Atlanta has shattered it's own pollen records by over a thousand the past two days. Neat!! It's a wonder our bodies don't turn this strange shade of green-yellow.

It's been a good week. Actually, it's been a great week! I feel really good (other than my allergies, but I'm suffering along with every other person in Georgia right now!). Part of the reason I think that I feel so good is all of the support we continue to get. It's fantastic!! I can't really explain how much it means with the right words, so I'll say this: THANK YOU! The steady stream of emails, cards, letters, visitors... it's just what I need right now :) It's impossible to feel anything but happy and optimistic when we've got so many people rooting for us. We're eating like kings! I'm going to have to get some SERIOUS cooking skills when this is all said and done, because the meals we've received have been 5 star. People really are amazing and it's so very, very cool when they have a common goal. One of the most awesome things that has happened since my diagnosis is the support of my alma mater, JMU (Go Dukes!). As many of you know, I went to JMU undergrad and majored in Kinesiology (look it up, it's a cool major!)with a concentration in Athletic Training. While there, I was a member of then, the SATA (Student Athletic Trainers Association). This group was my life, especially the last two years of school when I spent most of my waking (and some not) hours in the training room, working with athletes, logging hours for the national exam and just trying to graduate in 4 years! We were a tight knit crew, and I had some of the best times of my college life with this group. I'm sure our professors weren't always thrilled with how close we all were (you know, some days in class EVERYTHING was funny, even if it was just about tape) but they tolerated us and our shenannigans with grace and dignity. Anyway, my point is, that this is an amazing group of students at a fantastic (let's just say it, the best school in Virginia!) university willing to go the extra mile for someone they've never even met: me. The MATSA students have decided their Relay for Life event to me, how cool is that??? If you have a chance, please check out their page:

So, yup, feeling pretty freaking fantastic this week!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ode to Shamrock

Happy St. Patrick's Day!! Green beer day is one of my favorite days of the year! This St. Patty's Day is a little sad in that our dog Shamrock would have been 11 years old today. We lost Sham to cancer on July 23, 2011. The past 10 years we've celebrated her birthday with green cupcakes. Sham adored cupcakes (actually, human food of any kind) and watching her wolf them down was always entertaining. It's hard to believe it's been 7 months since we said goodbye to her. It's interesting, I keep waiting (hoping) that it will hurt a little less to not have her here with me, but the pain never really goes away. Does it get easier? Sure, it has to or no one would ever be able to function. But, gosh I miss her.

Sham was MY dog, I adopted her memorial day weekend of my first year teaching, a reward to myself for completing my first year on my own. She was seriously the cutest puppy ever which was good, because she was also one of the most destructive puppies ever... Her list of "accomplishments" included: bedsheets, towels, a down comforter (we still occasionally find feathers floating around), a blue pen on carpeted stairs, countless paperback books and the legendary wooden post bed. Aside from being wanted on several different terrorism networks, Sham was the best dog a girl could ask for. She was there for me when the rest of the world wasn't, time after time. She guided me through my 20's, never judging, always supportive with her big doggie grin and half chewed bone. When Steve moved to Georgia, I had Shammer to keep me company and rule the roost. Just a couple of single gals, looking for our next big adventure which turned out to be moving to Georgia when Steve and I got engaged a couple of years later.

My favroite memory of Sham has to be our camping trip to Hunters Beach Sate Park in South Carolina. I was pregnant with Stella and we decided to take a "babymoon" before life got too complicated. So, we piled Sham and Willie (our imitation chocolate lab) and went camping for the weekend. The dogs had a blast and so did we. Sham's most favorite thing to do in the entire world was swim. She would literally swim until her legs fell off. In and out of the ocean she and Willie ran, it was fantastic. We had so many good times with her, it's really hard to pick just one.

I could really use her heart right now as I go through this fight for my life. I miss her curled up next to me on the couch, or her preference, my bed. When I would be sad or having a bad day, she'd put her head on my lap and heave her great big doggie sigh, and then all would be right with the world. She knew me better than anyone. I have to trust that she's watching over me from doggie heaven, with bones aplenty and green grass to roll in as far as the eye can see. So, here's to you Old Girl, my star in the sky. I miss you...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Patio Season

Gosh this weather is fantastic!! It's hard not to feel like a million bucks when it's sunny and in the 80' March, but whatever. I wouldn't go as far as to say that I feel like a million bucks, but at least a couple hundred thousand :) The chemo haze is wearing off, which for me, is just feeling tired and dizzy, nothing too crazy. Oh, and wanting to eat anything not nailed down, but I'm hoping the warmer weather will kick my fat butt into exercising a little more...

I'm enjoying a few minutes of down time. The windows are all thrown open, the trees are blooming and Stella has been regulated to nap time in the pack n play. In the bonus room, where she can party hard but has a 2 x 3 foot space to work with. The last time I checked on her, she was singing a song about a ball and colors and had one foot propped straight up on the side of the pack n play. Oh nap time, what a joke! At least Simon is snoozing...for the moment. Just kidding, he apparently needs to eat every 2 hours today, growth spurt perhaps???

I am hoping that this weather (at least in the south) means that spring is officially here. I think Atlanta is at it's best in the spring, it's really beautiful here with all of the flowering trees and shrubs. So, if spring is officially sprung, that means we can declare patio season! What is patio season? Patio season is my most cherished event, it involves drinking and being outdoors! My absolute, most favorite thing to do is to sit out on the patio (or deck, garden, you get the point) with a drink (wine, beer, I'm not picky) and enjoy the beautiful weather. If good music is playing, that's a bonus. Why do I love this time of year so much? I think it's the anticipation, the excitement of warmer months and happier days ahead. What's not to love about sitting in the cool of the evening, enjoying a cocktail with friends and watching another day come to an end? So, sign me up, I'm ready! I could use a fresh pedicure and about 15 less pounds, but here's to spring and many more happy days to follow, cheers!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kicking Kyle's Ass

I'm here, not to worry! I took a break over the weekend from technology and it was a nice little vacation. I had my second round of chemo on Friday and it went well. It was much shorter, only about 3 hours this time instead of 5. I am happy to report that I am not really having any pain this time around, just a touch of dizziness. I'm pretty tired, but overall, I feel pretty good! I met with my oncologist and guess rash is almost gone!! She was absolutely pleased with my outward progress! Good news and an excellent way to start the weekend :) My parents flew into Atlanta to help us out with the kids over the weekend which was wonderful. I was able to catch up on some rest and enjoy the beautiful weather. I feel like my recovery is a little faster this time, but maybe that's just wishful thinking! Steve and I even managed to sneak out for dinner last night, just the two of us. I almost feel like I see him more now that I have cancer, than I did before all of this hit!

Steve shaved his head this weekend too, so now we are a "matching set". One of these days I'll get the guts up to take a picture of us together with no hair! I'm not quite there yet, but I will be. I do have to say that my morning routine has dramatically improved, having a shaved head gives new meaning to "wash and go"! That I could definintely get used to!

I'm starting to make some friends in the chemo lounge. On Friday, there a a girl who was starting her first round of chemo, she's stage 3 breast cancer. She's only 29 years old and a teacher, like me. She and I are the youngest patients that I've seen at our office, but I'm sure we're not alone. It was interesting talking to her and her parents (they were with her as she's not married or dating anyone currently...we had a lot of time to chat!). They were so scared and overwhelmed, it sent me right back to the week I was diagnosed, fresh memories again. There isn't a whole lot you can say other than I'm so sorry, take it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time. I was glad I had a chance to chat with her mom for a bit, she even seemed a little more optimistic when we left. Her mom was floored to know we're dealing with cancer and two little kids. Yes, it can always be worse, much worse. But, we're making it work. And at the end of the day, I can sleep at night knowing that I've done everything in my power to fight this disease, even if that just means keeping up a positive attitude, it's something I've got control over. Is that the secret for beating this? I'm not sure, but I can promise you this: I'm in it for the long haul, and I'm not looking back. Kyle can kiss my ass!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Going, Going, Gone!

Well, I did it. I shaved my head. Was my hair falling out in clumps? No, but it was coming out multiple strands at a time which was gross enough for me. I'm pretty sure that if I had an entire clump come out it would have been enough to send me screaming. So, I decided to be proactive. I have to admit, I look like a bruiser, the newest member of Fight Club...ugh. Bald is not a great look for me but the good news is that I'm pretty sure no one would mess with me in some dark alley. Consider that a warning :). I was most concerned about how Stella would react and it didn't seem to phase her at all. That kid really can roll with the punches. I ordered a great hat online that I really love along with a scarf and one of those turban looking things. I like all of them. My mom sent me a really cool hat with hair and when wearing that, I look the closest to me I think I'll get for a while. At some point I need to go wig shopping. Hopefully I'll be struck by divine intervention because at the moment, I have no idea which direction I want to go with that.

I have my second round of chemo on Friday. I'm not nervous, now that I know what to expect. I am curious to see how I'll feel after this round. I had dinner with a good friend last night that I hadn't seen in ages. I was so happy to see her and catch up and well, feel normal. I even ran into one of my former students who was hosting at the bistro. I don't think he even noticed that I didn't have any hair, although I did have my fabulous hat on.

I won't lie and say that shaving my head was some big revelation or event. I would say it was much more anticlimatic that I anticipated. Steve did a good job and it was over with quickly. If I'm being honest, I hate that I had to shave my head. Even on my worst hair days, at least I still had hair. I watch "What Not to Wear" all the time and never quite understood what they meant by hiding behind your hair. Now I totally get it and I have nowhere to hide. But, I'm slowly getting used to my new "look", my first visible battle scar. And really, if the worst thing that happens is me losing my hair, we'll call it a major victory!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tornadoes & Ladybugs

We had an interesting weekend. Spring has come early to the South, as it has to most parts of the country it seems. The weather forecasters had been predicting possible severe weather (which here means tornadoes and severe thunderstorms) for Friday. In my experience, "ususally" when they make a huge deal about a weather event nothing happens. Wrong-ola on Friday evening! Steve and I were catching up on some shows on the DVR (we may or may not have been watching Jersey Shore, I'll never tell!) when I heard our weather radio going off (best investment made when we moved to Georgia). I ran upstairs thinking we had a severe thunderstorm warning underway. When I looked at the screen on the radio it said Tornado Warning. Oh CRAP! Keep in mind it was after 9pm, so Stella was already in bed asleep and Simon was snoozing on his Boppy nest pillow on the couch. We turned on the news to have the weather forecasters freaking out. Okay, so maybe we should be paying attention. On a side note, some of the forecasters are really funny, in such ways as "Keep your shoes on people!" and "Remember: DUCK, it could save your life!". Anyway, it was absolutely still outside which was odd because normally with a tornado warning it's already storming. As we watched the news they were saying Marietta was going to take a direct hit...well, that's us! We were both glued to the TV. The announcers then started naming streets that were in the path. Suddenly, we were like, "oh, that's headed right for us". We ran around gathering flashlights and other essentials. Steve grabbed Stella out of bed and I chased Willie down into the basement (everything is a game to that dog!). Simon rode down to the basement on his pillow and never stirred. Poor Stella was very confused! By the way, it was still doing nothing outside. I walked over to peek out one of the basement windows and it had started to rain. All of the sudden the wind just started howling and the trees went sideways. I jumped back from the window. At the same time, the power flashed on and off about 5 times. And just that quickly it was done. After about 10 minutes, we ventured back upstairs and turned the news back on. The weathermen seemed certain that we had a tornado pass through and it turns out, we did. Luckily for us, the tornado touched down about a mile from our house, so we had minimal damage. However, that's WAY too close for comfort!! There are lots of trees and power lines down where the tornado did hit, so scary!

Other than that, our weekend was nice! Steve's parents came for a visit which was great and Stella was just ecstatic to have "Gamma and Gampa" here. Steve and I even managed to have date night on Saturday evening - we had a lovely dinner at the Chicken and the Egg. It was nice to be out without having to worry about the sugar packets being launched or beans being ground into every available surface. I was even able to enjoy a glass of wine without having to chug it for fear of impending meltdowns of our "sweet" children.

My glass or two of vino got me thinking that overall, I'm doing better than good, I'm great. Things could always be so much worse. Obviously I would prefer not to be juggling two small children while battling cancer, but we're making it work. In fact, my OB pointed out that having Simon probably saved my life. So, when presented with that little tidbit, I'm so very, very grateful for the way things have played out so far. No one would ever choose to go through this, but I'm so thankful for the blessings I have been given to deal with this mess.

The other day I was watching the news and there was a story about ladybugs and how they're becoming somewhat of a rare thing. Obviously, not at my house as they are EVERYWHERE! But you know what? Ladybugs are a sign of good luck. Stella was born 5 weeks early and thankfully just had to spend a few days in the NICU to gain back some weight. The nurses gave her a stuffed ladybug to keep her company when we couldn't be there. When I had Simon, he was over 5 weeks early too and had to spend some time in the NICU. On the third day he was to moved to a different room because his room had been invaded by ladybugs. The nurses were completely freaked out (the NICU is on the 7th floor of the hospital) but I thought it was really neat. He came home shortly after that. So, while most bugs are not welcome in my home, the ladybugs are free to come and go as they please. I'll take all the good luck I can get!