Saturday, December 31, 2011

Good Bye 2011. You Won't Be Missed.

Not since 2006 have I been so happy as to see a year end. In a perfect world I'd be starting 2012 with a clean bill of health rather than looking forward to my final Docetaxol treatment.

I've spent some time reading my blog, from last year at this time when life was grand, I had a fabulous new job that I loved, everything was coming up roses for me and my life was headed toward perfection.

And then the tone of my blog slowly declined when I started feeling tired all the time (in March/April - which when I think back may have been when all this started) and then when I found the lump in May it all went downhill.  I was about to add, much like my life, but the truth is, I don't think my life really has gone downhill. At least not totally, maybe just down the bunny slopes a bit. Sure I feel run down and tired all the time. Sure I'm scared completely shitless most of the time. Sure there are days that I don't even want to get out of bed.....but I do. I do because of these little people



And this guy....



So I went back and read my goals from last year.   It was interesting to see which ones I accomplished and which I didn't.

1. More patience? Sort of. I still have my moments but cancer has shown me that the little things don't really matter as much as they used to and I tend to not lose it over the silly things as easily. I pick my battles a bit better. I'm also not losing it with Mary as much as I used to.

2.  Better with money? Definitely!! We managed to clear our debt in the spring and while we do have some again it's because of circumstance, not because of careless spending. Once I'm back to work the remaining debt will be easily obliterated.

3.  Reconnect with an old friend. Sort of. We went to dinner twice. It was fun but I think we are at two very different places in life and I'm not entirely sure how we'd be able to rebuild a concrete friendship.  Sometimes people are just too different.

4.  Meeting one of the Pumpkin Patch Moms?  Yep, I got to meet two and it was fabulous! Now more than ever before the PP Mommies have become so important to me. Nothing could have ever prepared me for how supportive they have been to me in the last 6 months. I'm in the process of making a scrapbook to hold all the cards and letters I've received from them.

5.  Getting out of my comfort zone and trying something new? HAHAHA, what a freakin' joke. Yeah, I accomplished that goal because it was thrust upon me without my consent. Personally, I would have been more than happy to try something like sky diving or mountain climbing but I suppose having a body part removed and filling my body with all sorts of toxins counts.  I did make new friends though by branching out and joining a support group.

I guess that means it's time for me to set a whole new batch of goals for 2012.

1. This might be painfully obvious but my first and biggest goal is to beat cancer. I want to be a survivor. And not just this year but every year. When we do the Relay for Life in June I want to walk that survivor lap and wear the yellow shirt.  I want to start my cancer free countdown.

2. I'm going to get healthy. Not just cancer free but healthy. I joined the gym last year and I loved it. I'm going to do that again, as soon as I get the okay from the Dr. I'm going to exercise, get fit and eat right. Probably not all the time, let's be honest, but a whole lot more than now. I'm not going to indulge weekly, but maybe once a month. I need to get healthy in order to accomplish my first goal.

3. I'm going to take more pictures. I know I already take a million but I'm going to take more. I have a fabulous lens but I'm still learning how to use it. I'm going to do that this year and have some fabulous shots.

4.  I'm going to make some great memories with my kids this year. I'm not sure what yet, but something that they'll always look back fondly on.

5. I'm going to do something for me. As Mom's we often put our families first, and rightfully so but the events of the past few months have taught me that it's okay to take time for yourself too, to be selfish sometimes and to do things for yourself occasionally.

6.  I'm going to let my family and friends know each and every day that I love and appreciate them.

7.  I will meet another PP Mom. At last count there were over 30 and I've only met 2. I have a lot of hugs to dish out.

8. I will finish writing the book I've been working on.  It might never get read and likely never published but at least it will get written.

Some of those might be lofty goals but I'm sure I can accomplish them. I can do anything I set my mind to. I'm just that stubborn.

So rather than looking back at a year that for large portion of it sucked....I'm going to look forward, to a new life, a healthy life and a happy life.

And to all of you, I wish you a year of happiness, good health and good fortune. And Love.

Friday, December 30, 2011

I've been really slacking lately, I'm sorry. Between the holidays, the kids being home from school, my feeling crappy and then having my energy surge, I've just not found the time to blog.
I've got a lot on my mind. The new year ahead for one. I'm thinking about going back to work and when that will be. I'm now toying with the idea of going back at the beginning of April instead of after March break. Partly because no matter what I'm not going to have the hours in to collect employment insurance this summer so why rush myself back so soon after treatment and partly because Sean will be on holidays for the last week of March and first week of April so I'd like to use that opportunity to take our family somewhere to celebrate the end of my treatment and my (hopefully) clean bill of health.  The debate now just lies on where we go. I personally want to take the kids to Florida but the money is just not there and I doubt I'll be able to convince him.

Sean has been working nights over the holidays so I've been staying up a lot later than I normally do. (I hate when he works nights) Of course, Connor still wakes at 7 am sharp and expects me to get up with him. I'm thinking it's high time he start getting up and watching tv for a while while I doze for a while longer. The problem is that he is one of those people who likes to eat breakfast right when he wakes up and since he can't make his own breakfast I'm stuck getting up. Blah.

This Christmas was the first year I didn't feel like we were overrun with toys and clutter. When it came time for the Christmas tear down I didn't feel overwhelmed with 'stuff'. It was fantastic!  And even though we got three new appliances (a deep fryer, a popcorn popper and a kitchenaid mixer) I still managed to declutter the kitchen counters and make the kitchen look bigger (I have a really crappy, small, galley kitchen. I hate my kitchen and it's the one thing I wish I could change about this house. One day maybe)

Tomorrow is New Years eve. Sean is working. My girlfriends are going to come over for yummies and drinks and perhaps some cards too. I"m looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to a new year. A better year.

One can hope!

Monday, December 26, 2011

So This is Christmas

I'm sure you've been waiting with bated breath to hear all about my Christmas.
What?

You haven't? You mean to tell me you have a life outside of reading my blog? Well shit.

Alright, all jokes aside, I'm going to tell you all about my Christmas anyway.

We spent Christmas eve with my brothers and their families. It was the only day all of us could collect at one time. It was really nice having everyone together but I'll admit, I was feeling incredibly lousy and couldn't really focus on anything. It's my own fault. I spent a week taking percocets for the after treatment pain and then rather than weaning slowly I stopped cold turkey on Christmas eve so that I could indulge in a little beverage of the alcoholic variety. But stopping like that after taking them every 4 hours for a week leaves you with withdrawal symptoms.

However, all of that aside, it was a lovely evening an a delicious meal.

The kids got to open their gifts (on Christmas eve! That's unheard of!)


Monster Trucks rule! We're taking Connor to see Monster Jam in January. Grave Digger is the coolest.


Who doesn't love shopping?? She spent it already!



Who doesn't love shopping and pop?? She spent hers already too.

When we came home from my brothers house the kids ran right to their rooms to find their elf pj's. You see, every Christmas eve when we are out visiting one of Santa's elves stops by and leaves everyone a new pair or pajama's for Christmas.

My oldest brother stayed with us for Christmas this year. It was nice.

My brother and I were very close when I was young but in the last 13 years or so  we grew apart. we were very different people with very different lives. In the last few years my brother has hit some hard times and he's not beginning to build himself back up and get his life back and for the first time in a very long time I really feel like I have three brothers again, not just two. I was glad to have him here and I know he was glad to be here.

When I get home and I know I'm not going out again I tend to get into my comfy clothes. That means, wig off, bra/boob off and pajamas on. As I said I was not feeling well on Christmas eve so when I got home I went right to my room to get changed. Connor came with me. I pulled my wig off and Connor wanted to help me put it on the foam head I keep it on. Instead I put it on him.


He looks just like me.


After the kids went to bed, we dug all of the presents out of the cold room and sorted them into their piles under the tree. Santa had to change the living room around to accommodate them all.


On Christmas morning the kids were thrilled with their big gifts



Emily loved her TNA coat




Mary was thrilled about her iPod touch.

Connor got a LeapPad and while I can't say he was overjoyed when he opened it (he didn't know what it was) but once we opened it for him to play with we didn't see him for over an hour. And now he spends a good part of the day playing with his 'iPod'.


It was a lovely, quiet, relaxing Christmas. We didn't go anywhere Christmas day. (I was going to go to mass but we spent so long opening presents I missed it)  Instead, we all found our separate corners and played with our new toys. (I got a new laptop and I bought Sean xbox 360 with kinect)


This morning I took the girls boxing day shopping to spend their money. Emily waited in line for over an hour to get into lululemon but she finally got her hoodie. (though it wasn't on sale)


I haven't been feeling 100% and I know had I been I would have enjoyed my Christmas more but I was happy to be feeling as good as I did and I hope that next year will be even better.

For now, I look ahead, to the New Year, to new things, to great things and to the future.




Friday, December 23, 2011

Fa La La La La La La La La

It's amazing how life gives you do overs.

I had a post all written here, it was not the most cheerful, mostly complaints about how I'm feeling mixed in with some comments about how I know I could have it a lot worse. But when I hit the publish post button all was lost.

This is my reminder that things really could be a hell of a lot worse and to quit my bitching.

So no complaints from me. Instead, I'm going to wish you all a very merry and blessed Christmas.

And I'll leave you with one of my favorite songs from this time of year

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The End of an Era?

Last year was the first time I'd ever heard of the Elf on the Shelf. Some of my PP sisters had them for their little ones.
After Thanksgiving when all the elves came out to 'play' I was seeing updates of their antics on friends FB pages, one friend in particular is incredibly creative with hers.  Well, if there is something fun for Christmas I can't miss out on that so I went out and bought us an Elf.

He made his appearance on the first of December. At first, I wasn't so creative. Awkward (that is the name Connor chose for him, though apparently it's spelled with an O - Okward - because O makes the 'aw'  - not AW I don't argue with a 4 year old. )  was sitting on the gingerbread house, or hiding in the fridge. One night he played Scrabble and spelled out "I am still watching"  Not bad, but not as good as some of the stuff I've seen.

One night late last weekend when I was feeling particularly crappy from the chemo and not at all interested in being creative  I sat Awkward in a flower pot reindeer that Connor made at the Hearthplace Christmas party.   Later that evening while watching tv Emily commented that I needed to find better places to display him.

WHAT??!!! I don't know what you're talking about. I'm not doing anything! It's the Elf. He goes back to the north pole every night and reports to Santa.

We should note something. Emily has never officially said she doesn't believe in Santa.  Yeah, I know she's 12 but we've long held the belief that she assumed if she said she didn't believe she wouldn't get presents from him. So it was safer to just say she believed. 

I had written a note for Awkward to give to the kids, on tea soaked, edge burned paper but try as I might, my handwriting will always look like my handwriting. I'm sure she knew beforehand  - she's not an idiot - but this clinched it.

So I told Emily, if she thought she could do a better job of displaying him she should have at it. I even googled some Elf on the Shelf idea sites for her.

Clearly, I underestimated my child and her creative juices. She didn't need help and in fact has put me to shame. I'm also seeing a dark side to my daughter. Wasn't I about her age when I started reading Stephen King?


The sign says "Elf on the Shelf. For Elf,  Hot Babes and Cool Guys Only. Exclusive Club"
The sign on the table beside the snowman reads "Bouncer, No Nerds Allowed" 

Now, one should note who Awkward is dancing with. Red Hat Barbie. (clearly a cougar - though one must be over 50 to be a Red Hat - I'm not sure what an over 50 cougar is called) 

The thing is, the night before this club scene, Awkward was curled up on a makeshift couch with the Barbie in the black dress (Amish Barbie), their baby and their cat, watching TV (though if she's Amish there wasn't a whole lot of TV watching going on....she'd be shunned) 

One must deduce from this scene that Awkward got tired of the 'plain' life and went clubbing. His Amish wife followed him and caught him all over another woman.  Awkward..... 
hmm, Connor had some real foresight in chosing his name I see.

I think that might be what led to this scene.


Our hero, Awkward, is now hanging by his ankles and can either be eaten by a hungry dinosaur, some anxious lions or some tiger cubs.   This picture doesn't show it well but the dinosaur has blood on his teeth. It's red and sparkly. So now you know. Elves have sparkly blood.

I can't wait to see what Emily does with Awkward tonight. I've officially handed over the reigns to her. She's awesome.

Oh, and she's finally admitted out loud that she knows there's no Santa. Apparently in 5th grade she saw a Hannah Montana toothbrush under the covers in my bed that ended up in one of their stockings.

It might be the end of that era, but it's the start of a whole new, fun one.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I Shall Return

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth,  I assure you. I'm just at the point of side effects in which my fingertips hurt and typing is extremely painful.

But I'll see ya soon!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Vanity. Only Skin Deep?

I've never been a particularly vain person. I didn't wear make up for 7 years (except the extremely rare occasion) I only began wearing it again when I went back to work last year and as soon as the warm temps hit and I got some sun on my face I stopped again. Since cancer I've only worn it two or three times just to give myself a boost.

I wasn't overly traumatized about losing the breast, my prosthetic, though heavy and chilly to put on first thing in the morning looks completely natural. I'll admit there are some days where I'm just not 'feeling it' to be topless around Sean but thinking back, I'm sure there were days like that before I righty hacked off. We all have "I'm not feeling so sexy" days. And wardrobe issues have developed with regards to cleavage and the lack there of on the right but it's getting sorted out.

I had a little more trouble with the hair loss but was perfectly content to wear my scarf and wait for my hair to grow back.

The thing is, I want to go back to work in March and let's face it, I'll still be bald. I don't think a scarf everyday will be professional and it will also bring about the questions from all the parents. I don't want to have to deal with that day in and day out. I'm sure they'll all know within an month of my being back to work but it doesn't need to be immediate ("Oh, the head scarf....she has cancer!")

So I went to Blossom and got me a wig.  And holy crap, Thank God for insurance because I had no idea how expensive this stuff is!

It's growing on me. I wear it everyday, even if it's just a few hours, to get used to the feel. At first it felt like it was falling off all the time but I'm getting used to how it should feel and look and I'm starting to really love it. And yet, part of my feels like it's silly vanity. Beauty is more than skin deep, I'm the first to tell my girls that, and justified it with 7 years of not wearing make up and 'dolling' myself up. If someone didn't like the natural me, screw 'em. And yet now, the natural me has one boob and no hair and I do my best to hide that. Strange how things change.

But part of beating cancer is mental and if making myself feel good is wearing a wig and a fake boob then it's on.

At any rate, here it is for all my readers who are no FB friends. My new do.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bad Little Blogger

I'm sorry I've been so MIA lately. I've been shirking my blogging responsibilities. Where has Tasty Tuesday been and where has Shameless Plug Sunday gone? They'll be back, I promise, I've just been knee deep in Christmas, ( I thought I was done...Hahaha, silly me!) and chemo and decluttering...just to name a few things.

Where to start?

Tomorrow is chemo number 5. For those keeping track I have one more after this (Praise the Lord!).  I didn't suffer as much with this chemo but my energy level is lower than it used to be and the effects lasted longer. This one's effects last longer and there were two three days where the pain was ridiculous but overall I'm handling it better. The downside is my nails. My toe nails, in particular are thinning and I fear I will lose them before this is all over. I'm wearing my nail hardener and polish like I was told to. Oh well.

On the weekend I took Connor and Mary to the Hearthplace Christmas party. It was for kids who were in the kids connect program (kids who's parents have cancer) and for the kids who have cancer themselves. It was a lot of fun, the kids had a blast. They had different activity stations for the kids to do Christmas crafts. They had treats and coffee for us grown ups. They had a magician, Larry Potter. He was great. They had this little area that was divided off, no adults allowed,  for the kids to go into and they went "shopping" for gifts for their parents and then wrapped them. So under the tree now are two gift each for Sean and I that are truly a surprise and picked out by the kids themselves. I'm so excited to see that they are.
While we were there we got to see the little guy who Mary had donated her toys to. I didn't get a chance to meet the mom because it was so busy. But I have to relay the cutest story ever.

So the little boy from this post was sitting and waiting patiently for his turn to sit on Santa's knee. Santa called his name and he ran up and sat with him, smile from ear to ear. Santa talks to him and gives him a gift. The little boy tears into the gift right then and there and one of the toys was a beyblade. Well, his mom told me later (I'll explain about meeting her in a minute) that the one thing he'd asked for was a beyblade. The kid went NUTS. Screaming, jumping up and down, hugging Santa....I've never seen a kid more happy than he was right then and there. It was fabulous. It made the day to see it.

I've had a burst of energy and thought it was time to get my crawl space cleaned up....again. Only this time I'm trying to declutter some more. I had 8 file boxes of resources for work. The thing is, with my new job, 90% of what I've accumulated in the past 15 years is of no use to me anymore. But I didn't want to just recycle it. That was my sweat, blood and tears. So I offered it up on freecycle to anyone who wanted it. I'm really fussy with who I give things to on freecycle. I want manners in a reply. I don't want the person to assume that just because they want it I'm going to give it to them. If they don't have manners I'd sooner drop it off at Goodwill than give it to them. And I tend to give things to people I've given things to before...I don't need my address floating around out there too much.

Anyway, one of the people who replied was the Mom of the little boy mentioned above. Turns out, she's a teacher and will be teaching JK/SK next year. So I gave them all to her. Mary and I got to meet her this afternoon and she sounds like a really nice person. I was glad to help her and her little guy out.

Finally I got me a new wig. Sean and I went Monday night and I tried on about 10 of them with the help of a stylist. She looked at a pic of me I brought from when I loved my hair and we played around with colour, length and style. I finally settled on one that Sean seemed to really like and it's growing on me. It will take some getting used to though.

But now, dear reader, I'm going to leave you high and dry without a picture of me  and my new do. You see, for any of you ladies who've ever been to a salon, you know the harsh lighting makes you look totally washed out when you're not wearing make up and since I've already washed my face and haven't yet had a chance to take a pic...you're gonna have to wait. Soon though, I promise. When I'm all dressed up for my work Christmas party on Friday.

Tata!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

An Update

Yes, I've been MIA for a while (I guess a few days is a while for me)  I've been busy, not feeling great and generally kind of blah.

I'm having trouble getting going. I'm tired most of the time and not really feeling 100%.  This is the first week I've been unmedicated since my last treatment (well, the last couple of days) and I find my body is going through a withdrawal from the percocets. I'll truly be glad when chemo is done and I can be done with those.

A few months ago I had to fill out some forms for the Familial Breast and Ovarian Cancer Clinic at Princess Margaret Hospital to see if I was a candidate for genetic testing - to see if my particular cancer is the hereditary kind.  They wanted to know my entire family history of cancer on both sides for as far back and laterally as I could determine. It wasn't too hard since the history of cancer in my family, on both sides, thankfully, is not very strong.

The clinic called yesterday to do a phone interview. They basically confirmed all the info I gave on the questionnaire. The clinic determined that I am not a candidate for genetic testing, the reason being that between the types and patterns of cancer in my family history combined with my particular make up of my cancer there is only a 2% chance it's genetic. I could, of course, opt to pay for the testing myself (upward of $3500) but I don't see the need. Princess Margaret Hospital knows their cancer and if this clinic says there's a 98% chance it's not genetic that's good enough for me.

What this means is that my daughters, while they will still have to be diligent in checking themselves and will have to have routine mammograms at a younger age (because I was under 40 at diagnosis) their risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer is not anywhere near as high as it would be if it were a hereditary cancer.

She also told me that through the Ontario Breast Screening Program women who are at a higher risk for breast cancer (which would include me - as a recurrence) can have yearly mammograms/breast MRI's.  She said she could input my info (family history as well as my cancer) into the program and it would determine my likelihood of a recurrence and therefore whether or not I qualify for this as well. She said the risk factor would need to be 24% to qualify.

I was on pins and needles again, it's been a long time since I've had to hear 'new information' on my cancer and at the moment I'm enjoying the blissful ignorance of hope that between surgery and chemo I'm cancer free and will stay that way for the remainder of my very, very long life. So I told her to go ahead and put the info in and then I held my breath.  Based on the info put in (family history and my own cancer) my risk factor for a recurrence is 16%.  That's not a bad number if you ask me. I don't even qualify for the program. Yay!  Now, that's not to say I won't still be getting regular checks, my Dr will  see to that, it's just that under this particular program, I don't.

So, yesterday was all about good news.

And yet, for some reason I'm still feeling kind of crappy.

I was supposed to go for a wig fitting this morning at a local salon that specializes in it. I need a wig for when I go back to work. Plus, frankly, I'd like to go out once in a while and not have everyone automatically know I'm a cancer patient.

I packed up the wig I have (that I don't like) and a picture I have of a time when I really loved my hair. Sean and I went to the salon for my scheduled time and it was locked. No one home. We waited about 15 minutes and finally left. I called and left a message.

A few minutes later the stylist called, her car had broken down. Sean, ever the skeptic, thought it was an excuse and maybe it was but she sounded genuinely upset that she'd missed us. So I'm going back Monday afternoon. We'll see if I can find something.

And last but not least on my updates....
Mary went and bought all the toys for the toy drive.




Her intention was to donate them to a local toy drive. Then, one day, earlier in the week I read an email on our local freecycle network. A little boy who's been battling leukemia for the past 3 years has been donating toys to the Scarborough Centenary Hospital's Sick Kids Satellite Unit. His Mom was putting a call out for anyone who wanted to donate toys. 
This struck me on so many levels. I complain about 6 months of chemo, this little guy has been doing it for three years. Three years.  What a tough, brave little boy.

I talked to Mary, showed her his Facebook Page and asked her if she wanted to donate the toys to him for his toy drive.

So last night we drove out to his house and dropped them off. Unfortunately, no one was home but I left them at the door and his Mom emailed me last night to say she got them and thanks.

So, that's about it for now. I'm sure I'll work myself out of this funk soon enough. Sean's working some overtime tonight so I'm going to cuddle up on the couch with a beer and maybe rent myself a chick flick. And I'm going to enjoy some all by myself 'me time.'

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Where does the time go?

9 years ago today I was sitting on the couch in the dining room, getting ready to take Emily to the zoo. I stood up and sploosh (yep, that was the sound it made) my water broke. 7 hours later Mary Jo was born.

Mary was by far, my easiest labour and my easiest delivery. She was also 9 days early. I am convinced it's because a few days earlier we'd gone on a very bumpy sleigh ride to get a real Christmas tree.

My water broke at about 8:30 in the morning and I didn't start having contractions until 1:30pm. By the time they got painful enough to get an epidural it was too late to get one and I was ready to push. And it was only 3:30 pm. Two pushes later, there she was

Mary has been full of spunk since the day she was born. Her personality reflects her red hair and she keeps me on my toes. She's funny, smart, beautiful, caring, generous and loving. She's a fabulous big sister to Connor and a great little sister to Emily. And she knows just how to push everyones buttons to make them crazy. I wouldn't trade her for the world. And I can't believe she's 9 already. We've reached that point where she's in between little kid and big kid. I had a few parents ask me what she'd like for her birthday and this year, I was at a total loss. She still likes toys (sometimes) but she also likes the 'big kid' stuff like shopping, iPods and brand name clothes (though she's still too tiny to shop at a lot of those stores)  

We had her birthday party yesterday. That was an interesting experience. We had a luau themed party, which in the end worked out to be grass skirts and lei's, a tiki themed cake and a tiki pinata. We also had a daiquiri bar (smoothies) and fruit kabobs. I do have to pat myself on the back because besides the chocolate in the pinata (one of her friends has a peanut allergy so I couldn't fill the pinata with a standard pinata filler - I had to buy the safe/peanut free stuff)  I managed to throw a birthday party with fruit as the snacks and the kids were begging for more. Ha ha, jokes on them...they had healthy stuff at a party.

I told Mary earlier in the day that while her friends were here I'd wear my scarf (I don't wear it at home) so her friends wouldn't be wigged out (no pun intended) by her bald mom. She told me I didn't need to, all her friends knew her Mom had cancer and that she had no hair. I opted to wear it anyway, more so because for the most part, I don't think the parents knew and I didn't want to shock them at the door.

I was right. It wasn't so apparent with the parents of the kids I didn't know since they'd never met me (and vice versa) so I couldn't gauge their expressions but with the parents of the kids I do know. I could see the change in their eyes. The realization. The "Oh, my!"   I actually joked with Sean because one of the Dad's came and was walking with a cane and I said to Sean "I really wanted to know what was up with the cane and he really wanted to know what was up with the head scarf and neither of us asked" 

What I find the most interesting is the kids reaction. Kids amaze me. They are so non chalant, relaxed and matter of fact. I remember being worried the first time Mary's bff slept over after I'd shaved my head. She's known me for most of her life and to see me the first time with no hair I expected a bit of a double take, stare or even a blatant "Whoa, you look weird!" (because she's comfortable enough with us to say that without it being taken the wrong way) but there was none of that. It was almost as if she didn't even notice I was bald. And Mary's friends were the same way, they didn't even seem to notice the head scarf or lack of hair. I sometimes think adults could take a lesson from kids. Not that the reaction from adults bothers me - mostly - but I can't stand the head tilt/sympathy look. Don't feel sorry for me. Sure it sucks but I'm not sitting around feeling sorry for myself and I don't want pity from anyone. This is a bump in the road of my life and it's going to make me and my family stronger when it's all said and done.

Anyhow, the party was a great success. Mary and her friends had a blast. I'm sure my neighbours wanted to call the cops because there were seven 9 year old girls in the backyard screaming at the top of their lungs. And my beautiful, intelligent, bundle of energy was the loudest of them all.

And I wouldn't trade that for anything....well, some earplugs maybe.

Shameless Plug Sunday - The Snuggled Stitch

I've said, fairly often, that I'm done having kids. So my need for bibs, burp cloths and the like is, well, not there. But then I saw the Rah Rah Ruffle Pants and I was sold!

Today's plug is for The Snuggled Stitch.  You can visit the Etsy Shop here.

And it's not just bibs and burp cloths (though if you're still in that stage and need those things, she's got 'em!) but the Rah Rah Ruffle Pants are so cute!! If my girls were young enough that they'd wear them, I'd get them a pair each - maybe with Canadien's material to make Daddy happy.

Amanda, the owner and creator of these super cute creations has recently added embroidery to her repertoire and I've fallen in love with the Christmas hand towels.

I'm in the process of having a skirt made for Mary. It's a 'very Mary' skirt. You'll recall, Mary's style is Phoebe (from Friends) meets Herb Tarlek (WKRP) smashed together with Punky Brewster (or Blossom, depending on which generation you're from)  She's got a style all her own and the skirt Amanda is creating will reflect that. I can't wait to see it!

I highly recommend visiting her Facebook Page (go ahead and 'like' it while you're there) and her Etsy Shop. She's got a lot of great products and does great custom work!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Are We Really That Disconnected?

Some of you may remember last year when I conducted a little social experiment. Actually, it wasn't meant to be an experiment, it was only meant to be a random act of kindness but because it took so long to be taken it kind of turned into that.

Well the Christmas season is upon us again and while I do commit random acts of kindness through the year I tend to do them more at this time of year. I think sometimes, people need it more at this time of year. People are more stressed and harried around the holidays. Suicide rates jump, depression spikes....

A few weeks ago I picked up a few $5 Tim Horton's cards, printed out some notes about receiving a random act of kindness and passing the love on, etc and put them into envelopes in my purse. When the opportunity has presented itself (a public place with no one around) I've been leaving the envelopes to be found.

This morning I left my last envelope in a shopping cart in WalMart. The envelope was decorated with Christmas stickers and said OPEN ME on it. A few minutes after I left it there I saw a women walk past me with the cart. She was my age, maybe a bit younger, with two young children in the cart. The envelope was still there untouched. She could see it, no doubt but I guess had chosen to not open it. I tried to keep an eye on her to see if she would open it or put it in her purse but she had a scowl on her face and made a beeline to the clothing section so I lost her and didn't see her again. So, I really don't know if she opened the envelope or if she left and and someone else got it. Judging by the look on her face she probably could have used the cheering up.

I got to thinking though, why didn't she open it right then? Was she afraid it belonged to someone else? It was just sitting in the basket of the cart, the cart was in the area with all the other carts. There was nothing else in the cart (no old flyers or bags or anything) so it didn't get mixed with garbage. Maybe I'm on my own in this but if I saw an envelope that said OPEN ME with Christmas stickers, I'd open it, just out of curiosity sake and if need be, if it looked like something someone lost I'd turn it into customer service (much like finding a wallet) But if I'd opened that envelope I'd have seen it was for me.

I'm sure there is someone out there who is as nosey as me who will open it and will hopefully get a smile from it.

Last night I was watching the news and this story was on.  The reporter was at the scene and was stopping people and asking them had they seen it happening would they have called the police. Make note of that, she didn't ask if they'd step in to stop it, just if they'd call the police. I was astounded at how many people said no. NO! Can you believe that??

I get not getting in the middle of it to stop it. Once, many years ago when Sean and I first started dating we were out for a walk and a guy and girl were having a screaming match at a gas station. Sean was concerned for the girl and being from an insanely small town and not really grasping big city dynamics he wanted to go and assist her. I quite literally had to hold him back and explain why that wasn't a safe idea but that we would call the police, which we did.  But for all those people to say the wouldn't even call the cops?

Is that what our world is coming to? People are so self absorbed now that they turn a blind eye to both crime and good deeds? Is it that shocking to think someone might just want to do some good for the sake of doing good? Or that someone would do what's right and help someone in need?

Was I brought up differently  than other people? I don't think so.

I didn't grow up 'priveleged'. Our family struggled financially for most of my young life. Despite that, my brothers and I never went without. We had food, clothes, toys, a roof over our heads. We might of whined and complained that we didn't have the latest gadgets (like Commodore 64) or the coolest clothes (like Johnny G jeans) but we also lived in a neighbourhood where we saw a lot of families who had a hell of a lot less than we did.

One particular year a family moved in next door to us; a single mom and her three very young daughters. That Christmas my mom organized a drive among the neighbours; all families who had financial hardships just like ours, to collect toys, clothes and food for this young family so that those three little girls would have a Christmas. Because otherwise, they wouldn't have.

I got to go with my mom to the neighbours house to drop off the box to them and I'll never forget the Mom crying and thanking my mom and I'll never forget one of the little girls squealing because there was a baby doll in the box for her.

Why is it that those who have the least to give, give the most?

It sounds hypocritical of me. I spent upwards of $300 per child this Christmas and more on Sean. They're getting the latest gadgets and the brand names. Because I can. But, what I'm making sure is not lost on them is that they are lucky to have these things and that they are lucky to have the life they do. Because so many don't.  They know the story of our neighbourhood toy drive and for years we did one too (with my home daycare)  This year Mary stepped it up with selling her stuffed animals for toy drive money. I'm taking her shopping tonight. If we shop right, she can get a lot of toys to donate for $55 she got.  I'm proud of her and she's proud of herself.

It makes me sad to see stories like that one on the news. I must be a hopeless optimistic to think that the world is a better place than that. I'd like to think my little corner of it is. I believe in the goodness of people.

I challenge you all to commit a random act of kindness this holiday season. If you've ever been lucky enough to receive one, you know how they can really make a person's day. And the payoff is great because while I might not know if that lady with the two kids opened the envelope, I'm most certain someone did and I'll bet they smiled and felt good and that makes ME feel good. 

What more could a person ask for?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Baked Beans

**I can't take credit for this recipe. I got it from the March 2011 issue of Chatelaine.  All my other recipes are also borrowed but have been adapted by me in some way to make it my own. This one however, was not and well, I don't want to get nailed for stealing a recipe**  As a side note, if you don't already have one, I would highly recommend a subscription to this fine magazine. There is not an issue that goes by that doesn't have at least one amazing recipe in it and it's not all 'magazine recipes' that real people and real families wouldn't eat. And if you can get through the 80 million ads there are some good articles too.

But I'm getting off track.

If you're like me, baked beans are a comfort food. I love that musical fruit. And the thing about baked beans is that it works as a stand alone meal or a side.  However, if you're further like me you like to avoid canned foods. The sodium content in a can of baked beans is through the roof. And one can of baked beans will do one, maybe two people in our house. So in a family of 5, that's a lot of cans of beans. Not so economical.

Beans can be tough to make though, you need patience when cooking with dry beans because otherwise you'll end up cracking a tooth. This particular recipe is for the slow cooker - so it takes the pressure off of the wait.  Throw it in the pot in the early morning and when you get home from work, you're set.

I usually double this recipe because they freeze really, really well.

Baked Beans

1 onion, chopped
4 slices of bacon (I like to use back bacon, it's thicker and tastier)
1/2 cup of fancy molasses
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp hot chili flakes
2 cups of dry navy beans, rinsed
1 bottle of beer (the recipe calls for de-alcoholized beer but the alcohol will cook off so don't worry about it)
3 cups of water

Now here's the hard part. Put it all into the crock pot, turn it low and cook for 10 hours. (I do mine on high for 6 hours and they cook nicely too)

You do not need to pre soak your beans for this recipe. There is so much water and beer that they cook really nicely and what liquid doesn't get absorbed by the beans reduces nicely.

Talk about your simple recipes.


Enjoy!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

This Too Shall Pass....

I've tried to write this post twice now but between chemo fog (apparently a real thing, much like baby brain) percocet fog and very tender fingertips (making it uncomfortable to type as quickly as I normally do) I'm having trouble getting the words out.

It will be short and sweet today.

It sucks. It hurts (for those who've had children, think childbirth but in all your joints and no lag time between contractions) I've had some pretty bizarre dreams in the last couple of days (Chemo? Perks? Who knows) and I've probably sweat off 20 lbs  but no matter what kind complaining I do, I will take these side effects over the other ones ANY DAY!!  The pain is manageable (as long as I remember to take my pills every 4 hours, not a minute later) and I'm not even the slightest bit nauseous.  I have no energy but my mom took one for the team this weekend and had the kids for me so I could do absolutely nothing but sit on the couch or lie in bed and get better.

I'm feeling better today. I'm going to take it easy and by tomorrow I should be back on my feet. I've got a busy week ahead. The Whitby Santa Claus Parade is on Saturday and my Mom, Connor and I are walking in it, representing Papa's Pride in the Canadian Cancer Society's section. And then that afternoon is Mary's Hawaiian Luau birthday party and  her bff is sleeping over. And then my favorite part....the Christmas tree is going up on Sunday!! Hooray!!

But for now, I need a shower.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Shameless Plug Sunday - Johanna G Photography

When I was younger (and truthfully, even now) I would look at pictures in National Geographic and think "wow, I want take pictures like that!"

Sean bought me a Nikon D3000 for Christmas a couple of years ago and I read books and scoured the internet and practiced and practiced and practiced. 

I'm not bad. Out of every 100 pictures I take I get 3 or 4 that I really love, that I think are good, not just to me but to others as well.

But, professional quality, I am most certainly not.

Today's plug goes to Johannah G Photography 

In the interest of full disclosure, I've never had photos done by Johannah, but only because we live 3 hours away from one another.
However, I've seen hundreds of her photos over the past year or so and her talent is growing. She's got a great eye and a way with her subjects that brings out some beautiful pictures.

Johannah's talent doesn't just lie in portraits, I've seen landscapes and more recently some pictures she took in Quebec City of the old architecture and well, they are just gorgeous.

If you're in the Southern Ontario area and need some great photography done, I would highly recommend contacting her. You won't be sorry. In the meantime, check out her Facebook Page and all her gorgeous pictures and don't forgot to 'Like' her while you're there.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

So Far, So Good

I don't want to jinx it though.

I went to dinner last night with my Mom, Sean, my Aunt, my cousin and two friends to celebrate my Dad's birthday. We went to Harpos. It was an excellent meal, despite my not feeling too great. I had the onion soup, salmon fillet and cherry cheesecake.

The side effects of this treatment are starting to kick in. I woke at 2 hour intervals all night last night. My face and neck are quite red. My mouth is tingling, though I'm being very religious about brushing and rinsing with the prescription strength mouthwash after every meal. My mouth feels much like how it feels after you've burned your mouth on coffee of hot soup. If I can keep the mouth sores away I'll be a happy camper.

My legs and back are aching too. I've got my percocets but I'm rationing, my oncologist thinks Tylenol 3's should do the trick...I don't know though. I took one before dinner last night and it didn't do squat. The problem is the percs make me loopy. Can't win for trying.

But again, so far, the side effects of this are a hell of a lot better than the side effects of the red devil so I'll take it.  I'm just a little edgy.

In my effort to purge my house of all that is clutter we had to address the issue of Mary's stuffed animals. Mary had upwards of 100 stuffed animals that she was having a hard time parting with. I didn't want to insist she just dump them off at Value Village and we could have freecycled them but I wanted to find a way of making it more meaningful for her. So I came up with a plan.

We made up bags of 10 stuffies (Webkinz and Build A Bears) and posted them for sale online. We offered each bag for $5 each. Mary will then take the money she gets for those stuffies to buy toys for the local toy drive. I posted the ad yesterday morning and she's already sold all of her bags (plus a few people donated without actually buying and stuffies) and she's raised $55!! So next week when I'm feeling better I'll take her out to buy a load of toys to drop off at the fire hall. I'm so proud of her (and she is so proud of herself too!) 

And though she's got the reward of knowing she's done something remarkable,  paid it forward and done some good in the world, she's still young and I don't want her to go unrewarded, she did, after all, purge over 70 much loved stuffed  animals. So I matched each sale and she now has $50 of her own to spend in anyway she wants. (after her birthday and Christmas of course!)

My post is a little jumpy today, my apologies. I'm fogged by chemo and percocets but I'm here, I'm doing pretty good so far and hoping it doesn't get much worse.

Happy Saturday everyone.

Friday, November 25, 2011

65

Today would have been my Dad's 65th birthday. I truly think that with how my Dad's health was over the last 10 years, with his diabetes and heart he didn't think he'd ever see 65. But despite that, not one of us every in a million years thought it would be cancer that took him from us.

I suspect it will be a sad day today, wishing we could have him here to celebrate such a milestone birthday. Tonight many of us will get together at a nice restaurant my Dad liked and have dinner together to celebrate his birthday and toast him and his contribution to our lives and our world.

As much as I wish my Dad could still be here I take solace in knowing he's up in Heaven rooting for me, praying for me and putting in a good word for me. He's one of my many strengths and like my Dad, I'm a fighter. He'll help me beat cancer, I know that without a doubt.

But I still wish I could hug him when I'm scared.

I miss you Dad.
Happy Birthday.
I love you.


Dad, me and Mom on my wedding day. March, 1998


Dad, me, Mary Jo and Emily, sometime in 2003



Dad and Connor kisses. This one hangs above Connor's bed.
 

Mary Jo and Papa share a yawn.



Dad and his Mom Eva, my Grandma/Memere


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Number 4 DONE!!

This was truly the longest day ever. Okay, maybe next to the day I had my mastectomy. But damn it was long.
My treatment was scheduled for 9 so my brother came for me at 8 (rush hour traffic and all) We were moved from the usual Thursday to Wednesday because the nurses at the chemo clinic are all attending a seminar or conference tomorrow.

I saw my oncologist right away, and again, I can't stress enough how much I love this guy, he's so very calming even with his frank, to the point bedside manner. He's also gentle and comforting without coddling. Anyhow, he said my blood levels were great. I read my sheet and some of my levels were in the category of being out of the norm (chemo fog will not allow me to remember the word for that category right now) but for instance the normal range for red blood count is 3.80-something and mine was 3.55. Low but not low enough to warrant missing a treatment or a neulasta shot (that's a bone marrow booster and I understand from some new friends also battling breast cancer that it's quite bitch, burning bone pain and such so I'm glad I don't need it.) It's insanely expensive and though my insurance would cover it I'd have to miss a treatment first.

Also, my stress echo results came back and I'm so happy (and relieved in light of the chest pains I've been having) that all my heart functions are completely normal and there are no concerns for a significant cardiac episode. That was my baseline test and I'll have to have it done about every three months for the next year while I'm having my herceptin treatments because it does have an affect on the heart.

So, because this was my first treatment with both herceptin and docetaxel (taxotere) I was given some extra drugs. I took 4 steroids yesterday, two this morning at home, my Emend (for nausea) and then at the hospital they gave me 5 more steroids, another anti nausea (can't spell the name of that one) and then 2 Tylenol 3's and a benedryl. And then tonight I take another 2 steroids. Yes folks, I am a walking pharmaceutical lab...a total of 14 pills today - and 9 of them are steroids. If I started going to the gym I could probably win a body builder competition by the end of the year...but can you say hello constipation. Yeah, great. I had McDonald's on my way home from the hospital, hopefully that will take care of that.

They gave me a larger dose of herceptin for my first round, it ran for 90 minutes. The Dr said it's generally well tolerated and I shouldn't have any side effects from it at all. Yay. The next years worth of doses will only run for 30 minutes so that's good.
Then the gave me the Taxotere. This one they started off slowly, 50/ml drip. This was the drug I was worried about as there is a roughly 10% chance of having an severe adverse reaction to it. And with my tendency to be a giant pain in the ass (you'll recall the breast cancer that can't actually be found in my breast) I figured I could very well fall into that 10%.  But they gave me that plethora of pills to help prevent that. Anyhow my brother was instructed to watch my face for redness or swelling. Thankfully there was none so each 15 minutes or so they'd speed up the drip by 50/ml until I was up to 250 at a good speedy drip. But it still took 2 hours for the full bag to empty.

So this treatment, all tolled took about 4 hours. I felt terrible for my brother. He worked nights last night, stopped at home to change, picked me up and didn't get home until probably 3 pm and he's got to work tonight again. But it was good to have him there to keep me occupied (and I kept him out of  working the Occupy Eviction....ha ha, see my play on words there.) Though when the benedryl kicked in, I can remember we were talking the whole time but I don't really remember about what....I was pretty loopy.  They gave me ice mittens and slippers to wear - this it to constrict the blood cells in your nails to prevent neuropathy. And instead of ice chips I brought more ice cream, though it was hard to eat with the mittens.

So far, I'm feeling okay. My hands and cheeks are tingling a bit. My mouth is dry and my lips feel chapped. From the other ladies I've spoken to the side effects take a few days to kick in, though I heard that about the FEC too and mine always kicked in right away. But I've bushing after everytime I eat and rinsing with biotene to prevent mouth sores. I've got nail strengthener and dark nail polish on my toes and fingers, despite my pure hatred of nail polish on my fingers to protect my nails. I've got my prescriptions for pain killers at the ready (for the bone aches) and hopefully these treatments will go better for me. Fingers crossed.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the US so to my American friends


Friday will have been my Dad's 65th birthday. I'm hoping to feel well enough to join my mom and family and friends in dinner to celebrate his day and mourn that he couldn't be with us here to celebrate it. But I know he's up there now, having a chat with the Big Guy and asking him to heal me and spare me the same fate he had. He's one of my many Guardian Angels and I couldn't think of a better person to have up there watching over me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Whole Wheat Molasses Ginger Cookies

With the holidays coming up nothing makes me happier than the Ginger Molasses cookies they sell at Tim Horton's. But really, who can afford to buy 6 cookies AND a double double everyday? Okay who really NEEDS 6 ginger molasses cookies everyday? Me, that's who. And just because Timmie's is a stones throw from my house doesn't mean I can go there everyday, after all, I'm not working.

So, I'm forced to make my own and, well, to be perfectly honest, these are a hell of a lot better than Timmie's cookie and I can have them whenever I want because when they run out, I can make more. And though they are packed full of sugar I use whole wheat flour so I feel less guilty - hey, whatever helps you sleep at night.

Here is the recipe.  When I made them I actually doubled the ingredients because I like to make my cookies huge.

Ingredients


1 cup molasses
1 egg
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp sea salt

Sugar for sprinkling

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


1.Mix molasses, egg, and brown sugar.
2.In a separate bowl, sift together the remainder of the ingredients.
3.Add the dry ingredients gradually to the wet ingredients and stir to combine completely.
4.Drop cookies onto baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart to allow for spreading.

Now, this is what they looked like on the cookie sheet.


I know what you're thinking and I though the same thing too. It looks like something you would have cleaned out of your babies diaper. I can tell you, in real life it looks like that too but if you can get past the uncooked appearance it will be well worth it. And it smells heavenly, even in this state so that helps. (However, between Sean and I these have been dubbed the shit cookies.)

Bake at 350 for 11 minutes. Immediately after removing cookies from the oven, sprinkle the tops with a bit of sugar. Cool for 5 minutes.


Makes about 25 cookies.

As I said before I make my cookies really big. They are about 4" in diameter. I do that so that I'll only eat one. And I can get away with only sending one with the kids to school.



 These freeze really well too, so I keep 12 out and freeze the other 12 for later. 

All you need with these is a nice hot cup of coffee (if you can't get to a Timmie's you can always brew your own) and enjoy!


30,000th Visitor.


Whoever is reading me from Sunnyvale CA, YOU were my 30,000th reader.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I Survived!

Yesterday was Sean's first day back to work. I joked that he was throwing me to the wolves because it's the first time I've been home alone for any length of time with all three kids. 

I kept myself pretty busy and the day flew by. We went to church, I chatted with my coworker when she came by to collect yet another diaper cake (this was one was fabulous....I had a $100 budget to work with and it was my best one yet.




Later on I did some googling. (get your mind out of the gutter you perv) because I had a few diapers left over and wanted to find an interesting way to use them for a future diaper cake or creation and I found something so freakin' cute I had to try and make it right away. I used some old bibs, receiving blankets and socks of Connor's and a water bottle instead of a baby bottle but you get the point. It will look awesome when I make one with new, coordinated, proper baby things. 
Introducing......diaper bike!





I also made a big huge crockpot of homemade baked beans (watch for that in an upcoming Tasty Tuesday)

Then I did what I do best of all, I cleaned. I cleaned the ever lovin' shit out of my bathroom. Haha, interesting choice of expression for the room I cleaned.

Not only was the smell of it getting to me (not a bad smell, it's the smell of the Lysol wipes, it lingers but much like the smell of IV tubing or the thought of ice, it makes me nauseous and I've been struggling to spend any length of time in the bathroom because of it. So I cleaned it, with good old fashioned Comet. I also cleaned out the drawers that housed lotions, and potions and old bandaid wrappers and a myriad of things we don't use. I also cleaned out the cabinets. We have two glass door cabinets that are nice for putting nice little baskets for soaps and such but after a while they become catch alls and lose their aesthetic appeal . I also de-toyed the tub a bit and purged the growing collection of bathroom reading material.

And the finishing touch, the snowman shower curtain went up. I can't decorate for Christmas yet, not until after Mary's birthday but there is no rule that says my snowman collection can't slowly make its appearance. I love snowmen and have a pretty sizable collection of them, candle holders, stuffed things, cookie jars, statues. It's all good.

So, I made it. A whole day without Sean here. I say that like it's an accomplishment and 6 months ago that would have been a laughable statement but it's amazing how fast things change.

Today, I'm going to finish my Christmas shopping. I'm looking forward to that. I've got a list of what I want to get Sean but because he was always with me I couldn't get any of it.

Chemo is early this week. They called and switched me to Wednesday. It means Sean can't come with me, his days off are Thursday/Friday.
I'm scared out of my mind for this treatment. It's new, Taxol, and this is the one they say you can have an allergic reaction to. I'm also worried about the side effects of this one (deep bone ache, mouth sores, brittle nails) And, I'm starting herceptin on Wednesday too. I don't think there are side effects associated with it...but I don't really know.

This week is messed up though because Sean can't take me to chemo and my Mom can't pick up Connor, she has a funeral to go to. So my brother, John, is taking me to chemo. He's a calming person, his personality (and his job) make him level headed and he's always been good at making me feel better when I'm panicked so I thought he was good choice.  My brother Brian is picking up Connor up from school. Connor will love that. He thinks Uncle Brian is pretty cool and he'll have one of his cousins to play with (not sure which one, the go to school on alternating days - but either way it's cool to have a cousin your age or a year older to play with)  

I noticed on my little counter at the bottom of the screen that I'm only 42 visitors away from 30,000 visits! (it doesn't count me) Most of that was padded in August and early September when my counter was spinning like the Griswold's electric meter at Christmas because of my 12 weeks and craving pickles post.

It's pretty exciting and I'm flattered that that many people are interested in reading. And to think this blog was started as something I didn't even tell anyone about - as a way to get thoughts out.

Too bad I have no way of knowing who my 30,000th visitor is, I'd have a giveaway.



Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shameless Plug Sunday - Knotty Notions

This week's plug is for my dear friend Debbie and her fast growing Etsy Shop, Knotty Notions.

Debbie makes gorgeous wood burned products, rustic designs and unique keepsakes.

I started off buying this


When I saw it in her shop I had to have it. It's the very foundation behind teaching kindergartners so I got it to hang by my desk so that on those days when I feel in a rut or like I'm not getting through to a child I can look at it and be inspired. (of course, I've yet to be able to hang it by my desk....but I will soon!!)

Next, I bought this.


She actually made several for the PP sisters and many of us ordered them. And even though most of my books are now read on an e-reader I still read regular books too. At the moment it's keeping my place in Under the Dome by Stephen King...that's a monster of a book that I'm trying to get through.

And finally, when my cousin got married I wanted to send her something nice but unique. She and her hubby have been together for some time and have a home together, they didn't need the typical wedding gifts. I thought something for their trailer, which I think is like their second home and what better for the trailer than something rustic. In comes Knotty Notions....


What I thought was so perfect about it was that in her blog profile she says "I have the most beautiful, quiet, simple imperfect life; I would not trade it for anything."  And like the hanging says...in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.

I already know what I'm ordering next....the personalized ornaments burned into circles cut from branches. I love them and think they will go very nicely on my tree.

Debbie does beautiful work and I can promise you, you won't find anything else like it. Great ideas for teacher gifts, wedding gifts, Christmas gifts....or even 'just because' gifts.

Check out her shop, Knotty Notions. You'll be glad you did!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

This One's for Sean

Sean suggested I share this story with you....

A few months ago we were in Scarborough, I don't remember why, probably the Dr, it's the only reason we go to Scarborough, but whatever we were doing, we were early because we stopped at a Tim Horton's. We went in and got coffee and I got myself a Bagel Belt (as a side note, I always order my BELT with no B (bacon) I don't like the bacon they use so I just like egg, lettuce and tomato. But everytime I order it "a bagel belt on toasted whole wheat with NO meat (you can get sausage instead of bacon)." For some reason this translates to "toasted whole wheat bagel with egg and cheese and nothing else. I was not aware that lettuce and tomato were meat products.  But I digress....

We decided to sit in the car to eat, I think I must have just done treatment recently and didn't want to expose my immune system to the germs of a Scarborough Timmie's...

As we're sitting in the car a high end BMW pulls in and parks in front of us. A very well dressed man gets out and goes into Timmies. He comes out a few minutes later with an extra large coffee. He gets into his car but doesn't close the door. We see him lean out with a Starbucks cup, take the lid off, pour some coffee onto the ground, take the lid off the Timmies cup and pour the Tim Horton's coffee into the Starbucks cup. Yep, I shit you not. Then he chucks the Timmies cup onto the ground and drives away.

He was, what Sean called, the epitome of douche bag.

We both had to laugh at the whole situation. Here's the guy in his expensive car, in probably an expensive suit (I don't know suits) and God forbid he be seen drinking {shudder} Tim Horton's!! No, no, one must maintain an image and must only be seen with a Starbucks cup.  And I'll be he tells everyone that at home he only drinks Kopi Luwak but since you can't get that just anywhere he has to settle {sigh} for Starbucks.

Of course, he might be on to something here. A large latte from Timmies is something like $2.50 and at Starbucks it's something like $6.00?  (in fairness I could be wrong, I only drink Tassimo Lattes .... I only drink Timmies coffee and that's a only a buck and a half.) Maybe that's how he affords the beamer.

For what it's worth, I've had both Starbucks Lattes and McDonald's Lattes and I preferred the McDonald's one, hands down.

Of course, I remember once upon a time posting about not understanding the whole label thing and how I'd never in a million years own a Coach purse because I wouldn't spend that kind of money on a bag and yet, now I have one and when I heard my bff was selling some of hers I jumped all over the chance to buy one or two.....

So who's the real douche bag here?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Busy Busy

It's been a busy week!

On Monday I had lunch with my mom, my Aunt, my great Aunt, and three of my cousins. I had the very best reuben I've had in a long time. Of course, it might have just been because I was so hungry but wow....it was good and if I wouldn't have looked like a big, fat pig, I might have ordered another one.

On Tuesday I went with Sean to the Dr. He's been having a pain for some that we thought might be a hernia. Apparently it's not...(though the Dr  - a surgeon in the same office as my surgeon - said there was a chance it could be something called an occult hernia. I actually laughed out loud and he gave me a strange look. Me with Occult Breast Cancer and Sean with an Occult hernia? See why I laughed?) Anyway, the Dr thinks it's just a pulled muscle.
I also made a kick ass diaper cake for a coworkers new baby. It's the pink one here

On Wednesday I had to go for a stress echo. I did not like this one bit. For those who've never had the pleasure....
I got hooked up to a heart monitor. I sat around for a half hour waiting for my turn to have an ultrasound. In that time, (I was nearly falling asleep) my heart rate was anywhere in between 86 and 112. I just naturally have a fast heart rate. As I'm sitting there I'm listenging to an old man behind a curtain getting his ultrasound. The tech is clearly having a hard time and finally tells him he needs to have a contrast to get a better picture.
Finally, it's my turn to have the ultrasound. So the tech is pushing the wand into my ribs and my boob and its friggin killing me. Then he digs it into my solar plexis and my neck. It's all very quick, he's clicking away on the computer taking measurments, much like an OB ultrasound. THEN...he tells me that he can't get a good image because of my surgery (I call bullshit since he was all over the left side and my surgery is all right side...) and he had to give me contrast. This sent me into an anxiety attack. I don't like having new chemicals injected into me...I've got enough going on. And Sean wasn't with me which added to it. And the Dr is telling me to watch for an itchy throat or watery eyes or my tongue swelling. Yeah, good thing to tell me. I know someone who had so many CT Scans in the course of a couple of years that she developed an allergy to the contrast......and I fear this will be me. The Dr tells me this is a relatively new contrast to Canada, only in use for 2 years and that they really get excited about new things. Me thinks this jerkoff just wanted to play with his new toy and my expense.  So he fusses with the IV, but gets it in. As he's opening the little port to flush it with saline he realizes he's got the wrong syringe so he takes it out but doesn't close the port so my blood starts flowing out. He gets it all over me, the pad, his gloves. Then he tears his glove and gets some of my blood on his finger. He says to me after "You don't have HIV or Hepatitis do you?" I said "No, just cancer." He says, "Okay, because you know it's not a big deal, I can just go get the shot but you need to let me know." I said "NO, just cancer and you won't be catching that!"  And all the while I'm thinking Serves you right asshole, I don't think you even need to be giving me this crap! 

So I get on the treadmill and walk, fast, on a huge incline for about 5 mintues until I get to my target heartrate. The tech doing this was not impressed that he had to do my blood pressure in my left arm, along with the IV in there because my right arm is stictly off limits to anything (trauma, such as blood pressure cuffs or needles can trigger lympedima)
Once my heart rate is up to 187 they inject me with more contrast (yay) and have my jump back onto the ultrasound table to get another look.

When I was done I sit back down. My heart rate is now in the low 120's. The tech doesn't want to let me go because my heart rate was still too high. He keeps saying "Are you nervous?" I said, "Well first off y'all sent me into an anxiety attack with this contrast crap and secondly, my heart rate is high all the time, I think 120 down from 187 in less than 2 minutes is pretty good."
He let me go, he could see I wasn't impressed.

Yesterday was a better day. Sean and I went for a nice long walk in the woods. I baked some cookies (watch for Tasty Tuesday..you'll enjoy this one...not just the recipe but the story behind it) I did laundry. I also worked on something very special for my PP Sisters but I can't tell you because several of them read this and I don't want to spoil the surprise. I'll tell ya later.
I also went for drinks with my bff and another friend. It was a nice night out.

And so today...I'm not sure yet what today will bring but somewhere in there will be getting my sister in law's mother's quilt done. She's been insanely patient for something that was supposed to be done October 1. I promise, Catherine, it will be done before Christmas!!!!

Happy Friday!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What's The Big Deal?

I don't know what it's like elsewhere but here in Canada, because we have Thanksgiving in October the official start to our Christmas shopping season is November 1st. Halloween comes down and Christmas goes up. The malls get decorated, the music is switched to carols and people (like me) get their Christmas lights put up.

And as all this happens there are inevitably the people who complain about Christmas taking over and taking over so early.  We get teased a lot, especially by Sean's family, for having the outside of our house decorated so early (it's usually done by the middle of November to coincide with out cities Santa Claus Parade.  It's an evening parade of lights and it runs across the street from our house so we get a lot of foot traffic and we like to add to the festivity by having our house all lit up that night. We also put our tree up and decorate the inside of the house the very first weekend of December, right after we have Mary's birthday party (always after though so that it doesn't over shadow her birthday)

I can't, for the life of me, figure out what the problem is.

Why would one NOT want to spend as much time enjoying the Christmas season? It's not just a day to me, it's a whole lead up. It's exciting. It puts me in a good mood. And sure, part of it is about presents....I LOVE buying presents for people and this gives me an excise to go all out. But it's also the other things the season brings.

When I had my home daycare we used to do a toy drive. I'd ask the parents to either contribute a few extra dollars in their fees or to drop off a new, unwrapped toy. We also asked for Canadian Tire Money donations.  My daycare parents were always so supportive of it, donating toys, money and Canadian Tire money.  Sean and I would contribute our change jar that we'd collect change in all year and most years that I held the toy drive we'd raise over $100 dollars (not bad when you consider it was only me and 4-5 daycare parents) PLUS toys, PLUS usually $30 or so of Canadian Tire money.

Then we'd pick a day in mid December and Sean and I would take our kids and the daycare kids to WalMart and Canadian Tire and we'd use the money to buy more toys and the we'd pile into the van with all the kids and the toys and bring it down to the fire station.

It was such a great lesson for the kids, so hands on, about giving to those in need and understanding that not everyone is as lucky as we are. Of course there was one year when one of the kids asked me why Santa didn't bring gifts to the poor kids. I had to think quick and explain that he did but that he only brought one or two gifts and that was all because their Mommies and Daddies couldn't afford gifts so we were helping to give the poor children a few more gifts, just like we got. They sure kept me on my toes!

It's that kind of thing that I love about this time of year. That people are more generous and giving and spend more time thinking about those in need. I wish we could think that way all year.

But it brings me back to the question, why get all bent out of shape over the Christmas season being dragged out for longer than the 12 days of Christmas? I really don't know. I think the longer we can keep the spirit of Christmas in people's hearts, the better off the world would be. So if decking the halls (and the malls) is what it takes to make people think about Christmas and the spirit of Christmas (and yes the True Meaning of Christmas...because why should we reserve celebrating the birth of our Lord to just one day?) then I say go for it...do it for as long as possible

Isn't that what Christmas is really about? In the words of Garfield, "It's not the giving, it's not the getting, it's the loving."