Monday, December 31, 2012

The Year in Review

It's the last day of 2012.  I'm not sorry to see this year go but less so than last year. It's been a pretty decent year, all things considered.

Let's review shall we....

I finished chemo, radiation and herceptin. I was officially declared cancer free. That right there makes this past year the best possible year it could have been (I say because ideally I would have never had cancer but had no say in that department)

I made arrangements for a new boob.

I went back to work. The jury is still out on how I feel about that. I love my job but am not overly happy about the environment and need to make some big decisions about my future at this school.

I traveled. I took a chance and did something I never thought I'd do, much less do alone. And I loved it!

I look back at 2012 and I have only one regret. I regret going back to work when I did. Hindsight is 20/20 and if I had the time back I'd have stayed off work until this past September, regardless of the financial strain.   But, done bun can't be undone so there's no point in harping on it.

So last year at this time I set some goals for the year. How many did I accomplish? Let's see shall we?

The words in red are the goals I set in my blog at this time last year.

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.

Happily, this is a goal I did accomplish. I did walk my survivor lap and while mother nature put a bit of a damper on my night I still held my head high and proud as I walked with so many other cancer warriors

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.

Isn't this a goal that everyone sets and never accomplishes? Well, most people anyway. I'm sure I'll set that goal again and hopefully I'll actually reach it this year - I want to look good in a bathing suit when I go to Florida, even if it means I have to buy a new prosthetic to match the other boob - even though shortly after that I'll be having surgery to have my new boob made.  But really, I'd like to like how I look in pictures.

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.

Oh, I most certainly accomplished this goal. As I type this I am downloading 1644 pictures from my computer to a memory stick...and those are just the ones I felt worthy of keeping. I also got a new lens for Christmas this year so I'll undoubtedly continue the trend.

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.

I guess I'd have to ask them about this, if I did or not. It's not really something I can answer now, but years from now. We did some fun stuff this summer. We had some fun times at home too. I hope I'm creating good memories with them.

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.

I did this! I try and take time for myself daily but I think the real thing for me was my trip to BC (which actually covered goal number 7 too!) I traveled to someplace I'd never been, that I wanted to go because I wanted to. I didn't have to worry about whether or not Sean or the kids were having fun and I got to do what I wanted to do. That truly was for me. And I hope to do it again!

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

I'd like to say I did this but I know I'm guilty of not always doing so. I'll try harder in 2013

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.
See number 5 above. I got to hug not one but two of my fellow PP mom's and it was fantastic!!

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.

Yeah, let's not go here. I actually just deleted the whole thing. It sucked. Time to move on. On a related note I just dropped a picture book manuscript in the mail today. If you don't try, you'll never success and I just remind myself that Dr. Seuss was rejected 56 times before his first book was published.

Overall, that seems like a pretty successful year.

I've experienced first hand how quickly and drastically your life can change. I know that the plans you make may not usually won't work out but I think the true measure of someone's strength and character is being able to adapt to what life throws at you. Because really, it's those bumps in the road that make life living.

I do have a set of goals for 2013 but I'll make that a different post.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's All About the Box.

Any parent will tell you that Christmas with young children can often be hit or miss. You can spend a small fortune on toys and the kids end up playing with the box.
I got smart this year though. I bought my kids boxes.

 
Mary got a cardboard box house.
 
Connor got a cardboard box rocket ship.


As I was putting together Mary's house for her the other day (it's huge and takes up most of her bedroom. Hindsight being what it is, I should have put it up in the playroom) I was thinking about how she's 10 years old and still excited about playing with a box.

Christmas shopping was tough for her this year. She likes some big kid things like these dinguses guys


But she also still likes toys and on the top of her list is Monster High Dolls. She also got a Furby for Christmas (a bit of a snafu, it was supposed to be for Connor but then I realized it wasn' a Furby he was telling me about and in fact, he didn't even want a Furby)

Mary is not the most mature 10 year old. I know that. It used to worry me but then I really took time to think about it. I'm thrilled that my 10 yr old still plays with toys, believes in Santa and has an imagination. I'm glad she doesn't worry about clothes, boys (well, she did have that one crush) make up and being cool.

Mary is unique, out there, wild and crazy and not afraid to be herself.

My 10 year old got a box for Christmas and I've seen her play some pretty creative games with it already.  In short, my child is still a child and I couldn't be happier!

Tomorrow is new years eve. We're going to have a nice quiet evening at home, with junk food, games and movies. It's also time for me to review the goals I set for this year and see if I actually accomplished any of them. And to set new ones for 2013.







Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas

Christmas Christmas time is here, time for joy and time for cheer.....

I love love love Christmas. It's my most favorite time of the year. I love the build up. I love the shopping. I love the crowds. I love the time off work (heehee) I love the excitement my kids have. I love the excitment I have.

It's hard to put me in a bad mood at this time of year.

I've found it a bit of a challenge to buy gifts for my two younger kids this year. In years past it was Emily that was hard to buy for but this year, Connor and Mary are the challenge.

Mary is at that in between age, 10. She's still into toys (Monster High Dolls) but she also likes the same things her sister likes (One Direction)

Connor has the misfortune of being the third child to a mother who had a home daycare - we already have just about every toy known to man. And he doesn't really ask for anything.

Emily on the other hand has very specific requests. She wants a tna sweater. She wants roots pants. She wants One Direction tickets.

Well, as much as it pained me to spend $70 on a pair of pants I obliged with the roots pants and tna sweater. One Direction was a no go but my brother was able to score tickets for Justin Bieber for her and her bff. Looks like it will be a very Merry Christmas for both of them!

I'm going to spend the next two weeks relaxing, enjoying my time home with the kids and feeling blessed to be here, to be healthy and looking forward to 2013.

Friday, December 14, 2012

What Is There To Say?

The senseless tragedy that happened today in Connecticut has so many of us wondering what has happened to our world. What kind of person guns down 20 small children?

20 children. That's 2/3 of my kindergarten class. I love these children and would be devastated if something terrible happened to even one of them.

I have a child in kindergarten (and older grades for that matter). As parents we take for granted that our children will go off to school and come back to us in the afternoon alive and well.

But for 20 families today that was not the reality.

My prayers go out to all of the families and loved ones of all the victims in Newtown, CT. today.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How Do They Do It?

I know a few women, both IRL and online who's children who have had serious medical issues. Some had birth defects that had to be addressed with medical intervention and some have had a child with cancer.

One of my blogging friends has a teenage son who had cancer at the same time I did and I can remember her telling me how strong I was and I was thinking, "are you kidding me?" I think it's so much easier to go through it yourself than to watch a loved one going through it and I couldn't don't want to fathom one of my children going through it. I think that is where the real strength lies.

It's in the spirit that I write this post.

But I also want to preface this by saying that I am NOT comparing this situation to a child with cancer because they're not even in the same galaxy. But what it brought to light for me was an idea of the true strength of these parents.

I took Connor to the dentist on Saturday for a routine check up. He wasn't in the chair 12 seconds when the hygienist said "Oh, I see a problem." Cavities, big ones, in his molars. But not just one, or even two. 6. Yes, 6. And that was the ones they could see, they haven't done x rays yet.

The hygienist did her best to clean his teeth and the dentist did his best to look in his mouth but Connor is a less than cooperative dental patient. Our dentist recommended he go to a child specialist.

The whole situation smacked of my childhood. You see, I am cursed by genetics. I have horrible teeth. So did my mom. So does my oldest brother. I can brush and floss after every single meal and I'm still getting cavities. I have virtually no enamel. And because this was an issue from an early age my association with the dentist is pain, discomfort and misery. (more so than most people) I too had to go to a child specialist.

But I vowed my kids would not see going to the dentist as a horrible thing and so far I've been lucky.

My luck has run out.

So I took Connor to the specialist last night. He's got 6 visible cavities and the dentist is going to do sleep dentistry.

They're going to put him to sleep for roughly 1.5 hours to take x rays and fill these 6 (maybe more) cavities.

At the mention of anesthesia my anxiety level went from 5 to 107,000,000. 

They have to put him to sleep. If you've been reading my blog long enough you know that there was some question about my being allergic to general anesthetic. I almost died when I was 7 after my tonsillectomy. When I had my mastectomy I was more anxious about being put to sleep than I was about the cancer itself.

I left the dentists office and made it to my car before the tears came.

And how stupid is that? It's dental work for Heaven's sake. It could be a hell of a lot worse....and any of my friends who have had a child who have dealt with anything remotely worse than this are shaking their heads at me and thinking "you stupid bitch, I'd give my right arm for the worst thing for my child to have to deal with being 6 stupid cavities. Suck it up buttercup!"

And while I know this and feel ashamed for being as upset about this as I am, I can't change that fact. I'm terrified about them putting him to sleep. I'm terrified of him reacting the same way I did. I'm afraid of losing him because of something as ridiculous as a cavity.

And as I type those words I know how ridiculous it sounds because I know there are so many mothers and fathers out there who are in the very real position of losing their child to something significant.

And yet, you can't change how you feel.

I'm sure on the afternoon of January 4th when we're home and Connor is annoying his sisters and complaining his jaw hurts I'll look back on this and realize how minor it really is. But for now, it seems huge.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I Caved

I'm sure if I go back far enough my blog I will find the post in which I talked about how I'll never own a smart phone. I didn't need to be that connected all the time. I didn't need 24/7 access to the internet and my email.

The truth is, I still don't.

But I caved non the less.

I got an iPhone.

I've reached that point in my life where Sean asks me what I want for Christmas and I'm at a loss. It's not that I don't want things. I want lots of things. But I weight the wants vs the needs and the 'do I really want to spend that kind of money on that?'

I can ask for clothes. But I've already got a lot of clothes and frankly, I'm just not that into fashion. I have clothes for work and clothes for weekends and to be honest, most of the time at home I'm in my pajamas.

I got my laptop. I've got my amazing camera and though I want some new lenses most of them fall into that 'I don't want to pay that much for that' category.

I don't need anymore kitchen gadgets and my girlfriend downloaded something like 100 books on my Kobo.

So, I'm asking for little things, a new mouse for my computer. A laptop cooling pad. A new winter coat.

And an iPhone.

There have been no fewer than 5 occasions in the past month that I've needed access to the internet while out of the house and have not had it. There was the trip to the farm a few weeks ago with my class where I forgot to bring the memory card for my camera and couldn't take any pictures (because on my old phone the camera is a piece of crap and even if it wasn't I don't know how to get the pics from the phone to the computer)

All issues that could have been avoided if I'd had an iPhone.

So last night Sean and I went to the store and got me a brand spankin' new iPhone. And a case. Merry Christmas to me.

And now, despite the fact that I vowed in the past to never own a smart phone I'm making a new vow.

I will NOT become one of those people who has their face stuck in their phone during dinner, conversation, social events, etc.  Because that is one of my all time biggest pet peeves.

And now that I've got my Christmas present 16 days early Sean can fill the gap with the little gifts that I've asked for.

Merry Christmas to me!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Happy Holidays? Thanks!

It's that time of year again. Endless facebook posts pop up about keeping Christ in Christmas and my personal favorite "Welcome to Canada where we say Merry Christmas instead of happy holidays."

But here's what I don't get. What is so wrong about saying happy holidays?

Here's my two cents.

I understand that Canada is considered a Christian country. Christian holidays are also Federal holidays. But why does that mean the face of Canada is a white Christian? Why is the face of Canada not a Hindu from India? Or a Buddhist from Korea?

I see the confusion - how is someone from India the face of Canada?

In 2001 Stats Can said there were 34 ethnic groups with over 100,000 members of each living as Canadian Citizens.

Now, in my mind this is not an immigration debate, people immigrate here for various reasons and we let them in. And yes, I do agree that to an extent when one immigrates to a new country one should do their best to acclimate to the new country and what we believe to be culturally acceptable.

But does that mean everyone who immigrates to Canada should denounce their religion and become Christian? No, absolutely not and I would have no respect for anyone who did not hold on to their spiritual beliefs (unless they've genuinely changed their minds)

Here's my point. If I know you and I know you're Christian - I'll say Merry Christmas. But if I don't know - where is the harm in saying Happy Holidays? Or, for that matter, what is wrong with a blanket Happy Holidays statement anyway? Check the calendar - Christmas is not the only holiday in December. Hanukkah is another big one. So is Kwanzaa (and in fact many Christians also celebrate Kwanzaa)

Do I only give a seasonal greeting to my fellow Christians? Of course not. My oncologist is Jewish - I hope he has a happy Hanukkah but I also hope my Christian nurses have a Merry Christmas. Here is just such an occasion when a Happy Holidays card is PERFECT!

What I find the most ironic about this whole thing is that often times the people shouting the loudest about keeping Christ in Christmas are the very same people who rarely, if ever, set foot in a church, and go overboard crazy over the secular side of Christmas - themselves forgetting the 'reason for the season.'  I am by no means Super Catholic - I only go to church once or twice a month and yes, I too go overboard for Christmas but I've not forgotten the meaning of Christmas. If I wish someone a happy holidays it's not because I've forgotten I'm celebrating the birth of my Lord - it's simply that I understand and have accepted that you may not be.

And I will not be offended if someone wishes me a happy holidays or a seasons greetings.

Because, for me anyway, I'd rather you give me a blanket sentiment than nothing at all.

Happy Holidays
Seasons Greetings
and Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Heartbreak

Holy bananas if feels like I haven't had a minute to myself lately. I've been crazy busy with work and family.

I'll be glad for the Christmas vacation so I can take a breather. Until then I'm going to continue being crazy busy though.

My baby girl has suffered her first broken heart.

Mary has a crush on a boy at school and finally worked up the nerve to send him a note telling him so. She found out this boy only likes her 'as a friend' and in fact has a crush on another girl in her class.

She cried. And cried and cried some more.

She hugged her stuffed bear, she ate ice cream and she swore she'd never be happy again.

Remarkably she felt somewhat better the next day so I guess the heartbreak wasn't as bad as she thought.

What was more interesting in all of this was learning that my dear husband is not exactly equipped to deal with such things. He's a man after all. He thinks like a guy. He doesn't get it that when a boy you like doesn't like you back it's the end of the world and you don't want to hear about how 'this is only one of many heartbreaks you'll suffer through your life. He doesn't get that all we want to hear is how this guy must be gay - why else wouldn't he like us? Or he's just plain stupid - after all, we are THE one all guys should want.

I'm sure over time he'll figure it out. He's got two daughters and not to sound all manly but there will undoubtedly be string of broken hearts in the future that he'll need to help mend.



Friday, November 16, 2012

Murray

Thursday was my final....FINAL herceptin treatment. I have not completely finished my treatments for cancer. I am now officially, on the other side.

I made bags up for all the nurses in the chemo clinic. I had canvas bags made at Vistaprint with a picture of the tree of life on the front (I thought that was fitting)  I filled the bag with lotion, sanitizers and soap from Bath and Body Works, a big box of chocolates and a gift card for the coffee shop in the hospital. I wrote a nice card and brought in boxes of chocolates for the secretaries and volunteers as well.

I was giddy.

My own doctor was away on vacation. He's semi retired now so he's away often. His replacement was a younger woman, very friendly, and judging from what I overheard in the other room, very well versed in oncology. In fact, one of my nurses suggested I approach her to take me on as a patient when my own oncologist retires. I liked her and think I will do just that.

I wrote in my journal one final time too. I wrote about how 16 months ago I walked out of that hospital newly diagnosed with cancer and terrified about the road ahead. And today (well, Thursday) I was was walking out a survivor. And I owed that all, quite literally my life,  to my medical team.

And yet, I'd admit, part of me had a touch of survivors guilt. Because I know that while I am able to walk out of there again, smiling, happy and above all else, cancer free - I know there are lots of people who don't. People who may have even been there at that time. So though I was celebrating I was trying not to be boastful about it. I was trying to be sensitive to the others there.

I was in 'my' chair. It's off in a corner - away from most of the other chairs and quite. I like it there. I can read and relax. While I was there, the nurses were coming over to congratulate me. One of them, while hooking up the IV on the man next to me commented that after a year and a half I was finally done.

The man looked over at me and said, "A year and a half, you're lucky, two years for me!"

The man introduced himself as Murray. He's 84 years old (and he looked fantastic, I wouldn't have placed him at 70)  He asked me what type of cancer I'd had and if I was scared. We talked about his cancer (lung) and how he'd already done one bout with cancer and thought he'd be done with it but nope - no such luck.  We talked about my husband and kids and parents and his wife and kids and grandkids. He cracked a subtle joke about marriage, I laughed and agreed with him and he told me I was quick and that he liked me. 

But mostly we talked the way cancer patients talk to one another. About the simple fact that while everyone around us does their best to understand, no one really quite gets what it is we're going through. It really is a game changer. We put on brave faces or we don't  because we agreed that there are two kind of cancer patients - those who lament and those who accept it for what it is and try to keep positive)  We manage our pain both physically and emotionally and we support our families. Because in that too we agreed, it can sometimes be harder on our families than it is on us.....

I enjoyed my time with Murray and I was a little sad to go. He was funny and interesting he called my husband Michael (I don't know what made him think my husbands name was Michael but I didn't see the need to correct him) His wife was lovely too. He introduced me to her just as I was leaving (she had been upstairs) and he told her "we talked at length about this cancer business but neither of us solved a damned thing!"

I think I'll think about Murray often. I don't know his prognosis. I didn't ask. But I'll wish him well and say a prayer that no matter what happens with him, that he greets it with open arms.

And for me. I can finally put this cancer business behind me and look forward again.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Tail of Two Boobs

Once upon a time I had two boobs. Just like other women. Then cancer took one away from me.

I continue to fight back only now it's time to fight back against the one boobed monster.

Okay, that was all just plain cheesey.

I went to see the new plastic surgeon about reconstruction today. If you'll recall, I've already been to see one and it didn't go well.

I got into his office 10 minutes before my appointment. It was clean, it smelled nice and was very tastefully decorated (he had some artwork on his wall, besides the painting above my fireplace that I LOVE, I've never seen another piece of art that spoke to me...I loved these pictures.)

When I got in there was another woman in the waiting room. She went in about 2 minutes later. Not a minute after that another woman came in. She spoke with the receptionist only to discover that she was 2 hours early for her appointment (though she was 15 minutes late for the time she thought she had...yeah.)  The receptionist said to her, "well, you've only got a follow up, you'll be quick. You can stay."  Then she puts me on the spot by asking if the woman can go in front of me since she' going to be really fast.

What am I going to say, no? Of course not. I'm not a bitch. So I said sure. Then the receptionist says to this other lady - "great, he's just got someone in for a consult so you'll be about a half an hour before you go in."

WHOA!!! No one told me I'm already waiting 30 minutes!!!

So, now I'm not as impressed. I mean, this guy is running 30 minutes behind and now I have to wait even longer because this ditz can't tell time?? Shit.

And to add insult to injury, this guy didn't even have good magazines in his waiting room. (though it makes sense that a cosmetic surgeon has fashion magazines in his office...I'm sure many of his clients are botox kind of folks.....)

When I finally got in, I was unmoved. He was quiet, monotone and didn't seem warm. But I think he was just nervous because he loosened up along the way.

He gave me the options that I'm good for; TRAM flap surgery - in which they take muscle and tissue from your stomach to reconstruct the breast, Latissimus Dorsi flap surgery, in which they take muscle and tissue from the back - combined with an expander and implant and Skin and Tummy Fat Microsurgery which I'm also a candidate for but it's only done by a couple of Dr's here so I'd be waiting upwards of 2 years for that surgery.

He laid out the facts, the pros and cons, the recovery time (which was a huge factor in my decision) and answered all of my questions thoroughly and patiently. In short, he was fantastic!!

So, I've decided to have the Latissimus Dorsi flap surgery. The recovery time is less for that, and while it's two surgeries (one to move the muscle and one to put the implant in) the recovery for it will be shorter and easier and the results are just as good. And if, for some reason it fails (there is always the risk of failure) I can still have the TRAM flap surgery.

Initially I was going to do it in March so I could piggy back it with March Break but I'm still going to have to go to the Dr weekly to have the expander filled with saline so I've postponed it until the summer after get back from Florida. That was I can take the rest of the summer to deal with it and only miss a bit of work to have the implant put in.

I'm ridiculously excited. This time next year...I'll have TWO boobs.

I can't wait!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

All Things Kindergarten

I know I'm not posting as much as I used to. Forgive me.  I mean, I know you wait with bated breath for each and every post and well...you're getting blue in the face waiting.

In all seriousness, getting back to good health means getting back into the routine of life and life takes up a lot of my time.

I'll catch you up a bit.

Next Saturday I'm hosting a Celebrating Life party. You see, November 15th is my final herceptin treatment and that means I'll finally be completely done with cancer treatments. I'll still see one of my oncologists every 3 months and have a yearly mammo but beyond that - it's time to move on.

It's bitter sweet. I'm thrilled to be almost done but I'm sad to be losing my safety net. Every 3 weeks for the past 14 months I've gone to the chemo clinic for some form of treatment and while it hasn't always been pleasant, the camaraderie you feel with the other patients and the familiarity with the nurses and volunteers makes it feel safe. And while I don't want you to mistaken this next comment for my having enjoyed any part of the last 14 months - I'll say that I will miss going  to the chemo clinic. I'll miss the nurses. I'll wonder about the other patients I've spent my time talking to. 

I won't miss cancer though.

And so, to celebrate the end of my treatments I'm throwing a party and I'm going to eat and drink and celebrate.

I've been getting into a better groove at work. I'm not as stressed anymore and am enjoying it again. I've got a great class this year and things are progressing nicely.

And to go along with that, I've started paying more attention to my kindergarten blog. I even opened a Teachers Pay Teachers store. I'm full of great ideas and resources and want to share them. Some of them are tried and true and some of them are new. I'm also having a fine old time with creating digital documents to sell and give away (more of the things I'd made for school before were kind of bland and boring. So I purchased some digital clip art and a licence and have been jazzing them up a bit.)  This creative side of me can not be stopped!


Anyhow, I'd be thrilled if you popped on over to my kindergarten blog and followed me and if you're a fellow educator (or know other educators) share my blog with them too.  Just click the pretty picture below!


 

I've got to give a plug to my dear friend Amanda at Little Bean Shop.  Back in the day when I ran my home daycare she created my logo for me (you can see it in her gallery photos -it's the one for Little Chickadee Home Daycare)  I wanted to redesign All Things Kindergarten and there is no one I'd trust more to do the job. She created the blog background, header and buttons. It's not quite done yet but so far...I'm loving it.
Amanda's  the girl to talk to for all your digital needs! (Not to mention she's an all around fantabulous person!)


So that's it in a nutshell. 

What's new with you?



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

30 Things - #17

To see what this is all about click here

I'd forgotten all about this and then noticed in my blog stats that someone had been reading the first 16 things...so I thought I should continue.

17. What is the thing you most wish you were great at?

I wish I was great (or even good for that matter) at small talk.

Yup, small talk.

See, when I'm with friends talking is no problem. I can talk about anything. If I'm with strangers I can talk about work - I'm good at my job and I love my career and can talk endlessly about it. I can also talk about cancer - not such a fabulous topic but unfortunately one I'm more learned in than I ever wanted to be.

But to be in a group of people (strangers or even acquaintances) and make conversation off the cuff - I'm terrible at it. And I think it hinders me. I think it makes it harder for people to get to know me. I think people mistake my shyness for snobbishness and that's just not the case.

In fact, I'm a nice, witty, intelligent person and I have a fun, wild side to me. It just takes me some time to relax and show that.  I'm an observer and I like to watch people, learn what they're about and try to engage them with that but time is not always on my side for that.


Maybe I need to wear a sign.


                                       

or

                                     


or how about this?

                                      

 

or, just for shiggles, how about one of these?


 

 


                                    

Okay, so not the last three - though some days I feel like that. Don't we all?


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Halloween Hell!

Halloween is just around the corner.

I used to love halloween. Now, I simply dread it. For me, halloween has become a nightmare...almost as horrible as shoe shopping for Emily.

Let's examine the selection, shall we?

There's this.......


 
 
 
 
Or this......
 
 



Or even this......




I should mention - these are costumes that are listed in the TEEN girls section. Yep, you read that right. These aren't costumes I found at the Stag Shop. These are costumes from a large chain party store for teens. 

Are you shitting me? Do I want my 13 year old out looking like she's turning tricks for treats? No, not so much.

Now, in the interest of fairness they do carry more appropriate attire.


 
 
 
 



These are all much more appropriate costumes...with one problem. She's not 5. She doesn't want to be a witch, or a queen. 

Last year she put together a costume from bits and pieces she found at Claire's and was a bumblebee.
This year I think she's settled on an 80's costume - thankfully neon is making a comeback with the kids and it will lessen the financial impact of this costume.

As for me - I ran into the same problem; finding a costume that didn't look like I shopped at Sluts R Us. I'm all for being Superwoman or Bat Girl but if my ass cheeks are showing I'm thinking it's not really kindergarten appropriate.

I've settled on something that will stand the test of time; it will be relevant and appropriate for my job this year and for many many years to come.
 

 


 




Friday, October 12, 2012

People Need to Give Their Head A Shake!

I like to surf the internet in the morning before work. It's quiet, everyone is asleep, I can check my email and read the news in peace.

This morning I saw something posted on my friend's facebook page, a link to a news story about a young girl from the west coast. She made a YouTube video about her life - about her pain. You can see it here.  If you've skipped the link - don't.

I don't like to start my day with sadness or anger - who does? But watching this video made me think of my own teenage daughter and her friends.

I think every parent dreads the thought of their child being bullied. No one wants to see their child suffer. I think what scared me more about the video was the thought that my child could be one of those bullies.  I'm not saying my kid is a shithead in any way and I don't think she's a bully but I think we'll all agree that not standing up for someone who's being bullied - or at the very least not doing something to help someone who is being bullied makes you just as guilty.

I know how hard it is to be a kid. I remember. I was bullied - through most of my elementary school life. And not just by the students. I can remember as clearly as if it happened yesterday - my 7th grade teacher saying to me "When I told the class you were going to be moving into this class they were all upset and didn't want you here." What the fuck kind of thing is that to say to a 12 year old girl??  And 27 years later is sticks with me. (I'd have words for that teacher if our paths ever crossed again - I can promise you that!)

But I was also lucky. Suicide is not something I ever considered. I don't know if it just wasn't bad enough for me, if I was just stronger or what - but for so many young people.....they just see it as the only option. Obviously this young girl did. Unless you're familiar with the story or read the comments on the video, you may not know - that girl took her life earlier this week.

I had a hard time functioning today. I couldn't stop thinking of that poor girl. I couldn't stop thinking of my own girls. One bad decision and it ruined her life. No ones life should be ruined because of one mistake.

Technology makes it so easy for kids these days to be nasty. It's easy to hide behind a screen and say terrible hurtful things. It's easy for them to convince themselves that what they are doing really isn't that wrong. And because our kids are so addicted to their devices - it's hard for them to escape it.

When I started writing this post I titled it Kids Need to Give Their Head a Shake but then it occurred to me, this isn't just about kids. Adults are bullies too. I saw it first hand at work. I had a coworker who was treated like shit by just about everyone until it got unbearable for him and he left. And I was sad because I took the time to get to know him and while he has his quirks - he was also the kindest, most genuine, compassionate person I've met in a while. He's thoughtful and funny (if you like his brand of humor - not high brow by any means but still funny) And it saddened me to see people treat him so poorly.

I made a point of always treating him well. I didn't hide it. I didn't care if the others didn't like me because of it. I won't make an apologies for being kind to another person - whether you like them or not. But - I'm comfortable in my own skin. I'm not looking for acceptance. I just need acceptance from myself.

Most teenagers aren't wired that way though.

I showed Emily the video. We talked about it - both from the point of view of being bullied and feeling hopeless but also about being a bully - whether it be directly or by standing aside and letting it happen. I've tried to instill in her that if she's not comfortable enough with coming right out in defence of someone (which makes her a target too - I get it) that she needs to tell a teacher or a parent or anyone...until someone listens and helps. If she can't be the one to help - she can be the one to get help. But standing by and watching someone hurt so bad that they feel like life is not worth living anymore.....we just can't do that.

That girl had her whole life ahead of her.....

Let's all hope that this terrible tragedy isn't in vain - that her life - her death will inspire others to stand up and stand beside those who need someone.

Rest In Peace Amanda.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Let's Give Thanks


It's Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. We have it much earlier here because, we'll, we're more northern and therefore our harvest is much sooner.

Tomorrow is our actual Thanksgiving Day but most people celebrate it on Sunday so they can relax and enjoy the day off work on Monday. We're doing ours tomorrow with the hubs' family.

Thanksgiving has never been a really big deal in our house. There have been many years that we didn't do anything at all. Of course, there was also that infamous year that when we went around the table saying what we were thankful for my Dad half joked "I'm just thankful to still be here."  It was his last thanksgiving.

This year is different though. This year I've got a lot to be thankful for. Not that I didn't in years past but this year it's more in your face.

So, in keeping with the day, I'm going to tell you all that I'm thankful for.

In the words of my Dad, I'm thankful to still be here.

Really.

I was in a very different place at this time last year and though I was thankful for a lot, I wasn't sure what was going to happen with my life - quite literally.

I am here, I am healthy and I am looking forward to only 2 more of my maintenance treatments before I'm officially finished cancer treatments.

I'm thankful for my husband. He gets me. He understand my quirks, my tolerates my moods and he loves me no matter how fat I get. He knows what to say, when to say it and how to say it. He's my rock.

I'm thankful for my kids. I know so many (too many!) women who have lost their children or haven't been able to have children and I never want to take mine for granted. They really are a blessing from God. I've be lost without them. They are the reason I fought cancer as hard as I did because they really are my reason for being.

I'm thankful for my family - my Mom, my brothers, my IL's (yes, I'm one of those rare breeds who actually likes her in laws)  They have all helped me to become the person I am.

I'm thankful for my friends. They are the ones who, over the past year, were my cheering section, my pick me up when I was down and, for some of them, the few people outside of my immediate family who didn't seem to be appalled by my making 'one boob' jokes.

I'm thankful for all I've been blessed with in my life: my home, job, ability to live my life and provide a life for my family that is really very comfortable.

I'm thankful for cancer.

No, you didn't read that wrong.

I'm thankful because it gave me perspective - one I was missing. It gave me a renewed appreciation and love of life, of my family and of my friends. It brought new people into my life who I've come to care about a great deal.

I know that not everyone would see cancer as a gift. I'm sure if I were not well, if I'd not beaten it or had I been terminal then I might see things differently.  But for me, for my journey - while it was a gigantic, horrible nightmare, I was able to find something good in it too.

And I'm thankful for you, dear reader. While I'm sure I would still write it even if no one read it, I quite enjoy that someone does. I hope you find within it some joy, hope, laughs, inspiration and maybe even something that keeps you thinking long after you've turned off your computer.



Saturday, October 6, 2012

Birthdays

My baby boy is turning 5 next week. I can't believe how time had flown.

I can still remember the terrifying night he was born and how we thought we were going to lose him. His cord was wrapped around his neck not once but twice and when his head came out he was (from what I'm told) a terrible shade of purple. It took a long time for the Dr to get in and for them to get his cord fixed and delivered.

The most beautiful sound I ever heard was Connor crying just after they'd rushed him from my room to the NICU.  He only stayed there for two hours for monitoring.

Next week we're having a birthday party for him. He's having a glow in the dark mini putt party. He's invited 15 boys from his class. Yep. 15  five year old boys. Yahoo!!

I am paying the girls to help me with the party because they'll be in groups of 4. I don't know how many parents are going to stay - some of the kids coming are only 4 (actually a few could very well be 3) and though I don't know any of the parents - some people are okay with leaving their young ones at a party alone.

It got me to thinking about the first 'friend' birthday party I took Emily to. It was also the last friend birthday party I've taken any of my kids to.

It was a little girl she was at daycare with. It would have been the little girl's 3rd birthday.

I was (am) painfully shy and didn't do well in social situations where I don't know anyone. I am quiet, observant and withdrawn and I don't do small talk well. But I took Emily to the party because every now and then I like to challenge myself. Plus, Emily had been in the daycare for a while and I knew a few of the parents.

So, I showed up to the party 5 minutes after the scheduled start time. Yes, I know, I usually show up everywhere 5 minutes early but my rational for this was that I could come in after a couple of people were there and quietly join in.

But - I was the only one there. Besides the girls family we were the only 'guest' invited. And - even more awkward, the rest of the family wasn't actually showing up for another 2 hours.

I've had cancer. And the 3 hours I spent at that party were far worse. And no, I'm not being melodramatic. Even 10 years later I get anxious thinking about how awkward, uncomfortable and miserable I was at that party. I couldn't wait to get out of there. Finally, 3 hours later and before we even had cake I made an excuse about why we were going to have to leave and went. I almost cried when we left.

Two interesting things came out of that party.

The first was that it was the first time we'd ever been given a loot bag that cost probably as much as the gift we'd brought. It was full of toys, candy and even clothes from Children's Place.

The second was that I vowed that until my kids were old enough to be able to go to a party without Mommy that they weren't going to a party for someone I didn't know well. And I've stuck with that. My mom has been kind enough to take the kids to a few parties through the years but I just can't do it. I can't put myself in that awkward situation again and I figure if they are young enough that I still need to go to a party with them, they are young enough to forget pretty easily that they aren't going to a friends party.

It's a good thing not everyone is like me, otherwise Connor wouldn't have anyone at his party.

I'm looking forward to it.

My baby is growing up.

Friday, September 28, 2012

So Now It's Hearts

I've received the same message in my Facebook inbox a few times in the past few weeks:

Hello, Beautiful Ladies: Without replying to this message, put a heart on your wall; no comment, just a heart. Next, post a heart on the wall of the person who sent you this message. Then send this message to your women friends, only women. If anyone asks you why you have so many hearts on your wall, don't tell them. This is only for women, because this is breast cancer research week. One small act of solidarity between women. P.S. To type a heart, first type < then 3, it will turn into a heart!


I'm sure many of you remember the rant...but for those who don't, it went something like this.

REALLY??!!  Are you frickin' kidding me??!!!

When I wrote the rant, I was newly diagnosed with cancer and had only just had my mastectomy. Now that I've finished chemo, radiation and am nearing the end of my maintenance treatments I can speak a little more clearly and eloquently on this.

REALLY?!?!  Are you frickin' kidding me??!!

Let's break this apart.

How are hearts the least bit significant to breast cancer? Less offensive than the cryptic fake pregnancy symptoms status that was used last year that I found especially insulting since the treatment for breast cancer can often leave a women infertile.  But still stupid.

Why are we sending this message to women only? Men get breast cancer. In fact, roughly 200 Canadian men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. (Canadian Cancer Society)  22,700 women will be too. Of those nearly 23000 women, I wonder how many have husbands or sons who might want to be informed.

The next part is funny. If anyone asks why you have hearts on your wall...don't tell them.
I have no words. Really. How is this serving any purpose at all if you're not telling anyone what you're doing?? Is breast cancer a secret? Is breast cancer research a secret? And if it is, WHY?? It should out out there loud and proud so that every woman (and man!) knows the possible causes, the symptoms and how to detect it early. Because if you don't have early detection your chances of beating it just plain suck. And dying from cancer is neither pretty nor dignified.

I don't find secret hearts in a status supportive. I find them insulting. Supportive was the people who called, emailed, wrote me letters, sent me cards, said prayers, brought me dinner, took care of my kids, drove me to treatment, made donations to the Canadian (or American) Cancer Society in my name or in the name of Papa's Pride.

I found solidarity with the people who turned their Facebook profile pictures into Pink Ribbons (or in the case of my PP sisters - Pink Pumpkins!! Or teal ribbons for ovarian cancer or gold for childhood cancer or  white for brain cancer.....) because cancer of any kind should not be kept a secret. It should not be cryptic. We shouldn't be hiding it or hiding from it. We should be fighting it. Together. Hard.

Otherwise, we'll never win the battle.

I am a PROUD breast cancer survivor. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I will be turning my Facebook Profile picture pink. I invite you all to do the same - in solidarity with those who have fought the battle, in memory of those lost and in the hopes of finding a cure.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Chemo Kind of Day

There was never a timeline given to me in which I'd start to feel better normal.  My oncologist tells me that all of my aches and pains have very little, if anything to do with chemo. My nurses tell me my aches and pains have everything to do with chemo. I'm more inclined to believe the nurses, not because I don't trust my dr, but because the nurses spend a whole lot more face time with the patients.

Don't get me wrong, for the most part, I feel completely normal. But I also notice certain things. My sense of smell for instance, is still a very strong trigger for nausea. We've got some new flushable wipes in the bathroom that smell to me like the Lysol clothes I was using after my first three chemos and everytime I go into or passed the bathroom I want to vomit.

I still can't drink cold water or even consider ice in my drinks.

My fingers still hurt sometimes, as do my toes. My back is terribly sore (which of course I've now convinced myself is cancer)

I've got a cold - my first real illness since all this started and my whole body hurts in a way that reminds me of chemo. I would kill for a Tylenol 3 because extra strength tylenol and advil aren't doing a thing for me.

I was talking with my sister in law's mother last night, she's a 10 year cancer survivor and she told me she was 7 years or so before she felt really normal again. I guess that's just the way it will be. I shouldn't complain but on these days when I feel like a giant bucket of crap it's hard to not be a whiny grouch.

I'm sure tomorrow will be better.

Moving on....I'm enlisting your help in a fun (and completely pointless) competition I'm having with my now teenage daughter. You see, while other 13 year olds find me cool, my own does not. So I've presented her with a challenge. I've opened a twitter account (I didn't have one before, I still don't quite understand twitter) and I've bet her that in 3 months time I'll have more followers than she will.

This is where you come in, dear reader. Pop on over to Twitter and follow me @urmomiscooltoo

I promise to not fill up your twitter world with crap....I just really need bragging rights and for my teenager to concede that yes, her Mom is cool.

And feel free to tweet that to all your followers...the more the merrier!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Uplifted

I promise, I'm still here. Being back to work really interferes with my blogging time. But since the blog doesn't pay my mortgage and the school board does....well, you get the picture.

I am still in that euphoric stage in which I'm in love with my job and more importantly, happy to go to work.  Two weeks in and our class has settled into a nice little routine. I've got a great group of kids and I'm having fun.

I said goodbye to a friend today. It was a bit sad. A coworker. A large part of the reason he left was because of how he was treated by many of the other staff.

Perhaps I have a stronger empathy chip, I remember being the social outcast as a child. Perhaps it's because I see people for what's on the inside, not what they show outwardly. I'll tell you though, this particular friend, while socially awkward and occasionally annoying - I've never met someone with a bigger heart. He was thoughtful. At Christmas he gave me a bunch of bandanna's for my head since I was quite bald at the time. For the 7 months I was off work a week didn't go by that he didn't text or email to see how I was feeling. And it saddened me to see him treated so poorly.

But, he's moving on and hopefully to a place where he'll be treated with a bit more respect. For me, it will be a little quieter at work and a little less entertaining.

On Wednesday I had my 6 month follow up with my oncologist. Everything looks great and I'm still recovering nicely. Yesterday I went for my 15th round of herceptin. Only 3 more to go!! While I was there I was speaking to one of the nurses and she told me a little story.

One of the other patients there is a woman close to my age (she's 42) and she's got colon cancer. She was having a really difficult time; depressed, closed off, not managing well.  She read the journal I'd left in the waiting room (I tried to find a link to a post where I wrote about it but I can't find it right now - so long story short,  I put a journal in the waiting room at the chemo clinic and a note encouraging patients, their families, the volunteers, Dr's and nurses to write in it. I saw one at the radiation clinic and it was very moving)
Anyhow, this woman had read the journal in the waiting room and I guess it made her feel so much better - less alone. So she wrote in it too, telling her story and talking about how afraid she was but being the mother to 3 young kids she was going to fight.

The nurse said after she'd written in the journal it was like a weight had been lifted and she was a whole new person. The nurse thanked me for putting the journal in the waiting room.

It made me feel so uplifted - on top of the world. My whole intention for leaving the journal there was just that - so that everyone else who read it and wrote in it would know they were not alone in their battle against cancer.

Some people once they've beaten cancer don't want the title survivor. They'd rather say they survived cancer and be done with it. I guess it's all semantics but to me - I wear the title Survivor with pride. I worked hard to become one.

It's not to say I don't want to get back to my regular life but this is part of my regular life now. As a colleague says "You're going to play the cancer card?"

Yes, yes I am. Because I fought and won that right. I am a survivor. I wish everyone who fought cancer could say the same.

One day.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Honeymoon

You know how you build up something in your mind to be terrible and it turns out to be not as bad as you thought it would be?

You know how you build something up in your mind to be great and it doesn't live up to that expectation?

I'm going to admit now that I was terrified to start work. My first year started terribly but turned around and became a dream come true.

Last year, work took a back seat to my health and when I went back to work in April it was a complete and utter nightmare. I was stressed, tired, aggravated and I dreaded going to work every single day. I was counting down to the last day of school.

I expected a lot of the same this year.

Wow, was I wrong!

In fact, if this year stays on track with how it's going now - this year will be better than my first year. The kids are quiet. They are calm. They are well behaved. They are excited to be at school. We're only 3 days in but have already managed to cover everything we wanted to teach because the time we factored in for classroom/behaviour management was not required.

I hope and pray I'm not jinxing it but I'll tell ya, the only thing I don't like about going to work is the waking up at 5:45 am!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

What's For Lunch?

School is starting tomorrow, for me and the kids. That means school lunches.

I have fussy kids. They don't like refuse to eat a lot of things and what they will eat often times falls into the can't send to school list.

Peanut butter. Can't send peanut butter. I'm okay with that, I get it and frankly, don't want to be responsible for some other kid dying. Mary is receptive to alternatives and will eat soy butter. So for her, I can still send her 'peanut butter' sandwiches. Emily though, not happening. She insists she can tell the difference. I'm thinking I'll need to do the peanut butter challenge with her and see if she can tell the difference between peanut butter and soy butter. I'm betting she won't be able to to.

I would prefer not to send lunch meats for the kids, they aren't really that healthy and even with an ice pack they don't stay cold enough. Oh, and let's not mention my kids only like bologna and summer sausage. In other words, the shit meats.

Neither will eat hummus, I've yet to find a thermos that can actually keep food hot for the 3+  hours before lunch and both would be happy to eat cheese buns every. single. day.

So I decided to google healthy brown bag lunch ideas and I came this.



Are you kidding me?? 

Has this been my problem all this time? All I needed to do what cut their sandwiches into shapes and make boats out of oranges and cheese?

Who has this much time on their hands? I feel like worst mom of the year because I don't make themed lunches for my kids. I wonder if those dolphin sandwiches are full of tuna....and then does that mean it's not dolphin friendly tuna?

Seriously though, I truly have to wonder who goes to all this effort for their kids lunches and who they are trying to impress. It really can't be the kids, they just don't care that much. No matter what shape their sandwiches are, they are still trying to trade them with the kids who brought oreos and potato chips.

I'm not further ahead in my search for healthy school lunches for the kids and will likely cave and send them cheese buns everyday. At least I know they'll eat them.

Maybe the urge will strike and I'll cut those cheese buns to look like kittens.





Saturday, September 1, 2012

September

I can't believe it's September already! This summer has flown by. It was definitely a better summer than last year!!

Shall we catch up?

I spent five days on the west coast of Canada and have to say, I'm in love. I come from the city and while we have our moments of scenic beauty it really pales in comparison to our coasts. My husband is from the east coast of Canada and I truly think it's the most beautiful place on earth....and then I saw the west...and it's just as beautiful.  The only mountains we have here are skyscrapers so I was determined to see a mountain. In fact, Emily's instructions for me were to "jump over a mountain and ride a whale"  So I did just that!


Forgive my pictures, they are completely out of order.

In the absence of real whales to ride I managed to cuddle up to this orca at the airport (we'll just ignore the fact that an orca is actually a dolphin and not a whale)


This was my view from the plane flight there. You can't really tell in the pictures but there were mountains down there. I'm a terrible flier but since I've discovered the wonder that is Ativan I think I could quite possibly even fly to the moon! At this point turbulence wasn't bothering me, I was just thinking "Wow, check out the mountains!!"



Here's my mountain. I'm sure my friends could tell me exactly what mountain it is. They just look at them and know the names. They all look the same to me. I took this one on the ferry heading to the wedding.



This was my view from the Cliffwalk at the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Breathtaking!
 
 
 
 I'm going to be honest, this meant very little to me because I didn't watch the Beachcombers as a kid but Sean was super excited that I ate lunch here.



This is the start of my trek across the Capilano Suspension Bridge. I'm terrified of heights and yet I wasn't the least bit afraid, even after I realized that the bridge sways like crazy! It was amazing!!


I went to BC to meet/visit with some of my PP sisters. It was exciting and scary all at the same time. To spend 5 years talking with someone online is one thing but to go across the country to meet them is a whole new ballgame. And while we have an  easy flow online, in person it could be completely different. Add into this my shyness - and it could have spelled disaster.

Thankfully it was quite the opposite.

My friends made me feel so welcome and it was as if we'd known each other in person, not just online for years. It was comfortable and easy.

Another highlight was that I got to see my childhood best friend. One of the tests of true friendship is being able to go for days, months or in this case 12 years without seeing one another and being able to pick up right where you left off. It was so nice to see my friend and catch up and laugh about old times.

I missed my kids terribly though and as much fun as I had, I was happy to come home.

And now I look ahead to the start of the school year. I'm excited about having money again and about getting into my routine. I've got to stop all the eating I've been doing with Sean's family here and get back to the gym - which has been neglected.

Life is good!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

39!

This time last year I was newly boobless and hopped up on all sorts of good drugs.

Today is my 39th birthday.

I never really stressed about getting older; why bother? You can't stop it so rather than complain, just embrace it. Despite the trials and tribulations I've endured this past 9 years my 30's have been the best years of my life. And I fully intend to enjoy the final year of them.

It was a quiet birthday. Sean had the day off because he had to go to court as a witness against the GO Bus driver who rammed into him last year. But, unbeknownst to us the case was adjourned (again!) so we were in and out.

So we came home, hung out for a bit and then went to the driving range to hit a bucket of balls. It's the first time either of us has been in 2 years. It was fun, though my left arm didn't hold up too well (I'm all arthritic from the herceptin)

We went the butcher and bought some great big fat steaks (no grocery store meat fridge steaks for me!) Sean made them to perfection - just this side of dead and served them up with baked potato and grilled veggies. Mmmmmm.  And ice cream cake for dessert.

And now here I sit, nursing my glass of wine while Sean kills people on the xbox. I'm going to go soak in the bath with my Kobo. My girlfriends got me a Chapters card for my birthday so I've got to replenish my book supply. I think I'll buy the second 50 Shades of Grey book. I wasn't sold on the first one but I've been promised that it gets better.  If it does, I'll buy the third.

I'm one year older....one year stronger.....one year better!

Happy Birthday to me!  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Have You Noticed?

Have you noticed that my posts have lacked depth lately?

I have.

I'm sorry, my brain has gone on vacation apparently. It's been a busy summer.

Where do I begin?

I spent the first part of the summer getting caught up in my one year follow up appointments. I saw my radiation oncologist (who wants me to be seen every 3 months - alternating between him and my medical oncologist) He said everything looked good and that the patch of itchy skin on the surgery sight "doesn't look like skin cancer" which until that very moment I didn't fear it was and now I obsess about it non stop.

I had a physical and my thyroid numbers came back elevated. This happened while I was vacationing at the trailer with the fam and therefore without the assistance of Dr. Google. Thankfully my friend and resident medical know-it-all was only a text away and she reassured me that it was likely just hyperthyroidism.

I had the numbers checked again and it turned out it was a lab error and in fact, my thyroid is just fine.

Then we move on to the weird neck pain/lump in the throat. I felt like I had a swelling in the left side of my neck and I've felt like I've had a lump in my throat since I had the sore throat during radiation. Naturally I'd convinced myself I've got some kind of neck cancer. Oh, and let's not forget the new chronic heartburn. Esophageal cancer? We won't take into consideration that because Sean's family has been here the entire month of August I've been eating everything in sight and drinking....a lot. I went to the Dr and he didn't feel or see anything in my neck/throat and thinks it's likely stress. I don't doubt it. As I come to the end of my herceptin (5 left) I find myself getting more anxious about a recurrence.

On a happier note, I've got an appointment with a new plastic surgeon in November and I'm optimistic about this guy.

In two days I'll be celebrating my first 'Rebirth Day'.  My boobiversay. My first full year without my full lady parts.

I've been planning a tattoo and I've finally settled on the design I want. I'm hoping Sean will take my not so subtle hints (read: me telling him I didn't want the lovely $400 sculpture - I want my tattoo)  and tell me to go ahead and make the appointment. It's not that he's opposed to the tattoo - I've already got one  - it's more the cost. And normally that wouldn't be a problem too but you see I've decided to treat myself to a vacation.

I've talked a bit about it but I'll elaborate.

One of my PP sisters is getting married/renewing vows and I've decided to fly across the country to crash her wedding. (okay, not a total crash, she knows I'm coming) But, it's giving me the chance to spend some time with not one but two of the women who were such a big part of my 'long distance cheering section'.

I'm sure there are some people who know me (IRL) who think I'm absolutely insane to fly across the country to spend 5 days with someone I've never met. It's something we teach our kids about - you never know who is on the other end of your computer screen.

After 5 years of talking to these ladies daily, via email, text, mail and phone - I know some of them better than I know some of my 'in person' friends.

But all of that aside, I'm excited beyond belief to be stepping outside of the 'quiet, reserved, shy, non risk taker' me and go on this adventure. And I'm so excited about seeing the pacific ocean and mountains. And I'm so excited to be sharing in my PP sisters special day.

I just have to get on that plane.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

30 Things - #16

To see what this is all about, click here

16. What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?

These are in no particular order.

1. Beating Cancer

It's certainly not something I accomplished alone. I had a full (and fabulous) medical team. I had the biggest and best cheerleading section. But, even with all of that, at the end of the day it was me and me alone who had to go through it and had to fight to come out victorious on the other side.

2. My Kids

Not having them, that was the easy part (my apologies to my friends who have/are battling infertility - you know the spirit in which that was intended)
I am proud of the people my kids are becoming.

I am proud of how thoughtful, kind, smart and funny Emily is.
I am proud of how Mary is not the least bit afraid to be herself, no matter what other people think.
I am proud of how smart and sensitive Connor is.

They are far from perfect but it is in those flaws that I find the most beauty.

3. My Marriage

6 years ago I had to make a choice to walk away from my marriage or fight for it. I chose to fight for it.
I am proud of how strong my marriage is now. We've overcome a lot of adversity and built something that will stand the test of time. I think my kids will be able to look at our marriage and understand that while it's not rainbows and roses like in the movies, if you work at it, it can be even better.

4. Finishing School.

This might not be an accomplishment for many but A: I hated school when I was younger and B: I rarely went. It's not only a miracle that I stuck with it but remarkable that I graduated despite never being there. Imagine what I could have done with my life if I'd actually tried?!

5........has not been accomplished yet but it's in the works. When it happens, you'll be the 5th to know.

Monday, August 13, 2012

30 Things - #15

To see what this is all about, click here

15. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

Okay, wtf kind of question is this?? Honestly, it's something Mary would ask me.



If I were an animal I'd be a cockroach so I would be indestructible.




I'd be a bird so I could have a birds eye view.



I'd be a cat so I could sleep 20 hours a day and it would be acceptable.

this is our little kitty Licorice. He got stuck this way in the girls beanbag chair
























I'd be fish so I could live in the water. I love the water.



I'd be a butterfly so everyone would think I was beautiful.



I'd be a giraffe so for once I'd have long legs.



I'd be an elephant so Bob Barker would pay to have me moved to California.



#16 will be much more interesting.





Friday, August 10, 2012

30 Things - #14

To find out what this is about click here

Another job interview question.

14. Describe 5 strengths you have.

My favourite job interview answer for this question..... "I am able to be a team player but am also able to work independently with minimal supervision."  This translates to - I'll work with other people if I have to but truth be known I'd rather you just tell me what to do, when it's got to be done by and everyone can leave me the hell alone. Ironically, this is truthfully how I work best. I'm a great team player - provided I'm the captain of the team.

And that brings me to number 1.

1. I'm organized.
I'm not OCD organized but I think I'm organized than most. I have mental lists a mile long of what needs to be done - and more recently because of chemo fog, I have paper lists. And they all get done. I'm a planner, I don't fly by the seat of my pants well and organizing speaks to that for me.


2. I'm kind.
I know this might be considered a personality trait rather than a strength but I consider it a strength. It's easy to be kind to the people you like, the challenge is to be kind to those you don't like. And while I genuinely like most people I find more and more (especially after cancer) that I have no patience or tolerance for certain kinds of people. I just don't like those people as much as I once did but am still forced to interact with them on a regular basis.


3.  I have a great sense of humor.
I don't mean I tell knock knock jokes. I see humor in everyday life - particularly when it comes to the irony of life. I tend to find things funny that others don't quite see the humor in and really appreciate when others do as well. When I had my mastectomy my bff bought me a birthday card with a joke in it about sagging boobs. Another friend made my birthday cake in the shape of a boob. My brother joked that most people pay an arm and a leg for their houses but I paid my right boob.

How many people laugh at having a body part removed or cancer? Not many but to me, those things were funny and brought a smile to my face when I needed it most.


4.  I'm self aware.
I know what I like and what I hate. I am confident without being cocky. I am comfortable in my own skin. I don't need validation from anyone.



5.  I'm committed.
I don't do anything halfway. If I'm going to do something I'm going to go at it head on and to the best of my abilities. It might not be even close to being perfect - or even right for that matter but it will be done as well as I can do it.
This goes for my relationships too. I will give it 100% - but I expect 100% in return.


So, did I get the job??

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ready....Set.......

Awwwwwwww.......

Yeah, I'm cute!!


How can you not love that little face!!

When I was little I wanted a dog. I wanted to name it BJ. Our neighbours had a Bijon they called BJ and I thought it was the best dog ever.

My Grandma bought me a stuffed Beagle for my first communion and I called it BJ and it went everywhere with me (even to Las Vegas when I was 22....I'll tell ya about that story later)

I still have BJ the Beagle and will never ever part with it.

Last year when we got Chicklets

Sean told the kids we'd get two kittens so they'd be able to play. But when the time came he changed his mind and we came home with just one. We let it slide but over time this lovely kitten grew into a cat and well, he was lonely. I toyed with the idea of letting him out but we live on a main street and I don't want him pancaked. Been there, done that and it wasn't pleasant.

Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago Emily told me  that her friend's Beagle was pregnant.

What?! I could have my very own BJ!!?? 

But alas, Sean is not a fan of dogs. Truth be known, I love dogs but they are a hell of a lot of work and while the idea of a dog seems fun, I'm more inclined to have the lower maintenance pets. But I pushed the dog issue.

Yesterday Sean said "I'd rather have another cat than a dog."

Now, I'm no fool and if he's saying something like that I'm not giving him a chance to change his mind so I immediately got onto Kijiji and found us a kitten. And last night, little Licorice came home.

Chicklets is less than impressed with his new housemate. He caterwauled, he growled, he hissed. He even tried to bat at the kitten a couple of times. But mostly he's just following him around the house, growing at him. Showing him who's boss.  The little guy, who isn't bigger than a handful, hisses back occasionally.  It's really like a house cat hissing at a lion. Cute and not at all frightening.

We're all in love and look forward to the day that Chicklets accepts his new little housemate. Until then, we're keeping a watchful eye.

Oh, have I mentioned I'm allergic to cats? It doesn't bother me with adult cats but with the kittens - when they are up in your arms all the time....yeah, time for a Claritin.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Have A Drink?

Sean's sister has been visiting from Newfoundland so we've been doing a lot of visiting with her. Also a lot of eating. And drinking. Oh the drinking.

I've discovered a new love for martinis and well, my liver is not so happy with me. She's leaving early next week. Two days later his brother is coming in though.

I'm not complaining, it's  great to visit with my in laws, we don't see them often; once every 5 years or so, so I'm enjoying myself.

My sister in law was talking about a martini club she and her friends had started, each person who came would be responsible for bringing the fixin's for a different martini and a finger food and all sorts of shenanigans would ensue.

I'm thinking this would be something I'd enjoy - once a month with friends. Might have to see what we can do about that.

But enough of that.

I've been working a lot the past couple of weeks too. I know what you're thinking - working on summer vacation? Why yes, yes I am. My hope is to have all my major prep done before school starts so that during my prep time at school I can get other things accomplished instead of paperwork. I also made a lightbox for the science centre. I'm going to start updating my Kindergarten Blog again soon.

I'm also counting down until my trip to Vancouver. I'm so insanely excited!! My bff went shopping with me to find a dress to wear to the two weddings I'm going to this month and I came away with two gorgeous dresses and shoes. Woohoo! I also got my hair cut on Wednesday so it would look a little less chemo hair and a little more "Wow, that chick really likes short hair"

Not a lot to say today but I'm here, resting my liver and relaxing!

Monday, July 30, 2012

30 Things - #13

To find out what this is about click here.

13. Describe 5 weaknesses you have.

This one makes me feel like I'm at a job interview. Don't you love when they ask you this question? Because really, who wants to talk trash about themselves when trying to impress a potential employer.
You can't say things like "My biggest weakness is that I care too much." 
Really?Thanks for coming in but we're going to hire that guy who told us his weakness was his lunch hour spliff. He might be a stoner but he doesn't try to feed us a line of bullshit.

Okay, so here's mine. Not my job interview weakness...my real live everyday life weaknesses.

1.  Beer.

Not like the guy who sparks up every lunch hour but I really like beer a lot and if someone is having a beer I'm inclined to join them. There's nothing better than sitting on your patio in the sun with a nice cool beer. Yum.


2.  Michael's.

I have small problem with thinking I am the most creatively inclined person out there. The truth is I'm mildly okay at many many things but not really good at any one thing. I get on creativity kicks and will spend a week or two on a new craft until I bore of it and move on to the next thing. Going to Michael's is bad for me because not only do I always have a coupon but there are 45 million different craft ideas there that are screaming at me... "Buy me! You know you could make these for Christmas/birthdays/Hanukkah/Halloween/Tuesday/to sell to raise money for Papa's Pride" So I spend a small fortune, make some things that turn out okay and then go to Michael's again for more inspiration.
It's beyond weakness...I think it's full fledged illness.


3. Homemade chocolate chip cookies.

There is nothing better in the whole wide world. Not even sex. And that's saying something because I really like sex.


4. Reality TV.

I know most of the time it's garbage but even after 12 years of Survivor I love it. And Teen Mom, don't get me started. 19 Kids and Counting....more power to ya lady. Sister Wives, not my bag but I love the relationship they all have. I'd love a Sister Wife who I don't have to share my husband with.

Oh, wait, we call those best friends. Duh.


5. My kids.

I don't mean this in the "I care too much." way but honestly my kids are my weakness. I can't stand to see any of them unhappy. I cave in at the first sign of tears. I am a sucker for a hug or kiss. I'd pass up all the beer, crafts, chocolate chip cookies and reality TV for time with them.