Saturday, December 7, 2013

Almost there!

I sometimes can't believe  that it's been over 2 years since I was first diagnosed with cancer.

I've learned that even though the cancer is gone and the treatments are over the aftermath still lingers. Of course, I'll know this forever just by taking my shirt off and looking in the mirror.

But to anyone else who looks at me - you'd never know.

My hair is long again. It's curly (when I let it be) but most people think it's just a natural curl. My eyelashes and eyebrows are back. My arm hair and leg hair is back.

My nails grow again (though they are still brittle and crappy) and the steroid puffiness is now just 'she eats too much' chub. I can own it.

I've even got cleavage again so to the casual observer, the only indication of the battle I fought might be my tattoo.

I'm one step closer to normalcy again. I've got the next surgery date for my new boob (aka The Newb)

On January 14th I'll go in, get my expander out, get my implant in and lefty will get a reduction and lift to make me even Steven. 

I can't really explain how this makes me feel. After the first surgery to begin reconstruction  I had second thoughts. I was in some serious pain and was also in a dark place with regards to my pain meds. I questioned why I put myself through it.

But when the pain went away and my demons with it I felt better and happier and more confident. I was thrilled to have my body back - to be able to wear a shirt that showed cleavage and not feel self conscious. It really was the best decision I ever made.

I said from the beginning of the cancer journey that losing my breast didn't affect me that much but I guess it really did. More than I thought because now that I have it back I feel like a whole new me.

I'm not sure what to expect with the next surgery. I'm scheduled to be off work for 2 months - whether or not I need that long remains to be seen. I don't think so but then, I've never had a double boob job before.

I'd love to show you before and after photos but I'm not gonna. haha.



Saturday, November 23, 2013

Judgey Judgerson

We all know someone who is a judgey judgerson right? Someone who looks down at you or someone else for something they do or say or how the behave. Yeah, we all know someone like that. A facebook friend posted a rant not long ago about people being so judgemental and how terrible they were. I have some thoughts on that.


I saw a guy at WalMart today wearing his pajamas. Yeah. His girlfriend/wife was wearing a pair of yoga pants that would have fit my 11 year old. She was not the size of my 11 year old. It was straight out of a 'people of walmart' video.  I'll admit, I took one look and judged them. Was it a fair assessment? Probably not. Maybe they were living in a shelter and those were the only clothes they had. Maybe they have a critically ill child and their priority is not their appearances.  

How about tattoos? I've got tattoos. Two of them (well technically 3 since one was done in two parts) One of my tattoos is highly visible, on my forearm. If I'm not wearing long sleeves you can't miss it. The other is on my lower leg/ankle so if I'm anything but pants, you can see it. I'm sure I'm judged because of them. As much as they are more socially acceptable these days, especially in women there are still many (mostly of the older generation) who might view me as trashy or uneducated.

It doesn't bother me, what they think. Given the opportunity I can prove otherwise, quite easily. I am intelligent, well spoken, educated and when need be, sophisticated (though I find sophisticated me to be a bit stuffy) My tattoos don't reflect my intelligence or worth. They reflect my victory over cancer and my children both here on earth and waiting for me in Heaven.  I chose their placement on my body, not so they would be somewhere in which I could hide them but because they were somewhere I could show them off. I paid a lot of money for these original works of art to be permanently put onto my body. Why would I hide them.

But I will still be judged.

You know that Mom who stares at her cell phone while her kids are playing in the park and she's missing it all? How about the parent whose child runs wild in the store? Or throws an unholy fit. How about the parent who takes their kids to McDonalds 4 times a week? What about the parents who don't sign their children up for any extra curricular activities because they are just too tired after work to take them? How about the parents who sign their kids up for so much that they can't keep schedules straight?

We judge them.

That brings me to the whole  reason behind this post.

We all know we should judge others. Judge not lest ye be judged, those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones and all the rest....

And we rant about others who judge. We judge them. That's right, we judge those people who judge others.

Why?

We want to be right? We want to feel better about ourselves at the expense of another? Perhaps.
 Who knows? Not me, that's for sure. But one thing I do know is that we will continue to rant about people who judge others, all the while, judging others.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

What The Hell Was I Thinking??!!

You know when you have one of those stroke of genius ideas and then you look back on it a little later and say,




I've had that moment.

About a month ago at school one of the boys in grade 5 came to me and asked me if I was going to have my Christmas craft club again this year. You see, last year I thought it would be fun to get some of the older kids involved in a craft club, making ornaments and such to sell at our school's Christmas Fete (our annual Christmas concert/fundraiser)

The club was a great success, I had about 60 kids sign up and they made some super cute ornaments to sell.

So I thought, hey, sure why not. We'll do craft club again this year. So on the drive home from work I got to thinking about all the ornaments we could make and the spirit of Christmas fell upon me. (yes, in October)

And then I thought - WAIT! Why stop at a craft club. Wouldn't it be super fun to put on a Christmas play with some of the older kids? The younger kids do songs and such every year at the Fete but the older kids don't. How fun would it be to organize a Nativity play with the older kids.

I came home and Googled and found a really fun script, the Nativity as told from the point of view of the angels and it's got a modern spin on it. Love, love, love.

So I recruited 30 kids and a few teachers to help out and now I'm knee deep in nativity hell. Yeah, you read that right, nativity hell. (Sorry baby Jesus.)

Don't get me wrong, the kids are having fun and some of them have even memorized all their lines already. We still have over a month to rehearse and I'm sure they will be great. But the logistics of planning a play are tough. Because there are practices (limited to lunch hours and not in the gym because of volleyball and basketball practices) There is the scenery...I'm going to have to get kids working on that soon. There are costumes. We have virtually no budget for this play so it's whatever we can dig up.  Oh, and then there is the voices. My darling children, who through the run of a day are probably told to be quiet 500 times can't seem to find their loud voices in rehearsals. Oh, and the boy playing Joseph quit. He's got no lines so that's okay but since there are only 3 other boys in the play....well, my choices in replacements are limited.

I know it will work out and I'm sure it's going to be fantastic but I lay away thinking about it at night and wondering what possessed me to do such a thing.

As for the Christmas craft club. Next year.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Tasty Tuesday - The Friday Edition. Bruschetta Chicken.

Ah Pinterest, that sweet, sweet time suck. I can't tell you how many recipes I've pinned and never tried. But now I can scratch one off that list. I found this recipe on Pinterest but I changed it to suit my tastes. And it tasted so good!! 

5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cloves of garlic
1 c of fresh basil (I didn't have fresh and the grocery store was out of fresh so I used 1/3 c of dried basil)
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 small red onion sliced
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
1/4 c of water. 
1/4 feta cheese


Now, let me walk you through how insanely easy this recipe is. Throw the olive oil, water, basil and garlic in a blender or food processor and blend that goodness up. 
Pour it over your chicken breasts that are snugly in the baking dish. Layer the top with the onion slices, feta and tomatoes. And it will look like this. 


Pop that bad boy into the oven at 350 for 45 minutes or so and it will come put looking like this. 


I served it with rice and spinach salad. 

And it was fantastic. Yummers. An add it to the rotation dish. 

So now, I should find my way over to Pinterest and pick my new recipe for tomorrow. If I'm not back in an hour it's because I've created a new Christmas ornament DIY board and am pinning like a madwoman. 





Sunday, November 3, 2013

On Again, Off Again

Don't you hate it when people are so on again off, off again. Kind of like I've been with this blog?

Yeah, me too.

Today is an on day so here I am. Actually I have been blogging, quite busily in fact. Remember I deleted my kindergarten blog. I didn't like the direction it took. I wasn't in it to hock my wares as it were. I was in it to share the learning that happens in a full day kindergarten class.

Well, about that same time my teaching partner mentioned that he wanted to start a class blog and while he loved the idea he was a little short on know how.

Enter ME!  I am far from short on know how so I made that project my new baby and I'm quite proud of it. Feel free to go and check it out.


I've also been doing a lot of professional development. I'm eager to bring the "new" way of delivering the Kindergarten program to my class and while it's not necessarily new to me, bringing it into the public school system is new for us all. My sister in law (also an Early Childhood Educator) and I have been going to conferences and workshops on weekends. We work for different school boards so this gives us a chance to connect with others professionally - and it's also a day out! Best of both worlds.

I also mentioned I was going to bring Tasty Tuesdays back to my blog and I'm gonna, but in a different context. We're in a food rut in my family so I'm going to make use of my Pinterest recipe board and I'm going to cook one new thing each week - either Saturday or Sunday.

Today is my new recipe day so stay tuned to hear all about it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's Thanksgiving weekend for us Canadian folks. The time of year when we gorge on turkey and stuffing, make nice with our families and unbutton our pants while the tryptophan washes over us and puts us to sleep. (Alright, that's actually a myth. Turkey has less tryptophan than many other commonly eaten food, egg white, for instance. The post turkey day drowsiness is more likely caused by over eating, alcohol and the work up to the whole ordeal.)

Thanksgiving has not traditionally been a big deal around our house. For about the last 10 years we've celebrated it some years and others not so much. Since we're not farmers and don't need to celebrate a bountiful harvest we choose to be thankful every single day of the year for the gifts we've been blessed with instead of focusing all that thanks on one day.

But this year we're doing the whole turkey thing.

No, wait. I'M doing the whole turkey thing.

See, something occurred to me. I'm 40 years old and I've NEVER cooked a large family dinner. This would be because in all the years of Christmas', Thanksgivings,  and Easters dinner has been handled by either Sean or my mom. And though I try to help I get shooed out of the kitchen. And then I get stuck with the dishes later. Lucky me.

So this year I put my foot down and said I'm cooking dinner. All of it. (Okay, not the peas pudding because that should be left to the experts so my brother in law will take care of that for me)  I'm cooking the turkey, potato, sweet potato, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, brussel spouts, gravy and stuffing. Me.

Shit.

Wish me luck!!

And for all of my Canadian readers....Happy Thanksgiving.

For all of my American readers....happy Sunday. 





Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tasty Tuesday's Return - Tomato and Pepper Chicken

You read that right. Contain your excitement. I know, it's hard but I'm bringing Tasty Tuesdays back. You wanna know why? Because I love food. (Hence the reason for the second half of my post yesterday....)

Also because I have that super awesome app, SnapRecipes and I screwed something up and managed to delete every single recipe I had stored in there. On my iPad and my iPhone. Yup. literally hundreds. Gone. And the joke is on me because in my I-hate-clutter-and-I'm-not-going-to-take-it-anymore purge-fest I threw out all the paper copies.


I know.

So the other day I wanted to make my Zesty Lime Chicken but I didn't have the recipe. And then a stroke of genius hit me and I checked right here on my little ol' blog and sure enough....there it was.

Back-up. Suhweet!

Anyhow, enough babbling....
Today's mouth watering recipe....Tomato and Pepper Chicken

I love chicken breast but I'm also lazy so I buy boneless skinless chicken breast. It's faster and healthier but it can also be bland as hell and dry.

But not this way.

Tomato and Pepper Chicken

Ingredients:

5 chicken breasts (yes 5, I have a family of 5 so all my recipes are for 5. You can adjust to suit you)
1 large can stewed tomatoes (I like getting the Alymer ones because they make them in different 'flavours' like chili or Italian style)
2 bell peppers
4 stalks of celery
1 cup of white wine

Slice your peppers and celery (I like to do mine in big chunks.)

Put the chicken breast in a baking dish, and cover with all the other ingredients. Bake at 350 until cooked thoroughly.

I usually serve this on a bed of brown rice. And I usually don't make a veggie to go with it because it's chalk full of veggies anyway. The chicken will be so tender and moist and flavourful.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

And don't forget - cooked tomatoes contain  lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that lowers your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Delicious and healthy!

Enjoy!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

I'm At It Again

I don't have to look at my calendar to know it's October. All I have to do is look at the stats and live feed for my blog. I've got an influx of visitors again because it's breast cancer awareness month and with that comes those insanely ridiculous Facebook games that pissed me off 2 years ago and led to the post that made my blog explode. To date over 20,000 have viewed that post.  I'm wondering how many of them still went along with the FB thing. And of all the people who went along with the FB games over the years - I'm 14 weeks and craving M & M's, hearts in your profile picture, fruits, bra colour.....  I wonder how many of those people took the time to actually educate themselves on breast cancer? Everyone is aware of it. I was aware of it before I had it. But what did I actually know about it? Jack Shit, that's what.

I know a lot now. More than I ever wanted to. And as I survivor I feel like it's in part, my responsibility to help educate others. So, forgive me, if every now and then I drop statistics on you - like the 5 year survival rate for breast cancer victims is 88% but early detection is key. Or that breast cancer doesn't always present as a lump.

I saw this a while ago - ironically on FB - and I thought it was great for visual people like myself.  This is the source.


A: Hardening
B : Pinching
C: Erosion
D: Red & Hot
E: New fluid
F: Dimpling
G: puckering
H: Growing vein
I: Nipple retraction
J: Asymmetry
K: Orange skin
L: Invisible lump

If you want to share something on Facebook to raise breast cancer awareness....share that!

Anyhow, off my soapbox because that's not why I came here today. I came here to talk about my fat ass.

I quit smoking 10 years ago and since that time I've put on upwards of 40 lbs. In fact, I recall my weight when Mary was 12 weeks old (a mere 10.5 years ago) I weigh 52 lbs more now than I did then. Disgusting. Shameful. And just plain nasty. I don't want to be the fat girl.

I can blame it on quitting smoking. I can blame it on the stress I was under in 'The Year from Hell' aka 2006. I can blame it on the steroids from cancer treatments. Or I can own it. I eat. A lot. Too much. Of all the wrong things.

It's not that I don't know how to portion control. I do. I know what a proper, adult sized portion of any given food is. I just CHOOSE to eat more.

I know that chips, chocolate bars and chicken wings are not part of a healthy diet (though an occasional treat is okay - but occasional is once a month, not twice a week)

I know alcohol wreaks havoc on blood sugar. But I still choose to drink it.

I also know that my chances of having a recurrence of cancer are increased because I am overweight. I also know my chances of a heart attack or stroke are increased. Remember - heart disease and stroke are problems in my family.  I know that my chances of developing diabetes are very real.

I also know that my self esteem, while elevating because I once again have two breasts - is still very much in the toilet because I see how I look in pictures (amazingly enough not the same as look in a mirror. How does that happen?)

I joined the gym again today. I'm committed to going EVER OTHER DAY. < -----You see that? I'm committing to you (and myself) EVER OTHER DAY. NO EXCUSES!! (well, recovery from my next surgery is the only excuse I'll allow but as soon as I'm allowed to return to work I'll also be back at the gym)

I'm not going to try any great feats this time. No couch to 5k. No power lifting (not that I ever did that) Just a steady regime of cardio and weight training.

And I'm going to start tracking my food again with my fitness pal app. It will keep me honest and motivated to make better choices.

I don't want to be the fat girl. Plain and simple.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A New Me.

I'm sure I offered a money back guarantee in my last post...but only if this post wasn't interesting. Well folks, get ready to be interested.....

School has been in for going on 5 weeks now and I've got to say this is by far the best year I've had. I don't want to jinx it - it is still early and we've got 9 more months of it to go but my class this year is amazing, even with a few kids who need that little extra love. My partner and I are working like a well oiled machine, which for those of you who are keeping track will know, is huge.

You see, I've done some soul searching since my last ramble. I've not been happy with the person I was becoming. I found it incredibly strange that I was a happier person when I was fighting cancer than I was just a few weeks ago, perfectly healthy. How can that be? How was I happier when I was hairless, in pain, addicted to Percocet and scared I wouldn't live?

I don't know. Frankly I have no answer for that question. Maybe it was the Percocet? Maybe it was that my fear that I would not live had me trying my best to really live. Maybe it was because I felt I had a purpose....to fight to live.

And yet, now, I have my dream job, my perfect children, my amazing husband, a supportive family and good health and a new boob and yet I'm a miserable sucky bitch. I felt sorry for myself because my 40th birthday came and went without much ado. I was really looking forward to my 40th. A HUGE milestone in my eyes, not just because it was 40 but because I made it to 40. For a while I wasn't sure I would. But it went by, almost like any other day. I had a small get together a week later with my brothers and in-laws but timing was off and finding a date in which everyone I love could come was hard. I think it's still a bit of a sore spot with me.

But one day I just decided to change my attitude. I'm not going to bitch and complain about the shitty aspects of my job, I'm going to embrace the challenges of it. I'm not going to think about what cancer took from me, I'm going to think about what it gave me. I'm not going to feel sorry for myself because my ass continues to spread, I'm going to get off the fat thing, go back to the gym and try to lose this fucking weight.

I feel lighter now. I feel less stressed. I feel less angry. I am excited about life.

This past July, before my surgery we went to Florida. I can't believe I didn't write about this before.

None of us have ever been there. A friend of ours was so generous in letting us use her timeshare down there so we packed up the van and the kids and we set off on an adventure. We spent 4 days driving, stopping in each State along the way to take pictures, get souvenirs and sleep. And then we spent 7 glorious days in Florida, soaking up the sun, visiting Universal Orlando (the kids weren't interested in going to Disney) going on a swamp boat ride, eating alligator, and I even got to scratch another PP mom off my list of people to hug in real life.

On the way home we stopped in Georgia for a couple of days to visit my Aunt and Uncle and saw went to the Georgia Aquarium.

We went places and did things we've never done before - as a family. We had fun. There was no bickering or complaining. We relaxed....truly relaxed for the first time in 2 years.

When I'm starting to feel the stresses of my life piling up on me I think about that trip, about sitting out on the balcony at night, listening to the strange bird noises and frogs. I think about how much I loved our after dinner swims. I think about how exciting the swamp boat ride was and how beautiful the scenery was. And how free I felt.

And then I remember - there is no reason I shouldn't feel like that Every. Single. Day.

And so, the new me is here. Now don't go thinking I'm going to be all rainbows and lollipops. There will be no unicorns flying out of my ass but I know what's important. And it's time to be happy.

And just for those of you who aren't friends of mine on FB....here's some of my more favorite pics from our trip to Florida.


This was the view from the dock leading to the swamp boat tour. We did ours with a company called Wild Florida Airboats. They were AMAZING and if you're going to Orlando I highly recommend them.


This was scenic lookout in Virginia (or possibly West Virginia - I don't remember which)


This was at the Georgia Aquarium.


This was also at the swamp boat place. I loved the cypress trees.


Not a bad pic for an iPhone huh? It's that scenic lookout again.




Monday, September 9, 2013

Hi Folks

Miss me? Nah, I knew you didn't.

How strange that now that I'm back to work I have more time to blog than I did when I wasn't working. Go figure.

Except that I have less thing to blog about.

I deleted my kindergarten blog. I was really enjoying it there for a while but then it started feeling like the only reason I was blogging was to sell my 'products'. And the most ironic part of all of it was that most of the things I made to sell to other educators, I never used in the classroom myself. It's just not part of how we teach in kindergarten here. But things are quite different in a lot of other places and a lot of the things I created sold like hot cakes. (they still do)

I started my kindergarten blog to share my love of all things kindergarten and of the adventures we have but it didn't feel right anymore. It felt like work and I felt like I was competing with the other kindergarten blogs out there and that just isn't me. So I said screw it.  And now I feel liberated.

Which brings me to this blog.

It's kind of lost it's way, hasn't it? For quite a while now.  I don't know what I want this blog to be anymore. It's not about cancer. I'm cancer free. It's not about my job (though I'm sure occasionally I'll regale you with stories from the Kindergarten front.  It's not really about me either. I used to love this blog and now I'm struggling to find it's voice again.

See, I've discovered something about myself. I don't really know who I am anymore. And that's because I don't really know how I feel about, well, anything anymore. Some days I want to hide in my room all day and never come out. Some days I want to break down and cry because of everything I've been through over the past two years - and I sometimes feel like I haven't really dealt with it. And sometimes I feel like I'm on top of the world and can do no wrong. Life is great. I am great.

I'm 40 now. Have I mentioned that?

I don't stress about aging. That's one of the 'perks' of cancer. You celebrate these milestone birthdays rather than running away from them. The truth of the matter is, I never did run away from birthdays, even before cancer. I don't worry about getting older. I will never lie about my age. I own it. I'm proud of it. I wear it like a badge of honour. You can't change it so why worry about it? Embrace it!

I'm rambling, I know. Next time I blog I promise it will be much more interesting. I'll even give you a money back guarantee. Of course, you'll need to send me some money first......



Saturday, August 31, 2013

I Think This Says It All.


I got it done yesterday on the inside of my left forearm. I love it. It was a long time coming, I've had it planned for over a year but money and time have been holding me back. That, and then fact that I vowed I would never get a tattoo without thinking on it for a full year. It's for life and I don't want to regret having something put on me. So when I found the design I filed it away in the 'will I still want that?' category and sure enough, over a year later I still wanted it.

It's true on so many levels.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In Sickness and in Health

I'm going to preface this post with a warning. Some of the material below may be graphic in detail and if you are of the weak in the stomach tribe you might just want to skip out on reading today's post and go google  pictures of cute kittens.
 
This is actually my kitten, Licorice, the week we got him. He really was the smallest kitten I've ever seen. He managed to get into the kids' beanbag chair but couldn't get out. so he just laid there, "meap"ing at us (he doesn't 'mew' he 'meap's.) All together now......awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww
Okay, back to business.....

 
My home care nurse came today to change the dressing on my last remaining drainage tube and remove the steri strips from my stitched up areas. I was regaling her with a tale about how I'd been trying to empty my grenade ( it's what we call the little bulb that collects the drainage) and a clot of, oh I don't know, blood, tissue, some other random nastiness got stuck in it and I had to squeeze it really hard.

Now we all know what happens when you squeeze the ketchup bottle when a little bit of dried up ketchup clogs the hole....you've got more ketchup on the plate (and table and cutlery and surrounding plates and your shirt) than you've got on your Oscar Mayer wiener.

Well, this is what happened to me except it wasn't ketchup and it wasn't dinner. It was unidentified fluids and such draining from the incision in my back and it was all over my bathroom sink, counter and mirror (don't worry, for those of you who know me in real life, it's been thoroughly cleaned...my toidy is safe)

Anyhow, the nurse thoroughly enjoyed the story, thought it was hysterical. I guess she's had her fair share of incidents with these grenades. Not everyone is as self sufficient a patient as I am and not everyone empties their own tubes.

From there we got to talking about how truly disgusting the human body is. I truly give props to all Doctors and Nurses, not just because I think they are noble professions but because damn.....the human body has some nasty shit associated with it....shit being the least of the issues.

I commented that if I haven't scared Sean away yet, what with the mastectomy and all the things associated with that (yeah, more drainage tubes) chemo, and now this (not to mention child birth; yes it's a beautiful thing but that is purely a spiritual beauty....beyond that it's just plain gross!) that our marriage was rock solid. She commented that we were really taking the "in sickness and in health" part of our vows for a test drive.

And we are. My man has stuck it out through some pretty gross experiences and he's not once made a face (at least not when I'd have been sensitive to it) He dutifully changes what needs to be changed, cleaned what needs to be changed and still tells me I'm beautiful.  Even when I look as I do right now. (train wreck folks)

He's pretty freakin' awesome to say the least.

One day I'll be hot again, I'll have two full boobs and nothing nasty oozing from me. And if (God forbid) he needs me to clean some kind of nastiness off of him I'll do it with a smile. Because he's worth it.

 

Friday, July 26, 2013

So Here's the Skinny

I'm feeling a bit more like myself this evening so I thought it might be a good time to share what's been going on.

On Tuesday I had the first step in the Latissimus Dorsi Tissue Flap Breast Reconstruction. Long story short the Dr took muscle and tissue from my back, moved it forward to reconstruct a breast and he put in a tissue expander underneath it all.

So right now I'm like a b cup. In two weeks time he'll start filling the expander with saline and he'll do that once a week for about a month. This will stretch the skin and muscle in the area to be the proper size. (A large C or small D) 

Once that's been done it's going to just sit like that and settle. Skin stretches and sags and everything needs to be settled into place before we can proceed.

So about 3 months from now I'll have another surgery, which will involve taking out the tissue expander and replacing it with an implant. He'll also do a reduction and lift on my left breast to make everything even.

For the most part I'm feeling okay. I'm sore as hell in both my chest and my back but mostly it's because the Dr stressed to me that I could not put pressure on the side of the new breast - I need to allow for the new blood supply to heal and establish properly because if not the tissue will turn black and die.

That means I can not sleep on my side (right side for obvious reasons but I can't sleep on my left side either because my arm would rest on the side of my breast cutting off the blood supply.) So I can only sleep on my back. I don't like sleeping on my back and what's more because of the incisions on my back it's not really that comfortable.

I'm also favoring the arm when I'm sitting up and walking, making sure it's not resting on my side so I'm thinking by the time I'm allowed to put it down (about 2 weeks) my right shoulder will look like Carrot Top's.  (Sean and I ran into him in Vegas a few years ago, he's even freakier looking in real life)

 
 
I'm sure I'm being overly cautious but let's face it, I'm one of those people who has that shitty kind of luck.
 
 
Anyhow, I've gone through a stage of depression. I've questioned why I did it. Mostly when I'm uncomfortable and in pain. I'm on preventative antibiotics and they are making me sick to my stomach. I've developed an aversion to water again, completely psychological of course, but it's there none the less.
 
And I worry that this is going to take more than I thought it would..
 
But them I'm reminded of my dear friend Amy, who did this, not once but twice, two boobs. She's been down this road and today she's smiling and happy and living her life. I can do that too. It might be shitty and painful and uncomfortable for a while but it will get better. And I'm going to celebrate by buying myself a cute little dress for Christmas that shows my brand new cleavage!! 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Choices

I have to remind myself that I made this choice. I also have to remind myself that this time is different. This time the pain is for greater good

That's not to say that the pain wasn't for a  greater good last time,  it was for my survival, but this time I chose the pain. 

I am questioning my decision but only because I'm feeling so lousy right now. Each day as my body feels better so will my mind. 

But for now the medication, the smell of the tubing, the same homecare nurses, it's all painfully reminiscent of cancer. 

And so I keep reminding myself that this is not cancer, I chose this to feel better about myself, I chose this to get myself back and each day I will feel more like myself. 

And when I feel better I'm going to Victoria's  Secret and buying the most expensive and sexiest damn bra they have!! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

One Boob, Two Boob....

Tomorrow is the big day, the day I get my new boob.

I'm nervous about the surgery, the things everyone get nervous about - not waking up, etc.

But I'm also nervous about it not working. There is always a slight chance that because of the radiation I had that there will be scar tissue and hardening. If that happens I have to have to implant removed. Back to prosthetics.

And I'm worried about developing lymphedema from it. I'm not even allowed to have my blood pressure taken in my right arm and now I'm having major surgery on that side.

A lot of questions. A lot of worries.

But if it all works I will be a lot happy. It will be nice to be able to buy pretty bras again. It will be nice to buy a regular bathing suit again. It will be nice to buy dresses and shirts that show cleavage because I'll have some again.

Cross your fingers for me.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Happy Canada Day!

It wouldn't be Canada Day without one of my fun and educational posts containing all those things you probably didn't know (or didn't care to know) about Canada.

Well, I hate to disappoint but I'm not giving you one of those.

Instead I'm going to tell you why I love Canada.

  1. We're nice people. Ask anyone. We're nice. We're polite. We apologize to you if you step on our foot - because clearly our foot was in your way.  When traveling to other nations, people will often put Canadian flags on their backpacks because we have a pretty good reputation around the world.  Of course this is all hearsay since I've never been anywhere outside of Canada or the US.  
          But believe me when I say, we're nice.

   
    2.  Universal Healthcare. I know it's not a perfect system and it's widely misunderstood by  
         those who don't have it but after having dealt with cancer - I can truly say I appreciate not   
         having had to worry about how I was going to pay for the myriad of tests they put me through,
         surgeries, the treatments and the maintenance. Not to mention my prosthetic, my upcoming
         breast reconstruction surgery and all that will entail. Not one red cent came out of my pocket for
         anything I have endured for the past 2 years.

   3.  Butter tarts. You really have to taste one to appreciate their beauty. I prefer mine with raisins
        in it but beware, they will throw your blood sugar levels through the roof!

   4.  Our slang. Yep. I love the Bob and Doug McKenzie cliché. "Take off eh! You hoser!"  Truth be
        known we only talk that way to make Americans laugh  roll their eyes. The point is, we can
        laugh at ourselves and we're not offended when you laugh too. We beat Jeff Foxworthy to the
        punch - long before his "You might be a redneck if...." jokes we had Newfie jokes. Go ahead,
        google some. My only disclaimer is that my dear husband is, in fact, a Newfie and I can assure
        you that A: Newfoundlanders are not anywhere near as dumb or drunken as they are portrayed
        (well....the drunken part maybe on occasion) and B: Newfoundlanders are, in fact, the nicest
        people in all of Canada. (and I'm not just saying that because my in-laws read my blog....I really
        truly mean that)

   5.  Our flag.  It's pretty. It's simple. It's understated. What could be more Canadian?



I could probably go on and on but I won't bore you with the details. Instead, I'll leave you with some advice. Never, ever stick your hands in a garburator.  (Now, how many of you are off to google garburator?)

Happy Canada Day!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Parents of the Year

I don't know what reminded me of this story but I thought I'd share it. It's the story of when Sean and I were parents of the year.

Emily was about 3. She was sweet and innocent and excited about everything the world had to offer.

We took her to a place called Storybook Gardens. It's a little park, obviously with a storybook theme.

I'll be honest, besides the climber and the little splash pad I don't remember much about the place.

Throughout the park there are character statues.  One in particular was a frog with a crown on his head (the Frog Prince, duh!)


It is, in fact, this very statue.

Emily was having a lot of fun, running around, looking at everything, climbing on statues and having a grand old time.

We pointed out the Frog Prince statue to her and said she should go up and say hi to it.

Emily, in all her cuteness ran up to the frog prince statue, stood right in front of him and smiled, the biggest, sweetest, most innocent 3 year old smile you ever saw.

And then we discovered that the Frog Prince was a sprinkler because out of his mouth shot a stream of water - right into Emily's face.

And yet, while Emily sputtered and cried, Sean and I doubled over, laughing. Hysterically. To the point that other parents with their children were looking at us, and judging us as we laughed at our child rather than comforting her .

10 years later I can't think of this visit to Storybook Gardens without laughing - hard. I can still see Emily's sweet face, smiling up at that frog, so innocent and pure and then getting a face full of water. The shock on her face was priceless.

Not to worry dear readers. Emily is not scarred. Well, at least not by the actual Frog Prince incident. Sean and I still laughing at her.....well, she may need therapy for that one day.

****No, in fact, I know she's going to need therapy. I just called her in to see the picture of the Frog Prince that I found. I asked her if she recognized it and Sean squirted her in the face with a water bottle for good measure.

Definitely parents of the year!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.....

No, it's not Christmas.

It's summer vacation!

School is out and I started the first official day of my summer holidays with a massage and facial. I can only imagine what the girl thought of me. In the two hours I was there I think I feel asleep and jolted away about 15 times. Heavenly.

So, how am I going to spend my summer vacay you ask? Well, I'm going to go to Florida. I've never been and I'm looking forward to sweltering in the heat.

And I'm getting a boob job. Yep, you heard me. A new boob. I've got my surgery date booked and I'm scared as hell but I'm also excited at the prospect of having cleavage again. It's going to be a long road, 2 or 3 surgeries in total but I'm going to have a boob again. I can't wait!!

I'm getting a new tattoo. It's my survivor tattoo. I'll show you when I get it.

And I'm going to spend a lot of time with my feet up, relaxing, not stressing and enjoying my family and friends.

I LOVE summer vacation.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

30 Things - #18

I just realized that I've never finished this. I don't like to leave things unfinished. So here we go.

To find out what this is all about click here.

#18 -What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?

This is a hard one to answer. Most thing don't really bother me a whole lot. I get bent out of shape for a while but I get over things pretty quickly, life is too short to hold grudges.

I don't think it's any one thing in particular but I think I find it hard to forgive others who can't let go of grudges.

Sounds totally hypocritical doesn't it?

I just mean when people hang on to hurt or pain or anger it makes it hard for everyone else involved to move on. There is nothing that has ever happened in my life that I've not been able to move on from - without anger and without a grudge. I am forgiving because frankly, it's just to hard not to. I don't want to be miserable. I want to be happy and free and I find that in forgiveness.

But when the past gets rehashed and other people can't forgive or move on it keeps everyone involved stick in that rut too.

Monday, June 10, 2013

What's for Snack?

At the beginning of the school year I wrote a post called What's for lunch?   I talked about my inferiority at the school lunch game.  I have three kids, a full time job, responsibilities...and while I would love nothing more than to cut my kids sandwiches into dinosaurs and make elaborate snacks with fruit the simple fact is I choose to overdo it in other venues  (you'll find out all about that when you see the cakes I'm making for Emily's graduation and my class's graduation.)

Here's the thing. I try not to judge other parents. To each his own - I'll raise my kids, you raise yours. But after spending 9 months feeding my own children and seeing what the kids in my class bring for snacks and lunches, I can't just say nothing.

Picture this in a typical child's lunch bag.



 
 
Bologna sandwich for lunch, sugary drink, chocolate, gummy candy, a cereal bar and an orange.
 
I'll get you'll never guess which of these items, for 90% of the kids out there will come home uneaten (or thrown out at school so Mom doesn't know it wasn't eaten)
 
And of those foods which one do you think will be eaten last (besides the offending fruit)  Probably the bologna sandwich. Why? Because what kid would chose a bologna sandwich over a hunk of chocolate, a sweet cereal bar and gummy candies. Not many that I know.
 
I see this kind of thing in kids lunches every single day.
 
What's worse is I see kids lunches that look like this.
 

 
 
I'm not really sure which of these was supposed to be the 'lunch' food. The yogurt tube?
 
Here's the thing. I understand that kids are kids. Most of them, if given a choice are going to choose Oreos over apples everyday and twice on Sunday. Shit, I would too if I wasn't already tipping the scale.
 
We all know that kids need a balanced diet to stay healthy and moreso they need this balanced diet throughout the day to keep their minds sharp for school.
 
It's been proven that sugar does not make kids hyper.  I agree, it doesn't. But it does make them fat. It does cause tooth decay, it does set them up for healthy problems down the road and it does fill them with empty calories rather than the nutrient rich food they need to grow and develop properly.
 
Remember the movie Field of Dreams....."If you build it, they will come."
 
If you send it, they will eat it.
 
So don't send the crap.  Johnny isn't going to eat 6 Oreo cookies instead of his apple if you don't send the Oreos! Susie isn't going to drink 3 sugar filled juice boxes if you send her a bottle of water instead.
 
And guess what else, they won't trade their friends for shitty junk food because I can promise you - Freddie isn't going to trade his Fruit Roll Up for Johnny's apple.  And in the long run, Johnny will be better off for it.
 
I wish parents would stop for a second when packing their child's lunch and think not about what their child wants but what their child NEEDS. That is their job as the parent.
 
I had two parents this year complain to me that their child was coming home with their lunches still in their bags, uneaten. I told them point blank why that was. No child is going to eat lukewarm spaghetti or a cheese sandwich over fruit loops in a Ziploc bag or gummy bears. So send your child a nutritious lunch and two (yeah TWO - not five) healthy snacks. Fruits, veggies, yogurt....
 
My kids have been bringing this type of this all year long for lunch. I'm sure they've begrudged me. I'm sure my 13 year old has talked trash about me, moaned and bitched. I'm sure my 10 year old has wished she had chocolate pudding too. I'm sure my 5 year old wonders why his friends are bringing chocolate chip cookies and he's got sugar snap peas.
 
And my answer is this. I am your parent. I am responsible for keeping you healthy and strong because you are not yet mature or reliable enough to do so yourself. And until you are - I will continue to send you apples and carrots with water for snacks. And you'll eat it because there are no alternatives in your lunch bag.
 
And after you've come home and had your well rounded supper you will then indulge in a bowl of ice cream or some potato chips. Because I want you to be healthy - but I'm not a monster. 
 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hoping and Praying....

It's that time of year when I start to get a little nervous and tense.

Tomorrow will be the third anniversary of my Dad's diagnosis.

In 11 days it will be the 2nd anniversary of when I discovered my own yet-to-be-diagnosed cancer.

I am due for my yearly mammogram next month but there is a problem.

You see, here in Ontario there are three different types of mammography machines. One type, the computed radiography machine, is not as accurate and has been known to 'miss' small cancers. These machines are now being replaced throughout the province (76 of them in total) with a better machine that will not miss these small cancers.  Here's the rub.....the place I have my mammogram done has one of those machines that needs to be replaced. If it weren't for the fact that I'd had several ultrasounds and two breast MRI's and the mastectomy I'd be in one hell of a panic over this thinking this machine missed my cancer last time and that's why it wasn't found....
but the simple fact is, if it had been detectable they would have found it with the MRI's or the dissection of my breast. A small part of me worries though about my mammogram from last year.

Getting back to the matter at hand....I'm not inclined to have a mammogram on this craptastic machine that might miss a small cancer in my left breast. I'd rather have it on a different machine. So my options are....wait for them to replace the machine in July or have my mammo somewhere else.

I'm opting for somewhere else. My sense of urgency on making sure my boobs are boob is healthy is not allowing my mind to reconcile with waiting a full extra month. I want my boob squished on schedule please.   But I can't reach my Dr to tell him to book me in somewhere else. Frustrating.

And then there's the interview.

Interview? you ask, What interview?

Last month I went to a job fair for my local school board. I dropped off my resume when I went in, sat for an hour listening to them telling me about the job I've already done for the past 3 years and then left deciding I wasn't going to pursue the job further. I didn't want to go through the trouble of getting my reference letters, getting another reference letter from my priest (it's a Catholic board) and getting my criminal reference check done again (pricey $$) Because I didn't have the required paperwork in with my resume I assumed that was the end of it.

Not so.

I got an email two days ago inviting me for an interview, despite not having submitted any of the other paperwork.

Now I'm going to be the first person to admit that I often think to myself (and complain to my family and friends) that I'm not 100% happy in my current job. Don't get me wrong - the job itself, I LOVE. I am totally committed to my role and the kids and it still is my dream job. However, for the past 2 years (well, since I went back to work in April 2012) I have been stressed out with my work environment, unhappy about the situation I am in and I know there will be no changes to that situation for at least 4 years.

Quite frankly, I don't know if I can handle 4 more years in the environment I'm in. The stress is taking a toll on my well being.

Cancer changes you and where it was a total leap outside of my comfort zone to even take this job in the first place - it is even more out of my comfort zone to leave it. But I'm no longer the person who sits around letting the what if's scare me.  I have an opportunity to work closer to home (little or no commute? Yes please!) Perhaps (if the stars all align) even at my kids school.....dare to dream......

So next Friday, with the blessing of my principal (and a glowing letter of recommendation!) I will go to my interview and hope for the best.

I am confident that I will be offered a job - mainly because I do the very same job with my current school board. I know my stuff. I am confident in my abilities as an Early Childhood Educator and I'm bringing a kick ass portfolio. So I'm hoping and praying they'll offer me at the kids' school....

imagine the luxury of being able to walk to work.......

I'll keep you posted!





Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there who are reading this. 

13 1/2 years ago I became a mom and it was the single greatest moment in my life ( x 3 ). Without my children my life would feel hollow. 

Mothering is not for everyone and I know several couples who have remained childless by choice, whatever makes you happy, but for me, I know of no greater gift than the gift of your child's love. 

And yes, I mean all of those heart warming sentiments when my children are making me feel insane or when I'm telling one of them for the 39000th time to not leave their socks in the dining room or yelling at them to stop doing cartwheels in the house or that baseball is an outdoor game. 

Where would I be without my children? 

I'd probably be planning a more exotic vacation than Orlando for the summer. I'd most definitely not be driving a mini van, maybe a Jaguar or a Charger instead. My house would be clean and a lot more fashionable and modern. My backyard would have grass - not patches of grass. I'd wear beautiful clothes, not mom jeans and yoga pants. I'd have a full social life. 

Sounds great right!? Hell, there are many days that that sounds like paradise. 

But do you know where else I'd be without my children? Probably 6 feet under.

There is no way I would have beaten cancer if I weren't a mom. The simple fact is, the trips, the car, the nice house and clothes, the fab social life, those are all wonderful but hardly worth living for. 

Emily, Mary Jo and Connor are my reasons for being. They are the reason I get out of bed everyday. They are the reason I go to work, they are the reason I come home. 

When I was sick I ended most of my posts with "I will beat this. I have to. I have too much to live for." 

I gave my children life. And they gave me a reason to live. 

On this Mother's Day I pray for everyone to find that reason to live. Whatever that reason may be. 

And for those women whose arms are empty  - whether it be by choice, loss or infertility, I pray that your heart is filled. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I'm APPsolutely in Love....

Remember that time when I said I'd NEVER get a smart phone because I'm too damned cheap and don't need to be that in touch with the world all the time and then a year or so later I bought an iPhone?

Yeah, that was funny wasn't it?

Remember that time when I said I wouldn't waste my money on an iPad because I have a perfectly good laptop that does everything I need it to do and, well, now my iPhone picks up the slack with apps.....

Yeah, so I bought an iPad mini a couple of weeks ago.

I did have an ulterior motive though.

We're getting iPads at school and I wanted to find good, fun apps for my class to use. And since I have my own built in 5 year old product tester I thought it would fun for him too.

The truth of the matter is, he spends more time playing Temple Run than anything educational. Oh, and I found out our school iPads come preloaded with apps...we don't get to download our own so all that testing was unnecessary.

But here's the thing. I'm in love with my iPad. And now I'm on the search for apps....apps meant for people like me. (anal, hyperorganized, and creative.)

I found one. It's called SnapRecipes

If you're anything like me you have piles of recipes torn out of magazines, recipe books with 4 or 5 pages marked and the rest going to waste, a binder full of handwritten recipes.....
The shelf above my microwave was starting to look like an episode of hoarders.

But with SnapRecipes I can store them all on my iPad with minimal work.

How minimal, you ask?

It's as simple as typing in the name of the recipe, clicking a few buttons to categorize your recipe and then snapping a picture of the recipe itself. 

But what about recipes you find online? you ask.....

Well you can store those to. Simply take a screenshot of the website.

Holy crap.....it's so easy!!

So here's the thing. I spent hours (not kidding....hours) looking at different apps to do this and most of the ones that you could use photos of your paper recipes on were either free but you could only store 20 recipes and then you had to buy a membership or paid apps but you had to buy credits for the amount of recipe photos you could store.

But SnapRecipes has no limit. And no membership fees. So it's the straight goods - $1.99 for the app and you're set.

You know what this means? This means I will no longer have the last 35 copies of Catelaine above my microwave. I will not have the Kraft What's Cooking magazine there. I will not have that giant binder of recipes with papers falling out and recipes smudged and crinkled and ripped.  I will never again print a recipe from a website.

And when I want to cook from a recipe....I'll pull out my iPad and start cooking.

~Bliss~

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Daffodils


Last night my mom and I spent three hours out in front of our local WalMart selling daffodils for the Canadian Cancer Society.

This is the first time I have ever volunteered for anything. Ever.

Don't get me wrong, the Relay for Life is voluntary too but it's different, there's a pay off for me. I get to walk a survivor lap. I get to spend 12 hours with others celebrating, mourning and fighting.

But this was different.

I decided while I was in treatment that when I got better I would try to give back some how. I would do more. And now seemed like the right time. So I called the Canadian Cancer Society and said I wanted to volunteer and asked how I could help. Then, not wanting to stand around alone I recruited my mom to join me!

April is daffodil month . We wear daffodils to support those who are fighting cancer right now; to show them they are not alone.

Having been down that road it's important to know you're not alone. Because you feel so painfully alone often - even if you are surrounded by friends and family. It might seem like a trivial thing but seeing someone with a daffodil pin makes me happy to know that someone is remembering.

I learned a lot in my three hours.

Mothers with young children and older women give most often. Anyone who's lost a close family member or friend gives too and more importantly they want to share their story.

People will avoid making eye contact with you if they don't want to donate.

Some people feel truly terrible that they can't donate (because we live in a digital age in which many people just don't carry cash anymore. One lady joked that we should carry debit machines instead of coin boxes. This same lady went to a kiosk to get change so she could put $10 in my box.)

One man gave my mom $40. Yeah, $40! He was a new Canadian and had lost a grandparent to cancer in his home country (Transylvania - how cool is that?!)

I think the one that sticks out for me most though is that one man gave my mom 1 penny. He was homeless and that was all that he had to give.

A homeless man donating to charity. It's moment like that that move you.

I think we did well, between us both I think we raised well over $300 in our three hours. But more importantly it made me feel like I was giving back. It's good for the soul.



Sunday, March 31, 2013

In the True Spirit of Easter




I've been selling my kindergarten resources on Teachers Pay Teachers and Teacher's Notebook for several months now. I've had some success; I don't have huge shops but any means but I've had consistent sales.

I decided that for the month of April I would donate all of my sales to the Relay for Life since April is daffodil month.

I promoted it on my Kindergarten blog but since I still have only a few followers there I decided to promote it on my shops home pages as well.

So I emailed the administrators of the sites to make sure that was permitted (don't want to break any rules!!)

Both sites offered to promote it in their newsletters - that are sent to literally thousands of teachers world wide!!  One newsletter came out today and already I've had 8 sales. I know that doesn't sound like a lot but I only average 1-2 a day and it's only 11:30 am AND it's Easter Sunday. This bodes well for the rest of the month.

It gets better though.

The owner of Teacher's Notebook emailed this morning to get the full details for the newsletter. He then offered to waive the fees for April (which means more for me to donate!) AND  he and his wife personally made a substantial pledge to my Relay for Life team.

When I get down and feeling like my efforts are futile or that I'm in this alone I look around and see that I am surrounded by good people. Kindness and generosity come not just from those you know - but from the unlikeliest of place - from complete strangers. And it never, ever fails to amaze me. And move me.

Seeing the good in others reminds me that it's out there. And it reminds me that I must try my best to be the good in the world too. I've been given a second chance at life - I can't waste it.




Thursday, March 28, 2013

Carry On

Only 73 more days until the Relay for Life.

This year will bring about the most changes from our past Relay's. 

It's at a different location. We've not done it at this new school before and the tent city is in the middle of the track rather than beside it. I'm told the energy is very different when the tents are inside the track. I can't wait to see how that goes.

We aren't doing a big fundraising event this year. It's a lot of work and while we enjoy it, I don't think neither my Mom nor I have it in us this year.  (ironic since last year when I was actually battling cancer I had the energy to plan a surprise party for her birthday hosting 60 people AND do the Spring Tea Fundraiser and this year when I'm healthy I don't have the energy - go figure)

However, we're still asking friends and family to make pledges. I'm donating all the sales from both of my Teachers Pay Teachers store and my Teachers Notebook store for the month of April to the Relay as well.

And this year our team will be solely me, my mom and the kids.  Everyone else from our past teams have opted out this year.  We'll have to add in 4 'ghost' names to make our team of 10 but that's okay. 

See, here's the thing.

I Relay as a way to remember my Dad. Sure we remember him every single day - there are still days I'll drive up to my house and if the garage door is open I'll expect to see him there. But the Relay in particular makes me remember his battle, albeit a short one, with cancer. I Relay to remember all the other family and friends we've had who have lost their battles -  Aunt Maire,  Aunt Pat,  Aunt Cathy, my sister in law's Mom Olive, my Mom's dearest friend Barb, my husband's brother Dennis, a former coworker Pat ....  sadly the list goes on and on.....

I also Relay to honour the survivors: Amy, Debra, Sherry, Lisa, Francis, Gar, Janice, Harrison....and yes, myself too.

Cancer was the single most difficult thing I have ever faced and it has changed me. Where before I would have taken it personally and been angry that no one joined our team this year I don't feel any of that.

This event isn't as much about the money we raise for me anymore (don't get me wrong - I still strive to raise a truck load of money but let's face it, we'll never be a huge money maker team - we're simple too small - but I'll raise as much as I can)  But the fact is, I Relay for my reasons and my reasons alone.

I Relay because I fought too damned hard to earn the right to wear that yellow shirt and walk the first lap alone with my fellow survivors to let anything get me down. Sure, I'd love to have my family - all of them - there to celebrate that victory with me - that support means more to me than money but if they aren't I will still walk my lap and celebrate my victory. I will still raise my money and on May 31st  I will Remember. I will Fight Back.

Because I am a



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Me....A Hockey Mom?

 I may well be one of the very few Canadian born people who does not like hockey. No kidding. It's like when God made us and said "Hmm, this one will be Canadian and she shall love hockey!"  With me He just said "This one is Canadian but she'll be weird and have no use for hockey - making her the embarrassment of a nation!" 

Okay, that might be a bit dramatic. Besides, we have Celine Dion - me not liking hockey really pales in comparison.

My first two children are daughters and while it's not unheard of for girls to play hockey - even my tomboy daughter is not interested. 

Then came Connor.

I promise you this was not our doing. I don't watch hockey. Sean likes hockey but he doesn't watch it. He watches Top Gear. And F1 Racing. And frankly, if Connor told me he wanted to be a racecar driver I'd be over the moon. I can watch that. But hockey?

Over the past few months he's talked a lot about hockey. This friend plays hockey. That friend plays hockey.

Alright kid, I get it. You want to play hockey.

So when the time game to sign him up for an activity I gave him a choice..."Connor, do you want to join baseball again??...  or do you want to play hockey? 

HOCKEY!!

Back in the day - BK (before kids) Sean and I used to go down to Nathan Phillips Square in the winter and skate. It was fun.  Then Emily was born and I haven't been on skates since. (Maybe once or twice - and roller skates but that's not really the same as ice skates)

Let's also factor in an extra 40 lbs since Emily was born and 3 kids (any mother will tell you - your feet change drastically after kids) and well - those damned skinny-footed girly figure skates just didn't fit my big ole fat feet very well.  I'd have been more comfortable in 6 inch stilettos

Last night we took Connor to his first 'Learn to Skate' program. It's a parent and child program so Sean or I have to be on the ice with him. My turn was yesterday - Sean will go next week.

He learned to stand up on his own on the ice after falling (which was helpful since I wasn't so steady myself)  He tried skating alone (with minimal success) 

And then they gave him a hockey stick and a puck and it was like Wayne Gretzky was in front of me.

Alright, not really but the stick and puck gave him some incentive to really try to stand up and skate and he LOVED it.

He loved hockey.

.....and God said, "This one shall be Canadian and LOVE hockey...just to stick it to his mom."

Monday, March 25, 2013

Woohoo!!!

A couple of months ago I joined a weigh loss competition with some friends online. The incentive to win this contest? Money.

Now those of you who know me, you know I love money. Really, who doesn't love money? More importantly I hate losing money (and not getting something for it)  So I figured this would be the kick in the ass I needed - I had to pay $20 to join the competition.  The final pot - $560.  And all I have to do to win my share of that $560 is lose 10% of my body weight.

Shouldn't be that hard right?

Wrong.

See, in order to lose weight you need to make an effort - you can't will it off. If you could everyone would be skinny, I'm certain of it. And yet my love affair with food was proving to be stronger than my love affair with money. I wasn't losing weight and in fact, I was starting to gain again.

Until one day I decided I was done being the fat girl.   I want to feel good about myself again.

So I started making better food choices. I started eating smaller portions. I started running.

As part of the competition I am supposed to weigh in every Saturday morning. For the past two Saturday's I've weighed in and my weight has been exactly the same. Can we say discouraged? Yeah, and then some. I felt like shit. I'm eating right, I'm running my ass off (I'm on day three of week three for my C25K) and I'm not losing any weight. AND - the scale at the gym (a balance scale like at the Dr's office) says I weigh 3.5 lbs MORE than the digital scale at home!)

Then I measured myself.

I've lost 2.5 inches on my hips. That means my hips and ass are getting smaller (sorry Grandma - I love you but I don't want to inherit that from you - I'd rather have your long life genes - Grandma was 93 when she died)

I've lost 2 inches on my waist.

I don't know how much I lost on my bust (I forgot to write down the initial measurement and I don't know how well a loss will reflect on that since one of the boobs will never ever get smaller - being fake and all)

This morning I put on a pair of work pants that I've not worn too often in the last little while and not only were they not tight - they were loose.  LOOSE!! 

I've only got 2 months left of my competition. I'm not sure if I'll win my share of the $560 but I'm losing inches....I'm getting smaller.....and that is okay with me!!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Hope and Cancer

A few weeks ago I had a reader email me asking if he could share his story. Cameron's wife is a cancer survivor and he wanted to share the struggles and victories as a caregiver in the fight against cancer.

Here is his story.

Hope and Cancer

My wife Heather and I can agree that November 21, 2005, was the worst day of our lives. It is the day that she learned that she had malignant pleural mesothelioma, and it is the day that I acquired a job that I was not prepared to take - the job of being a cancer caregiver. We had just celebrated the birth of our daughter Lily three months earlier, and had been happily enjoying the challenge of adjusting to new parenthood. Instead of getting ready to enjoy the holidays with our new little daughter as planned, our lives turned into complete chaos as we began a fight for Heather’s life.

When we were at the doctor’s office, I quickly realized the challenges of being my wife’s caregiver. Our doctor gave us a lot of background information about mesothelioma, and he told us what treatment options we could pursue. We could opt to go to the local hospital, a regional hospital, or a mesothelioma specialist. The specialist was located in Boston, and his name was Dr. David Sugarbaker. After giving us these choices, I waited for my wife to reply. As she sat in shock and disbelief, I knew that she needed help, and it would be up to me to be strong for her. I told the doctor that we were going to Boston.  I had to believe that if anyone could save my wife from this disease, it would be this specialist in Boston.

Over the next two months, our lives were really chaotic. All of our routines had been drastically altered. Heather and I had been accustomed to working full-time jobs, but once she received this diagnosis, she did not work at all, and I could only work part-time.  I had the responsibilities of caring for Heather, taking care of Lily, and making all of Heather’s appointments and travel arrangements. With so many responsibilities, I was overwhelmed. I found myself thinking that I would lose Heather to this disease, and I would have to raise Lily all alone. These thoughts and the pressures of my caregiver role often made me break down and cry whenever I was alone. However, I made sure that Heather never saw me with these tears. Heather depended on me, and I knew that I had to be strong for her.

There were so many family, friends, and strangers to offer us comforting words and even monetary assistance. We can never fully thank them for their help. If there is one piece of advice that I can offer other cancer caregivers, that advice would be to use any assistance offered to you. When people offer their help to you, it allows you to realize that you are not alone in this situation, and will lift some of the burden off of you.  Don’t be too proud to accept this help.

Caring for someone with cancer is a hard job, and during this time, you will experience a lot of stress. However, unlike other difficulties in life, you cannot simply walk away from this job. You must work hard to not allow these feelings to overtake you, but most importantly, you must make sure to never give up hope.

Heather went through a lot of treatment procedures over the following months including mesothelioma surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.  Thankfully, despite the odds, she was able to beat this disease. It has been seven years, and she remains cancer free to this day.

This ordeal allowed me to realize that time is extremely precious, and as a result, I decided to go back to school as a full-time student and major in Information Technology.  My time as a caregiver gave me the strength and the courage to pursue this dream of mine.

The stress that I experienced with Heather’s diagnosis truly prepared me for college. I graduated with honors, and I was the student graduation speaker. I clearly remember telling the audience that just a few years before, sitting in a doctor’s office and hearing that my wife had cancer, I never imagined my life would turn out the way it did. My wife taught me to never give up hope, and now I hope that by sharing this story with others, we can help inspire them in their own cancer battles today.