Tuesday, July 03, 2012


It's summer.  We are in the groove.  It took me a few weeks to get to a comfortable place where the girls and I are spending every day all day together.  I love having them with me, and I also completely appreciate the finer points of public school.  The finer point I am speaking about is the one where they swallow up your kids 5 days a week on a huge yellow bus and then that same yellow bus comes back 7 hours later and spits them out on your driveway.

In our togetherness time this summer we have been busy.  I have contemplated simply hanging a sign on the side of the station wagon that says Ava and Olivia's personal taxi service.  Call to inquire about personal rides for your family.

There are small success mixed with bug bites and ice cream this summer.  Here is a small success.

Blue Belt!

 This is one of my favorite Liv looks.  She knows she did good.  Snapped that board like a master.
 But then she can't remain cool any longer and cracks a smile.  All 43 pounds of her.
 Next up, Ava.  She also snapped that board with her soon to be registered as lethal weapon foot.  I'm only agreeing to Tae Kwon Do so that she can kick some teenage boy's ass in a few years. Or get him in a head lock to give him a kiss, whichever comes sooner.
 She takes the coveted prize home.  Next belt level.  I love the way the Chinese kid, standing under the American AND South Korean flags wraps a new belt around her American self.  Might be my favorite photo this summer so far. I guess it's not that much of a competition since the others are of me sipping cocktails by the pool at 5pm on vacation.
I spent an hour on this creative endeavor this morning outside while drinking coffee, trying to finish the second Hunger Games book.  Little hangers on wouldn't let me read in peace.  Why they wouldn't agree to red and blue with a touch of white, I'll never know.  Got to be more original with purple and electric blue for the 4th.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

All Things Not Foob Related

As it is right now 11 weeks after surgery, I find myself only seeing my plastic surgeon once a month.  This feels somewhat like being sprung from the chain gang.  The verdict is still out on whether I will elect one more surgery to try for a softer more natural feel with silicone.  Dr. Surgeon seems to feel that I should be patient and wait to see how the skin takes to all the changes several months after the initial surgery.  This is of course mostly due to the radiation I had eleven years ago. If I had known then what I know now...it's one of those times in life.  If I had known I was BRCA positive I would probably not have chosen radiation.  But that is why they call it a Monday morning quarterback right?  Can't stuff those grains of sand back in the hourglass.  So, I wait only seeing Dr. Surgeon once a month for the next several months.

This magically leaves time for LIVING. The last year has been at times more of a stunted stall in regularly scheduled programming of my life. I've obsessed about choices and their consequences.  Surgery or surveillance?   Now, near the end of the surgery road, I can choose to focus on all things not related to cancer, foobs, and surgical menopause.

I've distracted myself sufficiently the last several weeks with countertops.  I know, it's the stuff of great higher thinking reminiscient of Voltaire and Descante.

Spoiler alert, I chose New Venetian Gold. I'm aiming for a more contemporary look. The Muffin Man is leaving the coordination of this project to me.  Because we all know that in my own head I am a design queen.  The measurement guy came today.  Installation could take place in 2 weeks.  Goodbye, 1996 with all your frosty white laminate.  I am hoping for something in the realm of fabulous because it will be here in the house until about 2050. 

I'm also pretty darn happy to be working again after sort of falling off the map and into my ipad's library book collection the last few months.  I'm 3/4 of the way through Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.  It is a tome. I might need a blue ribbon for finishing it, should that day ever come.

These baskets of baby bibs, burp clothes, blankets, and key fobs are going to a local boutique tomorrow.   I also have a home dec. consultation on Friday morning.  I see some decorator pillows and perhaps a duvet cover in the sewing room soon.  Also on the docket...redesign of the sewing room.  Before and after photos to come.  When, I haven't a clue, since I'm still merely collecting ideas.  But it shouldn't be hard to improve with a coat of paint to say the least.  It is currently a bit of a cave.  I'm not a fan of caves. 

With exactly 1 month until the end of school I'm plugging in as many custom orders as possible. Because who am I kidding?  The girls will somewhat derail and distract me again until mid August, that is just how it works around here. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Craft Casserole

This morning I went to craft class. I'm all for school if it is filled with coffee, friendly ladies, and crafty goodness. We made fabric rosettes. I think I might be making them and putting them on everything now. Strips of scrap fabric and a glue gun, heavenly time and my idea of sheer bliss.

First fabric rosette project, an embellished headband. Ava saw it and immediately claimed it as her own. That didn't take long.

Then Liv picked up my new rosette ring. It goes nicely with her fireman's hat, today was field trip day to the fire house.

The only thing left for me is a pin. It might end up on a jean jacket soon.

A local artist/ illustrator/ designer named Lori McDonough is having these classes in her home studio. If you are local in the Indianapolis area and think you might like to spend a very happy and creative few hours, give her a holler and say you want to be a part of craft casserole. http://www.freshpickedwhimsy.typepad.com/

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Friday, April 06, 2012

Spring Break

Admittedly, Spring Break did not used to be so fun.  The kids were little and traveling was sort of like riding a roller coaster with cats.  But then a miraculous thing happened.  The grew up a bit.  They like to travel, they are excited to learn new things in different cities and are willing to forego their favorite home meal in lieu of strange and wonderous things on a dim sum menu. 

This week we've been to Chicago, seen Chinatown, eaten dim sum, seen a world class museum, learned all about Ghengis Khan, walked the Miracle Mile, biked several miles to an ice cream shop and home again without complaint, spent 3 hours in a local park, ate lunch under a tree, seen The Lorax, went out to lunch in our hometown downtown area, went fishing, went to the dollar store, went to the zoo and slept in late!  Now that is my idea of good times during spring break!

There was also just a bit of time to take a few photos in the backyard.  They are getting so big.  I sometimes feel a twinge of nostalgia for when they were babies, but then again they are just so much darn fun now!  Six more weeks of school and then summer.  I am counting the days. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Shiny New

Last time I posted I alluded to the fact that the stars were aligning for me in the kitchen department. Here are some photos.

Old oven range and microwave

Nice lightening bolt that appeared after it zapped the Muffin Man and his french fries. The Muffin Man loves his french fries.

And, the new....

Why yes, that is a gas range that replaced the electric. The plumber who tapped our existing gas line, that we didn't even know we had until a few years ago (thus the electric range to begin with) left the pipe 4 inches long. Standard new gas ovens need a 2" or shorter line. It was not a fine moment for anyone involved when I realized I'd have to bitch, I mean calmly call the plumber back to the house before the oven could be hooked up and pushed back into it's spot. To make a long boring story a bit shorter, ( is it too late?) 6 hours later I had my new microwave and range oven installed. And, yes I had to get assertive. Assertive was a euphamism for what happened during about 4 of the 6 hours.

In other shiny news I'm now 5 weeks out from the surgery. The foobs are feeling pretty good. I do often feel as though have a size 10 chest that is squeezing into a petite size 4. It's tight. When I get up out of bed I often feel them sloshing around. Odd to say the least, since they are a bit like wearing geodes on my front. How something so hard could be sloshing is beyond me.

I'm also following Dr's orders by "actively managing my scars", this means purchasing the ridiculously overpriced mederma tube of scar fading gel. Everytime I paint my scars with this gel, I wonder if this is all for not, since there is a good chance I will be swapping the rocks for silicone fun bags in a few months. Thus opening up the scars again. The verdict is still out on this one, as my doctor thinks the fillable saline is working for me now. Although, he reminds me each visit that he is reserving the right to change his mind in the silicone direction at any time. I get that, I'm in the "as a woman I reserve the right to change my mind" camp myself. Perhaps he likes to see neat fading scars each time I hop up on the table. Perhaps he's in bed with the Mederma people. Maybe they are all getting rich on the fact that I paid $20 for the tiniest tube of proprietary scar cream. Come to think of it I've only known this surgeon for 8 months and he is on his second vacation since we've met. These are the things you spend time with in my state.

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Monday, March 05, 2012

Why I'm Pretty Sure God Wants Me To Upgrade My Kitchen

When we built this house back in 1995, I was sure my kitchen would stand the test of time. I carefully selected natural maple cabinets, genuine simulated medium colored wood flooring, the very best frosty white formica counter tops $16.00 could buy and painted the whole thing a nice shade of light sage green.

It's stood the test of time rather well if I don't say so myself. Back in the mid 2000's, I don't remember when exactly, we replaced a refrigerator when it died and a dishwasher too after it almost burned the place down heating up an old chicken bone in it's motor. But that's it. The whole place is still an homage to light sage green and all of it's peaceful calming effects while cooking tacos in a crockpot.

Several weeks ago the Muffin Man pounded his chest and announced that his company was going to pay him a bonus. A bonus? What the hell is that? The last time his company paid him a bonus we took a trip to China and got Liv out of the deal. The kid is now almost done with kindergarten. As you can imagine now several weeks later, still no actual bonus safe and snug in our bank account, I have announced to the family that if and when there ever is this amazing cash cow that appears on our front lawn, we will be upgrading the kitchen.

After hearing this the Muffin Man said we could go look at new ovens and microwaves. One small step away from granite countertops, but I would take it. I felt slightly guilty since neither one was technically broken. But I was about 2 weeks post op. from this mastectomy business and was eager to kill a few hours in the high end appliance store where we couldn't afford to purchase anything. About 20 minutes into the trip standing amidst Viking and Wolf appliances one of the foobs started to ache in pain and I could hear nothing the salesman said. I announced to my family I needed a couch and a vicodin, and that was the end of new appliance shopping.

Or so I thought.

The other night the Muffin Man is baking some french fries when I hear a loud Zap. Then I hear a loud expletive followed by a wimpy groan. "The oven just shocked me," I hear him say. After pressing several buttons and hearing a few more shocks, he proclaims the oven dead. At this point we see a lightning bolt appear where the time used to display on the top of the range.
The oven is officially dead. We can bake nothing, no slice and bake cookies, no casseroles, no shrinky dinks.

Amped up with a little advil before the tour of appliance stores to look for new ovens this time, we drag the two children around town until we find the perfect GE Profile gas top range with double ovens, and a GE stainless steel microwave to match. They will be delivered this week. Or so the chubby hubby salesman says.

Still no bonus has appeared in our bank account, but clearly a higher being has spoken. You, my small midwestern family, do indeed need to upgrade your kitchen and I have given you the almighty zap of a mid range oven to start you off on the right foot. Thank me later in the form of good deeds and kindness to all mankind.

And this is why I think God wants me to have a updated kitchen.

I need only one more small act of freakish weather or locusts, or parting of salt water and I'm a shoe in for granite countertops with glass block back splashes.

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Sunday, March 04, 2012

One Month Looking Back

Tomorrow marks the one month'aversary of my bilateral mastectomy. One month, I hardly know where the time has gone. One month ago I was determined to get through this new and hopefully temporary phase of my life to insure that I never get cancer again, but I was scared to willfully sign up for such big surgery. Waiting for the surgery was the hardest part. Dealing with the known is so much easier than where your mind can go with the unknown. Especially for those of us with creative imaginations and a flair for the dramatic.

Over the past month I've had a little time to reflect on this BRCA1 gene mutation, the sole reason for my choice of prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. My body's genetic marker mutation was the reason I had a triple negative breast cancer at the age of 31. This genetic code typographical error that I carry is the reason I chose to have my ovaries removed in August 2011, as BRCA1 is also directly related to a significantly higher risk of a deadly and not easily detected ovarian cancer.

Here is what I didn't know. Some BRCA1 gene mutation carriers experience premature ovarian failure with infertility as the only symptom. Despite our enthusiastic and at times unrelenting attempts at getting pregnant, the Muffin Man and I were never successful. We unhappily settled into that lack luster category of unexplained infertility for many years. But now, I wonder did my BRCA1 status rob us of our chances of biological children? Even though we may never know for sure, I have this queasy feeling that it is probably so.
I love my two girls more than anything, and I honestly wouldn't change the way they became part of our family through adoption. But it does in some small way feel like yet a new and stinging loss brought to us via this BRCA1 status.

There have also been some happier revelations this month I've spent moving at a snail's pace recovering from the surgery. When I was diagnosed with cancer 11 year's ago, I questioned if I had brought this to myself. Certainly not in a conscious way, but I wondered if the cancer was a result of my not handling stress well and this was my body's way of revolting. I wondered if my cancer was a direct result of some infertility treatments we chose and my fragile emotional state while pursuing these treatments. (I was diagnosed with cancer only weeks after losing an early pregnancy following IVF.) I wondered if my body crashed in the form of cancer because I was mentally or spiritually weak.

Here is the happy part. I now know all that was crap. I got cancer because I am BRCA1 positive. People with this genetic mis-code do not always have the ability to fight tumor growth. A malignant cell appears in a BRCA1 body and the body does not know how to fight it off, it ignores it and that little malignant cell multiplies furiously until cancer is detected and cut out, or chemically treated with chemotherapy. It has been tremendously empowering to now know that my cancer was indeed genetic, it was not becasue I lived near a power plant in upstate NY while in 1st grade. Nor did I cause my cancer with any wavering emotional state or high stress job.

As I look back over the last decade, I now see what an impact this little defective gene has had. It has taken body parts and it has made me driven to find my children born on the other side of the planet.

Good, bad and indifferent I look forward to the closure and finality of the impact this little gene mutation has had on my life. Perhaps now is not the time to hog the story and hope it can have positive impact on someone else's life.
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