Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy (almost) New Year!

It'll be 2010 soon...well, for some folks in the world, it already is, but for this chicky-doo here in the Midwest, there's just under 5 hours to go. No big celebration tonight, unless you count me slamming the book on 2009, stomping on the cover, throwing it across the room and then lighting it on fire before dumping the ashes in the snow. Good-bye 2009. The year wasn't all bad, of course, but I'm ready to be done with it!

I'm looking forward to an awesome 2010. I have birthday number 32 coming up in a few weeks, I see Hottie Doc on January 20th (and looking forward to another "all clear" report), I'm teaching two classes this semester and giving serious consideration to applying for a full-time teaching job at another school so I can take a break from working in mental health. I'll also be gearing up for my kiddo's 5th birthday in the spring and figuring out how to psychologically prepare myself for her first day in kindergarten. It's many months away, but we all know how fast time goes...it'll be here before we know it.

I spent the afternoon organizing my kitchen cabinets. What a peaceful feeling. Lame? Maybe, but it was therapeutic for me. I told my honey that for the next few weeks, he can legitimately use the excuse, "I don't know where [X] goes," when I ask him why he didn't put away the dishes. I moved several things from their home cabinets and thrust them into a new continent, clear on the other side of the kitchen. I like messing with stuff every now and then. And of course, I have the ultimate sense of control, because I'm the only one who knows where stuff is. Bwah ha ha ha ha! Of course, the laughing will be over in the morning as I stand, staring at the beautiful arrangements and think, "Now where on earth did I put that Tupperware bowl?" Good times, I tell ya.

Tonight will be low key. We ordered pizza for dinner, so there's no big clean up. The hubby and kiddo are snuggling (ahem, hubby is snoring) on the couch, watching Charlie Brown. Once it's over, the kiddo will go to bed. I'm going to hang out and watch a movie. I think I'll enjoy a glass of wine, too. I'll be nice and relaxed, and when I wake up tomorrow, I'll be ready to take on a whole new year.

Wishing peace, health and prosperity for all of us...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Being Home

It's nice to be off work right now. I'm getting some things organized around the house and more importantly, regaining control of my kitchen. I have such a hard time when things are out of order and messy, so it's been fantastic to bring a sense of "normal" back to daily life. My kiddo got an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas from one of her uncles, so I'm clearing out a cabinet for her to keep her things...she feels so grown up! She enjoys helping me in the kitchen, so having her own space really adds to that.

I've been getting my closet back in order, too. You have to understand that in my world, there's a place for everything and everything needs to be in its place. It's how I keep my sanity. But really, I typically have my closet organized by item (ex. sweaters), and then by color (dark to light). The past few months though, my bedroom and closet have been a study in chaos.

I'm trying to get my darling spouse on some type of schedule not only for household stuff, but for our kiddo, too. Having been home and having the opportunity to see what the days are like when I'm not here has been...um...interesting. It's not bad, that's not what I mean. It's just chaotic, and I can see how and why my kiddo has been so out of sorts. Her entire routine is way off and I'm no longer surprised by how agitated she's been. I noticed several months ago that she was getting kind of moody, not listening as well, losing patience and getting upset over the smallest things. And of course, she's 4, so she's got the regular 4-year-old mood swings and emotions that are totally normal, too.

I suppose some of it is just the difference in parenting style. And my way is better. Hahahaha! Just kidding. I think because our kiddo thrives on routine and I'm more of a "routine" person, she just responds better to that than the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach her dad takes. I talked to him about establishing some kind of structure. Not necessarily a schedule to account for every minute of the day, but even a general breakdown like the pre-school follows. She misses seeing her friends and being in the classroom, so maybe I can encourage him to bring some of that home.

Everything else is same old, same old. I go to the doctor again tomorrow to have my incision checked. It's still not healed, but this is the best it's been in a month. Hopefully the incision will finish closing up in the next two weeks, because I have an appointment with Hottie Doc in January for my next scope, and I'm not keen on having another procedure done if I'm still not healed from this surgery.

Speaking of January, can you believe that we're hovering on the brink of 2010? I don't know about anyone else, but I'm ready to close the door on 2009. It was a rough year! A few people asked if I'm making any New Year's resolutions...not really. My main goals for 2010 are to increase how often I write in my journals, make more of an effort to get to sleep at a decent time and to improve my posture. Reasonable goals.

I have to go check on dinner now. I have a chicken in the crock pot, and I think I'm going to make some couscous, along with a vegetable. Maybe broccoli? Or asparagus? I also have squash, but I'm really the only one who eats it. Hmmmm. Decisions, decisions!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Post Holiday Blues

I don't know why, but every year on the day after Christmas, I end up feeling kinda moody. Maybe it's because my sleep and good eating habits are thrown off by the all the holiday gatherings, etc. Or, more likely, it's because I now have to re-organize all the current stuff in the house to make room for the new stuff we got...not to mention the tasks of taking down Christmas decorations. Ugh.

The weather is truly dismal today, too, which isn't helping anything. Plus, I thought I needed to psychologically scar myself and go to Target. Today. As in, the day after Christmas. It wasn't as horrific as I feared it would be, but people are just SO pushy when it comes to the post-Christmas sales. I wanted to buy some wrapping paper, since I used almost all of my wrapping paper stash this year. The good thing is that I should have enough paper for the next 2-3 Christmases. Got some other non-Christmas necessities, too, like a new shower curtain and some household cleaning items.

I'm also feeling anxious today because I got a notice in the mail this afternoon from the hospital that my insurance hasn't paid for the surgery I had in November. I don't know why, and I can't do anything about it until Monday. It's not like I have eight grand to pay off the hospital, so I need to figure it out sooner rather than later. I'm still annoyed with my student loan company, too. There has been zero follow-up from them regarding the mess they created with my November payment.

I think my Christmas spirit is gone and is has been replaced by Cranky Marfa. Maybe some fudge will help...

Oh, before anyone thinks I'm just a grinchy crabby pants, I do have to give a shout-out to my sister, who got me The Pioneer Woman's cookbook for Christmas, along with an adorable apron from Etsy and a set of oven-safe ramekins. Yay for me!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ridiculous Savings

In our on-going belt-tightening household, shopping for groceries, not to mention Christmas gifts, has been a little challenging.

Today, I'm giving a shout-out to my husband, who went shopping at Kohl's this afternoon. This is one of the best savings I've seen EVER...

Total spent: $7.36

Total saved: A WHOPPING $73.20!!

Good job, Mr. Man!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One More Day

As of 3:10pm tomorrow, I am on vacation! I'm telling myself that I'm not going to check my work voicemail or e-mail for two whole weeks. We'll see how long I hold out. I'm always anxious that I might miss something and end up checking my messages every other day. I need to not do that and just enjoy the time off.

I have too much to do and not quite enough time to do it, but I'll at least get started. Maybe. Or maybe I'll just put away my laundry and then watch a movie tonight. I think the movie idea is winning right now.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

If Tumors Were Pearls...

...I'd be rich!

Okay, not really, but if it really worked like that it'd be kinda neat. I'm very glad that the biopsy results came back all clear this time. Whew! Except the incision isn't healing well. Grrrr. I guess that's the risk of an old-fashioned "slice and dice" surgery as opposed to a scope. For whatever reason, my body rejected some of the stitches and I ended up with an infection. I've felt pretty yucky for the past few days, but I'm on the upswing now.

Even better, I just have to get through work next week and then I have two weeks off! I'm super excited about that. All the benefit time I've taken lately has been mostly for medical stuff, but this time is just for fun and relaxation. In spite of the fact that it's freezing out, I've got some fun activities planned for me and the kiddo while I'm home. I plan on taking her to the Museum of Science and Industry--she loves The Great Train Story and I really want her to see Christmas Around the World.

I'm also hoping to get her to one, if not both, of the zoos to see the holiday lights. The best part, I think, is that we're arranging a tour of a local fire station. My kiddo adores fire trucks (and firemen--just like her mommy!) and we have an open invitation to one of the stations to bring her in for a tour. In between all of that, we'll have the family holiday obligations and just some low-key together time. It'll be nice and good for my mental health.

Well, Saturday awaits. I have a lot of errands to run today, including getting a pair of boots for myself. You can tell I'm getting older...I'm not interested in some pair of cute, fancy boots. I need something fuzzy and waterproof to keep my feet warm!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Feeling Hostile

Something has got to give with this economy. It's hard enough to be an average citizen...an average citizen who works hard, pays her taxes, has spent the past 6 months living paycheck to paycheck because my spouse is unemployed, is dealing with a cancer diagnosis, barely keeping it together, etc.

And now, because it seems like THE WHOLE FINANCIAL WORLD HAS GONE MAD, I'm having to fight one more battle...my student loan company sent me a very nasty letter in the mail saying that my account is delinquent. Really? How does that happen when the payment is AUTOMATICALLY DEDUCTED FROM MY CHECKING ACCOUNT? Dumb boneheads.

So get this...I have all my paperwork, perfectly put together, in chronological order, showing my auto payments, verifications, etc. And yet, after receiving this nasty letter, I log into my student loan account online, only to find out that the payment was made, but then sent back to the bank because I'm now enrolled in standard paper billing. Standard paper billing? When I have all the paperwork saying that my payments are automatically deducted? I never authorized a change to go back to standard paper billing.

Wait, it gets better.

The loan company stated in the letter that the account is being turned over to collections Monday. To avoid that, I had to make a double payment online (the November payment that was mysteriously sent back to the bank, along with a late assessment which equals another month's payment). I had to pay online before Monday morning to avoid collections. How f-ing convenient (sorry, terrible language, I know) for the loan company. They get a double payment, plus the December payment. AND they won't let me re-enroll in auto payments because my account is delinquent.

Of course, it's the weekend, so there are no customer service representatives available to talk to. It just really ticks me off, because I made the payment and it's not like the loan company will refund the late charge, even though it's a problem on their end.

I feel like I've been coping very well with things, but this...which admittedly is minor compared to everything else I've had to deal with...this is about to send me over that fine line between keeping it together and freaking out. The proverbial straw, I suppose.

I'm not used to getting angry. I'll get upset about things and get over it. If something leads to me feeling furious, I'll seethe for a while, mentally plot all kinds of revenge and then get over it. Honestly, problems happen and I do pretty well at managing and just getting things back on track. Not lately. I'm angry. A lot. And it's not any particular person or event. It's just a simmering feeling that's always below the surface. It's all I can do to drag myself out of bed and function through the workday without getting snippy with anyone.

I've processed it with the people who are closest to me, and the general feedback is that all the stress I've been juggling has turned into this angry sensation. Maybe, maybe not. I just need to get out of this hole. I mean, I'm honestly fine otherwise, but I don't like this feeling. I definitely prefer my happy self as opposed to this grumpy self.

Actually, just writing/venting here helped. Maybe that's the key. I need to blog more to keep myself sane and happy!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Fooey on Monday

Why is it that I never get stuck in traffic when my stomach is full and my bladder is empty?

Why does stuff get spilled on a freshly steamed carpet?

How is it that I manage to slam my fingers in my desk drawer after the first manicure (that I did on my own) in months?

If my skin is mature enough for wrinkles, shouldn't it be too mature for the giant pimple that showed up on my chin today?

Good thing that tomorrow is another day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Resting

Today was exhausting. Had some trouble sleeping last night in anticipation of today's surgery, and then just the whole process of being prepped and the surgery itself completely wiped me out. After general anesthesia, I just want to sleep and sleep...it's so hard for me to stay awake! I did, though, because I knew the longer I was awake, the sooner I could go home.

And here I am...home. Actually, I've been home for a few hours now, resting on the couch. Of course, by "resting", I mean sleeping on and off in between playing on the computer. I'm uncomfortable, which is to be expected, but doing okay. Some anxiety is settling in, which I'm managing fairly well. It's just the anxiety of not knowing when the biopsy results will be in, and then when they are, what they'll turn out to be. There's no point in thinking about it right now, but it's still a little hard to put it out of my mind.

On a lighter note, I had a fun conversation with my kiddo earlier about why the doctor didn't use pink thread to sew me up the way I do when I sew up Baby Pink. (Baby Pink is her favorite stuffed bear that's as old as she is, getting kind of tattered, and no longer really pink, but a washed-out shade of gray despite numerous washings and scrubbings and oxi-clean.)

The hubs is doing a good job taking care of me...got dinner for us and is keeping my cold water supply regularly replenished. I don't know why, but I had some bleeding in my throat this time from the anesthesia. I know it's a risk, I just never had it before. Good thing I've got pain meds--that'll help a lot, even though that's not even what the meds are for.

I'm looking forward to a decent night's sleep and feeling more like myself tomorrow. I'm feeling pretty sure that I'll be up and about for turkey on Thursday and The Nutcracker on Sunday. Yay!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Life is Better with Chili

Yay for chili! I made some yesterday--sort of non-traditional chili--my own concoction/recipe. I baked some chicken breasts, then shredded 'em and tossed 'em in a crock pot with some pinto beans, black beans and great northern beans, added some chicken broth, diced up some sweet peppers and then dumped in a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies. Cranked it up on high for 3 hours and voila!

I should add that I'm the only one in the house eating it. But that's okay...more for me! And it was especially yummy today. I like leftover chili, maybe even more than I like same-day made chili. Good comfort food.

And why do I need comfort food? Because life has been kinda stinky the past few months. I'm not really complaining. I have a lot to be very thankful for and I'm not overlooking that. It's just that the holiday season is here, money is still pretty tight, and I'm having another surgery next Tuesday. My OB/GYN is taking over for this surgery...there's a tumor-ish thing in/on/near a lymph node, but closer to the reproductive region than my bladder, so she'll be temporarily taking over. It's back to Hottie Doc in January for my next follow up.

I am so glad I have good coverage through my health insurance. And I guess by sheer luck, the timing is working out really well. With Thanksgiving being next week, I was already going to be off work for a few days, so I don't have to use as much benefit time as I would need to otherwise. My other surgery was around the 4th of July holiday and I lucked out that time, too.

Well, I guess that's enough random info for now. I've got a kiddo who I've barely seen in the past week because I've been working so many hours. More nonsense later...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Looking Forward to Monday

I can hardly wait to get back to work tomorrow...so I can get some rest!

This weekend was ridiculously busy. Got home late Friday from work, did some laundry and made dinner. Saturday the hubs was gone all day...made a big breakfast, went shopping in the morning, took care of the kiddo, made meals, picked up around the house, packed away the Halloween decorations, started making a quilt and made cookies. Had fantastic one on one time with my kiddo, and I'm not complaining about that at all. Today, I finished making the quilt I started yesterday, picked up more around the house, made cookies (again--for the hubs's poker friends), cleaned a little more, broke the kitchen faucet, banged my head on a cabinet, making dinner right now...

And all of this was completed while on crisis call for work.

Yikes! I'm not complaining, really, just feeling a little worn out. Gotta get dinner out of the oven now.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

This and That (Again)

I just can't seem to get my groove back! And I'm not talking about dancing!

I've had a little more energy these days, which is nice, but still that low-level of fatigue constantly hanging over me. I know a lot of it is emotional baggage. Things at home are tense, but not anybody's fault. We got a notice in the mail that our COBRA payment is more than doubling because the hubby's former employer changed policies, which means our cost goes up. We're paying more for a crappy policy. Nice, huh? But we found that out after we got a notice in the mail that he was terminated from COBRA for failure to pay! Thankfully, we had all the certified receipts saved and proof that all the checks had cleared. It turns out, when the former employer changed policies on October 1st, they failed to notify COBRA until October 12th, which was after we had already made the October payment in the previous amount. Boneheads. I don't know if I'm more ticked off at the former employers for not following protocol or at COBRA for being so quick to terminate. It's fine now, though I have to figure out where the extra money is going to come from--our income has gone down by a lot, and our costs have only gone up. I get the fact that it's a dog-eat-dog world out there, but none of them seem to understand that they're f-ing (sorry, language, language, I know) with real people's lives. I'm continuing to pray that my daughter doesn't get sick in the next month, because we're hoping to find private insurance for her, but right now she doesn't qualify because of her history of health problems. If we can get her through the next month (or better yet, through the end of the year) with no major illnesses, we should be able to pick up a policy for less than the COBRA costs. I am so thankful every single day that my employer continues to provide health insurance. Such a relief, especially with my current medical issues.

Speaking of medical issues, I've been waiting patiently and nervously for the availability of the H1N1 vaccine. My kiddo and I aren't candidates for the current nasal-spray version of the vaccine because of my history of asthma and her history of major breathing issues, so we have to wait until the shot becomes available--and right now, they're not available at all in our area. We've been extra diligent about hand washing and wiping down commonly touched surfaces in the house. Today, I bought some extra handy-wipes and alcohol swabs for wiping down things in public. I was in Target this morning and was shocked at the number of people out and about who were obviously ill, but not practicing good hygiene. Disgusting. Even my 4-year-old knows to cough and sneeze into her elbow and to use tissue for her nose. And of course, we encourage regular and frequent hand-washing. We don't use anti-bacterial soap in our house because of sensitive skin issues, but we use regular old foaming hand soap and wash for 20-30 seconds. I think that does the trick equally as well.

Halloween was good this year. This was my kiddo's first time actually being healthy and well enough to trick-or-treat at more than three houses! It was cold outside, but we bundled her up and had so much fun. We went out for about an hour, then came home and warmed up. She went back out with her dad for another 45 minutes and I stayed in and made dinner. The kiddo was a pirate (and a cute one!); daddy was a ghost; I was supposed to be a pirate, too, but that fell through. I ended up being an '80s chic, retro...something. Given the comment I got from a neighborhood dad, I think I looked a little trampy, though that wasn't my intention. I had big hair, big make-up, big boots, big jewelry, big everything. Total '80s iconic get-up. It was still fun. It took 10 minutes of rubbing and scrubbing to eliminate the purple eyeliner and red lipstick when all was said and done.

The Halloween cake I had planned was a total bust. I won't share the details. It just didn't work out and I was very sad to dump it in the garbage.

Listen to me being all rambling and long-winded here. I guess that's what happens when I go long stretches in between posts. I'll work on getting better about that. I've had a lot on my mind lately--lots of stuff that I could share, but words aren't coming easily these days. I'll keep working at it. More nonsense later...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wanted: More Weekend, Less Weekday

What a hectic week...whew! I'm glad it's Saturday, but the day is nearly over and I still have so much to do. Booooo.

Went to the doctor on Tuesday for my procedure and was relieved that the doctor didn't find any new tumors. Yay! My chance of recurrence dropped from 80% to 50%, which to me, is a big deal.

Work was a bit of a nightmare, especially toward the end of the week, but I hesitate to complain...it's a job, right? I am taking a few days off next week in anticipation of Halloween. I've almost finished a plan for a Halloween cake and I'm going to need a day to decorate it. Heck, even if that wasn't the case, I'd take the time off anyway, just to be able to mellow out and breathe.

I'm just relaxing tonight. Spent the afternoon celebrating my grandma's 80th birthday; kiddo will be heading to bed in about 45 minutes, and then I'm on my own. The hubs is playing in a poker tournament tonight--for someone who can't concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes at a time, I'm really impressed with his poker-playing abilities. He's in first place in the local tournament and tonight, he's trying his hand at something called a super-satellite tournament (? I think that's what it's called) where he has a chance to earn a seat in another tournament, and that winner goes to the World Series of Poker. I think that's pretty neat. If nothing else, it gets him out of the house for a while and lets me have some peace and quiet. Yay!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Aliens

Well, tomorrow is my follow up with Hottie Doc and my next procedure. Nothing like a little humiliation early in the day to get the blood pumping. I've convinced myself that during the scope, HD will tell me that I have three aliens growing in my bladder. That way, I'll be much more relieved when (NOT IF!) he tells me things look good and that there are no more tumors, no more cancer.

Of course, even if he does find something, I'll still be relieved, because really, I'm not keen on the idea of three aliens growing in my bladder.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My So-Called Life

I giggle when I'm nervous. At this exact moment, I feel a surge of shrill, maniacal laughter bubbling up in the back of my throat. Have you ever had a day...or maybe a whole week...where it's just one thing after another that's going wrong?

And then after a particularly bad event, you have the foolhardy thought of something along the lines of, "Well, what else can go wrong?"

And then holy buckets, something else does go wrong?? It's too much to get into here, and I know in the long run everything will turn out fine and I'll be able to look back on this and see it as just one more thing that I got through, but sheesh.

I think it was Popeye who said, "I tooks alls I can takes and I can't takes no more!" I'm almost at that point. Almost. I'm going to go drown my nervous giggles in my dinner. I'm making spinach tonight...HA!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Past 6 Months as a Mastercard Commercial

April 2009~ Not feeling great. Another UTI and kidney infection. Visit family doctor. Co-pay: $40

April 2009~ Labs and blood work. Results suspicious. See family doctor again. She recommends a specialist. Co-pay: $40

May 2009~ Annual girlie checkup. Cervical cancer scare. Ovarian cyst hurting. Co-pay: $40

May 2009~ Appointment with urologist. Co-pay: $60

June 2009~ Follow-up with urologist and routine scope. Tumor discovered. Co-pay: $60

June 2009~ Husband's job lost. Income substantially reduced.

July 2009~ Surgery. REALLY EXPENSIVE, but covered by insurance. (Thank goodness I have I my own insurance!)

July 2009~ Follow up with urologist. Diagnosed with cancer. Co-pay: $60

July 2009~ Kidney stone and gallbladder attack. Trip to ER. Ultrasound, CT scan, blood work and a bunch of labs. Almost as expensive as the surgery. Co-pay: $250

August 2009~ Labs. Expensive. So glad I have insurance.

August 2009~ Follow-up visit with dermatologist for eczema. Referral not ready in time. Office visit: $119

September 2009~ Sick. So sick. Visit with family doctor. Co-pay: $40

October 2009~ More lab work. Super expensive. Have I mentioned how glad I am that I have insurance?!

October 2009~ Sick again, but not as bad as in September. Follow-up with family doctor. Labs not looking good, but for the most part, I'm okay. Still sick, so I can't get a flu shot. Co-pay: $40

October 2009 (pending)~ Follow-up with urologist for another scope to make sure no more cancer has popped up. Co-pay: $60

Tonight~ Spouse out with friends and child peacefully asleep. Ignoring mountain of laundry that needs folding and 5 bags from Target with household supplies needing to be put away. Ice-cream in the freezer waiting for me to eat it and a rented movie waiting for me to watch it...PRICELESS!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

It's a Poker Cake!

Happy 34th birthday to my husband today! And because I can't seem to let a birthday pass without making some kind of cake, this is for your viewing pleasure...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Okay, I Admit It...

I have a peculiar, obsessive thought regarding death.

I always wonder if I end up dying in an accident or under strange circumstances, will CSI come to my house? And if they do, what will they think of my cluttered basement? Or my obsessively organized closet? (Actually, right now, it's kind of un-organized, but if you look at the clothes, they're still organized by color and from the lightest shade to the darkest shade.) Will they think it's weird that my refrigerator doesn't have a lot of leftovers? Or that all of my fruits and vegetables are neatly organized in perfectly stackable Tupperware containers?

Will they think it's weird that my toilets are clean enough to lick? Not that I would encourage anyone to try that, because that would be strange, but still...

Oh, and I hope they don't look in my underwear drawer, because that would bother me. Even if I am dead.

Heh heh heh.

Oh, and my husband is reading over my shoulder and asking if I'll add that he rubbed my back last night until I fell asleep, so I told him I would. He rubbed my back last night until I fell asleep. There.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Better Yet?

It seems like I should be all better after a week of antibiotics, but I still can't quite seem to shake whatever I've got. I'm definitely better than last week, but just feeling off.

I'm feeling good enough that I made a pan of fudge and I'm making "eyeball cupcakes" later this afternoon for my hubby's friends who are coming over to play poker. Are you curious about eyeball cupcakes? Yes? Good! Let me tell you about them...

It's actually a combination of two recipes from Taste of Home and Wilton. I'm making a basic red velvet cake recipe, but instead of baking a cake, I'll be making cupcakes. After they're cooled, I'm going to carefully cut circles about an inch deep in the tops. Then I'm going to spoon in some seedless raspberry preserves, drop in a gummy eyeball, then replace the tops of the cupcakes. I'm going to cover them with white icing, then pipe red "veins" on them, and finish it off with a green lifesaver (for the iris of the eye) and a chocolate chip (for the pupil). So...they'll look like eyeballs and our guests will find a "bloody eyeball" in the middle when they bite into it.

I'm not telling any of the guests about the eyeballs in the middle. I'll let them be surprised.

Another fun variation is to make chocolate cupcakes, then spoon in some chocolate pudding and a gummy worm!

Have I mentioned that I really, really, REALLY like Halloween?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Quiet Around Here

It's quiet around here because I can't freakin' talk! I went to the doctor yesterday, which it turns out was a very, very good thing. By the time I got there, it felt like someone had shoved an old sock into the back of my throat.

Not that I've ever had an old sock in my throat, it just seemed like a good analogy.

I knew it wasn't my tonsils, because those have been gone since 2006. All I knew is that I didn't feel well and if it had been an option, I would have shoved my hand down my throat to pull out whatever was there. It was a good thing I didn't try it, because there wasn't anything to pull out. It's just that swollen.

I knew when I woke up yesterday that whatever cold bug I had was worse. I couldn't seem to speak any louder than a squeaky whisper and I was having trouble swallowing--not just that it hurt to swallow, which it did, but more that I physically couldn't seem to swallow. And every time I tried to take a deep breath, it felt like my throat was closing up. Well, that's because it was.

I'm always impressed when a doctor looks at something and has a response along the lines of, "What in God's name is that?" Heh heh. It's an infection, plain and simple, but it had been brewing for a while and had moved far down into my pharynx, spread beyond that and caused inflammation in my voicebox, too. No strep, thank goodness, but still icky.

The doctor laughed when I said I'd get my antibiotic filled and head back into the office. She laughed. Literally laughed out loud and said, "Um, what exactly makes you think I'm going to give you permission to go back to work today? Or tomorrow, for that matter?" Then she handed me a note that said I was to stay home until Monday. I don't mind a day off every now and then, but it's better when it's to do something fun and not because I'm sick.

Oh, and the part about it being quiet around the house? It's because I'm supposed to be on "voice rest" for 72 hours. It seemed better this morning, so of course I was my stubborn self and started chatting with the hubby, only to have blinding pain an hour later and my voice return to a puberty-stricken-Peter-Brady sound.

I learned my lesson. I'm keeping quiet and resting.

My husband isn't complaining about the quiet part.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sick

I am sick and cranky and miserable. I can't stand being sick. My head is pounding, my throat hurts, my ears are throbbing. Errrrr. Good thing I was already scheduled to see the doctor tomorrow. Going to lay down now.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Waiting on Good Things

While eating dinner tonight, my kiddo started asking when she could have dessert. My husband, in an effort to be helpful, attempted to explain the importance of being patient, using the old standby phrase, "Good things come to those who wait."

Without missing a beat, I quipped, "Yeah, and I've been patient long enough, so the rest of my life better be a freakin' fairy tale."

We laughed about it. And after all, there are lots of good things out there to be seen and experienced, some as close as my own backyard (or the state park)...




Friday, September 11, 2009

Nine Eleven

Seems like it should just be another day, doesn't it? But it isn't.

September 11, 2001 was my one-month wedding anniversary and it wasn't getting off to a very good start. I was driving to work, still seething over a fight I'd had with my husband the night before that had culminated in me throwing a potato peeler at him. We'd gone to bed without speaking and hadn't even made eye contact that morning.

I was driving south on a local route to my office when I turned on the radio and was confused by what I was hearing. Was it some kind of prank? What was going on. And then, I heard one of the DJs say, "What the...?" and I heard a strange, muffled crashing sound. There was silence for a moment, and then the DJ said, "Oh my God, a plane just went into the second tower." They were watching the news in the background and the muffled crash I heard was from their television--the sound of the second plane slamming into the tower.

I called home and asked my husband to please put on CNN and tell me that I wasn't hearing what I thought I was hearing. The rest of the day was spent agonizing, waiting and worrying. Our fight from the night before was gone. Done. Couldn't remember what it was even about. (Although I do remember now and it had to with him not helping with the dishes or the thank you notes from our wedding--dumb, I know.)

I know that for many people, life changed dramatically that day, and September 11th has a much more significant impact for some people than for others. I suppose no American will forget what happened on September 11, 2001. But like it or not, life goes on.

On September 11, 2004, I found out I was pregnant. I was listening to a local station, hearing people discuss the anniversary, and I was standing in the bathroom, open-mouthed, staring at a stunning positive result on a home pregnancy test.

One year later, on September 11, 2005, my little baby girl was Baptized.

Each year, September 11th comes and goes, bringing with it memories, sadness, and in some cases, a reminder of sweetness shining through the dark.

Here's to you, America.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What's Cooking?

September is off and running, isn't it? I can hardly believe it, but Autumn is coming up fast--and I can't wait! It's my favorite time of year. Tonight is making me even more eager for cooler weather, because I associate Autumn with baking and I'm baking bread right now. Lots and lots of bread. But not plain, ol' regular bread. Super-yummy-bad-for-the-waistline bread.

It smells divine in my kitchen right now.

I'm making cinnamon-sugar bread. And cocoa-chocolate-chip bread. And orange-vanilla-almond bread. Ooooohhhhh. I'm going to have to take some of it to work so I can fatten my co-workers and hopefully avoid fattening myself.

In the meantime, I'm off to read blogs!

Friday, September 04, 2009

A Little Dance

My glum mood has been gradually lifting over the past few days and I'm starting to feel more like myself again, doing occasional little dances around the living room. And tonight, I have good reason: The hubby and I got a baby-sitter and we planned on going out on a date tonight (to the discount movie theater since we're still being super-cautious with our money), but instead, we decided to do a little shopping. We've been hoarding some Kohl's gift cards and coupons, and tonight, we're unleashing it all! Mwah-hahahahaha!

We're unleashing it on some new pots for the kitchen. That part may not really be fun, BUT...we get to go out! By ourselves! And we get to stay out past our daughter's bedtime!

Oh my gosh, we might even rent a movie tonight and STAY UP LATE. Please understand that by "late", what I mean is that we'll try not to fall over before 11:30pm. I'm already running on my second wind, so we'll see how well I hold out.

Well, I'm off! Hope everyone has a great start to the Labor Day weekend!

**Update...It's 11:02pm and I'm about ready to crash. Must. Have. Sleep. But before I do, I just had to share that we went to Kohl's. You ready for the total spent? $88.18. Amount saved: $273.85. Money is tight, but boy do we know how to stretch it! And the best thing was the bright pink shirt my hubby bought for me that has a big, glittery orange on it with a very sad face...the orange is staring at a glass of orange juice and whimpering, "Mom?" Heh heh.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Attitude Adjustment

I've been in a really foul mood for the past week. Scowling, complaining, ornery in general. I want to feel better. I want someone to wave a magic wand and make my world a better place.



In other words, I want somethin' for nothin'.



Since I know that's not going to happen, I had to make a conscious choice today to just buck up and get over my circumstances. Life handed me lemons, so I'll make lemonade. Or I'll tuck 'em in my bra--can't hurt, might help. (I read that somewhere when I was in high school!) Plus, I do like citrus scents.



Anyway, I reminded myself this afternoon that out of everything in my life that I can't control (job loss, cancer, allergies, rude people, etc.), the one thing I get to be perfectly in control of is my attitude. My emotions and feelings sometimes take on a life of their own, but at the end of the day, I get to decide what I do with them and how I portray myself to the world.



Do I want to come across as a crabby, mean-spirited, shrew? Even if I am one? No, of course not. I mean, being a shrew has its advantages, but in the end, it's not really worth it. I'd like to save the bad-attitude "big guns" for bigger, more important issues.



Today, I took the time to thing about what I should be grateful for and happy about--I kinda got out of that daily routine, so it's time I re-started it.



1. A long-lost, 63 year old picture of a grandmother that I never got to meet (many thanks to my sister who receive this picture from an aunt and was kind enough to share it):

2. Fun ideas for a Halloween cake...I'm trying to decide between a Frankenstein or graveyard theme.

3. Nice weather with a touch of Autumn in the air.

4. Being there for someone who just needs me to listen.

5. My insurance company paying for my surgery, post-op care and subsequent ER visit!

They're all little things, I suppose, but they're a big deal to me and I'm thankful.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Best Kid in the World!

My munchkin came up to me a few minutes ago, climbed into lap, wrapped her arms around my neck and squeezed with all her might, and then loudly declared, "You are the best mommy in the world and I love you with my whole, great, big heart!"

That boost to my self-esteem should last until the end of the year! (And it makes up for the blow she delivered earlier when she waved her magic wand at me and shouted, "Disappear mommy's belly!" Then she shook the wand and said, "Hey, it's not working!")

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Road Trip

Holy smokes, it's been a long while in between blog posts. Things have been busy, as usual, craziness at work, getting ready for the new semester, and this weekend, a long trip for an out-of-town wedding. Not quite the road trip I was hoping for, but I spent 6 hours on Friday driving to Green Bay, WI for a wedding and 7 hours driving home today, so I definitely put the "road" in road trip.

I am so tired.

The wedding was lovely--but huge, around 400 guests--and the bride and groom were so completely and ridiculously in love, that it was hard not to smile ear to ear for them. Such wonderful people. My hubby was the best man and the kiddo had a great time at the reception, dancing all night long, including cutting in the bride and groom to dance with them, and staying up way past her bedtime. A good time was had by all.

The hotel we stayed at was quite nice, not even a year old, but hotels freak me out. Too many people in one space, and I cringe when I think about how many people have walked on the carpet in the room and slept in the beds. I also have an irrational fear of bedbugs. Isn't that funny? But seriously. I won't leave any clothes laying around and as soon as I get home, everything has to get washed and sanitized. I think some of it is my OCD, but some of it is because of a show I watched on Discovery about bedbugs. Why did I watch a show about bedbugs? I don't know. It was on and it was interesting, but now I'm more freaked out than ever.

Anyhoooo...the one thing about hotels that fascinates me is how soft the water is. We have hard water in my house, so I'm used to that. Hotels are different, and this hotel was WAY different. I used a few drops of shampoo and I had more suds than I knew what to do with. I rinsed off soap for more than 10 minutes and still felt a little soapy. Strange. But on the up side of all of this, all of that soft water did something great for my rosacea--my face wasn't red at all the whole weekend, which meant I didn't have to wear a lot of makeup. Woo-hoo! Makes me want to get a water softener for my house. Maybe. Yeah, maybe when the hubby is working again. Or if we win the lottery. Oh wait, we'd have to actually buy a ticket to have a chance at winning. Hmmmm...maybe there's some royal family monarch I don't know about who can wire me some extra cash. That would be good, too!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Saving Pennies (and Dollars)!

In light of my spouse's current unemployment, we're continuing to be cautious with our cash. However, there are still occasional things that are needed and wanted--we just have to weigh our priorities. For example, we went out for dinner last night. And not a fast food dinner. We went to Bd's Mongolian Grill. Now, it's not a 5-star restaurant, but we knew full well it was going to cost us more than $20. We spent double that, but I'm not sorry. There was a survey/audit at my company and we got a rocking 98% compliance rate. Rocked my world and was definitely a reason to celebrate since much of my job has to do with making sure we're in compliance with state standards. With that kind of a percentage, I'm feeling like my job is pretty secure. At least I hope so!

My other splurge was a shopping trip to Kohl's. I hardly ever pay full price for anything. I'm a clearance shopper and proud of it. That being said, I was digging through my closet looking for a dress to wear to a wedding that we're going to next weekend and realized that while I have nice clothes, all of them have been worn to a variety of family functions and friendly gatherings over the years. It was time for something new. I scoured the clearance racks, taking my time and got some great deals--not just on a dress, but also on some summer tops.

I got two dresses, one an ankle-length, black knit dress and the other a crisp, black and white patterned summer dress--each regularly priced at $42.00, but on sale for $17.99; five tank tops normally priced at $14.00, but being sold for $2.80 each, and a nice white top normally priced at $20.00 being sold for $4.00.

My total spent, including tax: $58.43

For me, that's a lot of money to spend on clothes. That total is nothing compared to what I saved...

Total saved: A whopping $120.02!

Those numbers make me realize how ridiculously over-priced stuff is. Seriously!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

August Already?

Summer is really zipping along. I'm a little sad, because of course I spent another summer working too much and not playing enough, but turning the calendar to August today gave a little thrill.

Why?

Because July sucked. Sorry, but it did.

Plus, turning the calendar means I'm another day closer to my next birthday. Awesome. Some people don't like getting older, but I'm not one of them. Turning 30 was a highlight for me. Turning 31 was awesome. Can't wait for 32.

I hated my teen years. Didn't like high school. I enjoyed college, but my early 20s were kind of awkward--that age where kids are trying to be adults and find themselves. Yeah, that was me. My mid-20s were peppered with the ups and downs of being a newlywed and navigating that new relationship. Not that being married was bad, but it's a big adjustment and anyone who knows me is fully aware that I DO NOT LIKE CHANGE.

Now, in fairness, that's not really true. I love change. As long as I'm in charge of the change.

I navigated my later 20s being a new mom and dealing with "stuff" that still gives me a headache when I think about it.

Turning 30 meant leaving behind a decade of more problems than solutions. Now, I'm not an eternal optimist, but I had it in my head that my 30s would rock my world. It didn't occur to me that my 30s would also bring a few extra strands of gray hair, deeper lines around my eyes and mouth, a slower metabolism, some freaky health problems and a general shift overall in how I relate to people.

In spite of that, I feel a tingling awareness in myself. Something telling me that the time for change is NOW. I don't know yet what that change is, but the feeling is strong enough that I've made a few decisions about my career and my future (more on that later). I feel like I crossed the finish line on the first third of my life and now I'm at the starting line for the second third of my life. Can't wait to see what's waiting for me on this new path.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Right! Unfair!

I’ve been coping pretty well with things…you know, all things considered.

Today though, I’m feeling mad. Really mad. I want to rail against the Fates for the unfair burdens that have come my way. And they are unfair. But that being said, does it matter? And if so, to whom does it matter? I mean besides to me, because of course it matters to me.

I’m ticked off that I’ve spent all of my life so far doing everything I’m supposed to do. I got good grades in elementary school. I finished high school in the top 5% of my class. I worked in high school and college. I graduated from college Magna Cum Laude. Got a job with a company that would transition from “job” to “career”. I went to graduate school. I got married and then received my Master’s Degree five months after my wedding. I got a promotion and worked my tail off so my husband could finish school. Got my counseling license. Got pregnant. Bought a house. Got another promotion. Had a baby. Started teaching at the university. Just started coursework for an advanced counseling certificate. I’ve walked the line (I’m humming Johnny Cash right now), but I’m not anywhere near finished.

Doesn’t anyone see? I did all of that, and for the most part, I did it well and I did it in the “right” order. I’m proud of working hard and doing things well. But how is it fair that in spite of everything, I feel like I’m standing on top of a smoking pile of rubble—a pile of rubble that used to be my nicely organized life—and trying to figure out where in the heck I’m supposed to even find a stable spot to start putting things back together?

I get it. Doing everything in the “right” order doesn’t mean the early years of marriage weren’t financially tough. And it doesn’t mean that the time spent trying to have a child didn’t seem like forever. “Right” didn’t make my pregnancy or delivery (or post-delivery) easy. “Right” doesn’t mean my daughter isn’t chronically ill (thought blessedly, she’s been healthy for a whole month!). The “right” order didn’t stop my marriage from crumbling nearly to the point of complete and utter destruction four years ago, nor did it make the past four years easy as the pieces were slowly turned and shifted to form something new and different that’s still a marriage, but a very different marriage. “Right” doesn’t bring my husband’s job back. And “right” sure as heck didn’t stop a small cluster of cells from turning into cancer, a seemingly minor cancer (if there is such a thing)—but nonetheless is having a permanent impact on my life. “Right” doesn’t seem to matter one little bit in the big picture.

And is that fair? Of course not. Duh. If life was fair, I’d be living in a sprawling brick ranch on 5 acres of property, floating in a pool with my children splashing around me and the puppy chasing butterflies in the sunshine. And I wouldn’t have stretch marks from being pregnant. And no cellulite, either.

My house would be clean and organized. The laundry would be washed, dried, folded or on hangers AND put away. It most certainly would not be sitting in baskets at the foot of the bed! There wouldn’t be any mystery stains on the carpet—because there’d be hardwood floors (or maybe bamboo floors) throughout. The deck wouldn’t need to be sanded and stained. There would be nice patio furniture so we could eat outside on nice days. Life would be peaceful.

I’d work if I wanted to, but I wouldn’t have to. Come to think of it, my husband wouldn’t “have to” work, either. We’d be independently wealthy. No, I don’t know how that would happen. It’s my fantasy life—I can figure out the logistics of it later.

If life was “fair”, things would be different. Drastically different. And yet, if life was “fair”, I think that I wouldn’t be who I am now. Maybe I’d be better. Maybe not. But I would be different. I’m not sure if the price of “fairness” is worth it. I like who I am for the most part (besides the whole stretch mark/cellulite thing), so I know I wouldn’t want to change that too much.

I’m feeling like everything I planned for in my life has been ripped away and I’m left standing empty-handed.

Of course, if I’m standing empty-handed, that means my hands are free to hang on and then catch whatever else might come my way. Taking the good with the bad, right?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Rolling With It

Well, I've been rolling with the punches lately and all I have to show for it is a bruised psyche. I need a soul-sized band-aid to make me all better.

I think some ice-cream might also help.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Few Random Thoughts

Every now and then, it's nice to be the "fun" mommy and let the kiddo have ice-cream before dinner. Especially when the dinner consists of sandwiches, chips and pickles.

I've also decided to (gulp) grow my hair out again and donate it either to Locks of Love or Pantene Beautiful Lengths. I did it last year and got a tremendous sense of satisfaction out of that simple act. It's more meaningful this time around since my diagnosis--I'm so grateful that surgery should be sufficient for me and that I don't have to undergo chemo or radiation...but it makes me think long and hard about the people who do, so the least I can do is donate my hair to someone who needs it.

I think there was a microburst or something about an hour ago here...I don't think the word "windy" is anywhere close to accurate. All I know is that I was giving my kiddo a bath and faster than anything I've witnessed before, there was a roar, the whole house shook and the screens were literally ripped out of the windows. The patio door also came off its track. Good thing I'm pretty handy--I found all the screens (on the garage roof and down the street) and popped them all back in. Also fixed the window frame that was partially torn off. Whew!

One more day of work, then the weekend. So glad about that.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This and That

I think this is the first time in a month that I've had to work a full week. I took a few vacation days here and there for long weekends, then I had surgery, then the 4th of July holiday long weekend. I'm tired already, but tomorrow's only Thursday. I still have to make it through Friday!

I shouldn't complain. My poor spouse is getting a little batty being at home. The concept of unemployment seems kind of fun at first--get some time off, still get paid a little from the unemployment office, etc. But it's been two weeks now and he's had enough of the Mr. Mom routine. And so have I.

Don't get me wrong. It's really nice that he's been helping out more around the house, weeding the garden, etc. It's just hard for me because I'm picky about stuff getting done a certain way. And I kind of miss cooking dinner. It's a strange trade-off because it's really nice to be able to come home from work and relax for a little bit, not have to cook and get to play with my kiddo--all the stuff he did before when I would get home after work and frantically get the little one settled down and get dinner together before he got home. But there's a small part of me that misses the chaos, I guess just because that's what I'm used to.

I keep reminding myself to enjoy the time because (hopefully) it won't last long. There's gotta be jobs out there that he's qualified for, and once he gets hired, it's back to the same old madness. I've been unusually tired lately--even more than my chronic tiredness from lack of sleep. I'm feeling more emotionally drained these days. I guess that's normal. Whatever normal is.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sleepy Thoughts

I've been in a bit of a fog for the past few days, just sorting things out in my head and coming up with more questions than I thought possible. I don't have a headache--more of a brain ache. I feel like I'm in a pretty good place right now, but probably going through a lot of normal stuff, too. Stuff like randomly getting mad over nothing, some occasional denial...oh wait, that's how I am everyday. HA!

I am unusually tired tonight. I think the combination of stress of worrying about what might be wrong combined with the stress and relief of now knowing what actually is wrong has finally caught up with me. I've been yawning for the past hour. I think it's time to go to sleep now.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The "C" Word

It starts with “C”, is six letters long and has a nasty habit of instilling fear in the hearts of people who hear it.

Cancer.

I have officially been diagnosed with cancer.

I got the biopsy results today, and it turns out that once again, I have done a stellar job of defying all odds. Bladder cancer happens more often in men. I am a woman. Bladder cancer happens most often after the age of 55. I am 31. This particular type of cancer is nearly always caused by lifelong smoking habits and/or daily exposure to industrial chemicals and dyes. I am a non-smoker and a therapist/teacher.

Gotta love a woman who can beat the odds, huh?

Cancer.

The word sounds strange and it feels even stranger to have it come rolling off my tongue in description of myself.

I…Have…Cancer.

Peculiarly enough, I am not afraid. Cancer is no longer a death sentence. And I mean let’s face it—Heaven doesn’t want me and hell is probably afraid I’d take over. (HA!!) Seriously though, the way I see it, this is simply a situation that will be dealt with and handled, and I’m going to be fine. The cancer itself is typically non-aggressive and at this point, doesn’t require any chemotherapy or radiation. The best course of treatment is surgery to remove any remaining cancerous tissue (though at this point, the doctor has every reason to believe he removed all of it during the surgery) and to have routine procedures at a minimum of every 90 days to monitor the situation.

Of course there are more exhausting details, but for now, I’m putting my confidence in the doctor/surgeon (thank you, Mr. Hottie Doc) and my faith in God.

I said before my surgery that God would be the same on July 1st (the day of the surgery) as He was on June 30th. And I believed with all my being that He would be the same the day I got the results (today) as He has always been. That hasn’t changed.

This isn’t quite the path I was planning on for myself, but it seems the Big Man has other ideas, so as I venture down this new and unfamiliar road, I find myself wondering what other big excitement lies ahead.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Cranky, Party of 3, Your Table is Ready...

I am ready to pull my hair out.

No, I'm really not joking.

I would, however, be happy to pull out someone else's hair in order to save myself the headache from pulling out my own. Any volunteers? Kidding, of course.

My husband has been unemployed for 6 days and I don't know what to do for him. I'm trying to be supportive and listen and be available, etc., but I feel like I'm not doing a very good job. I know he's gloomy and the job market is tight, but I can't change that part of it. My kiddo is cranky and has been sick since Friday night (MAJOR stomach upset), and my husband is irritated that I keep asking him not to give her any milk or cheese. He gave her mac and cheese for lunch today and it zipped right through her. Now he's cranky because I'm cranky, and I'm cranky because I've been cleaning up after her and she's cranky because she doesn't feel well and her stomach keeps cramping. My poor babies.

Have I mentioned how glad I am that I have a job to go back to tomorrow?

Friday, July 03, 2009

Getting Frugal

Well, with my darling spouse out of work and us navigating the unemployment mine field for the first time, it occurred to me that even though I'm pretty good with a budget, there's no doubt we're going to have to cut some things out.

Necessities, of course, will take the top of the list in priorities every month--i.e. house payment, student loan payments, groceries, utilities, medications, etc. There's no way to prioritize those items, because let's face it...at the end of the day, as a mother, I can't choose between giving my daughter a good meal and giving her the medication she needs. They're equally important.

There's definitely some "fat" we can trim starting next month, mainly in the way of things like cable, going out to eat, etc.

Today we decided to indulge a little bit for the 4th of July holiday weekend, knowing full well it's going to be a while until we do any kind of indulging again. We went to Dominick's (where we usually don't shop because the prices are a bit high) and found out that there were some smokin' sales. We bought almost 6 pounds of bananas, a huge watermelon, cheddarwursts (for grilling tomorrow), some breakfast sausage and enough fixings for me to bring lunch every day next week for work. We splurged and bought some ice-cream, too, which is a nice treat.

Total amount spent: $38.68

Total amount saved: $32.30

Total savings: 46%

Not too shabby, eh?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Feeling Okay!

I'm happy to say that surgery went well! The entire mass was removed and the biopsy results should be back in the next week or two. I'm sore, but my pain is being managed and even better, the doctor gave me a prescription for Zofran, which has completely eliminated all the nausea/vomiting I usually experience.

The hubby is keeping an eye on me and my sweet kiddo keeps coming up to me and asking if I'm okay. She's repeatedly kissed my belly (she understood the concept that I had a boo-boo inside), but she's way more concerned about the bruise forming on my hand from the IV. She's kissed my hand a dozen times already.

Speaking of kisses, I did blow a kiss to the anesthesiologist before I went completely under. I haven't heard about any other antics...yet.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Just Wishin'...and Hopin...and Thinkin'...and Prayin'...

I'm wishing I could settle down and get some sleep.

I'm hoping that my surgery tomorrow is quick and easy.

I'm thinking that no matter what, I'm going to say or do something completely embarrassing because of the anesthesia.

And I'm praying that my surgeon gets a good night's sleep, that his baby isn't fussy, and that he and his wife aren't bickering about anything. Wanting him to be well-rested, focused, alert and steady is not just for my benefit, but for the benefit of all the patients he's operating on tomorrow.

G'night.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Secret...Meeting God?

Whoever sent this into Post Secret...you're not alone. I've spent many years of my life quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) dealing with people I find to be very frustrating, but I always keep it in the back of my mind that there's a history there I know nothing about...that there are angels among us...that God is everywhere.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Requesting a Do-Over

I would appreciate it very much if I could somehow get a do-over for the month of June.

This month, I found out that I have a tumor that needs to be removed.

I cracked my head open on my desk at work (long story, boiling down to the fact that I'm clumsy).

My husband found out that his agency is closing on June 30th and he's out of a job. He's out of work on the 30th, my surgery is the 1st. Good thing I have my own insurance!


I won't go on and bore you with the details. All of the above is enough by itself.

On a lighter (and much funnier) note, one of my friends asked me if I'm worried about the tumor being cancerous. I laughed and said I have way more important things to worry about...things like:

  • **Whether I'll pee on the surgeon's hand when he takes out the catheter after surgery (at least I'll be knocked out and I won't know!).
  • **If I'm going to say or do anything really embarrassing as a result of the anesthesia...typically, I ask some weird questions, cry for a few minutes, proposition whichever medical personnel happens to be standing next to me in the recovery room when I wake up, and then vomit uncontrollably for 12 hours.
  • **Whether any part of the above mentioned really embarrassing anesthesia-related issues will be laughed at later by the doctors/nurses...and whether any of them will tell my spouse!
  • **Whether any part of my naked body will end up on YouTube.

See, those are the big things to be concerned about. Because really, does it matter if I have cancer if a picture of my butt is on the internet?? Of course, this is all tongue-in-cheek--I'm just keeping my mood light, because there's no point in worrying too much about anything. God will be the same on July 1st as He is right now.

But, um, God? If possible, perhaps some better days can come my way? It would be much appreciated!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Martha...Unplugged

Or un-glued. Or un-hinged.

Or just good old fashioned falling apart.

I'm usually pretty level-headed, but it seems as though there's a force working against me lately, and I'm getting a bit...well, never mind.

So. The surgery for the "tooo-muh" is scheduled for July 1st. It's been an interesting ride so far. This went from being a simple procedure that could take place in the office, to a procedure done in the office with a local anesthetic...to an outpatient surgery at the hospital with a local anesthetic...to a regular surgery with general anesthesia.

If I felt more comfortable with profanity, I can guarantee I would be swearing enough to set some kind of record. Then I laugh to myself, because there's really no point in getting worked up over it. It is what it is.

Speaking of what is, there is an up side to all of this. Surgery is July 1st, so I'm taking off the 1st and 2nd, but then my office is closed that Friday and the following Monday for the 4th of July holiday, so that will save some of my benefit time. I'm also thinking that this bit of post-surgery-forced-relaxation could be good for me. I have no choice but to lay around and do nothing. No household chores, no running around. I can sit around and doze in the sun, read books, watch television and be a big couch potato.

This has nothing to do with anything, but I bought my husband a folding poker-table for Father's Day. I got pulled over on the way home, and I thought for sure I was going to get a ticket because of the way it was jammed into my car and obstructing my view through the back window, but the officer said he just wanted to see for himself that yes indeed, there was a woman driving through town with a 10-seater poker table. He said that my husband is one lucky dude. I agree.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

An Ode to Arnold: It's a Tooooo-muh

I've been going back and forth trying to make up my mind whether to share this piece of information on my blog, but finally decided that it wouldn't hurt anything to share. I may not see my "bloggy friends" in my daily life, but bloggy friends are still friends and it seems like we all share a lot of our ups and downs.

This is a bit of a "down."

The short version of this downer is this: I have a tumor in my bladder and I'm a little freaked out about it. I'm waiting on the hospital and my insurance to work out the details of the surgery that's needed to remove it. I'm hoping to know early next week when it'll be scheduled.

The history/longer version of it is this: For anyone who's read my blog for a while, you've likely seen more than a few posts where I complain/whine/gripe about the frequency with which I get UTIs and kidney infections/stones. I'd been having a good stretch with no problems for a little bit, when some routine labwork showed a few abnormalities. I had no problems or symptoms, but on a microscopic level, there was something going on. My doctor, who is getting ready to retire, had me see an associate who recently joined the practice. My first impression left a bit to be desired, but the second impression was much better. Especially when she said that she was a family practitioner and she didn't think it was within her scope of experience to manage my case and she wanted me to have the best care possible. She recommended a specialist, so off I went.

It's not important, but I would like to say that the specialist is young and quite attractive. He shall henceforth be known as the hottie doc. HD for short.

Anyway, HD saw me for a consultation and basic exam, did more labwork and other than some peculiar hematuria (blood in my urine), he couldn't find anything wrong. He recommended a minor procedure to take a look inside and see what was going on--I felt like it was a waste of time, because a CT scan hadn't shown anything, but I agreed. He said that given my history, it was likely that I either A.) had a kidney stone stuck somewhere that had never passed and may have adhered to the bladder wall or gotten stuck in one of the tubes, or B.) given the number of stones and infections I've had, it might be some irritation/inflammation or scar tissue.

My thoughts were along the lines of, "Okay, fine, whatever." He did mention in passing that it was possible, but very, very unlikely, that I could have a tumor. I raised my eyebrows at him, but he was quick to reassure me that the odds are almost statistically non-existent. For a healthy, 31 year old female, the odds were something like 0.05%.

I always have been the type of person to defy all odds.

I had the procedure done on Thursday morning and all was going well (if uncomfortably), until I heard HD murmur, "Hmmmmm." I partially sat up, laughed a little and asked him if all doctors take a class called "Scaring Patients 101: Mastering the Hmmmmm."

He asked me to lay back down, then turned the monitor my way and pointed out some healthy tissue, then moved the scope a bit to show me another area. I suddenly understood the "Hmmmm." He reminded me that the scope magnifies everything, so certainly the tumor wasn't as big as it looked, which is good, though it didn't change the fact that there is indeed a tumor there.

He did mention that he was shocked when he found it and wondered out loud who was more shocked, him or me. I told him since he got to keep his pants on, and I was the one stuck in an ugly hospital gown, I had paid my dues and earned the right to be more shocked.

There were a lot of words thrown around...transitional cells, noninvasive papillary tumor, urothelial papillary something-or-other. I asked him to skip the medical jargon and he said, "It's a tumor and I need to remove it."

I've been processing all of this, feeling alternately anxious and annoyed. I'm sure I'll feel better once there are some actual answers and not just a bunch of what-ifs and maybes.

So, that's the scoop. Not much to tell, but definitely enough by itself. Right now, my little kiddo is asking me to lay down on the couch with her to watch a movie and that sounds really good. I'll post as I know more; and of course, I'll keep posting about how I'm trying to navigate crazy-a$$ highway we call life.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Wow, I have really neglected my weekly menu planning! I had been making kinda-sorta-loosely-put-together meal plans in my head each week, but for whatever reason, if I post it on my blog, I feel more accountable and end up following it. Plus, summer school starts this week and I'll be teaching two nights a week, so it's even more important to make sure that meals are well-thought out so the hubby can handle it (tee hee!). It's only Sunday, but I thought I'd get a jump on it now...

Today (Sunday), we're having a very simple, summery meal. My kiddo and I were flipping through a food magazine and she was quite thrilled with the picture of hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls, which she's never had before. So, tonight, I'm making weenie wraps! It may not be the healthiest meal, but I'll add some broccoli on the side and make some peach-mango smoothies to go with it.

Monday~ Oven "fried" chicken, roasted red potatoes, and...? Not sure yet.

Tuesday~ Easy dad dinner--mac n cheese and green beans, maybe some pears, too

Wednesday~ Pork tenderloin roast with mushrooms and spicy mixed veggies

Thursday~ Easy dad dinner--tuna and veggie wraps

Friday~ Spaghetti and meatballs, salad, garlic bread

Next weekend is up in the air. I'll probably make chicken quesadillas one night and ribs the other night. Yay for summer food and cooking!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sorry it's been a while...the weather has been nice and I've been enjoying it! Sitting outside every afternoon, going on walks, rocking in the backyard with a fire blazing. Sweet.

More nonsense later...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Making the Most of this Moment

I’m feeling a little whimsical…wistful…spiritual…thoughtful tonight…cracking open my armor and letting my other side peek out a little bit. Must be a hazard of the warm weather and enjoying the sound of silence while I’m sitting outside.

There are a few moments in the evenings just as the sun is sinking, when the leftover traces of light bounce across the sky and collide with the horizon, momentarily blurring the line between Heaven and earth. Sometimes I think that if I squint and focus my stare hard enough into that line, I’ll see that it’s where all of my lost dreams and failed hopes reside—waiting for me to catch up with them.

It was warm today, warmer than what I prefer, but now with the breeze gradually picking up and sweeping over me, the temperature slowly falling and the evening hum of crickets and chirping of birds, I’m comfortable and relaxed, thinking about why God makes the seasons change. Each season is a time of something new, something full of hope and promise for the future. Much of the time I wish I had 27 hours in a day, just so that I would feel like I’m better able to accomplish the tasks hanging over me, but the truth is, I think God broke the days into 24 hour increments because He knew that when He made us, we weren’t designed to withstand infinite troubles, or even infinite joy. At least not in our human forms. After the past days, weeks and months of troubles, it occurs to me that God understands the human condition, the built-in frailties He gave each of us…and He understands that we need to rest in between each thing we face, because we can only bear the weight of one day at a time.

Leaning back, rocking, gazing at the sky and waiting for the first star of the evening to appear through the high, wispy clouds…I’m wondering if I take a chance and make a wish, whether it will come true. Then I think that the moment is so perfect, I don’t even know what I could wish for. I’m sure as daylight streams through my window in the morning, I’ll be able to think of plenty of things to wish for, but right now, this moment is all that I need or want it to be.

Having contemplated that, it occurs to me that there is something I could wish for right now…to enjoy each moment as much as I’m enjoying this one, to have the moment be enough, to be able to keep that same peace and clarity and believe, even if it’s only for a short time, that somehow, everything will be okay. I will be okay.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

We're Not in Kansas Anymore...

It was a busy week with a flurry of birthday activities, and of course, my craziest attempt (so far) at a cake. My kiddo was absolutely tickled that she was able to help with decorating it. As you can see, we kept with The Wizard Oz theme, complete with yellow-iced cakes, a slightly crooked yellow brick road pattern (courtesy of my sweetheart's attempt at maneuvering a decorating bag), some poppies and a pair of "ruby slippers." If I don't end up on Cake Wrecks, I think I'm in pretty good shape. (If you haven't visited Cake Wrecks, I highly recommend it. There are lovely cakes that are sometimes featured, but mostly, it's pictures of hysterically wrong and disturbing cakes.)


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Funny Four Year Old

My kiddo went to the doctor today--on her birthday--for her four-year checkup. What I had not anticipated was that she was going to need four shots. The kiddo took it in stride for the most part, but by the end of it all, she was not happy and forcefully grabbed the needle from the nurse, shrieking as loud as she could and screaming, "I SAID NO!" She actually bent the needle to a ninety-degree angle and cut three of her fingers open in the process.

The poor nurse was upset and kept apologizing, but I was busy apologizing for my freakishly strong child and for the incredible amount of blood that was spurting from her fingers.

What worries me the most is that she won't need shots again until 5th grade--and she'll only be bigger and stronger by then.

On a happier note, the little munchkin is quite happy now with a brand new bicycle from mommy and daddy, a special birthday cake in the refrigerator for after dinner (not the Wizard of Oz one, that's for Saturday's party), and she's absolutely tickled that we had lunch at Chuck E. Cheese and went for a haircut afterward. It's been a busy day, but other than the whole my-child-thinks-she-is-the-incredible-hulk fiasco in the doctor's office, it's been fantastic.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Yay for Spring

I'm really enjoying the warmer temperatures and all the flowers and trees coming to life. It smells very...green...outside. I don't know how else to describe it. The upcoming week is going to be busy. Thankfully, tomorrow is Friday! Ooohhh...Mother's Day is this weekend. No plans (yet), but I'll probably ask for the same thing I've been asking for every year since becoming a mom--a few hours to work in the garden on Saturday afternoon, go to church and out to breakfast on Sunday, followed by a trip to the zoo or museum. In the past four years, the only thing I've actually gotten off that list was a few hours to work on the garden. And that time, I ended up in the emergency room with a bamboo splinter the size of Texas in my upper ear. Maybe I'll skip the gardening request this year.

Next weekend is my kiddo's birthday party. She picked a Wizard of Oz theme, which I'm excited about. We've got everything we need, including themed plates, napkins and decorations. And I'm trying my hand at a tiered birthday cake--with a yellow brick road pattern! This is new territory for me as far as cake decorating goes, but if it turns out even halfway decent, I'll have to post some pictures. I'll be practicing the decorating between now and next weekend.

Other than that, things are quiet here, which is always good. I hope I didn't just jinx myself.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Happy May!

A few reasons to love spring, brought to you from my happy little garden...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Random Thought

Today, my poor sleep deprived brain thought this: I was contemplating my future and suddenly realized that it's already part of my past. I don't know how I feel about that. Time to come up with something new for the future, I guess.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

5K in the Rain

Well, I got myself moving today for the March of Dimes/March for Babies with Team Alyssa Shannon today. Before I get into the details, I feel the need to share the love and tell everyone that there's elk poop on my running shoes. It was pouring rain almost the whole time, which was okay. What I hadn't considered was that the puddles I was splashing through had a funky color and an even funkier odor. The puddles couldn't be avoided, so I just sloshed on through and didn't even make the connection until after I hit the finish line. My shoes are now outside my house and I'll be hosing 'em off later.

But now the good stuff...I'm excited that our team raised $1,110! I was even more excited that through the generous support of friends and family, I raised $365--the amount made even better by the fact that my personal fundraising goal was $250. Knowing that goal was exceeded just blew me away.

The whole thing was an amazing experience. I was honestly overwhelmed by the number of people joining together to honor so many children--children who were born as tiny preemies and today were toddling along the path, children who fought the fight and lost, children who never had a chance...I'm getting choked up just thinking about it.

And today's 5K was made even more special when Kim announced that she and her husband Mark are expecting another baby. I could hardly contain my tears as I hugged her and congratulated her, thinking the whole time that sweet Alyssa Shannon would have been an amazing big sister. I know she's looking down from Heaven, loving her mommy and daddy and sharing in the joy of the anticipation of another child.

Then Kim asked me about participating in another 5K in June, and of course, I told her yes!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lovin' the Weekend

I'm SOOOO glad it's Saturday! It's kind of rainy today, but the temperatures are warmer, the flowers are blooming (and so are the dandelions--note to self to buy some Scott's for the lawn). The only real down side is that the sudden temperature change and massive blooming of flowers, trees, etc., is that my poor kiddo is wheezing like crazy. It's too warm to keep the windows closed, but not nearly warm enough to put on the air conditioning. She just finished a breathing treatment and sounds a little better, so we'll see what happens the rest of the day. We have a visit scheduled with the pediatrician in a few weeks for him to re-assess her. I think he's going to keep her on daily meds, which is okay.

The semester is wrapping up unbelievably fast; I have some grading I need to finish today, and then I'll have a final round of papers to take care of next weekend, but then I have three weeks of no teaching (yay for free time) before summer school starts; then I'll have another three weeks between the end of the summer session and the beginning of the fall semester. I wish I didn't have to work at all during those weeks, but I still have a pesky full-time job to worry about--which I am incredibly thankful for!! I know too many people who've lost their jobs in recent months, and even though I recently took a pay cut, I'm so happy to have my job and insurance benefits.

Hmmmm. I'm thinking about what else I can write about. There's not too much going on, which is kind of nice. I've got to get my kiddo's birthday party invitations done today. Need to run to the store for a few things. Do laundry. All the usual stuff I guess. Maybe I'll have something more interesting to write about tomorrow after I finish the 5K for the March of Dimes!

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sleepless Night

It's a little after 5am and I've been awake for a few hours. Don't you just love the sound of silence? It's useful for clearing my head, especially since there's nothing on TV. Since I got cable, I've discovered there are just more channels with nothing on except infomercials and occasional episodes of The Twilight Zone.

I just looked up at the TV and there's an old episode of Family Matters on--it caught my attention, because the dad fell asleep on the couch and woke up fifteen years later. His wife comes in, he asks how long he's been asleep and she tells him...making a point of saying it's 2009. And it is 2009. And it's nothing like I thought it would be. I'll think about that as I try to get some sleep.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Thoughts

Heard on the radio this morning (sorry, don't know the station) but the guy's name was Roy...

"Something's gotta give with this economy. Enough of all the stimulus packages and bailouts. Did you know that there are 40 million people age 50 and older working? How about this: Instead of anymore bailouts, the government should tell those 40 million people that they have to retire. In return, they each get one million dollars each, free and clear. Think about it. That means 40 million job openings. I think they'd probably all buy new cars, so that would stimulate the auto industry. They'd probably all pay off their mortgages or buy houses, so that would help the housing industry and ease the cash flow for the banks. And if the government can't afford the $40 million, if they need more money, well...we could just ask all the members of congress to pay their taxes."

Alrighty then.

I mean, I plan on working well past fifty, but if someone offered me a million bucks, I'd be hard pressed not to take it, especially if the government would also throw in free medical coverage. I'll think about that while I'm working my two jobs this week.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Can Someone Hand Me a Napkin? I Have Sarcasm Dripping Off My Chin...

Caution: Gender Bashing Ahead!

I've determined that the problem between men and women lies in basic genetics.

Women have XX chromosomes. Men have XY chromosomes.

Naturally, this means that women are twice as good as men. (Okay, not really. This is all sort of tongue-in-cheek and I'm having feelings today that are a weird cross between silly and annoyed.) It explains why I can do twice the work in half the time as compared to my husband. It also explains why my husband only understands what I'm saying half the time...and that's if he's listening!

I think it also has something to do with the reason for me constantly looking at him saying, "Why, why, why?!" See, he thinks I'm actually asking him something, but really, I'm cursing his genetics..."Y, Y, Y!!!"

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Busy...

So, as if I don't already have enough to do on a daily basis, I have succumbed to the pressure of Facebook and added one more thing to my busy schedule. I created a profile yesterday (set as private as I could get it because I'm weird that way...)! It's strangely addictive, sort of like blogging, but I was able to re-connect with a few old friends. Yay! Wanna be my friend?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter...and a Day

I don't know about anyone else, but the day after a holiday always seems like a little bit of a letdown. I am, however, grateful for the slowed-down pace and peace and quiet. The holidays are always so hectic. Easter was nice, though.

Lots of fun making cookies...


Playing at the park and in the backyard and Grandma and Grandpa J's house...

Nice scenery...


And me goofing around, pretending I was at the Master's (I took the picture of my in-laws' television--lame, but the pic isn't half bad!)...


And when I woke up on Easter morning, I was amazed to see that my daffodils had bloomed overnight...

It was a decent weekend...things continue to be busy at home and at work, plus the semester is winding down unbelievably fast and I have only about a month until summer school starts. No real rest for me, which has its pros and cons. Right now, I'm going to relax and take a peek at one of the two books a bloggy-buddy recommended...thanks, J.A.L.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday Morning

I'll post a little something later about Easter and the fun that we're having, but I saw this postcard on Post Secret this morning and my heart paused, just for a moment. It sums up so much of what I've been feeling...


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Crabby Pants

Yeah, I said it. Crabby pants. In reference to me. I'm just grumpy today. And tired. Always tired. My doctor has me trying a few home-remedy-type things to help with my sleep before resorting to a prescription.

They're not working so far.

And I'm crabby with my spouse. All I want is for him to do the things he tells me he's going to do. Hell, I'd settle for half the things! I think if I hear the phrase, "I forgot" one more time, I'm gonna blow a gasket. Or maybe I'll just collapse on the floor in a heap. Ooohhhh...maybe I'll hide the remotes and take away his computer and video games, sell all of it and use the money to hire a maid. Bwah ha ha ha ha!

Sorry, I think the Lack O'Sleep Troll has taken possession of my normally rational brain...