Monday, April 15, 2013

The Graduate

In four short weeks, my baby boy is going to graduate from high school. This is him at 2, when we lived in Ventura.

Those cheeks!

He came into the world through the trap door, as he was completely content to have stayed in my uterus for all of eternity. (For any of you who birthed a baby the way you're supposed to do it, his head was still FREELY FLOATING when the doctor pulled him out the trap door.) 

He peed on the doctor as he came out (a final act of protest for dragging him out of his comfortable surroundings).

At 9 pounds, 13 ounces, he was the biggest baby in the nursery.

He also had the most fingers.

(Relax, the eleventh finger was really just a skin tag, about the size of a baby pea and attached to the side of his left pinky finger. The doctor tied it off, and it shriveled up and fell off with in a week or so. He still has a tiny, round, raised area on the side of his pinky where it used to be.)

He was slightly jaundiced and had to take sunbaths.

He didn't latch on properly and did horrible things to my nipples, forcing me to bring in a lactation consultant. And a breast pump.

He spit up gallons. GALLONS. Projectile spit up. We were amazed he could gain weight, he spit up so much.

He blew out a diaper about once a day, shooting poop up the back of his diaper and/or out the legs.

His feet were long and skinny. My first thought when I saw them was that if he were a puppy, we'd return him to the pound, because if he grew into those feet, we wouldn't be able to afford to feed him.  He couldn't wear those cute size 0 crib shoes we got as gifts, and he outgrew sleepers at the feet before he did in the length.

He cried every night when he was put to bed, and he cried every morning as soon as his eyes opened.

We thought he was perfect.

Nearly 18 years later, he is graduating. He is number 2 in his class of over 500 students. He has lettered in three sports. He has a full academic scholarship to Missouri State University. 

He wears a size 15 shoe and we can't afford to feed him.

You were put on this earth to do great things, my son.

Get out there and show them what you've got.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

You Can Quote Me On This

Giving something new a try today. While catching up on the blogs I follow, I read today's post by Old Dog, New Tits (you probably aren't terribly surprised that I might have been intrigued by this blog name and started following her). Her post is based on this week's writing prompt by Mama Kat, which was "list 6 of your favorite quotes." 

Deal me in.

* * * * * * * * * *

"Put. The Candle. Back."

Ahh, Young Frankenstein! Please tell me you've seen this! If I had to pick just one movie as my all-time favorite, this would be it. My husband and I both like to use this quote, as well as its close second, "Sedagive? SEDAGIVE???" 

* * * * * * * * * *

"Pivot! Pivot! Piiiivvvottt!"

Every time, and I DO mean EVERY TIME I help someone carry a heavy or awkwardly-shaped object, I shout this out. Don't you know everyone at my house loves THAT. And I think of Ross and Rachel trying to carry a couch up the stairs of Ross's apartment building, because he was too cheap to pay for delivery, and I laugh out loud. And usually drop my end of whatever we're carrying.

* * * * * * * * * *


I love spelling that out with alphabet letters on magnet boards at preschool. 

* * * * * * * * * *

"I can't think about this now. I'll go crazy if I do. I'll think about it tomorrow."

Scarlett O'Hara had it right. 

* * * * * * * * * *

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh?" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. "I just wanted to be sure of you.” 

Sometimes, it's all you need.

* * * * * * * * * *

"It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both."

That line has never failed to bring a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. 

Hit me with YOUR favorite quotes....

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Step Away From The Painting - Fast!

My son is graduating from high school in just over a month. 


He doesn't particularly like to be featured in my blog (actually, I don't think he even likes to be mentioned at all), so I've decided to start telling stories about him, because I'm his mom, and it's my job to humiliate him whenever possible. 

He didn't place, but he
cleaned up nice.

Today's tale takes us to National History Day, a competition for middle schoolers through high schoolers where they research a historical topic, based on an annual theme, and present their research to judges. (It's a wonderful competition, and if your child's school isn't participating in it, tell their history teacher to look here.) My son won first place at both regional and state competition with a historical paper he wrote entitled, "Mending A Broken Heart: The Innovation Of The Heart-Lung Machine And The Advance Of Modern Cardiovascular Surgery." He was almost 15, my daughter was 11.

The 1st place win at state qualified him to go on to the national level of competition.  The bad news was our school district did not help pay for any of this, but we sucked it up and turned it into a (rather expensive) family vacation. We drove to College Park, Maryland, where the competition was held, taking a detour through Virginia Beach (there's a story there for another day). We learned how to use the Metro and hit the museums and other historic sites in Washington, DC. We discovered Five Guys hamburgers by asking a White House security guard for the best place to get a good burger. And one day, our sightseeing took us to the National Portrait Gallery.

This dandy of a museum is a little off the beaten path of others in the Smithsonian family, but completely worth the trip, as it also houses the American Art Museum. We spent a delightful afternoon wandering through the gallery with minimal bickering, pinching, and hissed threats. We had made it up to the third floor of the building when my husband and daughter walked into a room to view a painting. (There was a family dispute here as to whom the artist was. My son and I believe it was Jackson Pollock. My husband says it was David Hockney. My daughter says, "I was 11.")

My son and I were ambling along and followed them into the room a few minutes after they entered. The painting was spectacular. It was a 3-D abstract, housed in its own room with black walls, floor, and ceiling, including a black bench, where my husband and daughter were sitting while admiring the painting. There was another man looking at the painting as well, standing against the back wall. The painting was lit with a black light

The painting itself was set back in a recessed area, and it hung down the wall and curved a few feet onto the floor.  There were several feet of black flooring between the front edge of the painting and the room, and there was a line on the floor where the recessed area met the rest of the room.

(I realize this is a complicated, convoluted explanation, but it's important to fully set the scene.)

My son, walking just ahead of me, walked past his dad and sister on the bench and stood in front of the painting, gazing at it. I followed and stood near the doorway. 

My son stood there a minute, studying it, then, reaching his arm out and waving it in the air several feet in front of the painting (but NOWHERE NEAR TOUCHING IT), said to me, "Is there glass separating this from the rest of the room?" 

Glass? No. Laser beam? Yes.


My husband turned towards my son and said, "RUN!"

My son high-tailed it out of the room with me close on his heels.

We didn't stop until we reached the Nam June Paik exhibit entitled "Electronic Superhighway," which we studied intently (and oh-so-innocently) for a full fifteen minutes, until my husband and daughter finally found us.

Security WAS dispatched, my husband told us. A security guard came in the room a few minutes after we split and looked around the room. My daughter sat there and looked straight ahead. My husband looked up at the guard and shrugged his shoulders. 

The man in the back of the room said nothing.

The guard talked into the radio on his shoulder, announcing that the room was clear, and he left.

My son and I were a little twitchy the rest of the time we were at the museum, and I had a hard time enjoying the rest of the exhibits for fear of being arrested and thrown into some kind of museum jail. I'd like to go back there some day and go through it again.

Once the statute of limitations has run, that is.


After a ridiculous amount of Googling research, I finally found the painting. My husband wins this round, because it was, indeed, a David Hockney piece. (I really only saw it for about fifteen seconds before I had to flee.) 

This is what the Smithsonian had to say about it on their website:

Snails Space is both a summary of Hockney's career and a poignant example of his belief that art should "overcome the sterility of despair." It grew out of his practice of arranging separate canvases around the studio, painting the floor, and inviting his visitors to step into the world of his paintings.

This is a big, fat lie, because they clearly do NOT want anyone to "step into the world of his paintings," let alone wave an arm in front of one of them.

For your viewing pleasure. Just STAND BACK:

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mom, I NEEEEEED Track Shoes

Two stories about shoe shopping with my daughter.

* * * * * * * * * *

The first thing you need to know about my daughter is, she does not like to run. She's GOOD at it. She's small but lanky. And fast. But she doesn't like it.  She joined the track team last year for the social aspect of it. Running sucks, but track meets are fun social events (that sometimes last until 10:30 at night, but that's a different story).

She didn't own any real running shoes, because they aren't CUTE. But she had cheer shoes that she repurposed into running shoes and all was fine, until the track coach insisted she needed running spikes. This was NOT something I wanted to invest much money into, since I couldn't be sure the social aspect would be enough to outweigh the torture of training for more than one season (what I was THINKING, I have no idea, since the BOYS train at the same time and place as the girls). Luckily, I found a clearance pair of spikes for $20 online (Nike's, no less) and all was well for the season.

It's a year later. Track season has begun. I pick her up from practice, and she announces the track coach wants her to have running shoes.  

"But you have running spikes already," I say.

"Coach says those aren't good for you to wear all the time, and I need good running shoes, not cheer shoes."

"But the cheer shoes were good enough LAST year. And in two months, you will be done with track and said you would never, ever, ever go out for it again. I don't want to buy you expensive running shoes."

End of subject.

Every day when I picked her up, she would tell me how Coach says she needs good running shoes.  The day I picked her up early from track, Coach told ME she needed good running shoes. 

I finally caved and took her to Academy for good running shoes.

Which conjured up memories of shopping at Academy for volleyball shoes for her  a year ago, when I got the call from the surgeon that I had breast cancer.  

(Don't think about it. Don't think about it. DON'T THINK ABOUT IT.)

We found an acceptable pair.

"The only way I can tell if they're going to work is if I run in them," she said, at which point she got up off the floor, walked down the aisle, and disappeared around the corner while I stood there, wondering where she was going.

Next thing I knew, a blonde streak ran past the end of the aisle. A few seconds later, she came back.

"Yep, these are fine."

* * * * * * * * * *

One of the side effects of my meds is that my fingernails have become dry and brittle and break like potato chips. Something to do with stripping me of every last bit of estrogen. (I'm not complaining - since my tumor was estrogen-fed, I am in no way sorry that I no longer HAVE any estrogen. You'd just be surprised what NOT having any can do to you.) 

Since my fingernails break so easily, I have taken to wearing fake nails that I get at Walmart for $5 for a whole box and glue on. Occasionally, one of them pops off, so I carry nail glue in my purse so I can stick it right back on. 

As my daughter and I were leaving Academy with the new running shoes, I looked down at my hand and saw that Ring Man was missing a fingernail. 

I said that maybe it was in her shoe box, since I had stuffed the paper stuffing back into the shoes when I put them in the box to pay for them.

She checked when she got to the car. No fingernail.

And THAT, kiddies, means that I lost the fingernail in ANOTHER box of running shoes.

One that we didn't buy.

One that someone else is going to open, pull the paper out of the toe, and have my fake fingernail fall out of the stuffing.

Is it wrong that that makes me giggle?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Two Times The Fun

Funny thing happened last month when I arrived at my annual ob/gyn appointment. Seems I was a wee little bit early for the appointment, as in, um, one month early.  A waiting room full of people got to witness my humiliation as I slunk out of the office and went home. The worst part was I had already gotten myself psyched up for the procedure to come, only to have my efforts wasted. WASTED. And exactly one month later, I have to do the whole thing all over again.

Due to my proven poor calendar skills, I went on to discover I had scheduled my monthly oncologist appointment for the same day as my ob/gyn appointment (the REAL one this time), with very little turn around time between the two. The silver lining here (you KNEW there'd be one, didn't you?) was I got out of dressing like the Easter bunny for the preschool Easter parade and egg hunt (and I was sooooo looking forward to it). 

Trial run as the Easter bunny. Probably for
the best I had to give up the gig.
The morning of my appointments, I took a nice, long shower, cutting my legs to ribbons when I was shaving them. Picked out pretty underpants, which is stupid, because NO ONE sees them. Slapped a little polish on my toenails. Lotioned myself up with Philosophy Amazing Grace (WHY IS IT THAT I DON'T GET PAID BY THEM TO ENDORSE THEM SO MUCH?!). Picked clothes based on how heavy they were first, how cute they were second (I was going to be weighed TWICE after all, if there's any fairness to that. Once at each doctor's office.) First stop: oncologist's office.

The oncologist asks the same basic questions about my overall health. "Feeling okay?" (Yes.) "Any menstrual bleeding?" (Oh, believe me when I say you will be the FIRST to know if THAT happens.) "Bone pain other than the aches you've already been experiencing?" (Nope.)  Then he'll ask me something I wasn't expecting. "Any dizziness or heart palpitations?" (What?!) We still go through the whole "look up, look down, look at my thumb, gee, you're dumb" routine each time I'm there. If I'm not careful, I get ahead of him. This visit, I had the added pleasure (said with sarcasm) of getting a breast exam.

The breast exam is weird because (a) the boobies have no feeling, but there's pressure when he's examining them, and (b) he was my friend first and my oncologist second, so it's still a little awkward to have him do this, as clinical as it is. So I stare at the ceiling and wait for it to be over. At one time, there was talk of me having an MRI to be used as a baseline at my one year anniversary, but Dr. Croy told me that insurance companies are balking at this procedure as unnecessary. As much as I detest having an MRI, I find this a little unnerving.  There's still breast tissue there; it's impossible for every bit of it to be removed during the mastectomy. But unless a lump of some kind is felt through a manual exam, then the insurance companies aren't interested in spending money on screenings. Sigh.

From the oncologist's office, I go to the infusion center for the shot of Zoladex in my stomach.  The nurses let me choose the spot for the shot each month, which I do by closing my eyes and poking around on my ahem, flat tummy for the numbest area. (Yeah, the area from about an inch below to two inches above my abdominal incision is still numb, just like the boobular area.) Then it's out the door and off to the next appointment.

Nekkid except for this snazzy gown.
I have technically been a patient of Dr. Lacey's for about six years, but I have always seen his nurse practitioner, Susan. (I talk a little about her and the roll she played in my diagnosis here, if you're interested.) I've only seen him once, right before he performed a d&c and endometrial ablation on me in early 2012, and I don't remember that very much, because I had already been given some happy juice, followed by general anesthesia. But I felt as though he and I needed to have a face to face meeting (insert your own joke here) and talk about my ovaries.

So, there I sat on the exam table, naked except for the gown (open to the front) with a paper blanket over my lap, chatting about my ovaries with Dr. Lacey.  The first words out of his mouth?  "I don't want to touch that tram flap." Removing the ovaries (an oophorectomy, which is a silly sounding word) would require three incisions in my beautiful tummy, and then it wouldn't be so beautiful anymore. And insurance probably wouldn't be real keen on it, since the Zoladex injections were working for me. (Apparently, going down through my throat is NOT a viable option, although you never know until you ask.) He asked if I were having any menstrual bleeding. (As the ablation he did was supposed to take care of that, he would be the SECOND one to know if I had, right after I got off the phone with the oncologist.) I shared with him the 37 day siege that started in the hospital, two days after my bilateral mastectomy, and that I had been laying for him at the time, and he did look properly chagrined. (Feel free to brush up on THAT story here.)

Exam time, part one. Enough said.

Exam time, part two. Breast exam. Twice in the same day. In fact, twice within two hours. Not really that much less weird when you don't know the doctor than when you do.

Exam over, and Dr. Lacey's conclusion? I have THE BEST TRAM FLAP RECONSTRUCTION HE HAS EVER SEEN. In fact, he proclaims it "amazing." Shout out to Dr. Geter - I love youuuu!

Do you believe me now when I tell you the entire package is awesome?

And I'm resigned to the fact that the ovaries are here to stay. No phorectomy for my oo's. 

11 Zoladex injections down, 49 to go.