Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lucky 13

It's week 13 of Ten Things of Thankful. (Did you know 13 is Taylor Swift's favorite number? Then you don't have a teenage girl at your house, do you?) 

It's been a busy week: preschool Open House, oncology appointment, volleyball related activities, and the College Boy home for his first visit. Plenty for which to be thankful. PLENTY.

1. I am thankful for successful Open Houses for both of my classes. This year, I will be teaching a MWF Pre-K class and a T-Th Primary class. That translates to sixteen 4-5 year olds and twelve 3-4 year olds. And just to keep me on my toes, I have a set of identical twin girls in each class.

2. I am thankful for my two assistant teachers. No matter how cockamamie an idea I come up with for an activity, they just go along with it, even when it involves paint. 

Oh, yes, we DID.

3. I'm thankful my oncology visit was underwhelming. Blood work fine. Lungs clear. Heart fine (except for the occasional PVC beats that I have). Whatever he sees when he looks in my eyes with a bright light was fine. I'm fine with that.

4. I am extraordinarily thankful that I dodged that infusion chemo bullet. I wait in one of the chairs in the infusion center for my Zoladex injection to be delivered, then one of the nurses gives me the injection in a little storage room. (Because the shot goes in my stomach, near my incision, which requires me to unbutton and unzip my britches. No one else wants to see that.) This week, I took the only open chair. It was late in the afternoon and, instead of things winding down, it was crazy busy in there. Yet the room was very quiet. Often when I'm in there, the chemo patients (and any family members that accompany them) are laughing and chatting with the nurses and other staff and each other. This time, they were all somber. Several were sleeping, covered snugly with blankets. Others just sat while the necessary poisons dripped into their bodies. I felt gloriously healthy and gloriously thankful. And very prayerful for those receiving their treatments.

5. We had a volleyball parent meeting this week, and I'm thankful for coaches who realize the importance of fellowship among the team members.  There are some delightful traditions for the girls, including a really fun "kidnapping" of the freshmen by the seniors for a good-natured initiation followed by breakfast at the head coach's house, breakfast together after Friday morning practices, and weekly pasta nights. 

6. I'm thankful for my friend Melinda, who volunteered me to do the first asscrack of dawn breakfast for the volleyball players after their 5:30 practice, because now I've taken my turn and gotten it over with.

Serving up some applesauce pancakes for
this nifty bunch o' girls.

7. I got an update from the woman who found my blog and contacted me about my bilateral mastectomy and tram flap reconstruction surgery. (Please read about it here, if you haven't already. Talking with her has been such a fulfilling experience for me!) She has had such kind words for me for sharing my experience with her, and I am so very thankful that I could be of service to her.

8. I'm thankful to have my son home from college this weekend. He and his sister have not fought once yet, and he's been home now for over five hours.

My son's idea of packing.
Yes, that's a laundry basket.

9. I am thankful for the time I had with him in the car, just the two of us, as we were driving home. I enjoyed hearing him talk about his classes and the people he had met and all the other things he has experienced these past two weeks. I've missed him so, but I am so grateful that he is loving his college experience.

10. I am thankful for Strawberry Pretzel Salad. It's a pain in the ass to make, but it's so cool and refreshing when it's 98 degrees outside.

Link it up, boys and girls. Right here. Right now.

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What I Didn't Do This Summer

Here's what I didn't do this summer.

Paint my bathroom. Because I can't paint it until I get all the wallpaper glue scrubbed off. When I peeled the wallpaper off the walls, a thick layer of glue was left behind. Thick and cement-like. I have sprayed it with commercial wallpaper remover, with hot water mixed with Dawn dishwashing detergent, and with hot water mixed with fabric softener, then scraped and scraped and scraped.  And it still. won't. come. off. I've only been working on it, off and on (mostly off) for four years, since I got bored during the Great Swine Flu Quarantine at our house and pulled my first loose corner of wall paper....

My cats should only be this talented.

Clean the basement. (For the record, it's just a basement. It's not finished, so before you read this, don't think we have totally trashed usable living space.) It wasn't in too bad of shape pre-tornado (our personal timelines are usually defined as either before the tornado or after the tornado). Then it got filled up, temporarily, with other people's salvaged items, some of which were spread around to dry. Then when we needed to add something of our own to the basement, we just set it down anywhere. Just as we were returning the salvaged items and might be able to see the floor in the foreseeable future, my dad closed his hardware store, and we added a bunch of crap that we might need someday. End result is, we can't walk through the place. And I'm not exaggerating.

Fletcher on the basement stairs. Did you
really think I was going to show you what
a disaster it is down there?! Psshhh!

Finish decorating my daughter's room. For her 14th birthday, which was in February, we promised to paint her room and fix it up (it hadn't been painted since it was her nursery, and she CONSTANTLY COMPLAINED about the pale lavender walls). Found an old chest of drawers in March that had been completely redone with Annie Sloan paint. Brought it home and put it in the living room until we painted the room. Then I found an old 1920s style vanity in March that we brought home and put in the living room, where I painted it with chalk paint (and it looks AWESOME, if I do say so myself). And there both pieces sat until my daughter finally decided on a color to paint the room. That was accomplished in June, and she and I painted the room and arranged the furniture, but we've never put up window treatments. Or hung pictures on the wall. Or cleaned out her closet.  Maybe for her 15th birthday....

If you look in the lower right corner of the mirror,
you can see a corner of the chest of drawers.

This took many, many coats of chalk paint and
many, many, many coats of paste wax.
Where's the "After" you may ask?
Forgot to take one.

The war paint was hilarious until she had to scrub it off.

I was also going to work on the kids' scrapbooks this summer. Write lesson plans for the school year ahead of time. Recover an ottoman. Paint my bedroom.

Well, this was a fun little writing exercise. Rather confirms something I have long suspected.

My name is Dyanne, and I'm an underachiever.

I'm a procrastinator.

I'm an underachieving procrastinator.

Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop prompt #2 What did you not get accomplished this summer that you wish you had time for?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo shoot at the dance studio with New York artist Garin Baker for a mural depicting Joplin's performing arts history.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Get Your Kicks On Route 66

In last week's TToT, I made some disparaging remarks about my town in the comment section of the Wakefield Doctrine (where, incidentally, Clark outdid himself and set the bar rather high for the rest of us by doing a video TToT), so this week, my Ten Things of Thankful shall be about how thankful I am to live where I do.

1. I can drive cattywhompus across town, one corner to the other, in fifteen minutes, max.

2. We have three different places where we can get frozen custard. 

Blog research is hard work.

3. When you go to any store in town, you are likely to run into someone you know at least as an acquaintance.  Which can be bad news if you decide to throw on some clothes and run to the store with bed hair and no make-up.

4. We don't have any really, really bad parts of town.

5. We have a delightful hardware store downtown that looks and feels just like the one my grandpa (and later, my dad) had in the early 1960s. The people who work there are always helpful, and if you need just one screw, you can usually buy just one screw and not a whole package of them, like you have to do at the big box stores.

6. Your oncologist sits across the aisle from you in church. Your dentist is one of the ushers. 

7. Our football team is never fantastic, but there is still a huge turnout at home games. 

Go Eagles!

Built in 1933.

8. We know our comfort food. Chicken fried steak. Barbecue (just not on Sundays). Burgers. Pie.

9. A state-of-the-art high school is currently under construction. It will be completed (hopefully) in time for classes to begin next fall.  (The reason we are getting it is because the old one blew away in a tornado, but, hey, silver linings!) My daughter should start her sophomore year there.

Three days after the tornado.

Build faster! Build faster!

10. And yes, one-third of the town was literally blown away in an EF-5 tornado two years ago, but our local government and school district leaders rolled up their sleeves and took immediate action. Neighbors helped neighbors. People didn't stand around, wringing their hands and whining on national tv about needing the government to come in and help us. (Not that the government didn't help. They did. As did thousands of volunteers. But the citizens and local leaders were proactive.) It's coming together. Homes and businesses are being rebuilt, trees planted. 

We are Joplin.

"And even though I expect that some of you will ultimately
end up leaving Joplin, I'm pretty confident that
Joplin will never leave you."
- President Obama's address to JHS Class of 2012

Now, link up, peeps!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Thursday, August 22, 2013

All It's Cracked Up To Be

I had to fill out a questionnaire this week, and on it, I was asked what my hobbies were. All I could come up with at the time was blogging and driving my 14 year old daughter around to all of her activities.

Then today, I read the writing prompts for this week's Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop and decided to give #3 a try: Open your picture folder, close your eyes, and pick a random photo to share and write about. 

When I did this and saw the picture I pointed to, I realized I did, indeed have a hobby.

I take surreptitious pictures of butt cracks.

Some people are, literally, sitting ducks.

Some practically seem to be begging for it.

Sometimes, I have to stalk my prey. I followed this guy around a water park for twenty minutes before I was able to get the shot I wanted. And it was worth it.

Seriously, how do you not feel the breeze against your bare skin? This was at a football game, for crying out loud. It was COLD.

So, let my hobby serve as a reminder to you. Keep it covered, people, keep it covered.

I am ruthless.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Looking For The Silver Lining

This week has been an emotional roller coaster. Have I ever mentioned that I hate roller coasters? I like happy rides, like the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland.

But roller coaster it has been. My daughter has had a fabulous first week as a freshman in high school and made the freshman volleyball team. (You cannot, in your deepest, wildest imagination, picture how low the valley would have been had she not made that team.) That's a peak. I have been asked to be one of the co-hosts of the Ten Things of Thankful blog link. That's a really high peak. (PLEASE link up your Ten Things post if you haven't already. I don't want to be the loser co-host!)

Only one real low point, but, oh, what a valley! We moved my son to college this week to begin his freshman year (you can read about it here, if you'd like). It still doesn't seem real to me that he won't be living at home; therefore, to keep myself from having a pity party about it, I have decided to devote my Ten Things of Thankful this week to the positive side of him not living at home (because I'm all about the silver lining).

Scholars House. This is the back and is
actually the main entrance.

I'm thankful my son is living in the dorm now, because:

1. There won't be dirty dishes left in the sink so the food in them can vulcanize on them. 

2. No more Diet Coke cans left sitting on tables, in windowsills, on the floor, on the staircase, even on the bathroom counter.  What's more, he doesn't always finish them, so there is upwards of half a can of beverage still in them. Gahhh!

3. The trash cans won't be used for target practice (with the target missed rather frequently).

4. My living room won't look like the fitting rooms at Kohl's at the end of a Super Saturday Sale. (Why he likes to undress in the living room is something I have never understood.)

5. Less laundry to do.

This is one of the first times I have
ever seen him hang clothes on a hanger.

6. When I start my car, my ears won't bleed from the sudden assault by the car stereo.

7. My grocery bill will be greatly reduced.

8. My chocolate chips won't mysteriously disappear from the pantry.

9. I can serve pasta and rice and vegetables other than potatoes, green beans or corn and not be met with a curled lip.

10. His size 15 shoes won't be left on the floor for us to trip over, and his size 15 feet won't rattle the floorboards of our 80+ year old house when he runs through it.

All set to take on college.

Do I sound convincing that there is anything positive about him not living at home anymore? Because I cried all the way home after leaving him there. All. The Way. Home.

But he'll adjust to living at school, and so will I.

Some day.

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Letting Go

Several years ago, before we went through several hamsters in rather quick succession and determined that we were just not meant to be hamster owners, my kids and I were at a pet store, looking for our next new hamster. 

The hamster inventory was low that day, and all the store had was one Robo Dwarf hamster. This little guy was in his glass walled cage, running madly back and forth across the front, dashing from one corner to the other, never varying his route. He had done it so continuously that the litter was completely pushed aside, leaving a glassy pathway in the bottom of the cage. 

We stood and watched for about five minutes as he paced frantically, never stopping, not even slowing down. And my kids came to the conclusion that this little hammy obviously had some kind of issues and would probably spend the rest of his little life (a short one, if he came to live with us) pacing, pacing, pacing until he had a heart attack and died. It was not a quality we were looking for in a pet, so we left the store. (And went to the other pet store in town, bought a sweet little ginger-colored hamster that my daughter aptly named "Ginger," and who dropped dead the day after her warranty expired.)

This summer, my son is that pacing hamster.

He is in a state of limbo, no longer a high school senior, not quite a college freshman. He just turned 18 and is legally an adult, but still brings rocks home in his pockets and washes them in the kitchen sink.

He sees the future beyond the confines of his environment, restless to get to it. He has boundless energy, going from one activity to the next: to the gym, to his lifeguard job, to his friend's house. When he's home, he is always on the prowl. 

Tomorrow is the day. 

His clothes are packed. Boxes hold bedding for his dorm room, school supplies, a smattering of kitchen items. Laundry detergent, because I have hopes.

And even though he'll be back to visit often, I know he will never really live here with us again.

I want to mourn the little boy who has grown up, and yet at the same time, rejoice the man he is becoming. 


When we drive home without him, I will cry a little and pray a lot, and then take a deep breath.

It's up to him and God now.

10 weeks old.

16 months

Three years

Four years

13 years

Senior picture

Monday, August 12, 2013

I Actually Helped Someone AND I Received A Blog Award

I am over the moon with happiness today!

When I started blogging, I had two purposes: one was to record everything that was happening with my breast cancer diagnosis, so that I would never forget any of the details. But the second purpose was because I hoped to reach someone, somewhere, who was facing the same diagnosis and searching desperately for straightforward information about it.

You can't tell I'm lit on narcotics, can you?

Then last week, I got this email. And it started with the words, "I found your blog and it’s helped put me at ease."


What makes this even better is she also lives in the same town as me.


She Googled "free tram flap," which is the reconstruction method that was used on me, and "Dr. Geter," who is the AWESOMEST PLASTIC SURGEON EVER, and she got ME.


She is having her surgery done prophylactically, because, although she does not have cancer, she has a strong family history of it, plus she also has fibrocystic disease. Her surgery is scheduled for next week.

And today, she and I and her daughter met for lunch.

And they asked me lots of questions, which I answered as honestly and completely as I could.

I showed them pictures of my boobies at the different stages of reconstruction (something which I have spared my blog readers). (I offered to let her see them if she wanted, but she said the pictures were sufficient. The offer still holds if she changes her mind, because, while a picture says a thousand words, a personal viewing is like War and Peace.)*

If I drop dead tomorrow, I will die happy.

My little blog helped someone. It really helped someone.

And now that I am on the subject of boobies, I think it's time to reveal that I have received a coveted Blog Award. Unlike most blogging awards, this one has very, very simple rules:

          1. Be brazen enough to display it on your blog.

          2. Nominate another blogger.

So, without further ado, I am proudly displaying my new award.

Now for my nomination for a Golden Sideboob (drum roll, please): Synnove Robinson of Don't Chew On The Dinner Table. Accept it, Synnove, if you dare.

*When I told my husband that we were going to meet, he said, "Let me get this straight. You're going to show your boobs to someone you met on the internet?" Uh, yep.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Thankful For A New Experience, 10 Different Ways

The first weekend in August finds over 60,000 Vietnamese Catholics descending upon the little town (pop. 15,000) of Carthage, Missouri, about fifteen miles east of where I live. They come for a festival and pilgrimage called Marian Days, held on the grounds of the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix, its U.S. Headquarters, which also includes a monastery. Attendees come from every state in United States, plus Canada, and set up tents on the grounds of the CMC, in campgrounds, and even in yards of area homes. Concession stands serving traditional Vietnamese food are set up, and anyone is welcome to attend.

Ordinarily, the temperatures are in the upper 90s for us this time of year, but some weird weather system has been sending us rain, rain and more rain, along with slightly cooler temperatures (although yesterday, with the temperature 75 degrees and the humidity 91%, it was hard to feel a whole heckuvalot more comfortable). Because it's always so stinkin' hot, and I'm not much one for crowds in perfect weather conditions, AND because we didn't know that much about Marian Days, we have never ventured over to visit the festival.  But this year, the 35th anniversary of Marian Days, my husband and I decided to go check it out and give the food a try.

This is really stepping outside of my picky eater box.

AND IT WAS FUN! So, for this week's 10 Things of Thankful, I present why I'm thankful I finally attended my first Marian Days festival:

1. I'm thankful my husband took a few days off work this week, which gave us the perfect excuse to go during the day and look around.

2. I'm thankful there are people who are okay with camping, but that I'm not one of them.

3. I'm thankful for English translations.

This doesn't look too bad. I might have
eaten it, if I didn't know it was goat.

4. I'm thankful to get to see such joy on the faces of the sisters working in the souvenir booths.

5. I'm thankful that pork balls, contrary to what they may sound like, were tasty, although they could have used a little more seasoning.

Skewered Pork Balls or Nem Nuong

6. I'm thankful the Knights of Columbus had a food stand with fried crap for the white folks who visit the festival and aren't brave enough to try something new and different, UNLIKE ME.

7. I'm thankful I didn't eat any of this, which look way too much like a jar of eyeballs immersed in tomato sauce.

8. I'm thankful for sensible rules.

9. I'm thankful for nuns who play with boxing nun puppets.

10. I'm thankful for pho, which is yummydelicious as long as you don't over-analyze it.

Keeping an eye out for beaks and claws
in my bowl of pho ga.

(Our local paper interviewed a man whose wife had eaten a bowl of soup at last year's festival that had an entire pig's ear in it. According to this guy, it would have been nice if they had shaved it first....)

And now a few more pictures from our visit (which I have been forced asked nicely to add included a second day visit with our daughter along).

Marketplace offerings.

More marketplace offerings.

Jackfruit, which is the size of a smallish watermelon,
and, if you can get past the pungent odor, is
quite delicious.

Native fruits for sale.