Jenster's Musings

Monday, July 30, 2007

Pavlov's Theory Confirmed

My four week postsurgical checkup was this morning. Am I the only one who never gets to sit more than a minute or two before being called back? I'm sure most people would be thrilled with the efficiency of this office, but I don't like it. Even if I'm 15 minutes early I get called back nearly as soon as I get there. When am I supposed to read?

The doctor was pleased with how well I'm doing and said I was released of all restrictions. I was afraid she was going to say that, but when I grumbled about laundry she graciously offered to write me a note for another year. It was a tempting suggestion, but my desire to have the laundry done my way overrides my desire to have my family continue to do it.

After the appointment I had to hit Starbuck's. It's like I have some kind of Pavlovian response to medical offices. The smell of rubbing alcohol and a blood pressure cuff stirs my need for a White Chocolate Mocha. The Starbuck's closest to the doctor's office shares a parking lot with the local train station. There wasn't a parking space in sight. So I continued down the road until I got to the Starbuck's in Wayne, Pennsylvania. I really wish I would have had my camera because this place is truly photo-worthy. It's in a round building that I believe was an auto garage in the 60's and next to the pretty Starbuck's sign is another sign that says, "Beer Yard in back".

Instead of my usual White Chocolate Mocha - the largest one with all the fat, all the calories, all the caffeine and the yummy goodness of a huge pile of whipped cream on the top - I ordered a tall (the smallest size) decaff, non-fat white chocolate mocha, no whip. (Yeah. I said it just like that. Cool, aren't I?) I was surprised by the deliciousness of it and I even wonder if it was truly non-fat. It even tasted like there may have been some whip on the top. But I decided that it didn't matter because the way I ordered it was only 5.5 Weight Watchers points and that's how I recorded it today.

Speaking of Weight Watchers, I lost 1 pound last week. I much prefer the 3.5 pounds, but I'll take what I can get. Especially since last week wasn't one of my better weeks, what with having company and feeling the need to show them the great ice cream places around here and the tasty Philly Cheese Steaks.

Katie made dinner tonight. Mac & Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli. From scratch. I only helped a little and it was delicious! She got the recipe from her Rachael Ray for Kids cookbook. I thought making a cheese sauce from the ground up was very ambitious for a kids' cookbook, but she did a great job.

By the time dinner was over I was beat. I guess driving to the doctor's office, going from one Starbuck's to another Starbuck's, grocery shopping and then helping with dinner was more than I'm up to. OH! Let's not forget the half a load of laundry I did. Or it was a whole load, but I only made it into the washing machine and never into the dryer. But I'll worry about that tomorrow...

Anyway, after dinner I told the kids to clean off the table and then clean up the kitchen. Taylor tried to get out of it by saying Katie made dinner so she should clean up. "After all, a clean cook is a good cook," to quote his grandfather. She started to argue with him and he came back with this priceless line:

This is not a democracy. It's a dictaylorship.

Turns out he was wrong and ended up helping in the kitchen.

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Mused by Jenster :: 7:30 PM :: 25 People musing:

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

A New Award

Lynilu at Never Ending Journey has favored me with a very distinct honor in the form of the Blogger Reflection Award.


This award should make you reflect on five bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way, and have been a Godly example to you. Five Bloggers who, when you reflect on them you get a sense of pride and joy… of knowing them and being blessed by them.

I can certainly see why Lynilu was bestowed this award. She is retired, though she works at an art gallery, and living in the beautiful mountains of New Mexico. Her posts are always inspiring, conveying something new she’s learned or another bit of beauty she’s found. And the pictures she shares are breathtaking. For anyone who’s never been to New Mexico and thinks it’s probably just ugly desert, think again. Her blog will change your mind real quick.

Like so many people I know, I have a hard time with compliments. I love to get them, but I don’t want to come across as conceited so I tend to minimize the flattery instead of just saying thank you. Instead I’m going to keep all my “I’m not worthy” thoughts to myself and say thank you, Lynilu. I am truly honored.

Here are the rules:

1. Copy this set of rules.
2. Reflect on five bloggers and write a least a paragraph about each one.
3. Make sure you link this post so others can read it and the rules.
4. Go leave your chosen bloggers a comment and let them know they’ve been given the award.
5. Put the award icon on your site.

Now is the really hard part - picking five other bloggers for this award. It’s not that there isn’t a plethora of deserving people. It’s that there are so many to choose from. Decisiveness isn’t one of my strong suits. But I have chosen five bloggers who, to me, embody the concepts of the Blogger Reflection Award.

No Surrender is a blog about a beautiful young woman’s fight with cancer. Not just once, but twice now. Not the same cancer. Two different, unrelated cancers. But her spirit is undiminished and her posts are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always thought provoking. And I have a special place in my heart for her because she was a constant source of encouragement when I was going through chemotherapy in 2005.

Em at Notes from My Corner. He is a teacher, a speaker, a husband and a father of three who so obviously loves his family and his job. It’s truly a joy to read his blog. His middle child has Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, and Em shares the milestones and frustrations of this disorder – for Son17 and for the family – with frankness, but never sadness. He is blessed by Son17 and Son17 is blessed by him.

April at For His Glory and My Good. So many of April’s post are full of God’s wisdom and I always leave her blog with a sense that I’ve just come from a visit with my heavenly Father himself. She recently lost a sister to lupus and she (and the rest of her family) continues to praise God in the midst of her grief. She definitely fits the description of godly.

Gretchen at Quantum Leap. I notice Gretchen has already received the Blogger Reflection Award, but it’s a different button so I’m thinking this is a different one all together. This is a fairly new blog for me, but I settled in and got comfortable right away. She’s funny, she loves life and her family, and she bares her soul with humility and honesty for a bible study she participates in and shares with the rest of us.

Whymommy at Toddler Planet. You will be hearing more about her, her cancer fight and her mission here this next week. She is in the same place I was two years ago or so – she just buzzed her hair – and where so many people might dig a hole to lie in while they’re going through such an ordeal, she is doing all she can to get the word out about inflammatory breast cancer – the least pervasive, but sneakiest and most aggressive type.

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Mused by Jenster :: 11:09 AM :: 10 People musing:

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Who Gets Up This Early??

I was up at 5:30 this morning. Not just awake, but out of the bed. And not just to go to the bathroom. No, I came downstairs at 5:30 to pour a cup of the coffee that I had set the automatic timer for last night and then back up for a shower.

I can think of no good reason for anyone to get up at 5:30.

Some people get up at 5:30 so they can get ready for work. Not worth it.

Some people get up at 5:30 to exercise. Definitely not worth it.

Some people get up at 5:30 for Bible study. This is where I should probably say I aspire to be like that, but a lie is a lie and I don't want God to smite me. Besides, I think it's considerate of me to wait until He's got a little less traffic. And I'm all about selflessness.

Some people live on farms and get up at 5:30 to feed the animals or milk the cows or whatever. Why? Can't you put the animals on a schedule like we do our kids?

I have gotten up before 5:30 to drive up to Big Bear for a day of skiing and at the time it seemed worth it. Looking back, though, not so much.

Today, however, I had to get up at 5:30 because I had a 7:30 appointment with the dermatology specialist. Yup. I'm flaring again. When I called Wednesday to make an appointment I was thinking I'd get in within the next week or two. The receptionist told me the next available appointment was in October.

"I'm not a new patient! I'm established," I told her. Apparently new patients were being scheduled for December. INSANE! So I told her to forget the appointment and I wanted to talk to his nurse. After 24 hours of phone tag she called me yesterday and said the doctor wanted to see me at 7:30 this morning. Considering it was either that or a more convenient time in another three months, I hauled my butt out of bed, beat the traffic into the city and made it to the office before most of the staff.

He has no idea what I have, but he did a biopsy and alluded to the fact that his lab is much better than my regular doctor's lab and given that his lab is the University of Pennsylvania - an excellent teaching hospital - I'm inclined to agree.

I was glad he didn't prescribe steroids because I'm convinced they caused the massive rashes I had. So now we wait. Again. And I'm honestly not hopeful for a definitive diagnosis. I probably have some totally weird, never before seen exotic malady or something. He did say it doesn't look serious in the least. Which is good, even though I never thought it was.

***

I met the ladies from my Bible study group for breakfast this morning, an easy task since I'd been up since 0-Dark-Thirty. We don't meet for study during the summer, but try to get together once a month to eat. Gotta love that. Anyway, we met at a little diner called Nudy's. Does that seem wrong on some level? A bunch of Bible study gals eating at a place called Nudy's. And we did discuss pole dancing, but that's another story.

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Mused by Jenster :: 5:23 PM :: 22 People musing:

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Gilligan and a Fly

Todd just informed me he ordered The Essential -- John Denver. All I said was that I would never in a million years use the words "essential" and "John Denver" in the same sentence. He was greatly offended and couldn't believe I would talk about the deceased in that way.

Me - You mean the pot smoker?

Todd - I can't believe you just said that. You cut me to the bone.

Me - I didn't insult you. I just don't like John Denver. You don't have to take it personally.

Todd - I would never say something like that about someone you love. And do you know why?

Me - Yeah, yeah. Because your love is the island the overflows the ocean. I know.

Todd - Obviously you don't love me like I love you.

Me - Obviously.

So then he said he was going to start a blog and tell everyone the mean things I say and I told him not to bother because I was going to blog about it before he had a chance to put his spin on it.

As I started to write this post I asked him what the name of the CD was.

Me - Was it "The Essential - Bob Denver"?

Todd - Um, no. It was "The Essential -- John Denver", not Bob Denver.

To which I started laughing so hard thinking about Gilligan singing "Take me home, country roads..."

***

When he came up from the basement he walked through the living room and into the dining room turning off the lights. I was sitting in my green chair, playing on the computer when all of a sudden a noisy fly started buzzing me.

Me - That stupid fly is back! Did you turn off the lights in the dining room?

Todd - Yes. Pause. Looks at me as if I'm growing two heads. Did you have the dining room lights on for a reason? Which was a silly question because he knew the answer.

Me - Yes. When I came back in here the fly was annoying me. So I turned on the light in the dining room, came back in here and turned off the light. I sat in the dark until I saw the fly in the dining room. Then I turned this light back on.

Todd - Oh my gosh. I'm going to start keeping a notebook of all the crazy things you do. Then I'm going to start writing it all down in a blog for all your friends to see.

Not if I get to it first, buddy boy!

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Mused by Jenster :: 9:12 PM :: 18 People musing:

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Philly and Food

Todd's parents flew home to California today. This means I'm going to have to rely on my family to do the laundry and clean the house until I'm able. *sigh* It also means I'll have to make my own trips to Starbuck's.

I believe it would be an atrocity to have company from out of state and not make it into Philadelphia at least once. With that in mind we drove into the city yesterday. Todd's mother is a knitter and she had heard of a great knitting store downtown - Rosie's Yarn Cellar (thought you might like the link, Radioactive Girl).

The store is in trendy Rittenhouse Row and less than a block from Rittenhouse Square, the charming park in the center of what was once known as the city's "Victorian Aristocracy". Parking in this area is a hot commodity. We dropped Todd's mom off at the yarn store and then drove around for what seemed an eternity to find a place to park. We finally found a spot, put our money in the meter and walked down to the square after grabbing a snack for the kids at Wawa.

We only walked about two blocks to the park, but that was enough for me. The pathways are strewn with benches and it's not always easy to find an empty one. I saw a lady get up and I made Katie run to snag the seat so I'd have some place to sit. Man, do I feel old!

Taylor and I sat on the bench while Katie and her grandpa went across the street to Barnes and Noble. And no, they didn't go to read. They went for coffee and... you know what's next, don't you? That's right. A White Chocolate Mocha!
They come back with the coffees and we're just relaxing and visiting and having a nice time, when a very jovial man comes strolling up the pathway and yelling, "Dollar for a condom", like he was selling popcorn at a ball game. Between New York City and Philadelphia, Katie is getting quite the education.
Grandma finished at the store and made her way down to the park to find us so we could go get lunch. But it had taken us twenty minutes to find the parking spot and we paid for an hour on the meter. I wasn't inclined to rush. When we finally did get back to the car there was about 6 minutes left.

When you think of food and Philadelphia no doubt you think of Philly Cheesesteaks. We decided to try world famous Pat's King of Steaks this time. You may recognize it if you saw the movie Invincible and I believe it was in Rocky as well.



Across the street is Pat's rival, Geno's Steaks. Geno's made National news a few months ago for displaying a sign that says, "This is America. When Ordering Please Speak English." Since my English is fairly decent I'm going to try them next time.

Between fattening specialty coffees, cheesesteaks and ice cream from several different local vendors, I haven't bothered to count points. Tomorrow is another day, though...

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Mused by Jenster :: 8:29 PM :: 13 People musing:

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

8 Things About Me According to Todd

Here it is, the long awaited list from Todd. For those of you who missed his response to my rules - this is what he had to say:

Ok Everyone....I have been putting some serious thought behind this endeavor. It might be a little long; it definitely will not have EVERYTHING that I really want in it due to the blasted RULES. I also have to find someway to keep Jen from editing it to death before posting it....I used to be pretty persuasive if I had the right amount of Peanut M&M's, Coke and the promise of a little something "extra" later...but that does not seem to work anymore....

Stay tuned....I am hoping for late next week.

Todd (aka - DH)
When I saw the email with the attachment from him (he's on a business trip) I was a little frightened. Nobody knows me better and there are a multitude of less than wonderful things he could say about me. And frankly only a handful of pretty good things he could say about me.

But after reading the list I've decided that he is so very biased AND delusional and I wouldn't want him any other way. Heaven forbid the scales ever fall off his eyes!

His words are in orange and any comments I may have are in red. I didn't edit anything he wrote, but there are some places I must defend myself! Without further ado, here ya go.

Here are the 8 things about my lovely, ever so popular, blogger wife

1. She is the strongest person I have ever met and is my Rock.
With all that she has been through with cancer, chemo, reconstruction, the multitude of side-effects from the chemo, putting up with me, putting up with the kids, and many other things…….she has a cast-iron will and intestinal fortitude that I admire greatly. She is, and has always been, my rock and best friend.
We all just do what we have to do. And I feel the same about Todd.

2. She is a very Godly woman and a blessing to others.
Jen’s faith is so very strong, even when she does not think it is. She is always thinking that she is not either spiritual enough or in-touch with God enough when in actuality she is so in touch with God at all times that it is inspiring to me and others. She is always willing, whether she feels good or not, to let God use her to bless others. I will not ever forget when we found out that she had cancer. She sent out an email to her friends to tell them and asked that nobody call or come over. One of her close friends called (Candy) and I answered the phone to hear her crying hysterically. I tried to calm her down a little before I gave the phone to Jen thinking that a hysterical person on the phone was the last thing she needed. Once I got Candy calmed down, I handed Jen the phone and as soon as she started talking I heard Candy crying again. Jen just sat there and talked to her……and said, “It is OK Candy, I am here for you”. Can you believe that…..what a woman!!
And then Candy and I burst out laughing.

3. She is a super wife and mother.
Jen and I are soul-mates……there is no doubt about that. She is also the only one that could even possibly put up with me. She is my sounding board and is not afraid to give me honest answers even when I do not want to hear them. She is a wonderful mother and warm-hearted to the core…….not to say that she cannot work on her sympathy for us when we get sick…that could use a lot of work. I cannot imagine my life without Jen and the kids.
I admit it. I'm very low on the compassion scale.

4. She is ABSOLUTELY Nuts!
As I am sure all of you have been able to tell, Jen is quite humorous, even when it becomes extremely annoying. She seems to be able to find the humor in everything…..and quite often does. You all just get to read about it…..I have to live with her! The “Rules” will not allow me to expand on her craziness, but suffice it to say that I could tell some stories that would have you rolling on the floor. When we were first dating, you could give her a few cans of Coca-Cola and a bag of peanut M&M’s and sit back and enjoy the show. She is very entertaining. By the way, anytime she says, “Surely, I do not know what you are talking about”….what she really means is that she knows EXACTLY what you are talking about. God love her, she is all mine.
I'm sure I don't know what he's talking about.

5. She is a MAJOR procrastinator.
To hear her mom tell it, she is just like her dad. I honestly think her dad gets a bad rap and has for years. Sometimes I call her Scarlet since she will surely get to it tomorrow. Why should she do it today, it will still be there tomorrow…..uuugghhhhh!!!!! For those of you out there that agree with her….please keep it to yourself. There are times when I will see something on the floor that she dropped or left or whatever, and I will just let it sit there to see how long it takes before it gets picked up…..once again the “Rules” do not allow me to tell you the answer!!
I'm sure I don't know what he's talking about.

6. She is an excellent writer with an overactive imagination.
I think my wife is an excellent writer…plain and simple. Writing is something she has always had a love for and for the last few years has actually been working on it. She has written a book or two, but has not quite finished either (please see #5). Writing her Blog has been very helpful to her and I would like to thank all of you out there for the nice things you have said to her over time. She is a really humble person and does not think herself worthy of praise of any kind, but I know that deep down, she really enjoys the comments you all leave. It is my sincere prayer that she gets published someday so that she will be an authentic “Author” which has been a dream for her for sometime now. She has been working on a book about the experience that she has just gone through with cancer and moving to PA which I feel is very therapeutic for her, she just needs to finish it. I know that she is more than capable…..I just need to keep at her to overcome #5.
I'll worry about that tomorrow. JUST KIDDING! There's a lot I could say here, but I'm not going to. He's right, though. I love, love, LOVE all the very kind comments you people leave me.

7. She has a wonderful personality.
It brings me so much pleasure to sit back and watch Jen shine when she is in a group setting. She is so special. She makes people feel good by just being with them. She is a great conversationalist and has a killer smile. I think of some lyrics from Elton John’s song “Tiny Dancer, ….pretty eyes…..pirate smile…she marries a music man….” While I only play acoustic guitar, I kind of am a music man….she does have very pretty eyes and definitely a pirate smile. Simply put, Jen lights up a room when she enters…….and it is a joy to see.
Delusional. But if he wants to think this who am I to argue??

8. She has AWESOME friends.
Jennifer has always been one to have lots of friends. She has old friends and new friends, physical friends and cyber friends…..I am pretty sure that she has imaginary friends as well. As she has been a help to so many of her friends, in her hour of need, they have been there for her to the fullest. You all know who you are and I want to thank each and every one of you. Some I have met, others I have heard A LOT about, but I am thankful for all of you. Thank you for giving her encouragement when she needed it, straight truth when it was required, assistance when the situation called for it, love when she felt lonely, and guidance when she was unsure. From the bottom of my heart…I love each and every one of you!
This one is absolutely, unequivocally true. I have the best friends in the world!!

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Big Head

Y'all are giving me an overinflated sense of myself. No doubt I'm impossible to live with now. Whymommy at Toddler Planet has given me a fabulous "Rockin' Blogger" award!



Whymommy must know what she's talking about because she totally rocks. TOTALLY! She is just starting her breast cancer fight and I can tell you she's going to whip it's butt. Yeah. She's got a 'tude and a great outlook.

So now it's my turn to name five more Rockin' Bloggers. This is always so difficult because there are just so many of you! But here are the five I choose:

Shauna at The Coffee Stop rocks because she likes reading and coffee and she's cute and funny and I love her curly hair!

Jen at Life on the Mountain rocks because she loves both Jane Austen and Diana Gabaldon and I can't help but love somebody like that.

Jodi at Throw the Book at Me rocks because she's sweet and silly and we're going to go to Cape May, New Jersey together some day and talk about books.

Tara Marie at Romance Reading Mom rocks because she's a voracious reader who does great reviews and she has one of the funniest five-year-olds on the face of this earth. She's also partially to blame for this particular blog.

Seaspray at It's a Wonderful Life rocks because she reads and her posts are nearly always inspirational and she loves the hysterically funny show Scrubs.

I'm going to spend the next day or two reveling in my rockingness, letting my inner diva rule. Then Todd will post his list and I'll crash back to reality.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Getting Frisky

Contrary to what the title of this post may imply, this is not another conception post. Instead this is a public service broadcast.

I don't think I have to go too far out on a limb to say each and every one of you in some form or fashion have had a brush with breast cancer. The latest statistics are staggering - over 200,000 diagnoses of invasive breast cancer alone in United States last year. My oncologist told me two years ago it was an epidemic.

A person can go crazy trying to figure out what to eat, what not to eat, how much to exercise, etc., to prevent breast cancer. It seems like every time a study comes out saying we should eat such-in-such, two years later they come out and say we shouldn't eat such-in-such. Sheryl Crow says she got breast cancer from drinking bottled water that had heated in her car. Maybe. I would consider that it didn't help any. But to say definitively that's what caused her cancer is irresponsible, in my opinion.

Regardless of whether you only eat organic, never use a microwave, exercise an hour every day and twice on Sunday; you need to be diligent in your breast self exams. And not just the women. Men can get breast cancer as well.

You know how you might know a friend of a friend? Well I know a blogger of a blogger. Mert at Almost Somewhat Positive came up with this:



So not only am I going to put this on my sidebar, I'm going to remind you all to do this very important thing on the 15th of each month. Okay? Okay!

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Percocet Post aka Ooops, I'm Pregnant

I haven't had any need for the Percocet for a while now, but I did "compose" this post one night after my medication had relaxed me significantly. The funny and/or sad thing is it reads pretty much like my sober posts. Which means we can infer I am the same whether under the influence or not. And yes. Given enough M&Ms I will dance on the table.

I don't know why I even thought of this. Katie's birthday isn't until October. Maybe it was because I just had a hysterectomy and this was the last time my uterus did its job. But for whatever reason, here it is:

Sometime during the first two weeks of 1994 I found myself with a few suspicious symptoms. I ran to the bathroom every 30 minutes or so, certain smells made me queasy, my breasts were sensitive – I was very nearly sure I was pregnant. The problem was that I hadn’t convinced Todd we needed another child yet. Taylor was about 20 months old and Todd worried he’d never be able to love another child as much as he loved his firstborn.

I’d only skipped a couple days of my birth control pills in December because I’d forgotten to get my refill before the pharmacy was closed for Christmas and I started them up again as soon as I was able. My ob/gyn nurse told me to stop taking the pills in case I was truly pregnant and if I started my period to go another month without the pills to give my body a break from the confusion. “Don’t forget alternative protection,” she warned.

So I did what she said and a couple days later I started my period. The same day as my supervisor’s wedding – January 15th. I was so used to keeping track of my cycle by my birth control pills that I didn’t bother to write it down on the calendar. Between two hectic, exhausting jobs and a demanding toddler there wasn’t a huge need for “alternative protection”, but we had our supplies just in case.

A week later I went on a business trip to Mobile, Alabama for several days, returning home on January 27th. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it also makes for two impatient individuals who, in the heat of passion may have forgotten the nurse’s warning. Just once.

Another couple of weeks and Todd started questioning me about when I’d start my period. I’d completely forgotten the fact my last period had started the day of Angel’s wedding and I told him I wasn’t sure, but it would probably be in the next week or so.

The following Friday I was at work and something was said about Angel’s wedding. My memory was triggered and I grabbed a calendar to count. I came up with 35 days which meant I’d counted wrong. So I counted again and I still came up with 35 days. The third time I used a pen to mark each day so I’d know I didn’t count a week twice and when it said 35 days I knew I had a serious problem.

A defective calendar.

Because I was a legal assistant and responsible for keeping track of hearings, trials and deadlines I had several calendars. They all said the same thing. Which I figured meant they all came from the same defective lot. There was a faint screaming going on somewhere in the recesses of my mind, but I shut that door and ignored it.

Everyone else was out of the office so I went into a co-worker’s office and counted on her calendars. Same thing – 35 days. Next was my secretary’s calendar. I thought maybe the secretaries used a different lot, but apparently I was wrong. I couldn’t believe that the law firm had ended up with an entire batch of erroneous calendars.

I walked back to my office in a daze and finished out the rest of the day with a minimum of conscious thought. It seemed a bit ironic that when I’d felt pregnant I wasn’t. And when I wasn’t paying any attention it looked like I might be.

It was obvious a pregnancy test was going to be needed since the calendars were of no help. As I pulled up to the pharmacy on the way home I realized I didn’t have any jewelry on, including a wedding ring. Yes, I know it was 1994 and a woman didn’t have to be married to have a baby. But I’m old school so I blabbered on to the pharmacist how I really was married – had been nearly six years – but I just forgot to put on my wedding band that morning. Without any emotion he looked at me and said, “Lady, this is Southwest Little Rock. I could care less.”

Taylor was in day care part time and my parents watched him the rest of the time. They were at my house with him and when I walked in Todd was visiting with them. “I told Gab and Candy that if we were to have a girl, which we’re not going to have any more children so it’s a moot point, but we like the name Katie,” I heard him say.

There was no time for pleasantries. Clenching my paper bag with white knuckles, I rushed in, said, “Todd, I need to see you in the bedroom. Now!” and ran on down the hall. My distress was obvious and he quickly followed me in.

I turned around to face him and pulled the kit out of my bag. It took a minute for the implications to register, but I knew the instant he realized what I was about. I explained the calendar situation to him and reminded him about the night I got home from Alabama.

I took care of business and Todd set the timer on his watch for five minutes. I sat on the bed while he paced back and forth, mumbling about how he knew he’d get used to the idea of another child, but this wasn’t part of the plan, but he would be happy about it, but this was really not part of the plan, but another baby would be a blessing, but this absolutely was not part of the plan.

When the watch started beeping we looked at each other, took a deep breath and walked into the bathroom. Staring us full in the face, as plain as day, was a big, pink plus sign. Part of the plan or not, neither one of us could keep the huge grins from our faces.

He hugged me and kissed me, then grabbed the stick (with the lid back on, of course) and left me in the room to show my parents. He handed the stick to my mom and at first she had no idea what it was. It didn’t take long to dawn on her, though, and the first thing she said was, “OH! If it’s pink does that mean it’s a girl?” At that time my parents had eight grandchildren, all of them boys. We got a great chuckle out of that.

Todd called his parents in California next. His mother was a little distraught because she wanted a granddaughter as well and had heard about a procedure in Switzerland where they spin the sperm and it separates the females from the males. “But you didn’t get your sperm spun,” she said. Todd told her, “Don’t worry, Mom. I just held on to the ceiling fan and spun around a few times before getting started.”

After that was a call to Gab and Candy. You know, the couple Todd had been visiting before he came home. The couple he told we wouldn’t be having another baby. Talk about eating your words while they’re still hot!

Neither child is more special than the other. They’re both loved with the same depth and intensity. Taylor was a planned blessing. Katie, on the other hand, was just a blessing. And she is DADDY’S LITTLE GIRL!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Memes and Awards

Frannie Farmer tagged me to post 7 random facts about me. You would think this is easy as my entire life seems random, but it's not as simple as it sounds. So I'm going to have to give this some thought.

*****

Pokey Puppy bestowed a Rockin' Blogger award on me, too.


Thank you, Pokey! I'm honored you think so! It's hard to pick just five bloggers to pass this on to, but I'll let you know who I chose later.

*****

And finally, Anne tagged me for "8 Things About Me According To (in my case) Todd". I have to admit this meme gives me pause. I'd thought about not telling him and making up my own very flattering list. He doesn't read my blog all the time and I thought maybe, just maybe, he'd miss the post all together. But with the way my luck runs... well, most of you have seen how things have been going for me.

So it was with significant trepidation that I told him about this meme. You should have seen the unholy gleam in his eye. Scary! So I decided he needed ground rules:

1. My mother and aunt and others who think of me as "Little Jenni" read this blog. No "naughty" stories.

2. He's gained the cyber-reputation as being a great guy. And he is. But I would hate for him to ruin others' perception of him if he were to say something less than nice about me. Not that there is anything less than nice to say about me, but you know how it is for people who have lived together for a while.

3. I have a cyber-image to maintain. I would be most displeased if he were to cast a pall over it, regardless of how bogus said image is.

4. I must appear charming, witty and sweet; the faultless wife and mother, perfect in every way without appearing too Stepfordish.

5. I reserve the right to edit his list if I deem the list to violate any of the above-mentioned rules.

He asked if he could have a little while to think about this list and I told him that would be fine.

"Is it okay if I work on the list while I'm on my business trip next week?"

I told him sure. And do you know what my great guy of a husband said?

"Good because I think nicer things about you when I'm somewhere else."

What can I say? It sounds like a snarky comment I would make.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I Am Established

This morning was my long-awaited appointment with the dermatology specialist. My skin issues are pretty much resolved so there wasn't much for him to look at, but I wanted to meet with him so I would be an established patient. This way I'll never have another skin issue for as long as I live. If I had cancelled the appointment, however, I would have ended up with some other funky dermal malady, most likely starting tomorrow, and I'd have to wait another three months to see him.

If you don't already know, I won't bore you with the details of my skin problems, but you can read about some of it here if you're so inclined.

Todd was with me and we both liked the doctor. He was very nice and very thorough. He had my records from the regular dermatologist, but we went over everything I've dealt with since December. He then examined me from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. Literally.

Between his examination, the history I gave him and the pathology reports he had in front of him he came up with nothing. That's not entirely true. He came up with a few things all my problems could have been, but nothing definitive. Which is fine. I didn't expect him to say, "Ah! But of course! You have been suffering with hyperdermalplasticiamitis." Most likely we'll never know what all my blisters and rashes and lesions were caused by. It could be they were all related and it could be three separate things. Who knows?

But, as I said, I am established now and if any of this strange stuff pops up again I can get in right away.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Weekend Recap

FRIDAY

Friday night I was figuring out just how many of my bonus Weight Watchers points I had to use after a delicious dinner of grilled steak, baked potato, salad and a glass of wine, the phone rang. We have caller ID and the name and number pops up on the television. To say I was surprised is putting it mildly.

“Hello?” I said cautiously.

“Hi, Jen! Do you know who this is?”

“Manic?” I asked slowly.

*giggle*

“Yeah! Guess who’s here with me?”

I made the logical guess. “Swishy?”

*giggle, giggle*

“Yeah!!”

How fun was that? It was a great way to start the weekend and I’ve giggled to myself several times since then. Those girls are crizazy fun!

SATURDAY

Todd’s parents flew in from California Tuesday night. They have a timeshare and were able to get a week in New York City. The plan was they would take the kids to NYC Saturday, bring them home on Tuesday, return to the city on Wednesday and come back the following Saturday.

About 1:00 in the morning their other son, Tim, called to say that Rachele wasn’t doing well. She was uncomfortable and a little bit panicked, but that she was sleeping at the moment. Susan told him if she was still anxious and uncomfortable in the morning he needed to take her to the emergency room if for no other reason than to check the babies and ease her mind.

The next call was at 10:30. They were at the hospital and Rachele was in labor. A c-section had been planned for August 1st, but apparently the kiddos had other plans. Tim called while they were prepping her for surgery and then called again to fill us all in on the new additions.

Once it was established Rachele and the babies – and Tim, too – were all okay the Grandparents and our kids left for New York City. Katie is turning into a native.

Not only were Nicholas and Olivia born on Bastille Day, but July 14th is Susan’s birthday, too. So Todd and I sent flowers and three balloons to Tim and Rachele. A blue “baby boy” balloon, a pink “baby girl” balloon, and a “Thank You” balloon; along with a note that read something along the lines of, “Thank you for having the babies on Grandma’s birthday so she’d forget we didn’t get her a gift.”

***

Later in the afternoon Todd and I went to see Live Free or Die Hard. Where do I even begin to describe the sheer awesomeness of this movie? I don’t remember the last movie that entertained me quite so much. Of course, movies are darned expensive and we don’t go very often so that may have something to do with it. But this was easily my favorite of the Die Hard movies.

Here’s the movie synopsis from IMDB:

When a criminal plot is in place to take down the entire computer and technological structure that supports the economy of the United States (and the world), it's up to a decidedly "old school" hero, police detective John McClane, to take down the conspiracy, aided by a young hacker.

This is a particularly interesting storyline to Todd because not only does he work in the electricity sector (one of the terrorist targets in the movie), but he works with FBI and Homeland Security developing standards and procedures so this type of thing doesn’t happen. With the exception of an “I don’t think so” here and there from Todd, he enjoyed it just as much.

Witty humor, incredible stunts and special effects, explosions, explosions and more explosions. How much more entertaining can two hours be??

SUNDAY

My big event yesterday was going to church. I always feel like I’m missing something when I don’t get to go and, understandably, I’d missed the last couple of weeks. But there’s such a feeling of rightness when you walk up to the building and friends see you and hug on you and tell you they missed you and how are you and all that. And for me there’s just something special about singing the songs – worshiping with others and hearing all the voices lifted in praise. Now that Todd is a mature man he carries a hanky with him. All I have to do is tap him on the arm and he hands me his handkerchief because I can never make it through the singing without tearing up.

By the time church was over I was exhausted and I came home and sat for the rest of the day. Todd had to go back at 3:30 for youth group so I just watched TV, read, surfed the net. Yeah – none of that is exciting and not worthy of posting, but I did anyway.

RANDOM

On another note, so far I’ve lost 13.5 pounds. While I’m thrilled with another 3.5 pounds lost this past week, Weight Watchers is not. Now I’m losing weight too fast. BAH! I think the fat may be tired of hearing me complain about it and it just wants gone. I’m good with that.

Today marks two weeks since the hysterectomy and I’m feeling very good. I’m even sleeping on my sides, now, which is very exciting. My biggest problem is that I am a stretcher and stretching is a bit uncomfortable. But I can’t help it. It’s like some alien takes over my body for a minute and my legs and arms unfold and lengthen, all the while I’m trying not to. But even that’s getting better.

Tomorrow I see the dermatology specialist about my funky rashes and blisters that are pretty much gone. But at least I’ll then be established with him so I won’t have to wait three or four months the next time I’m afflicted.

In closing I have this silly little story for you that actually happened since I wrote the last paragraph. Todd has a circular sore on the top of his right foot and I asked him what it was from. He said he didn't know and I said, "Oh! Maybe it's a stigmatism!" Which totally cracked us up because for one thing it's "astigmatism" and more importantly because I meant "stigmata".

Okay. That wasn't such a great story, either, but I had to write it down before he had a chance to.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

BREAKING NEWS

I may be a day late and several dollars short, but Tim and Rachele's babies were born yesterday morning. I had conflicting sources (Grandma and Grandpa) so I may be off an ounce or two, but the beautiful, HEALTHY girl weighed 6 pounds and has dark hair, while the handsome HEALTHY boy weighed in at 5 pounds, 1 ounce and is topped with blond hair.


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There is, as there always is, much more to the story and I will get to it tomorrow. In fact, I have a lot to tell about the weekend, but this couldn't wait.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

New York City - Part Two

Just to clarify, Katie and I went to New York City the week before my surgery. There's absolutely no way I could do all the stuff we did at this point.

Friday morning we took our time waking up. I love the heavy curtains in hotel rooms that make you think it's still dark out even while the sun is beating brightly outside.

After preparing for the day and packing up our belongings we checked out, left our bags at the hotel baggage check and headed out. First stop was Starbuck's across the street. It was teeny tiny and all three of the tables were occupied, so we got our goodies to go and walked over to the 8th and 42nd Street subway. It's kind of like a small mall so we were able to find a place to sit and eat.

Then we found our sub and took it up to the American Museum of Natural History - the same as seen in the movie "Night at the Museum".



In my NYC - Part 1 post I made the comment I warned Katie about the possibility of nude paintings. No such speech was given because this was a history museum. Right? I didn't think about the prehistoric, ancient and even more modern people who eschew clothing. And yes, the mannequins were anatomically correct.

Katie took it all in stride and looked at the exhibits without staring, while I, on the other hand, was trying not to stare. For instance, I'm sure I was wrong but prehistoric man looked to be circumcised. I couldn't say for sure, however, because I didn't want my 12-year-old daughter to catch me checking out the package on the hairy little mannequin. So while my interest was purely scientific, (i.e., prehistoric man couldn't have been circumcised) I was afraid said interest would traumatize the girl.

We made it to every exhibit in the museum looking for the Lewis and Clark exhibit from the movie, but we never found it. Obviously that was just for the movie. We did find this, though:


Dum Dum didn't speak to us, however. Must have been too early.

I snapped this shot for Taylor because what 15-year-old boy doesn't want a picture of boobies?


I have several other pictures of dinosaur skeletons and stuffed animals and interesting textiles, but I won't bore you with those.

We left the museum and walked across the street to sit and rest a bit in Central Park.


Our plan had been to take in middle Central Park since we'd hit the lower third last November. But we'd been doing quite a bit of walking anyway so we decided to take the subway down to Greenwich Village, find a quaint cafe and eat something delectable.

This was only my third trip into the city and I should learn a little bit more about where I'm going. We got off the subway and were a few blocks West of Greenwich Village. I don't know what that area is called, but the street we walked down is lined with all kinds of fetish shops. Giant store windows with leather collars, S&M gear, whips, chains and an extremely buxom mannequin in a French Maid costume.

Thankfully there was a pickup game going on across the street that had us both fascinated so Katie didn't really get a look at all that stuff. And since she was with me I was unable to run in and make a purchase. I'M SO KIDDING!!!

We made it over to Washington Square and were thoroughly delighted with all the different bands and jugglers and street performers. They were quite entertaining. First were the chess games in the park JUST LIKE IN THE MOVIES!





Next was the jazz band with the guy playing TWO trumpets at the same time. He must REALLY be full of hot air.






The arch at the entrance - or in our case exit - to Washington Square





The fountain where adults cooled off their feet and kids splashed around.





A bluegrassy, hillbilly rock sort of band. These guys actually had CDs and I'm kicking myself (figuratively because I'm not into self-pain) for not buying one. Country music is NOT my thing, but I love some good bluegrass and if it has a rockin' flavor to it then even better.


After meandering through the park and enjoying the wonderful bands we went in search of scrumptuals. I didn't realize it at first, but this is where New York University is. I mean, I knew NYU was in NYC, but we were AT NYU. And you know college students. They require massive amounts of sugar and caffeine so we didn't have to look long before we found Crumbs, purveyor of unique and delicious confections.





Katie chose iced tea and a Boston Cream Pie cupcake and I chose iced Hazelnut coffee and a Devil Dog cupcake. Once again, we dug in before I could take pictures. We really must learn to control ourselves.




But look at the gooey goodness in the middle of my cupcake! It was nothing short of Heaven.




After our much too short brush with edible ecstasy we made our way to the subway station - a different station - and we came upon this very cool lamp post.



Our dogs were barking as we took the subway back to the hotel to grab our bags, and then another sub to Penn Station to get the train back to Trenton. The train ride from NYC to Trenton was delightful. She had a magazine and I had my book and we got to just sit in an air conditioned car for an hour and a half. Bliss.

And this wraps up my week with Katie. Not only did we have a ton of fun, but it was cultural and maybe a little too educational for the both of us. She won't be old enough to go to the Youth Conference next year, either, and we're already making our plans.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

New York City - Day One

I'm finally getting around to the long awaited New York City post. I'm a little concerned the anticipation has continued to build and you will be left sorely disappointed. And I'm going to do the visit in two parts. Day One and Day Two for your reading convenience.

We left the house about 9:00 Thursday morning. We had originally thought to leave about 7:00, but decided that traffic was as good an excuse as any to sleep a little later.

Our first destination was the Trenton, New Jersey train station and we made it within an hour. Trying to figure out where to park and all that added on to our time, but we just didn't care. We were spending the night in New York City!!

We've decided the ferry is really the way to go, though I did enjoy all the reading time I had on the train. An hour and a half after departing Trenton we arrived at Penn Station and walked the 8 blocks or so to the hotel. It was too early to check in, but we dropped off our bags, ate some lunch and took off through Times Square, walking to Rockefeller Plaza. The ice skating rink doubles for an outside cafe in the summer.


From there we hit the Disney Store because Katie needed a pirate costume for VBS next week. Not that she wanted to go to the Disney Store. It's just that it was a necessity. We passed this on our way:


Walked a few more blocks to FAO Schwarz, but didn't stay very long. After that we were tired and needed a good sit. So we took a carriage ride around the lower half of Central Park. This would be our view:


We may have seen more than just that, but I didn't do so great with the camera this trip.

Enough time had passed that we could check into the room so we caught the subway at Columbus Circle and got off at 42nd and 8th - a half a block from the hotel. We checked in, ooo'd and ahhh'd over the luxurious beds and view of the Empire State Building, or its spire at least:



After cooling off and resting we decided we'd better head out for dinner before the coming storm hit. We walked up to Hard Rock Cafe and, once again, I stunned and amazed my daughter by knowing just about every band they showed videos for - from the early 80's to this year. Okay. "Stunned and amazed" is probably overstated. Alright. Truth be told I only managed to stun and amaze myself. She didn't seem to care.

It hadn't started raining yet so we went further up Times Square until we got to Maxies. There we ordered a fudge marble cheesecake to go.

Two things New York City has more than its share of are Duane Reade pharmacies and Starbucks. So we stopped in one of the many Starbucks we passed for a yummy beverage as an accompaniment to our delicious cheesecake. Then we ran into a Duane Reade (this is probably the first time I've ever actually meant "ran" as we were still trying to beat the storm) for bottled water and plastic forks.

We made it back to the hotel just as it started to sprinkle. Up to the room, change into our comfy jammies and share the cheesecake.


You can tell how excited we were because I completely forgot to take a picture until after we'd started.

After the filling repast we ordered a movie "Are We Done Yet", got snug in our beds and laughed our heads off. Then it was a good night's sleep and our adventure started back up Friday morning.

More to come...

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Just Hangin' Out

It's Sunday afternoon and the family is at church. They went to the late service; stayed for a VBS meeting and will just end up staying for youth group. I don't mind and am enjoying the solitude.

I flipped open my bible to wherever it would go this morning and it took me to Nehemiah. When I think of Old Testament books I like I usually come up with Psalms, Esther, Song of Solomon (I'm guessing this is where my love of romance novels came from), Jeremiah -- but not Nehemiah. I think I may add it to my list.

Now before you non-religious people run away screaming for fear of a sermon, don't worry. I don't preach. I just found this interesting.

Nehemiah goes to Jerusalem to rebuild the great wall and all the gates after it had been destroyed 100 years earlier. Chapter three is a listing of who did what and I found it fascinating. I mean, think about it. This happened somewhere around 2500 years ago and we have a complete list of who did what to the wall.

It lists which family worked on which gate and what they did and for some reason it just really impressed me. My favorite thing about this chapter, though, is that it only mentions so and so and his sons, so and so and his sons, etc. But verse 12 says Shallum and his daughters repaired their section. GIRL POWER!! LOL

This isn't the first or second or probably third time I've read Nehemiah, but it's the first time it really caught my attention. And that's my "Interesting Bible Facts" for the day. Or week. Possibly month. Maybe even year.

***

Yesterday Todd took me for my first outing to Target. It was nice. I made off with new jammie bottoms, a book, toenail polish and some great exercise. We walked around the perimeter once and had to stop in the garden department so I could sit for a little bit. When we got home I hit the hay and slept like a rock for about two hours. It was great!

***

When we walked past the maternity section I looked at the clothes and had the same thought I always do. If only they'd put the belly panel on the back of the jeans to accommodate my large rear. I'm thinking with the current fashions of tunics and baby dolls, etc., the shirt would come down past the comfy stretchy part anyway. I may have to look into this. It could be the next big thing. Pun intended!!

***

My recovery still continues to move along nicely. I am totally stunned at how little pain there is and how well I'm getting around. All without the aid of my adored Percocet. (I'm sure you all think I'm a prescription drug addict by now, but I promise I'm not. I haven't had a Percocet since Friday!) Bending down to pick stuff up is a bit much and I have weight restrictions so I can't be doing laundry or vacuuming. Darn. But I really don't feel like I just had surgery a week ago. This one was so much easier than the reconstruction!

I am being plagued with thrush again, however. That has got to be one of the nastiest things of all times. I'm lucky in that I don't have pain with mine, but it is aggravating. And gross. It took me a good six months or so after my last chemo treatment before it was completely gone. Or so I thought. Now it looks as though it's back again and it's a bugger to get rid of all the way. But seeing as how this is my last real medical issue (power of positive thinking) I should start rebuilding the immune system that's been trying to get strong for the last year and a half. Then I'll be able to fight off this disgusting yeast infection and I won't have a fuzzy swollen tongue ever again. At least that's my plan.

***

My last musing for the day is my diet. Or nutritious eating. I'm continuing on Weight Watchers and even declined offers for food while I'm recuperating because I NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT! When Katie and I were in New York City we ate dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and they took our picture. I bought it so we'd have a picture together for our trip, but I hate it. I'm huge!

So instead of making excuses like I always do -- you know the kind. I've just had major surgery and I deserve to eat three scoops of ice cream or That shot hurt so I think I'll get the biggest White Chocolate Mocha with as much fat as possible to make me feel better. -- I'm counting my points. I was sort of hoping the combination of ovaries, cervix and uterus would be about 10 pounds, but apparently it wasn't. So tomorrow I'll see if I've managed to lose any weight, even though my exercise has been curtailed again.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Philadelphia Museum of Art

I'm finally getting around to posting the rest of my week with Katie and we were to Wednesday. That was the famous Philadelphia Museum of Art as shown on the left, here. You may recognize the Rocky steps. All 72 of them. And yes, I walked up them all. Katie pretty much skipped, but she wouldn't do the "Rocky Pose" at the top of the steps for a photo, even though all the other tourists were doing it. I should have just taken a picture of them since she wouldn't play along.

Because they're in the midst of cleaning the outside of the museum the picture I took doesn't do it justice. It's quite a beautiful building. The less famous entrance is even prettier. It overlooks the Fairmount Park Water Works on the banks of the Schuylkill River. It's one of the first things you see as you drive in to Philadelphia from the Northwest and a view I don't think I'll ever tire of.

I made my usual pre-art museum speech about the probability of nude paintings and sculptures and the unacceptability of gawking, etc. She just rolled her eyes and said, I know, Mom, with the same tone pre-teens reserve for Duh. We ate lunch in their cafe (way overpriced) and managed to see just about all the exhibits.

I had to laugh because I'm not a big fan of contemporary art, however, she helped me to see it a little bit differently. Apparently her art education at the public school is much better than mine ever was.

We both loved the Armory exhibit. What damsel wouldn't? I was particularly fond of the Monet hall and she seemed to like the Van Gogh as that was fresh in her mind from school.

Finally, exhausted, we left. This picture is what you see from the Rocky steps as you look into Philadelphia. It was a horribly hot and humid day so the picture isn't as crisp as I'd like. It's usually quite pretty, though.

The statue is General Washington and he overlooks the Ben Franklin Parkway which was based on the Champs Elysees in Paris. This portion of the parkway is considered International Avenue because there are flags from every country lining it. The fountain you see at the end of the parkway is Swann Fountain and the beautiful building beyond that is Philadelphia City Hall with a statue of William Penn on the top.

When we got down to street level I had to take a picture of this monstrosity. It had been erected and dedicated the previous weekend. Even the news anchors who reported on it couldn't keep from making veiled snide comments about the orange steel beams. While I love looking at pretty things and think of myself as an appreciater of fine art, I just don't get this. But whatever.

One of the interesting things about Philadelphia is their art program. There are numerous statues and fountains peppered throughout the entire city. Apparently when a new company is given a business license they are required to give a certain amount of money to Philadelphia's art program.

Along the same lines, another thing Philadelphia is famous for is their murals program in an effort to combat graffiti. They've done a marvelous job of it, too. There are beautiful murals everywhere. Katie took a picture of this one as we drove around the city after the museum.


Obviously it does not extend to U-Haul trucks.

One of the areas we drove through is Antique Row. What an eclectic area this is. There are 250 year old, million dollar brownstones mixed in with flower shops, antique stores, mom and pop groceries and, of course, art shops. This is a picture of a mosaic museum. They recycled bicycle spokes, bottles, broken glass, broken china and who knows what else. Kinda cool, though, huh?

After leaving Philly we stopped in Ardmore for a late lunch/early dinner at Ruby's Diner. She ordered a cherry coke and hers came with four cherries! So I ordered a cherry coke and mine only came with two. What's up with that?

After eating we window shopped a little and then came home. A load of laundry and a quick packing job later we were ready for our New York adventure. More on that later.

***

While Katie and I were driving/running/walking around getting stuffed with culture and yummy food, Todd and Taylor were having life changing spiritual experiences at the Youth Conference they went to. One of the boys who also attended seemed to click with Taylor. He was a couple years older and his life has been a whole lot harder, but he would seek Taylor out and talk to him about God. We found out Wednesday evening that this boy wanted to be baptized the next day and he wanted Taylor to do it.

When a woman with crazy hormones finds out her 15-year-old son has been this kind of an influence on a 17-year-old boy, there are gonna be tears. Truth be told, I'm pretty sure I would have cried regardless of my hormone status. It was a very proud mama I was and I can't even begin to imagine the range of emotions Todd went through. He watched all this happen right in front of his eyes.

This would be one of the moments where I praise God for the trials He's put this family through in the last two years. It grew Taylor in unimaginable ways and this was a glimpse of the resulting fruit.

RECOVERY UPDATE

I'm still doing very well. I'm taking very little in the way of pain medication just because I don't need it. My doctor called a little while ago to tell me the path report came back clear, which hadn't even been a concern of mine. But it's nice to hear it anyway.

It's now time for my afternoon walk around the first floor. Kitchen, dining room, living room, entry way, kitchen, dining room, etc. I'm amazed walking around in this circle doesn't make me dizzy.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Surgery Went Swimmingly...

...and I didn't say anything embarrassing on drugs or off. A first for me, I'm pretty sure.

The trip to the hospital was a bit ominous in that we followed a hearse nearly all the way there. I didn't say anything about it, but when we turned into the parking lot and the hearse went straight Todd said, "Whew!" For some reason that totally cracked me up.

Everything leading up to surgery was totally unblogworthy so I won't bore you with the details. The operation went well, everything came out as it was supposed to, nothing looked suspicious. I spent more time in recovery than I did in surgery simply because the hospital was crowded and there wasn't an available bed. Seems like poor planning to me, but what do I know?

I did appreciate their narcotic protocol. A steady stream through my IV AND a pump for a little extra dose when I felt the need.

It's funny what you notice when you're medicated. Before being taken into the operating room I had a great view of the pre-op nurse's office. There were medical books upon medical books and in the midst of those was an InStyle Weddings coffee table book. When I was settled in my room after surgery I kept thinking of Sunsilk (hair products) commercials. That baffled me because I don't use Sunsilk and I couldn't imagine why those ads should be stuck in my head. It finally hit me. The white board on the wall in front of my bed had a list of care providers: Nurse, Tech, Assistant, etc. After these the name of the person on shift would be written in so we would always know who was who. There was a frame around the white board and covered the "T" in the word "Therapy", leaving only "Herapy". So yeah. That's where the Sunsilk commercial came in.

Because the hospital was so crowded I ended up sharing a room with another patient. As I mentioned in the previous post, I've had several surgeries. I think this is the first time I ever had a roommate.

Very sadly, she was an elderly lady who suffered from vertigo, delusions, disorientation and pain in her legs and arm. She cried and moaned and called out and wept. It was very agitating and very sad. I felt so helpless. She finally fell asleep at night and I very soon followed suit, only to be shocked awake by her hollering for her mommy to help her. She was falling. "Please help me, mommy! I'm going to fall!" I hit the call button so they could come wake her up. It was so sad. She did that a couple times and then one time she woke up, crying, clearly distressed and wanting to know where she was. "You're in the hospital, Honey. You're okay. The nurse is coming," I told her as I was pushing the button again.

I was totally conflicted. I felt so bad for her and wished I could do something for her, but there was nothing I could do. I did spend a lot of time praying for her. I was also a bit angry that they put me in with her. I was a surgical patient and should not have been in with such a distressing patient. On the other hand, I think there were a couple times when my voice calmed her until the nurses could get there. They told her countless times how to press the button if she needed them. I could hear her on the other side of the curtain clicking something, but the nurse light never would come on. So I spent half my time hitting my button for her. The nurses would come in and ask me what I needed and I'd just point to the curtain.

It was one of the saddest things I've ever seen. I suppose one benefit to it was that it forced me to take a lot more walks yesterday than I would have otherwise. Since I did so well - getting up so much and with a minimum of pain - I was given the option of staying one more night or being released after only one night. Seeing as how my one night was less than restful I opted to come home.

One of the more pleasing aspects of the stay was in the middle of the night - when things were quiet next door - I heard Brahms' Lullaby. I was a little, um, what's the word... oh yeah. Drugged. But I remember hearing it, smiling and thinking, Isn't it nice that they play such sweet music so we'll be lulled to sleep? After it stopped it started up again. So nice...

Yesterday I found out I was on the same floor as the maternity ward and every time a baby is born they play Lullaby and Goodnight. Twins had been born in the middle of the night - delivered by my very own doctor. Labor and Delivery was pretty busy yesterday as Todd and I counted at least three lullabies. And everyone would stop, smile and say, "Awwww."

Because of the busy business of babies, I wasn't discharged until a little after 6:00. We got home around 7:00 and I ensconced myself in Todd's chair. Though he's now saying it's no longer his chair. I spilt coffee on the arm the other day and he thinks that was me christening it like a yacht. In fact, at some point in the near future you all may be treated to a guest blog - no doubt about the injustice of how I've weaseled my way into his chair and taken over.

I'm amazed at the little amount of pain I've had. As much as I like to talk about my admiration and esteem of controlled substances, I haven't had to take a pill since this morning. I'm really stunned. Pleased, but stunned.

I am having some skin issues, however. I blistered from the tape - something I'd never done before until these past six months. The seams from my gown and now underwear seem to be causing some hefty irritations as well. Though they seem to be a little better even today so I wonder if it doesn't have something to do with the anesthesia. I see the dermatology specialist in two weeks so if I'm still dealing with this stuff we'll see what he recommends.

I do want to thank you all for the overwhelming comments on my last post. I should clarify that right now I'm okay with not jumping. At this moment I'm perfectly happy sitting on the side and watching. Not so much the other day, obviously.

Most of the time I'm okay with my lot. I still know all this is temporary. It's just taking a lot longer than I thought it would. I'm pretty laid back and it usually takes a lot to ruffle my feathers. But sometimes I find myself full of frustration and sadness and all kinds of emotions. I let them out (as in the case of Sunday's post) and then I'm good to go for a while.

I know what you're thinking. It's the Percocet talking. Not so. Maybe I'll write my next post under the influence. That might be kind of fun!

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Mused by Jenster :: 10:18 AM :: 22 People musing:

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Gypped

I know I was supposed to post pictures and tell you all about the trip to New York City, but that's going to have to wait. Tomorrow is my surgery and I feel compelled to write what's on my mind.

Maybe I’ve just forgotten the emotions and anxiety before surgery – and I’ve had plenty to be considered a veteran. The listing of my past surgical history always takes up more room then the medical forms allow for. But for some reason I am much more agitated today than I think I’ve ever been before a surgery. Except for maybe my mastectomy while there was still a chance I didn’t have cancer.

I’m fairly certain one of the reasons for my apprehension is the skin issues I still have. My rashes seem to be fairly well under control, but a new one popped up just yesterday. And as for the blisters, I don’t know what to think. Every time I think they’re going away I find another one or two and we still don’t have a definitive diagnosis.

And all this started with my reconstruction surgery in December. So I can’t help but worry this surgery will just start something new. Then again maybe all my skin issues are strangely related to my ovaries and once they're removed from my body my rashes and blisters will miraculously disappear. A girl can hope.

Another emotion I’m feeling right now is anger. I’m furious that I’ve been put in this position because of a stupid mass of mutant cells that decided to take up residence in my left breast. Those cells have turned the lives of myself and my family upside down. Even after all this time we’re still “suffering” the effects. Breast cancer has become an epidemic so I’m hardly alone. It makes me mad for all the women and men who have to deal with this disease.

I also feel as though I’ve been gypped. Like the little girl I was who would let most everyone have their way while I stood back and waited patiently for my turn. I’ve been waiting for my turn for two years now.

When I had surgery and then went through chemo I knew my “baggage” was temporary. The hair was going to grow back. The blood counts would come back up. My energy would be restored. I’d lose the weight I’d gained. My family would be reunited. My breast would be reconstructed.

Once the house in Arkansas sold and the kids and I made our move to Pennsylvania I thought reconstruction would be the end of my road. Before my diagnosis I liked taking a bath in fragrant bubbles and slathering delicious smelling lotion all over. I liked wearing something special for Todd and I liked what happened when I did. That was just one aspect I wanted back after the reconstruction.

Between surgery and treatment, the effort of gussying up alone was too much. Then when I was feeling better I still had the image issues. A woman can feel only so sexy when she has only one breast. That is to say not at all – at least in my case.

So I thought once the reconstruction was over I’d have a better self image. I’d lose the weight I’d gained and I’d get back my regular life. Todd and I would get back the intimacy we’d been forced to forfeit. I was looking forward to buying new clothes. Clothes that would flatter my new figure. Maybe a couple new nightgowns and a sexy, but modest sun dress to wear on our date in Hawaii.

Instead I ended up with at least three different skin issues and severe bleeding problems. Tomorrow I’ll go in and get the bleeding problems taken care of. Then I’ll have several more weeks of recovery, but I do know I’ll feel better when all is said and done.

That leaves me with the skin problems. I know that they will eventually go away as well and maybe THEN I can get back to the business of being normal. Well, my new normal. But normal nonetheless.

So I’m still the kid holding the rope while everyone else gets a turn to jump. I want to jump so badly, but I’m trying to be patient and wait my turn. Even though it seems to me a couple of the kids have had two turns already.

It sounds so silly as I read it, but that’s the truth of it. What probably sounds even sillier is that, while I hate what we’ve been through, I don’t think I would change it. I’ve seen God work in my life and the lives of my husband and children in ways I never would have imagined. And honestly, if any of this has brought even a little bit of glory to God, then it’s worth it. When I put it that way, it all doesn’t seem so very bad.

I'll be back in a few days to tell you surgery went swimmingly and I didn't say anything embarrassing while on drugs. Or off drugs. I hope it won't be a lie.

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Mused by Jenster :: 4:46 PM :: 28 People musing:

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