Jenster's Musings

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Heavy Heart and A Little Hope

As I was reading through some of my regular blogs yesterday I found out that a woman I “knew” passed away Thanksgiving morning from breast cancer. It wasn’t her first fight with the disease, but she was an incredible soldier until the very end. My prayers for comfort are with her family as they grieve the passing of their wife and mother.

We hear so much about “survivors” we sometimes tend to forget not everyone is a survivor. Detection and treatment have come so far in recent years, leading to greater chances of survival. And yet there are still too many women who die from this disease every year.

This news was shared by Gina at No Surrender. Gina is the fiercest of warriors and breast cancer needs to stand up and take notice. Not only is she currently dealing with her second bout of breast cancer, she also runs a breast cancer board and a website – both incredible resources for anybody either dealing with breast cancer personally or through someone they love.

She also posted the following article. As a survivor and a daughter of a survivor, I find this very exciting in light of the fact I have two sisters and a daughter of my own.

Trials Underway For Breast Cancer Vaccine

Kellye Lynn

BALTIMORE (WJZ) ―

The cervical cancer vaccine advanced women's medicine and researchers at Johns Hopkins are working toward the same goal with breast cancer.

Clinical trials are underway right now for a vaccine that doctors hope will one day wipe out the killer disease. They tell Healthwatch reporter Kellye Lynn, that the first phase of the trials look promising.

"We have designed a vaccine from cancer cells themselves," explains Hopkins oncologist Leisha Emens. "While we can cure some patients, all too often breast cancer relapses, and once it comes back, it is incurable. So, what we would like to do is find a different way to treat cancer."

Susan Marangi is one of nearly 50 women taking part in Baltimore based clinical trials.

She was first diagnosed with stage one breast cancer 19 years ago. She's had chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation, none of which worked long term.

"It finally became extremely clear to me that I was going to die," she tells WJZ's Lynn. "Traditionally everybody would say if you can make it five years, you're home free."

Marangi was cancer free for 11 years. Now, she's terminal, with stage four breast cancer and she's giving her body up for research.

"Knowing that the current treatment was only going to be 20 or 30 percent effective, it's not in my makeup to wait for something to happen."

As part of the clinical trials, Marangi is given the vaccine to help the body defeat the cancer. Dr. Emens says it works much like the recently approved cervical cancer vaccine.

"The problem with cancer is because it comes from within you, our immune system says, 'So what. I have seen this before.' Our idea is to re-educate the immune system to recognize tumor cells more like an infection, like a cold virus, and to seek out and to destroy cancer."

The vaccine is injected under the skin and is given with low doses of chemotherapy. Side effects are minimal but the research is in the early stages and years away from hitting the market. Still, Dr. Emens says the potential is staggering.

"I believe eventually we can, prevent the disease from happening in the first place."
Susan Marangi believes if the vaccine doesn't help her, it will save somebody.

"When they first came out with the polio vaccine, somebody had to be the first person it worked on," she tells WJZ. "I don't know if I will be that person, but I am sure somebody will be that first person that this particular vaccine works on."

(© MMVII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Picked The Wrong Day To Stop Drinking

There is very little caffeine in the house right now save an outdated can of International Foods Sugar Free French Vanilla Cappuccino. I was even at the grocery store yesterday and completely forgot to pick up some coffee. So this morning, instead of making up some of the frothy, guilt-free, goodness, I went without any caffeine.

Preschool this morning was a bit more challenging than usual. During one episode where I wasn't quite fast enough to keep beanbags and a few kitchen toys from being thrown over the baby gate into the hall I told Beth, "I picked a bad day to stop drinking caffeine."

Probably a better example of my slow reflexes and cognitive skills would have been before school started. Another teacher, Joy, had been in our room writing down the names of all the teachers and assistants so we could each draw one for our Christmas party. Then she said, "You'll have to draw today since you don't work tomorrow." I gave her a blank stare and said, "But I can't draw." Oy!!

After school I decided to run over to our very new Philadelphia Premium Outlets. They opened a few weeks ago, but I've been waiting for the novelty to die down a little before braving the crowds. The parking lot seemed pretty full, but the stores themselves weren't too bad.

I made a bee line for Starbuck's and ordered a venti non-fat White Chocolate Mocha. The lady making the drinks asked if I wanted whip and when I said, "no," she started laughing. I think I sounded very sad. Not as sad as I would have sounded had I known how many points a venti non-fat White Chocolate Mocha, no whip is. Ten!

I did some window shopping while chugging my medicine mocha since I wasn't allowed in the stores with a drink. Then I headed off to find some nice shoes. Todd's company is having a thing at the Philadelphia Art Museum tomorrow night for the Renoir exhibit. I went to the mall yesterday and bought some nice slacks, a few nice tops and a new coat - all at incredible prices - but no shoes. I should probably feel guilty that though it's Christmas shopping season, I've been shopping two days in a row and haven't bought anything for anyone other than me. Hold on a minute. Let me see... Nope. No guilt whatsoever.

Okay. Back to the shoes. What I wanted was a pair of black, casual dressy heals and I found them at Naturalizer. Didn't Naturalizer used to be strictly boring orthopedic shoes?? These shoes are not your grandma's shoes and quite versatile. I can wear them with nice slacks. I can wear them with jeans. I can wear them with... I guess that's it. Since the outlet stores are brand new they had everything on sale. I got these for 50% off. Even the beginnings of a migraine due to the late hour of caffeine administration couldn't dim the joy I felt.

After that I went in search of a decent pair of jeans that actually fit me. I have the hardest time because I seem to be in between sizes. If I were to put on a size six, let's say for discussion purposes, it would fit in the thigh and hip area, but be too big in the waist. The size four, however, while fitting perfectly in the waist, would be to small in the hip/thigh region. So I went to a shop that specializes in clothes for my frame - could be a petite store, could be a plus-size store, could be a store that caters to brunettes. I'm not saying.

Before I go on, I have to tell you another one of my less than brilliant moments. I have no idea where it was coming from, but the area around this part of the mall smelled like a huge pile of markers. I LOVE that smell. So I stopped walking, covertly looked around and took a huge sniff when I didn't see anybody. While I enjoy that odor immensely, it's probably not the smartest thing to do when a migraine is trying to grip you.

Anyway, I found the jeans I wanted, took a four and a six into the dressing room, and chanted "please fit, please fit, please fit," while trying on the four, but no such luck. So I shucked them off and tried on the six. Oh my gosh! I couldn't even be upset that it was the six and not the four because they fit PERFECT! When I got up to the register the cashier told me they were buy one, get one for half price. So I grabbed another pair of the exact same jeans.

There were other stores I wanted to check out, but by this time my pupils were dilated and I had that ice pick in the head/I just want to puke feeling. So I came home, took some Excedrin Migraine, sprawled out in my favorite chair and dozed off. All seems to be right in the world again. Good thing, too, because we're shooting a movie for Katie's Social Studies class in a little while.

Every time I have surgery - and we've established that's quite often - I use that as a sort of detox period. I use the narcotics to ease me off of caffeine. It works like a charm. Apparently it's time for another surgery because I'm obviously addicted again. Why do I do this to myself?? I enjoy a glass of wine or a bottle of beer now and again, but I can go days, weeks, months without alcohol and never miss it. I've never become addicted to the aforementioned narcotics, though I will admit to liking them when they're needed! But I usually switch to Tylenol long before I have to. Heck, I can even go without sniffing markers and glue for years and be perfectly happy. But caffeine? I wish!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Highlands versus Paradise

Before I get to the point of this particular post (Yes! I have a point!) I've a few hockey matters to settle:

1. Pucks are regularly frozen for NHL games, and I assume for other hockey events as well. Freezing a puck makes it bounce less, since the rubber is more rigid. It also allows it to glide further since if it's warmer than the ice it will melt the ice, and cause more friction. That would be a direct quote from my very own hockey expert.

2. As for the names, here's what I was thinking:

Picard - Star Trek (Captain Picard) That was an easy one.

Boucher - The Waterboy (Adam Sandler played Bobby Boucher.) We call Taylor Bobby Boucher for two reasons. One - Katie used to call him Bobby when he was little. And two - Taylor "loves his mama very much". And if that makes no sense to you then obviously you've never seen The Waterboy.

Peltier & Gauthier - Characters from the Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. The Peltiers are a bear family of Were-Hunters and Nick Gautier was a squire for one of the Dark Hunters.

3. Todd is watching Hockey as I type this and they said, "Get the puck out." HAHAHAHAHA!!!! That's as funny as "two minutes for hooking"!

Okay. Moving on.

If you've been hanging around this blog for any length of time then you know we were going to take a family vacation to Hawaii this past summer. When Todd was living up here and the kids and I were still in Arkansas, his company put him up in a Homewood Suites for a week or two over a year and they flew him home quite often. Every other weekend to start with and then three weekends in Arkansas and one weekend in Pennsylvania. Needless to say, we racked up the Hilton points and the Delta Skymiles.

We had reservations for twelve days at a beautiful resort on Waikiki and four first class round trip tickets. But my body rebelled in the form of rashes, blisters, and horrible female problems which resulted in a complete hysterectomy in July. So we cancelled all our reservations with the intent to remake them for next summer.

Somewhere along the line, however, I got the bright idea that we could travel to Scotland just as easily. I asked the kids if they had the choice between Hawaii and Scotland where would they want to go. Surprisingly they decided Scotland would be fun.

So I ordered a few Scotland travel guides, emailed with people who have been there and started planning our trip. My goal was to have all the reservations made by the end of this week. The more I read the books and made my plans the more excited I got.

Before I started making reservations, however, I needed the kids to understand something. A trip to Hawaii would be relaxing. I mean, that's what you do in Paradise, isn't it? A trip to Scotland, however, would not necessarily be restful. If I'm going there I'm going to see as many castles and lochs and quaint villages as I can possibly pack in. And if we were to go on this dream vacation to the UK and they started whining about having to go on this tour or this ride or whatever, I would be VERY NOT HAPPY!

They have changed their minds again and we're back to Hawaii. Todd asked me last night if I was disappointed. Disappointed? Hello!! It's HAWAII!! Not in the least am I disappointed. Besides, if we went to Scotland with the kids Todd and I wouldn't be able to have sex in a castle. I'm just saying.

The downside of a trip to Hawaii is that I'll have to shave more and, while I am trying to get into shape anyway, I have the added pressure of knowing I'll be wearing a good deal less than I would in the Highlands. I think draping a plaid around a body is much more forgiving than sun dresses and bathing suits.

Todd and I will just go back to our original plans. A trip to Scotland for our 25th anniversary - five years after our trip to Hawaii. With no whiney kids.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Whole Lotta Checkin' Goin' On

Before I begin to regale you with our hockey adventures Friday night I have to tell you what happened this morning.

I've mentioned before the Student Arts Leader from church - Ben - is living with us until his wedding in May. His fiance's roommate has been out of town for a while and Katie hates to be alone at night so she oftentimes stays here. When Katie is here she sleeps in Ben's room and Ben sleeps on the futon in the finished side of the basement.

There is a door on the left at the bottom of the basement stairs that leads to the unfinished side of the basement. But if you turn right it brings you into the finished side where we have my keyboard, a desk with a computer, Todd and Taylor's guitars, book case, cabinet - just a bunch of stuff. Then the room dog legs to the right and that's where we have a TV/stereo, two recliners and the futon.

Ben's door was closed when I came down this morning to download the pictures off my camera, pulled up iTunes and started rocking out to a little Barlow Girl. I'm pretty sure I was trying to sing with them, too. Then I hear Ben's voice. I WOKE HIM UP! For some reason I can't figure out I thought Katie hadn't come back from Thanksgiving yet or something, thinking Ben was in the room and no one was down here. I didn't even look at the futon when I came down!

The thought of singing in front of Ben is bad enough because, like I said, he IS the student arts leader. However, I've never professed to be a good singer so whatever. What has me worried, though, is the fact I carry on entire conversations with myself because no one appreciates my wit and intelligence near as much as I do. I wracked my brain trying to remember what I may have said, but I came up blank. Hopefully because I didn't say anything, but more likely because I've already erased the humiliation from all conscious thought.

Okay. On to the hockey game...

Friday night was a beautiful, though cold, night.



Todd accuses me of being late a lot of the time, but the truth is usually show up right on the dot. The problem is that he's usually much too early. The hockey game didn't start until 7:00 and we were at the arena around 5:30. We spent 15 or 20 minutes in the gift shop so he could buy a Flyers hat (even though we were there to see the much less expensive Phantoms). But then the shop temporarily closed and we were forced to stand outside in the bitter cold for another 10 or 15 minutes until they opened the doors. It was kind of cool that we were the first ones through the turnstile, though!

The Wachovia Center is a niiiice arena and had photo opportunities at every turn. Here are a few:


A "hat trick" in hockey is when a player makes three goals in one game. When that happens the crowd goes wild and throws their hat onto the ice. I, for one, am appalled at that custom. Hats are expensive!! Anyway, this case is filled with all the hats they've collected at Flyers games over the years.

Then we have the pretty Christmas tree in the lobby. Had to snap that.

And last in this line is one of the food service places. It's wrong to go to a sporting event and not partake in the delicious arena fare they serve. Seriously. That's part of the fun. It's why I don't care for sports on TV.




That would be Todd living his fantasy of being an NHL hockey player for a few minutes. This was perfect for him as he can't ice skate. And the guitar is Bonnie Raitt's.


This picture kind of cracked me up. Players from both teams were stretching before the game, just chatting with each other. I imagined they were saying things like, "So, how's your sister? I haven't seen her in forever." While Todd figured they were saying things like, "Yeah. I know how your sister is. I just saw her last night."

This was the closest they came to a fight. It's more like a pile up in the goal. Even the broken stick wasn't from something exciting like using it as a club or anything. While there were no actual fights there were a lot of penalties and a ton of checking. One of the players got "two minutes for hooking". Somehow I always thought hooking carried a longer sentence than that.

The final score, as you can see, was 2-1 Hershey. Bummer. And do you know what this guy has in his ice chest? Not a case of beer. Not spare organs. Hockey pucks. They keep them cold when they're not in play. Why?

My last thought about the hockey game is regarding some of the names. Can anyone guess what these names brought to mind?

Boucher
Picard
Gauthier
Peltier

Besides that they're all French they reminded me of either movies or books. Know which ones??

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Friday, November 23, 2007

The Day After

How was everyone's Thanksgiving? Ours was very pleasant. There was no Guitar Hero III and no Live Free or Die Hard, but it was a nice day nonetheless.

Katie and I decided we should eat in the dining room since we eat at the little table for our regular dinners. As you can see, I wasn't exaggerating when I said the table needed to be dusted. Even though we were covering it with a table cloth, I didn't want the little dust particles to scratch the table. So Katie wiped it down and set the table.



Here's the spread - minus the rolls - for the four of us. Ridiculous, no??




This is what was left over.











Can't see much of a difference, can you?









Still, I'm not complaining because it was all delicious, if I do say so myself. Which I do. I actually like cooking a big meal like this. I do not, however, enjoy the cleaning. Then I remember the reason I had kids and the world tips back properly onto its axis.

And here's a picture of my uninhabitable living room. I should probably be going through the boxes today, but I don't see that happening. It's 12:30, I'm still in my jammies, I've been reading and now playing on the computer.



Katie's been on a pancake making kick. And she's pretty darned good at it, too. So this morning she asked if we wanted her to make us pancakes. Todd told her that if we eat pancakes every day it will make our butts bigger. To which I replied, "Very true. That's why I'm having pie with whipped cream for breakfast. So my butt won't get bigger."

And tonight is the hockey game. The Phantoms (Philadelphia's AHL team) versus the Hershey Bears - apparently a big rival. You know what that means (she says while rubbing her hands together in glee)! The probability of fights!!

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

I hope my fellow Americans are enjoying a great Turkey Day! And good eating to you all!!

Today is a quiet Thanksgiving around here. Just the four of us. I'm sure we'll get in a rousing game of Guitar Hero III, a screening of Live Free or Die Hard (only $14.00 at the grocery store yesterday), lots of cooking, a little baking, way too much food because I don't know how to make a Thanksgiving dinner for less than 8 people, and a visit to a neighbor's house for dessert this evening.

I don't confess to being the smartest dress in the shop, the sharpest tool in the shed, the brightest bulb in the box, etc., but neither am I a complete dunce. My problem is I'm like a neon bulb. It starts out slow but once it's had time to warm up is bright. So I guess that means I'm not the quickest grayhound in the park.

All that is to say I had a great idea after it was too late. I had enough grocery store points to get a free turkey so I figured I'd get the smallest one they had since it's just the four of us. The smallest turkey I could find was 15.5 pounds. That's a lotta bird for a little family. After thawing it out I realized I should have just thrown it in the freezer and bought a turkey breast for today.

See what I mean? Great idea. Just too late to execute it.

A conversation with the family the other day:

Me: Since it's just going to be the four of us we probably need to cut out some of the food. So what do we want?

FM1: Well you can't have Thanksgiving dinner without turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and corn.

FM2: And it wouldn't be the same without green bean casserole.

FM3: Ooo! And you have to make the sweet potato casserole!

FM2: Yeah! And cranberry sauce! I love cranberry sauce on my turkey!

Me: I have to have stuffing, too.

FM1: I'm good with just the turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and corn.

FM3: Hey! Can you make peas this year, too? I like peas and we never have them.

Me: Okay. So that's turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, stuffing and now peas. We haven't left anything out. And now you want peas! It's just the four of us!

FM3: But it wouldn't be right to cut anything out.

FM1: I'll be happy with just the turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and corn.

FM2: I don't think you can cut anything out, Mom. It would be wrong.

Me: Fine. I'll make all of it and we're going to eat it for days, even if the thought of it will make us sick. No whining if you puke!

Usually we'll eat around 4:00 or so and snack up until that time if we get hungry. But since it's just us I'm hoping to eat around 1:00 or maybe 2:00 so we'll have longer to eat. An afternoon of grazing, if you will.

And then I'll make a dutch apple pie to take to the neighbors. I had planned on making a pumpkin pie, but they're already going to have two.

My big dilemma now is where do we eat? Do we eat in the dining room like we always do for special dinners? If so that means I need to get in there and dust. Very sad. Or should we just eat at the K-Mart Special table? Do I put all the food onto my platters and bowls and such and place them on the table? If so we have to eat in the dining room. Or do we just serve ourselves from the stove and eat at the little table? I dunno. I guess we'll wing it.

Let's talk about Christmas decorations for a minute, shall we? I used to wait to decorate until December. But then all the neighbors would be decorating over the Thanksgiving weekend and it really is more convenient that way. So the other day I had the kids pull up all the Christmas stuff from the basement and it's now scattered all over the living room.

Confession time. I had my reconstruction last year on December 29th. I was in the hospital for five days and then was basically an invalid for another six weeks or so. My in-laws were here and my mother-in-law and the kids took down all the Christmas decorations for me and placed them in the basement. She didn't want to mess up my system so they just laid everything nicely on the floor with the belief that I would eventually box it all up just so and put it away the way I wanted to. Very thoughtful, if you ask me. But I never did. It's all been sitting on the floor since January. This year I'll get it all put up right, though!

Again - I hope all of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving have a wonderful day. And for those of you who don't celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you recognize all you have to be thankful for anyway!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I WIN! I WIN!

Becky at Stuck in Frump, Striving for Fab has honored me with a new and exciting award - Blogging that Hits the Mark.

A little about Becky first. I think the title of her blog alone deserves an award. It always makes me smile. And I love the stories she tells about life with a husband and two boys. Sometimes light and silly. Sometimes deep and spiritual. Good stuff.

Another thing about Becky, she loves "A Christmas Story" and quotes it every now and again. Considering we watch it about a bajillion times from Thanksgiving until way past Christmas, how can I not love that about her?? Which reminds me of a story... but that will have to wait.

So she bestowed me with the Blogging that Hits the Mark award. I'm not sure what mark it is I hit. Sometimes the whiney mark. Sometimes the insipid mark. Sometimes the insipid whiney mark. A lot of times the mark is just plain silly. Regardless, I thank her for thinking of me.

Now who to pass the accolade on to. This is always the hardest part about getting an award. I want to pass it on to everyone. But, alas, I cannot do that. So I bestow this honor on Gretchen at Good Enough for Now. The blog description says:

This blog is a discovery and journey process for me. At this point, I've figured that my battles with perfectionism are futile. This side of Heaven, I won't ever be perfect. And, that's okay. I'm good enough for now. I hope you leave feeling good enough, too. Because you are.
This blog is very new, but Gretchen is not new to blogging. She writes with honest vulnerability and she truly does hit the mark every. single. time. I count her as one of my very good cyberfriends and am happy to pass this on to her.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Post Birthday... uh... Post

Thank you friends, both virtual and actual, for your birthday wishes. The day started out a little dreary (literally and figuratively) but cleared up nicely (only figuratively).

I have one of those very smart cars that tells you when something is wrong. Sunday my car warned me the pressure in two of the tires was low. So I rescheduled my dentist appointment for today and took my car to the dealer instead. It was nice to have 15 minutes of alone time to read in the waiting room.

After that I met my therapist friend, Cristie, at the Starbuck's in Barnes and Noble. Her birthday was the day before mine so we shared a celebratory piece of carrot cake cheesecake, drank our very own mochas and exchanged gifts.

She gave me this hysterical calendar, two adorable bead angels (I'm sharing one with Katie), a couple Starbuck's coupons (because she knows me so well) and a B&N gift card (again, because she knows me so well).

But better than these gifts was the time we spent together. I've been in a bit of a funk lately and I basically knew why, but she saw everything from a different perspective than I could and really helped me work through some of these issues. I love that woman!

On my way home I stopped off at my friend, Kris' house just to chat. She only lives around the corner, but it seems our schedules (mostly mine) never match up. She only had about 15 minutes before she had to leave which worked out very well for me. If she'd had all the time in the world my 15 minutes would have stretched into an hour and 15 minutes or so. Still, we managed to pack in a nice visit.

When I got home I jumped in the shower to get ready for my "birthday date" with Todd. We went to have a nice dinner at the new Outback. A crisp glass of Riesling, coconut shrimp appetizer, Alice Springs Chicken and nice conversation. Very, very pleasant.

We stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick up a cake. I chose a deliciously decadent Boston Chocolate Silk cake. A layer of spongy chocolate cake, a thick layer of a fluffy chocolate whipped cream filling, another layer of spongy chocolate cake, topped by a chocolate butter cream frosting. Yum!

Then I got to open my presents. Kris gave me a bottle of Italian wine. Real Italian wine from Italy. Looks like we'll have to spare more than 15 minutes so we can enjoy a glass or two.

And then the gift from my family. Guitar Hero III!!! I so rock!!! It is so much fun! Next week when the kids go back to school I'm going to set aside four hours a day to practice so I can beat Taylor. Not really. Maybe an hour a day.

Since I didn't make it to the dentist yesterday I went in this morning. I'm getting a crown next Monday so today's appointment was to make the impression. I have a very sensitive gag reflex and impressions are the worst form of dental torture to me. The hygienist was great and I only sort of gagged one time. Whew!

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Birthday To Me

Guess what I got for my birthday. A crick in the neck of epic proportions. Which makes me want to call it a river in the neck. Because you know how some people call a creek a "crick" and a river is bigger than a creek? That came to me in the early hours of morning - when I do my most creative thinking. Like the other morning when my nose was freezing and I started thinking about creating nose warmers. I even considered talking to Tori at Radioactive Girl about knitting some.

And guess what I get to do for my birthday. I get to go to the dentist where they will cram my mouth with disgusting goo. I'll try to go to my happy place and pretend I don't want to gag.

I'm not sure what's going on for dinner tonight. All I know is I don't have to cook.

Friday night we're all going to a hockey game for my birthday. I love hockey. Not on TV, though. You have to be there in person. And I especially like it when there's a good fight. I'm not sure why that is, either, because I hate violence. But my favorite game ever was when both teams ended up in the penalty box and the ice was covered with gloves and helmets and sticks. Good stuff.

Geesh! Is it just me or does this post read like something Eeyore would write?? I will leave you with my post from last year's birthday.

My thirty-eleventh birthday is next week. It's not a landmark birthday and nothing to get excited about. In fact, if I wasn't so greedy as to want presents and a day of being spoiled, I'd just forget about it altogether.

But I don't think that's an option anyway. After the last year-and-a-half we've gone through, my birthday has become kind of a big deal. Instead of lamenting the fact that I'm middle aged, I need to be happy that I made it to middle age. Oh, I know that's all very dramatic and it's really not something I think of very often. Yes, I had breast cancer, but it was caught fairly early and my prognosis is excellent. There are so many worse things it could have been.

You may or may not know that I'm writing a book about my experience. It's not a self-help or an inspirational book. It's more of an Erma Bombeckesque look at what the past 18 months have been like for us. Don't get me wrong. Parts of it are very serious. But I was amazed at the humor and the silliness that was borne of some of my situations.

As much as I would love to see this book published, I'm not going to hold my breath. If I do ever manage to get it into some semblance of an organized thought process I will try publishing. But even if it never comes to anything that's okay. It's a type of therapy for me now and it will forever be a record of what our family endured and learned through all of this.

So here's a little excerpt from my story that has to do with my birthday:

In the spring of 2005 I had thick, curly hair that fell beneath my shoulders. I was also walking a few days a week with a friend. With the age of 40 closing in, I was in a desperate want to get into shape. You see, I had this plan.

For my 40th birthday I wanted long, curly, auburn tresses and a pair of red thigh high PVC stiletto boots. I wasn't sure what would go in between my locks and the heels, but suffice it to say it was going to be hot. Todd would have his very own vixen.

Instead, I had a very thin buzz cut, 30 extra pounds and only one boob. Thigh high boots would have been a waste of money (and they ARE expensive) because I probably couldn't have shimmied them past my knees. And whatever provocative little number would have accompanied the boots would have been too filled out in some spots, not filled out in others, decidedly dropping the sexy factor to somewhere around nil.

They say that 50 is the new 30, so does that make 40 the new 25? If so, what does that make 42? I'll be going through reconstruction at the age of 41, so 42 is the next birthday I have a shot at.

Emotionally it was a little difficult to reach the landmark age of 40 in the way I did. My hair had started coming in, albeit slowly and still thin. I was actually scheduled for my last chemo treatment the day before my birthday, but the doctor graciously postponed it for nearly a week so I could enjoy my celebratory weekend.

Todd booked the two of us in a romantic little cottage up in Eureka Springs that we had stayed in several years earlier. The cottage had guest journals and I flipped back through the archives until I found my entry from 1995. It was a poignant moment to see the words I had written in such a different time. We were a young, happy couple with a baby and toddler at home. We were there to celebrate our 8th anniversary and enjoyed the romantic interlude from our hectic lives.

It was a good time for us. There were no thoughts of cancer or chemotherapy or reconstruction or hot flashes or, well, the list goes on. I was saddened by the way our lives had changed so drastically. I was heartened by the good and joyful life we had shared.

But mostly I was grateful. Even in the midst of a life threatening disease and all the problems associated with treatment, even with our husband and father living 1200 miles away, I had joy. I had the most important things necessary to a good life.

I had a husband who loved me with everything, even though I couldn't wear thigh high stiletto boots and looked more like a GI than his wife. I had two children who were healthy and happy and who had stepped up to the plate when I was too tired or weak to do what needed doing. I had family and friends who loved me and lavished me with help and food. And I had a God who loved me and comforted me and promised me this, too, shall pass. I had everything I needed.

I am still shooting for the long, curly, auburn hair and thigh high stiletto boots for 42, by the way.


Dangit!! Looks like I'll have to aim for 43, now.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Deep Thoughts by Jen Ster

A person is the most comfortable when the alarm goes off

Strawberry yogurt tastes like poo right after you brush your teeth

Dusty furniture is never more noticeable as when the doorbell rings

You only run into people you know at the grocery store when you're looking your worst

An expired warranty ensures something will go wrong

Nearly everything is better with cheese

If it's not better with cheese, it's better with chocolate

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Friday, November 16, 2007

My New Favorite Song

I give you Grey by Barlow Girl. These chicks know how to rock it!

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Robin Roberts Has Empowered Me!!

First of all - thank you everyone who left such encouraging comments on my last post. You guys make me smile!

Moving on...

As I'm sure anyone who has access to the internet, and therefore anyone who reads this blog, knows Robin Roberts on Good Morning America is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer. I've always liked her - she's funny, beautiful, gracious and seems to be a genuinely nice person. My esteem for her has grown tenfold, however, as I've watched her become an invaluable resource for people. Her celebrity status allows her to reach millions of viewers, educating them on the different aspects of breast cancer from screenings to diagnosis to treatment and everything in between.

This morning she talked about losing her hair. As she told her tale I just sat there nodding my head, agreeing with everything she said. The emotions she described are a common theme with women who lose their hair due to chemotherapy. Then she showed, on national television, a video of when she shaved her head. That's what I call brave. When Diane Sawyer asked her why she chose to show the video she quoted her mother -
Make your mess your message. I love that quote and think I may use it for the rest of my very long life.

So I decided if Robin Roberts was going to share her head shaving I could be brave and share mine.

My first chemo treatment was on Thursday, June 2, 2005. My oncologist said I'd probably lose my hair within fourteen days. Two weeks later, however, I still had a pretty good head of hair. I'd started shedding a bit, but I had so much hair to begin with I thought maybe I'd be one of those rare women who kept their hair. The following day, however, I accepted the fact my hair was dead. It was like dry straw and I couldn't style it or do anything with it.

That was one of my sad days. I knew I was going to lose my hair and I spent that Thursday in mourning. Later that evening I called my friends Beth and Rhonda and asked if they would come over Saturday morning for a buzzing party. In that moment I took control of my situation and my perspective on the whole thing changed.

Saturday morning - 18 days after my first treatment - we had a Free the Follicle Festival at my place. Beth brought her girls, I made coffee and Beth & Rhonda brought donuts and juice for the kids. After getting hopped up on sugar and caffeine we went into the kitchen while the kids watched a movie or played in the living room. Beth had the sheers and Rhonda took pictures.

First Beth gave me a skater cut, but I don't have a good picture of that. Then she gave me a bit of a Mohawk.



I think it looked more like one of those hedgehog boot scrapers, but whatever.

Beth's youngest daughter, Baylie, hung out between the kitchen and the living room, acting as herald for the other kids with each new style. They'd all come running in and laugh, especially when I was trying to do the Billy Idol snarl. I DO have a photo of that, but you're outta luck. Sorry.

We tried gelling the Mohawk to spike it, but sadly it didn't work. Finally the job was done and this is what I was left with:



I had to go put on some make up and a pink shirt so I'd look like a woman and not an unwoman.

Surprisingly I didn't mind the buzz. I was given the name of G.I. Jen and fancied myself as a Demi Moore look alike. Until you looked anywhere but the hair. Sunday night my scalp hurt so bad I had to take some of the pain medication left from the surgery. The following Tuesday as I stood in the shower my hair came out by the handfuls.

I think if it had happened a week earlier it would have broken me. But because I had already done my grieving and taken control of the situation I had more of an "oh well" attitude.

The way my friends and I made it a fun event was so good for the kids, too. I can only imagine the uncertainty, among many other things, they had to feel. I'm thankful both kids were open and honest about what they were feeling, but I also know they both tried to protect me in their way. I may be way off, but I truly believe the way I handled losing my hair by including them and making it kind of fun was one less stress they had to deal with. At least I hope so.

And then there's Beth and Rhonda. I know for a fact there's not one person on the face of this planet with better friends. Maybe as good, but not better. I could probably write reams about how awesome they are, though I won't. I will say I think the three of us can have fun doing just about anything. What could have been a somber affair was instead a great time. We laughed so hard at one point we were doing that crying, not breathing thing.

And finally - don't forget!!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blasted October!

This is another one of those posts. You know the type. The kind where I start out trying to put my jumbled thoughts into some semblance of order and by the time I get to the very exhausting end it looks more like a dictionary threw up. I apologize up front for the chaos.

Secondly this post may require a hankie or two. I suppose it depends on the reader, but some of you are more sensitive than others. You know who you are. So read at your own risk.

And now I begin…

I grew up close enough to the beach in Southern California that our house didn’t require air conditioning. I remember only a very few times when it was hotter and more stagnant than usual, but for the most part a/c simply wasn’t necessary. And generally no matter how warm the day was, the night was always pleasantly cool.

Imagine my horror when I moved to Arkansas in June of one of the hottest, most humid summers on record to date. The stifling, oppressive humidity did little for my confidence in my new future. Evening didn’t bring any relief as it was usually as heavy as the day had been. I moved there for Todd and I loved him, but I sure didn’t like sweating profusely every time I opened the front door.

By October, however, the humidity and temperatures started dropping. The air became cool and crisp and the leaves started turning the most beautiful colors. I felt like I was being rewarded for enduring such a brutal summer. At nearly 23 years old I was finally experiencing my first true autumn. October became my favorite month.

In yesterday’s post I mentioned how seeing my latest reconstruction procedure just stirred up unpleasant emotions. October did the same thing this year. I don’t remember this last year, but maybe it was because those feelings were still so close to the surface.

My response to a breast cancer diagnosis at the age of 39 was pragmatic. I hated it, but I knew it would eventually be over. I felt confident that between surgery and chemotherapy I was going to beat the monster. I never panicked, never truly thought I was going to die. I had my bad days and my moments of utter despair, but on the whole I went through it as well as possible because I didn’t feel I had a choice. I also had a little supernatural help through the whole thing, if ya know what I mean.

My head tells me all that should be behind me. I AM A SURVIVOR! And for the most part it IS behind me; the crisis over. But I wasn’t able to escape it last month. Everywhere I looked; every magazine I flipped through; every channel I surfed over; every station I listened to; every news program I watched – they all talked about Breast Cancer Awareness.

When you’re in the midst of treatment your every thought is consumed with cancer. There’s no escaping it. It’s there with every spell of nausea or the fatigue or the aches and pains or the loss of hair and eyebrows and lashes.

And then you finish your treatment; your hair starts to come back; you’re not as fatigued as you were; and all of a sudden you realize you went three hours without even thinking of cancer. Those three hours turn into five hours and so on until you might go the entire day with hardly a thought to the disease.

But in my case I went through reconstruction a year and a half after my mastectomy. It was a long and tedious surgery and a long and very unpleasant recovery. My entire day without a thought to BC was brought back to every minute because everything I was enduring was a result of the cancer.

Each procedure I’ve been through has been a little like pulling a scab off a healing wound. There’s a little less pain and oozing each time, but it still hurts. Eventually the reconstruction is completed, the trips to the oncologist are farther and father apart and life resumes a bit of normalcy.

You think to yourself, “I’ve finally moved on.” Then October comes along and everywhere you look is a plea to help find the cure. And you desperately want a cure to be found because you’re tired of hearing about yet another woman diagnosed with breast cancer or another recurrence. But even more than that, you have a daughter and even though you know it’s not your fault, she’s at higher risk now. Especially since your mother was diagnosed a year after you were. There’s truly a family history now.

Selfishly, however, I don’t want to be reminded of what I’ve lost every time I turn around. I don’t want to be overwhelmed with emotion when I see huge pink ribbon balloons in the grocery store because they’ve taken on a whole different meaning for me. I don’t want to face the reality that my daughter will always have the niggle of fear as she gets older unless a cure is found.

I’m a contradiction of emotions. I’m proud to be part of a sisterhood of some of the most incredible women I’ve ever known – including my mom – but at the same time I don’t want to be in that sorority. I don’t want anyone to be in that sorority. So I want a cure to be found and the support for BC research is astounding. But I don’t want to hear about it at every turn. There’s just no pleasing me.

I also get angry when I see the “Breast Cancer Checklist”. You know, “You’re at a higher risk for the disease if you check off however many of the following.” BAH! Three years ago I couldn’t check off any of them. I had no family history at all, I very rarely drank, I wasn’t obese, I was under 40, etc. I wasn’t even old enough for routine mammograms. Thank God I found my lump when I did.

I worry women will dismiss the possibility of breast cancer if they can’t check off anything. . Did you know that while having a family history may increase your chances of breast cancer, the majority of breast cancers are found in women without a family history? Sounds crazy, but that’s the way of it. The bottom line, people, is it doesn’t matter whether you can check off anything from the risk list or not. You must be diligent in monthly self exams and yearly exams by your doctor.

I also had more than just a moment or two of profound sadness last month. Memories were stirred without invitation. Every person who has had or has breast cancer has a similar, yet different, story to tell. My battle was compounded when Todd had to relocate to Pennsylvania ten days after my mastectomy. The difficulty of treatment was greatly magnified by having to go through it without him for the majority of the time.

One memory in particular brought up emotions I didn’t realize I still had. I received my treatments on Thursday and the following Thursday I always had a very low white count. Because of this I received Neupagen injections Thursday and Friday and sometimes even throughout the weekend, depending on how low the counts were. As thankful as I was to have this wonder drug available to me, I hated those shots. Neupagen is like fertilizer for your white blood cells, putting your marrow into hyperdrive which, in turn, causes pain in your bones and joints.

One of these Saturday nights when Todd wasn’t coming home sticks in my mind. I was so exhausted talking was a chore and my back, knees and shoulders ached so badly I felt like I had the flu. What I wanted to do was go to bed, but instead I stayed awake with the kids until they went to bed. I tossed and turned and couldn’t find a comfortable position, but I was so fatigued and desperately wanted to sleep.

After making sure the kids were asleep, I closed the door to my room, crawled into bed and sobbed. Todd would have taken care of the kids if he’d been home. He would have rubbed my back to ease the aching. I missed him so much and worried about how hard it was for him being so far away, all alone, wondering how I was.

Between my parents, neighbors and two church families I had all the help I could ever want. But there were some things no one could do for me – only Todd. The treatment and its effects were not pleasant, but having my husband living 1,200 miles away was much worse. Sometimes when I look back and think of the many times such as this I can’t imagine how we did it.

I suppose the memories, however painful, serve a purpose even now. It’s good to remember where we were, how God carried us through those horrible times and how He’s brought us through that valley to where we are now. Still, I’d rather be in control of those memories and not have them thrust upon me when I’m not prepared.

My suspicion is I’ll eventually love October as much as I used to, but it’s just going to take time. Next year my reconstruction will be completely done, I’ll probably only see my oncologist every six months or so, my gynecological problems related to the breast cancer will be so far behind me…

So if any of you found it curious that I didn’t post something about breast cancer awareness last month, now you know why. I started to several times and the posts came out so angry and bitter and I was afraid I’d cause more fear than encouragement.

In the end I do offer this encouragement to anyone who may be where I was two years ago. It DOES get better. Much better. Time heals both physically and emotionally, but it doesn’t forget.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Little Housekeeping

In my Marsha, Marsha, Marsha post on August 31st I listed some topics I was going to be addressing in the near future. Near has gotten away from me and now it's just the future, but I'm going to make good on my word:

Todd's blog

Not much to say here. His last post was on September 11th. I don't see it going anywhere. Too bad for you, really good for me.

Hot flashes/Night Sweats

I'm guessing in August I was going to complain about the hot flashes and night sweats. Most likely I'd whine about how unfair it was to go through menopause twice, as if once isn't enough. The hot flashes I went through during chemo were different, though. Then it was like I was like going from a cool room into a burning furnace. The hot flashes since my hysterectomy have been more gradual and not as intense.

Now that it's cold, however, I've not been dealing with them quite so much and that makes me happy. And Todd's happy because I like the house cold at night so I don't have night sweats. So I suppose you could say menopause has been good for my marriage.

Unveiling

If you don't know what I'm talking about here or if you just want a refresher you can read Still Under Construction (One of my better posts).

The unveiling was, um, what's the word I'm looking for... OH! I know! Lame. I knew things weren't going to look like me, but I still wasn't prepared for how unlike me they looked. And this just succeeded in dredging up all those crappy emotions associated with having breast cancer. Anger at the stupid disease, sadness at how it's changed so much, unrealistic guilt because I shouldn't have these emotions when I'm so healthy now, and acceptance that I'll probably have these feelings to some degree for the rest of my life.

After the unveiling I got an infection on the right side. Antibiotics cleared it up and I thought all was well. I was scheduled for tattooing in October and further work to smooth out the rough incisions on the left side in December, but I cancelled the tattooing because the left side is nearly non-existent. So when I go in for the procedure in December he'll fix the left side to hopefully look like the right side. THEN I'll get the tattooing done a couple months after that.

Blisters

You can catch up by reading Fungal Petri Dish.

The last biopsy my regular dermatologist performed suggested bug bites. Apparently the fluid had chemical properties indicative of an allergic reaction to bug spit or something like that. So it was decided I had scabies. Except for the fact the bites didn't spread anywhere other than that one specific region. Still, we all did the scabies treatment, washing everything that could be washed and spraying everything that couldn't. It seemed to slow things down for a little bit, but then it all flared up again with a vengeance.

Not only did I have those horrible blisters or bug bites or whatever, but I also broke out in another horrible rash from my neck to my feet. It looks like I have developed an allergic reaction to high dose steroids. Thank goodness this is a fairly new development because I was given a massive dose of steroids with each chemotherapy treatment.

I finally got in to see the specialist. He did another biopsy and the results came back as indicative of bug bites again. Like he said, however, indicative doesn't mean definitive. He completely dismissed the idea of scabies and wasn't convinced at all these were bug bites.

So as of today I still don't have a diagnosis. I'm a medical mystery. If only I could run over to South Jersey and see Dr. House. I'd put up with his snarky attitude. I'd probably snark right back. But it doesn't so much matter anymore anyway. At one time I had upwards of 80 of these annoying blisters/bites, but now I only get a couple at a time and sometimes (like this very moment) I don't have any flared up.

40+ models on Rachel Ray

What was I going to say about this subject?? I think just that it depressed me because I'm 41 and I feel like cancer treatment made me much older. When I was much younger I always looked young for my age. I thought that would be a great thing when I got older, though I think by the time I was in my late 30's I looked like I was in my late 30's. I know the extra weight makes me look older, but maybe it's just that I feel older. Though I have to say I'm finally, FINALLY after two-and-a-half years, starting to feel closer to my age. And we have so many young friends that sometimes I forget I'm actually middle-aged.

Sunburn stripe on leg

I first posted about this at Summer Fun. This particular sunburn lasted probably a month. Before chemotherapy if I'd burned like that - which I wouldn't have - it would have turned into a tan. But because my chemical make up has been completely altered my skin does funky things. Like look like a burn for more than a month. Weird.

***

And that's the end of my list! Now I can move on.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Seven Things About Me

I was tagged by Becky back in October to list seven random things about me. So as not to repeat myself I had to go back and read this post and this post. I'm running out of things to write about me. I could ask Todd, but you can see how well that turned out in this post. Hm. On second thought, he did say some pretty nice things...

But I've been trying to come up with some random things so I'll give it a go.

1. When the hair in a certain spot on the top of my head is pulled it makes me sneeze. Todd used to come up behind me and grab a fistful of hair, trying to make me sneeze. I'm sure he looked like a caveman until I would blow and he would laugh like a little boy.

2. Instead of saying "situation" like a normal person, I have a habit of saying "sitiation" as in, Breaker one-four, breaker one-four. We got us a sitiation. It's open season for Smokey Bear and the chicken coop's full of portable barnyards.

3. About a month before I turned 15 both of my sisters delivered baby boys a couple days of each other. One in Pecos, Texas and the other in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Mom hopped on a Greyhound bus and went south to help with the newborns. When my friends, Cindy and Maureen, and I got home from school one day I was struck with a brilliant idea. Mom was two or three states away, Dad was at work and the keys to the station wagon were sitting on the console in the entry way. So I ran in, grabbed the keys and we jumped in the car for a little joy ride. Very little. Our house was the second from the corner of a moderately busy street. We drove around the half block and when we came back to the house there was a police car facing us on the other side of the intersection. Cindy and Maureen freaked out and jumped to the floor, something I've never understood. I had to pull into the corner house's driveway, back out and then pull in front of our house so Dad wouldn't realize it had been moved. My heart was beating so hard I'm sure my shirt was pulsating, but I got out of the car very calmly, walked up to the house and let myself in. Cindy and Maureen stayed in the car until the police car left. Wimps! Mom and Dad never found out until I was about 18 and told them about it. By that time it didn't seem like such a smart idea anymore.

4. I can whistle extremely loud using my fingers. This talent comes in very handy. It's not very lady like, but it serves a great purpose.

5. I love doing home improvement projects. If I had all the time and most of the money in the world I would buy an old historical home and do most of the fixing up myself. Todd doesn't share my enthusiasm - though he's very good at a lot of stuff - so I usually take on the big projects when he's on a business trip. He's got a couple trips coming up...

6. I can count to 100 in Japanese. If I could remember the number for 100 I would be able to count to 1000. I can also say a few random words in Japanese like toilet and potty. I don't know enough to make a sentence, but at least I can cover the very basics.

7. I worked for a State Farm agent when I was a senior in high school. One of the clients was impressed enough with my phone skills that he offered me a job with a fairly young company he was a VP with. It would require me to move to Phoenix which was fine with me because I love Scottsdale and had imagined me living there for years. But I was still five months away from being 18 when I graduated from school and I already had college plans. The company was Southwest Airlines.

That's all I got right now.

I'm supposed to tag seven more people, but I've lost track of who has and who hasn't done this meme. So instead I'm tagging anyone who would like to do this. Please let me know if you do it!

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Another Drive By

Oy! I have so many things rolling around in my head and parts of a lot of those thoughts have actually made it to the computer, but nothing is complete. I've been overwhelmed with so many little things I think I should do that I haven't managed the time to write or to read. Bad Jen.

I'm not the most organized person in the world which means I must have structure to get anything accomplished. Structure is something I've had very little of lately. I have a good friend who's son is Autistic and he melts down if his routine is interrupted. I can totally relate.

That said, here are some random happenings around here.

I love my preschool kids. They are precious beyond words. I also thoroughly enjoy working with the teacher, Beth. She has a great sense of humor and her creativity never ceases to amaze me. I'm reminded every time I work why she's the teacher and I'm not. And I like it that way! Today one of the little boys who is speech delayed
was counting to six as clear as you please. And our little Autistic boy was laughing and playing and doing everything the other kids were doing. My heart was filled to overflowing today and I could cry with joy right now just thinking about it! But I won't because it doesn't fit into my schedule and you know how I am.

We are enjoying having Ben live with us, even though we don't see a lot of him. Katie's (his fiance) roommate has been out of town and she hates to stay alone, so she's been staying here as well. She sleeps in the guest room and Ben sleeps on the futon in the basement. I'm so happy we have the room to do this. Her roommate will be back in another week or so, though, and I'm going to miss having her around.

Yesterday Katie (my Katie) was playing on my laptop. Ben wanted to do laundry and I asked if he would take the towels out of the dryer and Katie would fold them. So he took the big armload of towels out and threw them on Katie. It was hysterical!

Okay. So I suppose you had to be there.

Taylor is quite a bit bigger than Katie (my Katie) and he has no problems throwing her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. Which is really kind of funny when you consider he tried that when he was about 5 and she was 3, but he wasn't strong enough and they toppled over. She broke her arm when she tried to catch herself. Poor baby in her pretty little Easter dress and an arm cast. I'll have to scan that picture and show you. It's one of my favorite pictures of the two of us. But I digress.

Anyway, when Katie is annoying Taylor (and really, when is she not?) he picks her up and puts her on the banister where she can't get off. In my defense, I had no idea he was doing that. AND it's at the bottom of the stairs. But anyway, yesterday he threw her over his shoulder and started towards the stairs, when she reached down and grabbed his boxers. She gave him the wedgie of the year! That's my girl!!

Last night a college friend of mine (a friend IN college, not FROM college) and I started a "home team" for a few of the 7th grade girls at church. There will only be four girls to start with along with Krista and me. Next week we'll start a study of James geared for teen girls and it looks like it will be perfect for them. It talks about things junior high and high school girls deal with like gossip, jealousy, peer pressure. We had a great time last night playing ice breakers, eating brownies and planning some "field trips".

The TV in our family room has surround sound with an mp3 player port. I would rather listen to music than watch TV so I've been playing my iPod a lot lately. My song list is rather eclectic. Contemporary Christian, alternative, classic rock, country, jazz, R&B, even a little Frank Sinatra. The menu shows up on the screen and a few minutes ago I saw a song coming up called Read First. Anyone hear of it?? Didn't think so. That's because it downloaded to my iPod wrong.



It's Head First by the Baby's. Love that song! Not sure what's up with the Japanese letters scrolling the bottom. And I didn't realize there was another, older song on the same video. I was never so happy as I was when John Waite cut his hair and stopped wearing tons of makeup and dangly earrings. That was NOT a good era for him.

Alright. I think that's enough random for the day. Until tomorrow...

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Revolve in Kodachrome

I took 365 pictures Friday and Saturday. Before you panic, I haven't posted all of them. In fact I've only posted pictures which didn't include any of the girls. So here we go...

On the bus Friday afternoon:



Does anyone else find this kind of funny?



Friday night traffic in Philadelphia:



Wachovia Spectrum starting to fill up:



The ride home:



My pink slippers, pizza and a soda at 11:00 Friday night:



One of the adults, Stacy, considered riding the air mattress down the steps like a surfboard. Thankfully she didn't do that. She was our nurse and no good could have come from it:



Our bus at 0-dark-thirty Saturday morning:



This one speaks for itself:



Hawk Nelson on the stage:



All the speakers and singers in a Q&A session:



An empty stadium:



The sunset over the church after everyone left:

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Revolve Tour 2007

The Revolve Tour

Katie and I just returned home from an all nighter with the teen girls from church. Here's a quick synopsis 'cause it's all I've got the energy for:

38 girls from 6th to 12th grade
5 adult women
1 school bus full of females into Philadelphia
30 to 40-something steps up to our seats
1 stadium full of screaming girls
2 rooms at the church for sleeping - one quiet/one not so much

And that was just Friday night. Today was more of the same. I had a broken seat, my knees hurt, the noise was deafening - IT WAS AWESOME!!

*whew* I'll post more when I'm not quite so mind-numbingly exhausted!

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Me and Liz

A few weeks ago Sandy at 4 Reluctant Entertainers posted a picture of herself and Liz Curtis Higgs. It made me think of my own picture I have of myself and Liz. Since I posted the book meme yesterday I thought it would be appropriate to post my picture and tell you a little bit about it.

A few years ago I was reading Thorn in My Heart - part of her Lowlands of Scotland series I mentioned in the previous post. It was one of the most moving books I had ever read. I'd read a section and then have to get up and walk around the house, only to come back and read on because I had to know what was going to happen next. Very intense.

Somewhere along the line I sent the author an email telling her how good her book was. The characters, the writing, the story, the emotions... To me it was one of the best books I'd ever read. Before I had finished checking my other emails I received a reply.

This lead to nearly daily emails telling her where I was in the book, what I was thinking or feeling, etc., and always there was a reply within a short amount of time. She was very gracious and kind to "hold my hand" while I read Thorn in My Heart.

When the next book, Fair is the Rose, came out it was the same thing. By the time the third book, Whence Came a Prince, was released, Liz was coming to our church in Little Rock for a speaking engagement. I was so excited that I was going to get to meet my new email friend in person. I told her I'd be there with her new book for her to sign.

My breast cancer diagnosis came just two days before her opening Friday night. I emailed her to let her know I wouldn't be there on Friday night and why, thinking she was probably much too busy with her tour to actually read the email. But, true to Liz fashion, I received a beautiful email from her expressing her sympathy, offering her prayers, and stating she was looking forward to meeting me on Saturday.

I walked through the doors and found my place in line for the book signing, hoping I'd have enough time to make it to the table. I handed my precious book to her assistant and told her, "I'm Jen, her email buddy". Liz must have heard me because her head snapped up and she said, "Come here, sweet sister!" and folded me into such a warm embrace. She asked how I was and told me she was praying for me, to please let her know when I could how my surgery the following Tuesday went. Then the lady behind me asked if we wanted her to take our picture before I even had a chance to ask her.



*** VANITY PAUSE ***

I don't know why I have no bangs. My forehead decrees I must have bangs. Where were they?

*** VANITY PAUSE OVER ***

Liz Curtis Higgs remains one of my most favorite people on this earth and I can't wait to see her again. Not only is she a great writer, she's a wonderful speaker. I wonder what my hair will look like the next time... Hopefully I'll have bangs.

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Mused by Jenster :: 7:33 AM :: 29 People musing:

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Book Meme

I was tagged for a fun book meme by a sort-of-new-to-me blogger friend and fellow breast cancer survivor, Sherry at Sage and Thyme. So here we go…

TOTAL # OF BOOKS

I couldn’t possibly say how many books I’ve read so far in my lifetime, but I can say how many books I’ve read so far this year. And last year. I started keeping a reading log in 2006 and it’s fun to see how much I’ve read, what I’ve read and what I thought about the book.

I read a total of 44 books last year which is pretty pitiful. Before chemo I probably averaged about 8 books a month. Forty-four books in a year is less than half of that. I’ve only completed 35 books so far this year. Maybe next year will be better.

LAST BOOK READ

I just finished Revealed by Tamara Alexander. It’s the second in the Fountain Creek Trilogy, a wonderful inspirational romance series. I put Tamara Alexander in the edgy category along with some of my other favorite inspirational authors – Deeanne Gist, Liz Curtis Higgs and Francine Rivers.


Here’s the back blurb:

Annabelle Grayson has been given a second chance at life, but she can't claim it with the cloud of her past hanging over her in Willow Springs. After her husband dies, she advertises for a trail guide to accompany her to land waiting for her in Idaho--and a most unlikely candidate applies for the job.

Matthew Taylor is a man on the run, with consequences of past mistakes pursuing him at every turn. Meeting Annabelle Grayson the first time was unpleasant enough, but when she crosses his path again, her presence in his life--and what she reveals--is devastating. If given a single wish, Matthew would turn back time and right a grievous wrong. If given a second wish, he would make Annabelle Grayson pay.

Just a little more info – Annabelle had been a prostitute in Willow Springs. Matthew Taylor would never darken the door of a brothel and held the women inside in much contempt. There’s much more to tell, but that might ruin it for you if you decide to read it. I can’t emphasize what a great series it is enough.

LAST BOOK(S) BOUGHT

Clapton – The Autobiography by Eric Clapton (for Todd)



Second Guessing God – Hanging on When You Can’t See His Plan by Brian Jones (the pastor at our church)



Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (a book about writing non-fiction as recommended to me by Brian Jones)



FIVE MEANINGFUL BOOKS

Only five?? This is so difficult for me. I read mostly fiction and I wouldn’t say they’re meaningful as in life-changing. But the books (or series) I’m choosing have stirred my emotions or piqued my curiosity about historical events or, well, some of them have made me think about how I would respond to a similar situation. There are several more I could list, but I’ll leave it at five.



Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon – I fought starting this series because of the time travel aspect, but when I finally gave in I was so glad. These books are so rich in historical detail and I’ve learned so much from them. (I do my own research to confirm what I’m learning – just so you know)






Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers – Oh my goodness. This book was one of the most difficult books I’ve ever read. But what a great story about mercy and love.





Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott Odell – I read this book in the fourth grade and it was the first time I realized I could actually learn something from reading a good story. I think this is where my love for historical fiction started, though it was several years before I really got into reading.





The Lowlands of Scotland series by Liz Curtis Higgs – This is a trilogy based on the story of Jacob, Leah and Rachel in Genesis. Liz did a phenomenal job of translating a bible story thousands of years old into a more “modern” telling (1788). I read it in tandem with my Bible to see where she was going to go next. Still, she managed to surprise me.




A Rose in Winter by Kathleen Woodiwiss – This was my first romance novel ever. I started really enjoying reading when I was in high school. I remember reading my dad’s Sidney Sheldon books and then a couple Robin Cook’s and thinking I was much too intelligent and savvy to read a romance. PULEEZE! Can you say “snob”? I joined Doubleday Book Club and forgot to send the card in on time. I received “A Rose in Winter” and set it aside in much disgust. Several months later I read the book and I loved the story! It was still a long time after that before I started reading romance on a regular basis, but I credit this book for pointing me in the right direction. My tastes in romance have changed drastically over the last *cough*ty years, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for this particular book.

FIVE PEOPLE TO TAG

Because I’m so behind in my memes I’m not going to tag anyone. However, this is a great meme and I know some of you are mad crazy readers. So if you decide to do this please let me know!

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Mused by Jenster :: 8:18 PM :: 4 People musing:

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