Thursday, March 21, 2019

Driving

Have I mentioned that Alyssa got her driver’s license in January?

No? How remiss of me. So sorry for that.

She did get it! She failed the first test because, well, the old dude who was testing her didn’t believe her when she told him she was just moving ahead to see if there was traffic coming. He felt she was about to pull into on-coming traffic. Yes.

But a week after the first test, she and the dude became besties and she drove away with her license.

She’s driven herself to school for about two weeks now (yes, it’s March, we had horrible weather in the last half of January and all of February) since track practice started.

She hasn’t yet driving with a passenger other than me and/or Tom with Olivia along for the ride.

Last night it was decided that the girls would spend the day with my mom. Right before bed, Olivia asked who was taking them to Gram’s.

I replied, “Lyssie will.”

Olivia stared at me for a moment and said, “Alone?”

I laughed. “Sure, she’s got her license.”

Olivia looked skeptical. She hasn’t ridden along with Lyss yet. Either Tom or I have always been with them.

I assured her, “It’ll be fine. Gram’s house isn’t too far away.”

“Hmmm,” Liv muttered, definitely thinking we were crazy for trusting Alyssa with Olivia’s precious life.

She did want to know, “But what about Lyssie’s track practice?”

“She’ll drive you guys over in the morning and then leave to go to practice,” I informed her.

“Will I just stay at Gram’s?”

“Yes, I’ll pick you up after I get off work.”

Again, she paused, taking it all in.

“Do you want to stay at Gram’s?” I asked.

“Yes, Gram has good tea,” she declared. “Sometimes, she gives me ice tea and hot tea at the same time. I like it when she does that.”

Well then.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Older

A reminder popped up on my email calendar on the morning of Tuesday, February 26. It said, “You are older than Amy ever got to be.”

I put that in a few months ago.

I wanted to remind myself to be grateful for every single day.

I woke up this morning determined to be kind to myself. I want to stop hating my body. It’s been through a lot and it’s still kicking. That’s got to count for something.

Every single breath I take from this day forward is a one more breath than Amy got to take.

Her death has hit me hard.

Maybe because she’s a peer. We grew up together. Maybe we weren’t best friends beyond 8 and 9 years old but we were close enough that when we did see each other, it was as if we were children again.

We loved each other like sisters; sometimes long-lost sisters, but sisters none the less.

I see her son at the grocery store every few weeks. He’s a checker and he’s just the sweetest guy. He was very shy as a child and very withdrawn as a teen but he’s grown up to be so gentle.

He went out to see his sister and niece, Amy’s first grandchild, a few weeks ago. I’m so glad her kids got to be together near the anniversary of her death.

I owe it to myself to live better, to try harder to be kinder to myself. I would say I owe it to Amy but you know what? She doesn’t want to live better for her, she wants me to live better for me. She loved all of us (her entire family and friends) enough to want us to live and love and be happy for the sake of happiness.

I am going to try to silence the voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough, that I’m not smart enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough to deserve the love I have in my life. My family loves me so much and I owe it to them to love myself just as much.

I don’t mean that I’m going to skip through life announcing to the world how amazing I am. But I am going to try and stop telling the world how awful I am.

Because I’m not awful. I’m strong and kind and loving. I’m smart and funny. I, like my body, have been through so much and I deserve all the love that is given to me.

I truly believe that. The voice that tries to tell me I’m wrong will be ignored until it shuts up.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Still That Mom

Alyssa has to write five paragraphs each day in a journal for school. Each time I see her writing in this journal, I say in a really obnoxious voice, “Dear Diary, my mother is sooo annoying.”

Because, yes, it’s true, I’m VERY annoying.

The other day, after the eye doctor, we three stopped at my mom’s house to show her Liv’s new glasses. In Lyss’s words, “Those glasses are annoyingly cute.”

While there, Alyssa showed my mom her bandaid from the shot she’d received the before. She said, “I don’t know what’s on the bandaid, but I don’t think it’s Sponge Bob.”

The bandaid was clearly decorated with cartoons on a yellow background.

I leaned forward and said, “Let me see.”

Then I ripped that bandaid right off so I could get a better look.

This startled both my mom and Alyssa that they laughed for several minutes over the entire situation.

Once upon a time, Alyssa was HORRIBLE about taking bandaids off. She fought it like one might fight someone trying to pull a tooth. I got really good at stealth bandaid removal.

A bit later in the visit, my mom was showing off a deer antler she’d found in her yard.

While Alyssa was distracted by the antler, I took her journal.

I saw that she’d written about the lock-down drill they’d had at school earlier that day and took the opportunity to add some of my very own creative flair.

I wrote, “If I’d come across that intruder, I’d have kicked his butt with my awesome karate skills.”

I was so proud of this sentence because it had so many words. One of the rules of journaling for Lyss’s class is that each sentence must have at least ten words. They can’t simply write, “I’m tired.”

Nope, that doesn’t count. So if they want their teacher to know they’re tired, they’d have to write something like, “I’m really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really tired.”

But I don’t think even that would suffice; though I’m sure there are kids who’ve tried it. They’d have to be more creative and write, “I’m tired but I have to write in this stupid journal and I have nothing to say.”

Okay, I’m overachieving again. I suppose a really annoyed student wouldn’t bother with the additional clause of ‘and I have nothing to say.’

But whatever.

The point is she actually left that sentence in, writing below it that her mom had written the above sentence and her mom is insane and she wanted her teacher to see what she has to put up with.

I feel irrational joy that she left that sentence in her journal. I don’t even really know why it makes me so happy. It just amused me so much and I’m so glad that she’s so comfortable with my craziness that she is willing to share it with her teacher.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Appointments Galore

I started seeing a chiropractor a few weeks ago. Mostly I wanted the x-ray of my hip area to prove to myself that I’m a hypochondriac these days and every pain I have is NOT cancer.

And yes, that’s what he proved.

But he also said that my hip pain is due to my spine and hips being ‘off track’. He did an adjustment that first day and wanted to see me again a few days later.

I ended up going to him three times and in the weeks since, my hip really does feel better.

At my last appointment, which was two weeks ago, the receptionist (the chiro’s wife) wanted to schedule me for the next Monday, about four days after the last appointment.

I told her I needed to call her about that because the coming week was full of appointments and I really needed to get my 40 hours in at work.

What could she say? I mean, if a patient is refusing to schedule an appointment…what is the scheduler going to do? She can’t very well insist on scheduling an appointment.

Anyway!

That was two weeks ago and the past two weeks have been so full of other appointments that I haven’t even bothered calling the chiropractor’s office to schedule anything.

In the last two weeks I’ve had a gynecologist appointment, a dentist appointment, Alyssa has had her well-child/sports physical appointment. Olivia had to be seen by the eye doctor, we had to pick up her glasses and have them fitted and then Olivia had a dentist appointment (two cavities, boo! She has to go to the pediatric dentist for those fillings…again, BOOO!) Next week I have an appointment at the school with Liv’s teachers to discuss her IEP.

So!

Too bad I have to work too. It’s too bad I can’t just claim my job is that of executive assistant for the Ordinary family and still earn a salary and insure my family.

I mean, seriously. Taking care of a family is a full-time job.

Alas, I live in the 21st century, not the mid-20th, when every family had a stay-at-home spouse/parent.

Now we all work and we’re all tired and overwhelmed. Misery loves company, which is the only positive to us all being miserable, we’re good company for each other.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Voice Lessons?


Alyssa’s choir teacher has suggested that Lyss take voice lessons. She’s given us the name of someone in Bryan (the next town over, about the same distance as the town where I work, just in the other direction from our house) who gives lessons for $14/hour.

So…okay.

I mean, if Mrs. F thinks it will do Lyss good, why not, right?

On the way to Toledo last weekend, the mom of Lyss’s friend Tessa, mentioned that their family gave up satellite television so that Tessa can take lessons from the same woman.

Huh.

Well, since we don’t have satellite television, giving it up isn’t an option. But I supposed we could just not renew our Netflix or our Hulu. That’s always an option. It sounds like a dismal option but…

Ehh, $14 a week isn’t going to break the bank.

Olivia’s orthodontics almost broke the bank. The fillings I had to have in my teeth last week, those almost broke the bank too (damned chemo.) But voice lessons? We’ll probably figure out how to make it happen.

When Mrs. F suggested that Lyss take voice lessons, she mentioned that she didn’t want to send A to the woman who lives locally (as in very close to the school) because, according to Alyssa, this voice coach would just tell Alyssa, “You’re doing great.”

This woman used to be the choir director of the school. She’s since retired (probably over 10 years ago) but she’s still very active in the community and at the school as an accompanist as well as, evidently, a voice coach.

I find it amusing that Mrs. F feels her predecessor would ‘call it in’ when it comes to voice lessons for Mrs. F’s current students.

But we trust Mrs. F to have Alyssa’s (and Tessa’s) best interests at heart and so…Bryan it is.

Now, I just need to remember to make the call to set up the first appointment, I am, after all, the appointment maker in our family.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Pizza Coupons

Every month, Olivia brings home a coupon to the local pizza place for a free personal pizza. It’s for the school’s reading program.

We’re really bad about using these coupons. It’s sad, really. I mean, it’s a free pizza!

But, alas, we live four whole miles outside of town and that means having to actually GO and GET the pizza if we want it.

Tom mentioned this morning that we should use the two coupons currently sitting on our counter. One expires on February 28 and the other on March 31.

I said, “You’re right. We should.”

And then I said, “You could call and order them this afternoon or tomorrow and send Alyssa to pick them up. She needs some excuses to drive a little more anyway.”

I think that man actually paled at the very idea of having to dial his phone and talk into it.

I am always the one who has to order pizza, or make appointments, or anything else that involves talking to anyone on the phone.

I laughed at the face he made and said, “You know, they’ll take orders from people who sounds like dudes.”

At this, he laughed. “Are you sure?”

“I am!” I insisted, sharing his amusement. “Remember how I had to remind you that Kroger let’s men shop? Well, the Edon Pizza Place will let men order and even pick up their pizza.”

I let it drop with that because one doesn’t need to beat a dead horse but…damn. Why must I always do that kind of thing?

Then again, maybe he thinks the same thing when it comes to shoveling the driveway, mowing the lawn and feeding the cat…

You know what? Never mind, I’ll just keep on ordering the pizza and making the appointments, thank you very much.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Well Child

The track season is coming. We had to get Alyssa’s sports physical recently. My doctor is pretty great about billing this visit as a well-child visit, so insurance pays the whole thing as preventative. I’ll take it.

Alyssa always passes with flying colors, because yeah, she’s a healthy kid. I’m very lucky. I know this.

Alyssa, on the other hand, doesn’t have a lot of luck when it comes to doctor visits.

This is the second time we’ve shown up at an appointment and been informed that she needs a shot.

The first time was when she was twelve and she was receiving her first HPV vaccination. The nurse came in and informed us that she was due for four other vaccinations at that time.

She looked at me with huge eyes. I kind of blinked at her and shrugged. I mean, if they were due and she needed them, let’s just do it.

I did take a minute to ask the nurse if it was safe for her to get five vaccinations in one day.

The nurse assured me it was fine.

And what do you know, four years later, no signs of autism in Lyss. Huh.

Wait…maybe the vaccinations are the cause of the gay…OMG! You guys! That’s it! Vaccinations cause previously straight kids to swing to either bi or gay. You heard it here first!!!

Oh right. That’s stupid. Sorry, I got caught up in my own excitement that I was going to be the next Jenny freaking McCarthy, who, by the way is a major hag. Just saying.

So yesterday we arrive for a sports physical that is being called a well-child visit.

Alyssa has been weighed and measured. Her eyes have been checked, left eye sees at 20/15 and right eye sees at 20/25, together, they see 20/20.

The nurse herds us into exam room #5. She looks over Lyss’s chart and…here it comes…

“She’s due for a meningococcal booster.”

Okay, I admit it. I laughed.

Alyssa glared at me.

I laughed some more.

The nurse looked concerned, like maybe I’d lost my mind. Which, see the previous post regarding fifth grade homework, OF COURSE I’VE LOST MY MIND!

Ahem.

She got the shot. And she was fine. She is fine. She is a tough old bird (at the ripe old age of 16) and takes this kind of thing like a champ.

As you can tell, I’m very pro-vaccines. I think people who don’t vaccinate their perfectly healthy children are morons. They’re a menace to society.

Babies should not be dying from the fucking measles and yet…they are because people are stupid and not vaccinating their kids against whooping cough and the measles and so the smallest, weakest among us are suffering.

It pisses me off because it’s so very preventable.

And I’ll step off my soapbox for now.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Fifth Grade Homework - The Frustrating Version

This version of firth grade science isn't nearly as fun as the first one. But okay, let's go there anyway.
Olivia brought home another packet. This one was all about symbiotic relationships. This was a four page packet of homework. We did the first three pages and I was feeling pretty good. I'd given Liv a couple of devices to help her figure out if a relationship was parasitic (she had to write a P for that one.) or if it was mutualistic. We were cruising along, she was writing P and M and C like a champ.

Then came the 'creative' part of the homework and I lost my damn mind.

The directions were:
Mix and match as many symbiotic relationships as you can. Choose two imaginary organisms and decide for one or both a need. Determine the niche of each organism, describe how a symbiotic relationship between the two meets the need/s, and describe the type of symbiosis. Get creative! You must invent extra information for each relationship to make sense.

Are you freaking kidding me?

I wrote the following email to her special education teacher:

"Hello, so sorry to bother you with this but I don't know who else to bring it up to. Olivia brought home a homework packet for science this evening. We've done the first three pages on symbiotic relationships. The fourth page is attached as a picture. The instructions say to mix and match as many symbiotic relationships as you can, choosing two imaginary organisms and creating a need for one or both. I can tell you that the only way this page is going to get done is if I do it. I do not believe Olivia has the ability to create symbiotic relationships between imaginary organisms. She can be creative but not like this. I don't think she is going to get anything out of me doing this exercise.

I hope this isn't coming across as whiny as it feels. I want Olivia to learn but I am also aware that her retention isn't exactly typical nor is her thought process.

Will she get in a lot of trouble if we skip the "creative" part of this homework?

Thank you so much for your thoughts."

I also attached a picture of that page of the homework.

Lucky for me and Olivia, she wrote back and asked me to have Liv show her the homework page the next day. She also spoke with the fifth grade science teacher and it was decided that I was right, Olivia wouldn't get anything at all out of doing that stupid homework page.

Yay for parents and teachers communicating...right?

Monday, February 18, 2019

TMI

Okay, if you don’t want to know WAY too much about me, go ahead and skip this post. These days, I’m writing more for myself than anything which is probably why my posts have been so whiny and annoying.

And this is for me too. But I don’t think it’s going to be whiny so there’s that.

Again, TMI is heading your way so avert your eyes if you don’t want to know about my IUD or lack of periods for the past twelve years or anything else concerning my hooha.

Ahhh, now that I’ve got a little privacy…

I had my IUD removed last Thursday. Valentine’s Day, yes.

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, my gynecologist told me the IUD would need to be removed.

But then they (my group of doctors, I have so many these days) decided that since my cancer was triple negative, the IUD wasn’t doing any harm and so it was decided we’d leave it in just to prevent pregnancy during chemotherapy and radiation.

Ha.

Hahahahahahahahaha.

I want to know who the hell is doing the thing that causes pregnancy while on chemotherapy. Because, no. No, no, no, no, no. No to the sex when one has a port inserted just under one’s skin on the right side of her chest and a five inch incision along one’s left breast, just under the armpit. No when one’s spouse is using a q-tip and shoving gauze into said incision for several months. It’s just not a romantic thing. It’s a loving thing, yes. Romantic? No.

All the above aside, we did decide to just leave the IUD alone.

I got my first IUD when Olivia was six weeks old. At that time, I was 36 years old and my doctor suggested I get on placed because ‘you never know, you might want to try for a boy.’

Uhh, okay. Whatever. I knew I didn’t want to get my tubes tied even though I was pretty sure I was done having babies so I went with the IUD. It was a semi-permanent solution to something I simply wasn’t ready to make permanent.

IUD, Mirena IUDs specifically, last for five years. So when Olivia was five, I had the first one removed and the second one inserted.

When she was ten, I had the second one removed and the third one inserted.

I never had any of the issues I’ve read about concerning IUDs. I never had any break-through bleeding. I don’t think I had mood swings or depression. Maybe some of my weight gain is due to the IUD? Or maybe it’s because I like to eat the crème out of Mega Stuf Oreos, like, a lot.

Anyway, about those side effects. They are as follows, as per the Internet:
•missed periods (amenorrhea), - YES!!! Which was one of the selling points of getting an IUD placed.
•bleeding and spotting between periods, - NOPE
•heavier bleeding during the first few weeks after device insertion,
•abdominal/pelvic pain, - NOPE, well, wait. I did have some cramping after the insertion of IUD 2 and 3.
•ovarian cysts, - NOPE
•back pain, - Duh, I’m fat and old, of course my back hurts, like all the time.
•headache/migraine, - I’ve always had headaches, so…maybe?
•nervousness, - NO
•dizziness, - NO
•nausea, - NO
•vomiting, - NO
•bloating, - Well, I’m fat, so…who knows if I’m bloated, I tend to always look like this.
•breast tenderness or pain, - Huh…breast cancer…
•weight gain, - I’m a fatty
•changes in hair growth, - NO
•acne, - NO
•depression, - Well…
•changes in mood, - I can be quite bitchy and also weepy, sometimes as the same time but I think this might be a me problem more so than an IUD problem
•loss of interest in sex, - See: CHEMO
•itching or skin rash, and - NO
•puffiness in the face, hands, ankles, or feet. – See: FATNESS

I decided a couple of weeks ago, before my annual exam with my gynecologist, Dr. S, that maybe it was time to have this last IUD (number 3, remember) removed. I kind of feel like it’s time to let my body just be.

I’ve been through so much. My body has been through so much. How about we just let it be for a while? How about I start practicing a little kindness toward myself and my body?

I don’t know if having the IUD out will make a difference but I want to find out.

I am 48 years old. I will not be having any more children but I want to let my body get back to its own natural rhythms. And hey, guess what? Four days after an IUD removal, a body (my body, at least) will have a period.

And I’m okay with that. I haven’t had a period in over twelve years. Almost thirteen, actually, since Olivia was probably conceived (ha, what did I tell you about TMI?) thirteen years ago this month.

It’s time for my body to rest, to just be.

Will this help me lose weight? Probably not. Will it make me like myself more? Probably not. Will it make me less bitchy and weepy? Probably not.

But it’s something. It’s a start of something.

What? I don’t know. But something and I’m holding on to that for now until I figure out the rest.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Fifth Grade Science

Fifth Grade Science

Olivia goes to the mainstream classroom for science and social studies. She’s given the same homework/tests as the rest of the class.

Yesterday, she brought home a practice test that the students had taken in class and then gone over with the teacher to use as a study guide for the actual test.

There were a few questions Olivia answered and the teacher wrote a question mark next to O’s answers.

The questions were:

Can you name an herbivore?

Can you name a carnivore?

Can you name an omnivore?

Olivia’s answer all of those questions was the same.

She answered, “Yes.”

And as far as she was concerned, she’d answered the questions correctly. I mean, right? The questions didn’t actually ask for those things. The question just asked if she COULD name one. It didn’t tell her TO name one.

So yeah.

We all had a good laugh and then I asked to actually write the names of an herbivore, a carnivore and an omnivore on the paper. It had, after all, been sent home to be corrected.

She still insisted on writing the word yes before writing cow, lion and pig on the appropriate lines. Sometimes, you just can’t fight the logic of Livie.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Trying to Enjoy the Journey (and Failing)

I’m edging in on six months at my new job.

I find myself wondering how long it took me to adjust to my last job. When did I finally feel like I fit in there, like I was part of the team, just another co-worker and not the ‘new girl’?

No one here treats me like I’m new anymore, so that’s nice.

But I still feel like I don’t know everything I should know about what I’m doing. I still look to one of the other three women in the front office whenever something different comes along.

I hate it. I hate feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing.

This is not to say that I hate my job. That’s so far from the case. I enjoy the work I’m doing, I really like the people with whom I work.

I just don’t like how long it feels like it’s taking for me to feel comfortable here, to feel like I belong, like I’m actually contributing more than I’m taking from those around me.

I don’t know if you know this about me but I don’t like to feel helpless or out of control. I don’t like not knowing something. I’m all about spoilers in everything because I like knowing what’s coming. I’m the one who read the first chapter of a book and then reads the last chapter just so I can know how it ends. I always go back and read the middle of the book too, but only after I’ve read the ending.

Life doesn’t have cheats or spoilers or chapters you can skip ahead and read. You have to live it in a linear fashion and that kind of sucks for someone like me.

I know that life is a journey and not a destination (thank you Aerosmith) but I’ve found I can enjoy the journey just a little more when I know what the destination is.

Whatever. That’s a stupid line of thought anyway.

So how much longer to I have to plod along until I feel like I’m where I belong or at least that I belong where I am?

Deep shit for a Monday, huh?

Identity Crisis

I’m kind of lost these days.

Who am I?

I’m no longer a cancer patient.

I’m a cancer survivor.

But what does that mean?

I’m still a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend.

But I don’t feel like I’m the same person I was before I was diagnosed with cancer.

I don’t feel less but I’m not sure I’m more…does that even make sense?

I don’t know.

I drank something with caffeine in it last night and when I lay down to try and sleep, my heart was racing. It was so weird and I felt so very off. I prayed that I’d be allowed to wake up this morning.

I realize how paranoid that is. I suppose everyone who’s gone through a serious illness goes through this.

I’m seeing a chiropractor for my hip pain. He says it’s my sciatic nerve being irritated. Not pinched but definitely rubbed the wrong way. Apparently I’m lucky the pain isn’t running down my leg.

I don’t know.

I want to get back to just being. I want to find my zen. I want to appreciate my body for how strong it is, for what it’s been through and still kicking.

I want to kick someone or something’s ass, metaphorically speaking, of course. I suppose one could say I’ve kicked cancer’s ass and yet…it could come back and kill me to death so there’s that.

According to my chiropractor (who seems to be in cahoots with my radiation oncologist) I should be on an alkaline diet. Cancer likes an acidic environment, so if I make my body chemistry more alkaline, cancer won’t feel so at home.

Huh.

Well, damn. I just opened a can of tomato juice. Do I dump it down the drain? Do I drink it and hope for the best? I drank it.

But then I googled ‘alkaline diet’. Yeah. Because we can believe everything we read on the internet, it says that there is no actual diet that can prevent cancer. Though losing weight can’t hurt, so there’s that.

I’m so sick of bitching about my fatness. I mean, isn’t everyone just as sick of reading about me bitching about my fatness? It’s kind of time to either accept my fatness and move on or do something about it. Talking about it, whining about it, bitching about it doesn’t do me any good except make me feel bad about myself and look where that’s got me.

So…what next?

Friday, January 11, 2019

Speaking of Orthodontics

As mentioned yesterday, Olivia started her orthodontic journey on Monday, January 7. She got the blue bands that wrap around the back teeth put on. This will make room for them to put on the bands that will anchor her braces next week. She’s going to get the brackets put on the top four teeth next week. These will be used to pull those four teeth together to make room for her canine teeth to come in. One is already trying to make its way in but the other one, the one on the left, is either being stubborn or there just isn’t room.

So we’re making room.

My mom has said several times that braces are going to drive Olivia crazy.

Maybe so, but could we maybe not say that in front of her quite so often? Because even if they do, is that a good enough reason to NOT put them on her? Is that a reason to let her have a bad bite and messed up teeth for the rest of her life?

I get that there are parents out there of kids with 5p- syndrome who choose not to put their kids through orthodontics. I get it. There are a lot of reasons to decide not to go the orthodontic route.

The thing with Olivia is that she’s capable of understand why we’re doing this. We can explain that the tightness and soreness in her mouth is temporary, she’ll endure, we’ll give her medicine to ease the pain and ice cream to numb it and it will be over in a couple of years.

She sucked her thumb until she was four years old. She has an overbite combined with widely spaced teeth. They need to be fixed to fix her bite and make it easier for her to close her mouth. She has chronically chapped lips due to her overbite.

I honestly think it would be unfair and unkind to not put braces on her. We did it for Alyssa for appearances mostly. Sure, there were a few issues with her bite, but nothing like Olivia has. So if we did it for one kid, damn it, we’re doing it for the other.

When we met with the orthodontist back in early December, he said we’re looking at about 30 months of treatment. That’s about what Alyssa had so…yeah, par for the course, right?

Alyssa had to have seven baby teeth pulled before we started braces.

Olivia had five pulled back in July in preparation for braces.

Olivia is a smart, capable kid. She can tell me when she hurts and I can help her deal. This will all be worth it.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Cusp

Alyssa turns 16 next Monday. She’s scheduled to take her driving test for her license on Tuesday. I hate to be one of those people who say that these past sixteen years have flown but…they have.

Sure, those early days were tough. She was a terrible sleeper, we drove way too many miles in her first year. She spent way too much time in a car seat and I had a lot (A LOT!) of resentment toward Tom for all the miles we commuted.

But those days are so far in the past. We’re in a good place right now.

Alyssa is so excited to be able to drive by herself. Tom’s…not so excited. He’s apprehensive about her getting her license in January. He’s already informed her (quite sternly…enough so that it brought her to tears, she’s a sensitive soul) that she will not be driving in bad weather. He also told her she won’t be taking her sister anywhere alone in the near future. ON that one, I think he’ll change his mind since Olivia started her orthodontic journey yesterday and this will last at least two years. He’s going to REALLY like the fact that we have another driver in the house, one who can take Liv to Angola and meet me there rather than him having to schedule his life around her appointments. So yeah.

She’s already asked if we can morph into the kind of parents she can just call out to from the back door, “I’ll be back later.”

Ha.

Probably not, but nice try.

She’s biting at the bit for some independence.

I get it; even as I fight the urge to grab her and hold on tight her, I do get it. This is her life, it’s just beginning, she’s got so much to look forward to, so much promise. And being able to jump in a car and GO is appealing to her.

It also terrifies me (and obviously, Tom.) But that’s our problem, not hers. We can’t stop her from growing up, we wouldn’t even if we could. We have to let her make her way, reminding her often that we’re always here, always a place for her land if she needs a break from anything and everything.

This past Sunday our TV was being weird and so Alyssa and I sat on the couch and watched the first season of America’s Next Top Model on my phone. She laid her head on my shoulder and we held that stupid tiny screen between us. It was awesome. It was moments like that the remind me that even as she spreads her wings, I will always provide her with a nest to call home.

I’m so lucky to have had these sixteen years with her; to have watched her grow and thrive. She’s amazing. This next step is just one more in what I hope and pray is a very long journey of discovery and joy for her.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Mindset

Here’s the thing:

The more I move, the less I hurt.

I need to cross-stitch that onto a pillow or a sweater or something that I can read every single day, that I can take with me and remind myself every moment of every day.

I bitch and moan here about how much I hurt (I’d like to think I only bitch and moan about it here but ask my family and let’s see how much I bitch and moan to them about being in pain…)and yet I know, I KNOW, that when I move more, I hurt less.

The more laundry I do, the less my hip hurts. Our washer and dryer are in the basement. The closets in which I hang the clean clothes are upstairs. So I traipse up and down two flights of stairs, fourteen steps each (yes, I’m stair counter, have I never mentioned that) so just one trip from the closets to the washing machine is twenty-eight steps, not including the walk down the hall from the bottom of the main stairs to the top of the basement stairs.

So if I know this, why don’t I get more actual exercise every single day?

I don’t know. I mean, I do know, but I don’t really know. Sure, I’m lazy but isn’t is more work to bitch and moan about how much my stupid hip hurts than it does to go for a twenty-minute walk that would actually make my hip stop hurting?

But wait, my foot hurts too. Yes, my stupid left foot is hurting again. The plantar fasciitis is back with a vengeance. My heel hurts pretty much all the time. The last time I saw the doctor about my stupid left foot was just before I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a cortisone shot in my heel and wow, the relief was immediate. I couldn’t believe it. It may be time to see that guy again for another shot.

I’ve taken to wearing the brace he gave (sold) me for the tendonitis in the outside of my stupid left foot. It helps. Which also helps the pain in my hip. I think when my foot hurts, not only do I not want to move as much but I also tend to favor it, which puts a weird strain on my right hip.

I’m just a mess.

And yet…I’m not anymore. I’m better. I need to change my mindset of being a mess and just get off my rather large butt and move.

I know it makes me feel better, which should be all the motivation it takes. Alas, that’s not the case. So…what to do?

I’m trying to take it one step and one load of laundry at a time. When I’m going up the stairs for the twelfth time in on Sunday afternoon, I often marvel at how much I don’t hurt. That’s a start; acknowledging that I feel good. I know we don’t always do that. When we hurt, it consumes us but when we’re feeling good, or at least not in pain, we often take it for granted. I’m trying not to do that.

We’ll see.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

New Year's Eve Thoughts

Reset

I feel like maybe 2019 will be our reset year.

I pray our family won’t have any medical issues this year.

I would like to learn to eat better, move more, relax a little about everything.

2017 and 2018 feel like they were the Years of Cancer.

I want to leave that behind me, move on from cancer and all it entails. I want to enjoy life, enjoy my family, enjoy my body again.

I want to learn to appreciate and celebrate the things I do well and not dwell so hard on the things I don’t do well.

I love well.

I…watch television really well. Huh.

I’m good at keeping my family fed and I don’t let filth overrun out house. That’s something.

I’m a good reader. I got three new books for Christmas and have finished one already. I do love escaping into a good book.

I need to find my place in this new, post-cancer world of mine. I need to gain momentum and make a difference. Where do I go from here?

I guess we’ll see.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Another Catch Up

Written Friday, December 28:

Stale

I sat at my desk the other day and ate old, stale M&Ms. I know, you wouldn’t think M&Ms, with their colorful candy coating would go stale. Trust me, they do. Yech.

So why was I eating them?

Duh, because they were there.

To my credit, I did stop after realizing how truly stale they were. There were fourteen left when I threw them away; two red, two orange, two yellow, two green and six blue.

Maybe that’s my biggest problem.

Everything feels stale these days. My attitude is stale, my drive. Everything about me is stale. I eat too much, I don’t move enough. I don’t take care of myself the way I take care of my family.

Speaking of my family, my life with them is good. Tom is good, he makes me laugh and I believe I make him laugh too. We are kind to each other and I don’t feel the need to make faces at him as he walks away the way I did a couple of years ago.

The girls, oh my goodness, my girls are so amazing.

Olivia needed an adjustment to her glasses recently and we did a walk-in at her eye doctor’s office. The nice lady who adjusts glasses frames was so patient.

But Olivia was awesome. She used her words. To the best of her ability, she explained how her glasses were bothering her, describing where they were pushing or feeling loose/tight. She had to work so hard to get those words out but they did come out. I was so proud of her I bought her KFC afterward. (Shhh, don’t tell but I was going to get her KFC anyway, but it was a good excuse to get it.)

Alyssa, well, that girl just shines. She painted several pictures as Christmas gifts this year and each recipient was so grateful for her thoughtfulness. She’s got talent oozing out her pores.

I am so very lucky to get to be their mom and maybe that’s where a lot of my fears stem.

I want to keep being their mom. I’m not doing parenting yet.

Several of Alyssa’s friends’ parents are so over parenting these days. They can’t be bothered to know where their kids are or what they’re doing. They don’t go to their kids’ events/performances/games.

I’m not done parenting. I’m not ready to not be here for my girls. Even on my most impatient, tired days, I’m still here, loving my girls, loving my husband, being present in their lives. I don’t want to be done. Please don’t make me be done. I’m not ready for motherhood to join the staleness of other parts of my life.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Backtracking

I wrote this one before Christmas but...better late then never.

Better

Even though I’m back to work (because I’m back to work?) and don’t have as much time at home with my family this Christmas/New Year season, I definitely feel like this year has been better than last year.

Last year I realized on Christmas morning that I hadn’t given Olivia nearly enough to play with. I fixed that this year and she’s in Miraculous Ladybug heaven. She got four new dolls from the cast of Miraculous Ladybug and two new books. At one point I looked over and saw that she’d lined her four dolls up and they were reading one of the books. I mean…can you even?

It was just adorable.

Tom has been…less Scroogy this year. I don’t think he’s ever really meant his Scrooge-like attitude, I think it’s mostly always been sort of a joke with him but this year, he hasn’t seemed to need to be quite as “Bah humbug” with the whole Christmas, gift-giving, spending time with loved ones scene. I appreciate that from him and refuse to ask him if it was due to my medical issues in the past year. I mean, if I mention it, he might decide that this gentler, merrier version of himself has to go and I don’t want that.

Alyssa, being just over three weeks away from sixteen knew pretty much everything she was getting this year. But I was able to surprise her a little, with a pair of duck-foot slippers and a t-shirt that reads: Just a girl who loves ducks.

Have I mentioned the loves ducks? It’s a new obsession and it’s cute. She mostly wanted clothes and hair stuff. But she got a piano too.

Before anyone starts to think we won the lottery or something, this piano has been in the family for years. In fact, my mom has been trying to give us this piano for years. I’ve been trying to convince Tom to let us bring it home for years.

He gave up the fight this year. Wheeee!!! I asked him what his biggest objection to having it in our house was. He admitted that he just didn’t want to have to move the heavy thing.

I told him that my mom promised the help of my brothers and bam, he agreed to do it.

Alyssa is in musical heaven. She’s played it every single night since it’s been home. She’s so excited to be able to practice the song she’s singing in the solo and ensemble contest in a couple of months.

I feel like since I didn’t have nearly as much time off, I’m soaking it all in as much as I can when I am there with my family.

I hope we’re building memories and making the best of our time together. I can’t help but want to make each moment count, just in case I’m not here next year.

I know that’s morbid. I wonder if all cancer patients/survivors feel and think this way in the year following their treatment.

All I know for sure if that I think it. I worry that this is my last Christmas with my family, my last chance to make it magical for them, my last opportunity to lavish them with my own brand of love and affection. I know that this time with them is the only guaranteed time so I’m trying to make the best of it, the most of it.

I hope and pray that I’m wrong, that next year is better yet and the year after that better still for decades to come. I pray for miracles every single day, for each and every one of us.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Not Really Resolutions

The girls started back to school on Thursday, January 3rd. It was kind of nice for them to start on a Thursday. It meant they had two days of school and then, wheee, the weekend. It’s a nice way of easing them back into the school routine rather than plunging them back in by making them start back on a Monday.

All day at work on Thursday, I told myself that if, when I got home, Olivia announced that she had homework, I was going to pretend to be a really good mom and just say gently, “Okay, let’s get on that.”

That is in direct opposition to my usual response of, “Ugh! Fine, sit down and start working on it. No, don’t erase the word. Why are you erasing it again? Olivia! If you erase every single work five thousand times, we’ll be here until April. Just write the word. Write the word. Write the stupid word. Stop erasing, that letter was fine!”

Ahem. Yeah. I want to be better than the mom in the above paragraph.

See, every so often, I decide to pretend to be a kind, patient, loving mom. It drives Alyssa crazy when I do this because my gentle voice is very annoying. But honestly, I think my annoyed voice is so much worse. So I do it for two reasons: One, because I want to be better and two, bonus, because it annoys Alyssa. Win, win.

And guess what? I did it! When I got home, Olivia announced that she had one worksheet as homework. And I said, “Okay. Let’s sit down and get it done.”

And we did. There might have been a little bit of groaning when I realized that even though she’d ‘read’ the article she’d brought home in class, there was no way she was going to be able to answer the questions herself so I had to read it too. It was not a huge deal, just a little annoyance and I think I managed to mask just enough. So one point to me as the good mom.

So while it’s not really a resolution, I am going to try to pretend to be a good mom a little more often going forward. It’s the very least I can do for my girls. I mean, I should be doing more than the least but I’m trying here, people.

I’d also like to get organized around my house. I mean, if I were to die in the coming year, my poor husband would have to deal with the mess that I’ve made of our house in the eight years we’ve lived there. I know that’s morbid but…

So yes, I need to purge our house. There is so much crap in there. The ‘toy room’ has become a storage space for junk no one even looks at anymore. It needs to be tossed/donated/burned. The master closet is a disaster. The seasonal closet is horrible. So much to do. I hope I have enough time to do it.

No, not really resolutions, just kind of a wish list.

Friday, January 4, 2019

January 4th - Already Behind

I have so many posts written and sitting in my inbox, waiting to be copied and pasted and posted.

What’s stopping me?

I have no idea.

I wrote about Christmas and how different it feels this year than last. Different better, for the record.

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just post them day after day after day for the next week just to catch myself up. I often feel like this blog is a journal for my girls. Someday, (tomorrow if it’s Alyssa, who reads often) they can check out my meandering thoughts, my worries, my joys (them).

I gave my dad a journal for Christmas that has writing prompts. I told him that I hoped he write in it and share it with me. He turned 79 just before Christmas and I feel the march of time in both him and me. I want to know his story, his life, his joys and memories. I want to keep it to pass on to my girls so they can remember him and me. It’s how we humans attain immortality.

I should spend more time with my grandma, writing down her stories, her memories. She lived a very interesting life, born in 1924, married young (18, which probably wasn’t young for her time but damn, 18!) and then she went on to have twelve children, no twins. She raised those kids with an alcoholic husband who I think was mean to her, maybe not physically (but I don’t know that for sure) but definitely mentally.

I spend a lot of time with my mom but I don’t know all her stories. I want to know them. I should ask her more questions, get her a journal too, remind her to write it all down so we can remember and pass it on.

I was invited to join a Facebook group that brings together cancer fighters/survivors. The woman who runs it found me on Instagram and invited me through that. She’s a three-time cancer survivor. THREE TIME! I mean, damn. Can you even freaking imagine? Well, I can, actually because I’ve imagined it over and over again. Every single pain I have has me imagining that it’s cancer again, so…yeah.

But it’s nice to connect, even virtually, with other survivors, to know that my panic over the fact that my stupid eye is bloodshot (could it be because of a tumor in my toe?! WHO KNOWS!) is normal, it’s natural, it’s something that I just have to power through.

Please pardon my melodrama.

Anyway.

Happy New Year