Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas (Eve)!

Merry Christmas everyone! 

It's Christmas Eve, which in my sort of Polish household. My Dad is 100% Polish, but born here in the US.  My Grandparents on my Dad's side are 100% Polish too, born in the US to their Polish immigrant parents.  My Dad married my Mom - of course - and broke all the rules.  My Mom is French, German (you can imagine what my Grammy thought of that one), English (this part they can trace all the way back to the Mayflower), and one portion of overall melting pot.).  Mr. Darcy is overall melting pot too, but the portions we know include Cherokee Indian (a rather small percent at this point), Africaans, Scottish, and English.  Of course, my Dad knighted him Polish back when we were engaged with a frozen kielbaska when my Grammy told Mr. Darcy that he was so wonderful but that the one thing that would make him perfect for me was if he was Polish.  That has to count for something, right?  Genetically speaking, though, my little ladies are only about 25% Polish. (Although I think Angelfish might be more Polish than Ladybug.  She LOVES Polish food and rather looks like the Polish side of the family.  Ladybug is okay with Polish food, but really looks like Mr. Darcy.)  But as my Grammy would say, "the Polish part is the best part!"

Anyway. Christmas Eve (or as I like to call it "Polish Christmas") is really the big deal for Polish Catholic people.  We're a bit superstitious, and that comes to play on Christmas Eve especially.  Anything that happens on Christmas Eve is thought to be a look into the coming year.  If a man is the 1st guest to to enter your house on Christmas Eve, that's good luck.  A woman, not so much.  The reason? The man is symbolic of Jesus' birth.  The woman is symbolic of the tears that Mary sheds when Jesus is crucified. 

I guess it's bad that when my neighbor walked by the house this morning on a walk with her little ones, I thought that if she comes to the door I really hope her son steps through the door first!  Superstition.   Also, behavior on this day portends the coming year.  Quarrel on Christmas Eve and you'll have a quarrelsome year.  Ladybug started to argue with me this morning about scissors and I told her that we would not be arguing today.  She gave up after a few moments and gave them over.  So far, the little ladies have been well behaved and are playing nicely together..  They were dancing to jazz Christmas Carols a little bit ago and are now in the playroom having a "party."  Last night, Angelfish requested only food she likes for lunch on Christmas Eve - "chicken nuggets, applesauce, and pasta." 

A day home for Christmas Eve is wonderful.  Mr. Darcy is at work until around noon or "whenever I get to a good stopping point for what I'm working on."  Last year, he got home at 4 pm.  I'm hoping he'll be home earlier this year.  Come 1:30 pm, my out of office will be on and I won't be back to work until December 31st.  I'm looking forward to the time off and the days with the girls.  We're finally using our free week of daycare for vacation - it has to be a Monday through Friday, so we couldn't do it when we went to Seattle... but this way it pretty much paid for most of Christmas (other than the fake tree).  Funny how things tend to work out.

Ladybug was super happy last night when I asked her to stay home from daycare with me.  She acted like it was the absolute best thing that had ever happened to her, and gave me a huge hug and kiss and said "Thank you so much Mommy" in such a way that I almost got teary eyed.  I asked Angelfish if she would stay home with me too and she said "Sure!  I'd love to!" in a peppy little way.  I think that exchange with them very well may have been the best Christmas present I'll receive.

Around 4:30 pm today I'll start cooking.  I'm taking some short cuts with the meal, so it won't be as yummy, but after working a large part of the day, and still kind of in this emotional recovery from all that went on with my Mom's cancer and surgery I think I need the break.

Also, if you want to give someone a potential gift - join the Be the Match Bone Marrow Registry.  I have a friend who is searching for a bone marrow match for a transplant right now, so you never know whose life you might save!  And if you join before January 30, 2010, you can do it for free (otherwise there is a charge for the initial work to put you on the registry).  Here are the steps:
1) Visit
2) Click on Register.
3) Review donor eligibility requirements and use the following promo code: BTM2010  This code will allow you to Pay Nothing if done before January 30, 2010.
4) Complete the online registration form.
5) Receive by mail a simple, do-it-yourself tissue typing kit. The kit includes everything you need to collect a sample of your cheek cells using cotton swabs.

And now it's back to work and the cherubs.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!

Ladybug in one of her fashion creations - a hat made from underpants!
Now doesn't that make your Christmas even Merrier?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Morning Run?

I'm not really sure if you can call what I did this morning a run or not.  It was "cold"  (by next year, I'm guessing I won't be using quotation marks, but don't worry Rockstar Tri I will definitely seek an intervention if the Marquis graces our driveway) this morning - 48 degrees.  In my running shorts, my legs were really cold while I got the kiddies in the car.  So I decided to go to the Y. 

I had to laugh a few minutes ago because I read another blog where they were finding a way to do their run because it was in the 20's and there was a lot of snow on the ground, so they too went to the Y.  I guess for Florida, this is sort of the equivalent of that.  The Christmas forecast has rain, which is like a White Christmas around here - it's snow, just melted.

Anyway.  The Y.  I hate the treadmill.  Not just a little bit of hate.  I. HATE. IT.  I think it's why I hated running all those years because in Atlanta I was so allergic to the smog (per my doctor that's why every time I ran outside during the spring or summer I would have an asthma attack), that I could only run on the treadmill.  There is no scenery and as the treadmill's nature, you don't go anywhere.  What is the point?  How is that fun?  For, me it's not.  If there is someone who likes the treadmill out there, please explain what it is that you like so I can try to find it too.

So, I decided it's Christmas week why not give myself a little present and run on the elliptical machine instead?  I seem to run slower on the elliptical machine though.  I'm not sure if that's true or if it just feels that way because it's a slightly different position.  I put the incline on the highest level that still allowed you to work all of the muscle groups like you do when you run.  And I set to work.  I did the 1st 7/1 Galloway on the elliptical but without holding on to the handrails except for the 1 minute walk when I really slowed my pace.  But I felt like I was just going too slow, so I switched to the treadmill for the next 7/1 and decided I really could not take the treadmill today.  It wasn't too hard (which I was slightly fearful of since I didn't really get to train at all last week), but it sure wasn't fun.  So at the end of that 7/1, I went back to the elliptical so I could have a more enjoyable run.  Once I finished the 45th minute, I stopped.    Between all my machines, I did 4.0 miles in 45 minutes.  Not the fastest, but not too shabby.  11:15 average mile pace.  I figured for using the elliptical machine, that wasn't too bad. 

But now I'm wondering if it really counts as running?

I think it does because it's cardiovascular and used all the same running muscles (not to mention I had to keep my core relatively tight so I could balance since I wasn't using the bars to rest my arms on and used them like I do when running), and it's pretty close to the pace that I tend to fall into when I do longer runs. (Not that 4 miles is all that far, but hopefully you know what I mean.)  Of course, it doesn't put as much pressure on your joints and stuff and there's probably more resistance when you run on the treadmill.  Well, I'm going to say it was a run.  I think.

In other news, they didn't take out Mom's drain yesterday because she's still having around 40mL of drainage a day.  So, they're not coming over for Christmas and don't want us to come there (not even for the day) because they say it is too much for them to deal with and that we all need to rest.  I can see their point this time around.  It will be Mr. Darcy, the Little Ladies and I for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and then the Darcy Seniors will come after Christmas for a couple of days.  I am plotting to shake sleigh bells outside of the girls' bedroom window around midnight (or after we get the battery powered, age appropriate pink motorcycles put together that the Darcy Senior Santas provided for Christmas - whichever is later).

Last night I made the Mexican Wedding Cake cookies and had to fend off Ladybug from the Polish Ginger Cookies I made on my lunch break yesterday.  She wanted to decorate them with icing and sprinkles, which might be fun but wouldn't taste too good.  Ladybug did help roll some of the Mexican Wedding Cake cookies, but she was also taken with the Strawberry Shortcake Christmas video that her godmother and godfather sent her so when she realized that all 3 dozen cookies were already rolled and she had only done about 3 she was a little upset at first.  I told her that she was watching tv so I had to do them.  She was okay with that at least.

I also made the dough for the sugar cookies that we're going to make tonight and refrigerated it.  I hope it didn't dry it out.... if it did, we'll have to make another batch of dough and chill it.  The idea of having to endure 20-30 minutes of dough chilling with little girls who want to bake and decorate the cookies is not overly enticing.

This morning Angelfish came running into the bedroom after Mr. Darcy had woken her up and I was finishing putting on my running gear. "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy! I want to stay home with you all morning and play with you and Daddy this afternoon."  The poor child thought it was Christmas Eve already.  We're letting them stay home tomorrow while I work until 1:30 and Mr. Darcy gets off work around noon.  Day care closes at noon, so we figured this would let me get off on Thursday at 1:30 instead of 2:30.  If I can find the wireless password, then I can even be in the same room as they are tommorrow... let's hope some little Christmas Elf (hint, hint Mr. Darcy - if you're reading) can help me with that.  Otherwise it's me in the office at the front of the house and them in the play room.

I took the girls shopping for Christmas presents last night (MR DARCY CHRISTMAS GIFT SPOILER ALERT - SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH).  The things they want to buy for people are definitely what they really want for themselves.  Angelfish wanted to buy Mr. Darcy "lipstick" (watermelon flavored chapstick) that was in a green container because "green is for boys."  Ladyfish at one point wanted to give him a necklace because as she said "some boys wear necklaces and some boys don't."  I agreed with her, but she finally relented that perhaps Daddy isn't one of the boys that wears necklaces.  Instead, they bought him a bright green mixing bowl, two I love Daddy picture frames so they can put pictures of themselves in it for him, and a tootsie roll ornament that has tootsie rolls inside (I tried for the Laffy Taffy one because Mr. Darcy likes Laffy Taffy, but they said hot pink was not a Daddy color.)  They also found a Superman t-shirt when we were walking around looking at things and decided that Daddy needed it.  I asked if Daddy was their Superman and they said "Yes, but he doesn't fly." It almost brought tears to my eyes.  I always thought of my Daddy as a superhero too.

They also bought each other presents, which was really funny.  They sat there in the dollar section picking out different things and showing it to each other and saying "I'm getting you this for Christmas but it's a surprise. Do you like it?"  My favorite exchange like this was when Ladybug decided she was getting farm stickers for Angelfish, showed them to her and said, "I'm getting you these farm stickers for Christmas because they are soooo cute.  I hope you like them!"  and Angelfish answered "I love them.  It is so sweet of you to do that for me!"  The trick is to wrap all the presents tonight between the time I pick them up from daycare and before Mr. Darcy gets home from work.  We'll have to have dinner a little later tonight, and it may be a sandwich night because I'll be cooking up a storm tomorrow night and a bit on Christmas Day too.

On the fashion front, Angelfish decided today that she was anti-jeans. "No jeans for me!" she told me.  So she is wearing pink tights with a green t-shirt that has a picture of a really cute cartoon reindeer wearing a scarf. The only saving grace is that the reindeer's striped scarf has a stripe the color of the pink tights in it.  Then she's wearing light pink socks that she pulled up so they go over the ankle cuff of the tights ala 1980's style, and a hot pink beaded necklace with a red and white beaded bracelet that has a pink heart.  She is quite the little thing.  Ladybug opted for a blue ruffled skort and a light purple long sleeve shirt that has a silver pear on it, light blue socks and her black "party shoes" as she calls them.  Oh and don't forget the turquoise blue headband.  I remember seeing kids in really mismatched clothes before I had children and used to wonder why their parents let them out in public like that, and now I am the parent who just thinks "oh well. I didn't have to fight to get them dressed this morning, everything's covered that needs to be covered, so now I'll just have to hope people realize they dressed themselves."  The best part of all is that they think that they are hot stuff!

Mr. Darcy and I are planning on having lunch today - a little bit of time alone before the family time of the coming week.  The girls will be home all next week and Mr. Darcy is only off next Monday, Tuesday and Friday, so it will be an adventure in both life and getting my training done.  I'm trying to think up some fun activities for us to do during the day Wednesday and Thursday... riding the motorcycles that Santa is bringing will be part of it, I'm sure!

That will be a run of a different sort - even from a run on the elliptical machine!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oh Dear - I think I'm a Floridian Again

Last night I had dreams of riding my bike - in aero, red of the bike flashing, legs pumping, the whole nine yards.  I was wearing my typical bike attire - a sleeveless tri tank and bike shorts. 

I woke thinking today is my 60 minute Cross Training Day, I can ride that bike for an hour!  Whoo Hoo!

Then I stepped out of the bed and realized that even with the heat on, it was kind of chilly.  When we woke the girls this morning, Angelfish wanted to see outside to determine if she could go back to bed.  After declaring that it was still dark outside  and therefore it was sleep time, she left the sunshield up.  And the cold emanated from the window to the point I had Mr. Darcy fix it to insulate the room a little more.

It was only 36 degrees.  36 degrees is always chilly, but I used to think of this as a day I needed the wool coat - if that were to be the high.  Today, I thought that perhaps I should put the girls in a heavier coat and that maybe I should skip that bike ride.  Especially since I haven't gotten my chain replaced and I could just imagine getting out there and the cold causing it to really pop.... resulting in my carrying the bike home while trying not to slip in my bike shoes.  I decided it was just too darn cold!

It got worse when I was outside getting Ladybug into the car.  In yoga pants, a yoga top and a fleece jacket, I was still cold.  My blood has thinned as they say.  I think I'm acclimated to warm weather, which means that next year this time, I'll be downright frozen.  I've always heard you're 100% acclimated after 2 years. 

So, it looks like I am a Floridian.  Let's just hope I don't start decorating for Christmas with light yellow, light blue, and plum for affect.  Or even worse, putting flamingos with Santa hats on the front lawn and merely removing the Santa hats at the end of the Christmas season. 

Of course there are benefits too... I'll be sporting a tan all year round, despite the load of sunscreen I slather on.  People love to come visit. As an old law school professor used to say in our estate tax class, "People are dying to come here and coming here to die."  Morbid, yet rather true.

Perhaps instead of Christmas in Hawaii, it's Christmas in Florida.  Same number of syllables... and I'm freezing my tuckus off at 36 degrees Farenheit!

Instead of the bike ride, I had a nice hour of Pilates (1st 1/2 hour) and Yoga (2nd half hour), and the Yoga was awesome.  It was balancing the left and right side of the body (Sun-Moon) and I think my back adjusted itself at the end.  I heard a bunch of clicking in my lower back and the complete release of a bunch of muscle tension.  Gotta love it!  Plus, I was/am nice and relaxed. 

Hopefully that relaxed self will last through this evening.  I have to take the girls to Target to buy Mr. Darcy some Christmas presents from them and to buy each other presents, plus cookie baking must happen tonight.  It would have happened last night but unfortunately two helpful little ladies decided to help unpack and put away groceries without permission and the brand new dozen eggs that we had landed with a smack and 12 cracks on the kitchen (tile) floor.  The ladies learned one lesson - you can't bake without eggs.  I learned a lesson too - turn on a show for the kiddies so you can put the groceries away without drama.

This morning, after a night of sleep, you can't fault them for wanting to be helpful.  You can fault them for not listening though.  Always a work in progress.  Ladybug is counting down the days - quite literally - to Christmas.  In the grocery store last night, as I was buying fish for Christmas Eve dinner, Ladybug informed the man at the fish counter 1) that Tilapia is her favorite fish, not Salmon anymore; and 2) he was bald.  Luckily the man is really nice and laughed.  Angelfish told him that she used to like Tilapia but that now she has changed her mind and doesn't like fish.  He told her that she would like this fish because it was for Christmas.  She gave him a look that indicated she was none to pleased with the idea. I just had to laugh at them.

Kind of like I laughed at myself this morning when I realized that this weather is COLD and I really was a Floridian again!

Angelfish is only a little excited about Christmas...
Only a little...

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's Nice to Have a Simple Disappointment

I know, it sounds funny, but after weeks of worry about my Mom's breast cancer, worrying about caring for her and not being here for the kiddies and Mr. Darcy, and realizing that at least for now the crisis is past, having a simple disappointment - one that is not life altering is, in a way, a nice relief.

Even more so because the disappointment in the big scheme of things in this life is very minor.  It's about a cake.  Now first let me point out that when it comes to deserts, I'm not really a cake kind of gal.  I do love me some birthday cake but that's usually a once a year kind of hankering.  But this cake (at least in my mind's eye) is different. 

December issue of Southern Living - front cover.  A beautiful chocolate cake with white icing and candied oranges and cranberries on top.

I read the recipe.  Chocolate cake with a little coffee and vanilla in it.  Between the 2 layers is a chocolate orange ganache.  The white icing?  Vanilla Orange.  Okay, so my mouth was watering from the first moment I read the recipe.  And I'm not even a chocolate cake sort of gal. 

Ever since, my little brain has been hatching the plan to bake this cake for Christmas Dinner's desert.  Even though in our house the really big eating day is Christmas Eve with our Polish Wigilia meal - traditional Polish Christmas food, yum.  Really my most food driven and tradition day - my favorite day of the entire year.  But this year, there was going to be this cake. 

Not only would I have my herring, mushroom soup, fish, kapusta, pierogie and green beans done right, but I would have this Chocolate Orange Cake on Christmas Day.  The piece de resistance! 

But I've been gone.  The recipe said it would take over 6 hours to complete. I figured out how I could do it in stages.  Candied oranges tonight, Ganache tommorrow, cake itself Wednesday, icing it Thursday evening.  It could work. 

As I was putting the shopping list together, I re-read the actual steps of the recipe.  Four little words ruined it all... "heavy-duty electric stand mixer."  While I have been covetous of the electric stand mixer (preferably by Kitchen Aid in Apple Green or Orange), I have never been willing to part with the money that it takes to purchase said item.  We were young enough when we got married that such domestic things as baking had not entered into my mental sphere, so it wasn't on the registry nor did I use any wedding gift money for such a thing. 

But I still had hope.  I did not own a heavy-duty electric stand mixer, but the bakery up the road did and they made cakes to order.  Sure it wouldn't be 100% the same, but I bet they could do it.  Until I remembered that they had a sign up the other day saying orders for Christmas Cakes had to be in by December 20th.  Or was it today? Was it the 21st?  I called.  It was the 20th and they had so many cakes they couldn't squeeze in another one.  I understand that deadlines are deadlines (you know it came from where they'd draw a line in the sand and if you crossed the line they shot you dead).

There will be no Christmas cake.  Instead I will dejectedly make pecan butter balls (some people call them Little Mexican Wedding Cakes) in their stead.  No one will know the difference really.  There may be some sugar cookies left over from Santa too.  But no cake.

And yet it's nice to be disappointed over the cake.  Sure, I'd rather have had the cake.  But at the same time, if I had to exchange a lovely cake for those great test results my Mom had after her mastectomy, I'd never ever do it.  Besides, now I have an extra 6 hours on my hands - well, minus how ever long it takes me to make the replacement cookies.  But I can make those with the girls, and the cake wouldn't have worked well with little people.

Perhaps some year I will have a lovely Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer in either Apple Green or Orange and that year, I will make my cake.  Until then it will be my little dream...

A Happy Return and "Winter" Weather

A Happy Return
I'm back home! YAY!  I got home about 12:30 yesterday and set about hiding some extra little Santa gifts that I bought, unpacked, turned the lights on the Christmas tree on, and then sat down.  The house was very, very quiet. Too quiet.  Around 1:30 Mr. Darcy called and we chatted while he drive the rest of the way home.  By 1:58 he was in the garage, and I ran out to give him a kiss and heard Angelfish say "Mommy!"  I opened the minivan door and there was my precious little Angelfish just waking from her nap with a huge smile on her face.  I got her out of her carseat and she gave me the biggest hug she's ever given me.  Ladybug was just waking up at this point.  The poor kid had an accident while she was sleeping so she was a little sheepish, but I got her out of the car while Angelfish clung to me like one of those things we used to have in the 80's on our pencils.  After she changed into new clothes, Ladybug gave me a big hug and a kiss but warmed up a bit more once Angelfish evidently decided it was safe to let go because I wasn't going anywhere.

We read books and laughed and played and Mr. Darcy got us a pizza for dinner when the time came.  We watched a Peter Pan movie that wasn't a cartoon that was really rather good.  Read more stories, cleaned up the play room (during which I blew on a party noise maker, and Angelfish walked up to me, took it out of my mouth and said "It's clean up time, not play time" and marched off - so I tickled her and then her sister).  Finally bedtime rolled around and I assured them, I was not going anywhere except the usual work tomorrow.

This morning I gave them what Mr. Darcy calls a "special treat" (which may be what it is for him...) - I took them to day care.  We got ready for school, had some breakfast, got in the car and went to school.  They were great!  A little fussiness from Ladybug who never wants to get up in the mornings, but she got over it - probably because I let her pick her own clothes out and she decided to wear a white skirt that has little hearts all over it with a long sleeve white tee shirt that also has little hearts all over it (in fact it's the same colors and pattern), bright blue socks (they were on sale for 50 cents at play place - so what if they're bright blue - cheap socks are a must!), and her black patent leather sandals.  Not to mention the hair clip and the maroon and white polka dotted head band.  Oh yes, the fashion mogul. Angelfish's only request this morning clothing wise was that she not wear a pair of jeans that touched her belly button.  A slight hiking down of the jeans solved the problem.

At one point yesterday, Angelfish and Mr. Darcy were in the play room looking at a book and Ladybug and I were in the kitchen sharing some cocoa and I looked into the play room and thought "there's no place else I'd rather be."  A minute later, I told Ladybug that she was a good girl and she said "thanks, but sometimes I'm not."  I told her that she's always a good girl because she loves people and is kind, but that sometimes she makes choices that are good and sometimes she makes choices that are bad.  But even when she makes bad choices, she's still a good girl.  She looked like she got it and then broke off a piece of her gingerbread cookie and gave it to me.  I thanked her and said "You're so sweet for sharing your cookie with me."  She told me that I was sweet for sharing my cocoa with her. It made my heart so happy!

"Winter" Weather
This morning we woke up and it was "cold" for Florida - in the 40's!  It's only getting up into the 50's today, so I have on jeans and a sweater.  I had to go to the post office since they refused to deliver our mail again until I went in - seems no one checked the mail while I was gone and there was no more room for the mail in the mailbox. (In Mr. Darcy's defense, we have one of those key boxes that is the next street over - not just at the bottom of our driveway and it's a good bit smaller than a standard mailbox.)  As I went, I saw people in the neighborhood in coats.  I started to laugh but stopped because I realized that this morning I said it was cold.  I'm definitely starting to acclimate to Florida weather.  By this time next year, I may even be one of those coat-clad people in the "freezing" 55 degree weather.

But at least it sort of feels a little more Christmasy around here.  So I'm sending out warm thoughts to all of you in the northern climes - especially if you're in that dastardly snow storm.  My Uncle sent us pictures from his house in Virginia and he is seriously snowed in for a bit. 2 feet in a day! 

But it's a nice start to the week... I didn't work out today, but plan to do a 60 minute cross training session tomorrow morning.  Until then...

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Belated Return Home

Originally, I planned to head home today.  But Dad asked if I'd stay until tomorrow morning.  I agreed.  Now it looks like I will be here until Sunday sometime.  Mom is okay.  The home health nurse came and asked why we hadn't changed the bandage and washed with saline.  Ummm... because no one told us to.  We were told you were going to do the bandage changes.  Turns out the 1st nurse on Wednesday failed to tell us that we were supposed to do bandage changes on the days they didn't come, or that we needed to be cleaning her incision line with sterile water.  So she endeavored to teach Dad how to do all that needed to be done, but poor Dad was a bit overcome and almost passed out.  He's a bit embarrassed despite the fact that it happens to tons of people everyday, especially when dealing with your loved ones.

I, on the other hand, have the ability to separate myself from what I am doing.  Instead of looking at it as Mom, I look at it as these are the steps I have to take and dive in and get it done.  Not sure if that's a good quality or not, but that's how it is.  That's probably how I pull it together with my kiddies when they've hurt themselves.  With them I have a 30 second freakout and then pull it together though.  With Mom, no freak out.  Guess it's the difference between birthing a person and just being born to them. : )

Mr. Darcy has been informed.  He's not overly happy about it, but wants me to give Mom the care she needs.  He just misses his wife and his children miss their Mommy.  (And I am missing all of them desparately too. I had visions of baking cookies and a cake with the little ladies while blasting Christmas carols and having the tree all lit up.  Maybe even taking them to the new princess movie.)  But God puts us where we are supposed to be and at the moment, that is here with Mom and Dad.   

But they'll have a fun weekend, I'm sure.  Mr. Darcy is taking them to Grammie and PaPa's house again for the weekend.  His parents said they'd be happy to have them, even though Mr. Darcy's sweet Mom just left our house this morning after helping out all week.  And we'll try to meet up when I know what time I'm leaving on Sunday.  Maybe I'll try to get some running in this weekend... it's supposed to be cooler so I may even be able to sleep in a little bit and then go run. Hmmm....

So that's the latest.  I'm missing home, but will definitely be there in time for Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

In case you were wondering...

My Mom's surgery went wonderfully.  Both the general surgeon and the plastic surgeon were thrilled with how it turned out.  The lymph node biopsy during surgery showed no signs of cancer.  They said it couldn't have gone better.

This morning we got the results from the lymph node biopsy and the tissue removed as part of the mastectomy.  The cancer had been fully contained and there was no spread or cancer in any of the periphery tissues or in the lymph nodes. YAY!  It seriously was the best Christmas present we could have asked for.

I ended up crying my eyes out in the bathroom - tears of sheer joy.  Mom's been a pretty good patient and doing the drain hasn't been all that bad.  Why I thought it would be gooier, I'm not sure, but really it's not bad at all.  It's kind of funny to be in a reverse role with your Mom where you're the one making her breakfast, lunch, helping her get things, helping her in walking down the hall to the bathroom, etc. I think she's getting a little stir crazy, but she had an exciting day out of bed.  She was allowed to sit on the sofa for a few hours, have a nap and repeat.

As irony would have it, I pulled my plantar tendon - while wearing high heels for my holiday party!  I had a nice 2 mile run and 1/2 hour of yoga on Monday morning, but I've been "on duty" the rest of the mornings.  I'll be headed back home sometime on Saturday, so let's hope to get back in the swing of my runs on Sunday. It doesn't seem that this off season was meant to be used for getting speedier after all.  I can still do what I can with my time left between now and then, but it's definitely not been the off season I had planned.  Of course, how do you plan for your Mom getting cancer, getting visited by your childhood friend's ghost, straining your calf muscle and then high heels being mean to your plantar tendon?  Not to mention the stress eating... oh well.  Life never does run in a smooth straight line - maybe that's why it's always an adventure!

I've missed the girls and my dear Mr. Darcy.  I look forward to being with them but am really glad I was able to be here to care for my Mom too.  Every day really is a blessing.

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and words.  Time to get Mom off to bed!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nervous Energy and a Party

Thursday morning I got a semi-frantic call from Mom.  They scheduled her surgery for Monday.  This coming Monday.  She was leaving the plastic surgeon's office and headed into another doctor's appointment and only had a moment.  She sounded a little bit nervous.  For whatever reason, I had a small sense of relief because now we knew when the day would be.  I'd been grumpy and tense the past few days, but now I had a lot of nervous energy.  Not unlike that energy they tell pregnant women they'll get when it's getting to be that time to have their baby.  I never experienced that because I had a scheduled c-section due to Angelfish's somewhat low amniotic fluid (despite drinking 3 L of water a day to try to increase it) and as my OBGYN at the time liked to say my "cervix was like Fort Knox" and I could have carried twins to 40 week term.  Anyway, it's what everyone says it's like.  Our house is cleaner than it's been in a long time.  I was wired.  You name it, I cleaned it or reorganized it.  I wasn't too great with talking to anyone, but Mr. Darcy was cool with it.  Guess it was better than the short temper of the past several days.  You should have seen me scurrying around - like we used to say about a professor who was animated and would run up and down the front of the class excited about tax law, I was like a squirrel on speed.

All the cleaning was really a good thing because yesterday was a strength training day and it helped me continue that strong feeling.  I did a 15 minute warm up on the stationary bike and then hit the weights.  I discovered my abs were sore from the pilates I did earlier in the week, but boy did it feel good to lift those weights.  I felt like I had grown several inches taller by the time I left.  Mr. Darcy took the day off from work because he wasn't feeling well, but I worked like a crazy woman both on my work and on the house.  I did a lot of things on my to do list, including new email attempts to talk about recruitment data with collegiates and their advisors for my sorority to try to help them improve for next year.  For once, I actually got some good positive responses.  We'll see how they go toward actually getting a call scheduled, but it's a better start than I've had in the past.  My guess is that the change in officers helped.  It's funny to be on the Regional Director side of things.  I probably would have not liked what I had to say when I was a collegiate, but sometimes the truth hurts.  I try to put it gently but all the same.  I got with Mr. Darcy and made our annual contributions.  I wish we had more money to do more good with, but we do what we can and that is a blessing in itself.  I did laundry.  I did everything other than consciously think about my Mom.

In the past few days, not only do I think about the surgery but I also wonder and worry about whether she'll need chemo.  I push it out of my head as much as possible, but it's still there lurking.  Waiting for me to close my eyes.  So I've been avoiding it by not sleeping and when I do sleep, I'm not sleeping well.

I guess that's why Mr. Darcy told me to sleep late tomorrow when he left with the kids and the dog to go to his parents.  I had my Christmas party with some lady friends I've made here and some people who are friends of my friends.  I had a great time at the party, I laughed and laughed.  I have to admit that when Bill and the girls left, I wanted to go with them and was sad to be saying goodbye.  It's Friday evening and I'm used to them being with me.  I also know I'll be gone away from them for a good bit while I'm with Mom.  But I'm glad that I had the party and had some time with friends - I haven't laughed like that for a good while.  It was a good feeling to have.

Once everyone was gone, my nervous energy returned so I cleaned up the kitchen a bit, put chairs back at the table, etc. I set the house alarm and then a few minutes later accidentally set it off (I'm sure my neighbors loved the screaming siren at 12:38 am) when I double checked our porch door and it turned out to be unlocked.  Whoops.  Should have done that before turning on the alarm.  So with my heart pounding, I told the alarm company all was well and sat down at the computer.  Peeked into the lives of others while reading their blog and realized I probably frighten people away sometimes because I tell my life as it is.  Other bloggers are much more closed and keep their blog as a public persona.  For good or bad, I am unable to put up walls.  Like Puck in A Midsummer's Night Dream, I don't mean to offend. It is my nature to just say it all.

I was touched by a fellow blogger's admission that he senses his Depression returning.  I feel for him, but can offer no solace because I don't know what to say.  I bet a lot of people get that same feeling reading this blog as of late, but I can't promise to change either.

A couple of things occurred to me yesterday.  One is that I am obsessed with the idea of chemo and whether my Mom is going to have to have it.  I'm not sure what it is about this idea that worries me so much.  I don't know if it is because in my mind if you have to have chemo, then you are REALLY sick, or if I am afraid that it won't work if she does have to have it. 

Monday is the anniversary of Angela's death and I miss her.  I get the sense sometimes that she's around though.  I talked to her sister the other day and stuff has been happening to her that would indicate Ang is hanging about to let her know everything is okay.  I'm convinced that she made a pink rose bloom in December in Little Rock Arkansas for a friend of hers.  I read the story she told about it and got chills and had this feeling that it was Angela.  Maybe others think it's odd, but I believe in this sort of after life.  I'm certain Angela's in heaven, but she's just checking in on her loved ones.

I think it's a good sign that surgery is Angela's anniversary.  One thing is for sure, Angela doesn't want us wasting our time.  If the music is playing, she'd want us to get up and dance.  To her family, I love you all and am thinking of you today and while I'll probably be pretty caught up with Mom's stuff on Monday you're still in my heart.  The only thing I can say to try to ease your pain is that when I had to leave the church to fly home after the funeral, I looked up at the cross on the church building for a moment and I heard her voice in my head and she said that everything was going to be okay.  That she was okay and that it was okay to leave and that she wanted me to keep living.  I don't know if that helps, but I hope it does.

Well, it's late and the Jack Johnson song on Pandora just ended with "Please, please, please don't bring me down."  So, I will end here with a promise.  I will keep living.  I will treasure the moments I have and I will not fear what I don't really know - like whether Mom will have to have chemo.  What's that saying? Life is not the number of moments that you breathe it's the number of moments that take your breath away.  I'll find those to hold on to and hope to make more - like this weekend at the Santa luncheon with the little ladies.  It's amazing how much I am missing my Mr. Darcy and the ladies, even if they are snug and asleep in bed right now.  I am wishing I was with them right now.  So I'm going to bed - 2 am.  The latest I can remember being awake in a good long while.  Mr. Darcy said to sleep in tomorrow and I think I'm going to do just that and wake to a new day.  I'm sure I'll worry about the Mom situation, but I have faith that God will work it all out.

So I may be missing from blogland for a bit while at the 'rents house.  If I get a chance, I will update you all on how things go.  Of course, knowing me you'll hear it - it's just a matter of when. : )  Thanks to everyone who left me comments - good advice all; I appreciate you "chatting" with me!  And I didn't realize that the squeaky shoes were a bad thing... I'll have to get it checked out after I'm back.

I'll leave you with a song I heard a moment ago that made some sense to me - of course it is 2 am so all sorts of things seem to make sense to you at 2 am.  It's called "Darlin' Don't Fear" by Brett Dennen. Good music too...

When I arrived in my own set of clothes

I was half a world away from my home
And I was hunted by the wolves and I was heckled by the crows
Darlin' do not fear what you don't really know

Alongside my innocence I laid in bed awake
Conflicted in these chains with the impetus of age
But like a phantom she crept across the floor and out the window
Darlin' do not fear what you don't really know

From this place on the mantle my heart was taken down
Scattered in a thousand little pieces on the ground
And out below the streetlamp like an orphan with a halo
Darlin' do not fear what you don't really know

'Cause it won't last - the worries will pass
All your troubles they don't stand a chance
And sometimes it takes more than a lifetime to know
Darlin' do not fear what you don't really know

The confidence is full with your faith etched in stone
And I let clean comfort you from the wild unknown
So very auburn and hatred like a hatchet in snow
Darlin' do not fear what you don't really know

If you have a broken heart or a battered soul
Find something to hold on to or to let go
To help you through the hard nights like a flask filled with hope
Darlin' do not fear what you don't really know

'Cause it won't last - your worries will pass
All your troubles they don't stand a chance
And it always hurts the worst when it's the ones we love the most

Darlin' do not fear what you don't really know

Sometimes your path is marked in the sky
Sometimes you're forced to fit in between the lines
Sometimes all that you can do is say no
Darlin' do not fear what you don't really know

I said, when I arrived in my own set of clothes
I was half a world away from my home
And I was hunted by the wolves and I was heckled by the crows
Darlin' do not fear what you don't really know

I said, Darlin' do not fear what you don't really know
We said, Darlin' do not fear

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

45 Minutes

When I left for my run today, I was a solid brick of stress.  Mr. Darcy and the girls were no where near leaving on time and by 7:30 I had enough.  I was out the door and off for my run after a little bit of a shouting match (that I'm not overly proud of) with Mr. Darcy.  This time of year is stressful enough, having Christmas Cards to get out, Christmas presents to wrap, lights to put on the house, a party on Friday to hold (not to mention purchasing all that I need for the party), a 5K Saturday morning (that I'm thinking of skipping for my sanity, but know I'll be happier even if crazier if I do it), a trip back to Mr. Darcy's parents so the girls can attend the Santa Luncheon at their country club.  Not to mention that the house looked completely like a bomb went off in it by the time I got home from Atlanta (although Mr. Darcy did straighten up a little bit last night while I was at a Junior League Meeting) and the end of the year charitable donations still need to be made.  But then, of course, the inability to stop worrying about my Mom even though I'm trying not to worry and stress about it.

I'm pretty sure my blood pressure had to be up.  I even cursed in the general vicinity of my children, which is something I never do.  I can't undo it now, but I've got to find a way to lessen this stress.  The sad part is that I think the only way I will feel better is once the cancer is cut out.  Mom has an appointment with the plastic surgeon tomorrow, so I'm hoping we'll have a surgery scheduled soon.  Mr. Darcy said he can't wait for the holidays, and to be perfectly honest right now I'm no where focused on the holidays.  I don't even know where I will be definitely on the holidays - here? my parents? Is it too much for my parents to have the girls around if surgery is before Christmas?  I want to visit them on the weekends, but Mom is trying to work enough to make sure that she has the hours she needs to keep her medical insurance through work so she's working all this weekend and most likely all next weekend too.  So I have all this floating around in my head at regular intervals, with my trying to push it into the back of my mind.  And I wonder why I'm short on patience.

I couldn't find my HR monitor watch (which I just found next to my keyboard under a piece of paper) this morning so I had to wear my clunky watch that would at least count down the 45 minutes I needed to run.  I was in a foul and throughly stressed mood.  And it looked like it would rain, and with it being December (and forgetting I live in central Florida where the high today will be around 84), I put on a long sleeve "cold weather" under armour shirt to run in.  It did not rain, and I sweat like a pig in a sweatsuit.

45 minutes. I started the watch and took off carrying a card I should have mailed weeks ago.  Better late than never, I guess.  I ran to the mailbox and then around the rest of the little horseshoe and back onto the regular path.  My mind was going a million miles a minute thinking things like "I cannot be responsible for Mr. Darcy's getting to work on time. He's a grown man. It's his responsibility even if it stresses him out." and "Oh I really should not have cursed even with the girls in the next room. That was not good."  And then I remembered that I was supposed to do 7/1's at the highest end for the 45 minute run.  I looked down and it was only 3 minutes and 23 seconds into the run and I was pretty far distance wise for that amount of time.  I kept going and my mind slowed a bit.

By 7 minutes into the distance, my running and mental pace had slowed a little bit but I still made it to the mile mark around 9 minutes total (even with walking that 1 minute in there).  I started listening to the sound of my shoes as I ran.  They were sort of squeeking.  I'm not sure why but these shoes squeek when I run, especially if the road is wet.  I realized I was still breathing like I hadn't warmed up yet, kind of that "this is hard" type of breathing and I focused on relaxing it.  Somewhere I lopped off 10 minutes of time in my math (the watch counts down not up for some reason), so I decided not to do the 3 mile trail and went for the 2 mile trail.  With 22 full minutes left and already being around the 2.25 mile mark, it dawned on me that I still had a good bit of time left in the run and I was approaching the house.

There is something about my brain that when I run, I cannot run by the house because if I see or pass the house, I want to stop.  Yet, I felt good.  My body felt good, my breathing was good.  But my brain.  It was not in it.  It tried to convince me to stop.  It told me that I had cleaned the house a bit before going for a run and that should count for something.  I told my brain to be quiet.  I told myself I would be happy later that I did the full 45 minutes.  That I just needed to keep up with the 7/1's and if I had to I could go lower.  I could do 5/1's or even 3/1's.  My body was insulted and told my brain that I was nuts because it could go and go at this pace (which had slowed a bit more) and that a total of 45 minutes for a run was really nothing.  My brain said, but there is so much else to do.  Don't you want a shower and to sit down with a nice cup of green tea and honey and just sit for a moment - like in a coffee commercial?  So I lied to myself.  I told myself that if I finished the last 7/1 that there would still be 5 minutes left and that I would let myself walk the entire thing.  My body knew it was a lie.  My brain was ready to fall for anything.

So instead of running toward the house I ran across the bridge and into another little part of the neighborhood, up to another side street and then doubled back toward the house.  But I was faster than I thought I was going because I was back at the house - but on the other side of the road - so I ended up passing the house 3 more times before the 45 minutes was up.  When the last 5 minutes were left, I walked the 1 minute I was supposed to and then started right back up running.  My brain didn't even protest.  It knew better all along.  My body was happy although a little ticked off that I had worn that cold weather shirt... it wanted to know what I was thinking.  At the end of my 4.25 miles, quite possibly the farthest I've run in 45 minutes in recent history (and goodness only knows if I could repeat it when it matters), my face was beet red my shirt, sports bra and running shorts were soaked, and I could feel sweat running down my arms inside of my shirt.  But for 40 minutes or so, I hadn't thought about all I had to do.  I hadn't thought about cancer.  For 5 minutes after the run, I didn't think about it either because all I could do was think about drinking water and then the recoverite I decided I should drink since I had sweat so much and gone pretty fast for me. 

In the shower, I thought about what tomorrow's workout was and whether I was supposed to do a run before the strength training or just a 10-15 minute cardio warm up.  It wasn't until I sat down in the office to start the day that it all came back.

But that's okay.  My 45 minutes run was my therapy for the day.  That and Mr. Darcy's nice note telling me that he doesn't want me to worry about helping him get out of the house anymore because he knows I need to run and work out and bathe before work and that he wants me to be happy.  That he can handle it.  A good run and a good man.  I'm a lucky woman, despite it all.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Mind Whirls and Swirls

First, thank you all for your comments on my last post.  I appreciate them!  And now for the bits whirling and swirling in my brain today...

I finally got a hold of my parents last night to find out what the surgon said.  A little after 7 pm, they called me back.  By that time I was worried - had something happened to them or my Grammie?  Nope.  The surgeon had been running late for their appointment and then it took awhile, and then they went for dinner.  They don't believe in leaving the cellphone on, and in all fairness to them, they probably needed a little down time before talking to me.

The news, while cancer, had seemed to be somewhat cheery.  Like this would not be all that bad, despite the C-word.  I even had read on line that this had a huge survival rate and some doctors don't even think of it as cancer but as "pre-cancer."  Well, that would be for those lucky folks who have the cribiform version - not the "comedo" version of DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) that has already grown to 5 cm, like my Mom.  The good news is that the "in situ" means it hasn't spread outside the duct and that is still true.  The other good news is that for that particular biopsy it did not show that the cancer was the kind that likes to spread.  And also while the survival rate isn't as high as the 96-98% we saw on line, it's still pretty good at 86-90%.

The bad news? Well, the surgeon said that the biopsy was done in the middle of the cancer and if he had to guess there were parts of it that would have said that it was the spreading kind.  His guess was that it had been there several months but less than a year since it hadn't shown up on last year's mammogram.  And he said that he didn't think a lumpectomy was a good idea.  The surgeon said that he wants to remove her entire breast, so radiation is off the table because as he put it there won't be any tissue left to radiate.  During the surgery, they're also going to take the 4 major lymph nodes out of her armpit and then test them to see if there is cancerous material in them.  If no cancer (which if I remember this right, the doctor thought that there wouldn't be any but that it was still about 50/50 chance), then no chemo.  If cancerous material is found in the lymph nodes, then chemo would be needed.  Mom will also need reconstructive surgery after the removal to prevent back and muscle problems from essentially being lop sided afterwards, so they're trying to get her in to see that surgeon this week so he and the oncology surgeon can schedule her surgery together. 

The other bad news was that for whatever reason, she didn't have the right hormone receptor test results. Instead of ++-+, she had --+-.  That means that the hormone treatment they can use to slow or halt the growth of the DISC in most women won't work on Mom.  So, the surgeon hopes to have this all removed before Christmas. 

The good news though is that the surgeon seems like he knows a ton, my parents liked him and feel comfortable with him, and the office staff was great.  So, to go through all this, she's in good hands with people who know what they're doing.  And besides, she's going to be okay.  It's just going to be a lot to go through. 

I think I was thrown by the mention of chemo and no radiation since that is the opposite of what we were expecting based on her appointment on Friday.  Of course, they were giving her the general counseling information that applies to the majority of DCIS patients, and the surgeon was dealing with what is specific to her.  And there's still a possibility that she won't need chemo either.  I just thought it was going to be less threatening than it was.  A little bit of seeing the glass fuller than it may have been.  But, I'd rather they be more aggressive in treatment than not aggressive enough.

After the call I was stressed beyond compare.  Dad sounded tired and tense, but he said he was okay.  Mom said the same.  It's a lot to asorb.  The girls unfortunately decided to run wild and be terrible listeners, both fully missing out on earning their red token.  Bed time was a nightmare.  They probably were trying to make me laugh or get attention or something, but it was making me nuts.  I stuck to the routine, sang the night time songs through their being super silly while the lights were out, and then left the room.  They opened the door and were being super loud - screaming loud.  So I slammed it shut.  They were quiet from that point forward, although Ladybug decided to pull her comforter out into the living room and sing songs in front of the Christmas tree that I had left lit for Mr. Darcy (who worked late - until 1 am - on a project deadline).  I had to make her go back to bed and turned off the tree.  (Looking back at it through less stressed eyes, that was pretty cute...)  She was in the living room a few minutes later, but I ignored her at that point.

This morning I woke up stressed out and my back was like a brick wall (it's where I carry my stress).  Today is officially Day 1 of my Princess 1/2 Marathon Training regime and it was supposed to be the cross-training day - I can cross train with anything not weight bearing.  Swim, bike, pilates, yoga type stuff.  I fully intended to ride my bike.  But due to oversleeping and needing to talk about things with Mr. Darcy, the family got out the door much later than they should have been.  I needed to relax too.  So, I used my cross-training day to do 1/2 an hour of pilates followed by 1/2 an hour of yoga.  As irony would have it, my most recent taping of Namaste Yoga was "Yoga for Distance Runners."  So that is what I did, and it was awesome.  I felt a lot better afterwards, although I can feel the stress seeping back in.

At this point, I just want the cancer out of my mother.  I think I'll feel better once we know exactly when her surgery is going to be.  Then we can figure out everything from there.  The knowing while not knowing is what makes us crazy, isn't it?  I know I need to let go and let God take over since he's much better at the omniscient thing than I am.  But boy it's hard when you know that you're not in control.

Tommorrow is a 45 minute run.  For once, I am really looking forward to the run.  And I'm even tempted to try to charge up my iPod Shuffle and use it for the run tomorrow - in one ear only, of course - so I really can leave everything behind on the run.  I have a funny feeling that the 1/2 Marathon training may be the only thing to help me keep my sanity until this is all over.  And Team in Training kicks in during the last month of the 1/2 Marathon training, so that will be good too.  I'm so glad I have my training! 

It's funny with triathlon and half marathons, we train to endure the distance and yet the training also helps us to just endure.

Not sure if I mentioned (other than in passing) that I am doing St. Anthony's with Team in Training.  As you all know from reading my blog, I hate cancer and love life!  If you'd like to support my hatred for cancer and express some of your own hatred for cancer as well as your love for life, please donate in support of my Team in Training efforts!  You can donate online at or email me and I'll give you an address that you can send a check to me (made out to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, of course).  No donation is too small!

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life

Every year at Christmastime (or as Ladybug said to me this morning "Oh, you mean the Christmas season...") I watch "It's a Wonderful Life." Hands down the best movie anyone has ever made.  I've watched it every year of my life - at least once, and up to 5 times a Christmas time.  Perhaps it impacted my belief system because I can't remember a year of my life that I didn't watch it.  I've watched it once already, but I think I may watch it again this week.  But I think it teaches us the biggest truth of life.  Each of us touches the lives of others and without us the world would not be as it should be.  Or as my friend Nazrina said this weekend, "Wherever you are right now is exactly where you are supposed to be in life."  Or even the most karmic of statements, "what goes around comes around."

In the past week, this couldn't be more true.  And I have to say it renews my hope - not just in my own life, but in the world itself.  I went to Atlanta and had a great time meeting A's baby and spending time with Belle and Craftygirl.  As I approached Atlanta with a painfully full bladder (I refused to stop for more than one refill of gas), I saw the skyline and thought "I'm home!"  And at first I really felt that way.  My friends are the good kinds - the ones you know are real friends because you pick up with them again just like you never left them.  Dinner with Belle and Craftygirl was the best fun!

Thursday I was at a new hotel in Buckhead for the CLE.  I knew exactly where it was and how to take the "back roads" to get there to avoid traffic.  I also had in mind that Mom was getting her biopsy report at 3:30 pm. that day.  Somehow I paid attention and even learned a thing or two.  I drank more cups of coffee that day than I think I've ever had in one day in my life.  The room was cold, and I did switch to decaf part way through the day (thank goodness).  At 3:30 pm, the segment was going for pro bono opportunities with the bar and my stomach was a bundle of nerves.  They mentioned the Northern Georgia Cancer SUpport Center and I almost burst into tears.  I knew in the pit of my stomach what they just told my Mom.  People make fun of it, but my Dad and I know things.  We knew from the moment my Mom told us she had to get additional mammography shots and a sonogram what it was.  We couldn't tell you how we know these things, but we do.  And we're accurate.  99% of the time if we have a feeling about something, we're right.  We hoped for the 1% error margin to kick in, but it was still a shock when it didn't.

On the way to Belle's house after the CLE was over for the day, I called the house.  My parents didn't answer.  I called their cellphone (which they never seem to have on) and no one answered.  I kept driving.  Part way home, my parents called.  My Dad talked to me a second, sounding a little cheery but I wasn't fooled.  He put my Mom on the phone and she told me.  Cancer.  No matter how prepared you are to hear it, it is still a shock.  To the point that I ended up driving to and pulling into my old driveway (in my defense, our old house is only a few blocks away from Belle's house) instead of Belle's house.

The good news is that it is DISC, which some doctors don't fully consider cancer but as pre-cancer.  It is called Duct In Situ Carcinoma meaning that it is located only in her milk duct (as far as they can tell).  The good news is that it does not look like it's invaded the breast tissue.  The bad news is that she has the one kind of it that has the potential to do so and that is fast moving.  The good news is that they can give her a hormone treatment to surpress the cancer's growth and there is a 96-98% survival rate, and they think they caught hers early even if it is 2 inches by 2 inches.  She'll have surgery, they'll check her lymph nodes, and she may or may not have radiation.  No chemo.  It's sort of the type of breast cancer that if you're going to have breast cancer, you should try for this one.

Mom has an appointment with the surgeon at 4:15 pm today.  She'll know more about dates and treatment, etc. etc. after that.  The day of her biopsy, my poor Dad had to rush my Grammy into the ER because she was bleeding from her "lady parts" as she would call them.  With her Alzheimer's and her serious prudity, the doctors and nurses had to pretty much wrestle her to let them examine her.  No tumor, but they think she has uterine cancer.  They can't really do a biopsy because she'd have to be awake for the procedure and after just doing the examination, no one was relishing that idea.  They also looked at her medical records and realized that not only with the Alzheimers but also with her cardiology problems and situation that even if the biopsy confirmed the doctor's opinion, that they couldn't do surgery on her anyway because she wouldn't survive the surgery.  So we just have to hope and pray for no pain as things progress.

After I finished talking to my parents, my phone rang again.  It was one of my best friends on the planet who I called earlier in the week about our concert on Sunday.  I told her what was going on, and she told me "remember when my Mom had breast cancer? It's the same type.  She's okay now.  No breast cancer recurrences at all."  I talked, she made me feel a little better. Belle came home and I was still in her driveway.  I told her the story, and as any good friend who is also a cancer survivor would do, she talked to me about it, told me it was all going to be okay and then got me drunk.  The next morning she said it was to make sure I got some sleep. But I remember that during our conversation, she said to me that it was wierd this was happening while I was there because she had a friend trying to convince her to give some talks for the American Cancer Society as a cancer survivor, but that she'd been resisting because she doesn't like to think of herself as a cancer victim to be pitied and that now she was rethinking things.  I told her it wasn't pity they were looking for, it was the strength she had from being a survivor.

Friday I sat through the CLE, ran into an old sorority sister who is now practicing law in Atlanta, and talked with another of my bestest friends in the world, who told me the best thing ever "if you need me to be anywhere or to do anything, including getting on a plane and coming to wherever you are, you call me day or night."  And I knew right then and there, that I was not alone.  I told Nazrina about the situation and she said, that's so wierd - I never wear pink and I'm wearing it today and I couldn't find a pen and used my breast cancer awareness pen this morning. 

I went and got my nails done after the CLE was over, and it hit me.  Atlanta is not my home anymore.  I was meant to live there when I did, and now I'm meant to be in Orlando.  2 1/2 hours away from my Mom while she goes through this.  Involved with organizations that let me do what I am passionate about - trying to raise money for cancer research.  It's my 2nd cancer Christmas in a row.  Last year was Angela.  This year it's my Mom, Training Buddy, Doug, Grammy, and at least a cancer scare for another friend.  I realized yesterday that I've found my life cause.  Irradicating cancer from this world, so no one else has cancer Christamases.  Now to just figure out exactly how to do it as my life's work.  I told Mr. Darcy about it all and he agreed.  I need to figure out what to do and do it.  Medical school will not be involved, but I have other talents to use.

As I drove to Mr. Darcy's parents' house from Atlanta on Saturday, I started to worry about my Mom.  She's a wonderful person.  She has a true heart of gold but was raised in a family that taught her not to share her feelings, not to show love or other emotions - even to those you felt them for.  Until you get to know her, which is often hard to do, she seems like a bit of a meanie and uber serious.  Once you get to know her, you realize she is the sweetest and kindest person even if she sometimes can say and do things in a way that comes off like sandpaper on an open wound... she's trying to do something because she cares.  She is first one to cook meals for someone when they lose a loved one or have a surgery, to pray or send a kind word through the mail to someone.  But she has a REALLY hard time of reaching out to people.  And I've never been sure of whether she has any women friends.

But I talked to my Dad on the phone and God has been busy sending her Angels of his own, like Clarence in It's a Wonderful Life.  A woman who my Mom cooked meals for when her son died, called and talked to her for over an hour offering rides to the doctor, etc. People she works with told her they've had breast cancer too and offered to talk to her any time.  A childhood friend's Mom went through her line at work and asked her if she were okay because she didn't seem herself, my Mom whispered to her that she has breast cancer, to which the woman replied, "We'll have lunch you and I.  I had a full masectomy 8 weeks ago. No one knew but me, Husband and Daughter."  The support system I was worried about was springing to life - all because my Mom is that person who never asks for anything return but always acts from her heart.

And the worries I have about my Dad through all this seemed to be a little relieved too.  He told Aunt (who in my opinion has never given my Dad enough credit for things in life) about my Mom and Grammy.  She cried and then she told him that she always thought she was stronger but that now she realizes he is the strong one in the family.  He sounded more relaxed than he had in awhile when talking about her.  He told me too that he walks 45 minutes a day.  I told him that I am here for anything and everything they need or want and that family is more important than anything else in life.  He agreed that I am the back up.  I told him I'm better than the Marines and I give hugs and kisses.

Mr. Darcy says I like "It's a Wonderful Life" because I'm George Bailey.  But I think we're all a little bit of George Bailey, perhaps I'm just a little more like him than some in Mr. Darcy's eyes.

My Mom said something to me on the phone the other day when I checked on her the morning after the news. Something about her wanting me to live my life and enjoy it.  I think it's the best advice she's ever given me.  The best part will be knowing that she'll be here to share a lot more of it.  I told her she's going to be Okay, but things might suck for a little bit.  In the end, the web of good she's woven will be just like George Bailey's - no matter how things go.  That's another thing I feel in my bones.

So I leave you with 2 quotes from the best movie ever made, "It's a Wonderful Life." The first is said by Clarence (Angel 2nd Class) when George doesn't quite understand why everything he sees is so different from before (when he existed). It is why we must be the good in the world, why we need to know that we are just where we need to be at every moment of our lives - whether good or bad,
"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"

The second, that is just a good reminder: "Remember George, No man is a failure who has friends."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Flip Side of Thanksgiving...

... means we're on a collision course with Christmas and New Year's! 

I started yesterday with a 4 mile run to try to work off some of Thanksgiving.  Not too shabby with an average of an 11 minute mile pace, while doing 9/1's.  Today was a 20 minute stint on the stationary bike (7.8 miles) followed by weight training, and 1/2 a mile run/walk at the end.  It was to be a 2 mile easy cool down run at the end, but my calf wasn't cooperating.  So I listened to my body and stopped.  The calf is good but it's not quite 100%.  It's getting there though, so we don't want to reverse the healing trend.

I plan to get up early tomorrow and do a little bit of speed work before heading out on my road trip to Atlanta for work and some fun when I'm not on the clock. I may not get to post while I'm away, but I'm sure I'll have something to post when I get back.

Somewhere over the holiday weekend, I decided that there are a few things that I want to do. You can call them Pre-New Year's Resolutions or whatever you want. But it's my action plan all the same.

The first of these is to really pay attention to the joy and fun that my children can and do bring to my life.  So before I get to the rest, here are a couple of things overheard from the kiddies the past few days:
1. Ladybug: "Oh no! Goldilocks ate my porrige and is in my bed! Call the Police!" Angelfish: "Don't worry! I'm a girl police!"
2. Angelfish (after being told Santa might not want to bring her a motorcycle for safety reasons):  "I'll be very careful.  I'll only ride it on the road and I'll hang on real tight because I don't want to fall off!"
3. Ladybug: "I am NOT babe.  I'm (said her full name).  But you can sometimes call me Ladybug!"
4. Angelfish: "We just saw a reindeer in the backyard, Mommy!  He must be checking on us for Santa." (It was a regular deer without antlers...)
5. Ladybug: "I'm hungry. (lifts up shirt to show belly button) My tummy says, 'give me something healthy and good to eat - quick!"
They really are pretty funny!

Next, is to find a few moments of peace to meditate and release tension etc. at the end of each day.  Right now the work day ends, I rush off to get the kids, rush to make dinner, play with the girls, get the girls in bed, talk to Mr. Darcy, and fall into bed.  No wonder I feel tense a lot.

Find joy in happiness in what I have, instead of focusing on the parts of life that aren't as "good."  I used to be a really positive person.  I'm still positive but not quite like before.  I'd like to get that part of me back.

Have more fun - even doing my everyday stuff.  I'm hoping to find a way to make life more fun by making the mundane items of every day more interesting.

Take better care of myself.  I already try to workout to take care of my body and my health.  I try to eat healthy (although Thanksgiving weekend may have undone all of the weight that I had lost), but I need to really focus on this more (she says after remembering the store bought pizza she put in the oven for dinner last night).  Get my butt out of bed earlier each morning and make sure I start my workouts on time so I can shower before work. (Easier said than done.) 

Dress better.... not just whatever I grabbed to throw on, but go back to taking pride in how I look each day.  (Even if no one but the daycare ladies and the family see me that day.) Wear make up.  Blowdry my hair.  All the things I used to do when we lived in Atlanta because I wouldn't be seen sloppy or unkept - I never knew who I was going to run into. 

Be a better wife.  Instead of getting into pajamas and into bed after the kids go to bed, I need to try to stay in an upright position so I can have meaningful conversation and be a good listener to Mr. Darcy.  I fell asleep on the poor guy last night as he was talking about all the stressful stuff he has going on right now... which is not what he needs.  I'm trying to help him find ways to deal with his stress and I go and make him feel like I'm not there for him because I can't even stay awake.  Yes he's cozy and his voice is soothing, but it's still no excuse.  I'm supportive at all other times (at least to the best of my ability), but come night time and I'm out.

Be a better Mom. I am a pretty good Mom, but I let myself get frustrated when the girls aren't doing what I want them to do.  Does it really matter if they put their socks and shoes on before eating yogurt instead of after like they want instead of when I want them too?  I need to learn to pick my battles.  I'm good at loving on my kids too, but I tend to want it my way on my time frame and in my order of doing things (sounds a bit like Ladybug, doesn't it?) and when the girls don't comply (even if they do what I want in a different way on a different time frame) I get all worked up. I've learned to pick my battles on these things with Mr. Darcy over the years, so now I'm going to work on it with the girls.  No more of the mentality that I am the parent and thus they must put their shoes and socks on at the moment I want, yogurt (or whatever else) be d@mned.  This isn't to say that I won't be keeping discipline, but just doing it with the idea that I don't control them. Instead I need to teach them and help them grow into wonderful, successful, kind and caring individuals. Plus it will help with decreasing my own stress.  I mean really, why does it matter when the little things happen as long as they happen?

Accept my body for what it is.  I've never been good at this one.  Even before I had children, I was always finding something that needed work.  It's been hard to accept that I will never be the size 4 that I was before getting pregnant.  Or even the same sort of size 10 that I was before we found out I had PCOS and returned to being the size 4 I had been in college and high school.  Now I have pretty nice looking legs, a nice rear and back, decent arms, and a stomach that starts at my ribs and angles outward and that I can lift and move because of all the stretched out skin I have from being pregnant with twins.  It's funny actually.  If you look at me straight on, I look good - I have an hour glass shape - until I turn to the side and there's that stomach, which is why I fall apart when someone asks me if I'm pregnant.  I am coming to accept that it's not going anywhere (other than when I lift it up to make that flat stomach in the mirror).  I took the first step this weekend.  I went through my entire closet and my dresser and tried every item of clothing on, including the stuff that I've been hoping to someday get back into.  If it didn't fit or didn't look good on me, it went in a pile for donation (save 3 things - one no one else can tell that it doesn't fit right and it still looks good; the other 2 are very close to fitting right).   My closet is pretty empty and the pile is pretty big.  I was holding on to a lot of the past.  Now my job is to slowly shop and buy things that make my body look good the way it is, not the way I want it to be.

Accept my new city as my new home.  I am going to find ways to get to know Orlando more, and to find what I want, where I live now.  I am going to stop comparing it to Atlanta.  It's hard to do - the arts, the culture, the shopping, etc.  I loved my life in Atlanta and I will always hang onto my friends there and keep the wonderful memories of living there.  But I am making the decision right now, that Atlanta is no longer my home.  Orlando is now my home, and to make it my home I need to get to know it.  So I'm going to try to get to know the different areas and what there is to do where.  There is no symphony here, which was one of my favorite things to go and do in Atlanta, so I'm going to have to find some other cultural aspect of the city to explore and enjoy.  I'm not sure how to go about doing this, but I'll be keeping my eye out for an Orlando guide that's not just all about the theme parks - and maybe taking jaunts on the weekends to scope things out.

I have so much to be Thankful for, and that is what Thanksgiving showed me.  It also made me realize that I can do more in my life to accept all the goodness that I have in it.  The action list was born even if I didn't realize it until I started writing this post...

While I'll be in Atlanta this week and part of the weekend, next weekend is the girls' night party here in Orlando, a 5K Reindeer Run Saturday morning, and I'm thinking that if the girls' earn enough red tokens we'll take them to see the new Disney "Princess and the Frog" movie.  We have to get them to see Santa at some point too.  Angelfish wants a motorcycle for her and for Ladybug, a book for Mr. Darcy, and a pretty present for me.  Ladybug wants a candy cane, a book, and a toy.  But I can't wait to hear what they actually tell Santa they want...

So straight on to Christmas!