Writings of a teachermom, choosing to stay home with her kids, while loathing all domestic responsibilities! In late Aug. 2008, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer. After surgery, chemo and radiation, I was given theall clear. However, in the late summer of 2008, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which metasticized to other areas.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Well indeed

Max, Ella and I were finally well today. Maybe I should have waited a day before venturing out just to be sure they were fine, but the mere mention of possibly going to a play place this morning had Ella running to the laundry room, putting on her boots, then pulling on my hand yelling, "Come on mommy!" She hadn't been out of the house in a week, and obviously couldn't get out of this place fast enough!

Once we got to the Giggle Factory, she tried to climb over the magnetic gate, instead of being patient enough for me to fill out the disclaimer form and pay the entrance fee. Then when we were let in, I turned to put the kids' shoes in a bin, and turned back around to take off their jackets. Max was standing there obediently, waiting for me to take his stuff, but Ella was no where to be seen. The place was filled with many toddlers running everywhere, so I quickly looked all around the room, but I still didn't see her. Then I glanced up at the play structure, and there she was, at the top, still wearing her winter coat, crawling in the tubes.
Yeah, she definitely needed to get out.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Finally, some drops..lots of them.

Finally....after a couple months of Ella dawdling on the potty chair...making me pee while she sits on her potty and does nothing, making me read her books while she sits there with an empty bowl, running to her potty chair AFTER I change her diaper, with her fruitless attempt at urinating...Finally, she peed.

Although, I'm not sure if she'll be doing it again anytime soon. Sara noticed her wiggling around yesterday and put her on her potty chair. She was already sick with a fever, and got scared when she started to pee. She kept trying to stand up, so Sara kept sitting her back down so she wouldn't pee all over the floor.

But she was bawling her eyes out the entire time. The sticker I gave her, the cheers we shared, the "Good girl Ella!" all fell on deaf ears as she just continued to cry, and cry and cry.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It just won't go away.

As you read the following sentence, try to say it with a slight mumble and extended whine, without pausing: "Mommy, my arm hurts and my other arm hurts and my elbow hurts and my leg hurts and my other leg hurts and my foot hurts and my forehead hurts and my throat hurts and my finger hurts and my stomach hurts and my belly hurts."

Max is sick. His underarm temp was up to 103 today.

Ella caught it as well, but thankfully she can't express every single ache and pain. Her temp was up to 102. Her favorite phrase of the day, "I don't wanna medicine!"

And mine was at 101.3. I managed to get enough drugs in me so I could get myself out the door and drive to radiation. Thankfully Sara was here so I could come home and crash for 3 hours.

Cameron was finally okay and back at school today.

When will this virus end?

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Alpha Ella

Ella basically knows all her letters and sounds.

I wish I could say it's because I'm a teacher.

I wish I could say that it's because I stay home and create all these great learning opporunities for her.

I wish I could take credit for it.

But the reason she knows them is not due to my wonderful parenting skills, but rather because of my lack thereof.

She knows her letters and sounds because everyday she insists on watching this.

Now if only Leapfrog would come out with a video on using the toilet, or not having temper tantrums. Now that would be wonderful.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

My little princess

This is a daily occurence in our house:

Max wants to play princesses. But when I try to tell him that he's a prince, he gets really mad and yells, "No! I'm a princESS!"

I know I shouldn't be concerned. I know it's probably just a phase. I know it doesn't and shouldn't matter.

I know, I know, I know.

My friends always say to me, "What does your husband think about this?"

The other day he commented, "When Max's wife wakes up in the middle of the night and finds him wearing her dresses, it will be your fault."

My thought was, "Well, at least you think he's going to have a wife!"

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

And the weekend means...another illness

I thought about taking my kids outside today. I know it's not 50 degrees..the temperature I have deemed as outside playtime doable. But it is 32 degrees...and that means it's not negative anything. And my kids need to get outside so badly. A little sledding down our side hill would do them well.

However, Cameron, who I thought had recovered from his vomitting of last weekend, woke up with 101.3 fever. With my husband on call, we now won't be doing anything but hanging out inside. These random illnesses are getting quite ridiculous!

Here's my organic food list given to me by the dietician.

(Source: Environmental Working Group Report Card: Pesticides in Produce)

Most Contaminated Foods--Consider purchasing these organic
Bell Peppers
Imported Grapes
Red Raspberries

Least Contaminated Foods -- Not as essential to purchase organic
Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas

I REALLY wish Strawberries were on the 2nd list. Those things are $8 when organic...and I buy strawberries all the time!

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Food for thought

It’s funny how we all live in our own little “boxes” and forget that not everyone lives like you do. For example, I thought that leaving my house at 6:30 in the morning for a doctor’s appointment was ridiculously early. I assumed that the roads would be empty. Well, I was wrong. A LOT of people are on their way to work that early in the morning, every single day. I hit quite a bit of traffic, nothing stopping, but a few areas that slowed down quite a bit.

Yesterday, in addition to my early morning appointment, I also had a late afternoon appointment with a Dietician. She was wonderful. Very realistic. Not trying to push any agenda. Just giving me good, solid, information about the foods to eat to try to prevent more cancer growth. (This is not to be confused with “curing” cancer. There is no magic cure. ) She also runs marathons, so of course I like her!

I’ve heard a lot of different information from a variety of sources and people when it comes to diet and products causing/fueling cancer. I’m pretty skeptical about everything and never really know what to believe. Because in reality, if all these different products/foods cause cancer…then why don’t we all have cancer? So it was great to be able to talk to someone who researches this for a living. She discussed the different studies where people are getting such information and how the studies may not be so reliable. Not only did she let me know that sugar does not feed cancer cells….it feeds all cells, she also told me that drinking water out of plastic bottles will not cause cancer (although it is bad for the environment); as long as you don’t heat anything in the plastic bottles/containers, you’re okay. Should I be interested, she gave me a list of products that I should buy organic, and another list of foods where organic doesn’t really make a difference. Considering how much organic fruits and veggies cost, I valued this information.

She also gave me some solid, research-based, sources to turn to if I do have questions or want to read more information to make educated decisions with regard to my diet and cancer. These include, in case you’re interested, A Dietician’s Cancer Story, by Diana Dyer MS, RD, www.cancerrd.com; and www.caring4cancer.com by Suzanne Dixon MS, MPH, RD; and The New American Plate Cookbook from the American Institute of Cancer Research.

If anyone wants more information, I’d be happy to post some of what she gave me, and you, too, might want to incorporate some of her suggestions into your own diet.

(As I’m writing this, I’m munching on a piece of Papa John’s Pepperoni and Sausage Pizza….not on her list of recommendations!).

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

An early start...and it won't be my kids' fault.

Apparently a lot of people have cancer.

My clinic radiates 60 to 70 people a day. With only 2 machines, to fit them all in, they have to keep some early and late hours.

So I've had radiation appointments at 6:15 PM.

And tomorrow I have one at 7:00 AM.

If I'm to leave this house by 6:30, I do believe I should get myself in bed now.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A page turner

I really love that my son reads.

I really love that when he's so into a story, he'll walk to where he's being called, carrying the novel that has captured his interest, still reading.

It would be nice, though, if he would not just lay the book in the middle of the hallway, grabbing whatever he can find as a bookmark.

(Although, my running shoes are getting more use holding his page than on my own feet.)

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Only X more to go.

I had my 3rd radiation treatment today.

I remember when I was running the Chicago Marathon with my friend Lanette and we reached mile 3. I had this horrible feeling of dread. I remember thinking to myself, "Oh my God, we have 23 more miles to go." The thought of running for that much longer just seemed impossible.

So I am going to try not to count down my radiation treatments each day. The end just seems too far away.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Don't make me take my clothes off!

My Ella. Oh my little Ella.

That little girl gets quite bored in her crib when we don't retrieve her as soon as she demands it. So she finds other things to do....like strip. This usually includes removing a zip-up sleeper, a onsies that snaps at the bottom, and her diaper.

Sometimes it's at night when I first put her to bed but she's decided she's not ready for sleep yet; and other times it's when she just wakes up in the morning, and her cries are being ignored.

Yesterday her striptease included removing a poopy diaper, which apparently got everywhere! Thankfully I was napping during this event, and my husband had to deal with that mess. (he he he he).
On a different note, remember how I said Ella was sick 2 weekends ago, and Max was sick last weekend? Well, guess who vomited this weekend? That's right, Cameron. He threw up in my friends car...sorry Katie!
I must say, I've done a good job of avoiding all the nasty messes this weekend!

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Friday, February 15, 2008


The “Burn” step in my doctor’s “Slash-Poison-Burn” method for destroying this cancer began yesterday.


I was a little nervous going into this therapy. Just the whole newness of it, and the not knowing how my body will react to it made me more anxious than I thought I’d be.

And then when I show up for my appointment to a fairly empty office (at 5:45 in the evening), the two techs were men. I know it shouldn’t matter, and they were very professional, but when you’re lying on a table, with your arms above your head, completely exposed, and they keep having to touch you to reposition you…well, it was just really creepy. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, though.

The actual treatment isn’t that bad, in that nothing is painful or anything. But I do have to lie completely still for over 25 minutes with my arms positioned over my head. About 10 minutes into the radiation, my arms begin to tingle and get numb. It’s a horrible feeling, but one that I have to just try to tune out, because my natural instinct is to get the arm moving and the blood flowing, but instead I have to just think of something else.

I have 28 of these treatments, every weekday.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Cameron has always enjoyed making little gift bags for his friends…whether it’s for his birthday, his siblings’ birthdays, Halloween or Valentine’s Day. He gets very excited about putting the goodies together.

This year he didn’t change at all. I honestly think that the giving out of his goodie bags is more exciting to him than what he’s going to get.. The pickings were pretty slim for “boy valentines,” but at CVS we found some cool 3D bugs that “grow” as you rotate them.

On the back is where you write the names of the receiver and sender. But Cameron also decided, on his own, to also make a custom picture for each of his friends and classmates on each Valentine. So if his friend liked football, he drew something and wrote “Touchdown baby!” (or something like that). If the girl sits near him, he drew a picture of the girl and him at the table. It was very cute.

I doubt if the kids will appreciate his original artistry, or the thought he put into it, but I’ll definitely cherish his Valentine kindness in my memory.


On a different note, I got radiated today, but I’ll write about that tomorrow.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Back at ya.

Now Ella was vomiting last night.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with these two. They keep passing their illness back and forth.

I'm sure it doesn't help that they like to hang out under a blanket together. (Today this included spitting in each other's faces).
I sure could use a healthy family right now.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

No Words

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Progress Report

We met with Cameron’s teacher this past week for the routine conference. I really like his teacher, as she is very organized and really knows what she’s doing…especially in Language Arts.

Academically Cameron’s doing very well. His reading score is above where he’s supposed to be by the end of the year, and he’s excelling in math as well. He loves to write and has even written a 16 page story (1st grade size pages, with room for a pic at the top). As a writing teacher, of course, I couldn’t be happier. His teacher has stated that she’s going to ban anymore stories about video games. As you can imagine, I’m all for that!

We do hope to see more enrichment activities in Math in the coming months, as we feel that this is the one area that the school seems to be lacking. I’ve been in the classroom, and I am certainly aware of all the different levels of kids and the strain this puts on the teacher. But I do wish the school would create some added program, even a pull-out, for the kids in the lower grades who are able to do more. No need for anyone to remain stagnant. Cameron’s been doing single digit addition since preschool. He’s ready for more.

As in previous conferences, Cameron still has organizational issues. As an example, the teacher described a time when he wanted to check the “lost-and-found” for a folder that he couldn’t locate. This in itself wasn’t the problem. The issue came about when the teacher realized that the folder was on his desk, directly in front of him.

His teacher was trying to say it in a more appropriate way, but essentially, she really wanted to say that she couldn’t understand how someone could be so bright, and yet so SPACEY!

I can understand. Really, I can.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Passed around

Last weekend Ella had a fever.

This weekend Max has a fever and is vomiting.

I wonder what's in store for next weekend.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Why my glasses are always crooked.

They say that when you go through some sort of tragedy, you really start to learn some things about yourself.

I totally get that. Because with this breast cancer, I have learned that....

My right ear is a little bit higher than my left. By like a centimeter or two, but enough to notice a difference if you're really looking. And I'm not just "seeing things," as my husband confirmed this for me.

Wow, I wonder what other amazing discoveries I have in store for me!


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Moving along.

On to the next item of my Fight Breast Cancer To-Do List.

I finally received a call from my doctor's office about my radiation schedule. I start next week. On the 13th I'll have some x-rays done. On February 14th, I'll begin the actual radiation. What a way to spend Valentine's Day!

Unlike chemo, which lasted for a few hours, radiation only takes a few minutes. But it's every day (minus weekends). I will have 28 scheduled appointments.

The side effects include mainly skin irritation...like a sunburn...and fatigue. For some, their skin blisters, but my doctor assured me that they wouldn't let that happen.

So, we'll see.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A bug

Ella had a fever this weekend, and she still has a lingering cold. Melvin was speculating where she might have picked up this bug, since she doesn't go to daycare.
I could tell him.

It could have been her oldest brother, who has been sniffing and hacking away this past week.

She might have picked up something from the kids she hangs out with on Thursday mornings when I meet with my small group.

It might have been from the music class she's in on Friday mornings with a group of 2 & 3 year olds.

Or she could have caught some bug in the tubes and slides at a big indoor playplace we visted last week.

Or, quite possibly, probably, almost definitely, she is sick because everytime she walks outside and into the car, no matter how dirty or mucky or muddy the snow is, when in her carseat, she licks the bottom of her shoes.

Now I'm sick. But no shoe licking on my part.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Caffeine Fix

If someone could just bring me a latte,
preferably a Caribou Carmel Highrise,
at about 3:30,
I'd have my own little piece of heaven
here on earth.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Healthcare costs....a lot!

Up until this past year, my family has been pretty healthy. Except for some ear tubes, we've had no major medical issues. My husband also had really good medical insurance, so the actual cost of anything medical out of pocket seemed rather minimal. I never actually saw a bill for anything.

This past year due to some changes at my husband's job, we were forced to switch insurances. It's not as good. Now when I go to the doctor, I pay a $30 co-pay, in contrast to the $0 co-pay from before. I think we pay more for our prescriptions and a bigger percentage of any medical treatment as well.
However, what we have is better than nothing. Because when we switched insurances, there was a mix-up, and a bill came to our house. For ONE chemo visit..which included labs, seeing the oncologist, and the chemo itelf, we were charged:

Now multiply that by EIGHT, for all of my chemo treatments.

I thank the Lord that he provided a job for my family with any kind of insurance, and that my husband works so hard to provide for us.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

I shouldn't be so ignorant. Really.

I have to shamefully admit that I have no clue who I’m voting for on Tuesday because I’ve basically blocked out anything having to do with the candidates. My apathy began last spring/summer, when the candidates started announcing their choice to run for the big office. I figured I would get so sick of them by the time the election came a full year and a half later in November that I wouldn’t want to vote for any of them. So I just turned the channel whenever I saw them on TV, and I read no news articles about them.

There was just one thing that I forgot about….the primary! Seriously, it wasn’t until 2 weeks ago that I realized that I would be asked to actually make a decision about which candidate I wanted to vote for.

Based on the general media coverage of the things that don’t really matter, here is the information that I have gleaned from each candidate.

Hilary Clinton– Has shed a tear. Is a woman.

Barack Obama– Father was Muslim. Is Black.

John Edwards – Wife has breast cancer

John McCain – Is old

Mitt Romney – Is Mormon (I assumed he was from Utah, but later found out I was wrong).

Huckabee – Reminds me of Gomer Pyle when he speaks (Don’t even know his first name)

Guliani – Spent a lot of money in Florida (I lived in NJ when he was mayor of NYC. Couldn’t stand him then and would NEVER want him as my president.)

Last night, my husband directed me to a “debate” (if you could call it that) between Obama and Clinton so that I could educate myself. I only watched about 30 minutes of it (Indiana Univ. basketball was on…much more important wouldn’t ya say?). The sad thing is, although Hilary and Barack sounded very confident and intelligent, they gave very few direct, detailed answers, that actually meant something to me, that I really don’t have much more to add next to their names.

I hope I have a coin in my pocket when I go to vote, I might have to flip it to make my decision.

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