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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Racking up the points

If you watched Grey's Anatomy last week, you'll understand when I say that yesterday, I felt like the "medical mystery."

My husband got me in to see an Internist for the shortness of breath I had been experiencing. He did the usual listen to my heart and lungs kind of stuff, and then sent me for a chest x-ray. That basically showed nothing, so he wondered if maybe I had some Pulmonary Embolism, which is basically blood clots in the lung. He wanted me to get a CT scan of my chest. He then went on to say that if I did have this, I'd have to administer daily blood thinning shots to my abdomen.....

WHOA! Wait a minute, back up, I thought. I came in for shortness of breath. Surely this doctor is going to the extreme. They wanted me to have the CT scan that evening, but I mangaged to get them to change it to the next day.

I immediately came home and called my Radiologist, to see if a CT scan was really necessary. The nurse spoke with him and told me that it probably would not be necessary, but that Dr. Vic would like to see me in the morning.

Okay, this was not on my plan for the day before our big vacation.

After meeting with my radiologist in the morning, he didn't think there was anything really to worry about, but thought I should just go ahead with the CT Scan for my own piece of mind. Waiting in the hospital, getting shot up with iodine and then waiting some more for the results wasn't really fitting with my packing schedule, but I managed to squeeze it in.

The results: they're not really sure what the problem is. They know that it's NOT Pulmonary Embolism. The scan showed that there was an increased mark in my left lung (whatever that means). This could be from radiation or it could be from something else...some sort of infection. But since I haven't been coughing or had any high fevers, they doubt the infection.

My doctor explained that in about 5% of the cases of people who have received chemo and radiation sometimes experience something like this...some recall phenomenon. And that it usually eventually goes away.

The doc wants to put me on a short regimen of steroids. I did NOT want to hear that word. Drugs, weight gain, puffiness. I don't need it right now. I asked if I could just wait until after vacation, and he said if I'd rather wait, then okay (although I don't think that's what he wanted me to do).

I'm sure when my husband comes home, I might need to alter some of the above information. But that's all the news for now!

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Summer shoes

I went sandal shopping for our trip to Florida.

When I came home with them, Max was not happy. He couldn't understand why he only got one pair of sandals, but Ella got three. I tried to explain to him that of course Ella needed three pairs...she's a girl!...brown ones for her earth-toned outfits, white ones for the rest of her outfits, and these adorable multicolor ones...well, just because they were adorable. He didn't quite think that my explanation was sufficient. In case his first pair causes blisters (from past experience), I actually ended up buying him a 2nd pair, ones that flash, like his sister's. And yet, he had to point out that Ella still had three and he only had two.

Cameron on the other hand was elated when I told him that I bought him sandals. His response, and I am quoting him here, "YES! Now I can bite my toenails with my shoes on!"

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Doctor's Appointment

Last week I met with my oncologist for a standard, after-all-your-treatments-are-done appointment. I thought I was going to have a bunch of scans scheduled, you know, to make sure all the cancer is actually gone, but apparently they can't do those until a few months after radiation is finished. I did have blood drawn and a full work up of blood tests...whatever that means. Today I talked to a nurse, and she said my bloodwork came back perfect.

But here's the thing. I don't feel perfect. Although I had been feeling great, even started running, this past weekend I've felt very lethargic. But my biggest concern is that now, everytime I walk up the stairs, I get very fatigued and short of breath. Add my carrying a screaming 3 year old with me up the stairs, and I end up lying in my room trying to control my breathing and get my heartrate back down.

Although I'm sure it's nothing, and will probably just pass. Melvin is concerned and wants me to see an internist soon. I'd assume just wait until after our trip, as I have a lot to do...like get a pedicure...but I think he's going to try to schedule something earlier. One of the side effects of radiation can be decreased lung capacity (or something like that). But I'm sure it's just one of those things that is probably nothing...let's hope.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

They might end up hating music soon.

Max and Ella like music. Ella sings songs in her crib, Max likes to play with instruments and they both like to dance. This winter I signed them up for a music class at the YMCA. It was fun for the first couple classes, but then it was the same thing every time…and mostly singing songs that we already knew. But it was cheap, so I guess you get what you pay for.

Despite the price tag, I decided to sign them up for the next session with Music Together…a national program that I did with my two little ones when they were much younger. Although annoying at first, the songs seem to grow on you. Each session different types of instruments and props are brought out to go along with the music. We also get a CD, so we can learn the songs at home as well.

I signed up with one of my neighbors, and a friend from my Bible study signed up for the class as well. I thought this was going to be a wonderful musical experience with friends.

Instead, it’s a very stressful class, and if I didn’t pay so much money for my kids to participate, I would forgo the rest of the lessons.

We have a different teacher than previously. Our last teacher was great at engaging the kids, but also understanding that not all kids are going to sit nicely and do whatever you want them to. She had a great balance to the class. This new teacher is the owner of the local Music Together franchise… she is very particular about how she wants her class run.

First of all, we’re not allowed to talk to other adults in the room. Okay, I guess I get this. I guess we should be interacting with our kids and not socializing with other adults. But as an adult, I think I would know when my talking would be a distraction.

Secondly, we can’t even talk to our kids. The teacher says that the kids are surrounded by language all day, and that in music class we want to immerse them in music. So if we need to say something to our kids, we should sing it.

Now I have two problems with this. One, I’ll do all the silly songs, and motions and dances that she wants us to model for our kids. But I draw the line at singing to my kids when I need to tell them something. That’s just too silly for me.

And secondly, since she has lots of other rules (which are mostly understandable), like kids can’t run in music class, kids shouldn’t be talking, kids apparently shouldn’t be hugging each other and rolling on the floor together (like Max and Ella often do), kids can’t hang on the dance bars in the studio, kids can’t scream, I’m constantly NEEDING to talk to my kids to tell them to stop doing all the things they’re not allowed to do. This is what I spend most of the class doing now.

And yet still, three times on Friday, my little darlings were reprimanded by the teacher (in a song voice of course) for “wrestling,” tossing shaker eggs in the air, and something else that I can’t even remember right now. Also, my two just get very excited and sometimes their squeals of delight sound like screams. I’m not going to stop them from being happy!

I’d post some pictures of them beating on the giant drums, or dancing with the colorful scarves, except we’re not allowed to take pictures during class (apparently it’s a distraction to the music).

At the end of class, during the goodbye song, some of the kids run up to the teacher and give her a hug. I turned to Max and Ella and asked them if they wanted to give their teacher a hug as well. The looks on their faces were priceless. They had a scowl as if saying, “Why in the world would we want to do that? She’s the one who’s always getting us in trouble!”

Many of the mom’s afterwards have told me that I shouldn’t worry about it. That my kids are actually just fine. But apparently the teacher doesn’t think so.

I think we have about 5 more classes left. I hope we make it through without incident. Then, I think I’ll just pocket the ridiculous tuition, and let The Backyardigans, The Wonder Pets and all those other musical shows help foster my kid’s melodic talents….for free.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Please Pray

My friend who I wrote about earlier this week is sharing her story on her blog Chasing 2 Boys.

Her husband is finally able to make it home today to be with her. Please continue to pray for them as they process this and help their two young boys understand what is going on.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Doing a lot

These next few weeks are going to be BUSY for me.

We're going to be traveling soon...to Florida. And since the weather people are actually calling for possible snow this weekend (it was 75 degrees yesterday!), I'm more than happy to leave this state. But with that means a lot preparation, since all of the packing is my responsibility. Although Max has an assortment of Cameron's old summer clothes to choose from, Cameron and Ella both need new shorts and such. Plus everyone needs sandals and swimsuits. I'm not complaining at all. Just stating that I have a lot to do.

Also, I haven't mentioned this before, but for the past few months, I've been working on a project for a friend of mine who is a literacy professor at a university (Hi L!). I've been developing middle school and high school booklists and gathering information for each book to be used on a website to help teachers in their classrom. I REALLY enjoy doing this, since it keeps me connected to Adolescent literature while I am out of the classroom, and I think when finished, the site will be an amazing resource. But it's also a lot of work (mainly because I'm quite the inefficient worker). I've already asked for an extension on the due date of my work, so I need to just stick with my new deadline...which is the end of this month!!!! I really need to buckle down these next few days and just work, work, work.

And furthermore, our town's big Garage Sale is in 2 weeks. My Bible study group is participating in the sale in order to raise money to pay our babysitters while we meet each week to delve into the Word and support each other while we discover God's plan for our lives. I'm hosting this 9-family sale. So not only do I need to really start going through all my "treasures," but I also need to start organizing everyone else's stuff as they begin to drop their items off.

Plus, I do have 3 kids to take care of, and a husband to try to spend time with, and some clothes to wash and meals to make, etc.

My point of this blog is, if you haven't heard from me, I'm sorry! I KNOW that I owe some of you phone calls and e-mails. I know that I'm supposed to arrange some meetings with some of my acquaintances. I have on my mind the packages I need to send to my friends and family members who have just had their own little bundles of joy. So I apologize, sincerely, that I haven't responded to people in a timely manner. It's NOT because I've forgotten about you or am ignoring you.

Give me 3 weeks, please oh please, 3 weeks and I'll get my act together. If after then I haven't responded to you, then you may send me hate mail and rude messages. Then, I certainly deserve them!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008


These past couple days, I finally did it. Despite being told that maybe I should wait until my hair was a little longer, I went ahead and ditched my scarves. (Well, they're actually still hanging in my closet, until I find someone who needs them).

Being so self-conscious, I was having a really hard time doing this. But after being with my friend these past couple days and thinking about all that she will be going through with her baby, something like super-short boy hair seems so incredibly trivial.

So I decided, who cares if someone thinks I have a REALLY bad haircut.

Who cares about the attention and reactions, positive or negative, that I will have to endure.

Who cares about the stares and whispers of small children or the strange looks of adults.

I honestly don't.

I guess the only thing that bothers me is that I feel really sorry for all those lesbians whose hearts will be broken after they discover that my buzz cut is a result of my chemo, and not my sexual orientation.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Life is precious--hug your kids harder today.

It's hard to write about much right now.

I was with my good friend when she discovered that her baby, due in September, will most-likely not survive past birth.

I honor her for choosing her baby's life...God's baby's life.

Please pray for her family's well-being during these next few months.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

TV Land

I am so happy that this writer's strike is over. Because now, on Sunday nights, after I manage to get the kids to bed before 8:00 (while other kids are still outside playing!), I can just sit for 3 hours, sip on some wine, and watch TV. First Desperate Housewives, then Brother & Sisters, and finally The Tudors.

I don’t have to think about anything!

Not about this dumb cancer.

Or how long it’s going to take for my hair to grow back before I actually start looking like a girl again.

Or how I’m going to get through this summer wearing an ugly mastectomy swimsuit.

Or when I can get this reconstruction done.

Or what in the world I’m going to do next year without working again.

Or when I can just look and feel normal again.

Or if this cancer is gone for good.

Or what I’ll do if I have to ever go through this again.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

One might think that I’m avoiding some issues. But the way I figure it, I think about this stuff way too much. And it’s nice to have a few hours to think about someone else’s non-existent drama for just a few hours.

(And I’ll try not to continue to think of such silliness until the shows return the following Sunday).

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All content

6:30 PM on Saturday.

Cameron was outside playing football.

Max was in his room playing Lego Starwars on the computer.

Ella was watching Backyardigans on the big screen.

Melvin was playing Guitar Hero.

I was running on the treadmill.

Quality family time, don't ya think?


Friday, April 18, 2008

The lone nerd

Cameron signed up for Chess Club recently. It was through Community Ed, with what I thought was a rather hefty fee attached to it, and lasted for 8 Thursdays, right after school. He loved it!

When it came time for signs up for the next session, I hesitated. Not only did the $89 fee leave me a little unsettled, but track was going to be starting soon, which also took place on Thursdays, causing a very harried evening trying to juggle activities and dinner.

But Cameron REALLY wanted to do it. He kept asking me if I had registered him yet. He was very excited to continue. I figured that Chess was a good thing, so despite my initial hesitation, I decided to go ahead and let him continue with it.

It was to start yesterday. But shortly after Cameron left for school, I got a phone call from Community Ed stating that Cameron was the ONLY one in all of our county to sign up for chess club, so they had to cancel it.

Needless to say, my little chess geek was very disappointed.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wrong end

Ella, this is a toilet.

If you use it, you don't have to wear gross diapers anymore, and I don't have to battle with you everytime I change those stinky things.

You pee and poop in it.

You don't play in it.

You don't slam the seat down everytime it's open.

You don't put toilet paper in it just so you can watch it be flushed down.

You don't whine or scream, "No!" everytime I suggest you use it.

But most importantly, never, ever, ever, put your head in it.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It's all political...I'm sure

As the community where I live grows, the schools restructuring from junior highs to middle schools (finally), and a new high school being built, school boundary lines are changing.

Which means people are NOT happy.

There are three plans being considered by our school board, and various neighborhoods in my town are banning together in favor of, or against, particular plans. My own neighborhood has formed committees, discussed strategy, contacted and arranged a photo for the newspapers, met with board members, etc. all to get our opinion out. And boy am I glad that OTHER people like to do that kind of stuff.

The school board is hosting FOUR sessions where they just sit and listen to community input. I went to the second meeting tonight, not to speak, but to show my support for my neighborhood and hear the arguments for the other two plans.

Everyone has valid points. Everyone wants what's best for their kids. I can't really say that one neighborhood has a significantly better argument over another for their chosen plan.

I sat and listened intently to the first few speakers, but after a while, it all started to sound the same. And for some of the speakers, I really couldn't figure out which plan they were supporting. I found myself watching the 3 minute clock (the amount of time each person had to speak), wishing I had one of those canes from the gong show to yank the person away from the podium as soon as the faint buzzer went off.

And then I looked at the school board members, who tried to seem interested. But really, how could they be? They've received countless e-mails from community members. They've already sat through one meeting of these arguments. They knew they were going to have to sit through 2 more in the coming week.

As people made some very valid points, I could just imagine each board member merely hearing, "Blah! Blah! Blah"...knowing damn well that they were just going to vote for whatever works best for their own kids, or for the people they associate with. I hope not. But can you blame them?

We'll see how this all pans out at the end of the month.


Monday, April 14, 2008

I'm so done with these scarves.

It has been 2 1/2 months since my last chemo treatment. Despite the fact that I've had my entire face waxed already, the hair on my head is not growing as quickly as I'd like it to.

Cameron looks at my locks and says, "You look like you have boy hair." And another little 3 year old girl told me yesterday when I wasn't wearing my scarf around the house that I definitely looked like a boy...it didn't even matter that I was sporting a princess crown.

So what can I do with super-short baby-fine hair to make me look less like a boy? I guess I could try the same thing that parents do to babies, so that people know their little one is a "Michelle" instead of a "Michael."
Barrettes! Lots of them.

It works for babies.

But I'm not sure it's working for me!

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

A dumb idea

Dear Grocery Store Owners,

You know those little kid-sized shopping carts that you store right next to the adult ones, as soon as you walk into the store? Why, oh why do you have them?

Parents don't like them. They cause nothing but trouble, as toddlers try to manuver the carts through the aisles as fast as they can, ramming into anything and everything, praying the whole time that the damn thing doesn't tip over when turning corners.

Other shoppers defintely don't like them, as they now must avoid these little monsters who have no "driving" skills whatsoever, trying to save their own carts, and their own ankles.

Store workers and managers can't possibly like them. It can't look good when kids are in the produce section, rubbing their germ-filled hands all over the exposed fruits and veggies. They can't possibly like it when the little munchkins drop half of what they decide to put in their cart, causing all sorts of messes. Plus, parents get frustrated much quicker, deciding to ditch the shopping experience all together, spending less money in their store.

The only person who benefits from these minature carts are the kids. And last time I checked, they weren't the ones forking over their hard-earned cash.

So please, ditch the mini-carts, and install some special cart-cages for those rambunctious kids of mine. It would be a much pleasant shopping experience all around.

A frazzled mom of 3 kids

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Close enough

Today I had the opportunity to chaperone a trip to the Science Museum. The first graders were to see a movie at the Imax and then visit the different galleries. Cameron told me that the movie we were to see was about Apes.

At breakfast, we were discussing what we knew about apes (basically that they have no tails). And on the bus I was asking all the kids if they were excited to see the movie about the apes. "I'm sure the movie about apes will be really cool." Most of the kids were excited about seeing the furry creatures.
As the movie began, however, the huge dome screen was filled with nothing but snow and mountains. Now I may not know too much about apes, but I was pretty sure that they lived in the jungle, not in frozen climates.

It was then that I realized that we were about to see a movie not about apes, but about the ALPS!

The only primates in the film were the crazy ones scaling those dangerous cliffs, but the kids and I enjoyed the movie nonetheless.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008


About three years ago we moved into a brand new neighborhood; only about 12 houses were built. Now there are dozens of houses, and along with the new structures are new families with kids, kids, kids galore.

After school today about 8 boys gathered in our backyard for a pick-up game of football. This is the kind of "playdate" that I like. One that's not arranged ahead of time. One that doesn't require me to drive anywhere. One that doesn't involve awkard small talk with a mom I don't know.
It was hard, however, to bite my tongue when tempers flared. And a few times I had to let the boys know that yelling "Shut Up!" in someone's face is not allowed in our backyard. Plus, Sara dealt with some namecalling. Actually, I think the boys did more arguing than playing. "Well, my dad played professional football for the Eagles, so I know what I'm talking about." and "Well, my dad is a coach for the Minnesota Gophers!" was shouted out a few times. Plus, Cameron did end up sulking because no one was giving him the ball. Obviously, at this age, there's a lot to learn about teamwork and respect on the field. It is supposed to snow again this weekend (ugh), so I don't know how much football is going to occur in our backyard. But I do look forward to more neighborhood fun in the future. Maybe next time I can get them to play soccer instead....although I doubt it.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


It's official.

I no longer have the shortest hair in the house!

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Always up for a party

Being a typical American who likes Instant Gratification, I don't have the patience for breast cancer treatment. I just want the whole thing taken care of and have my life back to "normal." But as we all know, there is nothing "instant" about this treatment.

And as I've completed each step (surgery, chemo, radiation), I haven't been as excited as one may think I should be, because, well, there's still more. My life is still not back to normal. And so it's hard for me to want to celebrate.

But my friends know that a celebration is always in order! And last week they surprised me with a "pink day" in celebration of my completion of radiation.

These ladies have been such a source of prayer and support for me during this crazy year. And through it all, they help me keep my spirits up and warm my heart with their sincerity and compassion.


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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Crayons, Half PB & J sandwich, 5 different McDonald toys, etc.

This weekend I spent almost 2 hours vacuuming out my vehicle. I filled up one paper grocery bag with trash, and another bag and a half of "things" that needed to be returned to the house.

All this work, and yet, when you step into my minivan, it is STILL nothing but disgusting!

Is it sad that all I want for Mother's Day is my car detailed?

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Icicles are melting

It was 55 degrees yesterday! Normally on such a "warm" day after a snowstorm (which hit on Monday), the neighborhood would be flooded with kids...riding bikes, playing ball, hanging out, etc.

But yesterday it was dead!

That's because it's Spring Break around here, and it seems that my entire neighborhood is gone...off to someplace where there is no snow on the ground. Due to my radiation and my husband's work schedule, we're stuck at home.

But yesterday Cameron and I did go for a bike ride together for about 5 miles. He thought it was fun to ride through every single melted snow puddle that he could find. And he was a jabbermouth the entire time. It was fun.


On a different note, I have a virus/spyware thing on my computer, so my blogging might be limited until it gets fixed.

Bring on spring...bring it on!

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008


It was no April Fool's joke.

I'm officially all done being "baked."

I have to return in a week for the radiologist to check my skin.

And then I think in a few more weeks I have to start having some tests done, and meet with my oncologist again. (I'm a little confused about who I see when, but I'll get it all straightened out eventually).

Next step is to make an appointment with a plastic surgeon to discuss when I can have my preventative right mastectomy and complete reconstruction.

My husband and I were going to go out to celebrate tonight, but I was up for 4 hours last night with some sort of stomach virus (I'll spare you the details), and I seem to be running a slight fever.

So everyone drink a glass of wine for me (or a beer, a chocolate martini, a shot of anything, or a margarita), and celebrate the end of this phase of my treatment.

Breast Cancer Be Gone!

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