Friday, May 24, 2013


Well, you wouldn't actually know it by visiting the blog, but I've been doing a fair amount of knitting.

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I started this year (which is almost half over. Um, how did that happen?!) with an intent to finish as many unfinished projects as I could.

I haven't done too badly so far overall. I'm not sure I've reached the doing great status, but I've finished some projects. Granted, I have started (and finished) some new projects too, so it hasn't just been UFO's getting knocked out, but my UFO bin is a bit lighter so I'll take it!

One of the things I finished was this pair of socks! 

Now, these socks have quite the story to them. First I knit one of them and then 10% of the second sock last October. I was making them for my aunt - she wanted red socks and I had done that facebook pay-it-forward where I'll send something handmade to the first five people who respond {have you seen that?} Anyway, I made one. Fall didn't go exactly as planned. Then this year started even worse with infection, hospital stay. It kind of made me feel out of it for a while.

But I hit a point where I decided to finish these socks. And so, I picked up the sock that was barely started, picked up the pattern and knit away. And just knit away. I finished it. I wove in the ends. I put it next to the first sock to take some pictures and noticed that the one I had just finished was for a foot much, much, much larger than the original. I was so sad. I had to walk away for a little bit. My gauge had changed so much so quickly. {side note: I do notice I knit at different gauges when I'm stressed, tired, etc but it's usually not a large enough change to make a huge difference}

So I unraveled both socks. And started over from scratch. I used a different needle size. I *think* I original had a 1.5 and moved to a 1. Not a huge difference, but enough for me (plus I went from shorter to longer and bamboo to metal which allowed me to get the gauge I wanted). When I got to the end, I realized I was so happy with them! And I sent them off so they could get acquainted with my aunt =) 

Having to reknit was, I won't lie, a huge pain. But it was so worth it to get something I was proud of. I suppose really, it was a life lesson. Sometimes taking a step back can be the best thing to do!

Project notes:
Pattern used: Effervescence
Yarn: Jo-Ann Sensations Truly Solid
Needle: 1 (I think)
Pattern modifications: none, other than changing needle size

Friday, May 17, 2013


Well, I don't let my breasts define me, so I'd chop them off in a heartbeat if I had to!

Oh my. How could you put something so unnatural in your body.

Not that I've been through breast cancer, but if I had, I wouldn't get reconstruction done. Therefor, you shouldn't either.

Just give it time. You'll totally get used to not having breasts.

So are you getting reconstruction done because you're afraid you're husband would leave you if you didn't?

Clearly, you have fallen into society's definition of beauty. I mean, why else would you get reconstruction?

Geeze. Haven't you been through enough? I can't believe you are deciding to do this too.

This is the other side of reconstruction. Not the "oh, you're going to get a free boob job!" side or the "well, you won't have to worry about saggy breasts anymore!" side or the "omg, are you going to go bigger?" side of reconstruction surgery - the comments that make reconstruction seem fun! easy! wonderful! free! (it is not fun, nor easy nor always wonderful and it most certainly is not free in any sense of the worse) This is the opposite side of that.

And yes, all things I have heard or read others say when talking about reconstruction after mastectomy. Sometimes they are said specifically to me, other times they are said in a more general sense, but they sting none-the-less when I read or hear them.

I suppose someone out there is thinking, grow a thicker skin, you are way too sensitive. Maybe I am, though I don't think so. I'm me. And I'm human. And I have feelings. And sometimes people hurt them - purposefully or inadvertently.

It's not that I run away to my room, where I cry for hours upon hours. Nor do I lash out at the person saying the things. I don't even talk about it that much {except usually to my husband who unknowningly drew the let-the-wife-bitch-to-you-about-things-she-feels-she-can't-bitch-to-anyone-else-about card.}

Lately the issue of reconstruction has come up often enough, that I feel it's time to just put it all out there. I know this will turn some of you off. I don't regularly say what someone "should" say or "should" do or "should" feel. We are all unique and for the most part, I think we are all just doing the best we know how and sometimes it comes out all wrong, even though we meant it to sound less harsh, less judgmental, less cheesy. I know, I've done it too. Open mouth, insert foot, slink away, feel like an idiot.

But here's the thing, reconstruction is a DEEPLY personal choice. It is one I made for ME - not for my husband {who wouldn't have blinked an eye should I have told him I wasn't going to do reconstruction, so no, thank you, I'm not doing it so he won't leave me. Also, clearly, if you could even think that for one second, you do not know my husband even a little bit}. I did not do it for society - though I confess, I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking I need to add a tummy tuck, or maybe botox, or whiten my teeth, or buy x, y and z clothes so I can be "pretty" and "popular" because the commercials tell me it. But alas, at the end of the day, that's not why I did it.

I did it solely and completely for me. Yep, all for me. I've walked around with breasts for my half my life, and certainly all of my adult life. Those breasts feed my babies. I didn't always appreciate them, it's true - I complained often of their size and their state, but they were still a part of me. And no, they didn't define me. I am much, much, much more than my breasts. But hello. They were attached to my body. It was a major surgery. I did not just flippantly say "sure! Cut them off!"

I didn't fight making that decision either, but still. Of course, I wanted to get rid of the cancer and was going to do whatever the doctor's recommended, but that didn't automatically make the decision an easy one.

As far as having something unnatural in my body, I also had chemo put into my body - that's not exactly natural. What if someday I need hip replacement? Or a dental implant? Or a defibrillator? Or, a million other "unnatural" things we could put into or body. Sometimes we do it because we feel we have to, sometimes because we want to. Sometimes we decide not to do it, and that's okay. It doesn't make one decision better than the other. It simply means, I did what I felt was the right thing for me, and someone else did what was right to them.

And don't get me started on getting used to it. No, really. For almost a year I woke up every day with only one breast. Every. Single. Damn. Day. And I didn't get used to it. I didn't like it. I wanted to change it. I would have done it sooner if the doctor's had said it was safe. Now, someone else may get used to it. Someone else may have always been okay with it and not needed time to even get used to it. {Related: I have a front tooth that will probably have to pulled soon - would someone tell me to not get a bridge or a dental implant and to just get used to not having a tooth? I'm going to guess no.} Regardless, I didn't need time. Again, I did what I felt was best for ME.

Some women go through this and get reconstruction. Some women do not get reconstruction. One path may be better for me, one path may be better for you. But I would NEVER tell you you should do it the same way I did, simply because that's how I did it {or, how I would theoretically do it}. I would tell you to do what you think is the best thing for YOU. This is not to say you can't feel free to tell me what you think you would do in the same situation, or what you did do when you were in that situation. That is called sharing. But do not assume that everyone should do what you did/would do.

Do I seem touchy? Maybe. I'm about to get to the end of reconstruction - final surgery next month. So, it's been on my mind a lot lately. I have complained about some of the process - as I said earlier, it isn't easy or fun. I have had to use pain killers to deal with the pain from it. I've sometimes even declared that I'm done with recon, only to decide a few days later, no, not really.

But today. This moment, I can say without a doubt, I'm glad I decided to do reconstruction. I also realize it's not a path for everyone. I know women who never did reconstruction - they are gorgeous and wonderful and did exactly what was right for them. Just as I did for me.

Phew. There. It's out. I will step off my soapbox. Thank you for listening though. I appreciate it, even when I seem a bit ranty.


P.S. I wrote this post last week, but was sitting on it. I had intended to let it go live next week, but it seemed more appropriate to share it now, especially after the newest celeb "came out" with her decision regarding cancer, being proactive, and reconstruction. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Roses my son got me as a day before birthday present!
Today I turn 34 years old.

I LOVE birthdays. I always have. I know others who struggle with getting older, but I never have. Maybe one day I will struggle, but for now, I embrace my birthday.

Even more so today than three birthdays ago.

For me, now getting older feels like a gift in itself. I know, it sounds cheesy and all that jazz, but it's true. I also know that tomorrow is promised to no one - eventually I will have a last birthday. It may come suddenly, unexpectedly, or we may get some warning of some sorts. But today, right now, a birthday, getting older, feels like a wonderful gift.

I was 31 when I was diagnosed, just weeks before my birthday. That year my mastectomy was only 2 days after turning 32. It was an odd birthday for me. Everyone was awesome, I was truly showered with so much goodness that year - people went out of their way to wish me a happy birthday. That part was lovely. But I have to wonder, were they, like me, wondering if this was going to be my last birthday, or one of my last birthdays?

I know. It sounds grim. It sounds depressing. And my doctors told me then, trying to reassure us as we were trying to make sense of the cancer diagnosis, that they didn't think it would be a death sentence, that treatment would be successful. Which was nice to hear. But still. I was scared.

And then my birthday came. It was truly awesome. But there was this cloud hanging overhead (that was no one's fault, it was the situation). I had cancer. I was going to have major surgery in 2 days.

Still. It was a birthday. And it was a good one at that.

Fast forward to last year. Last year's birthday was extra charged - we threw a huge party to celebrate it. I loved every minute of it! It had been a long, hard year and darn-it, so many of us needed that celebration. Not just me, but my family.

And here we are again. Another birthday. 34. The celebration will be smaller than last year, but it will still be fabulous.

I'm 34 now. I'm loving every minute of it. My body is more worn, I have more scars, more wrinkles, more baggage than I did a few birthdays ago. But I also have more laughter, more stories, more memories, more hugs, and more time than a few birthdays ago. And that's more than enough.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Tulip picture taken by me
a flower from me to you

To anyone who is a mother, or who has ever mothered someone, I wish you a very happy Mother's Day today.

Today is a day of celebration, and maybe some relaxation. But I also know for some, it can be a sad day, a tough day to get through. And I'm holding you in my heart.

My day began as everyone has since my oldest was born: breakfast in bed. I love this tradition. I especially like watching how my breakfasts have changed, from husband doing it to all, to the kids jumping in, to them trying to do it all themselves (I think I had toast and oranges that year ;-)), to this morning's group effort and very delicious breakfast.

I love my breakfast and would probably be heartbroken should they stop. I told my husband a few years ago, I don't expect much on Mother's Day, but darn-it, I better get my breakfast in bed! LOL! It is now our tradition, out moment, out way to celebrate. It is also cliche. I know this, but it doesn't make me love it any less.

Three handmade cards accompanied my breakfast this morning and my heart melted. Later a card from my husband really brought the tears out. It seems he always knows just what to write and it just touched my heart.

I was able to go see my mom, albeit briefly, and hug her while wishing her a happy mother's day, the woman who taught me how to be a mom. A precious gift that I know too many people won't get today. 

Other than that, the rest of today will go much like any other Sunday around here. My husband will cook dinner, as he usually does on the weekends {and probably too many weekdays too}, the kids and I will catch up on the Doctor Who we missed last night, the lawn will get mowed, and I will spend some time working on one, probably more than one, of my many in progress projects.

It's just how I like it. A little special mixed in with a normal day, expectations that I clearly expressed but ones that aren't over the top that will leave us stressed trying to accomplish them - or worse yet, leave me upset that my expectations weren't reached. Time with my family - my kids, my husband, because truly, I wouldn't be a mom today without them. And they certainly make a better mom than I imagined I could be.

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  She never existed before.  
The woman existed, but the mother, never.  A mother is something absolutely new.  ~Rajneesh

Friday, May 10, 2013


Me working on an embroidery project
Last night I finished a big project I have been working on. When it gets to where it is going, I will show you pictures and tell you more about it. But last night I finished.

I thought it would take me longer to finish and was worried it wouldn't be finished on time. Surprisingly to me, I finished with time to spare.

There's a huge amount of relief and pride in finishing a project. It's not perfect, people will know it was handmade for sure. Despite that, I can step back and be proud of it and feel pretty accomplished for making it.

It's also a bit sad that it's done. That was a lot of time and a lot of work. I suppose it's a bit like the post-Christmas blues. This project has consumed me, I've stayed up later than I should on more than one occasion. And yet, it has to end at some point, because if it trailed on forever, it would make me crazy. I'd get frustrated and walk away and maybe pick it back up in a couple of years.

I know. Because I might have more than one project laying around that has been laying around for more time than they should be.

So I finished the project, but quickly moved on. I've already started different projects - crafty and organizational. I'm half-way through a crochet blanket. I began organizing (tagging, deleting the bad ones, captioning, etc) my digital pictures. And at the start of this year, I decided this was the year to tackle all those half-finished, laying around, feeling forgotten about projects. Well, okay, I probably won't finish all of them, but I do plan to finish some of them.

I'm trying to limit the number of new projects I start to help me get to the end of the other projects. But there are always new projects to start, new tasks to tackle, new ideas that excite me - that grab hold of me and make me want to start right this very minute!

It's all about the balance - balancing the new with the old, balancing the time spent on these projects with the time spent with my family, cleaning, being at base/softball games, and the other million things that I should be doing daily (even though I don't always), so many thing to balance. I'm not good at all that balancing. I'm both literally and figuratively bad at balance. But I plod along, doing the best that I know how to do. Because at the end of the day, that's all I can do.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013


Miss M at her recital
Two weekends ago, Miss M (10 year old) had her first ever voice recital.

To say she was nervous might be just a big of a understatement. The girl was terrified. So she let out some tears, we talked, we hugged. I even told her she didn't have to go if she didn't want to but warned her she might regret it if she didn't try it. After all of that, she decided to go.

And she did it! She did a great job. I was quite the proud mama! I know it took a lot of courage for her to get up in that room and sing - in front of people she both knew and didn't know.

My brave girl is even talking about what she will sing in the next recital. I'm so glad she did it and she survived and wants to do it again.

I know exactly how she was feeling because about a year ago, I took the stage for the Chicago Listen To Your Mother show. Before the show, I was COMPLETELY terrified. But I took to the stage and I did it. It made me feel empowered and it made me proud of myself.

I hope my daughter felt the same way after her recital. I mean she told me she was happy and glad she did it. She said she was proud of herself. But I hope she felt empowered and really proud, like deep down proud. Because getting up in front of people and sharing a part of yourself - a song, a story, a piece of artwork - it takes courage.

This past weekend, the husband and I headed into Chicago again for the 2013 Listen To Your Mother Show. It's quite a difference experience to be sitting in the audience as the women in the show take the stage and open up their hearts to share their story with us. I sat there and listened to them sharing - sometimes laughing, sometimes nodding along because I got it, sometimes with a tear or two that needed to be wiped - and thought about how much courage they had to get up and share.

I'm glad so many people are courageous in this world and share a part of themselves. I know it's not always easy and can be hard, but it is such an amazing gift to give others. And I'm even more proud my daughter is one of those courageous people!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013


Our (not so) little family expanded this week. By quite a bit.

I'd like to introduce you to

Sprinkles, Orangina, Alex, Lauren, and Alberta. Our chickens.

I know, I know. I live in a small neighborhood and have slightly larger than a postage stamp of a yard. But yes, these are our chickens! They won't be living with us for very long though. Just a few weeks and then they will go to my parents' farm to live permanently {where they will be happier and my neighbors will be happier ;)} 

The chickens are technically for my 10 year old. But really, she claimed two the rest of (minus husband) all claimed one of them for ourselves! 

She will be showing at least one of them at the county fair this summer. We thought she might also be able to auction off some eggs as part of the fair, but our chickens will probably not be laying by that time - so hopefully next year! {This is just some of the stuff we are all learning now}

But our little chicks are so cute. They have completely taken our hearts! I checked on them several times last night - it's like having a little newborn back in the house, except they don't cry and wake you up! 
A few of the neighborhood kids came over to see them today. Naturally, because they are so cute and it's not everyday (at least in these parts) that your neighbor has baby chicks in their garage!

I can't wait to see how the chicks grow and change and turn into grown-up chickens! I can't wait to eat eggs that will come from our chickens! I can't wait to see all that we can learn, which judging how things are going already, is going to be a lot!

If everything goes well this summer, next year we will probably add more to the flock, but for now we are going to enjoy these cute, fluffy, little ones =)