Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pizza (Rolls) and a Movie

*As a reminder, I am part of the Netflix Streamteam. I am being compensated for sharing with you, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Pizza and a movie. Movie and a pizza.

They go together so perfectly, don't they?

We are entering our busy time of year. Or I should say, to be more accurate, a busier time of year.
For the next few weeks, the husband works a second job. Which means we don't see each other as often as we'd like to. Which is okay, because it's a small amount of time.

But we've been spending time just doing nothing with each other in preparation.

So a movie night is a perfect way to hang out together, while cuddling on the couch!

Recently, we sat down to watch Manchurian Candidate.

He picked it out, after seeing what Netflix had available.

I whipped up some pizza rolls.

Okay, I didn't just whip them up. They take planning. And I had never made them before. To be honest, making them for my family was the test run, since really, my goal was to make them for some friends. They get them when family from out of state visits and brings them because they can't find them locally.

I have never had them before our friends introduced them to me. And I was banging my head against the wall when a google search for a recipe for pizza rolls came up empty. Well, okay, it came up with lots of things, just not what I was looking for.

Until another search (that was just a jumble of ingredients) turned up the fact that I was really eating pepperoni rolls - which is exactly what my friends called them, I just forgot until I read it. So I went to work a little after lunch to start the dough. I used the recipe I found here, but modified the fillings for my family.

The vegetarian in the family got two-cheese rolls. The non-pepperoni fans got sausage and cheese rolls and the rest of us ate some pepperoni rolls. Except, in our house, we now call these pizza rolls for sake of not having to be specific. And who knows, if I make them again, I might throw some pizza sauce in there to see?

And then we sat to watch Manchurian Candidate. Which was a good movie. Except, I'm still not sure I fully understand all that happened. Because here's the truth about our movie night. Husband and I were both exhausted. About 65% of the way into the movie, we looked at each other, realized we were both moments from falling asleep. So we stopped the movie and went to bed. Two nights later, we sat down to watch the rest of it.

On one hand, it sounds kind of pathetic. On the other, we live in this world and we are busy and tired and often taking care of other people before ourselves. And sometimes that means we're really tired and that it's time to take care of us. And if that means we pause a movie half-way to go to bed, so be it.

Of course, this is why Netflix is a beautiful thing for us. There is no time limit on what's in our queue - as long as Netflix has the movie (or tv show) it's there waiting for us to come back. And Netflix remembers where we were. No guessing on our part. No trying to remember. Just select the movie again and tell it to continue playing. Or restart it from the beginning if you need to.

It's a wonderful thing. Even if it means that we feel old as we climb into bed before 10:00, not having been able to stay awake long enough to watch a movie. ;-)

Monday, September 22, 2014

All Aboard!

In front of sleeping car
In front of our train car
Two weeks ago, I was able to get away and take a mini-vacation.

My (now) 12yo wanted to spend her birthday in New Hampshire. So three weeks ago, we put her on a plane and sent her out to New Hampshire.

Don't worry, my in-laws live there and picked her up when she deplaned. She got to spend a week with graham and pop all by herself. Three years ago, at a similar age, our oldest daughter went out and did a similar thing for two weeks. So, technically, we were just keeping up the tradition!

Right side of Amtrak Roomette
right side of the room
She had a great week with them all to herself. I suppose, she got to pretend to be an only child while in the care of grandparents who thoroughly spoiled her (as it should be!) which was fabulous for her.

I wasn't opposed to her being out there for two weeks alone, except the second week was when her birthday hit. And I didn't want to be away from her for her birthday. I'm not ready to cut the cord that much yet!

So late Friday night, the 8yo and I headed into the city and boarded an Amtrak train headed for Boston. {The husband had to work and the 14yo had school so they had to stay behind.}

We do this because a) I dislike flying. A lot. No, scratch that, I hate flying with every fiber of my being and b) we enjoy taking the train. This is not our first train trip and I hope it won't be out last!

Chicago River outside Amtrak windowLeaving from a big station like Chicago, means we get to check any luggage we want, but we also brought one small suitcase on the train. Not all stations are big enough to have the staff/space to do checked luggage.

We splurged this trip and got a roomette. We've ridden in coach before. It's not bad, but it's not as good as getting a room. Plus, when we get a room, our meals are included in the price (they are not in coach seating - you pay when you eat like a restaurant). The roomette is the smaller of the rooms available on the train we were on. But with just the two of us, the smaller room was the perfect size!

Amtrak roomette bunk bed
bunk bed down!
Our train left right on time at 9:30. Mister Man and I hung out for a little bit. We came well equipped with a book each, tablets, a ds, a few toys for him, and some knitting for me. When we were ready for bed, we had the attendant pull down the bunk bed so we could get some sleep.

It's kind of peaceful sleeping on the train. I suppose it must be similar to why babies like to be rocked to sleep? Some parts of the track are bumpy, but it wasn't bad at all! We both slept for quite a while (though I stayed up knitting and watching some videos and just enjoyed the peace and rhythmic rocking).

In the morning we went off to the dining car to get some breakfast. The dining cars are community seating - each table has 4 seats. They will fill the 4 seats up - so if you are traveling as a pair, you can get another pair (or single rider) at your table. Most people who ride the train are pretty friendly and will chat with you, and it's kind of fun to get to meet someone new! We arrived right before breakfast ended, so we sat alone. But we also learned at breakfast the train was running late due to a slow-moving freight in front of us. {As a side note: the train also has a cafe car on it, which has soda, snacks, simple foods like hamburgers, hot dogs, so you can get food on the train without needing to sit down for a full meal!}

We went back to the room and played some games, watched some Dino Dan (a show my son is in LOVE with), and spent time just looking out the window. It's really pretty to watch America go by the train window! We also kept pulling up google maps on my phone so we could see exactly where we were. Mister Man had fun seeing where we were and how far from home we had made it!

Lunch on Amtrak train
our lunch!
This is how most of our day was spent - hanging out, lunch, hanging out. Just before dinner time, we got into the Albany, NY station. This stop is kind of a special stop for the Chicago/Boston run. Because the Chicago/Boston run is also the Chicago/New York City run. From Chicago to Albany, it's one train. At the Albany station, they actually split the train into two trains. One to New York City, one to Boston. We didn't get to watch the trains split, but we did watch our train get the new engine hooked up to it. It was kind of fun!

Amtrak train at Albany StationThen it was back for dinner (which was a bit late). We got back to the room, did one episode of Dinosaur Dan and the 8 year old was tired. I told him to go to sleep. We were supposed to arrive in Boston at about 9:10, but I knew we were running late. I figured better to let him sleep and wake him up than to keep him awake and make him overtired tomorrow. I sat and got a bunch of knitting and reading done! I managed to finish my first vacation read (which isn't too impressive because I brought light, easy, quick reads!).

View outside Amtrak window
view outside Amtrak window
Finally, at about 1:15am, our train pulled into Boston (and yes, for those keeping track that 27 hours on a train factoring in the time change). I won't lie, I was pretty exhausted by this time and not happy about getting in so late. I wasn't quite mad either - there can always be delays when traveling: planes take off late, get rerouted, traffic jams on highways, etc - it was just so late at night and I was tired!

That said, overall, I loved our train trip. It's relaxing (okay, maybe not 100% when it's late). On the way home, it's kind of like a mini-vacation - you can't cook or clean or do laundry yet. You just get to hang out and read, play games, knit, watch videos, chat with the kids.

Brain QuestOn the way home, it was Mister Man, Miss M and me. We had a lot of fun asking questions from a set of Brain Quest questions, in addition to all the other stuff we brought with! It was some good bonding time.

I highly recommend a train trip or two. I know, I know it takes longer than flying. And sometimes it can even take a bit longer, but it's so worth it!

View outside Amtrak window
View outside Amtrak window
PS - this post was not sponsored by Amtrak or anyone. That said, if they ever want to send me somewhere, I'll gladly go. I hope to someday take the train out of Chicago and go to New York City when it splits! ;-)    

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Growing Up

Two weeks ago, Miss M, my middle child, turned 12.

Let me tell you about Miss M.

She is taller than me. She is almost as tall her 14yo sister. At 5'6 (and a half)" she is very tall.

She has a hard time finding pants that fit her. They tend to look like floods.

Despite this, she LOVES being tall. She loves it when people point it out and she loves it when she can stand next to someone and be taller than them. 

She likes basketball, volleyball, and softball.

She wants to be on the Chicago Bandits one day.

And a photographer.

She'd like to go to 4H National competition.

She would not like to go to finishing school.

She has heart that is so big I'm not sure how it fits in her body!

She would give you the shirt off her back if she thought you needed it.

She loves to help people.

She is creative. She draws, sews, takes pictures, and about a million other things.

She likes being hands on.

She loves to cuddle.

She doesn't always understand the concept of personal space. Because she loves to cuddle and assumes everyone must also! 

She enjoys body surfing on waves in the ocean.

She makes friends easily and wants to be every one's friend.

She lets me braid her hair on a regular basis.

She loves to sing.

She wants to learn to play the flute.

She was born 10 days past her due date. Which is funny because I was put on bed rest towards the end because I was high-risk for pre-term labor.

She was born the day before the one-year anniversary of 9/11. I was induced. The hospital was leery of doing it in case it took 24 hours and she would be born on 9/11. I didn't care (see previous point).

She daydreams often, likes to smell every flower, and loves enjoying things.

She reads a lot.

She's inquisitive and curious.

She was a mellow baby.

She's an excitable 12 year old.

She loves rocks and minerals - finding them, identifying them, buying them, keeping all of them!

She plays Minecraft and Clash of Clans and other games.

She can easily beat me in a game of Quiddler (a word game).

She was the only child who asked out loud if the cancer would kill me. She was relieved when I told her while I couldn't predict the future, it was unlikely so we should just hold onto that.

She's never broken a bone or had to get stitches :::knock on wood:::

She can cook and bake (simple things by herself, more complex with help).

She doesn't much enjoy cleaning, but will help me if I need it.

She likes to be around people.

She also likes being alone. 

People say she looks like my twin. My mom
says she acts like my twin.

She organizes her things mostly by putting them in piles. Which she inherited from me!

She has a hard time with sarcasm and takes things very literally. Like me.

She can talk your ear off. Like me.

She likes taking selfies. Like me. She also likes taking them with me. Which makes me smile!

Even though she is like me, she is also clearly her very own person.

She's pretty awesome. And special. And kind. And giving. And smart. And gorgeous.

She's my Miss M. And always will be. I can't imagine life without her!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Behind the Glossy Picture

Yesterday, Glamour Magazine's October issue hit the newsstands.

I've been waiting for it to go into print because in the spring, I was interviewed for a story they were printing in October about breast cancer, and the decision to get a mastectomy.

It's kind of been in the news a bit. Research is showing that (according to the parameters set) too many women are getting mastectomies and too many women are getting contralateral prophylactic mastectomy - which is a fancy way of saying, that instead of only getting the breast with cancer removed, you chose to get the other breast removed as well. Which is what I did. And maybe another blog post in the future.


Today the article came out. I was sent a PDF file of just this story a few days ago, but I went out today and bought a hard copy as well. I instantly took a photo and shared it on social media. Because, it's what I do.

It's kind of cool to be included in an article that will reach a wide variety of readers. I felt a bit proud about it.

And here's where the irony kicks in.

Today was an awful, horrible, no good day. I mean the kind of day where I fought back tears all day, was too tired to get anything meaningful done, I felt awful.

My iron levels have completely tanked again. So with that comes a lot of no-good, awful feelings. Including (but not limited too): being more exhausted than I've ever felt before, freezing when no one else is, tired, irritability, feeling sad, and having a sluggish feeling. I can't explain how I just in general feel icky adequately. But I do. I want to just crawl into bed and never get out. Of course, the dumb part is it isn't helping the insomnia one bit. It's like the more tired I feel, the harder it is to fall asleep. Because life isn't fair.

Now, I have great friends. And everyone was happy and excited for me. So I had lots of comments - lots of wows! Great job! I was called a rock star, famous, glamorous, a superstar, smart and brave. A few people shared with their friends.

And all I could do? Was cry.

Because I was just too tired. Did they know I didn't get out of bed today until 11? That I had to take a nap at 4? That I barely managed to stay awake that long even? How I didn't even talk to my husband when he got home from work because I just couldn't even handle getting a few words out? How I had trouble helping the 12 year old with math today because all of my brain wasn't firing? How I jumped in to a facebook conversation I shouldn't have and made a friend message me to ask if I was mad at her (and I wasn't)? How I spent over an hour researching iron-deficient anemia and couldn't find one website on how to treat it if you are allergic to iron? How I decided I needed to see a new doctor to help? And how I talked myself out of because the doctor would think I was just lazy or something? How I didn't even pick up knitting needles today and knit because I just couldn't even imagine finding that fun? Or about how I sat on my husband's lap at the end of the night, crying my eyes out? That I cried it wasn't fair? That I told him this sucks? That some days it takes every ounce of energy just to get out of bed? And that how, even when my friends were being, kind and supportive all it did was make me want to cry more? 

No. They didn't know any of this.

I mentioned that my iron levels were low when I found out. I didn't mention that I already knew. I don't need a blood test anymore to know. It's the same symptoms, in almost the same order, every single time my iron levels tank.

I just hate to sound like a spinning record. I hate that I'm constantly talking about the exhaustion or not feeling well. Second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit worse. That about sums it up.

I'm tired of it. It's old to me. I can't imagine how it must feel to other people. I want to yell at myself to get over it, get up, move on, get things done. Smile. Be happy. Laugh. Look like life is grand. Like you have a life that would be worthy of a magazine.

But those glossy pictures don't tell the whole story. The one paragraph summary isn't the full picture. It is enough for this one article. This one quote, which I think summarizes one moment well. But there were many moments before that, and many after, and many more to come.

They aren't all magazine-worthy. But they are my moments. I shall try to enjoy being in print for a few days. I'll just have to do it in between naps.

Friday, September 05, 2014


It's been a bit of a long week around here. While I haven't had any more awful migraines, I've pretty much had a constant headache all week. Thankfully, the medicine I have has kept it from being more.

Earlier this week, I joked, that I was feeling so awful I wasn't even knitting. It's a good way to gauge how I'm feeling for sure!

While it's true that I haven't been knitting much this week, I did recently finish a blanket that I am just in love with.

This blanket was sent off to a beautiful little girl. Yes, I know it's blue. Yes, I know that little girls traditionally get much pink. No, this is not a statement on trying to blur gender color lines.

This blue was deliberately chosen for this specific little girl.

You see I met her parents kayaking last year. It was clear they love the water. It was clear they shared their love of the water with their children. And I knew, when the new baby arrived, she too, would be exposed to the water.

So, when picking out yarn, I was drawn to the blue. This shade in particular reminded me of my kayaking trip. So I decided, hey, why not go with blue.

After that I searched for a good pattern. I wanted something "pretty" as I felt blue was a bit untraditional. And that's when I stumbled upon this lovely blanket with cables and lace, I just knew it was the right one.

The cabling and lace reminded me of waves in the water. And I just thought this blanket with this pattern will be perfect, so I set off to knit it.

Now, cables aren't my favorite to knit, but I love how they look. This blanket is no disappointment there. The cables look lovely.

I'm so pleased with how this blanket turned out. I hope this blanket reminds the family of water!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Some Days Are Hard Yo

I know I am not unique in this, but some days are just so hard.

I've had a string of hard days here lately, and I can't lie, it's all weighing heavily on me.

Actually, it's been a long summer. I've been sick off and on, run down, worn out. There have been many doctors appointments and more tests than I think is fair.

Yes, I said it, it's all completely unfair. I know, oh, I know that no one ever said life would be fair, yadda-yadda-yadda. I don't really care. I still think it's completely unfair.

That aside, let me tell you how my Tuesday went. My 14 year old, as she was getting ready for school "Mom, you text or message me if you need anything today, okay?"

My 14 year old. A child (who would be mortified to know I called her a child, but she is) who should be light-hearted and thinking about school and all the things high schoolers think about, asking me to let her know if I needed anything.

Pardon me for a moment while I say, this is so fucked up.

You see this weekend was an awful couple of days for me. A migraine, followed by a day of not being able to stand up without getting dizzy, followed by a general not feeling well, followed by the most excruciatingly painful migraine I've had ever in my life. I mean, we were about to go to the ER when the meds kicked in or the headache passed (just as suddenly as it arrived).

And you know who was here most of the time helping me through it? My 14 year old.

This is about the point that I start to feel a bit ragey inside and really, really start to think that this is all incredibly unfair.

But we muster through it. Her and I talk. I tell her this is unfair, that I think this has changed her. She comments that everyone has hard times and that everything in her life has shaped her, not just this.  She says it's fine and deflects to talk about how I'm doing.

Because my 14 year old is wise beyond her years.

She mothers me. She figuratively holds my hand. She stays nearby, on the watch, trying to predict if I will need something: food, water, a bucket, medicine. She calls her father (my husband) to let him know what is going on. She tells her brother to keep it down and to not bother me.

These are the things I should be doing for her if she gets sick.

But no, in this house, often she is picking up slack for me and helping me.

And it sucks so very, very much.

I say things like, I hope this makes her more empathetic as an adult; a caring, understanding person; that somehow this will make her a better person. Which is silly because she is already a better person. But she is also still 14. And I hate that she takes on this responsibility. Just once I'd like her to throw a fit, to get a "NO! I don't want to vacuum! You do it!"

I'm sure that sounds weird, but it's what a 14 year old is supposed to do. But she doesn't. She knows. She knows that I need the help. She knows I'm not making her do stuff just to make her do stuff. She, as I've said before is wise beyond her years. She always has been - even as a young child we often said this about her. I know she is still her, her essence. But I know that my cancer and subsequent sickness has shaped her.

Because some days are hard. They are so hard for me. And I know they are hard for my family. I don't live in a bubble. Things that happen to me do not stay just with me. It ripples out. I see it and hear it from my husband, from my parents, from friends. There is worry there. It still exists.

Everyone knows I'm "okay" but they are also aware that I'm not. They are aware of the hard days, the bad days, the sad days. They love me through them and support me the best they can. And I'm so incredibly grateful for that.

But some days are hard. And there is no getting around it. They are just hard.

I press on. We all press on. We cling to the days that are not hard, or are not as hard.

Because it's not fair. But it's life. We can't pick the hand we are dealt, only play what we are given. So we do the best we can each and every day.

Some days that means the 14 year old asks me to text her if I need anything. Thankfully, most days it means I ask her to text me if she needs anything.