Thursday, March 27, 2014

Upside Down

Netflix Stream Team
*Note: Netflix is sponsoring this post as part of my participation in the stream team and sharing that experience with you. However, as always, all opinions are my own! 

We've been a bit upside down in these parts. Preparing a house to sell is crazy!

Last week, we had a lot of new carpet installed - most of our first floor and the basement. It looks great!

But. We spend most of our time on the first floor or the basement. Both were emptied that day and, you know, carpet installers were working. So we were limited to the second floor. Which is just bedrooms. My room is the largest, so the kids naturally congregated in there, well 2/3rds of them!

Team Hot Wheels
They plugged in computers, played minecraft, but we also watched a LOT of netflix! Because did I mention I also had my car in the shop, so I was also without transportation. So we couldn't really do much else. Many things have been packed or where being blocked by furniture pushed to the side to allow carpet to come in.

But, phew! Netflix saved the day.

We started by watching the new show Team Hot Wheels. Now, my 8 year old LOVES hot wheels! Just loves them so I knew that this should would be right up his alley! I think it was!

video


Then, I decided that we should watch something educational because most of our school books were blocked (homeschoolers don't get snow days but we do get house-fixer-upper days!). Netflix is host to so many wonderful programs - documentaries on so many things (for a few years we had watched every dinosaur documentary there was for my son), Mythbusters, How It's Made, etc. That's in addition to educational cartoons we can watch like Arthur and Wild Kratts.

We don't always stick to "educational" things, we watch a lot of things for fun too, but given no books would be cracked that day, I decided less Ninjago and more learning!

So I picked Man vs. Wild.

Alright, alright, not your typical educational show. Basically Bear Grylls gets dropped into places (like forests, mountains, deserts) and has to survive. Along the way he explains what he is doing and why and what things you shouldn't do to survive.I thought it would be a fun way to learn about different areas while picking up some useful skills along the way.

Let me tell you. The show is fascinating. I learned a few things. I also learned that my anxiety can't take the thought of trying to survive on an African plain or in a South American forest, or an American desert! But I did learn to never approach a wild elephant. So that was good.

So we moved on and finished the day with The Magic School Bus. I love that show. It's such a great show with a lot of great science topics covered! The kids were kept happy, I was happy (and anxious free lol!). And we got to see what a baseball game without friction looked like among other things.

Phew. Netflix saved the day! No seriously, I could get to my first floor or basement. All the books were packed or inaccessible. The board games couldn't be reached. There wasn't a place to paint. I had no car so I couldn't leave. It was cold outside so we couldn't run around out there.

My goodness. How did people do this before netflix? Would we have been relegated to watching soap operas and daytime talk tv. Okay, I wouldn't have minded it, but I'm pretty sure the children would have launched a rebellion!

Now the house is back in order. And I'm so thankful for that. But I'm also thankful that at the end of a long day, I can watch House of Cards after everyone else is bed!

How about you? Do you have netflix? Are there any must see's for adults or kids? Share!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Kids say the darndest things


In the last week, I've had two child-saying-something-about-cancer-experiences that have been, well, awkward.

Miss 11 and I were visiting a group she will almost positively join once we move. It's to replace a group we will be too far from to continue going to.

Anyway, we went and visited. It was lovely. She right away connected with another child there (who happens to be her same age, plays softball, and is homeschooled)! Everyone seemed friendly and welcoming and the group seems to participate in a lot of things. She was so happy at the meeting she asked if we could join right then (um, no, because you are already part of the other group and need to finish the year there).

As we were getting ready to leave, my kids were talking about their tablets. They each have a tablet and/or computer and/or mp3 player. They are blessed with technology. Pretty much all of it gifts from relatives or hand-me-downs as the next older child gets a gift! However, their original tablets (which are eye pads. Which I type as eye pads to keep spam bots from searching and leaving spam) were given to them when I was diagnosed with cancer. Because people wanted to help anyway they could (and it did).

So my daughter says, without missing a beat "Yeah, thanks mom for getting cancer! It worked out nice for us!"

Now, first of all, my daughter isn't really happy I got cancer. No tech can be better than having a healthy, active mom. Second of all, no one there knew I had cancer. This is not the first time something like this has happened. For my kids, cancer is a way of life. I had it. They lived through it. They were pretty young. My youngest probably doesn't have memories of me before cancer. We are still dealing with side effects from treatment and I still go to a fair amount of doctor's appointments. For us, in our house, it is what it is. For everyone else though, these statements can be jaw-dropping.

Cue the awkward pause. The adults looked at me (which is what usually happens).

"You had cancer?" they manage to spit out.

Yes, I say, sometimes I'll say breast cancer about 3 years ago, sometimes I don't give more info.

Another pause. Then, every time, a form of, "Well, you look good! I'd never have guessed you had cancer!"

Thank you I say, because I mean it. I appreciate not looking sick. I looked sick for a while. There was a time when if you were meeting me for the first time you would have known for sure it was cancer or you would have known for sure something big was going on.

But it's so, so very awkward for me, for the other adults. People aren't sure what to make of it. I think in general, the younger someone is, the more shocking hearing about cancer is. I don't know for sure, but it's my guess.

Then the kids are already talking about the next thing. The moment is gone. It almost feels like a secret has been told and before you can finish processing it, the conversation has moved on. Not that my cancer is, has been, or ever will be a secret, but it feels like it.

It is hard to meet people for the first time - I often wonder, do I mention cancer? Do I not? It will probably come up eventually, so I tend to wait for that moment when it comes up naturally ....

For example a few weeks ago, at the same child's basketball game, another mother asked me about my curly hair. So I said "Well, it was never this curly! But then I went through chemo and this is how it grew back. It's been a few years and I'm still not used to it." This lead to a convo about how I had cancer, what kind, how were things today. There is still some awkwardness there, but it's much less. The conversation flows more naturally and doesn't feel so forced.

I wonder, will it always be like this? Will time lessen it. In 10 years, I doubt my children (who won't really be children anymore) will just blurt out "my mom had cancer!" Unless, I guess, it comes back, but that's a whole different ball game.


Fast forward to today. We learned that we have two new babies coming in the family in the fall. I was talking to Mr. 8. We were talking about how exciting it was and how babies are always a good thing. I told him "I can't wait for these babies to be born so I can hold them! I love babies! And I love them even more when I'm not the one who has to wake up in the middle of the night with them!"

He laughed at that,  and agreed it's better to get to just hold a baby for a bit than have to wake up in the middle of the night. Then he says, "Boy mom, you must be really happy you got cancer so you can't have any more babies! I bet waking up with three of us are enough! And if you didn't get cancer, how many more babies would you have had? Probably a lot."

Um, oh, yeah, wait, what? I didn't even know what to say.

I can get it from his perspective. I can get how this makes sense. I can see his 8 year old brain trying so hard to make sense of everything. But, um, happy I got cancer? Yeah, no.

I took a few seconds and I I just told him that. "You know, I understand what you're saying, but I'm not actually happy I got cancer. Though, I love you and your sisters and I think three kids is a wonderful number to have! Even without cancer, I probably wouldn't have had any more kids."

He said ok, okay, then asked if I wanted a rainbow loom bracelet.

Just like that. Once again, this bombshell (to me anyway) gets dropped. I feel thrown off. And within seconds the kids are moved on to the next thing.

And I have to remind myself, this is their life. Cancer has existed for them for what is most of their life. Not in actual time, but in what they can remember of life. It is what it is. At home we talk openly about it (though, I want to point out, it's not like we sit around and talk about it all the time). So it makes sense that the can drop it into any conversation without giving it a second thought.

It still throws me off though. It still gives me pause. But, it also makes me glad they can talk about it, that they don't feel like it needs to be a secret. When they voice these thoughts and ideas, it gives me and my husband a chance to talk about it.

I think at the end of the day, I prefer it this way.

Though, I still don't like the awkward pauses it can bring!


Friday, March 21, 2014

Is It Friday Yet?

Thankfully, yes, yes it is Friday.

It's been a long few weeks.

Our house has been crazy - we've been painting and had new carpet put in this week. So furniture was moved (mostly to the garage). Thankfully, it's all mostly done now and we can start to put the house back together. Well, minus all the stuff we need to pack because clutter won't help sell the house.

On top of that, over the last few weeks the garage door broke, a toilet broke and kind of flooded (but thankfully not too much) the bathroom, and my car was in the shop.

In the same last two weeks, cancer has stolen the lives of two people I know.

And oh, my headaches are back. And so is a terrible bout of insomnia.

I might be just slightly stressed over here. And by slightly I mean, of course, absolutely totally and completely stressed.

The house is being put back together - which is nice. The garage is fixed. The car is fixed. The toilet is almost fixed. Soon we will be moved and things will start to fall into a nice routine. That's all the easy stuff.

The hard stuff is the loss. The unfairness of it all. I just, I just don't know. I've been thinking about this. Since getting cancer, I've connected with a lot of people who also had or have cancer. This means loss is now a regular part of my life. It never gets easier. Of course, all loss isn't born of this cancer-connection, but much of it is. There's probably a lot more to say about all of this. For the moment, I'll leave it at I can't wait for the day we can cure cancer. All cancers. Regardless of where they strike and who they strike.

But today is Friday. Which means it's the weekend. This weekend we celebrate my husband's birthday. He deserves a fabulous birthday. He's been working so hard: at work, at our house, at the house we are moving too.

We will celebrate him this weekend. We will try to put the house more together and maybe pack a few more things. I will find time to just be. To just be still.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Knit-A-Thon

Very soon (like 10 weeks!) I'll be walking in my third Avon 2-Day walk. And in order to walk in it, I have raise a bit of money. Of course, by a bit, I mean a lot! 1800 to be exact! This year, I'm not even close to it yet!

So, this year, I'm shaking it up a bit. I'm going to do a knit-a-thon.

On Saturday April 26 and Sunday April 27!

The date is important because April 26 will be the third anniversary of my diagnosis.

I can't think of anything better I'd like to do on that day than knit all day.

So I will.

The plan is to knit for 24 hours. But I'm also a mom and I have to function, so I'm actually doing 12 hours on Saturday and 12 hours on Sunday. 10:30am to 10:30pm.

10:30 am is about the time the doctor called to give me the news.

IMG_7209 All day I'm going to be knitting. I will be working on either a scarf (or two) or some washcloths. 

At the end of my knit-a-thon I'm going to randomly give what I've made to the people who donate to me.

This is kind of bittersweet too because I've also decided that this will be my last Avon walk, at least for a while.

The walk is hard - which I mean, walking 39 miles isn't easy, but it's just too much for me. It's very hard on me physically.

It's also hard on my family. It is a lot of time.

I know it's for a good cause. I believe in making a difference. But it's also time for me to make a difference in a different way.

That said, I'm still excited about walking this year for the third time. And I can't wait to do my knit-a-thon. It will be such a blast.

Anyway, if you'd like to learn more about my walk, here is my Avon Page!

I might live-blog my knit-a-thon too, I'm not sure yet. I think twitter and instagram might be a better platform that day. Naturally, I'll keep you all posted!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Blogger Comments

So. I really like blogger.

It's easy to use. I've figured out how to personalize the blog pretty easily. And, of course, it's free.

Because it's free, I try to not complain too much.

However.

Ahem.

However, the commenting system kind of leaves a lot to be desired.

When you leave a comment here, I get an e-mail with the comment. What I'd LOVE to do more often than not, is e-mail a response back. Except for most of you, you haven't linked your blogger account to an e-mail, so I can't.

So, here's where I beg: Please, please, go link your blogger account to an e-mail.
It's not hard, and I'll try to explain it to you.

  1. 1. Go to your blogger profile. (I get to it by going to blogger.com and clicking the arrow next to my picture and name in the upper right hand corner).
  2. 2. On that page, click "edit profile" (again in the upper right hand corner)
  3. 3. Scroll down until you get to the "Identity" section. Under user name, will be a spot for e-mail. Enter one in!
  4. Save changes and go about your lovely day
If you do that, when you comment to me, and I get that e-mail, I will be able to reply to your comment. Especially if you ask a question. You won't have to come back to the post, look at the comments and see if I've replied there - which, I fully admit I've almost never remembered to do myself!

Anyway, this is a totally selfish request, I know! But it would be a wonderful thing to do. Then leave me a comment here and I'll e-mail you a hi back! =)

Friday, March 14, 2014

You're Doing Cancer Right

Pink RibbonA while ago, in a span of a few days, I read on-line and heard some pretty disheartening comments, both from people who had/have breast cancer and those who have not. Comments like "Who would do that?" upon learning someone made a different choice from them. The worst of the comments I read I won't even repeat here - they were just plain mean and do not need to be repeated.

The people who think these things, who say these things, they won't be here reading. But maybe you've been subjected to these comments. Maybe you've had someone say it directly to you, or you read it somewhere, or you overheard it. And even though you knew it didn't matter, it still stung and hurt. Because this cancer journey sucks. It's full of choices - choices you put a lot of thought into, choices that you made because it was the best decision for you and at the end of the day that's all that counts. And the last thing you need is someone, who may or may not have been on the same journey and may or may not have made the same decision as you, looking at you with a look of disbelief and going "Oh. Why would you do that?" or saying something hurtful.

So, let me just tell you. You are doing it right.

Lumpectomy? Mastectomy? Double mastectomy? You made the right decision for you.

Reconstruction? No reconstruction? You made the right decision for you.

Tissue Expanders? TRAM (transverse rectus abdominis muscle) Flap? DIEP (deep inferior epigastric artery perforator)? Latissimus dorsi flap? You made the right decision for you.

Nipple reconstruction? Areola tattoo? 3D Nipple tattoo? No nipple? No tattoo?  You made the right decision for you.

Hormone therapy? Deciding not to do it? Stopping it early? Switching what med you take? You made the right decision for you.

It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or says, trust that you made the right decision for you. Because you did. Even if someone else did something else. Even if someone else thinks it's not the right choice. Trust yourself. You made the right decision. You are doing what is best for you. You are doing cancer right, because at the end of the day there are about a million ways to do cancer "right". And "right" will look different for different people.

And if you are going around telling people how they aren't doing cancer right, well then you are doing it wrong.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Moving

Boxes
All my fabric packed!
Yep.

We're moving.

We've been talking about this since the fall. We needed a lot of little things to line up in order to make this happen and just after Christmas, all the pieces fell into place.

We are happy about moving.

We are also very sad to be leaving where we live now.

It's complicated. Life often is, isn't it?

We will stay in the Chicago-area, but we will be moving to a different town.

Our cats are not able to make the move with us, and have actually already been rehomed. And yes, tears did flow (and still sometimes pop up) the day both cats went to their new homes.

No more kitchen floor!
The kids are sad to leave this house, but the girls are looking forward to finally not having to share a room. I'm losing my craft room, but should be able to claim a corner at the new basement to be mine.

We are going to a better school district, but one in which my daughter who is entering high school in the fall currently knows no one.

This move is going to bring a lot of change in our lives. We won't be buying, we will be renting. We won't be living alone either, we'll be living with family (my husband's grandmother).

Things are a bit chaotic at the moment. The house we are going to is getting some remodeling down. Our house is in the process of getting fixed up - lots of new flooring and new painting.

And also, there is a lot of decluttering going on around here. Because I am absolutely NOT moving things we don't need anymore! And really, my house needed it anyway. Even if we weren't moving, we haven't had a proper decuttering in a few years. My house has lost so much weight this year.

Basement carpet pulled up!
Last week preparations here really kicked into high gear! Which just let us know that this is real. It's really real. We are moving.

This is going to be so good for us in the long run. In the short run, it's sad - leaving friends, leaving pets, the chaos of getting the house ready to sell, the chaos of having already started packing somethings, but not others, of moving things to the new house - just deciding what can go today and what has to wait until we physically move ourselves to the new house. But, I know we are doing the best thing we can for our family.

Hopefully soon - like in the next week or two - we can get this house listed.

We'd love any thoughts, prayers, vibes, etc you can send to allow our house to sell quickly and that the move is as painless as possible, that we quickly find new friends and make new connections.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Knitted Hats

As I have been working through my to-do list of things to knit, I had two hats on it for a special friend.

A few months ago, I sold a few knitted scarves to get donations for my Avon Walk (that's coming soon!). I took a picture of all the scarves and put it on facebook. I was pretty nervous that no one would want them, but alas, a few of them sold pretty quickly!

A friend reached out and asked if I could make her a hat instead. Sure!

This is a special friend. We've never met in person. We first connected on twitter - her with brain cancer and me with breast cancer. It's not luck that we connected. I love her and think she's awesome. So I jumped at the chance to get to make her something.

I knew that whatever I made, it had to be soft. And it had to be pretty. Soft because I know from being bald, you don't want something uncomfortable on your head and pretty because I needed the hats to match her soul!

So I worked up these two hats for her. I think they turned out so well - and Miss 11 (who was a fabulous model for me again) tried to sneak one to keep. To be fair, green is her favorite color as well so she was immediately drawn to them.

The hats didn't take too long to work up. But then I forgot to mail them. Then I procrastinated mailing them. I think I finished knitting them in November? And didn't mail them until the end of February? Shame on me.

But alas, they were finally mailed and made it out to their new home!

I loved making them. And I'm so pleased with how well they turned out. I think the green and pink one is my favorite - but I love how the two colors turned out together. The all green hat is the one Miss 11 wanted to steal, so it's possible I will be knitting this again soon!

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Busy Fingers



Harry Potter Scarf
It's a big scarf!
Since the late fall I've been busy knitting lots of wonderful things to send to people!

Most of what I've been working on has been requested - which I love! No, seriously, I love it when people say, hey can you make . Because then I can tell you straight up if I can or can't. And if I can make it, I don't have to worry about if you'll like it or not! Alright, I still worry about if what I'm making will be liked because I'm good at that, but I worry less. 

Harry Potter Scarf
Anyway, a Harry Potter scarf was requested from me over the summer! I've been slowly, slowly knitting away at it - a little here, a little there. I knit this scarf in the round, over two circular needles. I don't often knit that way so it took my hands a bit to get used to it, but it really works well for this particular scarf!

But I knit it up and sent it off. Even though it was requested quite some time ago, I think it arrived to A during a time of transition for her. And I hope that the timing was good. A was moving from one place to another and this was waiting for her at the new place. I hope it brought a smile to her face and helped with the transition (even though, she wasn't particularly nervous about it). 

{Side note: a big thank you to Miss 11 who happily paused her minecraft game to come and model my knitting for me!}

I also knitted a prayer shawl. This is my standard prayer shawl - I knit for people when I think they could use a hug, a good thought, a prayer. Often times I'm knitting this after hearing sad news from people. It is the reason that while I love knitting this shawl and think it always turns out lovely, I hate knitting this shawl. I never want to have to make this for someone.

And yet, it's something I can do at a time when I often feel like there isn't much else I can do. 

This prayer shawl is going to a woman I don't really know, though I know her daughter. The mother learned not too long ago that she had breast cancer. Naturally, my heart sank when I learned the news from her daughter. And I immediately started to think of both of them - of the whole family really. One person doesn't get cancer, the whole family gets cancer.

They aren't local to me. So there wasn't much I could do - I can't bring a meal, can't go clean. So I sat down and started knitting this.

It turned out lovely. I once read that a shawl is like a knitted hug. I think this often every time I knit a shawl. I hope that it can bring just a small amount of comfort on those bad days, sad days, etc. It's not as great as an in-person hug, but I hope it does the job for the times I can't physically hug someone.







Friday, March 07, 2014

Go Retro Part Two


A bit ago I told you about Retro Fitness and about how I had been going, and loving it!

I didn't tell you about all of it though. So much goodness there, I had to hold a few surprises back.

One thing I LOVE at Retro Fitness is the Cardio movie theater room. Yes. Cardio. Movie. Theater. It is exactly as it sounds: a room full of cardio equipment and a large screen with a moving projecting. Every day they pick another full length feature film and it plays in the room on repeat. You can go in there, run (or, if you're like me, walk) on the treadmill and watch a movie. Or use an elliptical. Whatever your pleasure.

This absolutely helps the time pass and is just so cool! I could easily get lost in the movie and just keep walking.

The treadmills have a coach feature!
Another thing I loved was the equipment had built-in trainers in them. Now, the only gyms I've been in, aren't exactly brand new, so maybe this is standard today but it's not something I've used before. I've been on machines that have built-in programs, but the treadmills here have a built-in trainer, which is called the "Coach". I used the coach several times. You tell the machine what your goal is and how long you want to exercise for. A lovely lady comes up in video and walks you through a program. I did it three times and each time said I wanted the same type of work-out. This training program is neat because it has different combinations and so none of the three work-outs was exactly the same.

I wanted to walk and build endurance (That Avon Walk will be here before I know it!) and was very pleased with it. It starts with some stretching and progresses into the work-out. At the end, the trainer walks you through some more stretching exercises again. It was fabulous! 

I loved my time at Retro Fitness. Of course, now it's March and my time there is over. I'm sad about this.

Overall though, I can tell you, this is what I love about Retro Fitness:
  • The space is bright and open
  • That staff is helpful and up-beat
  • The smoothies are delicious
  • The personal trainer blew my socks off and was fabulous
  • The machines are new and have great built-in trainers/programs
  • I can watch tv easily while working out
  • I can watch a movie in the theater room while working out
  • Two-thirds of my children are old enough to work-out with me there (not so at the gym my husband goes to)
  • Great location right off of Route 64, which is a main road in the area


Miss 11 and I working hard!
Now, with all of that said, I will also tell you, I won't be extending my membership. I will also tell you that I want to. However, we are moving. Yep, moving. I've been hinting since fall we were in the process of making some big decisions. Well, they are made, and we won't be living by Retro Fitness anymore. More on the move later, but to join Retro Fitness (like so many other gyms) you must make a year commitment. And since I know I won't be here in a year, I can not make that commitment. Were we not moving though, I'd be getting a full membership hands down.

I can say I loved my month at Retro Fitness, and if you are in the area, I hope you'll pop in, look around and try it out yourself. You won't regret it!  


 

*As a reminder, I was given my one-month membership in exchange for writing a blog post about my time there. I'm giving it a second post just because I loved it there that much!

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Miss Me?

Did you miss me?

Probably not too much, because two weeks ago I actually had things together enough to schedule some blog posts so they were still being posted, but I was down for the count!

A week ago Friday I was doing some stuff and I looked at the kids and said "I don't feel great." 30 minutes later, I dragged myself to bed and didn't get out for more than a week.

In a matter of hours I was a feverish, coughing, sniffling, exhausted person. It was crazy how fast it came on. I thought it was the flu for sure. My husband thought it was the flu for sure.

Monday my sister (who is now sick and I can only feel like I must have shared with her) drove me to my doctor. The doctor thought it must be flu. So she ran a flu test. And a strep test, just in case. Both came back negative. Just some nasty virus I guess. None-the-less, she gave me some good medicine, sent my home, told me to rest and to call her Thursday if I was no better or worse.

Tuesday, I did not feel better.

Wednesday I did not feel better. In fact, I'm pretty sure I mentioned to the husband that maybe we should go to the ER because I was clearly dying.

Um, I might mention here that I tend to get very dramatic while I'm sick. I say things like I'm dying. This is clearly the black plague, and I'll never get better.

Anyway, just when I thought I was going to have to call the doctor and inform her that I was sure I had one foot in the grave because it was that serious, I started to feel better.

Nothing major, but sometime Wednesday night I turned the corner.

Friday I managed to get out of bed just for a bit even - with enough time to wash the sheets, spray down the bathroom and take a much needed shower.

That was of course the night my middle child picked up what I had. She was coughing so badly that she needed to sleep on the recliner. Since I was sick and also still coughing, I slept on the couch so she wouldn't be alone (and so my husband could finally sleep back in our bed - which he was avoiding like the plague).

I'm much, much better now. Still coughing a bit, my voice is still off a bit, and I'm so exhausted. But, I'm sure I'm going to live. I followed-up with the doctor on Monday just to be sure. She said I sounded good, but keep an eye on things and let her know if I start to feel sick again. I still haven't made it back into bed though. Miss 11 has needed to be on the recliner at night, and so I stay by her. Because I know being sick stinks!

I'm sure hoping it doesn't come back. Ever. I feel like I deserve like ten years of no illness at this point.

There was a bright spot in the week. In the middle of the week, I received a Roku 3 player as part of my new membership in the Netflix Stream Team! I can't wait to tell you all about it - and how Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares got me through the week in those moments I was coughing too much to sleep and when I could do little more than lie down.