Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What we're watching

 *As a reminder, I am part of the Netflix Stream Team. I am being compensated for sharing about Netflix with you. However, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own!

So March has been a kind of crazy month around here.

I thought for fun, I'd let you know what everyone around these parts is watching on Netflix!

My husband: He's been going through all the X-Files episodes. He's never watched it and always wanted to. He often uses time during his lunch hour to watch a bit of netflix (here's where I insert my thank goodness he can stream it on his phone at work, while we stream something different here!). Because, unlike me, he doesn't sit down and marathon watch the episodes, it's taking him some time. But hopefully he can finish before the rumored new short season hits the tv this summer!

My 15 year old: She is quite into anime these days. Well, anime and scary movies. So her list consists of as many Saw movies she can get her hands on, Night of the Living Dead, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Certainly, these are not movies and shows that are up my alley, but she enjoys them. And so do her friends. Sometimes my husband will sit and watch some of the older scary movies with her, but generally I opt out of this.

My 12 year old: She is currently watching the new season of Mako Mermaids on Netflix. She also watched the original movie Annie! This is partially inspired by going to the 15 year old's musical at school, which was Annie. She kind of likes the musical better because it was live - and can you beat live? The movie is pretty good as well. She likes that it has more detail. But lookout, because coming soon will her her very own review of Mako Mermaids! So I won't say anything else about that for now!

The 9 year old: He's been watching Pokemon. Again. I think he's watched this series several times over now. But he loves Pokemon, so we roll with it! Plus, when his friends come over they play their own live-action Pokemon and it is very entertaining for this mom to watch! Plus, I figure if a few episodes of Pokemon leads to several boys running around my yard, having a good time, then that's worth it. Of course, it only recently became warm enough to actually run around outside, but I'm trying to stay positive and focus on the nice weather days and not the still cold and snowy and rainy and icy days.

As for me, well, as promised I watched all of House of Cards. In one weekend. I know, it's crazy, but I did it! And it was so worth it. No spoilers - because that would be mean, but when I tell you the ending left my jaw on the floor, I'm not exaggerating. I have no idea where they will take the show next, but believe it will be as good as ever. Of course, I'll be waiting a long time to see. I had some guesses at the start of the season, but during the course of the season, all my guesses were proven wrong. So I'm not going to try to guess anymore!

I also watched all of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Hi. Lar. Ious. That's all I can say. We had had a long stressful week around here, I had not spent much time at home, then had bad news. My sister was over and so we stayed up much, much too late and watched the show. It was exactly the comic relief that I needed! So, so incredibly funny. And referencing The Baby-Sitter's Club? How can you go wrong! It's a great show if you need a laugh. I can't wait to see how they continue this show as well. It's fabulous.

After getting through all of that (why yes, yes I did watch a lot of Netflix this month. This month was different in that I had time in hospital waiting rooms, and sleepless nights of worry, and many days where I was unable to leave the house for a variety of reasons, which turns out to be very good times to knit and watch Netflix!).

Anyway, after all of that I started to watch The West Wing. I've never watched it before, and I figured it would be a good opposite to House of Cards - or so friends told me. So I've been slowly working my way through that show and I swear I'm in love with President Bartlet. Not because of the politics, which are interesting, but just because of the character overall. Sam, Josh, C.J., Donna, Charlie, all the cast - so well cast and so well played. The show has made me cry several times, but it makes me laugh more.

Also, I've decided that I want to work in the West Wing. But maybe not the real one, just the one on set. Or maybe the real one, just for a week. Wouldn't that be something? I bet it looks nothing like the show and yet, a lot like the show all at once.

As an aside, given the craziness that March has been, can I just say, how much I love Netflix? For real. I do. This month I slept in a hospital, in a respite care center, and then had sleepless nights at home. And at all three locations I could just take a break from it all and turn on Netflix. It's a good distraction that is available on my phone, my computer, my television, and my tablet. There are times where for whatever reason it means you have a lot of time to sit and need to be distracted. And Netflix is great for that. I leaned heavily on it during chemo, during some of my sickest moments after all that, and now as I help take care of people who need the help. I don't mean to sound all gushy, but there are just times where focusing on a book isn't going to happen, where silence isn't welcomed, and being able to fire up Netflix and watch some new and old favorite shows is exactly what this woman needs!

Monday, March 23, 2015


For the past few weeks, I've been sharing a post or two over at the CureDiva blog.

It's been an honor to have posts over there, and so far, I had been sharing old posts from this blog over there ... rerunning them if you will, for an audience primarily focused on breast cancer.

Today, however, I have two posts that I wrote specifically for CureDiva.

One is a letter to my body. I hope I can listen to my own advice. The last week around here has been a struggle with migraines, stomach issues, and chronic fatigue. I'm tired. And I need some rest.

The second, is a follow-up to what I shared here last summer about getting some more DNA testing to see if there was a genetic component to my cancer. I got the results on time, but wasn't ready to share them. Now I am.

Hope you'll hop on over to read my posts, as well as what the other fabulous writers are sharing!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I don't work

Me, working on a special birthday cake*
It seems lately, I've been told by others more often than usual (or maybe I'm just noticing it more) about how I don't work.

Even my children will throw this out when they want me to drop everything at a moment's notice to do things for them "But you don't work, so you can drive us wherever we want to go right. this. second."

Well, in one respect, they are right. I don't get up each day, get ready, and then leave for a job. I don't get pay checks at the end of the week. I don't get bonuses for doing extra well at my job. I don't have sick pay, or time off. I don't have a boss breathing down my neck, giving me more tasks than the job description listed. I don't do ornament exchanges for winter holidays with my coworkers. I don't have to fight rush hour to get to a job. I don't have to worry about having a work appropriate attire. I don't have to rush to get my kids to school or day care or summer camp so that I can rush to make it to work on time. And I don't have to worry about how many days off I have left when my child gets a stomach virus. Again. I don't get to be employee of the month. Or talk about my newest promotion.

It's true. that I don't leave the house each day to go to a job.

But to say I don't work?

Um. Pardon me?

I don't work?

No, I think what you mean to say is I don't work for pay.

Because I work every single day.

Does my work look the same as my husband's (who works a traditional 9-5 job in an office)? Nope. We both face unique sets of challenges in our work.

Is my work harder? On some days it is. On some days it is definitely not. And I think on most days, neither of us have it harder - we just have it different. 

And my staying home is a gift to my husband. It means he doesn't have to miss work when they are sick. Or take time off to have a school conference mid-day. It means that for the most part, his vacation days are used for vacation. Sometimes, sometimes, he has to miss to come home to care for someone - usually me. Or to drive the kids if I am just beyond the ability to do that. Sometimes he takes times off for not fun things - like when we moved last year. And sometimes he takes a half-day so he can get himself in for his yearly physical (that is more like every 5 years). But mostly, he doesn't have to worry about missing because of the kids.

On the flip side, my husband working is a gift to me. It means a paycheck is coming into the house. That we have health insurance through his job. It means I can stay home and not have a paying job, and we will be able to put food on the table, pay the rent, splurge on cable, and buy the ever-growing children new clothes as necessary.

He is not more important than I am. And I am not more important than he is. We both contribute a lot to this family, but in different ways.

But my staying home is also a gift to other people. It allows me to help take care of granny. It allows me to pick friends' children up at school should they get sick mid-day and mom and/or dad can't get there right away. It allows me to have kids over on a snow day that their parents couldn't get off. I get to babysit for people if they need it midweek.

I have the freedom to do these things on some days.

On other days, I can't have another child over. Or leave to pick you up at the airport. I'm juggling my own three kids - still homeschooling two of them. I've got my doctor's appointments, their appointments, granny's appointments. I've got to pick this one up from school because she's staying late for a club, then I've got to get this one to floor hockey. And we're all out of milk so I need to do that. There is laundry to do, floors to sweep and vacuum, fridges to be cleaned out and stocked. I have papers to grade. Treats to bake for a bake sale. I have medicines to keep track of and to pass out on time.

Some days I am home for just a few moments in between running to and fro. Drop daughter off at school, go to doctor's appointment, stop at grocery store, run home for lunch, get kid to their appointment, take kids to library, swing by the house to grab sports gear. Get kid to practice. Run to pharmacy. Pick kid up. Come home cook dinner.

On other days I can't leave the house. A sick kid, unsteady granny. I'm tied to this house. Someone here can't be left alone. Or I can't drive. As I get slammed with a migraine. Or lymphedema pain requires prescription pain killers. These days have me taking care of others, or hiding in the dark, or e-mail grocery lists to the husband or texting to see if he can stop at the pharmacy.

Some days are slow. I can clean in the morning. And have the afternoon to knit. Or read. Or decide to reorganize the pantry. Not every day is a flurry of activity, of running to and fro.

Through it all, I am ruled by meal times. Breakfast at 7:45. Lunch at 12. Snack at 3/3:30. Dinner at 6.. Except on Sunday. Then we eat at 5/5:30 because 60 Minutes comes on at 6.

These are my days. This is what I do. Just like my husband's job: some days are busy and hectic. And some days are slower and more relaxing.

This is what I do. This is what I choose to do. I mostly don't mind it.

Sometimes it wears on me. Sometimes it's overwhelming. Sometimes I think I just need 10 minutes to sit and do nothing and please no one need me for the next 10 minutes or my head might explode.

Sometimes I wish I'd hear thank you more often. Sometimes I want to say screw the thank you, bring me dinner. Sometimes I wish I felt more valued, not taken for granted so much.

Sometimes I'm overwhelmed when I get a really big thank you, or a gift out of nowhere just because someone wanted to treat me or say thanks or just be nice. Sometimes my heart goes pitter-patter on the rare chance my husband will surprise me with flowers.

It's hard work taking care of other people. Because it is work. It's work that I pretty much love. It's work I want to do. But that doesn't make it less work.

My husband also enjoys his job. He mostly likes getting up each day to go to work. He likes doing a good job and gives it his all each day. But that doesn't make it less work.

We both work hard. He gets a paycheck. I don't. But my work is no less important or valid because of it.

I do work. I work very hard.

I just don't get paid. At least not in money. Because I bet my husband doesn't get hugs and kisses from the people he works with.

*I tried to find a picture of me "working" except I'm almost always taking the photos, so this is the best I could do LOL!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Happy Friday the 13th?

Well, it's Friday the 13th.

Nothing scary has happened yet ::knock on wood:: however a few things have already gone wrong today. Nothing major mind you, but it feels about right on track for a Friday the 13th.

This week has been a long week. I swear this week was not just 5 days, but 15.

The last two weeks have been long.

I've been juggling a lot of balls these days. Which is interesting since I don't know how to juggle.

The good news is we've managed to make it this far.

The bad news is I'm exhausted and not sure when I last had a good night's sleep.

Someday I will write about being a primary caregiver to an aging relative while trying to juggle the needs of three non-driving children.

Today is not that day.

Today I'm just glad it's Friday.

Today I'm glad that the sun is shining.

Today I'm glad that we should see the highest temperatures of the year so far.

Today I'm going to open windows and doors and let some fresh air into this house.

Today I'm going to spend a few minutes to just try to find some beauty in this world.

Today I'm going to try to knock a bunch of things off the to-do list.

Today I will forgive myself if I don't get as much done as I think I should.

Today I will try to remember to just be in the moment.

Happy Friday all.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

The Side Effect I Wasn't Warned About

When I learned I had cancer, there was a lot of information thrown at me. As we learned more about my cancer and decided on a treatment path, it was time to go over all the side effects, the what-to-expects.

The first hurdle was surgery. I was told possible complications, I was told about healing time, and expected hospital stay. I even asked my surgeon how long until I could knit again (she is a knitter and she completely understood my question!).

From there, it was chemo time. The chemo side effects were so serious that for the three chemo drugs I took, not only did I get a list of side effects and what to expect, I had to sign a paper saying I was told the side effects, the possible complications, etc and that I was comfortable receiving said drugs.

Next up, radiation. Again, a list of side effects. A list of what to expect. A nurse going over all of it with me. How to care for the radiated skin, things to watch for, things that were normal, things that I should call if happened.

Side effects on top of side effects on top of side effects. Some minor, some major, some barely noticeable by me, others impairing my quality of life.

Except, there was one side effect no one warned me about. No one prepped me for. I never expected it in a million years.

A side effect of having cancer is making friends with people who have cancer and having to grieve for the friends who die.

While friendship is a good side effect, and one I never expected, grief is the worst side effect I've faced so far.

As I see some pretty wonderful people die from cancer, my heart shatters all over again. And I rebuild it the best I can.

When I was first diagnosed, I was very active in breast cancer groups on-line. I tried a couple support groups. One wasn't a good fit me, but another one was. It was good. And then a friend passed away. And another passed away. And another. And another. And another. Jenny, Susan, Rachel, Jada, Barb, Dave ... all friends who died from cancer.

It was too much. It was just too much for me.

I realize this is quite selfish on my part. Sometimes I have to be selfish though.

And so I pulled away. I pulled away from chats I had participated in. I pulled away from some friends. I pulled back and tried to bury my head in the sand. To pretend that I wouldn't lose anyone else to cancer.

If only. If only it were that simple.

In the last few weeks, several more people have died. My heart has shattered a few more times. Another friend received bad news: treatment not working, time for the next one. I have cried and been angry. I have shouted. I have whined that life is not f*#king fair. I have woken up, and done what needs to be done, all the while wanting to crawl into bed and just hide away for a while.

Even when I try to build walls, to protect myself, life ticks on. It keeps going. Friendships still get made. Good moments are celebrated. And sad moments still happen.

I wasn't told about this. I wasn't warned.

I'm not sure someone can be warned though.

This is life: it is comprised of birth and death and the time in between. Some get a lot of time in between and some people are robbed of time.

And I can't try to hide my heart away. I can't try to protect it. My life is richer and better because of the friendships I have. I've learned things from them. I carry some of their words in my heart. They have helped me on bad days and celebrated with me on the good. I hope I was able to do the same for them.

It doesn't make my life better to pull away, to hide, to try to protect myself. I would much rather have wonderful friends in my life. Yes, it is hard to say good-bye to them when the time comes. Yes, my heart is heavy with loss. Yes, I will cry and be angry and sad and upset and pissed off.

But I can't hide away and pretend like nothing bad will happen. Because it does happen. And I can't let fear hold me back.

As Helen Keller said, I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Well, not *everything*

More than once I've heard from people that I share everything on-line.

The truth is, while I do share a fair amount, I don't share everything. In fact, there is a lot that I don't share.

Obviously, I can't tell you about all the things I don't share, otherwise, I'd be sharing them (yeah, I know how that works!)

Sometimes it's easy to know what I'm okay with sharing and not sharing (topic a: never, topic b: always) but other times it's hard to know where that line is. The line may change on a daily basis and sometimes the line is fuzzy. This can make it tricky.

There are certain topics that are absolutely, with-out-a-doubt off-limits for this blog. These are things that I wouldn't share with you even if we were face-to-face. Yes, I've got my secrets and I've got skeletons in the closet. These are often topics that even I'm not comfortable with. Things I'm still trying to figure out, or process, or deal with (or avoid dealing with as the case may be). These are things that I don't think could add to what I've already built on this website.

Could that change someday? I suppose so. It's highly unlikely.

I also don't share stories about my family and friends without their permission. I don't tell the stories I feel that belong to my husband or children without asking them first. And if they say no? I respect that. I'm sure you may have noticed that I often talk about my 12 year old around these parts ... it's because she always says "Yes! You can blog that." The other children will almost always say "no, please don't share that." and so I don't. Same with my husband. To me, it's a level or respect. I wouldn't want them putting stories I am uncomfortable with on-line either.

I will share generalities if I think I can offer a learning moment, or the moment affected me (positively or negatively). And I will talk about encounters with near strangers (like, when I was bald from chemo and people stared - I wrote about that but didn't single anyone out). I have written about words spoken that were hurtful, or hard to hear, or I wish would be re-framed, if I think it can help someone, but I would never say who said it. You'll never see me say on here "Well one day my Aunt Sally said the most awful thing to me ever!" (no, I don't really have an Aunt Sally) because a) it is not my intent on this blog to shame people or b) parent others. If I share it's because I want people to see things through my eyes, how some words can make me feel.

I do talk about my cancer a lot. I try to throw in some things about parenting with cancer as well in a way that my children are comfortable with. When I was diagnosed there wasn't much out there to help guide me on how to help my children through this, or how to juggle it all. I hope that the couple of posts I've written might someday help someone else out when they are looking for help or advice or ideas.

I try to not rant on this blog. Sometimes I do though.

I try to add a good mix of heavy with light-hearted content. This blog did start, after all, as mostly a craft blog. And I don't want to lose that side of me. It's not my intent to be a cancer blog - not because there is anything wrong with that - it's just not where I want to be personally. I read many of them. There are so many talented bloggers out there whose blogs are amazing and have great content and are cancer blogs. It is just not my preferred niche.

In fact, I don't really think I have a niche. While it started out as a niche for sharing my knitting, this blog has grown and stretched and changed as I have needed it to. I write about parenting, cancer, knitting, sewing, what I've read, the weather, things I watch on tv, places I've visited, etc, etc. I love having the ability to come here and blog about whatever is on my mind.

And at the end of the day, that's what I need this blog to be: a place for me. If I can't be comfortable here, then there is no point in continuing on. Somethings I will hold near and dear to my heart always, some I will always be willing to share, some things depend on how the others around me are feeling, and what is okay and good to share one day, might give me anxiety to share the next.

So even though it sometimes feels like I'm sharing EVERYTHING here, I'm actually not. I'm sharing exactly what I'm comfortable with. It might be more than other people would want to share and it might be less than what some others are comfortable with. But it is right for me!

P.S. As a side note: Have you ever thought about starting a blog but aren't sure? Rebecca J. Hogue, PhD(ABD) (who I met on twitter) is starting a class called Should I Blog. The first one is starting this month. It's aimed about blogging about your cancer experience, and I think it will be a good class. One of the class topics inspired this post, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the class goes! You should join if you're wondering if blogging is the right move for you!

Monday, March 02, 2015

Knit Gifts

I love nothing more than to knit people gifts, so when I was given a chance to review More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson, I jumped at the chance!

The book has been out for awhile, but I hadn't yet had a chance to look it over. I've read Last-Minute Knitted Gifts (also by Hoverson) and knit from it, so I figured it was a good chance I'd like the More book as well, and I was right!

 I loved so many of the projects in this book that I really think I could make most of them. Of course, I think they'd make great gifts or they'd just be nice to keep around this house as well! The projects range from knitting for baby, to children, to adults, to things to put around your house.

The projects are arranged by how much time they will take to make. The first section is less-than-2-hour gifts. Then the 2-to-4-hour gifts. Each section goes up by two hours until the last section, which is more-than-8-hour gifts.

I skimmed through the patterns and found them to be well written with clear directions. Just to be sure though, I decided to whip up one of the smaller projects - a lovely book mark.

I received this green yarn in a swap years ago, but it's just this little bit and I never knew what to make with it. When I saw the linen bookmark in the book, I just knew that my little hank of green yarn had been waiting for this pattern.

The bookmark was easy to make, the directions were simple and clear. And it took me about an hour to knit it. Since it came from the less-than-2-hours section, this was perfect. As I was snapping pictures, my daughter came up and was admiring it, and so in the spirit of the book, I decided to gift her the bookmark!  
The pictures that accompany the project directions not only show you what you are making, but are simply gorgeous.

At the end of the book, Hoverson includes some creative ways to wrap your gifts. I thought this was a fun addition to the book and one way it stands apart from most knitting books I've read.

I think this book would be a welcome addition to any knitter's library. I can definitely see myself making many of the patterns in this book.

*Note: I was given access to an e-copy of this book via NetGalley
with the expectation that I would review the book. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own!