Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Momma Don't You Worry

Momma Don't You Worry by Louie Lawent, is a cute, quick e-book for young children (ages 5-7).  It's a catchy poem with some cute illustrations that I think kids and parents will both like!

In Momma Don't You Worry, a young boy, who feels he is all grown up at the ripe, old age of 6, doesn't understand why he must stay by his mom. So he tells his mother not to worry about him so very much. Of course, as children are prone to do, he wanders away to look at something else and ends up lost.

As a mother of three, I remember this phase very well. Oh, who am I kidding. I still have a 9 year old who doesn't always stay by me even when he should. But it's hard to explain to kids why they are still little kids when they feel so grown up inside.

It's a quick read, and one I think a child could memorize easily and be able to "read" along with as well. (Side note: memorizing books and reading along with them is actually a great step towards reading, which many kids at the 5/6 mark are working on, so this book serves a double bonus!)

I would have loved to have read this book to my kids at that age, and still read it to my 9 year old now so that maybe (ahem, in parking lots) he'll still hold my hand even though he thinks he much too grown up to do so! ;-)

Note: Mr. Lawent approached me and asked me if I would be interested in doing a review for him. I said yes and was given an electronic copy of the book to look over, but as always, all opinions and thoughts are my own!

Friday, April 17, 2015

P.S. I'm okay

I realize the blog has been pretty heavy lately, a bit sad.

And it's true, I'm feeling a bit sad.

But, I also want to tell you that I'm happy. I do smile. I laugh with my family. I get up each day and get things done (even if it's not as much as I want to get done).

The blog tends to be on the heavy side because I come here to, in a sense, vent and get it out. Releasing it all here then allows me to get on with my day and I actually feel better after sharing here.

Blogging, for me, is therapeutic. It's like talking to myself to help myself feel better. Except I don't have to actually talk out loud to myself. (Okay, okay, I do sometimes talk to myself). It is so good for me, a good outlet.

Of course, when I blog I am only sharing a part of what's going on. Sometimes what I share isn't a full picture - it's just a small glimpse. And I don't mean to worry anyone with what I share, I promise! So I just want you to know, that I'm okay!

Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Because life is too short

Life is too short.

I say this a lot. Because mostly, I think it's true: life is too short. None of us can live forever. And when we are surrounded by loved ones, family, and friends, life is always going to be too short. Is 100 years enough time with those you love? I say no. And yet, if I get 100 years, I'll be feeling pretty blessed.

March, as I've said was a rough month.

There was a lot going on here at home. At the start of the month, my time was split between taking care of my kids and granny. There wasn't enough time to do everything and so many balls got dropped. There was no time to take care of my husband (not that he needs to be taken care of, just not enough time to spend with him). And there certainly was no time to take care of myself. A shower, a change of clothes, and food on a mostly regular basis were about all I could do.

And then Lisa passed away. Not that long after Ginnie passed away. And during all of that a friend had to pull out of a cancer trial she was in because it stopped working.

I was an exhausted, emotional wreck at that point.

As I often did, I checked the camera I had been saving up to buy. I liked to watch the price just in case. It paid off. The camera was on-sale.

I went to my envelope (yes, I stuck money in an envelope as I got it) and I counted: 15 months of saving and I had enough to buy it at the sale price.

I thought about it. I thought some more. I hemmed and hawed. And in the middle of sitting at respite care with granny, I decided it was time to buy my new camera. You know why? Because life's too short.

It was still hard for me to decide to buy it - it was a lot of money. Even though I had saved, picked up extra jobs to help save for it, it was definitely a big splurge. There were plenty of other things to do with that money: summer wardrobes for the kids, music lessons for the kids, landscaping in our yard, put in savings towards a new vehicle. I mean, I could go on and on with all the things we could have done with that money.

But life is just too damn short. I saved, and I worked. The kids knew I was saving. They knew I wanted this camera. And there has to be a lesson in there for them, right? I wanted something nice for myself that I didn't need. So I worked and I saved. And I watched the price on it. And I researched and researched. And when I had enough, I bought it.

There's a small part of me that still feels guilty, but mostly I'm very happy. I love my new camera. I pretty much take it with me everywhere. No really, I do. Ask my family and they'll you. I take it with even when they say things like "Really, you're bringing your camera with for this?"

Oh yes, I'm bring my camera as we walk around the block - you just never know what you'll see.

I know I'm not a professional photographer. This isn't a potential career for me. It's a hobby. It's something to do for fun because I enjoy it. And I couldn't be happier.

I'm not saying I'm going to spend us into high amounts of debt and make huge purchases all the time. I'm rarely make purchases this large (the last one was the serger sewing machine I bought myself after working a part-time job and saving like 6 years ago). But every once in a while, I give myself permission to splurge. Because life is just too short. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hearts, Holes, and Spots

Over the weekend, another woman I knew (over twitter) passed away from breast cancer. She was 34 years old and had a tough form of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer.

Honestly, I didn't know Seporah that well. I wish I had time to get to know her better, though. We had several friends in common. I feel in my heart that with more time, she would have quickly moved from acquaintance to friend.

Despite not knowing her very well, my heart still hurts to hear of her passing. And my heart hurts knowing that I have friends who are heartbroken over her death - their lives will never be the same. All the people who are now walking around with a hole in their heart, wondering how, if ever, it will mend.

And I think of all the people I have lost, who have left holes in my heart. The list continues to grow.

And I think about how just barely a month ago I was writing about grief as a side effect to cancer.

And I think about how the other night a friend asked me some questions about chemo, as they prepare for her father to get it (along with radiation).

And I think about how we learned about Lauren Hill passing away this weekend as well.

And I think about the several members in husband's and my family who have cancer right now.

And I think about a friend who has a child with brain cancer. And a friend whose husband has brain cancer.

And the thoughts they keep going. And going.

Cancer is such a bastard, isn't it?

Cancer doesn't care about your age, who loves you, who you love.

Cancer doesn't care about what type of person you are.

Cancer has no feelings, no emotions. 

Cancer just is. And it just comes. And it just destroys lives.

Cancer makes us hate it. Except cancer isn't something you can yell at, or scream at, or throw things at. You can't punch when you feel all sorts of hatred towards it inside.

Cancer can't apologize for what it's done. There will be no knock-down-all-out-fights that turn into tears and apologies and hugs and promises to do better next time.

Because cancer just is.

That, my friends, might be the most frustrating thing about cancer.

You can't bomb it, or punish it. You can't bargain with it or beg it.

And yet, there it is, staring you in the face. Turning lives upside down. Taking our loved ones and our friends from us. Stealing our health away. Taking our time. And our money. And our security.

I hate cancer. I hate it so much I want to punch it.

But you can't punch cancer.

It leaves these holes in our hearts. We learn to live with them though, to walk with them. We learn to keep loving even with them there. No one can come in and fill those holes, but our hearts are amazing. And, at least in my experience, our hearts expand, and room is found between the holes, with new friends, new loves, new moments.

These holes, they don't ever heal, not for me anyway. They change over time though. But those holes they stay with me, because the people I care about, even if they aren't physically with me anymore, they are with me.

I suppose instead of saying holes, I should say there are spots in my heart. Holes mean absence. I don't have absence. I have memories and love and laughter and hugs. These spots keep all of that alive inside of me.

I don't know if it's the same for others. I hope that it is though. That through our grief and our pain and our tears, we can go back to the spots in our heart and remember the moments we shared with our loved ones.

I know many people are hurting right now. Just from my own friends - I hear the stories, see the sadness in their eyes, feel their pain when we talk. I know there are spots on our hearts that sometimes feel too big to allow anything else in. I know this because I've felt it.

And I just want you to know that I wish with all my might I could just reach out, scoop you up, give you the biggest, longest hug ever, give you all the love in the world, just pour that love straight from my heart into yours.

I can't do that literally, but I want you to know that I'm doing metaphorically. And I've got some good people in my corner who are doing the same for me. Filling my heart up, so I can fill up yours.

This isn't the post I sat down to write, but it is the post that came out of me, so I'm going to leave it. And if you need me to send a little extra love or prayers or good thoughts your way, please leave a comment so I can do that.


Monday, April 13, 2015

A Favor

Hello my dear blog readers.

Today I'm stopping by to ask you all for a quick favor. A friend of mine is doing a survey about the impact blogs can have. If you could please take a few moments of your time to take it, that would be lovely.

On the question that asks what blog you read, just click my name Brandie (and click any other blogs you read as well!)

The survey should take about 5 minutes and I know Rebecca (and I) would appreciate it if you took it!

Thanks so much.


On a completely unrelated note, I posted at Journey of 1000 Books last week. I've got a list of books to review and I think I will put most of them up over there. I'll still put the occasional one over here, but I'm going to try to revitalize the blog over there! 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A snippet of life

Life around here has been, frankly, pretty up and down.

I'm a cycle of migraine, pain, exhaustion, insomnia, napping, laundry, migraine, napping, cooking, exhaustion, and well, I think you get the picture.

I feel pretty useless most days as I can't even accomplish a quarter of my to do list. Saying it's frustrating doesn't even begin to cover it.

I have things I want to do. I have hopes. I have dreams. I have goals. I want to be out and about and doing things.

And yet, I'm barely getting through the day.

I know, I know .... picture some sappy violin music in the background.

It's just, I don't know. I keep thinking I should be feeling better. Doctors exam me and can't pinpoint the one big fixable problem. Well, okay, there is the whole iron-deficiency anemia. And there is the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (which, I know, some people don't think is "real"). But that aside, doctors find lots of little things, that there isn't much we can do about. And if I just had one of those little things, I'd probably hardly notice. But all together, all at once, and life suddenly becomes quite hard.

There just simply isn't enough of me to last an entire day. Naps are required, breaks are required. Need help with 10 things? Well, pick the two most important because that's all I can give you right now.

Trust me when I say this isn't nearly as fun as it seems. I know, I know, there are people who would kill for a nap (or two, or three) some days. It's different when you are napping because you want to instead of because you simply can't stay awake no matter how hard you want to. Breaks are nice, until they are a necessity that slows you down. Getting that list of ten things down to two is heavenly, until you realize that there are really 5 pressing items on that list and you will simply drop the ball on the ones you can't get to.

And yes, I'm taking my vitamins. And yes, I'm taking my prescriptions. And yes, I'm drinking lots of water. And yes, I suppose it all helps. It's just hard to tell because it's sort of like my gas tank is at about 1/8th of a tank, and I can fill it up 1/16th at a time.

I'm feeling quite angry about this all. And my anger turns to frustration. Frustration turns to sadness. Sadness to tears. Tears to indignation. Indignation to quiet resignation. Mostly because I'm too tired to feel anything else and it's time to nap again.

In the midst of all of this, there is also some gratitude.

Do you know how often my family has complained that I don't do enough? Never.
When I say I need to nap because the shower I took just sucked all my energy out, do you know how many times they've rolled their eyes at me? Never.
Do you know how many times they've said "ANOTHER nap. Geeze." That's right: never.

In fact, I'm often told things like "You look tired. Go rest, I'll finish this up."
Sometimes I get a "Hey, how about a hug? I think you could use a hug. Because I love you."
And then there's the "Can I get you anything or bring you anything?"
We can't leave out the notes I wake up to from naps "Hey, had to run to the store. Didn't want to wake you, so we ate already but I've got a plate in the fridge for you."

How did I get so lucky? How did I get three kids who seem to understand I can't do all the things the other parents do and they just accept it and take it in stride. How did I get a husband who had no clue what the vow in sickness and in health would mean for him in the long run and yet, there he is, every time to pick up the balls I've dropped and when I try to tell him how amazing that it, he just shrugs it off because it's what anyone would do.

Except, I know it's not. I know we could be in a situation where there is anger and resentment and foot tapping and eye rolling and sighing and implications that I'm just not doing enough around here. I know this because I know people who found themselves in that situation.

And I think, damn-it universe, hasn't s/he been through enough? Can you back off of her/him please?

And I think I'm really lucky. Even with the pain. With the exhaustion. With the frustration. I'm lucky.

And yet. I'm not lucky because this all just seems like too much to handle at this point in my life.

This is the dichotomy of my thoughts. I'm so lucky. And I'm so unlucky. All wrapped up into one person.

I suppose this is the dichotomy of so many people's lives, even the ones who seem to have it all together. Because we all go through trials and tough times and heartbreak and stress. And yet we all go through love and togetherness and moments of happiness and beauty.

These are the snippets of my life: one moment in bed, trying to nap through the pain. The next, getting extra love from the family.

I try to remember this each day: this moment is fleeting. Another will quickly swoop in and take it's place. When I think I just can't do anymore, I try to remember it's just for that moment. The next moment I'll rest. And the moment after that I'll be up again. And when my kids offer me hugs, I take them. Because the next moment will find them running around outside with their friends.

This is how we go on in tough times: moment by moment.

When I was younger we used to sing this song "Little by little. Inch by Inch. By the yard it's hard, by the inch what a cinch." My goodness, if I only knew back then, as I sang it with all the power of my naive little girl self, how many times as an adult this song would play in my head.

Inch by inch. These little snippets of my life. They keep going and going.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

This Is My April

We are in April.

April is a weird month for me. I'm positive I talked about it before, but April is my cancer month.

April 1 is when I went to the doctor - for a yearly check-up. Blissfully unaware anything was going on. April 1 is when the doctor told me I should really meet with a breast specialist and get a mammogram in the next 6ish or so months. She didn't think anything was going on, but with the family history she was going to be super cautious with me.

April 11 is when I met with the breast specialist. The appointment that was just supposed to be a one time thing, to get some guidance on how to proceed from that point forward. The appointment started light-hearted. The doctor told me I had a greater chance of hitting a moose with my car than having breast cancer. She had recently moved from New Hampshire to Chicago. We laughed that she needed a new analogy. Then came the exam. Then the questions. That's when I knew. A doctor doesn't ask you about a  million questions during an exam unless there's something there. And that's when she said I needed a mammogram. By the end of the week. April 11 was a Monday.

April 14 is when I had my mammogram. April 14 is when they took extra pictures. Then a few more. Then gave me an ultrasound. April 14 is when, during the ultrasound the technician excused herself to get the doctor. That's when the doctor walked in and did some of the ultrasound himself. April 14 is when they put me in a room and told me to wait. The doctor would talk to me soon. He came in. He told me I should get a biopsy. Unless I really didn't want one. They thought I could delay it and have a second mammogram in 6 months. Even still, he walked me to the biopsy room, told me the procedure. He told me if he was me he wasn't sure if he'd wait or do the biopsy now because I was young and they were probably just seeing calcifications. But I had that pesky family history.

April 21 is when I had my biopsy. When my doctor saw the mammogram/ultrasound reports she said there was no way I should wait 6 months. She said we needed a biopsy ASAP. And Thursday, April 21 was the soonest they could do it. We had to do it at a different hospital than the mammogram. Time seemed precious and there wasn't a moment a spare. I went to the biopsy. By myself {side note: what the hell were we thinking ... don't get a biopsy alone. Just don't}. April 21 is when, during the biopsy, the local anesthesia they used wore off and I literally screamed out in pain. April 21 is when, laying on the table, with my breast hanging down a hole in the table, with the breast between two plates (think mammogram), I was crying. That's when a nurse rubbed my forehead and held my hand and told me to squeeze her hand as hard as I needed to to get through it. April 21 is when, after we were finally finished and stood up, I was a pale as a sheet, that the nursing staff got me in a chair asap, worried I'd pass out. That's when they realized I had no one to drive me home. I was shivering, pale, and shaking. They quickly covered me in warm blankets, brought me juice (that I couldn't even drink at first) and sat with me. April 21 is when I finally calmed down and drove myself home. I was supposed to pick my kids up - they were with my mom and I just couldn't face anyone at that moment. I went to the car and called my husband and started bawling. He talked to me until I calmed down. He didn't want my driving like that. He told me to go home, and go to bed, and he'd get the kids.

April 26 is the day the doctor called and told me that the biopsy came back and I had breast cancer. April 26 is the day she said she was sorry and she had hoped it wouldn't turn out that way. April 26 is when I didn't even listen to half of what she said. I doodled on a paper. At some point, she asked if I had any questions. All I could think of? I asked if I'd lose my hair. She said most likely I'd need chemo and that I would. I wrote on the doodled paper: breast cancer. maybe chemo. hair. April 26 is when she told me she wanted me to come in the next day, before hours - it was the only time she could get me in and she wanted to talk to me in person. April 26 is the day I tried to call my husband at work, but he couldn't get the phone. I think I tried a dozen times and he wasn't answering. I mis-dialed about as many times as well. April 26 is when I went into my bathroom, laid down on the cold tile and just cried. April 26 is when I called my mom to tell her I had cancer. April 26 is when my husband called back, already knowing, because of how many times I tried to get a hold of him. April 26 is when I told my kids that I had cancer. It's when my oldest asked me if she would get it too. And my middle child asked me if I would die. And my little guy, my sweet baby, asked me if he could go play the Wii now. April 26 is when my gynecologist called and told me she was sorry - that she hadn't seen this coming because if she had, she would have talked to me about it way back on April 1. It's the day I made a lot of phone calls and had to tell people I had cancer. It's also the day I couldn't make any more phone calls and asked others to please tell family and friends for me because I just couldn't do one. more. call.

April 27 is when I met with the doctor. When I tried really hard to listen, and just couldn't. The room was buzzing. Actually my head was buzzing. April 27 is when the doctor felt my armpits and could feel some swelling. April 27 is when I had another ultrasound of my armpits. And another biopsy. April 27 is when the doctor told me we couldn't be sure until the biopsy came back, but that she felt I had cancer in my lymph nodes. April 27 is the day I thought I would die because the cancer had already spread and I didn't know what that would mean. {side note: it didn't mean as much as I thought it would thankfully}. April 27 is when I asked my mom to drive me to a knitting shop. And I asked the woman at the counter to show me really soft hat yarn because I had cancer and would be bald soon so I should start knitting. April 27 is when that woman, without missing a beat, said oh yes, I know just the yarn for you. And she took me too it, patted my hand and told me she hoped it turned out okay.

This is April. This is what my April is. 26 days. 26 days from just a regular annual check-up to you have cancer. 26 days. It's not that long. It felt like a lifetime.

While I know the April of 2015 is not the same as April 2011, it's still a hard month for me. I know I won't be getting mammograms or biopsies or having to hear you have cancer again this month, somehow every April so far has felt like I am back to that April.

It's a hard month for me emotionally.

If you see me, if I look down or sad or tired or exhausted, know that I am. Because this is my April.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

A New Direction

That's a real cutie, right? 
March, if you couldn't tell from my posts this month already, has been a difficult month for me for a variety of reasons. None of which were bad, it's just been a tough month.

A lot has been going on: the weather was awful, it's been busy in general, there were some medical issues to deal with, and my chronic fatigue has hit me hard. And oh, did I mention the weather was awful? Because it was.

baby chicks! 
There has been a lot of things that have just emotionally drained me.

So, with that, I've decided to take a new direction here on the blog.

I'm going to start posting pictures of cute cats. And our cute guinea pig. And our cute chickens. If I'm out and about and see a cute animal, I'll take pictures and share that too.

I'd like to see this blog become cute animals. All. The. Time!

Journey of 1000 Stitches will be transformed into Journey of 1000 Cute Animals.

I hope you will enjoy looking at all these sweet pictures as much as I do, and that you'll hang around with me as the blog goes through it's transformation!

And if you have any cute pictures to share, let me know!


P.S. Happy April Fool's Day ... while I'm not opposed to sharing cute animals with you, the blog really isn't changing =)