Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas 2012

Our beautiful tree on Christmas morning. My beautiful husband watching our beautiful son taking presents out from underneath.

After getting out of bed on Christmas morning, Capt. Adorable wanted to wear his footie pajamas to open presents, like last year, but discovered they were too small. I suggested we cut off the feet and then they were perfect. Last time he wore them was last year! (We sleep under plenty of blankets and down comforters so super-warm pajamas are overkill. Plus, cotton is much more comfortable to sleep in.)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cookie Extravaganza 2012

Together with Captain Adorable, I made cookies. Dozens and dozens of cookies. Only 3 kinds--ultimate sugar cookies, rugelach, and almond spritz--but it took a lot of time and was a lot of fun! Here are some photos of our creations. I make cookies because I love making them, but also to send to my father-in-law (this is actually the third time now).

Carefully cutting.

Removing the individual cookies from the dough.

Transfer the cookies to a baking sheet.

On the baking sheet.

Out of the oven, cooling on wire racks.

Ornament shaped ones are decorated with colored sugar.

Rolling rugelach.

Painting rugelach with milk before they are topped with cinnamon sugar.

Rugelach (plain) cooling on wire racks.

Sugar cookies ready for decoration.

Finished Ornaments!

You can see the tin for my FIL on the top right. A layer of rugelach is already packed.

The first snowflake--icing and sugar!

Lots of snowflakes. We learned about how the icing works with these cookies.

Capt. Adorable wanted the tops of the stockings to be white. 

Waiting for the icing to dry. We decided to decorate the trees in two ways.

Ready to go!

The green sugar on top of the icing adds extra sparkle!

The three iced cookies.

The plate of cookies we kept. About the same amount was sent to my FIL.

Almond spritz cookies! Cooling on wire racks.
Capt. Adorable just saw the photos of cookies above and began asking if we could make more cookies!!!

The is the first year I've made spritz cookies and the last batch I made was miraculously easy, so for this batch I decided to make almond ones. They were not easy at all. First I had to toast the almonds, then let them cool, then grind them to meal, then make the cookie dough. Then the dough was too stiff to squeeze out of the cookie press, so I had to trouble shoot, and eventually had to add more butter to soften the dough enough...or was it the time spent in the mixer? All in all it took 2 hours from start to finish. I think they taste fabulous--light and rich--and decided not to decorate them because I like them just the way they are.

The only problem with making cookies is that way too many of them end up in my mouth. I might not make cookies next year...or at least not so many...we will see. I recently learned that another family member has started sending cookies to my FIL so it seems a bit redundant for me to continue. How many cookies does one man need?!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hanukkah 2012

We thoroughly celebrated Hanukkah 2012! Captain Adorable and I shared the first nights with Oma and Opa, and had The Best Potato Latkes to kick off the holiday. Everything tastes better when you have help in the kitchen and an appreciative audience! Mmmmmm!

One afternoon I surprised Captain Adorable with a gingerbread house project--icing, chocolate candies, gum drops, and chocolate snowmen. Amazing how much of those building materials ended up in my mouth! Here's a photo of our house behind the menorah.

I bought Captain Adorable his own menorah this year (at his prompting) and he really loved everything about that--getting to have his own menorah, getting to light the candles twice, and having two menorahs going at the same time. He can sing the Hanukkah prayer in Hebrew now.
Both menorahs on the last night of Hanukkah

We celebrated the next 7 nights with Captain Obvious. I rolled and baked rugelach on the eighth night (I say "rolled and baked" because of course I acutally made the dough the night before--it has to be refrigerated overnight). Here are some of those amazing pastries for your viewing pleasure.
Ready to go in the oven
Ready to eat
For a final celebration (which was the night after Hanukkah ended, but who wants to be limited to only 8 nights anyway!?) the three of us made churros con chocolate (our second year making this Spanish treat) .
Me squeezing the churros dough into the hot oil. Capt. Obvious at the ready with tongs. 

Capt. Adorable could not wait for me to take the photo and dove right in!

Oh what a Happy Hanukkah I had this year. Taking the time to sit down together, to ready the menorah, to sing the prayer together (even Capt. Obvious sings), to sit--even for a few moments--in the candlelight and look into each other's faces--these are the moments I treasure. I love to be with my family, to make and do and share: together. We are so lucky to be able to share this holiday season with people we love--family, friends, and neighbors.

Life is so beautiful.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Calling For Gun Control

I got a text from Captain Obvious which read "Omg school shooting" and my heart sank as I ran to the computer. I wondered aloud, "Is today the worst day of my life?" I searched our county school web site for information. I also texted back to ask for more information of course but there was no response. After finding nothing about a school shooting locally, I went to CNN and there I found the news about the shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. Today is the worst day of some parents' lives. I texted back "Ok we're never sending him to school again."

I mourn for the children and adults who were shot. I mourn for the children and adults at the scene. I mourn for the hundreds of families (the school had over 600 students) and thousands of people who are affected by this tragedy.

There was a police officer at pick up at Captain Adorable's school this afternoon and there will be one on Monday as well. But neither keeping our children home nor sending police to school is the answer. We need gun control. No more mass shootings at malls and movie theatres and schools.

Get the guns out of my country.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Spritz Cookies

I made spritz cookies to take to my friend's cookie exchange this year. I bought a cookie press last year to make churros after my icing bag failed at the task of squeezing out the stiff dough, and so I thought I'd try using it to make cookies. They were easy and fun to make! Then I iced them (with a simple confectioners' sugar and milk combination). I dressed up the icing with different colors and extracts (vanilla in the white, almond in the green, and maple in the red). I could not prevent Captain Adorable from helping me (smile) but was really surprised at his careful work--he placed all the nonpareils on the wreaths! My platter won me the Martha Stewart prize for the second year running! (Honestly, the other guests don't give me much competition.) They tasted good, too. 

All three designs together.

Just the wreaths.

Just the snowmen--the one in the center was Capt. Adorable's favorite.

The candy-canes.

Next: rugelach. :)

Friday, December 7, 2012


Captain Obvious is out of town on business. I always miss my beloved husband when he has to travel for work, but this time of course, I miss him even more because it is difficult to take care of a sick boy all alone; Captain Adorable has a sinus infection and a double ear infection! So I am very, very pleased to have my parents here to visit.

We celebrated Sinterklaas together on December 5. It is such fun to make our plans and surprises for each other, and of course to watch those surprises unfold. It is fun to give gifts and continue traditions. We don't celebrate on as grand a scale as my mother did when she was young (something like what is described on this web site) but we make each other earn the presents! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Home Front

We are back from a wonderful trip with Captain Obvious' family. How incredibly nice to be together with everyone, and how wonderful to no longer be the only wife/significant other in the mix. The only way the situation would be completely perfect is if there were another child the same/similar age as Captain Adorable. :)

Meanwhile, for the very first time ever, we've hired someone to work on our house. He's working on the dining room--sanding the ceiling and painting. It is not quite done yet, but it looks so much better. I am looking forward to serving dinner in there when my parents are here to visit.

Sinterklaas and Hanukkah are almost upon us! Celebration season is coming up! Presents and cookies everywhere!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Professional Development, Walks, Holiday Planning

I am kind of at a loss as to what to write. I guess this is why I stopped writing. I don't really have much to say about my daily life right now.

Lately I am trying to start a law practice. This is a complicated thing to undertake. I feel like I know a lot and at the same time, very little. I have more time than experience right now, so I am trying to invest that time wisely by going to the law library, talking to other lawyers about their practices, and keeping abreast of the profession online. A little scary but mostly interesting and fun, and a big job that I am  slowly working on little by little.

As always, I love to spend time with Captain Adorable. I recently bought him a new card game and he enjoy playing it together--so nice to play games with him! I often played games with my brother when I was a child and I like playing games as an adult, but my dear Capt. Obvious does not like playing games so the only person I get to play with is my son.  We're starting basketball in addition to ice hockey (for the social aspect) and I am so pleased to see him confident and happy and running with new friends. Last night on the way home he told me he does not like being an only child and he wishes there was another kid for him to play with. (I wish so too, my darling.)

I endeavor to stay healthy by eating carefully and well, and talking walks. I enjoy being outside--the sky and the trees and the hills are beautiful and being with them calms me. I've been getting headaches often and taking a walk makes them go away.

We are getting ready to go on a family trip (with more than just our little family) soon. The holidays are coming--it is a little sad to see the Thanksgiving food in the grocery stores and have no menu planned for our celebration. I love to cook almost all the time, and cooking special dishes for special occasions is especially wonderful. So, instead I am thinking about baking cookies in the weeks to come! Shall I make rugelach again or strike out in a new direction? I must make sugar cookies...but maybe something new and challenging will appear on the horizon. I am of course planning potato latkes and churros con chocolate. Anyone have a good chocolate recipe to share with me? I want chocolate dipping sauce, not chocolate milk. I sent the holiday cards today...or rather, most of them since I am missing some addresses and cannot send those till we get back from the trip.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Backyard Bird Watching

I have a very popular bird feeder. It makes me happy to watch the birds who come to eat. I love seeing so many beautiful creatures up close. It is fun to look through the bird book to figure out what a bird is when I see a new species. I enjoy sharing this past-time with my dad; he and my mom also have a popular bird feeder at their house. It is interesting to compare the types of birds we see, as we are 500 miles apart.

On a daily basis I see:

  1. Chickadee (not sure if it is a black-capped or Carolina)
  2. Tufted Titmouse
  3. Cardinal (I even once saw a juvenile--they have black beaks, unlike adults, whose beaks are red/orange)
  4. Nuthatch
I often see:
  1. Blue Jay
  2. House Wren
  3. Downy Woodpecker
  4. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  5. Red-winged Blackbird
I have also seen:
  1. Mourning Dove
  2. Grackle
  3. Scarlet Tanager
  4. Pilliated Woodpecker
  5. American Golfinch
  6. Oriole
Today I also saw a neighbor's cat walking up the stairs on my deck to scope out the bird feeder. I have found solutions to keep squirrels and raccoons out of my feeder but I may have to stop feeding the birds to keep them out of danger from this cat. I myself am a cat owner, but I keep my cats indoors, in part to protect birds from them. Domestic cats are the cause of much devastation to songs birds in this country. Some places, including Montgomery County, Maryland do not allow cats outdoors unless they are leashed.

Election 2012

It was wonderful to vote for the first time yesterday. I was so pleased to be able to vote for President Obama and same sex marriage, both of which won. I joked with Captain Obvious that voting was really cool and I'm definitely doing it again (easy to be happy about the experience when your side wins, right?).

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Calm Weekend

This has been a calm weekend. I had a couple of nice walks: one yesterday, one today. The weather is beautiful. The captains raked all the leaves out of the yard. Together, we picked all the tomatoes and peppers and kind of put the plants to rest--it is going to start freezing at night, so they are goners anyhow. I am hoping to make a tomato tarte tatin with some of these tomatoes once they ripen. Not sure what to do with the peppers, but I will figure out something delicious. We also transplanted a sage plant to a spot where it will get more sun.

Captain Adorable's ankle seems to be healing up perfectly. He does not favor it and says that it does not hurt at all. I am still a bit suspicious because he said it didn't hurt and it was visibly swollen, but I think I will let him go to school on Monday (he's got Tuesday off anyway).

Speaking of Tuesday, did I neglect to mention that I became an American citizen over the summer? For the very first time in my life, I get to vote on Tuesday! I am pretty excited! Schools are closed because it is election day. I guess I will take Capt. Adorable with me to vote--he walked with me at the ceremony when I was granted my citizenship, so I may as well continue having him participate with me.

Just now we went for a short boat ride. Just to get the engine warmed up and the bottom cleaned off a little. We were only out for about an hour--the blue sky, the fall leaves, the dark water, the white boat, my two beloveds...would have been quite idyllic were it not for the cold wind! Hehe! It was nice anyhow and I am glad we went.

Perhaps I will dice up some peppers to go in the onion and potato frittata I am planing for dinner tonight. Not traditional Spanish, but I was planning to add garlic this time anyhow, which is also not usually in Spanish recipes (correct me if I am wrong).

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Injury

Captain Adorable was Batman for Halloween this year. He loves Halloween--the costumes, the decorations, the small scares, and of course the trick-or-treating! He is difficult to keep up with when going door to door. He runs between houses! He is very polite, and knows to say "Trick or treat" when the door opens, "Thank you" when he gets the candy, and then "Happy Halloween" before he runs off. 

Last night (and I think I may remember when) he sprained his ankle sometime during the trick or treating. He's quite stoic, and pretty tough, and was so excited for Halloween that he never told us or let on that he was in pain. But this morning he couldn't walk on his left foot; he crawled from his bed to the bathroom! He was really worried that he would have to miss school, and that clued me in that it was serious, because he knew that the pain was serious enough to threaten school attendance--otherwise he wouldn't have cared much. I took him to the doctor early in the hope that he could go to school after, but we spent all morning at the doctor's office and then we had to go get an X-ray. 

I feel bad for him that his worst fear came true (well, no needles, but he was completely freaked out by the x-ray machine--there were many, many tears and the whole thing was quite hectic). He sobbed into my shoulder that today was "the baddest day of [his] life." There is no evidence of a break, so we're hoping it is only a sprain and nothing more serious. There could be a break in the growing plates, where we cannot see on an x-ray, and there is quite a good amount of inflammation--a definite sprain. The doctor wants him to stay off of it so he can't go to school tomorrow either. We have to watch him closely to see if he continues to favor it, as that will mean we have to go to the orthopedist for further evaluation. 

Right now he's on the couch watching tv and eating candy, so I guess its not all bad. But I am not looking forward to tell him the bad news: he's not going to school tomorrow and he will miss hockey practice on Saturday and the first real hockey match on Sunday. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Almost Entirely Unscathed

Aside from some debris in the yard, we're fine. No trees down (though my friend who is my neighbor a few blocks away lost her fence!). We still have power--lost it a couple times but only for a few seconds each time. Took a long walk in what's left of the rain this afternoon and although some houses in nearby neighborhoods are running generators, I saw no major destruction. One little decorative guard house at the front of a nearby subdivision had the tin ripped off its roof, but I saw no damage to houses people live in. The water was really low last night (the combing was below the dock!) and is really high now (almost to the surface of the dock), but no damage that we can see.

The derecho earlier this summer was much worse than this! We lost two trees in that! Plus it was scary--really loud thrasing wind.

My heart goes out to those in New York City and other areas that were damaged by Sandy (as a hurricane or as a superstorm).

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fingers Crossed

Rain and more rain and oh yeah wind, too. That's what's going on outside. The electricity flickers all the time, but so far it has not gone off... the neighborhood next to ours is off. It just went off and came back on. Doubt we will make it through the night with power. Fingers crossed!

Rain and Wind

So far the electricity is still on. So far...

It rained all night and it has been raining all day. Capt. Adorable and I went for a rain walk after breakfast and checked on the boat. Capt. Obvious checked it again a few hours later, and the two captains are off to go check it again right now. I suddenly decided to make potato leek soup and skillet corn bread and rice...all so that if (when) the power goes out, we will have something good and tasty to eat...

Some good wind out there right now, but at the same time, there are still birds coming to the feeder (so far today we've seen titmice, chickadees, a downy woodpecker, and a purple finch). Capt. Obvious watched a woodpecker clinging to a swaying tree from his upstairs office window--actually, it wasn't clinging, more adjusting itself back and forth with little steps as the trunk moved with the wind.

School was cancelled for tomorrow as well. Now beginning to wonder if we will have Halloween this year, boohoo.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Storm Progression

We have a permanent mooring--a mushroom anchor. We use a single line (well, two lines, but both to the same mooring). But we left the boat in the slip after all. One of our neighbors moved his 40 foot motorboat to his mooring, and with 15-20 feet of line, that's awfully close to our 27 foot boat on 15-20 feet of line. Yes of course they will not be exactly opposite to each other (the wind/current moves them all in the same direction), however, there is a possibility that the wind/current could move them around in circles and cause them to hit each other while going around. Neither of us wants to deal with that. Captain Obvious doubled all the lines, though, to keep her secure in the slip.

I bought rain boots today. They are red, a cheerful color, with non-marking soles, so I can use them on the boat after the storm. I know Captain Adorable will want to have a rain walk tomorrow. School has been cancelled and Captain Obvious' work is closed as well.

There is rain now, but not much so far. Windy out and quite cold. Captain Obvious was wearing shorts for most of the day but we tried to go for a little walk after dinner and it was so cold he got chilled to the point of chattering teeth began in a matter of minutes!

Getting Ready For Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy is predicted to bring lots of wind and rain. We are getting ready for the storm. Sails are off the boat, and we will move it from slip to mooring. Doing all the laundry in the house. Vacuuming, stuffing the freezer with bags of water to help it stay cold. We lost power for 4 days with Hurricane Irene, so we're trying to prepare for being without a fridge. We've got pre-packaged soup. We've got plenty of candles.

We decided to buy a generator this time around, but by the time we made that decision, all the generators were gone or the prices so jacked up we're without one after all. We'll be fine. We've got gas heat and a propane stove we can use to cook on the deck. Plus the grill of course.

Captain Obvious just had what might be his last run for 3 or 4 days (if it is raining too much to run) and I am about to leave for my walk. Exercise is included in our preparations, too!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Full Day

Today was Captain Adorable's first kindergarten field trip. Therefore, we were up earlier than normal, and found a treat on our front steps. Capt. Adorable had been BOOed. It turned out to be a package with glo-sticks, candy, Halloween decorations, and other cool stuff. There was also a note telling us to BOO two other children (leave a secret package of treats on the doorstep). We talked about who to BOO on the way to school.

All 5 kindergarten classes from our school went on the trip. I drove home to pick up my friend from the neighborhood, who also has a son in kindergarten (though a different class), was also a chaperone, and was carpooling with me.  We went to a local farm (more argi-tainment than agriculture, but whatever). We arrived before the busses from our school, and got to see the craziness of the arrivals outside the gate--there were lots of kids from other schools and day cares there in addition to the approx 120 from our school. There were animals (got to milk a cow), a hay ride, a maze, some live music, lots of running around, and a pumpkin at the end. I was assigned a group of 2 to take care of--Capt. Adorable and one other (very nice and well behaved) boy. It was fun and tiring. On the field trip,another friend from the neighborhood asked if we had found anything on the porch this morning, so I knew who had left the BOO.

I had about an hour at home, during which time I wrote and answered emails and texts concerning the upcoming neighborhood Halloween Party, which I am organizing. Then I drove to school to pick up my sweet son. We stopped at home long enough for him to eat the lunch he was too excited to eat while at the farm, changed into hockey practice clothes, grabbed the gear, and hopped in the car. No time to buy treats for the BOOs we should leave for others. Traffic was terrible, but it only took us about 30 minutes to get there. He was ready to hit the ice (meaning all equipment on) at 5:22. Practice lasted till 7:00; we were back in the car on the way home at 7:14.

Captain Obvious had wanted to come to practice, but we asked him to instead go buy Book stuff, which he did. After dinner, we packed up the BOOs and set off to leave them at friends' doorsteps. Captain Adorable went up to the door, put the treat pack down, then rang the door bell and ran to his hiding spot as fast as he could! It was dark outside and it was really funny to watch one mom, completely mystified and poking at what we had left (the treats were in an empty oatmeal container with a long sugar straw sticking out the top--must have looked like a bomb or something, whoops!!). The other family saw who was running off, but it was still fun and felt good to all laugh together as we drove off through the darkness back to our house. I think we will do that again next year.

I still have to put my jelly fish costume together. Big party tomorrow, whew. Let's hope Hurricane Sandy doesn't rain on us till the party is over!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

CT Results

The CT was clear. Here's the preliminary report for those who are interested.

CT thorax abdomen and pelvis. Date of examination 10/24/2012. Comparison prior study 7/18/2012. Study done with intravenous contrast.

Thyroid normal. Residual of cryoablated nodule in the anterior aspect of the lingula again noted, series 2 slice 27 lesion measures 1.3 x 1.0 cm indicating a decrease from prior measurement of 1.7 x 1.3.

Prior resection of nodules in the right lung with no evidence of local recurrence.

No new lung nodules.

No evidence of axillary, mediastinal, or hilar adenopathy. No evidence of pleural or pericardial effusion.

Decreasing size of left upper lobe nodule

No new nodules, no other significant abnormalities.

Abdomen and pelvis. The liver normal, gallbladder normal, spleen normal, adrenals normal.

Pancreas normal, right kidney normal.1.7 x 1/2 cm cyst lateral cortex left kidney. Lesion completely unchanged in size when compared to previous study. Lesion show questionable minimal enhancement, however lesion also measured 1.7 x 1.2 in 2009. More inferiorly in the left kidney is a 7 mm cyst of water attenuation which is definitely a simple cyst.

No evidence of abdominal or retroperitoneal adenopathy small bowel and mesentery normal.

Colon surveyed for possible primary neoplasm but none found.

Bladder normal uterus normal no ovarian abnormalities detected.

Examination with bone windows shows no additional significant abnormality.

No significant change from prior study of 7/18/2012.

No evidence of the possible primary neoplasm.

No evidence of metastatic disease.

So you see, JHH has a sensitive CT scanner and the radiologist clearly takes care to look at all my parts and carefully compares to past measurements.

The report shows good news, obviously. But now that I've had one reoccurrence  I am definitely not as celebratory as I was in the past, when I used to think that the passage of time meant an increase in safety. Maybe it does, and maybe it doesn't. I'm going to believe both at the same time.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Family Sail

We had a full weekend. On Saturday morning Capt. Adorable had hockey (on the ice at 7:10, which means we have to get there at 6:50, which means we leave the house at 6:30, which means we get up at 6:10. So early!). Then we all went to the grocery store and bought lunches and dinners for each of us. Why? Because we were going to spend the night on the boat. 

We had planned to sail across the Bay but there wasn't enough wind, so we had to motor. It was cold sitting in the cockpit, but we had a good time and the bimini is off now, so the sun kept us warm. Aside from the lack of wind, a perfect day for a fall sail. Such beauty all around--the birds, the changing leaves, the blue blue sky.

We anchored in the Wye River. Dinner in the cockpit with the sunset as the main attraction other than the food. There were lots of other boats at anchor there as well (lots=about a dozen). Here is a photo of the end of the sunset.

We hoped to watch the meteor shower but clouds blew in (as you can see above) and all we could see was the bright new moon. It was rather windy during the night, which means not such great sleeping for the grownups who worry about the boat dragging, but we had the big anchor, so we were fine. It was warm and snug in the cabin.

The next day we sailed most of the way home, until the wind slowed enough that we turned on the motor so we could have a few hours at home before dinner making time arrived. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Mouse In The House

We moved into this house three years ago this November. The people who lived here before us kept food in the basement. In addition to a refrigerator (or was it a freezer?), they had a large collection of non-perishable foods. They also had mice. I know because after we moved in, one of our cats caught a few and we set up traps which caught a few more. Sorry, mice, but this is our house not yours. Go make your home elsewhere. Anyhow, we do not keep food in basement, and what with the cats and traps, the problem was solved. So I thought.

A couple of weeks ago I found both cats intently interested in the china cabinet. Specifically, the place beneath the china cabinet. Yes, there was a mouse under there. I am convinced that the mouse hunter cat caught the mouse in the basement and brought it up here to play with (goodness knows why he doesn't kill and eat the prey). My reasoning is that there is no evidence of mice up here (no poop, no bit marks on packages of food, no mouse nests) so they musty be in the basement. Anyhow, the cat wasn't killing the mouse and I wanted it out, so with Captain Adorable's help and a few irrationally frightened screams from me and I trapped the mouse under a clear plastic bowl, slipped cardboard underneath, and tossed it out in the yard. It had a suspiciously short tail, which I think may have been bitten off by the cat. I know it may come back and that I should have killed it, but I couldn't. How would I kill the thing? Smash it? No way! (And even if I could do that, then I'd have to clean up smashed mouse. Vomit.) Anyhow, that was the end of that. So I thought.

On Tuesday morning we discovered the cat had another mouse. This one was cornered under the shoe rack near the door to the garage. I carefully pulled out shoes so the cat could get the mouse, but this only resulted in someone (ok, me) screaming in fear when it ran away to find another hiding place. Then it hid under a chair. As I was going to get something to help us catch it, Captain Adorable unfortunately scared it away and it ran under the couch. Now we couldn't get it at all. Dern.

Fortunately, it got scared again and ran into the kitchen, under the stove. I pulled out the bottom drawer and looked but did not see it, and figured it had escaped behind the counters or into the wall. I had to drive my son to school, so I left things as they were. When I got back from drop off, I decided to vacuum under the stove (so dusty!). Out popped the MOUSE!!! Another scream. It ran back under the stove. I had no idea I was so scared of mice. I tried to get the cat to get the mouse but the cat did not want to go under the stove and was not interested in anything I wanted him to do. He hissed at me when I tried to shove him under there. After a conversation with my ever-inventive and supportive mother, I tried to vacuum the mouse up but just succeeded in chasing it under the fridge. Gah! I gave up and baked apple pies. I asked Captain Obvious to pull the fridge out but all we found was dust. Maybe it was under there, walking along as the fridge was pulled out?

However, that night while I was putting Captain Adorable to bed, Captain Obvious saw the mouse again! He thought it was under the couch for a while but could not see it and gave up. We watched the Presidential debate (Go Obama!) and went to bed.

On Wednesday morning it was clear that the mouse was still around. Here's how I knew:
Yes, the mouse hunters were ready to pounce. I took Captain Adorable and the pies to school, and when I came back they were still in exactly the same spots. I thought about pulling the drawer out again, but decided against disturbing their vigil. I went for a walk with a friend and when I came back the party was over. I didn't know if the mouse was caught or what, but the cats had gone to their beds.

Later I saw them watching the fridge, then the stove, so I knew the golly-derned mouse was still in the house. I decided we'd have to Do Something, and announced to Captain Obvious that we'd have to set up traps that night. However, at dinner time, while I was out of the room, the Captains spotted the mouse again! It came out from beneath the stove. The mouse hunt was on! Captain Obvious blocked off escape as well as he could and got out the vacuum! After a few tries, the managed to vacuum it up!

He took the vacuum outside and cut open the bag. There was the (alive) mouse! A very, very dusty mouse that definitely could not see. He released it into the backyard and it was gone this morning. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Apple Pies

I love baking apple pies. It is such a wonderful experience, despite the hard work involved. I love picking out the apples (bought them at a store this time), making the perfect dough, rolling it out, filling my house with wonderful pie-baking smells, and of course eating them. If you've never tried baking one and are at all interested, give it a shot--there is nothing as good as an apple pie home baked with love. (Even my friends love baking apple pies. Hi Two Hands!)

Captain Obvious hates it when I bake. You see, he adores my pies and he eats them all, which means he has to exercise more. Because of his requests that I Not Bake, I haven't baked an apple pie for a few years now, so I was happy to have a chance to bake. The PTO at Captain Adorable's school is giving a teacher-staff appreciation lunch today and on the sign up sheet sent out a couple of weeks ago there was a request for 2 apple pies. I immediately volunteered to bring them.

I spent all day yesterday baking 3 apple pies. You didn't think I could only bake to give away, did you? Captain Adorable was already annoyed that we were giving away 2 of the 3; I think there would have been serious mutiny if I had baked pies and we had none!

We had some for dessert and Oh My Gosh it was good. I was actually quite impressed with myself! I made all-butter crusts (harder to work with than a shortening-butter combo but oh so tasty and tender) and several types of apples inside.

Here, they are, cooling on the counter yesterday evening. You can see one was already 1/3 gone and that was before Captain Obvious had his second piece. I put a piece in Captain Adorable's snack box this morning. I hope the teachers enjoy them!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Today, Five Years Ago...

...I wrote my first post on this blog. At that point it was more for me than anything else. Then it was a way for me to share my journey with my son--I figured I'd be dead and wanted him to get my story (and his story) from me. As time went on and I shared the blog with more people, it became a way of updating people who cared about me. Of course it was always a way for me to write about what was going on and how I felt about everything. Over the last year or so I've had less and less to say here. Partly because, thank goodness, there was not much to say. Partly because now that so many people read the blog, I felt too vulnerable and no longer wanted to share personal thoughts and emotions. However, I haven't stopped writing, because cancer has not stopped. I expect that I will continue to post on this blog as long as I have cancer.

Cancer has stolen so much from me and from my family. My friends have suffered along with us, and even people I've never met in real life, who read this blog, have experienced my sorrows and trimuphs. We are all survivors.

Five years ago I thought I would die before my son learned to read. Today he is a beginning reader.  Over the weekend I helped him to practice writing the number 3 (two curves that meet in the middle), the number 5 (a little man went around the corner and his hat blew off), and admired his other numbers (he's especially proud of his 4s). Five years ago I was frightened that I would die before sharing a bike ride with my son. Today I can go for a bike ride with him whenever we want. We share many things, like cooking, reading, and sailing to name a few. As he grows, his life experiences sometimes diverge from mine--for instance, he plays ice hockey! I get up at 6:10 to take him practice once or twice a week. I have the pleasure of parenting an intelligent, observant, curious, active child. His sense of humor and his sweetness touch me to the depths of my heart. I am so very lucky to be the mother of this child.

And at the same time I am deeply sorry about the second child, the one who I always planned for, but cannot who be; the planned sibling of my Captain Adorable. Not being able to have this child may be my greatest sorrow. No one knows what would happen if I were to conceive a child--would the pregnancy hormones cause the cancer to grow? How long would it be safe for me to be without monitoring (you can't have a CT scan while you're pregnant--or I wouldn't anyhow)? Keep in mind the longest I've been without a CT scan in the last 5 years is 4 months and because of the recent reoccurrence, I am now back to a scan every 3 months for a couple of years. There is barely any medical evidence to fall back on for information because people with stage 4 cancer don't have pregnancies.

What about my lung capacity--could it even support a pregnancy? Would I be allowed to have a natural birth, as I did with my son, or would the added complications of cancer force me into an overly-medicalized birth? What if the cancer showed up during a pregnancy and I had to deliver the baby early and begin chemo? Can you imagine the upheaval and sorrow of a baby in the NICU and me in chemo? My beloved Captains would have to be so strong--my whole family would be saddened and weakened by the crises in their lives. My obligation is to my son, my husband, and the rest of my family. This is an obligation I am proud to have and uphold! I can rejoice and mourn at the same time. I think that's really what life is all about, cancer or no--maintaining balance while feeling everything. Being present in this moment, every moment.

Five years ago I found out I had pneumonia (which led to my cancer diagnosis) while I was studying for the bar. I took the exam despite the many obstacles and difficulties and failed. Last summer (2011) I studied for the bar again, highly conscious of the sacrifices being made by my husband, son, and parents to clear my responsibilities and give me the time to focus and study. I passed and was sworn in as an attorney in December 2011. That part of me--the new lawyer part--had to remain dormant for a while longer, though, because cancer appeared on a CT scan again and my family and I had to spend time and energy fighting it again. Today I am on the cusp of opening my own law practice. I am so pleased to be able to use my brain and my education, to help people through my talent and study, and to also be present for my son and my husband.

I lead a wonderful life full of love. In the broad scheme of things, I am lucky to live in this country (a first world country) at this time. In the very personal scheme of things, I find life so sweet, so beautiful, so magical and miraculous in part because always aware of my mortality. Mortality is a reality, constantly by my side in every situation. I will never say that cancer has brought anything positive into my life, but I will say that my reaction to living with the knowledge that cancer is coming to get me (has already gotten me, albeit slowly), all the time, has opened my eyes in some ways.

It is exhausting to be so aware of mortality all the time. To constantly have the idea that this summer could be the last one, or this trip could be the last one, or this interaction with a relative who lives far away may be the last one...makes me brittle and stressed to have these high expectations all of the time. I recognize that I am pretty much the only one outside of my immediate family who understands this urgency. I also know that I am and have always been a person who feels things intensely. However, the stress of cancer has made me feel more intensely, which has been difficult. In fact, I recently sought grief therapy to help me to deal with all of this stuff that comes with cancer, and it has helped me to be more peaceful, calm, and confident overall.

Captain Obvious and I recently (end of September) celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. The comfort and deep understanding between him and I, (despite the differences between every married couple), is a touchstone for me. He loves me; I love him. I wish for him a wife who does not have cancer, but I know that he wants only me, cancer or not. His unwavering encouragement and support are testament to who he is and what he gives to the world.

Five years ago I had hopes but no real plans because I thought I was going to die soon. Today I still have hopes and I also have plans. I plan for the very near future (an upcoming trip to Tennessee to celebrate a friend's wedding!),  the near future (another rendezvous with my siblings next summer in Europe--maybe Sardinia?), the mid-term future (my own law practice), and for the long term future (looking forward to my grandchildren)!

Next CT scan October 24. Will update this blog of course.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Summertime and the Living is ... Still Going

Hello my dear readers! I guess I've been ignoring my blog all summer long. I am sorry I've been neglectful. Mostly I was busy and happy and life moved fast and fun. Then there event...I am not comfortable sharing. Maybe someday, but not now. I was knocked down for a while. However, I am recovering and moving along.

Over 5 years ago I had my first thorecotomy on September 6, 2007.  I was given my cancer diagnosis about a week later. Here I am, alive, and, all things considered, doing really well.

I have been thinking about and planning a 5 year anniversary blog entry. As you may know, being alive 5 years after diagnosis was not what was predicted. I did not expect to be here now. Much less helping Captain Adorable transition to kindergarten, supporting my beloved Captain Obvious (10 years of marriage woo yeah!), and starting a new project...but more about all of that next post, I promise! ;)

Please continue, dear readers and friends, to stay tuned for my 5 year anniversary blog post. Look for it in October. I have a lot of writing and rewriting to do before then!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Nothing To See Here

Sorry I've not posted in a while--I guess I've not had much I wanted to share. I had a colonoscopy/esophagogastroduodenoscopy with multiple biopsies of the stomach and intestinal lining on March 23. There is a new prep (MoviPrep) and it was easier and better than the stuff I had to take last time (GoLightly). Still not easy or fun, but not as awful as I remember! No biopsy results yet, but I assume they were normal since everything else was. Then the CT scan on March 30 showed the part of my lung that was affected by the RFA on Jan 11, but no other new growth. My next CT scan is June 30 (in 3 months), so we are back to observation mode. Which is good.

Immerman Angels asked me to take on a second match, so I am again trying to help someone else (similar in age, family situation, and has a similar cancer) who has recently been diagnosed take this all in and deal with it somehow. I hope I can help her--this cancer stuff is so deep and so wide. It changes you forever.

Captain Adorable is growing fast, learning fast, and has a great summer planned. He starts kindergarten (sob!) this fall. Captain Obvious, as usual, works hard on many projects and sometimes makes time for fun, too. My parents have finally finished their straw bale guest house and it is amazing! Makes me want to go to Tennessee more often.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Warm Day in January

Yesterday was a warm and beautiful day. In the morning, Captain Adorable practiced writing lowercase letters in his Kumon workbook (guess what? He loves it! Much more fun than writing on his chalkboard!). After lunch, we went for a little walk around the neighborhood...well actually, I walked and he rode the new scooter Oma and Opa gave him for his birthday. We stopped at the little playground along the way, where I sat on a bench and he played. After a while, he asked me to push him on the swing, but instead I tried (yet again) to teach him to pump his legs and swing for himself. This accomplished nothing but annoyed him so much he got off the swing set and wouldn't talk to me anymore, so I went back to my bench.

Once home, we draw the solar system in chalk on the driveway. Capt. Adorable drew the Earth, the moon, and Jupiter. In fact, he took such care and time drawing those that I did all the other planets. While drawing, he told me fact after fact (did you know our earth has a solid core and our moon has frozen water in the craters? Did you know that astronomers call Pluto (now known as a dwarf planet), the Lonely Wanderer?). He he learned it all from A Child's Introduction to the Night Sky: The Story of the Stars, Planets, and Constellations--and How You Can Find Them in the Sky by Michael Driscoll and Meredith Hamilton, which I bought for Hanukkah, and he absolutely loves. We had a great time with our solar system drawing, and because we were outside we got to chat with a couple of neighbors who were out taking advantage of the beautiful weather as well.

Later we went to the big playground in our neighborhood and there were a few other families out playing also. We had a great time, and towards the end of the afternoon, all the kids big enough were on the swings. I saw Captain Adorable happily pumping himself on the swing!!!!!!!!!!! He figured it out at last. A wonderful warm day in January!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Getting Better

My breathing is getting better. Still not back to what it was, but better. I neglcted to say in the last post that both the radiologist and my oncologist said the shortness of breath was probably caused by inflammation. Which is good, because inflammation heals.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pancakes Together

My darling son and I made pancakes for breakfast this morning. It was all his doing! No, really!

He requested the pancakes. He told me which cookbook he wanted to use. He whisked the egg, poured in the buttermilk, whisked them together, gently stirred while I carefully poured in the melted butter. He sifted the (white and whole wheat) flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together. He told me when the pan was ready for the batter. He carefully placed the blueberries in the pancakes while they were cooking. He hungrily and appreciatively ate 4 of them. Next time I am going to let him try cracking the egg again.

I love making pancakes together.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Breathing is Fun

Since the RFA, I have been much more out of breath than before. Ever since my first thoracotomy back in September 2007, I have been more prone to panting than normal people, and this tendency to pant has only become more noticeable as I have undergone more surgeries and procedures that reduced my lung capacity. Of course, the big cancerous tumor growing in my lung before the thoracotomy did not help my breathing either, so it has been a long time since I have been able to breathe normally. I sometimes wonder when was the last time I did breathe normally.

I had been warned that the RFA could result in a pneumothorax, but did not think I had one. However, as the days wore on and my ability to breathe did not seem to be improving (and also my sweet MIL encouraged me to call), I decided to call the doctor. I ended up having to go get a chest x-ray and thank goodness there is no pneumothorax. However, it does seem that I am having a harder time/taking a longer time than other patients to recover this time. (And thank goodness I could find a radiology place that allowed me to bring Captain Adorable, because that made it so very much easier for me to get the thing done.)

Again I wonder how many more times I can sacrifice a bit of lung. What is my lung capacity? Do I want to know--are there negative implications (oh, you've got plenty more capacity, let's cut out some more!) to knowing? I saw an old man walking along carrying an oxygen tank yesterday and I worry that is my own future. I really enjoy breathing. I really enjoy moving my body and experiencing the world as a physical being. I don't want to be limited by a lack of lung capacity. Being out of breath is no fun and can get frightening quickly. While snorkeling in Hawaii (ah, what a fun trip) a few years ago, I became very out of breath and tired and was pretty scared. I don't like that drowning feeling. How many times can I come back from one of these procedures? How many times can I recover? Of course I will always keep fighting and pushing and healing, but oh, right this minute I am feeling tired. Tired looking back on the many times I've had to get up when I wanted to lie down, and tired looking ahead to the many more times I will have to push myself to get my base line lung capacity back again. And tired knowing that it will never get better than it was before this RFA.

Oncologist called to follow up today (left him messages about what was going on yesterday). Next appointment is Feb 3. We're going to perhaps schedule another CT scan soon, before the 3 month mark indicated to follow up on the RFA, to check if there is anything else growing. I really hope there is nothing to see.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Needle In My Chest

Today I emailed the radiologist who performed the RFA and asked him two questions: 
1) There are 3 incisions. Is this because other instruments had to be inserted to stabilize my lung? Or some other reason? 2) Do you have any cool images of the RFA? I'd love to see a couple if you have time to find one for me.

He answered:
There are 3 incisions because your tumor moved around and we had to use two separate needle systems. Please find images attached.
I edited the photos to remove my name and identifying numbers, but here they are, for your viewing pleasure. (If you click on them, you will see a larger version, as with all images on this blog.) That's a needle in my chest! The lesion is located on the left of the heart as I stand, so these images are taken from my feet, looking up through my body. 
The lesion is marked with a size indication here.
The needle going into the lesion (crazy how you can see it all the way through my body like that!)
You can also see how close it is to my heart here.
Below is an image I took of myself (with my beloved phone) which shows the incisions. After seeing me in pain and gently stroking the spot where the incisions are located on my chest, Captain Adorable gave me a kiss there to make it feel better (what a sweet surprise). He asked, "Why is your lung in your boobie?" I thought that was funny, (but logical, as you may be able to see from the photo) but explained that the lung is under/behind, not in, the boobie. :)

I have noticed much more panting since the RFA. I hope that this too will fade with time. I dislike being out of breath.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

No Yeast (Fungal) Infection!!

On the stretcher just outside the CT room. Ready to get this done!
As you know if you've been reading this blog for  while, I develop a yeast infection on my skin at the surgical site every single time I have a surgical procedure. I even have to make sure to ask for a prescription before the surgery because I know it will happen. (I am allergic to miconazole, which is the yeast infection medicine you can buy over the counter, so I have to get a prescription).

This time, as I mentioned this to the nurse before going in to the procedure room, she asked why I get the infection. I told her that I think it is from the cleaning solution used to prep for surgery. After some discussion, she said that she thinks it is a reaction to the self-contained surgical scrub tool which contains chlorhexidine and asked if I had the same reaction to betadine. I had a couple of surgeries as a teenager, before doctors started using chlorhexidine and never had a fungal infection after one of those. She suggested that we ask the doctor if we can use betadine this time. He agreed and guess what?!?! No Yeast Infection!

So, I read up a little on chlorhexidine and it is somewhat scary sounding. So much of what I end up getting on me or in me sounds scary, though...but anyhow, the thing that sounds most scary to me is this article in which JHH recommends bathing in the stuff! (Read it to understand who and why.) It is also used, as chlorhexidine gluconate, as a mouth wash. It is recognized that it is not effective against fungal infections. Therefore I think that my hypothesis is correct--I think that the chlorhexidine kills all the good bugs but leaves the bad bugs, which then grow without check on my skin.

Thank you to that wonderful nurse for figuring this out for me. I will ask for betadine instead of chlorhexidine for every subsequent surgery from now on. I will be thinking of her every single time.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Another Day

Ended up vomiting a few times last night, so I decided to take some Zofran. I hate the side effects of Zofran, but I just had to stop puking. Then I slept and slept and slept. The whole family slept till 9 this morning! Felt good. My chest is sore (I think my lung itself feels sore) and I plan to take it very easy at home today. (My neck is now hurting for the 6th day in a row. I think it gets worse at night.) The most exciting thing I have planned for today is a shower.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Posting From My Very Own Bed

So happy to share that everything went well and I am at he in my very own bed. I asked the doctor for an image to share with you and I think he liked the idea--told me to email h and he'd have something for me. More later. Purring cat and pillow are ganging up on me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

RFA Tomorrow (Wednesday, January 11)

Today I planned to take Capt. Adorable ice skating. Got all dressed and ready and drove there, only to confront a closed gate at the entrance. Of Course! The park is closed on Tuesdays. Boohoo. We were both disappointed.

So, instead we visited a local wild bird food store, went to the library to pick up some books about microscopes and making slides that I had reserved a few days ago, then stopped at the grocery store, and then home. On the way here and there we talked about things ranging from how radio waves are different from sound waves, to letter sounds, to several what-if type questions about the procedure tomorrow. Once home, the discussion got a little more intense and we did cry together a little. I told him that it is normal to worry and that he can always talk to me and Daddy about this. I told him that the doctors are well educated and experienced and that they will be able to make good decisions no matter what happens, even if it is something they do not expect.

Later, we discussion letter sounds some more, and I suggested he write the word "poop" on his chalk board. First he wrote PEP, then when I told him the sound an E makes, he wrote PUP, and then I told him the "oo" sound in "poop" is made with 2 o's. So, he wrote POOP. Then we talked about the word fart. He was able to write FART with some coaching, but no answers, from me. I was so proud. ;) Then he pointed out that dart sounds like fart and we discussed how it would be spelled (he did not want to write it, but did spell it aloud).

A visit to the post office to mail thank-you notes, some driving around the neighborhood, a visit with a friend (and her 2 kids), and then home to cook dinner, where I ran out of steam. We ended up going out to eat and walked over to the bookstore afterwards. It was nice.

Everything is packed for Capt. Adorable's day (and potentially, his night) tomorrow. Now I'm off to  shower and bed.

Captain Obvious may update this blog with news of the procedure tomorrow, or maybe I will. Arrival time is 7:00 am and the RFA is scheduled for 9:00. I was told on the phone that there are 2 reasons for me to stay overnight: 1) if I vomit too much and 2) I must be able to walk. So, the goal is no puking (and accept the anti-nausea meds offered, despite the knowledge that they will cause constipation) and walk walk walk so I can go home home home.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy Birthday to Captain Adorable!

Captain Adorable turned 5 on Friday. We had a weekend of fun with family and friends to celebrate.  I am so proud of him and I love him so deeply; there is no joy like the joy of my child. There is nothing I would rather celebrate than him. So happy to share the celebration with so many wonderful people!

My next RFA is on Wednesday. I am hoping to go home but planning for spending the night. So thankful to the friends who are helping our family by taking care of him. Knowing that my son is happy, comfortable, and safe allows me to relax without worry. Goodness knows I have enough worry about.

The idea of myself lying on a table unconscious with a breathing tube down my throat, with the anesthesia team shutting off my breathing freaks me out so much. I really didn't even want to write about it because it makes me super scared and brings up many questions that I do not want to think about since I might lose it if I do.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

RFA Do-Over Scheduled

The RFA with general anesthetic has been scheduled for January 11. I am (to my dismay) scheduled for admission....with a chance I could go home the same yes, let's concentrate on the chance of going home...but also have to plan for staying. Thanks to sweet friends and neighbors, Captain Adorable will be in good hands on January 11, so that is all ok. I am sure we can figure out care for subsequent days if it comes to that as well. I just wish I didn't have to stay in the hospital alone (which is what will happen if I have to stay overnight, since Captain Obvious will have to go home to care for Capt. Adorable, thus leaving me to fend for myself). I have such bad memories of staying at JHH after my first thoracotomy...

I called NCI and have to gather a bunch of records since they have requested. Once the records have been reviewed, they will call me to schedule an appointment. They've got a Phase I trial I might be able to participate in, but that is probably not what I want to do. The issue, of course, as always, is that in my case there is no standard of care because my cancer is non-standard. No one really knows the answer...