Monday, November 25, 2013


I am transitioning from working at the complex job of being a stay at home parent and all that includes, to working as an attorney. The idea is that I work part time--that I can still put my child first. The reality is that often at 10:00 at night I am at my computer. I don't work part time; I just delay part of my work day until the evening, when the child is asleep. I'm not complaining, just noting.

Captain Obvious is transitioning from being a fully supported work-outside-the home person to providing more support to me, and to Captain Adorable. We want Capt. Adorable to have a parent put him on the school bus and a parent pick him up--either one is fine--a parent at both ends of the school day.

We haven't got it all figured out yet. Often there are unpleasant surprises (having to cook dinner after working all day) or just unmet expectations because they remained unspoken for whatever reason. No one is being bad; we're just transitioning, and it is difficult right now. We'll get it worked out, with love and good humour, and the willingness to accept our own mistakes and each other's.

I was recently speaking with a dear person who has cancer and who is making a transition--the one from having a life expectancy of years to having a life expectancy of a few weeks or days. My dear friend is also not making the transition well, so far. Sometimes it is impossible to see what is staring one right in the face. Like all transitions, it is difficult and the person doesn't have it all figured out yet. It will get worked out, with family and friends giving love and good humour, and willingness to accept whatever comes next.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Height of Fall

This week we are in the height of fall. The sky is so blue and the leaves are so red and yellow and orange. Yesterday I took away the left-over jack-o-lanterns we carved and watered the bright yellow and burnt red chrysanthemums. The geese fly overhead, calling out to each other as they go.  The sound of the leaves touching down on the lawn as the wind brushes them from the branches. My fingers wrapped around the rake. Captain Adorable jumping into the pile of leaves I've collected.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Downhill Bike Riders

Over the weekend the our little family joined Captain Obvious' father, aunt, and brother for a ride on part of the Great Allegheny Passage. We rode bikes downhill for about 25 miles--from Deal, Maryland (a bit north of Frostburg) to Cumberland, Maryland. It took several hours (which is what happens when you go "grandpa-speed," a phrase Captain Obvious coined). I enjoyed myself thoroughly! It was an adventure, but not too strenuous or demanding. It was beautiful--the fall colors, the sweeping views, the novelty of the tunnels and train tracks. We put coins on the tracks for the trains to drive over and flatten. Captain Obvious found some railroad spikes and we took one of those home--Captain Adorable is taking the flattened coins and the railroad spike to school today to show his class.

The constant slight downhill slope made it possible to almost not pedal at all, and we could do little tricks on our bikes--riding with one's legs in lotus position with feet together on the cross bar of the bike, standing up with both feet on one pedal, standing on the cross bar, bent over to reach the handlebars, and some other ones. Captain Obvious and I discovered we could ride very close to each other--with our arms around each other and snuggle. We did this a few different times, and the last time, my handlebar got tangled up with his or something, his brake handle got squeezed, and down we went--crash! I ended up on the bottom--he landed on me! I had a scraped knee and hurt my already-hurt ankle somehow. But I thought the whole thing was beyond hilarious and laughed my head off.

Also, after a couple hours or so of riding, Captain Adorable got really bored and grumpy, refusing to stop and wait with the group when we stopped for one reason or another. He just wanted it over at that point. Captain Obvious came up with a great idea (followed the example of his father and his aunt) and gave Captain Adorable his iPhone and headphones so he could listen to an audiobook (one of the Septimus Heap series). That cheered him right up and he happily pedaled along with the group, now going grandpa speed.
Biking the Great Allegheny Passage
The next day some of us had sore bums and some did not, but we were all happy with our downhill biking adventure. Hopefully we can do another family bike trip sometime soon.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cow's Milk and Snot

I have read/heard for a long time that drinking and eating dairy (cow's milk and its products) can cause people to produce more snot. Now, I have nothing really scientific to back this up, but it is something I've heard often.

Capt. A often snores if he is even the slightest bit snotty, to the point that I ended up taking him to an ENT to see if there was any type of obstruction in his throat/nose or if there was a tonsil problem. After three visits and a couple of hearing tests (his ears are fine), there's nothing wrong with my boy and no fix to the snot/snoring problem except squirting some drug up his nose, which I don't want to do, he hates and he experienced diarrhea the only two times he ever used it (the doctors say this is impossible, but it did happen, so what am I supposed to do? Just ignore that?).

So, what to do? Seems pointless to take him back. But he does snore (which means he has a lot of snot) often, and he does get ear infections kind of can I reduce this snot?

I decided to try reducing his dairy intake. I'm not cutting it all off, just not putting a milk box in his lunch everyday, not offering cheese with dinner/lunch, not providing yogurt as a breakfast or snack. He likes almond milk, he prefers to eat cinnamon raisin (whole wheat) bread for breakfast anyway(slathered with butter), has juice boxes or water for lunch, and doesn't miss the cheese. On the other hand, if we are out somewhere and he wants a quesadilla I let him have it. You see what I am getting at? Reducing but not cutting off completely.  (Of course I am no longer consuming dairy products of any kind, as noted in an earlier blog entry, but I do not expect my Captains to comply with my dietary choices.)

So back to the snot: its been almost 2 weeks. Greatly Reduced Snot. No more snoring. Hasn't been far anyhow.

We will see...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Grump, Grump, Grumpy

For the last few weeks we've had an attitude problem in our house. Captain Adorable has been grumpy, disrespectful, contrary, and difficult. He's been pitching a fit whenever he doesn't get his way. I've been responding with little to no patience and understanding and my frustration level through the roof at the first sign of trouble. As I am sure you can imagine, things have not been going well. In fact, we even got a note home from Captain Adorable's teacher, asking us to speak to him about his behavior in the classroom, saying that he needed to calm down, stop falling out of his chair, leaning over the girl seated next to him, and listen and follow directions. This about my super-well-behaved rule-following child, who picks his friends based on whether or not they get in touble (he hates getting in trouble)! We had a long talk about this and he straightened up--the teacher sent home a Happy-Gram to tell him and us that he had done a good job of behaving well in class after that.

Yesterday, after another series of frustrated exchanges, I finally realized what the problem is. My fractured ankle has stopped all exercise for me and for him. That is the one big change in our lives (yes, lots of other changes--him starting school, me working more) but the one really big change is that instead of daily exercise in the form of walking, running, or riding bikes, now we do nothing. I know the lack of exercise makes me grumpy and on top of that, it is difficult for me to fall asleep, which leaves me tired and therefore even more grumpy the next day. I now understand that the lack of exercise is affecting him, too. He went from riding 2-3 miles per day on his bike, in addition to maybe a walk or other activity to no activity to speak of. We've got the no-exercise-grumps!

Now that I understand what is going on, I can try to fix it. I will do the arm exercise DVD my darling mom loaned me and I have not even tried(!) with him this afternoon. I will encourage him to ride his bike...somehow...I will come up with a solution.

Can't wait to be back to normal. Heal, ankle, heal!

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Few Bits From The Last Few Days

Captain Adorable's vocabulary is expanding again. We've been reading Cornelia Funke's Ghosthunters series to him (we're on book 2, The Gruesome Invincible Lightning Ghost). Yesterday, when  commenting on a stinky fart, he declared it was "ghastly". Quite an excellent pun, I thought! Especially for a six year old!

The follow up appointment for my ankle is on Wednesday. It still hurts and I am expecting that I will have to wear the boot for longer. I am quite sad about this, as it is incredibly inconvenient and , of course my ankle hurts. In addition, the weather is cooling, which is great, but I am worried about how I will wear fall clothes (pants) with the boot. I don't want to incorporate my boot into a Halloween costume!

I have gone vegan. My brother's wife suggested that I read The China Study recently. I had seen Forks Over Knives but did not change anything in my diet. Reading the book, however, has inspired me quite a lot. I do not want my cancer to come back, and I believe the diet advocated in The China Study will help to prevent cancer growth in my body. Plus there are many other health benefits which I want for myself and my family. Next CT Scan is Jan. 4, 2013.

Building a law practice takes a lot of work! Some of it is fun, though, especially helping friends.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fortieth Birthday

My birthday was over the weekend. I am 40 years old now! And so pleased to be! What a joy to celebrate living and growing older! Surrounded by family, friends old and new, and neighbors, we ate and drank and talked and played despite the heat/humidity.

I've survived for (almost) 6 years after my initial diagnosis. I am blessed by the people in my life, by the community where I live, and by my own desire to communicate and explore. I am building a new venture. I am planning new experiences (biking!). I am living a beautiful, beautiful life.

Words have power, and I want to use my words to give credit to the ones I love:
My darling Captain Obvious worked so hard for me--setting up my party and working hard to host everyone despite being sick--he shows me his deep love with the time and effort he spends on me and on us.

My beloved Captain Adorable is reaching out, confident enough to ignore his family and yet remaining close and showing a strong protective instinct.

My fantastic Mom and Dad, traveling all the way to Maryland (yet again) to share their time, love, experiences, and ideas and their constant willingness to work! helping us to prepare.

And all the friends who came and celebrated with me. It means so much to see your smiling, sweating faces. And to the family and friends who could not attend, so sent their birthday greetings and love.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Avulsion Fracture

On Monday morning I went for a bike ride with Captain Adorable. He's been biking with me while I walk/run for a while now. It isn't a fast ride, but he bikes about 2.5 miles a few mornings a week. I have been trying to build up my stamina and breathing and I can run (slowly) for 20 minutes straight now, but on Monday I rode my bike too. He wanted to show me a secret path, so we rode to a field, parked our bikes off the road, and walked into the woods. The path went to the top of a cliff which overlooks the creek our marina is on, so every time we go out on the boat we pass by the spot where we were standing. It was a lovely view. On the way back to the bikes, back in the field, I accidentally stepped in a hole and turned my ankle. I thought I heard a crack. It hurt a lot, but I had to get on my bike, ride home, change clothes, and take Captain Adorable to the pediatrician.

I discovered that walking down stairs hurt a lot, but my ankle wasn't swollen much. I limped around and got us to the appointment on time. Captain Adorable was diagnosed with pink eye. I had several other errands that day, and at some point decided to call my doctor to see if I could get an appointment. They fit me in right away. The doctor examined me and sent me for an x-ray. I had the x-ray but Captain Adorable and I were hungry, so we left immediately after. I was assured by the doctor and the x-ray technician that if anything showed up, they'd call me. No one called that afternoon or evening.

Tuesday came and went with no call.

Wednesday morning my doctor called with the news that I had actually fractured my ankle. I went to an orthopedist in the afternoon and now I have a big black boot to wear for 4-6 weeks.

It is really more a ligament injury than a bone injury. When I rolled my ankle, the ligament pulled two fragments of bone off! So, the treatment is immobilization and rest. Of course Captain Adorable thinks my boot is wonderful and doesn't understand why it would interfere with walking.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

After Cancer Blues

I just read this great blog entry about the after cancer blues and thought I should share it here. I guess I knew other people have this last ing fear too but reading about it makes me feel validated. For what its worth, here is how I have responded to the five things suggested on the blog:

1) Know you're not crazy.
OK, well maybe I am crazy (haha), but not because of being sad about cancer. I think that often people with cancer feel they have to be strong and cheerful all the time, even giving themselves the responsibility for making the cancer grow if they think negative thoughts! In my opinion, it is important to be gentle with one's self, to allow oneself to feel all the emotions that go with cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship.

2) Find support
I sought grief counseling and benefitted greatly from that experience. I recommend finding support to all cancer survivors (meaning the family of a person with cancer also).

3) Go for a run
I took up walking in an effort to lose some of the weight I gained during chemo. About 2 years ago, I was inspired by a trip to Madrid, where my brother and his family lived at the time and all the walking they did, and I've been walking and running every since. I am doing a Couch to 5K program (which is pretty challenging for a person missing almost an entire lung) for the second time now--maybe this time I will make it to running a 5K. :)

4) Use your experience
I may or may not have mentioned that I volunteer with Imerman Angels as a mentor for others who have recently gotten a cancer diagnosis. I also email and talk with people who find me in different ways. I suppose I could do more, though.

5) Give yourself a day...or month...or year.
Yes, yes. I am still doing this. Maybe this blog is part of giving myself support and time and understanding as well.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Week Alone

Captain Obvious is coming home today and tomorrow we are going to go pick up Captain Adorable. Capt. Obvious was in Australia for a meeting where he presented a paper. We had hoped I'd be able to go with him but it didn't work out. Capt. Adorable is in Tennessee spending his annual week with Oma and Opa.

I missed both of them terribly and I long to have them back home. At the same time, I noticed how clean the house is--amazing! I clean it and it stays clean! It feels so lonely at night when I go to bed. I barricade myself into the bedroom each night because it makes me feel safe. I bought a game for myself (play on the PS3) and have had a wonderful time playing it and watching Downton Abbey because I don't have to take anyone else's preferences into account.

I hosted an impromptu get-together for a few friends from my neighborhood. Which was such fun that I really hope we do it again. It was so easy to host with no worries about planning around my beloveds.

I've also been working. Not as much as I should have, but hours each day. Now that I think about it, I've done work for three clients and one potential client this week. OK, so I'm not making any money (in fact the practice is still in the red) but wow, four clients seems pretty good!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Summer: Travels, Work

As we approach the last week of July I am amazed at how fast the summer has gone. I remember how slowly time seemed to pass when I was a child. I wished then I could speed it up and of course now I wish I could slow it down.

So far this summer I drove with Captain Adorable and Captain Obvious to Tennessee. While where we visited my parents and Captain Obvious and I attended a friend's wedding. After some thought, I decided to take Capt. Adorable and drive to Atlanta to visit my brother, his wife, and their children for a couple of days. My brother and his family have been living in Europe, and we hadn't seen them since last summer's vacation in Croatia. I got to meet my little new niece, who I will call Birdie because she chirps like a bird. She was 3 and a half months old when I met her and oh what a wonderful sweet baby. 

We visited the Atlanta children's museum, called Imagine It!, which was fun but not as wonderful as Port Discovery in Baltimore. We also visited the Atlanta Botanical gardens, which were fantastic! I'd really like to go there again next time we visit Atlanta.

Then we drove to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, met up with Captain Obvious who was there for work, stayed the night, and drove home the next morning. It was quite a relief to be back home after all that driving! 

The day after we got home I attended a day-long seminar on hanging out a shingle which was very informative. Then one day off, then Monday rolled around and Captain Adorable had a (second) week at camp. While he was at camp I dove into my computer (worked from the minute I got home from dropping him off till I had to leave to pick him up) for a couple of days for one client, and then worked at a less feverish pace doing research and developing documents for other areas of my practice.  I am learning a lot and get a lot of satisfaction out of what I am doing.

I hope there are some lazy days this summer, too. Maybe in August. ;)

A high school acquaintance/friend of mine just contacted me to let me know she had been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer with metastasis to the liver.  We exchanged a bunch of emails; I've been thinking about cancer and reactions to diagnosis for the last few days. 

What a beautiful life I lead. What a lucky/blessed person I am.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Next CT in Six Months

The news is: the CT scan yesterday was clear, according to the preliminary report. I will get the full report in a few days along with a CD containing my scan. I order one every time so that if I ever need to send it off to some other medical facility it will be easy for me to accomplish.

It was a stressful day, yesterday. The effects of the prednisone (makes me eat more, sleep less, and be super emotional and aggressive--everything becomes an emergency to me) make an already stressful situation much harder.

For example: I had gotten confused about the appointment time and arrived 2 hours early. This made me stressed out as it was very important to me and to Captain Adorable that I was on time to pick him up from camp (and not have him go to after-care). I ended up having to just let Captain Obvious deal with the issue because I was way too wound up about it, even breaking into tears in the lobby. Fortunately everything worked out.

Next time I go for a scan I will have a new doctor (new fellow). Which is good. I give myself a gold star everytime I out last a fellow. This new one will be my fourth.

Along with my happiness there is also sadness and loss. I still long for another child. Sometimes the feeling fades and sometimes it comes rushing back, large and in color. Yesterday it came back. Today I am recovering. For the next few days I am recovering... Why is it that, when I have so much, when I am so rich, so lucky, with a full life and a full heart and the best possible outcome I could have imagined, surrounded and supported by my beloved family and dear friends, why do I still yearn for this child who does not exist?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

First Week of Summer Vacation 2013

Captain Adorable is no longer a kindergartener; the last day of school was on June 14. This last week, his first week of summer vacation has been fun. Its been good getting used to having him with me all the time again, though there have been a few moments of frustration for me and boredom for him because of trying to balance my new work obligations with his desire to be entertained. I want to be with him and play and read and go for adventures all day long, but I had clients to meet, so preparation work before, and follow up work after. I'm making it sound like a big deal, but it wasn't that bad. At home, he played with his legos more than ever before (and did a few experiments with them, including freezing a bunch of lego guys together!) and looked at things through his microscope. He wrote in his journal several times. I took him on several adventures, including swimming at the neighbor's pool, to a walking and biking (5.74 miles!) at a large local park, and of course the three of us went sailing last night--a moonlight sail to look at the supermoon.

Here are photos of a few of the adventures this week.
Frozen lego guys
Dip in the pool
Walk by the water in the park
Supermoon rising over the water as sun sets 

Wind, waves, and supermoon
Just when I've gotten used to being together with my smart, funny, creative, sweet boy, he's off to day camp next week. I'll miss him but I'll get a bunch of work done and I'll exercise everyday!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Craters on the Moon

Last weekend we sailed to the the Rhode River to anchor and spend the night. It was a beautiful day--and lovely weather. The sky was blue and the wind was good. The three of us were together. We saw an osprey carrying a fish in its talons. We looked for jellyfish and saw none. We counted cargo ships anchored in the Bay. I asked Captain Adorable if he could see the moon. He replied, "Yes, I see it. I see craters. They are very small, but on the moon they are very large."

My next CT scan is on Wednesday. As I get closer to it, I wonder if it will turn out to be a small crater or a large one.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My Very Own Law Firm

For a while now I've been moving towards working for pay outside the home. My chosen profession, as you know, is practicing law. For the past few months, I've been doing pro bono work through a couple of local charities to get a taste for how to juggle work and personal life, and have found the adjustment to be challenging but doable.

On Monday, June 3, 2013 I opened my very own law firm. This is wonderful and exciting and scary too. Despite the fact that I am working out of our house for now, starting a law firm requires a large outlay of money up front, and there are no paying clients yet. These are early days...I have clear goals and many hopes for my firm.

My main goal is to have a fulfilling job that allows me to make a difference in the world and at the same time be present and available for Captain Adorable (I figure Captain Obvious can mostly take care of himself at this point haha).

In other news, Captain Adorable played lacrosse this spring, and despite him being one of the youngest on the team (he's only in kindergarten after all), he was invited to represent our sports organization as a member of a team that travelled to a tournament in another county. The tournament team he was on played very well and won both of their games by a solid margin (there is no official score keeping).

There is one more week of school after this one, and then he will be finished with kindergarten. Summer stretches out before us with the promise of swimming pools, sailing, camp, a trip to Oma and Opa's house, and playing outside with friends. Too bad he's sick right now! Yet another nasal infection that turned into an ear infection, ugh. This infection had a result we've not seen in the previous ones--the pressure in his ear got so bad the eardrum was perforated. It hurt him quite a lot! :( He missed two days of school already this week but (fingers crossed) tomorrow he can attend, which makes us both happy.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Adventures with Clifford

Captain Adorable's class recently finished a unit on plants. Among other learning projects, they planted green beans and brought the seedlings home at the end of the unit. We transplanted the seedling into a bigger pot so it could grow bigger and maybe even produce green beans. (Which is ironic for me to put all this care into a green bean plant as I am a life-long green bean hater.)

You may notice a red stuffed toy dog in these photos. The kindergarten class has this dog, "Clifford" and each child gets to bring it home for a few days. Each family is supposed to take photos to put in a book and write about the adventures the child had with Clifford. The adventures are mostly things like "We went to my brother's hockey practice," and "We ate ice cream together," but some are more exciting. For example, the teacher had Clifford first, and she took him on a ski trip! Capt. Adorable had Clifford for an extra long time because he had an extra cool adventure to share! His uncle got tickets to see the Capitals play the Rangers in playoff game #2 from a box at the Verizon Center! Capt. Adorable was really excited and asked his teacher for permission keep Clifford long enough to take him along to the match.

The funny thing is, Capt. Adorable became a Rangers fan that night. He went to the game as a Caps fan but felt so sorry for the Rangers, who were playing an exciting game in an arena full of loud, enthusiastic Caps fans all wearing red (the Rangers' color is blue), that he switched teams to give the Rangers some encouragement, cheered for them and was angry when the Caps won!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wake Up Mama

Captain Adorable almost always wakes up before Captain Obvious and me. He runs into our room via the connecting french doors and wakes me with a gentle kiss and a declaration of love (ok, I do hear his footsteps before I feel the kiss on my cheek). Then I pull back the covers and he climbs in to bed with me to snuggle. If I have to be woken up, this is definitely a good way to wake up!

The other morning he kissed me and said "I love you more than chocolate chip cookies!"

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Yesterday after we had a family after dinner stroll to the marina and back (approx 4/10 of a mile) Captain Obvious gave Captain Adorable a piggy back ride on the way home. Capt. Adorable was in a silly mood (read: tired) and was looking for something to giggle about. I was walking ahead of them, only sort of listening to the silliness. Then I heard Captain Adorable say, "Oops. Where'd that gum go?" And then I started laughing so hard I could barely walk.

Fortunately the gum must have just fallen on the sidewalk, not in Capt. Obvious' hair. Which is a good thing.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Banana Knights

After he got home from school yesterday, Captain Adorable was playing with his knights. I usually don't pay much attention to what he is playing as his games are all variations on the theme of good guy versus bad guy/bad guy becomes good guy. Anyhow, then I noticed he was playing at the table with his knights and some of them were in an interesting jail.

You can see a pumpkin seedling at the top of the first photo. We had to thin out many of them from one of the raised beds and he wanted to take a few to school. His class is doing a unit on plants and he wanted to share the seedlings because they still had the seeds on--thus showing that the plants emerged from those seeds. Looking forward to hearing what happened when he gets home this afternoon.

Been watching some videos and looking at photos from years ago, when Capt. Adorable was a little guy. He was so beautiful and so sweet. I am so lucky to have had such a child. And oh I wish ... sigh, I wish ... I wish ..........

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pie and Scones

There was another luncheon for teachers and staff at Captain Adorable's school. This time it was a breakfast-at-lunch theme and I made scones and savory pie. Of course there are many other contributors--people made quiche and other breakfasty/lunchy dishes.

Of course I had to make 2 pies because Spinach-Broccoli Ricotta Pie is one of Captain Adorable's favorite meals. (He even asked me to make it for his birthday dinner one year.) Captain Obvious was off on a sailing trip with his father and two brothers, so the pie I kept at home (made with all organic ingredients) was a special treat just for my beloved child and me. (The pie I sent to school was not decorated.) Here are some photos.

Ready for the oven (our pie).

Ready to eat.
Ready for the oven (teachers' pie).

Cooling on the counter. The pretty edge did not show after baking.
I also made Cream Scones With Currants--a most traditional scone. Delicious! Look, I had to taste test them ... ok I admit it; I ate more than one!
Ready to cut into individual scones.
Pop them in the oven!
On the cooling racks.
Did not get specific feedback this time, but I know the school staff enjoyed their lunch. And I enjoyed cooking for them.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Scent of Spring

Despite the 4 inches or so of heavy wet snow on March 25, then a few freakishly hot (93F here at our house) last week, it is really, truly Spring around my neighborhood.

The daffodils are just about finished but the tulips are still out and there is green grass and flowering trees all up and down the street.

While walking I noticed that even the smells of spring are here--fresh green grass warm in the sun, the stink from the bartlett pear flowers, the breeze off the water blowing warm and sweet.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sailing, Egg Hunting, Sewing

I've been pretty busy lately, as I think I noted in a previous post. Indeed, I have just accepted another volunteer opportunity--more expungement work. I have an official start date for the opening of my practice, so watch out! ;)

However, there has also been time for adventure, fun, and new projects.

The captains and I went sailing at the end of March. It was pretty cold but we anchored out for the night--kept warm in our sleeping bags. We tested the new auto-tiller. It will definitely make long trips more family-friendly!

We attended two egg hunts this year (the first one was our neighborhood party and the second one was the one we always go to, at the home of family friends).

And, in preparation for a new boating season, in which we hope to spent more time on the water, I have been sewing covers for the boat (a grill cover, a settee cushion cover, and a cover for the auto-tiller).
I've had to make a pattern for the auto-tiller cover, which is more difficult than you might think...let's hope it works out well!

Monday, March 25, 2013


Recently I have become busy. Still not as busy as someone who works full time in addition to being a mother, but busy. I also have the option of stopping my busy-ness anytime I want, unlike someone who goes to a job everyday. However, I do spending a lot of time working for other people. I volunteer for Captain Adorable's school. I am on the yearbook committee and I go to school once a week for an hour to read with children from two kindergarten classes. Now and then I am lucky enough to get to come in to the classroom as a helper or a guest reader. In February I was elected President of my homeowners' association (HOA). In addition to those opportunities, I also have begun volunteering as an attorney for two pro bono organizations.

It makes me happy to volunteer. I like to contribute but I think I get more back! Working with the kindergarteners teaches me to understand the learning experience of beginning readers, which allows me to better help my beloved son to learn to read. My experiences volunteering as an attorney build confidence in my ability as a lawyer. My experience with the HOA makes me feel connected to and proud of my neighborhood and my neighbors.

I am so thankful to have these opportunities. I am so blessed to live this life.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Cancer Research and Treatment

Recently I finished reading The Emperor of all Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. It took me a long time to finish because it is a long book and because it contains a huge amount of information. I took away several things from the book: 

  1. Cancer researchers are human beings just like the rest of us. Cancer research, therefore, is influenced by personal egos and politics, just like everything else people do.
  2. Cancer researchers spent long periods of time barking up lots of wrong trees.
  3. Cancer patients have to thank AIDS patients--specifically ACT UP--for better access to experimental drugs and insurance coverage for clinical trials. ACT UP did a lot of protesting and changed the way that drugs and insurance were regulated by the government. Their courage and persistence has created more options for cancer patients as well as AIDS patients.
  4. The US government has pumped huge amounts of money and legitimacy into cancer research. I hope it continues to do so.
  5. Cancer is us. Cancer is written in our genes. 
  6. Prevention is key. That means cancer screening (mammograms, PAP smears, colonoscopies, et cetera) is a gift. Not a chore! That also means avoiding the carcinogens which we can avoid in our work places, our food, our homes is more important than we currently acknowledge.
  7. I am so lucky to be alive at this time because of the treatments available to me now. Otherwise I probably would have died a year or two after my diagnosis.

I have already returned the book to the library, so I cannot share any quotes, but I found Mukherjee's understanding of what cancer patients experience to be deep and his means of expressing that experience to be both sympathetic and poetic. His scientific/medical explanations are careful and thorough. I learned a lot about cancer from reading the book.

I have just started The Secret History of the War on Cancer by Devra Davis. I'll share my what I learn from that book as well.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Digging For Gold

I finally understand the playdate problem I grumpily posted about back in January. All I have to do is invite the child over for a playdate. The mom doesn't come, so she doesn't have to clear her schedule. Captain Adorable gets to have a friend over, which he loves, and I get to know the kids he likes to play with. I don't feel comfortable sending my child over to a house I've never visited with people I've never met, but obviously this is simply par-for-the-course for many, so I guess I can take advantage of it and host playdates, yay.

Yesterday Capt. Adorable had a friend over. When they got home I gave them a snack (Clif bars, crackers, and an apple) and we sat at the table and talked. They showed me the buckets they had made in school (of paper and glue, how darling) to prepare for their planned activity of the afternoon--digging in our backyard. Apparently they were going to dig for gold, get lots of money, and "buy thousands of books!".

Here they are, hard at work (this was taken from a screened in area of our deck, sorry). You can see there is not much in our backyard besides trees and ivy, but we do have a fire pit and I asked them to dig well away from that.
I am now dreaming of a tree house and a zip line or three. :)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Snowquester 2013

The snow storm predicted for yesterday, being called Snowquester by the Washington Post, was supposed to leave us with 8 inches of heavy wet snow. We got a call from the local electricity company to tell us to prepare for being without power. School was cancelled. Snow plow trucks were every where and the roads were pre-treated to help keep them clear.

Here are two photos from the walk that Captain Adorable and I took around our neighborhood yesterday afternoon.
Fun to wear galoshes and walk through a Big Puddle.

Neighborhood boat ramp. 

Look at all that snow! Haha. We got a call that afternoon saying that schools would be open the next day (today). The Post did an article about who got snow and who didn't that was kind of interesting. My take away lesson: snow is hard to predict.

However, we did get to go to the family skate party to mark the end of the hockey season. That was a lot of fun and rather chaotic. We skated (as I was skating around the rink I noticed how different it was to skate with hockey players--all the children out there were better skaters then me!) and ate pizza and cookies. All the players got trophies and all the coaches got presents. We'll be back next year!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Next CT in Six Months! And busy times...

I emailed my oncologist because I got tired of waiting for news. In answer to my quesitons, he told me that the final report for the CT scan on January 30 was not changed from the preliminary report (which showed no new nodules and no change in current ones). The really exciting news, however, is that I get to wait 6 months for my next CT scan will be scheduled! That's July, baby!

This coming week is extremely busy, with my schedule full of meetings and classes and Captain Adorable's schedule full with 2 hockey practices and the end-of-season family skate and party. We've also got 2 cousins from Captain Obvious' family coming to spend an evening and a night before heading back to Montana (where they live). On top of all that, one evening the captains have to go pick up loaner equipment for the next sport Capt. Adorable is trying out: lacrosse. I would go as well, but I have a previous commitment elsewhere.

We're hoping to go sailing over the upcoming Spring Break. A family adventure--even though it will be cold, I think it will be fun. Our summer plans are being laid now--camp sign-up starts in February, so we've got 2 weeks of camp paid for and scheduled, plus a visit to Oma and Opa has been reserved. ;) I'm even starting to think about my 40th birthday (in September) and how I'd like to celebrate.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bird Feeder Watch Again

Yesterday morning, I saw:

1) Cardinal: female and male
2) Housefinch: female and male
3) Titmouse (don't know how to tell the genders apart)
4) Nuthatch (don't know how to tell the genders apart)
5) Chickadee (don't know how to tell the genders apart)
6) American Gold Finch: female and male
7) Red Bellied Woodpecker (don't know how to tell the genders apart)
8) Junco: male

Friday, February 22, 2013

Prevention Is The Cure

The cost of medical treatments is in the news these days, thanks to the article published by Time Magazine. One aspect of this that people never talk about is how much cheaper it is to prevent disease than to treat it. In the case of cancer, it may be that prevention is the cure. I am reading The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee right now, which is a biography of cancer and cancer treatment. The author drives home the point that the prevalence of cancer, despite the many methods of treatment and many scientific investigations into cancer treatment, is increasing. Why is this the case? Because we do nothing to prevent cancer. One of the reasons that it was so difficult to identify cigarette smoking as a cause of cancer for so many decades is because it was endemic. It is difficult to identify something as omnipresent as the very air one breathes as a source of disease. Some people still do not believe.

If you are motivated to protect yourself from death by cancer, the best place to begin is prevention. If you don't develop cancer or give your body the tools (vitamins and nutrients) necessary to fight cancer before it takes over, you will not die of cancer. Next most important is early detection. If you catch cancer in stage I or II, it is easier to fight off (yes, with the help of drugs and surgery and so forth) than stage IV. Oh, and also cheaper.

How does one prevent cancer? Our old friends diet and exercise are top of the list. Also don't expose yourself to carcinogens like cigarette smoke, asbestos, radon, x-rays, sun light, all those things you already know are bad. How does one detect cancer early? Be aware of your body: perform self exams as recommended by your doctor. Take advantage of tests you are lucky enough to have provided for you by your medical system.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sick Winter of 2013

Like my hat?

This winter is our sickest yet. Captain Adorable is still sick. He has been very helpful and sweet, doing his chores without complaint yesterday. His hives are getting better, but he still has a cough and a snotty nose. He's been sick since January! That's 3 weeks! Captain Obvious was sick and is still hacking up phlegm on his business trip! And yes, I am sick!

I've had a fever since Friday, and it has climbed as high as 102.2. When I woke up with 101 yesterday morning I decided to go to the doctor. The doctor's office required that anyone with flu-like symptoms don a mask to prevent others in the waiting room from getting sick. I knew I did not have the flu, but asked for and received a mask anyhow (because I am a rule follower). There were only 2 other people in the waiting room and I sat far away from them. I was a bit shocked when one of them requested a mask for herself right after I sat down--she said wanted one because I might have the flu so she wanted to wear a mask also. Sigh.

I was tested for the flu and strep and have neither. However, the persistence of my fever (still have it, now, on Tuesday) led the doctor to conclude that it is a bacterial infection. She prescribed antibiotics. I think they are helping. I do not feel as bad as yesterday...but still icky. The doctor cautioned me to rest and drink tea with lots of lemon and honey for my sore throat. :)

Blah. Bring on SPRING!

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Captain Adorable is picking up new words (no, not bad words) left and right. Or maybe I am just starting to notice his use of new words more and more...anyhow, whatever the case may be, I have recently heard him use "unnecessary," "advantage," and "instinct," all correctly in normal conversation.

So, I am sick now (probably not the flu, but feel miserable nonetheless: fever peaked at 102). Captain Obvious is out of town for work and so I am a single parent for a week (or until Oma arrives, yay! on Wednesday). Yesterday I watched entirely too much tv with my little Captain. I know, terrible parenting, but I was miserable and my throat was too sore to read aloud. We were lucky to find a National Geographic marathon of shows about the honey badger (wow those animals are amazing!). We learned all about the honey badger's parenting style (including hearing a cub harass its mother with constant begging for food), diet (they eat anything and everything), hunting techniques, et cetera. We learned that they can survive a puff adder bite (which would kill a lion, a much bigger animal). We saw them kill and eat several cobras. Actually, the honey badger doesn't "eat," it DEVOURS. It is amazing to watch the animal chase down a cobra (even chase the snake up a tree!) kill it, then eagerly bite off its head and destroy the fangs before eating it from neck to tail as if it were a delicacy.

Later, when eating gelato after dinner, Captain Adorable said "I'm going to beg for another bowl like a honey badger begs for a snake."

I thought this was cool because it showed he definitely learned about honey badger behavior! And was able to talk about and apply that knowledge to his own life as a particularly apt metaphor. ;).

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

CT Scan Clear

CT scan was clear. Things look good. It has been a year since the last procedure (RFA on Jan 11, 2012). Get to graduate to more time between scans. Oncologist will check with his attending and his supervisor, then let me know if we are going to just to go 4 month intervals or maybe even 6 month intervals. Will update when I know. :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Back To School and CT Scan Tomorrow

Captain Adorable is finally well enough to go back to school. There was no school on Monday or today, which was probably good since he had a chance to rest. He was coughing pretty badly (so much so that he made himself vomit up his dinner two nights in a row) at night. But last night he slept all night long and today he was doing well. Went to the doctor for a well-child visit and he is in perfect condition--growing and developing well.

I have another CT scan tomorrow. I'll update this blog with the results of course.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Flu, Skiing, Skiing Sick

On Wednesday, January 16, Captain Adorable slept late. Very late: 9:00am! This is an extremely unusual occurrence; so much so that I do not set an alarm on school days because he wakes up everyone an hour or so before we actually have to get out of bed. We were an hour late to school!  When I picked him up from school--actually, from Science Club, which meets for one hour after school, he was eager to get out of there and seemed tired.

At home I felt his forehead and immediately went for the thermometer. 101 (Fahrenheit)! Took him to the doctor the next day, and the temp was gone, so we were offered a flu test but it didn't seem likely and I did not get one. Home again. And the temp went up and the boy was still and quiet and not eating and snot was flowing like crazy. He couldn't breathe out of his nose, willingly used saline spray to get some relief, and used up tissues like nobody's business. Despite running a humidifier and a diffuser with eucalyptus essential oil in his bedroom (as I always do when he is stopped up with snot), I had to put him in the shower at 11:00pm. He woke up because of difficulty breathing from so much snot and then couldn't get to sleep again till after the shower.

The next night, Captain Obvious was home again, yay! I, who never give over-the-counter medications, agreed to give Captain Adorable a decongestant for the night. He needed so much to be able to sleep and rest. It may have helped a little. At about 5:00 that morning I noticed lots of yellow discharge from his eyes. I called the doctor and she diagnosed him as having a mild case of the flu after all, and he had developed viral conjunctivitis. We got prescription eyedrops, another layer of unpleasantness for my already unhappy and sick guy. But he was on the mend. He did have the FluMist, by the way, so the doctor postulated that he was partially protected and that's why his flu was as (relatively) mild as it was.

Sure enough, by Sunday the fever was gone and on Monday he woke up without a temp! We decided to risk it and go on our scheduled ski trip after all, especially since we knew we'd spend Monday travelling, so it was another day of sitting still (aka resting). He was very disappointed that we did not go skiing as soon as we got there, like we did last year. On Tuesday he and Captain Obvious were snotty and coughing. It seemed that they had both caught the cold that was going around on the plane  Capt. Obvious rode home from his most recent business trip. We decided to leave, even called the front desk to tell them we would be checking out that day and would come back later to use up the other 2 nights we had paid for.

Captain Adorable was devastated by this news; he cried and cried, locked himself in the bathroom, and cried some more. (Do you know how pitiful it is when a child already overwhelmed with snot cries desperately?)  Captain Obvious and I looked at our calendars to find out when we could come back. The only time to return would be in late February...and the view from our slope-side window was perfect. The slopes were so snowy and inviting! The weather was quite cold (it was 4 Fahrenheit our first day there), with natural snow was falling and the resort making snow like, yes, I decided that we should stay after all. One of those decisions that was good and bad. We had a wonderful time, but Captain Adorable was sick. He coughed and snotted and coughed and snotted some more. We gave him OTC cough medicine at night to help him sleep and ibuprofen after breakfast to allow him keep up with his desire to ski ski ski all day long. He made leaps and bounds in his skiing ability and could ski blues (intermediates) by the second day. He begged Captain Obvious to take him down a black diamond. They tried one (which was more like a blue, according to my dear husband) and he did fine. He was having the time of his life! We had to buy him new mittens because the super great (ha!) gloves I bought at home were crap and a face cover because the cold wind on his face was chilling. His body was warm and toasty, though, with his technical wear base layer (wool is wonderful), excellent ski pants, and down coat to protect him from the cold.

At the top of the tubing runs. Yes, it is that far down.
After skiing, we went snow tubing on the second night and it was So Much Fun! Laughing and bumping down the tube runs together and separately, running for the magic carpet back up to the top, videoing our trips down...not quite as wonderful as skiing but awesome. And requires no skill at all! I hope we get to do that again. We also went bowling (first time for both Captains), roller skating (on inline skates), and the Captains played minigolf.

The skiing was great. I took my first lesson ever and discovered that skiing is easier than I thought. The last day we were there we woke up to 4 inches of powder. It was amazing. Oh so amazing! I encountered a very happy ski patrol guy outside the lodge at the top of the mountain who remarked that the powder was like Utah powder, no, like Jackson Hole powder! The snow was so good he needed a cigarette! I laughed and said well I didn't want a cigarette but it was fantastic and I loved it. Then he told me this joke: "You can tell a true skier by asking, 'Would you rather have great powder or great sex?' A true skier will always say powder because you can have great sex anytime but you never know when you'll get great powder."

Fear is still a big factor for me. I have learned how to handle myself much better on the slopes and can ski some blues, but those with precipice-like approaches are still too much for me! A cold hard fear grips me tighter and tighter and I cannot escape. I had to walk down one trail (sobbing). After that, I was unable to get back to my confident happy feelings. My belly had stopped aching but then I discovered I could no longer move the tail of my right ski and fear's grip tightened once again. I soaked my goggles with tears and somehow got down the green the Captains had wanted to share with me. The next run was my last of the day (have to get back to the lodge somehow) but I could barely make it down the familiar green slope I had confidently skied several times already that morning, not to mention the day before. (To make matters worse, I discovered that I could have gotten to that green trail on the other side of the mountain by walking a bit, which is no fun in skis, but way more doable for me than encountering the precipice that the top of that blue run...and the fear and the sorrow and the anger...).

I took Captain Adorable to the doctor the morning after we got home. She said that it was a classic case of secondary infection--a bacterial infection that you get right after overcoming a viral infection. His nose was inflamed (swollen inside), full of mucus, and both of his ears were infected (one quite a lot). I lamented not bringing him in sooner and she said not to worry. She prescribed antibiotics. He's had 3 doses now and he's running around the house, obviously feeling better and better.

I suppose I should have gone home and taken him to the doctor...but I think it was worth it to stay and ski and have the adventure we had. And so does Captain Adorable.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The F Word

Yesterday I volunteered in the computer lab in Captain Adorable's school. They go to the computer lab once a week; yesterday they were working on a research project to learn about animals. I like helping in the computer lab because the children sit quietly at their desks and I can solve every problem they come across. :)

Afterwards, I stayed to have lunch with my son. I had not brought lunch, but just sat at the table with him while he and his classmates ate. The other boys at the table told me how one boy--let's call him Joe--had recently gotten in trouble for saying the F word. I am surprised that a kindergarten aged child would know this word but I suppose I should not be! I did not ask any questions about the word because I thought I could easily whip up excitement around the word and I did not want to do that.

Captain Obvious is in California for work again, so it was just the two of us at home. When we sat down to eat dinner (I made mashed potatoes, along with protein and vegetable, so he was happy!), I asked about the F word. Capt. Adorable told me that Joe says the word all the time--at snack, during center time, et cetera, but Joe did not know it was a bad word. I asked him if he knew what the word was. Capt. Adorable thought Joe was saying "fox." I was happy to hear that he didn't know the word because of course if he did know it, that would mean he had heard it before.

We talked about the word and he asked what it really was. I told him. I hope I made the right decision. My reasoning was that if I do not tell him and he tries to figure it out, he might get in trouble. But if I tell him and discuss it with him openly in the safety and privacy of our home, then the curiosity is lessened and he can avoid ever saying it (even accidentally) in a setting where it will get him in trouble. I told him that it is a very bad word, and there are only a couple of words that are worse. He asked what those words were, but I said I'd tell him when he's older. He asked if the word is as bad as the word "stupid" and I told him it is much worse and that even grownups get in trouble for saying it, which surprised him. He wanted to know more about that, and I said that people don't like to be friends with those who talk in a rude way and it would be harder for people who talk like that to get a job. Which is somewhat true...

I always want to be honest with my child and to teach him the proper ways to behave while at the same time letting him know that he can ask me anything. But of course I do not know if I am doing it right. Many things (like using bad words) are complex subjects and I cannot explain all the nuances to him in one sitting. But I try to give him the information he needs to 1) stay out of trouble and 2) understand. All I can do is my best, and for me, open communication and truth (age-appropriate truth) is the best.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bird Watching Report

My back yard feeder. 

My feeder is becoming more popular among the finch crowd. I now see both American Goldfinches and House Finches on a daily basis. I took the photo above with my iPhone from my kitchen window, so it is not the best image, but you can see 3 American Goldfinches are there! I decided to take a photo because there were 5 sitting there, but by the time I got the camera on, only 3 were still there.

This morning, while sitting in my office chatting online with my brother, I saw the following species:
1) Cardinal
2) Titmouse
3) Chickadee
4) House Wren
5) Dark-eyed Junco
6) Red-bellied Woodpecker
7) House Finch
8) American Goldfinch
9) Nuthatch

At one point there was a flock (8 birds total, at least 3 males) of House Finches just having a great time eating and socializing at the feeder while a House Wren hopped around the deck. So beautiful! It is difficult to tear myself away from my bird watching to go clean the bathroom but I have to. My parents are on their way here for a weekend visit.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Captain Adorable Is 6!

Captain Adorable had a birthday recently, and it was a busy day. It was a busy weekend, in fact! On Saturday we got up at 6:00 to be at the ice rink by 6:40 so we could have all his equipment on so he'd be ready to hit the ice at 7:00. That afternoon our family went skating with another family at that same rink. Oh the ice is fantastic there! I loved being able to go so fast! Then out to dinner with them and home not-too-late since we had to get up early the next day for hockey again.

On Sunday we got to sleep in (haha): the alarm went off at 7:00 so that Captain Adorable could be suited up and ready to hit the ice at 8:00. Then we came home and he opened his presents--the big hit was a "'mote control truck" from Grandpa and Lita. He loved the Fly Guy books I got him (at his request) too. Then he and Captain Obvious hung out and played and did some more work on the china cabinet Capt. Obvious is refinishing while I went for a walk. We cut the next event a little close and arrived  just in time for Captain Adorable to join his basketball team for the team picture at 1:20. Then at 2:00 he played in his first basketball game!

Here are photos from the day. I decided a while ago to no longer publish photos of the Captains' faces. That is why when I do show photos of my son and my husband, they are out of focus or only show the top or back of heads. Still, I think you get the idea I am trying to share with these images.
Almost ready to hit the ice. 

Playing with the 'mote control truck while waiting for  Daddy to install the batteries in the 'mote.

On the basketball court. He's green number 1.

You'd think he would be tired from all that activity and excitement, but no, he was as energetic as ever. My tough hockey player! My little love who can skate faster than me and stop on a dime. My kindergartner trying his best to play basketball with his taller, older teammates. My tenacious pumpkin, who, despite the fact that none of his team mates passed him the ball during the basketball game, kept trying and participating. My sweet boy who loves to make poop, fart, and butt jokes. My darling whose reading skills are progressing and can count to 300 by 5s (among other math skills mastered). My persistent, confident boy who continues to make new friends at kindergarten while remembering his old ones from preschool. My helpful guy who now has 2 chores at home (setting the table for dinner and putting the clean dishes away from the dishwasher). He loves to make art. He loves to look at books. He loves to play games on the PS3 and the Wii. He loves to play football with his friends at recess. He sings lullabies with me when I put him to bed at night. The inventor of the hilarious nose playdate and the word "fartilated" (which is like ventilated). He brags a bit too much and sometimes is ungrateful. Oh I love my darling Captain Adorable and I am very proud of him. He is a well-behaved, sweet, confident, intelligent, funny, brave, sensitive, handsome, stoic, persistent, expressive, fiercely loving boy.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Playdate Problem

As the mother of an only child, I have some different challenges than a mother of two or more children would have. For instance, I feel it is my responsibility to make sure that my child gets plenty of social opportunities. This seems fairly easy, right? I contact other parents and try to schedule playdates. For quite a while, this worked very well. However, the transition to kindergarten has made playdate scheduling more challenging. There are lots of kids in class who already know each other, and so their parents seem unmotivated to schedule playdates with new kids. There are kids who would like to have playdates with Captain Adorable but with siblings, it seems there is no hope of ever scheduling a time to have a playdate my son. Of course if I can somehow get to know the mom, then there is a chance she will let her son come over to our house without her, which we have done with one family. It just seems so hard. I guess families with more than one child are less motivated to have playdates since their children have playmates at home already, or because it is difficult to work around the schedules of more than one child? I feel I am failing him in this way.

We attended a New Year's Eve party at the house of some new friends, where we have been a few times before (and had them over to our place). There were a bunch of boys there, who have been there before, and once again this one pair of brothers worked the group so as to exclude Captain Adorable. It is painful for me to watch him persevere, to keep trying to participate, to take the little leavings they will allow him...but when they started running upstairs and slamming the door in his face I was ready to leave. He was unhappy too. Captain Obvious told me to relax and I tried...drank too much champagne to do so...but didn't want to make the situation worse by alienating the grownups either. Once those boys left the situation changed for Captain Adorable and he was included again. I know that they will be there do I help my son? Do I help or let him suffer alienation? Neither choice really seems right.