Festigals

Occasionally I get to watch Kathie Lee and Hoda get wasted… uh, do their portion of the Today show. Every now and then they have a segment that’s really worthwhile. Today, Hoda held up a bedazzled bra that was made for her by a jewelry artist. The bra will be auctioned off as part of a fundraiser being held in New Orleans this June. It sounds like a great time.
Festigals is all about celebrating women while enjoying the cultural sites and sounds of a very unique American city. The bra auction is a luncheon called Bodacious Bras for a Cause and the money raised will be donated to the Cancer Association of Greater New Orleans, “an organization that provides services and treatment for local women affected by cancer”.
Without knowing more than I’ve just read on their website (www.festigals.org), I like this event for so many reasons. It’s a weekend designed for and run by women, New Orleans tourism benefits, awareness is being raised about cancer and, most of all, 100% of the auction’s proceeds go to aiding women in need. The weekend has it all: shopping, site seeing, spas and philanthropy. And you know the libations will be flowing if they got Hoda down there. I might just have to get my jazz hands ready and head down to the ol’ bayou.

Memorial Day

When you’re young, Memorial Day often means watching a parade, hearing the marching bands and covering your ears as cannons are set off. You get a little older and maybe now you’re marching in the parade, rejoicing in the camaraderie of whatever troupe you’re a part of and feeling pride in your patriotic outfit. Finally, you reach an age when you’re examining a holiday for its meaning and not just the reason you get the day off of work. I thought a lot today about honoring our servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives to protect our freedom. Our country celebrates in memoriam.
I don’t want a funeral when I die, I’d like a memorial party. Sure, I don’t deserve a parade, but then again, I probably won’t die defending Americans’ rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We’ve been partying all weekend remembering the soldiers fallen in war. And although I was thinking about those who have given their lives for our country, I also thought about the people I have known who lost their own fights. Their lives were celebrated in my mind today too, because most people die after fighting some sort of battle. Unfortunately, it’s often a battle with cancer. (I’m hoping to dodge the draft for that one).
Thank you both to the service people who have protected my country and my freedoms and also many thanks to those who have affected my life on a more personal level. Neither group has been, or ever will be, forgotten.

Farewell Cody

My mother-in-law put her sweet old dog to sleep yesterday. Cody was an Italian Greyhound who, as a puppy, rode in her handbag in the grocery store. She loved to see the faces of the little kids who spotted him in her bag. The adults never noticed. My girls loved Cody. The little one would laugh at him while the big one offered him dog biscuits. Cody got about 10,000 biscuits from her… last Sunday. He will be missed!
Although deciding the fate of a living being is the hardest thing to do, it’s a blessing that we can aide our beloved pets as they ease into death so gracefully. They don’t have to suffer a long and painful illness; their quality of life never has to be compromised. It’s almost cruel that our human companions don’t have this option.
It’s especially excruciating for grieving family members to decide how to honor these ailing loved ones’ last wishes if they haven’t been told what they are.
I know that I need to make a living will before I go into surgery. I have been counseled to do so due to the obvious risks. I think everyone should have a living will. Life is unpredictable. This is morbid, but say tragedy struck and someone had to decide (without a directive) how to handle a loved one’s passing when doctors have said they would not have quality of life anymore. I think it would depend on the personality of the individual deciding. Put them on a respirator for as long as it took scientists to find a cure (the optimist)? Take them home to die a peaceful death without machines in the comfort of their home (the realist, perhaps)? Or pull the plug but freeze their head cryogenically for the future when we all know our bodies will be robotic anyway (the sci-fi lover)? Whatever happens, if you don’t have a living will, you better think about the personality of your next of kin and what they would do to you. Drafting a little legal paperwork doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?

Conspiracy Theory

You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.  It’s an old saying, but I try to keep it in mind when I’m dealing with people. Specifically those who are supposed to be helping me and have severely disappointed me thus far, like the ones at the local radiology office.  It’s been about a month since I had the ultrasound on my liver and I finally got the comparison report this evening at 8:30pm.  Wait for it…. inconclusive.  Shocked?  I’m not.
After the waiting, the persistent phone calls, the attempts for sympathy (yes, I finally stooped that low), I received that very revealing evaluation.  So I asked myself, what kind of business are they running?  And a light went off… that’s just it, it’s a business.  Since I was little, I viewed doctors as noble individuals who sacrifice their family time to help others.  Sure, they get paid for it and they chose the profession; but with the brain power it takes to be any kind of doctor, they didn’t have to use their intelligence for the sole purpose of helping others. Maybe it’s because my dad is a doctor and there were people calling our house at all hours with dental emergencies.  He never flinched, always picked up and offered his knowledge to ease their pain or anxiety.  I think this is why I’m feeling so disgruntled. 
When I asked why there was such a delay in getting the comparison report it was because the doctor who read my ultrasound was on vacation.  Totally legit, it’s a holiday weekend coming up, people take vacations.  My follow up question was whether I could get another doctor to take a look and make the comparison.  The answer: “Our doctors don’t comment on each other’s reports.  Once one has read an image, no one else can look at it.”  Is that the most ridiculous thing ever?  Where are the checks and balances?  Government, as corrupt as it is rumored to be, even has a system in place to double check their judgements. As a patient, I would like more than one doctor looking at my images, especially when they can’t decide if they’re looking at the right suspicious mass on my liver.  I feel like they’re punishing me for asking them to go out of their way to … do their job!  My conspiracy theory is that they don’t really need another MRI but they can make a bunch of money off of ordering me to have one there.  So, after thinking about it and having my husband and my mother come up with the same conclusion on their own, I’ve decided I’m going to head back into the city and have another ultrasound.  It’s a cheaper test than an MRI and done at the hospital where I will have my surgery.  While I initially didn’t want to schlep back in for a little ultrasound, now, I think it’s totally worth it.  Get me back in the hands of the competent, thorough doctors that spotted this crap in the first place.  Maybe I’ll make some appointments to meet some plastic surgeons when I go in and this time, I’m really going to Serendipity!!

Wonderful Wednesday

I feel relaxed and accomplished today. This is rare for me, so I’m trying to bask in it. The day didn’t start out all sunshine and fairy wings. The baby woke up before 6am and by 9am my two year old had a little “accident”. Potty training isn’t really that much fun. I also had the pleasure of speaking to my doctor’s office and the radiologist’s office about three times each in the past 24 hours. That’s right, still no results on the liver (hopefully tomorrow). But as the day rolled on, things got better.
The baby took a two hour morning nap. I got to make phone calls, to take care of some of my to-dos, started a load of laundry all while the big one was happy amusing herself. Then we went to a little playdate. The gift of free time came at 12:30 when my mother and mother-in-law came to kick me out. I took a Pilates class, had a healthy lunch, got my nails done and topped it off by going to the bank and the grocery store!!!! I even got to read some of my book. So rejuvenating!
Thanks to the Grandmas and this break in my day, my week really, I was patient and fun when it was time for dinner and bedtime. We even had a dance party. I’m thinking my post-Pilates endorphins had something to do with this mood too.
I hate to work out. I like to sing “I-I-I work out” (I don’t go as far as “I’m sexy and I know it” but I do wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle). Pilates is the only form of exercise I actually enjoy. It’s enough of the balletic body movement I loved as a young ballerina and enough of the strengthening and toning I need as an adult. My spunky two year old wanted to pretend I was a horse the other day after she rode the carousel for the first time this past weekend. Hopping on my back when I didn’t expect it threw my back out for a day. I was surprised that that was all it took. She’s barely 30 pounds, soaking wet. I thought, I better strengthen my core before surgery or I’m not going to be able to propel myself out of my recliner when using my pecs and arms really aren’t an option. With a little chuckle, my husband just said, “yup, you’re getting old babe”. I not so gently reminded him that although he will forever look 18, he’s exactly 1 year, 3 months and 2 days older than I am. Let’s see what happens when he’s playing Suddenly Secretariat!

First Bras

I admit it. The TV shows I watch can be pretty embarrassing. No, not to me, but to my dad. He cannot understand why I watch The Real Housewives of Anywhere. I’ve brought shame to his household, but what can I say? I’m a Bravo junkie. I did stop watching the Orange County housewives because while they are the originals, I just can’t deal with any of them anymore. At least Jersey has valuable lessons like how to make awesome meatballs (you fry them, no baking – thanks Jacqueline), how bedazzling something/anything is always appropriate, and whether your bubbies (that’s Jersey for boobs) are real or fake you gotta flaunt those puppies all over town.
While I love their fondness for showing, adjusting and talking about their bubbies, I was disappointed to see a segment on one of their ten year old girls getting her first bra. This poor kid has had so many awful moments captured for our entertainment over the years. Her parents are not shielding her from anything, not protecting her innocence and not allowing her to experience this milestone of womanhood without cameras everywhere. Sadly, this excruciating moment will only be a drop in the bucket when she talks to her therapist or to the cameras when she does her E! special: Child Reality Stars, Where Are They Now?
I was forcing my husband to watch with me last night (he says he hates these (bleeping) shows) when I saw the horror in his eyes as this little girl was embarrassed in front of the nation. I could see his projection to when our daughters are going to ask for their first bras. It was as if “Boobs, Bras, Boys, oh shit!” flashed across his forehead displaying his future fears. I don’t know if he saw my frightened look as I thought “Boobs, Bras, Breast Cancer, oh shit!”. I couldn’t help but worry about whether or not my girls would be able to enjoy the exciting ritual of getting their first bras. I’m going to have to hide my anxiety from them so they have fun while I’m thinking about whether or not they’ll have the gene and if they’ll be able to keep their own boobs forever unlike their mommy. Thank God the scene ended and the usual drama of the ridiculous ensued to distract me from myself. I may not be able to protect my girls from the breast cancer gene, but I can support them with whatever decision they make regarding how to handle it. Thank goodness we have several years before we cross this bridge. Until then, I’m just going to have to protect them by not letting them watch this horribly entertaining programming.

Time

I cannot seem to get out of the house in a timely manner and this always irks me. I hate being late, but am perpetually so. I’ve been thinking about time management lately and in thinking about time, I’m reminded of college when I studied quantum mechanics as part of my physics major. There is a lot of heady stuff to discuss regarding the concept of time. Things any normal person never needs to think about. Lots of Einstein references and questions like “if you are carrying a ten foot pole while you run at the speed of light, will the pole contract enough to fit into an eight foot barn?” This proposition of thought could be the sole reason I switched my major from physics to engineering. I found way too much wrong with the question. When would this ever be a viable situation? Who can actually run at the speed of light? Why would anyone need to fit a ten foot pole into an eight foot barn?
I realized I prefer problem solving in real world scenarios using the application of physics. Engineering. Thinking about time as such an abstract concept never excited me and required way too much reading and theoretical debate. Thinking about time now makes me a little bit anxious.
It’s almost as if I have a countdown ticking away in my head. T – 4 months until surgery. The list of what I want to accomplish in that time keeps growing.
My mom suggested I reconsider the timing, having the surgery sooner rather than waiting until the fall because having it hang over my head is a bit stressful. However, the thought of not accomplishing all of my to-dos before the surgery is even more daunting. Is it better to just get it over with or get everything I need to do done granting me peace of mind before I go under? Can I fit 4 months of tasks into 1 month if I run really fast? I don’t think Einstein is going to help me with this one.

Perfection

Channel 4 predicted today would be “almost perfect”. They were talking about the weather, but somehow they foretold the overall tone of our day. Not a cloud in the sky, warm enough to be playing outside, cool enough not to get overheated. My girls and I were in great moods. It’s like the “perfect storm” had passed.
If only all days could be like today. If only we didn’t have adversities to overcome or health concerns to address and we could all just have fun basking in a beautiful day all the time. My two year old had a great day at school, used the potty at home, put her sunscreen on (I bribed her with m&m’s, hooray for a new solution to that problem!), she was polite, she shared so well on the playground and actually listened to me too. To top it off, she ate her whole dinner and then went to sleep 20 minutes before usual. It was a banner day here. I’m almost moved to tears when I think about pushing her on the swings while the baby, strapped to me in her carrier, giggled at her sister. I hope everyone had a day as awesome as ours was. We all deserve a break in the clouds. A day to enjoy the blessings in our lives shining on us like rays of sunlight. Channel 4 was wrong about one thing: “almost”.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

My daughter is a mimic. I have to watch my language all the time, you wouldn’t believe the tirade of expletives that are coursing through my mind at any given time. Well, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, maybe you can. It’s hard for me to stop myself from swearing knowing that she is a little sponge who picks up on the tiniest droplet of linguistic nuance. When she first started talking in sentences, she would pause every few words and say, “but…ummm…”. It was pretty adorable. I kept wondering where that was coming from until I was talking one day and caught myself saying those same two words every time I needed a pause in my speech. So it shouldn’t surprise me that she is copying whatever her friends are doing.
My concern is, of course, that she is not stopping to think for herself about whether her actions are right or wrong. For example, at a playdate today, her friend picked up a decorative object. My little one did the same, they both walked to the edge of the stairs and raised their objects up over their heads. The friend smashed hers to smithereens on the staircase while I gasped. I could see the wheels turning in my little copycat’s head as I said, “do NOT throw that, don’t even think about it (insert name with middle and last for maximum effect)”! Obviously, I had no effect on her and the desire to be like her peer far outweighed her desire to obey me. Smash!
Red flag! Is this a preview of adolescence? God, I hope not. How do I get her to think for herself? To have the confidence to do her own thing, the right thing? To use her own creativity to do things differently?
I’ve been thinking about these new implants for my reconstruction that use gel instead of silicone or scalene. They are supposed to feel and look more natural and although they’ve been on the market for many many years, they aren’t FDA approved. Of course that worries me, but is it enough for me not to explore the option? I need to do my own research, form my own independent thought to really decide what I want. I don’t want to let anyone choose what’s right for me.
This is what I want my toddler to learn in life. She doesn’t have to follow what her peers do. She doesn’t have to throw and smash something to have fun with her friends. It can still be fun playing on your own terms until you poop in your pants and step in shit. Yeah, that’s how that awesome playdate ended today.

Great Expectations

I’ve had a short fuse lately. My patience is meager, at best. I’m not sure if it’s just the compilation of circumstances or the pressure I put on myself or PMS. Whatever it is, it’s keeping me from being the mom I want to be; the mom I think I was before I had #2. I had so much more patience with my older one then. Maybe because she was my sole focus or because she wasn’t testing me as much or because I felt guilty about bringing someone else into the world who would force her to share me (and everything else). But most of all, I think it’s that now I have greater expectations.
My husband used to marvel at my patience for our older one and ask me why I couldn’t exhibit the same with him. My response was, “I don’t expect from her what I do from you and my expectations grow with age”. I never get annoyed at the baby from whom I expect nothing. And I expect a lot now of our almost 3 year old while she’s barely out of the toddler stage. Why do I expect her to act like such a big girl? Why do I think she should snap to and stand at attention like a good little soldier? (ok, paying attention to me sometimes would be nice). I don’t want her to think of me like a drill sergeant, I want her to think of me as her greatest supporter and closest friend. Shouldn’t that start now? Obviously, this is easier said than done and I’m going to have to keep working at strategies to be this wonderful mom creature. I’m not there yet, but with this new mindset, today was better.
I saw myself start to snap today when I heard her water bottle slam to the ground in a parking garage. I was about to say “why’d you do that?” in my stern voice when I realized I already know why. Just to see what would happen. She needs to do these things. She needs to see what consequences will come of her actions. Is a dropped bottle really the worst thing? “No use crying over spilled milk”. I think that saying is really directed towards the moms.
Extrapolating this further and examining why I get upset about lots of things in life really comes back to my expectations. If I have something in my head and it doesn’t work out that exact way, I get disappointed. Going into my surgery and reconstruction, I’m going to have to come up with a way not to envision unrealistic results. As my dad has said, “Expect the worst, hope for the best. That way you’re never disappointed”.