Thursday, December 29

Yes, Virginia, Oprah was right

It's almost 2012. I cannot even begin to tell you how amazed I am that it's already almost 2012. Yikes!

Instead of the usual New Year's resolution nonsense, I think we should start a new tradition: a New Year's gratitude-tion. Or something like that. (Help me come up with a catchy name, folks!)

Oprah Winfrey used to have a regular topic of discussion somehow related to gratitude. I remember wondering why Oprah had the nerve to tell people to journal things they were grateful for. I mean, really, she had everything. Or so it seemed. Rubbing it in seemed rude. Years later, after some thought, I decided that she may have seemed to have it all, but did she? She's really the only one that knows. But, given the few things that have been reported about her past, maybe she had something there. Ya know? If regularly remembering the things she was grateful for helped her, who was I to judge?

Now that Oprah's off the air, I'm sure her gratitude journal idea will wither away along with her "favorite things" shows. (Damn it! Why couldn't I have been an audience member just once?!) And while I don't know if following all of Oprah's advice would be wise, her gratitude idea has merit. Lots of merit. And I think it's high time more people took the time to appreciate what we already have. Preferably on a daily basis, but at least once a year. No time like the present, right?

I thought I'd give you all some ideas to get you started. You may or may not agree with me on the actual things I'm grateful for, but this hopefully will spark some thoughts on what you're grateful for in your own life.

My Gratitude List 2011
I am grateful for:
  1. This life I've been given (literally and figuratively)
  2. My family
  3. My friends
  4. My health (OK, this one has to be on my list for various reasons. Cliche' I know.)
  5. Continuing my journey through healing
  6. Creating stronger bonds with my friends
  7. My travels, both past and future
  8. Knowing the difference between want and need
  9. Still being able to fulfill some wants in life
  10. YOU! My friends and readers
That's just a start to my list. I think it should be enough to get you started, too. Some might be the same, some are sure to be different. I usually list a few silly things that I'm grateful for, so I remember that in life, silliness is a necessity. It helps us break the tension, and keeps things in perspective.

So, in the immortal words of Oprah, is this your AHA moment? Are you ready to embrace all that you're grateful for? I promise, it will do you good. It will make you feel more peaceful, more joyful, and more aware. And isn't that what it's all about anyway?

Friday, December 23

Whaduyaknow?

Huh. Sometimes I'm amazed at things.

Recently, my husband, on a whim, wondered what would come up on Google if he typed "mommy blogs boise." This is what he found:


I have been at times haphazard in posting. I have been laxadazical (is that a word?) and all over the map with what I choose to post. I have had little interaction with the unknown people that might possibly be reading the blog at all. It has been a strange experience to have a conversation with myself, all the while hoping someone somewhere would read it and fell some sort of connection. 
I'm more than a little excited to see a few comments from my last post. Actually, you have no idea how excited I am about that! :-) Thank you for reading it. Thank you for commenting. And, mostly, thank you for getting it.

Monday, December 19

What if heaven is now?

Lately, I've been thinking. What with all the Christmas cheer, and holiday stories of generosity... what about the rest of the year?

I mean, poor people are still poor when it's not Christmastime.

Homeless people still need shelter and a nice meal, even when it's not Christmastime.

Children still need something special now and then, even when it's not Christmastime.

Not only did that get me thinking about what my family will be doing throughout the year for those less fortunate, it got me thinking about things more existential.

What if the "heaven" that so many people are looking forward to experiencing in the afterlife is actually here? And what would happen if we all treated this life as if it were heaven? How much suffering and pain could we eliminate? How many lives could we change?

As we all prepare to celebrate Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Festivus ("the feats of strength"), etc) please take a moment to notice what's happening around you. Ask yourself how you can keep the holiday spirit going throughout the year.

  • Can you pay for the coffee the person in line behind you is going to order? 
  • Can you serve a meal to the homeless at the shelter sometime in July?
  • Can you bring needed items to the food bank in February, to replenish the food already given out for the holidays?

Big or small, what can you do to make the world a better place, and how often can you do it?

I know I now have a new goal: to do something for someone else at least once a month for 2012. My kids will get in on it, too, since I'm giving them no choice. ;-)

Heaven on Earth. It is attainable. And it starts with you!

Tuesday, November 29

WTH?

What the h-e-double hockey sticks has happened? I mean, my goodness, it's already the end of November!!

I don't know about you, but my life has been a bit nutzo lately. Between the kids' activities, schoolwork, holidays and vacation, I hardly have a minute to breathe! And since when does a 5th grader need hours of homework every night? Don't even get me started on the amount of make-up work he has been given after we took a 2 week vacation. Oy! If I had known the extent of the work he's expected to make up, I might have reconsidered our vacation.

Since I didn't know, however, I'm so very glad we went. Where did we go? If any of you reading this know me personally, you already know... HAWAII! Maui, actually. I'm embarrassed (slightly) to say that this was my 7th trip to the Hawaiian islands. More embarrassing than that is that my children have already been to various Hawaiian islands 3 times already in their short little lives. How lucky is that?!

I think we might be spoiling them a little.

I swear I was meant to live in weather that good. The temperature when we got home... mid-40's. Which means, of course, that those great tan lines I got while there were lost on all my friends, since I was covered from head to toe in nearly all my clothing to keep warm.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, spending it with friends, family, or whomever you find the most comfort in. May the holiday season bring you joy and beauty, and may your stress levels stay at sea level. *wink*

Wednesday, October 19

We did it!

Wow! What an amazing experience today with my friends!

In case you didn't hear, I was on the radio this afternoon. My friends Carrie and Ronda host a weekly show on our local community radio (It's Not One Thing, It's Everything), and they had asked me to come on as a guest to talk about my breast cancer story. Those girlies work hard to get things ready each week! I was fascinated watching them do their thang. And here I thought they just walked in at 2 minutes till, and talked for an hour. That proves that they are really great at what they do, cause they make it look easy!

Anyhoo, between the 3 of us, we talked so much that I forgot to talk about the few things I wanted to get in. Oh well. If anyone listening to the show today is reading this blog, you'll get the gist of what I wanted to say. Especially if you read my last post.

So thanks, ladies, for giving me a voice. A place to encourage others to live life on their own terms and dream big. I puffy heart you both!

Sunday, October 16

The month of dread (and the post that nearly wasn't)

I have been avoiding this post all month.

Pinktober. Ugh.

I don't know if it's just because I'm now a "survivor", or if it's because the pink-washing has become more prevalent in the last 5 years, but these days I can't go anywhere without being bombarded by every NFL player and toilet paper package wrapped in pink, with promises of donating a portion of the proceeds to breast cancer. Research or otherwise, these things are not usually very specific on how much money will be donated, or exactly which charity organization will receive the funds.

Which only makes me think they're being vague on purpose, and they're so very grateful that we consumers are so generous and wanting to help people, that we'll buy up all that stuff with the pink ribbon and feel great about the whole thing. What a boondoggle!

Now, I'm not saying every single thing awash in pink is being deceptive. I'm sure there are some companies who really do donate a significant portion of the proceeds to reputable charities. But I'm sure there are those that don't, too. And that just really chaps my hide! This is a great site that explains pinkwashing and those companies who are doing the right thing.

This year, I have some amazing friends I met through YSC (Young Survival Coalition) who have some great ways you can actually make a difference in a survivor's life, and even help fund more research in metastatic disease.

Debbie Cantwell began the Pink Daisy Project soon after her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. She is doing amazing work for our fellow sisters.

Sally Drees decided there needed to be more donations directed to actual survivors and research for metastatic disease. To that end, she started the 31 Day Project. Find it on Facebook, and learn more about the idea.

Aren't you glad I didn't slap up a bunch of statistics? Believe me, I thought about it. (Especially the one about an American dying from breast cancer every 14 minutes.) But really, statistics lie. Upon diagnosis, I had an 86% chance of survival. As a young mom, those odds are not great. Not bad, and certainly I know women who've been given worse. But really, each one of us are not a statistic. We are fighting every day to continue living.

Thank you for coming here and reading my random thoughts. Happy October!!



Wednesday, September 28

My leap of faith begins now

Have you ever had a friend encourage you to do something you've always thought about, but never really thought you could make a go of? I just had the most wonderful lunch with some old friends, and they have inspired me to give up writing in the dark.

I met them all through my children's childcare. As a non-profit, they had a board that I was privileged enough to be asked to join years ago. It was a wonderful experience for me. I felt like I was giving something back to my community, helping those that truly needed it, and making new friends along the way. To this day, they are people I greatly respect and admire, both professionally and personally. Every single one of them have huge hearts and have helped to create a stronger community.

Since we haven't seen each other in a few years, we all went around the table catching everyone up on what we were all up to. It was so great to hear what everyone is doing, and shocking to hear how old all our kids are! (BTW, that does not make any of us old. ;-)) I talked about how I'm going to be a guest on my friends' radio program next month (It's Not One Thing, It's Everything-- 89.9FM KRBX Boise), and how I didn't really know what I was going to talk about. And then I explained what I really want to inspire people to do. Get out there, and quit waiting to follow your dream!

Anyone that knows me knows that I could spend hours talking about all sorts of crazy stuff, but that would never be helpful to anyone! So, I thought I'd ask here if there was anything you guys would love to hear someone like me talk about? Keep in mind, this will be in Pinktober (October for you mainstream, non-initiated folks.) So, I'm sure there will be some information about breast cancer in there.

What I don't want to do is talk about awareness. My God, I think by now we're all aware of breast cancer! We know it exists, and that lots more women (and men) are being diagnosed than ever before. You can't walk down the aisle of any store next month without seeing pink plastered to every possible saleable opportunity. I'm probably going to spend more time talking about how to truly help someone with cancer. Or any illness for that matter. How you can make a difference and fund a cure.

But I'd also love to talk about whatever you want to hear about. Do you want to hear about signs/symptoms? How about statistics? Would you rather hear about my personal journey, or should I make it more impersonal? I want to make my time on air as informative and interesting as I can. If you have any thoughts, feel free to post a comment here, or send me a personal message at CancerMommy1{at}g m a i l {dot} c o m.

And a big huge thank you to my friends from Giraffe Laugh, who inspire me and push me to take a leap of faith now and then. :-)

Wednesday, September 21

Ouch! My achin' Chakras!

I don't know if I've blogged about this before, but I have been a bit addicted to yoga lately. A neighbor has been teaching yoga for over 20 years, and I finally started taking classes this summer. Now, I've taken yoga classes before. Lots of 'em. But about the 3rd class into it, I had an strange experience that really helped open me. I don't know if it's because I have alot of emotional stuff to get through or what, but I had a moment in all the zen of focusing on myself that just changed me.

Tears, lots and lots of tears. I felt like in all the pain of certain poses (since I'm not exactly a yogi, some poses are very difficult for me) I reached a place inside myself that was in just as much pain. It welled up and overfloweth me in that moment. I couldn't hold back, and ended up in child's pose in a loud puddle of tears and sobbing. Even though I didn't know most of my fellow practitioners well, I felt completely safe thanks to my neighbor. It was one of the most healing things I have experienced in my life.

It was clear in that moment that I have not moved beyond my cancer. Oh sure, I've been celebrating my 5 year mark, and living life without worrying about cancer these days. I was sure that I had successfully weathered the emotional storm of cancer and navigated my way through it unscathed. As that one moment taught me, impossible!

I have an immense appreciation for those of you who can easily clear toxic emotions. I have always been in the camp of "stuff it and it'll go away." Turns out emotions have a strange way of coming back up when you least expect it.

I've been working on this for months now. It has been a unique experience for me. Since I've had such a positive experience so far, I decided to take my instructor's Chakra class. It was a 2-day class, with information and explanation of Chakras on day 1, and an experiential component on day 2. I have had some experience with Chakras before, when I've had healing touch therapy. So, I was no stranger to any of that stuff. But participating in day 2's program has left me feeling... strange, confused, and lost.

The actual thing we did as a group is nothing that strange-- just some breathing in a particular way, focusing on the Chakras one at a time. I think it might be all the emotions that this method of breathing has brought to the surface that I'm a bit wigged out by. Maybe I just can't sort through them all right now. Maybe it just takes time. Or maybe it has something to do with my husband telling me all this yoga practice I've been involved in is a kind of religion. (I hate how his words end up circling around in my head when I don't agree with him!) The religion issue is a very long post for another time, but suffice it to say, I am not a religion fan personally. If it helps you and you feel a connection to some religion or group, I applaud you. I just don't. And I've spent my entire adult life trying to get my family and some friends to understand that. *sigh*

This morning in yoga class, I had a moment of pain (physically and emotionally.) I suppose it's something I will be feeling for a very long while. Or until I can sort through it all. But, from the way things feel today, there's an awful lot of stuff to sort.

I guess my point is this: do not ever feel that you should be "over" cancer, or any of the emotions associated with them. Every and all reactions are normal. Just don't let them simmer. Get them out, turn them over, check them out. That is truly the only way you're going to be able to release them once and for all.

Namaste

Thursday, August 25

Lessons in parenthood

It's that time of year again, folks. School has begun around here, and that means alot of getting up early, going to bed earlier than we'd like, and your basic disruption of all that is fun. Boo!

My kids like school just fine. Unfortunately, their just like their Momma, in that they hate having to go somewhere like school (or work) when they'd rather be playing with friends and having no schedule at all.

Every year, along with the start of school and all that entails, there's one other thing that starts up this time of year. And I dread it every. single. year. PARENTING!!

I don't mean the normal "eat your veggies" or "it's your bedtime" type stuff. That's fairly easy parenting stuff for me. I'm talking about those times when it would be so much easier if I could just be their friend and give them one more chance. You know, one more chance after the hundreds of chances they've already been given, but most of the time didn't even know they'd received it? It would mean avoiding that hateful stare I get when they don't get their way. Avoiding the feeling that I've somehow disappointed them, and that they might never, ever forgive me.

Obviously, parenting occurs all year round. But once school starts, there's more structure, deadlines, and stress. And lots less time to play with friends and just be. So, at least around here, there seems to be an uptick in the number of times I have to keep my kids' feet to the fire (so to speak) once the school year begins.  

Do you know why I always end up choosing to be the parent over being the friend? I remember that I truly care how well they turn out. I want them to be great people, and I want everyone they meet to think that they are, too.

When I was going through cancer treatments, there were many times that I just wanted to be their friend and do the fun stuff. I just didn't want them to remember me as the mean mom. I was afraid that I'd be dead before they could have very many good memories of their mom. It was a horrible place to be!

Now, 5 years out, I see the rewards of being their parent, even when I didn't want to. They're responsible for themselves (as much as a 10 and 7 year old can be.) They're respectful of others. They have their own ideas of how to get things done and how to treat people. And they surprise me with their insights into relationships. My kids are really great people!

Thinking about the bigger picture and seeing the results of that are endlessly rewarding. No one ever said that parenthood would be easy. But I don't think it's possible to express to others how much joy and happiness you receive in return.


Monday, August 22

2 Days

I spent the better part of the week my son was away at camp worrying about him and wondering what he was up to. I even went so far as to dream about when he's back home, waxing nostalgic about how our family would be whole again. And, for the most part, it is.

It took all of 2 days for things to go downhill. Back to the normal, "I hate you" (directed towards his sister) and all the other hysterics that occur with a 10 year old in the house. 2 days!!

While I'm still so very glad he's home and back with us, I do wish the effect had lasted a bit longer. *sigh*

On the bright side, school starts in 2 days. :-)

Truth in job interviews: Yes? or Can it!

Looking for work sucks!

Looking for work after having taken a few (5) years off? Really sucks!

No matter what the reason you left the working world was, trying to get back in it after a while is not an easy task. People don't look kindly on those of us who "took time to be with our kids while they were young." Or whatever reason you give for your extended "vacation." My instinct is to just tell the truth, but my husband tells me cancer won't get me any pity in the work world. It'll just get my resume added to the round file. So, I do my best to put on a happy face and give the most vague reasons ever for why I've been out of the work world for so long. It sucks!

When I was in college, I chose a career field that was in healthcare. A no-brainer, everyone said. There will always be a need for healthcare workers. I even hear it today on all those stupid commercials for those for-profit colleges. I chose dental hygiene for it's flexibility, it's impact on individuals, and it's pay. For a very long time, I could get a job any time I wanted, and could be fairly picky on who I wanted to work for. Usually, I picked those dentists who acted as though they wanted to work "with" me and treated me as more of a partner in his/her practice.

Those were good times.

Nowadays, things couldn't be more different. There are hardly any positions open for my field, and those that are happen to be at places I would prefer not to set foot in. (For the most part, anyway.) It sucks!

I know my field isn't the only one with these problems. I know lots of you out there are struggling to find a job, too. And, damnit, this economy is not helping any of us one little bit! I feel your pain, friends.

What I really want to know is this: if any of you are cancer survivors, do you tell your possible bosses about your reason for taking time off? Do you tell the God's honest truth, that you didn't really want to quit, but your cancer and treatments gave you no choice? Or do you find the most vague reason you can think of for why you're back after all this time? And which way do you think would work best? I mean, eventually these people will find out, right? That is, if we end up with the job.

I'm just looking for some real-world experience here. I'd love to hear what you all have decided to do in this position, and why. And if it worked for you, that would be great to share as well.

For the rest of us still looking, don't let yourself give up! They say things are looking up, and I just really want to believe that. :-)

Friday, August 19

Summer camp and homecoming

I officially feel old. (And in my world, that's not a bad thing!)

My 10 year old son went off to camp for a week this year. There was alot of excitement, up until the moment I left him waiting for the bus to pick him up with all his fellow campers. At that moment his expression said it all, "I wanna go home!" I had to get outa dodge quick, before he really did change his mind!

Today, the whole family made the 1.5 hour trek to pick him up from camp. In the middle of a Friday, during a busy workday for my husband. Not the best timing, I must admit. And there were many folks who felt they needed to deter me from doing it. "Why don't you just let him take the bus back?" "He's not gonna want to see you at camp!" "Poor Mommy can't handle not being in charge of it all." (That last one was said with a very mocking, sad face. Not nice.)

To all those who doubted my sanity, I understand. I don't agree with you, but I understand. How many 10 year old boys would, upon seeing his family coming down the hill to pick him up, take off running and meet us halfway and give his mother the biggest hug ever? In front of all the other campers?

Yep. That's right. THIS Momma's boy, and all around cool dude, did just that.

And at that moment, all was once again right with my world. :-)

I love you, buddy, and I'm so glad you're home!

Tuesday, July 26

Get ready to hear my voice!!!

Eeeek!

I'm so excited, and so nervous, and nearly beyond words. (But really, did you ever think I'D be beyond words???)

My very good friend hosts a community radio show locally, and she has invited me to be a guest!! (Check out their site, and their show.) Of course, in October. You know, breast cancer awareness month. (I despise Pinktober.)

So, to reverse my feelings on the whole awareness month thing, I've chosen to be a guest on her show on my birthday. That should make me happier than normal to be talking about things with complete and total strangers, right?

Good Lord! What ever shall I talk about? I'm all ears, if all my dear readers would be kind enough to give their advice. What would you want to listen to me blather on about? Is there something specific that you think people would be more interested in hearing about?

I know this experience will be loads of fun. Especially because I'll be in good hands with my friend, C. And, of course, the listeners seem to be very compassionate people who wouldn't dare make a guest feel bad. :-)

Wednesday, July 20

Don't cry for me, I'm a winner!

I think I'm a weirdo.

Not just any ol' weirdo, but one that cries for stupid reasons.

Yes, I said stupid reasons.

I have always been the type of person that tries to keep it together in situations that you'd think I would cry in.

Sappy movies-- a few tears, and the beginnings of the "ugly cry"

Cute things my kids do-- a huge smile, and a tugging at my heart, but no tears. Usually.

I've been noticing, lately, that I have been crying while watching...

The Price is Right!
(photo courtesy: Wikepedia)

(Did you know it has been shown in over 37 countries?!)

My 10 year old loves this show, and every time someone wins, I get all verklempt. I mean, come on, why on Earth do I care that these total strangers won a prize?

And then it hit me: I have been crying over good things most of my adult life! WTH?

Didja ever watch Oprah during her "Favorite Things" shows? Good lord! I was a mess!

If you could hog-tie me and force me to watch "The Bachelorette," my guess is you'd see nary a tear. Those shows try too hard to make me cry. I can't buy it.

So now every time my son and I are watching some crazy jumping up and down lady winning some stupid prize, I am over conscious of my issue. And I squash the urge like a little bug!

And then I think of my yoga instructor, who has been trying to get me to understand how healing and cleansing crying can be. But when she talks about it, I'm usually twisted into a pretzel and crying comes easily. Not just from the poses, but from the inside somewhere deep. I end nearly every session with tears, but I always feel so great!

So, don't cry for me, I'm a weirdo. (Sung in your best "don't cry for me, Argentina" voice.)

Maybe I can get my yoga instructor to teach me how to invert my urge, so I cry when I'm sad like most people.

Wednesday, June 8

Carpe Diem

School's out around here, and that's supposed to mean lots of trips to the pool and hanging out outside. But Mother Nature seems to have different plans.

We've had some wacky weather here, and it's still much cooler than "normal" (whatever that means) for this area. Tons of rain, even though we live in a desert. Cool temps, even though we live in a desert.

The kids and I have yet to establish a routine for these summer days. We sleep in, eat late, and end up getting not much accomplished before Dad comes home. (Can you tell I'm feeling a bit guilty?) That is going to have to change soon!

Even with the guilt, it's been so wonderful to hang out with the kids and just be. Ya know? There were days, weeks, and months a few years back that I wasn't sure I'd be around to see any of this. I am so grateful for the opportunity.

I try and remember this daily. Sometimes it's easier than others. (I now have a 10 year old son who thinks he's an adult. Ugh!) And this shouldn't have had to come from my cancer experience. Every parent should be so thankful for every moment they get with their little ones.

You hear it alot from older people. That your little ones aren't little for very long. When we're young, we often roll our eyes and can't see past the shouting match we just had with our kid over the need to change their underwear on a daily basis. (Yes, sadly, this really did happen fairly recently at my house.)

We need to take a step back, once a day at least, and see our lives for what they really are: a gift. Take a deep, cleansing breath and remember one thing about your life or your child that makes you smile.

Ever since cancer, one of my goals is to get people to realize they can seize the day without the shitty cancer journey. Each and every person can see the good, not the bad. They can smile, not frown. The glass is half-full, and all that. It's all a choice, and as soon as you realize that, your life will be so much richer!

So, from time to time, I will be reminding you all of how great life is, and to seize the day! Sometimes all we need is a little nudge. :-)

Thursday, June 2

It just brings it all back

Anyone else ever have flashbacks?

My daughter recently had pneumonia. We visited her doc, got her on antibiotics, and she got well.

Then End.

Except, not so much.

She was better, but after a few days of "being well" she started coughing again. And something about that cough just made my worry-center go into overdrive.

I'm not the type of Mommy who runs to the doctor at every little thing. In fact, I'm more like the Mommy who keeps telling her kids "You're fine!" all while wondering how much worse it will get before I break down and bring them in. Yep, report me to CPS.

After about a week of worrying about this child who never complains, I finally took her in to the urgent care. (It was the weekend, and of course I didn't want to wait 3 hours to see her regular doc, who may or may not be on call that weekend, and who most certainly is seeing a bunch of more sick kiddos than mine.) Because she'd already had pneumonia and a round of antibiotics, they wanted a chest x-ray to determine if there was residual infection or just irritation in the lungs. Bronchospasm, for you medical types.

Off we go, my little 7 year old's hand in mine, to the imaging room. Little did she know, I think I was more nervous to go there than her.

The sterility of that room is horrible. Necessary, but so unwelcoming.

The mass of the machines. The very clinical nature of it all.

I was having massive flashbacks to my first days of diagnosis, and all those tests! My heart was beating so hard I could swear my daughter could feel it through my hand. I could even feel a bit of perspiration coming on my brow. What was happening to me?

My poor daughter was hanging on to me for dear life. She was scared, never having experienced an x-ray like this before. The tech was doing her best to explain things in a way a 7 year old could understand, but was not quite hitting the mark.

Deep breaths. In. Out. Repeat. I had to be a calming presence for my little girl.

"Look at this camera! How weird would it be if Mommy had to carry that around to take pictures of you guys? And that lead skirt makes it hard to walk around, huh? This is just like getting your picture taken at home, except with this picture we get to see the inside of your chest. How cool is that?"

It went something like that. I think. I hope.

In any event, she calmed down and did a bang up job getting the x-rays done. And yep, sure enough, it showed residual infection in there. Bring on another round of antibiotics.

I'm nearly 5 years out from diagnosis, and I still find myself having mini-panic attacks whenever I am near a hospital or medical treatment room. The smells just bring it all back. I swear I can smell the chemo room every time I drive past the hospital in town, and my stomach does a flip.

But yeah, I'm nearly 5 years out. And I have gained some perspective on things. Thankfully, I've gained the ability to hide the fear so my little girl doesn't have to worry about me so much anymore. And that is worth more than most people will ever know.

Do you ever have flashbacks? What brings them on? How do you cope with them? Do you try and hide your fears from your kids, or do you talk about them? How do your kids handle your fears? I'd love to hear your thoughts, even if you've never had cancer. Everyone has fear.

Saturday, May 7

I'm at a loss

Ok, all you Cancer Mommies out there. I need some advice, and you are always my best sounding board.

I am actually awake, typing this post at 1:30am, no thanks to a neighbor lady who has my brain on overdrive trying to decide what to do. (BTW, I never have insomnia. That's something I leave for my husband to deal with. I could have slugged down 20 Cokes Pepsi's and I'd still lay my head on that pillow and fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean and the face of Johnny Depp.)

 Hellooooooo...

Anyhoo, as the President of my kids' school Parent-Faculty Association, I was involved in finding volunteers to head up various programs and events throughout the school year. One of those programs at our school has been a challenge for me to fill. It is a great opportunity for the kids to learn how to give direction and keep everyone safe. We've had an amazing lady running the program for years, but her kids have left our school to move on to bigger things, and we needed someone else to step up. After doing some cajoling talking to several parents, one decided she was interested in running the program for the year. Great! The PFA agreed to a budget for said program, to replace tattered equipment, and to help give the kids a party to celebrate their work at the end of the year.

Up until May 1, a small portion of the budgeted amount was spent on equipment. But now this parent wants us to increase the amount we budgeted by $100 to pay for the party she's planning. Mind you, she's got a substantial amount in her allottment that she thinks she's going to use for this party already. There's really only been a handful of kids participating regularly anyway, so I have a hard time understanding where she's spending all this money.

I have already discussed the situation with our council members on the PFA, and they all agreed that we cannot increase the funds designated for this program solely for a party. So, I came right home after our meeting to write this parent an email explaining that the council didn't approve her request, but we hope they can still have a smashing party. (Of course, I'm trying to bite my tongue so I won't say what I really think.)

Not 2 hours later, I receive TWO messages from her, angry that the kids aren't appreciated enough for the hard job they do every day and she cannot believe the PFA is unwilling to help give them proper kudos for their work! WTF? She did everything but call me names on these messages! Frankly, she was downright threatening to me, and the hostility in her voice was very apparent.

First off, I'm terribly glad I didn't answer those calls, or things may be really bad right now. Second, where the hell does she get off?! Third, I'm so pissed at her for ruining a fine night's sleep I can't even express right now!

After some thought, I've decided that it's best for me to take the high road. I will be returning to the council with an email prepared, that they will need to approve any and all expenditures for the program, as we are responsible for using the monies we raised for the good of the entire school. My husband is helping me put the finishing touches on the email, so I don't have a whiff of anger in it. It was actually his suggestion to have her put her request in writing, that she wants so much money diverted from the rest of the students so that her handful can have a whooping good time. If that doesn't make her feel like an ass, I don't know what will.

Oh, and before I forget, this parent is a neighbor (obviously) in a very tight community. It's sort of like living in a small town, where everyone knows everyone's business, but in a nicer way. (Is that possible?) We have the village to help us raise our kids, but we also get the shit, too.

So, what would you do? Would you be losing sleep over this? Has cancer taught me nothing?! I need words of wisdom here. Help a girl out, will ya?

Tuesday, January 25

Welcome, 2011!

Sorry I've been MIA for a while. The family took a lovely trip to Hawaii right after Christmas, just me and the hubs, and our 2 little ones. It was DEVINE!!! I could spend the rest of my days in that warm, tropical weather. For those of you still stuck in the doldrums of winter, here's a little something to remind you of better days...








And yes, that chair is still there on the beach, waiting for you to sit your butt down and relax in the warm breezes. :-) I love you all that much.

Now that we're back to reality, things are crazy as ever. The kids are way behind on homework, as their teachers didn't send any with us to do while on vacation. I know they mean well, but I'd rather have my kids do a little homework on vacation than to have so much extra to do after we get back. As my son said, "I wish we hadn't even gone to Hawaii! I have so much extra homework now, I hate it!" Can ya blame him?

My PFA (Parent-Faculty Association) duties at my kids' school is heating up, as we are in the early planning stages of a first-ever art auction. There has been some disagreement as to how the actual auction portion of the evening will go forward. Oddly, when I tell people they are welcome to join the committee to help plan the event, they all say they're too busy. It's so easy to complain, isn't it? So, I have one group who thinks I should have the authority to tell the woman chairing this event how it should be done. Personally, I don't like the idea of micro-managing people, especially when they stepped up to take on a large project, and have a personal vested interest in it going well. And I'm always a bit amazed at how quickly we adults turn juvenile. By that I mean, we hate to have direct conflict, so we turn to the "adult" or person in charge to see if they can fight our battles for us. As the elected "adult" of the year, I'm choosing to be Switzerland. We'll see how that turns out.

In other news (probably more relevant to your life), I see the House of Representatives in Washington DC have voted to repeal health care reform. Nice. While I never thought this "reform" was perfect, it is a start. And we should all be able to agree that we need to do something.

My State Superintendant of Public Instruction has unveiled a sweeping, radical reform plan for public education. Wow! I haven't been able to get my hands on many specifics, but this is baaaaaaad, folks. Requiring 2 online courses per year starting at 9th grade, giving every student 9th and up a new laptop, increasing class sizes by 1.5 starting at 4th grade. (This will actually increase class sizes by 3-5 at least per class, as he uses some fuzzy math to determine the current class size.) I'm not saying we shouldn't be having a discussion about the future role of our schools, and how best to serve our kiddos, but this is a HUGE change all at once. And of course, he uses the "state taxpayers have spoken, and they don't want their taxes increased" line. Bullpucky! Nearly every parent I know would much rather pay a bit more in taxes than to completely overhaul the educational system in one foul swoop. The worst part about this whole thing to me, is that this elected official (don't even get me started) in our reddest of red states, has absolutely no educational experience!! That's right, folks. We the people have blindly elected a Republican (twice!) that has no education experience, and "earned" his degree online in, are you ready for this, weights and measures! And now he thinks we are going to trust him to completely change the way we educated kids. Madness!

It should be an interesting few months here. I'll be biting my tongue-- alot! I may be venting my frustrations here, though, as it's the only place I can tell my real feelings without crossing a line.

I know budgets all over the country are not looking good. So, what cuts are your states thinking of making that just plain don't make sense to you? What things do you think we can do, as citizens, to make our voices heard and help shape the future of our states? I'm all ears, and would love to hear your ideas on making our world a better place.

Kisses!