Thursday, February 28, 2013

This Would Suck So Much Less if it Wasn't On My Face: An Interview with Myself.

Q: So what's been happening this week?
A: Yesterday afternoon I had a plastic surgeon cut a two and half inch gash on the side of my face.
Q: That sounds awful. Why?
A: It WAS kind of awful.  I found out last week that I have skin cancer- a basal cell carcinoma- on my right cheek.  Yesterday I had it removed.
Q: How did you find out about the skin cancer?
A: I was at my yearly checkup with my dermatologist and she has been keeping an eye on a mole-type thing on my face.  It wasn't dark, it wasn't a pimple or a rash, just this thing that hung around for over a year on my face, never really bothering me.  It was tiny.  She took a biopsy and it turns out it is cancer.
Q: Why do you go to a dermatologist?
A: My mom had skin cancer when I was a middle schooler but has never had a recurrence, thank God.  She had the terrible kind that can kill you.  Since she had it, I am at a high risk for skin cancer, so I get to be examined from the top of my head to the tips of my toes every year.
Q: But yours can't kill you, right?
A: Right.  Just causes "tissue damage and deformity if left untreated."
Q: So it's not a big deal, right?
A: Well, right.  I have a 99% chance of being cured by yesterday's procedure, which is a very comforting statistic.  But it's still cancer, right?  But clearly it's nothing like the cancer my dad is battling.  I mean, come on.  This is trivial. But in a way it's not... now on every health history form I fill out I have to put that I have had skin cancer.  I've never had a serious health issue of any kind.  No medicines to take, no specialists (except for the dermatologist) to see.  I proudly wear the Invincible Armor of Youth.  I'm a healthy, hearty young woman.  Right?  RIGHT?  But I guess I went from having cancer to being cancer free in the space of a week. And I should be all set.
Q: It's too bad it had to be on your face.
A: Yes.  This would suck so much less if it wasn't on my face.
Q: True dat.
A: The incision is much bigger than I thought it would be. The cancer itself was about the size of a pencil eraser. But he had to cut a wound into an elliptical shape so that he could sew the two sides together into a straight line that wouldn't pucker when it's all healed.  The doctor told me, "When you are older you will have wrinkles here and no one will see your scar."
Q: Did that make you feel better?
A: No, because I am now only 38 years old and do not really have any wrinkles on my face.
Q: Did he say anything else that was funny?
A: Yes.  When he was about to start cutting, he asked, "Do you have any last words?" and I said, "Goodbye, perfect cheek.  I have loved you for 38 years..." and then the doctor said, "Okay, that's enough."
Q:  So it sounds like you've been kind of sad about this.  How have you helped yourself feel better?
A:  The 24 hours has been a Gorge Fest of Chewy Chips Ahoy, Hershey's Chocolate Eggs, "Hoarders: Buried Alive" viewing, and hours trolling Pinterest for Home Decor and Organization ideas.
Q: Has that helped?
A: A little.
Q: So what's your next steps?
A: Well, I can't bend over for a week, leaving me to squat doing laundry and loading and unloading the dishwasher, I can shower starting tomorrow, and my stitches come out next Tuesday.  I have to make another appointment with the dermatologist because I have another spot on my shoulder that I am a little concerned about.  I am feeling very hyper vigilant about my skin right now.
Q:  Anything ironic to report about this whole situation?
A: Yes. As I was being diagnosed with skin cancer, I literally was 3/4 of a month through unlimited tanning at my local salon.  I COULDN'T have planned a worse thing to be doing to my skin.  COULDN'T HAVE PLANNED IT WORSE.
Q: Were you enjoying the tanning?
A: Yes, I was. I was just starting to get a little color and not feel like a vampire. I love being warm and quiet in the booth.  It was very relaxing, but it was clearly horrifying to everyone who knew I was doing it.
Q: Do you regularly tan in a booth?
A: Absolutely not.  The last three years I have gone probably 12 times, just in February/ March to help perk me up a bit.
Q:  What does this all mean for your sun exposure from here on out?
A: Well, my sun exposure has to be kept to a minimum now and that makes me feel just plain sad.  I love sitting out in the sun, swimming and enjoying nice weather.  This is a serious change in how I spend my summer months and I am just really sad about it.  I know that I can use sunscreen and wear a hat but I will always be wondering if I am doing more damage to my skin.
Q: Well, thanks for talking to me today.
A: No problem.
Q: It sucks to get older.
A: Indeed.
Q: And clearly you are not even that old.
A: This is most certainly true.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Oh my goodness, could it be? A blog post about things happening in REAL TIME and not about events that happened three to four WEEKS ago?  My gracious golly.  This is exciting.

So it is February.  It has been a good month so far here, but compared to the horrible awfulness of Exhausted, Coughing, Feverish, Recovering from The Holidays January, anything would be a marked improvement.  It was not good.  We barely kept it together to get through, but I personally was hanging on by my fingernails at a couple of points there.

But on the better things... February has been productive and generally pleasant.  The kids are all settled beautifully in school.  Alec gives me no hassle at drop off as long as he has his "papers", which are Imaginext brochures for other Imaginext toys.  His preschool teacher, God bless her, has the patience to every Tuesday and Thursday morning help Alec transition into the classroom by going over all the toys pictured in these brochures.  His special ed teacher has phased out and now his speech teacher sees him in school on Tuesdays and here at the house on Mondays.  Alec is making huge strides in his speech and speech volume but still has a long way to go.  Social communication just isn't his strong point. He will be working on actually talking to his peers and making his needs known to others for the rest of the year.  His parent -teacher conference is  next month and I am eager to see what she has to say about my baby boy.

Michaela is doing great in Middle School and just got her second quarter report card, which was great.  She had her first experience with midterm exams and despite her mother's anxiety about her not studying enough, she aced them both.  She seems to get a lot of homework done in school (they have a study-hall type time near the end of the day) so I'm not seeing tons of actual work being done at home, but apparently she has things well under control.  She has some really lovely girl friends that she likes very much and is learning how to navigate the social ins and outs of Middle School fairly painlessly.

Jenna is also having a great year and goes off to school each day without a bit of complaint.  She is just getting started on a new Lip Sync group with a performance in the end of March.  Many of the girls who were in her group last year are in this year's group as well, which is nice and familiar.  I have to admit that I thought we were home free and not doing Lip Sync this year, but then the form came home in her backpack.  And I just sighed.  It's a lot of work and running around to prepare for it, but the performance really is so fun and quite unendingly adorable.  We are working with Jenna a bit at home to be a touch more independent, particularly in the mornings and evenings, and not needing a parent there to pick out clothing, put clothes in the hamper, etc, etc, etc.  Not sure if we'll get anywhere with that- she loves to have "company" when doing these tasks, but we'll plant some seeds for her to think about at least.

I have never been a huge fan of Valentine's Day- too much pressure for the Mom Bomb- but after the girls raised some gentle complaints last year about our lack of festive-ness, I decided to really try this year and put some effort forth.  So we've decorated a bit more, did a few crafts, I am making a Valentine's cake for the actual big day and even got heart- themed plates and napkins.  The girls both wanted giant Hershey kisses for a treat, and thankfully Walmart carried some.  Jenna also picked out a tub of JuJu hearts at our local grocery store, which are like red gummy candies that I never let my kids eat because I tell them it's like eating plastic and it has no nutritional value in the least.  But of course I got them, because I am a SUCKER. I also found on Pintrest a totally adorable gift to give Dan- I'll have to post a picture next week.  Add to all this the usual Valentine's Day parties at school and the box of cards to write out and give to the class (just when Michaela phased OUT of this, Alec phased IN) and we should have a pretty bang-up Happy Hearts Day.

I have been busy around the house doing all kinds of projects: 2013 has been deemed (by me) as the Year to Get Things Done.  I have about a half dozen projects that have been hanging over my head that I have all the supplies for but just have to do them.  I finished just today my second of four new custom, corded pillows that I am sewing for our family room couch.  I love the first two and am so happy that they are done.  Considering I bought the material and supplies in April of 2012, it will be a lovely monkey off my back to have them completed.  I also am working bit by bit on Alec's baby book (long neglected), redesigning and freshening up our home office, re-organizing our pantry, and planning the transition for Alec's room from nursery to Big Boy Room.  All great, fun projects that are wonderfully satisfying.

By far the best part of February has been watching my dad get better and stronger and more back to himself.  His recovery from surgery in December has been nothing short of miraculous, blessedly free from complications, and advancing every day back to health.  He has even been back to church!  The prayers that everyone lifted up on his behalf have undoubtedly brought him this far.
It is only with the gift of hindsight that I can truly see how absolutely terrifying it was to watch him slip further and further away from us right before our eyes and not be able to do anything to stop it.  Thankfully God showed us a path that let him stay here with us longer!  What a joy it is to make plans again, to not always be on edge, to not always be bracing for what is coming around the corner.

We have a big surprise adventure coming up that the kids do not know about yet... we have developed the code word "Operation Ko-Sum-We" after the code name Robert DeNiro gave the honeymoon trip in "Meet The Parents."  It involved getting our passports, which was quite interesting (and unbelievably expensive), and  needless to say our resident detective Michaela is hot on the case.  Jenna could care less.  We told them we were getting passports and Michaela immediately starts peppering us with questions: Why? Are we going somewhere? Where? For how long? Who's going? When will I find out? Are we leaving the country? Are we going to England? Will I see One Direction?
 Jenna's response: Hmm.  Okay.

We also recently booked a house rental for a week on the Cape in July.  The countdown to our favorite week of the year has begun!  Can't wait!

I have begun trolling the Internet for Easter outfits.  Nothing jumping out at me so far.  I think my days of having all the kids coordinated are ending. Sniff.

Michaela is signed up to play softball again this spring.  Practices start in late April.  Both girls are enjoying their Girl Scout troop activities this winter.  Michaela and I are going with her troop to an overnight at the Museum of Natural History in NYC in March.  Soooo excited!

We are looking forward to the biggest snowstorm of the season which is barrelling its way towards us right now and should arrive tomorrow morning.  We could get over 12 inches of snow... bring it on!

Happy February!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Cute, Cute, Cute.

Here are a few quick stories of late from our house...

1.  I was snuggling with Alec a few days ago and said to him, "Alec, I love you so much. You're such a good boy and so handsome. I love you this much (opening my arms wide).  Do you love me a lot, too?"
"Ummm... I love you a little bit," he answered.
"A little bit?? Who do you love a lot?" I asked.
"Daddy," he answered.

2.  I was talking with Jenna about the upcoming Superbowl.  "It's going to be the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens in the game.  Who are you going to root for?"
"Hmmm... I think the Francanscisco 49ers then."

3.  Alec loves playing the Fisher Price line of Imaginext toys.  They have all kinds of boy-themed sets, from dinosaurs to fighter jets to pirates to knights and castles.  He loves them.  He came to me the other day after playing on the Imaginext website and said, "I want the new Imaginext toy... the Ballerina!"
"What? Ballerina?  I don't think that's an Imaginext toy, buddy."
"Yeth, yeth, it's a ballerina!  I want to get it!"
"Okay, show me on the computer."
And I go in and sure enough, there is the new Imaginext line: Battle Arena.

4.  Michaela spotted while walking through the mall a life-size stand up cardboard likeness of her fave One Direction band member "Don't pronounce the 'S'" Louis.  (I have been solemnly told that if you don't pronounce his name "Louie" then you are NOT A TRUE DIRECTIONER.)  She was hot to purchase it, so after Christmas, flush with cash, we returned to the mall and secured our Louis.

We brought it home and pieced it together.  And that started the Musical Rooms Game with Louis.
Turns out, when you have a life-sized cardboard cut out of a young man in your house, EVEN IF YOU KNOW IT'S THERE, you still jump when you enter that room.  Because there is a man in there.  So Louis started in Michaela's room, migrated down to Jenna's room (poor kid sister), then ended up face down on Jenna's floor for a few days.
"HE FREAKS ME OUT!!" said Michaela.
We moved him to the landing of the basement stairs, and after suffering several heart attacks opening the door to the basement and being confronted with a life-sized man I forgot was there, I had enough.  I called the store to see if they would return it.
The manager laughed and said sure. "When we have them set up in the back storeroom, they freak us out, too."
Before we returned him, I had Michaela strike a pose with the ill-fated Louis.
Goodbye, handsome.
You made our hearts pitter-patter with love AND fear.