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Cancer Slayer: Post Script

Yesterday I had surgery to remove the medi-port that was installed a year ago ahead of chemo. Since then I’ve had six rounds of chemo, multiple echocardiograms, 11 infusions of Herceptin, a lumpectomy and lymphnode takey-outy, 30 sessions of radiation, a bone density test, I don’t remember how many MRIs and blood tests and zillions of pills. But with the removal of the medi-port, I’m officially done. My surgeon Dr Superman says it’s his favorite surgery because it’s symbolic. I won’t need any more chemo because I’m going to be okay.

So, I wanted to give an update from the winner’s circle. I feel like the “finish line” was my last dose of Herceptin and this is just the clean-up, the victory lap.

My hair is growing back thick and curly (just like it was before it all came out). Unfortunately with curly hair, it tends to get WIDE before it gets long. So I’m sporting a look that’s a little bit Will Ferrell, a bit Bozo, and a helping of Madam Hooch. Ma'am_Hooch

My eyebrows are filling in a little bit, but they still need an assist from an eyebrow pencil, which I had never in my life needed to use being from the Brooke Shields brow club.

My eyelashes are another story. So pathetic. I religiously applied RevitaLash every night and little stubs began to grow…but SO slowly. The few lashes that hadn’t fallen out in the last round of chemo were thin and twisted little bastards. Attempts at mascara just emphasized the sorry situation and made it look as though spiders had crawled onto my eyelids to perish. SO, I got eyelash extensions. I really did. I lay down for two hours (and 200 dollars) while a lady used surgical glue to attach fake individual lashes to my spider legs and lash stubs. And guess what? I LOVE THEM. Worth every damn penny because I feel like a girl again. A healthy, non-cancery female woman. So there. Is it petty and vain? You bet your ass, and I’m going back to do it again in two weeks.

My medication is down to a once-daily aromatase inhibitor. Remember how I said there were no side-effects? Well, once enough built up in my system, I did start to experience some of the common ones, specifically joint pain and this numbness and stiffness in my hands. It’s annoying. It’s as if all of a sudden my body is eighty years old. I move like your grandma when she gets up from the couch to get you another cookie. A lot of pausing and strained smiles. It sucks but it’s better than the cancer coming back, am I right, folks?

Speaking of the potential return of He Who Shall Not Be Named…angy turdy tumor

…I have calmed down so much and am starting to acclimate myself to being cancer-free. It took a lot longer than I’d have thought, but I’m pleased to report I have come down from the ledge of constant fear and worry. It just took time. (and probably the Paxil helped).

So what else is new? We moved into a big house with a ginormous yard. My youngest is going to a new school and already has a new best friend and play dates and birthday party invitations. Her birthday is next month and for the first time in her life we’re hosting the party at our home in our back yard with a rented bouncy house.

Gunny is going to college full time working on a business degree and he also got his realtor license and is working hard to get things going on that front.

My older daughter is thrilled to have her own room again (she was sharing with her sister in the old apartment) and she’s raising some baby chicks named Bellatrix, Luna, Minerva and Tonks.13086632_10153616004177616_2292435789660856514_o

 

Me? I’m looking for a job. My hesitant stabs at healthcare type deals didn’t really amount to much. I have zero experience so I can’t blame them. I find myself applying for the kind of jobs I did before and sort of falling into some old habits that I’d hoped to leave behind. Petty concerns like a long commute or money stuff. My former field of work is small and incestuous and very competitive. I’m disheartened at how easy it was to forget about my priorities and my new-found peace of mind. So my answer is this: I’m going to focus on the future that I’ve now accepted that I’ll have. I’ll get a job, certainly, and do it to the best of my ability, but I am also going to get my degree in something that will fulfill me in the long run. I want to be a counselor–probably an end-of-life/hospice counselor. I will need a lot of school, but the years are going to go by regardless and at the end I can either have something to show for it or not. I choose school. Not finishing my BA is my only regret in life and it’s something I can actually fix! So I’m doing it!

As far as my personal life and psyche? I feel so freaking lucky. Walking my kid to school on a sunny day is just idyllic. Weeding the yard makes me inexplicably happy. We run through the sprinkler and roast marshmallows in the fire pit and make daisy chain crowns.I sleep so well in this house it feels like we were drawn to this place for a reason. I’m…HAPPY. As Allison summed it up this morning on the way to school:

“Ahhhh. I love life!”

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And so, I don’t think I’m going to write about cancer any more unless there is some sort of update. I’m going to take these blog posts and flesh them out and fill in the blanks and publish them as a book. Maybe people will want to read it and maybe they won’t. But it’s something I feel strongly that I need to do.

If you were here for the cancer, I appreciate your interest, love and support. We now return to our regularly scheduled blog posts about books and writing and kids and work and maybe some chickens and gardening. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Care and Feeding of a Small Tyrant

Save Ferris? Save Grandma!

Because I was cracking myself up writing this, I am sharing some excerpts from the three-page document I wrote for my mother on the Care and Feeding of Baby Trixie.

Language
“If she points at the freezer she wants a popsicle. “Arcle” means popsicle, but it also means bicycle and motorcycle. If she’s pointing at the TV and yells “arcle” it means she wants to watch the “Things with Wheels” episode of Barney.”

Technology
“Put her iPad on the charger after breakfast so you don’t forget. Bedtime is a freaking nightmare if her “game” is out of charge.”

Feeding
“She’s usually ravenous as soon as she gets home. She may eat a second dinner if everyone else eats later. She may eat all of her food, say “all done” (which means she wants out of the high chair) and then steal your food too.”

Bathing
“She does enjoy pooping in the tub, so watch her if she looks like she’s thinking hard. The bubbles create good cover for stealth turds, so beware!”

Entertainment
“Her go-to shows on Netflix are Barney and Yo Gabba Gabba. “Bahney” and “Yo Baba”. There are many episodes of Barney that she enjoys. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out which one she wants. “Ammals” is most likely the “Jungle Friends” one. “Song” is the live Barney show, which is horrendous. Sometimes you just have to scroll through Recently Watched and wait for her to stop screaming. Rarely she will start hollering for “babies” which I found out the hard way means “Rugrats”.”

My husband and I are off on our belated honeymoon tomorrow–a cruise to the Western Caribbean–and my mom is on Toddler Patrol for a whole week. Wish her luck!

My Day in Tech aka HOLY SHIT

My days are filled with technology that I’ve come to take for granted: my two bands of wireless internet, streaming movies on Netflix through my Xbox 360, taking video with my cellphone and instantly uploading to Facebook, YouTube or Tumblr. Yawn, I EXPECT that stuff. And if it isn’t working, I am pissed off.

Today though was a day where I sat back and said “DAMN that is COOL.”  I’ll tell you why:

1) Skype + Android + NASA + UStream + ROCKET TO JUPITER
As I mentioned in my last post, the Gunny is at NASA for the Juno launch. The launch was delayed for a few hours as I learned by monitoring his Twitter feed. It took massive willpower on my part not to hate him when he got to see Bill Nye the Science Guy speak. But I overcame it. Suddenly a video call came in on Skype. It was Gunny on his phone, from the Tweetup “Twent”. I could see the other lucky bastards milling around and he took the phone over to a woman who follows me on Twitter (I assume from my Xbox days). She smiled and waved and said “Hi Trixie!” So I pretty much met someone I only knew from Twitter through my husband’s phone via Skype.  For a moment, I was THERE.  Then I watched the launch on NASA’s UStream channel with about 18,000 other nerds. If you can listen to a Mission Control checklist and hear the words “We are go for launch” without getting nerdwood, you are dead inside.

Later, Gunny got an autograph and photo with Bill Nye. I’m still battling the hatred on that one.

2) Roku 2 + Wireless Interwebz + iPad + Amazon + Netflix + Pandora + PayPal
When the baby and I visited Gunny in his new apartment outside Baltimore last weekend I became enamored of his Roku. When he first described it to me on the phone (It’s a little box that streams content to your TV) I was kinda “yeah yeah whatever”. But I actually got a chance to use this and really liked it. It’s got Apple-easy UI, it’s cute and simple and dumbass-proof. And it’s powerful!

Anyway, when I got back to Redmond I ordered a Roku 2 XS for myself and it arrived today. I plugged it in and went through set-up 1, 2, 3. Then when Roku needed an update I ran into trouble: It couldn’t connect to get the update. I tried three times and started to get frustrated. So I pulled up Roku.com/support on my iPad and started a livechat with a support agent named Mai. She had me reset the Roku (toothpick in the hole), and then everything was fine. I linked Roku to my Pandora account on the TV and then used the iPad to link my Netflix and Amazon Prime accounts. The thing that most impressed me–when asked for a credit card (for any Roku purchases) PayPal was an option! A delicious option!  Roku is super cool and easy and I heart it. My ‘zoinks’ tech moment was that while setting up the Roku on my bedroom TV I didn’t have to leave the room. My iPad was there for support and account linking, and the PayPal option meant I didn’t have to go get my credit card out of my purse.

3) Dusty-ass papers + youthful ambition + USB Portable Diskette Drive + Amazon + Kindle
In 1992 – 93 I wrote a novel. I had a new baby and was going to college part-time. Somehow, without the aid of amphetimines I wrote for one hour a night on a borrowed PC and after 10 months or so I was done. When finished I sent it to exactly one publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell. They told me no thanks and I said “okay then.” And this novel —The Sleepless Nanny — sat for nearly 20 years. One hard copy gathering dust in a box and the digital version on a floppy disk. Yesterday, I learned about Kindle Direct Publishing via a Facebook post. What’s this, I said… I can just upload a damn Word doc and hit ‘publish’? Like a freaking blog post?!

Thinking it would be a fun trip down memory lane I started re-typing the book into a fresh Word document. After five pages, my fingers said “fuck this shit.” As I no longer have a hole that will fit the 3.5″ floppy (three kids you know…) I ordered a USB Diskette Drive and paid the $3.99 extra for one-day shipping.

This magical portal arrived today and there it was, unearthed like Tutankhamun, my novel in some version of Word so ancient it might as well have been Linear A. I had to disable all kinds of shit meant to protect my computer from antediluvian 0’s and 1’s, but eventually my version of Word made nice with its great great grandma and I had my novel in a file I could upload to Amazon. So… it’s uploaded. It’s currently “in review” but in less than 24 hours it should be available for any curious Kindle owner in the US to purchase for $4.99 and enjoy. It will take another day or so to be available in the UK and Germany. My dusty paper, youthful ambition and Diskette Drive can now say “fuck you” to Bantam Doubleday Dell and an even louder “Fuck YOU” to my younger self, for giving up so easily.

Facebook Funnehz (or how to make your kids blush)

This amused me. It may also amuse you. Or not.

Friday Fun with Britney and the USMC

A Marine (Andrew Tarin) on deployment with my husband has been making funny music videos for the past 8 months. The first was “Party in the USA” which unfortunately has been pulled down from YouTube. Last week some of the men and women from the VMM-266 or “Fighting Griffins” covered Britney Spears’ song “Hold it Against Me.”

GySgt Charter isn’t in this one, but Britney Spears saw it and tweeted about it.

Since then it’s been picked up by a lot of press including Huffington Post, USA Today, EW, Gawker, etc

Take a look and see what some of our brave fighting forces do to blow off steam in the desert. And peep the sweetass Ospreys in the background! What girl can resist tilt-rotor aircraft?

By the way, Brit-Brit. They’re Marines, NOT soldiers. 😛

Deadlines

Here’s why my house is a disaster: There is always something more pressing than cleaning. For instance, this weekend I planned to get some major spring cleaning done (at least as much as the baby would allow), but then a project came in late Friday that has consumed my weekend. This is my job; I can’t tell a VP ‘Sorry, but I need to do the laundry and my bathtub needs scrubbing’, and this project has a Monday deadline. Since I have meetings and calls all day Monday for another project, this one has to be done by tonight.

So. The spring cleaning must be delayed. Will I get anything done during the week? Ha. Next weekend? Perhaps!

Drop the chocolate chips, soldier!

I need some of those lazy ass Keebler elves to come clean up. This would help me out, and also reduce the cookies in the world that contribute to the American childhood obesity problem, which is a pet cause of our First Lady. In fact, I think an Executive Order is necessary here and that President Obama should order those elves–as their Commander in Chief– to put down the cookie dough and grab a mop. And they should bring Snap Crackle and Pop with them!

The Domestic Goblin Problem

The one in my house steals spoons, binkies and of course socks.  How do you get rid of them?

This fucker needs to go.

The Lazy-ass Chef

Contrary to what you may hear, I DO cook. But to be clear, let’s define the term “cook.”

I was gonna put my face on ol' Bork Bork here. But I was too lazy.

If I take a food item that is frozen, chilled, or room temperature and apply heat, I have cooked it. So, any food I eat in a restaurant or purchase through a window in my car obviously doesn’t count. But microwaving a hotdog for thirty seconds and then cutting it into toddler-sized (no choking) pieces does count.

Here are some of my kids’ favorite home-cooked meals:

Scrambled eggs and chili. Yeah, it’s chili from a can. You dump that shit in a bowl and nuke for 1 minute. The eggs you gotta break, scramble and cook in a pan.

We like Strogg. Or Stagg or whatever.

Ribs and Biscuits. Ribs from a package, biscuits from a tube.


This is a tricky one because a) the ribs have to cook for almost an HOUR b) the biscuits and ribs both need oven-time. My solution: Ribs in the big-boy oven, biscuits in the toaster oven. Ain’t I clever?

CAUTION: Be careful releasing the tubed biscuits. I once cut my finger WITH A SPOON trying to breach the hull of the dough containment device.

Chinese Delight. This is the most complex of my Lazy-Ass Dinners because there are multiple steps and three heating devices involved.

Step One. Cut a hole in a box.

No.

1. Put some rice and some water in a rice cooker. I can never remember the rice to water ratio, so Kid 2 does this part.

2. Plop a bag of frozen PF Chang goodness into a skillet. We dig the Beef with Broccoli and General Chang’s Chicken. Set a timer for 10 minutes and put a lid on that bad boy. Note: Open the bag first, dump out the food part and then throw the bag part away.

3. When the first dish is done, shovel it into some sort of receptacle that is impervious to melting and stick it in the big-boy oven set to warm. This is the complicated part.

4. Open the bag on the second PF Chang frozen delight and dump the food into the skillet that the other food used to be in. Cover it up and set the timer for ten minutes. I mentioned that the stove has to be on, right?

5. When the timer goes off take the first food out of the big-boy oven and get some rice out of the rice cooker and put it all on a plate.

6. Ring the dinner bell, bitches! It’s time to NOM!

Sweetness

Carrying the baby off to bed tonight I turned to my older daughter on the sofa and said “Say nye-nye to sissy.”

The baby waves, says “bye” and blows kisses.

“Say, I love you sis”

“I lubbee sis”

And the grinch’s heart grew four sizes.

chocolate, not poop

Btw, I have a second blog over at OnSugar that is only about my kids and the weird crap they do. Check it out if you just can’t get enough of diaper explosions, emo teen, and Scooterfail.

Blog 2 is Nice Mommy, Mean Mommy, and you can find it here: http://trixie360.onsugar.com

Gadgets of the Year

I’m a big fan of gadgets. In fact my whole family is pretty gadget-centric. My husband has his laptop, iPad, DSi XL, and Zune HD with him on deployment. Between my two teenagers, they have 2 Kindles, an iPhone 4, an iPad,2 Flip cameras, an iPod Touch, multiple Zunes, and 2 netbooks. The baby’s got a couple of Leap Frog toys that say her name, and multiple other electronic noise-making devices. She thinks anything the size of a cellphone IS a cellphone and has been known to hold a Zune to her ear and talk into it.

I have a plethora of gadgets myself, and when a new version comes out I pass the old one onto the kids. Here are the standouts from 2010.

iPad

I got my iPad for Mother’s Day from my wonderful husband. It has been mostly shanghai’d by the baby who has more apps than I do. I don’t think I need to explain what the iPad is or what it does; until the advent of the Kinect (of which I have 3) it was the fastest-selling device EVER. I use my iPad to triage work emails. It doesn’t feel as much like ‘working’ as having my laptop open does. And my kids get pissed if I work too much during family time, so it looks like I’m messing around on the iPad when I’m actually doing a bit of work. Ninja! I read news, do my social media thing (I prefer the Twitterific app to the official one), play hidden object games, harvest my magic cauliflower in We Rule, watch movies on Netflix (this is a lifesaver when the baby is on round 853 of Dora), listen to music, and every morning I bust out the Weather.com app before I get dressed. The only thing I dislike is the Flash issue. This was not a big deal when I first got it, but as time goes by it’s become a bigger pain in the ass. I hate that I can’t click through to my friend Amber’s videos on Facebook, or harvest my damn vegetables in CityVille. (Yes, I play and you might be surprised at the game industry luminaries who do).  Everytime I’m denied Flash on my iPad I think that Apple are dicks. They make a damn fine device though.

Keurig Platinum Brewing System

This was another gift from my personal defense force (aka Gunny Charter). He had one of these in the barracks, loved it and bought one for me. I like coffee. I don’t LOVE it. I am the sort of coffee dilletante that gets a Starbucks once or twice a week. I would never ever grind beans or deal with an espresso machine. That’s far too hard-core for me. I had a Kitchen Aid coffee maker before. I mostly bought it because it was red. I would get up on a weekend morning, brew a pot of coffee and then forget all about it. Gross.  With the Keurig, you just pop a little K-cup of whatever beverage you desire into the machine, push a button and wham–you got hot delicious. My teenagers love this too. We make coffee, tea, hot chocolate, whatever. And it’s always just one cup at a time so everyone gets what they want and nothing goes to waste. The K-cups are a little hard to handle space-wise though. When everyone in the family has their favorite bev, it’s a lot of cups. The carousel is a good solution for most people, but it takes up precious counterspace that is currently occupied by sippy cups, apples, unopened mail, Diet Coke cans that haven’t made it to the recycling bin yet, and of course the microwave, toaster oven, ricecooker, George Forman grill, a mini-donut maker, a quesadilla maker and of course the Keurig itself.

Kindle 3
I actually acquired this a couple of weeks into 2011, but I need to mention it because the Kindle has changed my life. I pre-ordered the first one the day they were announced, and in just the first year it more than paid for itself in my book savings. This was when Kindles cost 399.00! I loved my Kindle 1 so much that I turned my nose up at Kindle 2 when it was announced… until I got the email from Amazon saying since I was already a Kindler they were ‘saving’ a K2 for me. Also the pre-loaded Stephen King story “UR” convinced me. I’m sorry to say that my K2’s screen got effed up. I’m sure it was user-error. I often fall asleep reading it, and most likely rolled over on it or something. Anyway, I read on my iPad (a lesser experience; too heavy and the backlighting is owie after a while) until my K3 arrived. Oh happy day! The screen is the same size, but oh boy is this a teeny little thing. The E-ink is leaps and bounds over what it was on the K1 where you’d wait a breathless second while the next page loaded. And it holds 3,000 books! Can anyone even read 3,000 books in a lifetime? I’m gonna give it a shot. This is a perfect device for my favorite activity: reading.

So that’s my top three! If I had to choose only one, it would be the Kindle 3. Though the baby would definitely choose iPad. She’s busy right now playing Monkey Preschool Lunchbox with her sticky chocolate fingers.

Happy Gadget New Year everyone!

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