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Happy This Week

I can’t believe it’s 4th of July this weekend! We are watching fireworks with friends and having family over for a cookout. What are you doing for the 4th?

I read two more really good books this week. I’ll have a book post up next week, I promise!

I started (continued?) my next round of chemo and was able to get one step closer to being finished. Only 14 more chemos to go! And radiation, of course! That will, hopefully, start next week. This round wasn’t too bad. I was just really tired after. I can handle that!

Our house is getting closer to being finished. We’re almost on to the really fun part…decorating!

Olivia had another great week at school!

Matthew has been an angel this summer. He is so sweet and easy going. It’s nice to have one non-teenager in the house!

Olivia and I went out to dinner on Monday to celebrate her friend’s birthday. Four of my favorite friends were there too so it was a fun night!

My friend, Cynthia, brought us a delicious dinner!

After chemo, I had lunch with one of my dear friends, Lynn, who I don’t get to see very often. It was so nice to sit and chat for a bit.

My BFF and I have golf widows’ night every Thursday and it’s my favorite night of the week!

What made you happy this week?

Happy This Week

I know, I know…it’s late! But better late than never, right?

We had wonderful dinners delivered by my friends Janice and Misty. It was so nice because I started radiation planning last week. My friend, Janice, was visiting from out of town and was able to stay for a bit and chat. It was so nice to catch up! She’s so easy to talk to and one of those people you can just pick up where you left off. I love that!

My BFF was back from vacation! We worked out together and had our weekly golf night. I’m so glad she and her family are home!

Seinfeld on Hulu! Man, I love that show.

Matthew was at day camp this week, Gabe was at work and Olivia was at school. Matt and I were able to have a couple of “dates” during the day. Exciting ones like getting Starbucks and going to Lowe’s! But, hey, it was just the two of us!

I’ve been reading like a crazy woman and I love it. I’ll share which ones this week.

Matt is done painting and is now working on the staircase. He took up the carpet and is staining and painting the stairs. It’s going to look gorgeous! Our new furniture should be here soon and then we can decorate. I’m so excited to have our downstairs and our basement just the way we want it!

We went to Kings Island and the Serpent Mound this weekend. It was nice to get away for a couple of days and have fun.

What made you happy last week?

What I’ve Been Reading

I just realized I haven’t posted about books since April! I’m not sure I can remember everything I’ve read since then, but I’ll try!

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

This was a very long book. Very. I enjoyed it but not as much as some of my friends who really love this series. It’s a love story and a time travel book all in one. It’s set in the Scottish Highlands which was also interesting. There’s lots of historical details too. I think I’d like it better when my brain isn’t so fuzzy so I might give it another try later when the chemo gets totally out of my brain!

Gone by James Patterson

I’m about done with James Patterson. I read his books because I’ve loved him for so long, but lately I’ve been so disappointed. I feel like his books are especially mediocre when he writes with a partner. Anyone else feel this way? This is in the Detective Michael Bennett series. His family is in hiding in California because Bennett put away a major drug cartel leader and then the leader escaped and is now after his family. It sounds good, but I skimmed most of it because it was boring. None of that Patterson suspense and excitement here. Skip it.

Burn by James Patterson

This book follows Gone and focuses on Bennett and his family after they return from California. This was way better than Gone, but still not great. It follows several different stories that all tie together in the end: jewelry thieves, cannibals and Bennett’s new position within NYPD. It was decent but not great. I also dislike how Patterson has started ending his books so abruptly lately. Sometimes that can be effective, but not here.

Gathering Prey by John Sanford

Sanford is another one of my favorite authors. I love his Lucas Davenport novels and this one did not disappoint. Lucas after a tribe of serial killers after his daughter, Letty, befriends a “traveler” while at college in California. These are really crazy killers. The adventure takes them from Minnesota to Wisconsin to Michigan as they track down and try to stop this group. It was very action-packed and very typical (in a good way) of Sanford’s Prey novels. If you like his books, you’ll enjoy this one.

Die Again by Tess Gerritsen

This is in the Rizzoli and Isles series, if you’ve ever read those before. Rizzoli and Isles are trying to solve a bizarre murder involving rare African animals and a renowned big game hunter and taxidermist. It alternates back and forth between the detectives and the survival story of a woman on safari six years prior. Gerritsen brilliantly weaves these two stories together and they come together in an unexpected ending. I haven’t read all of the Rizzoli and Isles books (only two actually) so this is definitely a stand-alone novel. I am terrified of animals so that added another layer of suspense for me! It’s suspenseful and a fast read. I loved it!

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

I loved Gone Girl and was definitely willing to give another Flynn book a try. It did not disappoint. It was awesome! The main character, Libby Day, is a survivor of her family’s massacre. She testified, at 7 years old, that her brother was the murderer. It is now 25 years later and a the “Kill Club” wants Libby to reinvestigate the case as they think her brother is innocent. Libby is a hot mess and needs money so she agrees to do it as long as they pay her. She discovers the truth and that’s all I can say! It is a very good book with lots of twists and turns and excitement.

What have your read lately?

Happy This Week

I’m starting to feel better and stronger each day. It’s such a wonderful feeling. Matt said he feels like he has his wife back and Matthew looked at me and said “You’re feeling better, aren’t you, Mom?” Makes me SO happy!

Matt and I went running together! I did a 5K with only stopping to walk for about a minute three times. It felt good to do it even though it was hard! I also lifted weights this week!!! Very light, but still! It’s really helping my emotional state to be back working out on the path to how hard I used to work out. I’m hoping to be back in shape by the time school starts. Fingers crossed I can continue through radiation treatments.

I had a Groupon for a mani and pedi and was able to get that done this week now that I didn’t have to fret too much about my white blood cell counts. The salon wasn’t that nice (Groupon!) but the girl did a good job.

I finished three books this week. New book review post up next week, I promise.

We are redecorating our first floor and Matt has been a painting machine. (I’m not allowed to paint…) I’m so excited to get it finished and get our new furniture and have the first floor just how we want it.

Olivia started summer school this week and she did GREAT. She loved it and didn’t really have too many issues. I’m so proud of her!

My dear friend, Kim, came over and hung out with me last night. We had a glass of wine (something else I haven’t done in 6 months!) and ate dinner and talked. It was heavenly! She brought me the most beautiful flowers too.

We had delicious dinners this week from Kim and my friend Nancy. So good and they definitely spoiled us!

I got a sweet card from one of my former students that absolutely made my day.

Gabe and Matthew had soccer and basketball camps this week. They had fun!

Gabe started his job this week and did really well. We are so proud of him for working for a few weeks this summer!

Matt and I are going to a Disco Party tonight! I am so thankful that I feel good enough to go. My wonderful friend, Robin, is hosting a pre-party and we’re going with them. It’s going to be so fun!

What made you happy this week?

Happy This Week

What a wonderful week it has been!!! I received my last Taxol chemo treatment!!! 12 weeks of hell is over!!! It’s been six months since all of this started and sometimes it feels like yesterday, other times it seems much longer. All I know is I’m happy to have surgery and my first round of chemo behind me!! Radiation and the rest of my chemo starts the first week in July. But that chemo is no big deal compared to the Taxol.

My friend, Michelle, decorated my driveway and had a group of family and friends there to celebrate when I got home from my last treatment. They covered me in silly string! It was fun and so sweet.

Follow me on Instagram to see all of my pics: elastamom417!

Matt and I went out for a celebratory breakfast after my last treatment. I’m so glad he was with me for the last one and we were able to celebrate. He’s my rock.

My BFF got me the most beautiful charm bracelet to celebrate as well. It has good luck charms on it: a pearl, a four-leaf clover and an elephant with its trunk up. It’s gorgeous!

We had wonderful dinners again last week and this week from my friends Nicki and Pam. So delicious! I am looking forward to cooking again but will miss being spoiled by my wonderful friends!

My husband started his golf league again which means golf nights each week with my BFF! I love that our kids get along so well and we all look forward to it each week.

I have peach fuzz on my head!!!! I’m so excited. It’s not much, but it’s a glimmer of hope that my hair will be back soon.

Matt and I went out for a rare afternoon date (so nice to have a 13-year-old in the house!) and bought furniture. We are redoing are downstairs finally! We’ve lived in our house for almost 6 years and it was time for an update. I’m so excited to paint and redecorate. Our home is really our haven and I want it to feel that way all through the house.

Gabe has a girlfriend. A true girlfriend. It’s the cutest and it’s also weird. I don’t feel old enough to have a son who has a girlfriend. I was very proud of him…he asked her to be his girlfriend in person! Not a text! They’ve been hanging out in a group and texting constantly. It’s very sweet. He’s very happy. She’s adorable and sweet.

Matt and I rented This is 40 from the library and laughed our asses off. We’ve seen it before but it’s been a while and I’d forgotten how funny it is. I need to have this one for my collection!

Orange is the New Black season 3 is on!!! I just re-watched season 2 and couldn’t wait for the new one. Love this show. I love the back stories on all of the inmates.

Matthew and Gabe both made their respective travel soccer teams. We are so proud of them! It’s Matthew’s first time playing travel and I’m anxious to see how it goes. Both of my boys really love soccer. We do too!

What made you happy this week?

The Grossest Poop Story Ever Told

Because it’s summer…and I love this story…and it makes me laugh!

The water in our Maine campground was so warm that it felt like a bathtub. Olivia has a really difficult time pooping…unless she’s in really warm water. She often poops in the bathtub at home because she’s so relaxed. Luckily, we have these really awesome washable swim diapers that hold everything in. And she wears two.

But still.

The first three days she pooped right as we were getting ready to head back to our camper. So we’d head back plop her in our tiny little camper bathtub and clean her up. The worst part about those washable diapers is that they don’t rip on the sides…you have to pull them down like underwear. So poop goes everywhere. It’s disgusting.

The fourth day we were there, we had just arrived to swim and Matt looked at me and said “Either Olivia just pooped or she grew testicles.” I looked and, sure enough, there was something poking out of her suit. We had just gotten there! Matt said it looked hard so just take her to the campground bathroom that was just a few feet away. “It shouldn’t be too messy if we can see it, right?” he said.

I trudge her over to the campground bathroom, get her into the stall and see what we’ve got. Let me just tell you that shit was everywhere. It wasn’t just the one we could see. It was all over the seat, the sides of the toilet, Olivia and the floor. And of course the floor was wet because swimmers were coming in wet and using it all day so the poop just spread.

Everywhere.

I was in a total panic. Someone was going to come in and see this and freak out and send us home to Ohio. I just knew it! I’m frantically trying to figure out how to clean this shit up. And what on Earth am I supposed to do with Olivia? Luckily there was also a shower in this bathroom, so I picked up my gorgeous, shit-covered daughter and put her in the shower. Luckily, she loves the shower and so she sat there nicely and kept telling me happily, “The water is SOOOOOO warm!”

Meanwhile, I’m looking around trying to figure out how to clean this up. Thank goodness the bathroom had paper towels and not just those hand drying machines. I grab the paper towels that are the consistency of a tissue and start mopping up all the poop on the floor. Because I’m in such a panic, I’m not thinking clearly, so I’m just mopping up and throwing my discarded towels in the toilet.

Did you read that? I WAS THROWING THE PAPER TOWELS IN THE TINY, BARELY-CAN-FLUSH TOILET!

As I’m walking over to get more paper towels about halfway through the clean-up, because the floor is wet and shit-covered and I’m wearing flip-flops, I fall and do the splits. On the public bathroom, shit-covered floor. It was one of those moments where you feel like you just want to either burst into tears or into Tom Hanks’ Money Pit laugh. I did neither. I got up and finished cleaning up.

I finally stop to take a breath and in walks a fellow camper. I say “Don’t go in that first stall! My daughter had an accident and I’m still cleaning it up!!!” She smiles and says “Oh boy. I’ve been there!” and because I’m beside myself I think “I bet it wasn’t an 11-year-old’s poop though!”

Big difference.

So after I collect myself for a second, I realize what I’ve done. I’ve put about 50 paper towels in the toilet. Obviously, it’s not going to flush. I’m so embarrassed that I don’t even think for a second to just go tell the campground people what happened. In my state, I am convinced we’re going to be banned from the pool and possibly even the campground.

So I reach in.

I take clump after clump of shit covered paper towels and dump them in the garbage. Which of course makes another mess all over the floor that I have to clean up. I finally breathe a sigh of relief, wash my hands for twenty minutes in scalding hot water, and go back to the toilet to flush it.

But guess what? The turd that looked like testicles? It’s so big it won’t flush down.

At this point I’ve invested so much time and energy and lost all of my pride, that I’m not going to give up now. So I reach in, break it up, and flush it down.

I know.

I scald my hands and wash furiously again but I don’t think at this point I’ll ever feel clean again.

I wash Olivia’s diapers and suit out and her body, get her all put back together, collect myself and head back to the pool.

We walk back to the water, Olivia jumps in happily and Matt looks at me and says…

“What took you so long?”

Be Kind. Rewind.

I still remember in the mid-80’s when our family first got a VCR. The four of us went to the store and looked at these crazy machines that would supposedly let us watch our favorite movies at home. It sounded crazy. I remember thinking I couldn’t believe my parents were going to spend this crazy amount of money on this new invention. Plus, my parents never bought stuff like this so I was super excited.

Before we knew it, the local appliance store in our tiny little town started renting movies. As you can imagine, it was slim pickins. We didn’t care. My sister and I were both born with the ability to watch the same movie or TV show over and over and over again and love it just the same. Oddly enough, my own children have inherited this quality. Matt thinks we are so strange. I can remember the look on my Mom’s face when we’d, again, grab Girls Just Want to Have Fun even though we had just rented it the week before. But we didn’t care. We loved that movie.

My sister and I were reminiscing about all of our favorite movies that we’d watch over and over and over again and I thought it’d be fun to share our list. (For some of the obscure ones, I’ve added descriptions and links in case you have no clue what we’re talking about. We liked some weird ones.)

Back to the Future—of course. A 1980’s staple. MJF was hot.

City Slickers—Hellllllloooooo!!!

Splash—I’ve always loved Tom Hanks. Those damn scientists need to leave Daryl Hannah alone!

Breakfast Club—I remember thinking I got away with something big because my parents were letting me watch it and it had the F word in it multiple times! And Judd Nelson in those black gloves…dreamy. And what on earth was sushi???

Pretty Woman—we were surprised our Mom let us watch this one but, then again, my sister was too young to know what a lot of it was about. At least for a couple of years.

Weird Science—Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith (was he ever in another movie?) star in this where they make a woman who is played by Kelly LeBrock? Man, we loved this movie. Was there anyone more gorgeous than Kelly in the 80’s? Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful…remember?

Big Business—this is one of those weird ones for us to love. We are huge fans to this day of Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin. (Have you seen Grace and Frankie? Lily is awesome in it.) Bette and Lily play two sets of identical twins who were separated and adopted by completely different families—one rich and one poor. The movie is set later in their life when they meet in the “big city” while working on a “big business” deal. We loved, loved, loved this movie! I tried to rent it from the library but they only have it on VHS tape!

Ruthless People—another Bette Midler classic! She is the wife of Danny Devito who has her kidnapped by Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater. They chain her in the basement and she loses a bunch of weight and the kidnappers and Bette become best friends and act revenge on Danny. Such a great movie!

Mannequin—Andrew McCarthy and Kim Cattrall in their finest piece of work! Kim turns into a real woman and falls in love with Andrew. Classic romantic movie! Hollywood (Meschach Taylor) was our favorite character!

Santa Claus the Movie—we watched this year round and still have to watch it together every Christmas Eve. Nothing makes if feel more like Christmas than this Dudley Moore/John Lithgow favorite!

Clue—we were obsessed with this movie. Obsessed. And the game. We even had the VCR Clue game and played it constantly.

Three Men and a Baby—hilarious, kind of scary and a cute baby! Who could ask for more!

Baby Boom—this movie began my love affair with Diane Keaton. Do you remember this one? Diane is a big business woman who has a baby left to her and leaves the big city for Vermont and starts her own baby food company? Love it!

Doc Hollywood—another Michael J. Fox classic

Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead—Christina Applegate stars in this one, along with a very young and dorkishly handsome Josh Charles. Christina is left in charge of her siblings after the summer babysitter dies. She gets a job at a big corporation and hilarity ensues…along with a little romance!

Dirty Dancing—no one puts baby in the corner.

Ferris Bueller—we could probably still act this one out word for word if you asked us to.

Adventures in Babysitting—who else wanted to be Elizabeth Shue???? I was obsessed with her. This movie was hilarious especially because I babysat non-stop. And it said the F-word!! EEK!

Girls Just Want to Have Fun—Janey and Jeff all the way, baby!!

What were some of your favorite movies growing up? Were you like my sister and I…did you like to watch them over and over?

Cancer Chronicles VIII: Things They Don’t Tell You

You know how when you’re pregnant for the first time or about to get married and you have no clue what you’re in for? Well-intentioned people try to prepare you but there is really no possible way their advice can prepare you for what is about to happen to you. Before you get married you think it’s going to be all romance and happiness and then you have your first major fight and you think…is this really marriage? Before you have a baby, you think you know what it is to be tired. Then you are two weeks in with a newborn and you realize you’ve never experienced exhaustion like this before. That’s what having cancer is like. People can give you advice all day long, but until you experience it for yourself, you don’t really know what you’re in for.

Just like with marriage and motherhood, there are things that are kept secret for some reason. Like until you’re in the midst of it, you can’t possible handle the truth. Like with marriage how sometimes you can’t stand your spouse but you still love them with all of your heart. Or with raising children, how some days it’s mind-numbingly boring and awful, but you love them anyway. Cancer is like that too.

To most people, losing their hair is a huge deal. I was upset, obviously, because I like my hair, but I wasn’t too worried about it. Guess what? I hate being bald. Sure it gives me an extra 15 minutes in the morning and I don’t have bad hair days, but I miss my hair terribly. They also can’t prepare you for the fact that your head hurts. It’s tender, of course, because you’ve had hair protecting it your whole life. I have to wear a cap when I sleep because laying on it hurts. I have extreme hot flashes all day long and when I have them at night, my head sweats like crazy and then I take off my cap and then I can’t sleep because it hurts to lay on my head. They tell you that you will lose your hair but it’s a totally different experience when you wake up one day and you have NO hair anywhere. Anywhere. It’s strange and you feel like an alien freak. At least I do.

They tell you you’ll be nauseous but it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It’s nausea 24/7. But there’s nothing in your stomach. So it’s like that feeling that you need to throw up, and you’d feel so much better if you’d throw up, but you can’t. The anti-nausea medicine gives me a headache so usually I have to decide between two evils. You’re so achy it hurts to move. And you’re more tired than you’ve ever been in your life. I hardly ever took naps before. Now I need one every day. Need one. Of course I’m not sleeping at night because of a.) nausea b.) headache c.) hot flashes d.) acid reflux and heartburn so of course I need a nap. Oh and I have no white blood cells. That makes a person a little tired.

The one week I showed up and couldn’t get my chemo because of my white blood cell count really threw me for a loop. That’s another thing they can’t prepare you for. Now, every week, in addition to just worrying about getting through chemo, you’re worried that you won’t get your chemo and be a week behind in your treatment schedule. Because trust me, you don’t want to get behind your schedule. It’s like your pregnancy due date. You want that baby out by that date! You want your chemo over on the day it’s supposed to be over.

Mom and others might want to stop reading now because I’m going to talk about sex. That’s one major thing they can’t prepare you for. Your loss of desire for sex. It’s not just me either. Other friends have confirmed the same feeling. Of course you don’t feel well, so sex is never at the top of the list when you’re not feeling good. But the desire is totally gone. It’s an awful feeling that I’ve never experienced before. I miss the intimacy with my husband and I know he does too. It’s like all of sudden your sense of hunger or tiredness is gone. It’s just a weird unsettling feeling.

Cancer is hard on a marriage just like any other major traumatic event. Even a strong marriage will be tested by cancer. The person with cancer feels awful all the time, can’t do as much around the house and feels so much guilt. The caretaker is tired of watching their spouse feel bad, tired of picking up the slack and just wants their spouse to be back to normal. It’s tough. We’re managing and, thanks to tons of help from family and friends, we’re surviving, but it’s not easy.

I’m not saying all of this to complain. Although, trust me, I feel allowed to complain. I’m saying this because maybe someone who was recently diagnosed can maybe prepare themselves or maybe someone who is currently going through it won’t feel so alone. Because that’s the other thing they can’t prepare you for. How terribly lonely it feels to have cancer. Even if you find a friend or supporter who is going through or has gone through what you are going through, it’s not you. I know I feel very alone. So if I can help one person not feel so alone, I will consider myself lucky and helpful.

Happy This Week

And last week! I’m a week behind. These last few weeks of chemo have really kicked my butt. I’m glad I only have ONE MORE TO GO! Not total but in this first round..and this is the last one of the ones that really kick my butt. This has been the LONGEST 12 weeks ever and I’m so glad it’s almost over. I’m proud of myself too! I made it!

School is out for summer! I was finished last week and the kids finished up this week. Matt still has to go Monday and Tuesday but they are just teacher work days. Summer is officially here!!!

Last weekend, when I was feeling lousy, it was so nice not to have to worry about lessons plans and grading and emails and such. I miss my kids like crazy, but it was getting so hard to keep up!

Speaking of my students, I received a lot of wonderful notes, cards and gifts the last week of school. I sure will miss them. They have been a bigger help to me these past 6 months than they will ever know! We had a great last week of school that ended with 8th grade “graduation”. It’s so nice to see all of the parents and celebrate their wonderful kids!

My work friends and I went out after 8th grade graduation and had so much fun. It’s hard to catch up during the school day (I hardly ever get a lunch!) so it’s nice to just hang out and chat for a while. I was proud of myself for making it through an almost 16 hour day!

We had wonderfully delicious dinners delivered last week and this week by my friends Amy, Amy, Kim, Talli, Diana and Nikki. I can’t even begin to tell you how helpful this has been for our family. My friend, Robin, also brought us crazy good cupcakes and my friend, Stephanie, brought the kids a fun summer gift bag. So sweet!

Matt went with friends for an overnight where they get to fish and skeet shoot and hang out. I am so thankful his friends helped me arrange this surprise for his birthday! He really deserves it…and needs it!!

My friend and neighbor, Michelle, took me to chemo last week and we had fun catching up. She is so much fun and has such a big heart. My BFF, Amy, took me this week and it is always a treat to have one-on-one time with her! People always stare at me and my friends because we laugh so much! Until I fall asleep anyway…

My friend, Tod, is getting married tomorrow! I’m so happy for him.

My stepsister, Courtney, got married last weekend. She was a gorgeous, classic bride and the wedding and reception were so beautiful and loving. I’m so happy for them! And Olivia made it for a long time at the reception!! We went with my sister and her husband so that was fun and we got to sit with my awesome aunt and uncle and got to catch up with them. (And I made it through another super long, busy day! I rock! LOL!)

My friend, Glenn, from work sends me cards once a week. It is so nice to get his inspirational messages each week!

My friend, Tammy, whose daughter has the same syndrome as Olivia, sent me a beautiful headscarf this week too. I’m getting spoiled!

My friend, Melinda, and I were able to walk together this week. She is battling breast cancer too and it was nice to talk it out with her.

Sometimes I have panic attacks that I’ve forgotten to thank someone since January…if I forgot to thank you, I promise I felt it and thought it in my heart!!!

What made you happy this week?

Happy This Week

Only 3 more chemos to go in this first round!!! I started scheduling my second round and I have my radiation planning meeting in a month. It’s coming right along!

My sister went to chemo with me this week and we laughed a lot! Did you know Michael Jackson had a personal magician? We thought that was hilarious. Maybe you had to be there. ;)

My friend, Robin, brought me a bunch of trashy magazines last weekend like National Enquirer, Star, etc. It was so thoughtful and so much fun to read. (That’s where we read about the personal magician…)

We had two wonderful dinners this week from my friends Nicki and Diana. I can’t even tell you how helpful this has been for our family.

Seinfeld is coming to Hulu! Guess what I’ll be watching this summer???

I have several former students coming to visit next week! It’s their exam week so they can come and say hello. I’m excited to see them and humbled that they want to come visit me!!

Matthew and I played Life one night after dinner this week. It was so nice to have time to do that!

Matt and I were able to go on a couple of walks after school this week. It’s nice to be able to have a conversation!!

I went to see Pitch Perfect 2 and it was funny! I didn’t like it as much as the first one but it was still good.

Three more days of school for me!!

What made you happy this week?