Monday, April 30, 2012

Another Chapter: We Bought a Cake!

It's probably something that someone should never have to buy a cake for.  We wanted to celebrate.  It's not necessarily the end of our journey but it is a milestone that we wanted to celebrate.  To us it's kind of a big deal.

It says "Yay No More AFP Tests!"

Clover got to pick the cake out and she wanted the chocolate chocolate cake with the pretty pretty flowers on it.  I wanted to draw a needle with the big NO sign through it but it would have gotten lost in all the pretty pretty flowers.

Thursday we got the call that her Tumor markers were down.  They have been down for awhile but we were still testing to make sure.  The doctor said last year that we were testing too often to this was the first test we had done in six months.  Since they have been down she said we should stop testing all together.

It is great news and a huge deal for us.

Our little roller coast ride started when my darling Clover was born.    

Every month for the first two years of her life we spent an hour in a lab waiting to get her blood taken.  It was a monthly ritual that I dreaded.  The first time we went to lab at our local Children's hospital only to find out that they didn't take our insurance.  They told us that any of the labs on under our insurance should be able to get her blood taken.  This proved easier said than done.  I went to a lab that said they were capable of taking blood from a newborn.  I held my daughter down as the tech tried to take her blood.  The needle was so large that if she missed she was going to push that thing right through my baby's arm.  She tried four times and then yelled at me because I wasn't holding my screaming baby the way she wanted me too.  I went home and balled.  During our check up with our surgeon I told him about the trouble I was having finding a lab and he told me how important it was to get her tested and then said he would call the insurance for me.  I gave it one more shot and called every lab in the town and asked them if they had specifically pediatric experience.  I found one guy.  He was able to take her blood with one poke and with a much smaller needle.  He was our guy from then on and I would call every month to find out if he was in and if he wasn't in when he would be in.  Once a month I practically stalked him.

When her first test was taken her AFP numbers where in the 400's.  A normal person's is under 35.  They steadily went down until she was ten months where they mysteriously spiked.  They went from 127 to 215.  Our small team jumped into action and scheduled an MRI to look for signs of growth.  Handing my daughter over to the nurses was one of the hardest things we have ever had to do.  We waited for hours in the waiting room.  When we got the call back that there was nothing there we were a bit surprised.  They could never explain the spike in her markers.  We were also a bit taken back when they said that she possibly had a collapsed lung.  At first I stressed out but then staring at daughter I knew she didn't have a collapsed lung because she was very good at letting me know when she wasn't happy.  She has always been a very loud child.  There was no way she wasn't using both of her lungs.  We went back for an X-ray and hearing her yell about putting her down on the X-ray table the tech told me that as loud as she was she probably didn't have a collapsed lung.  I laughed.  I already knew that.  They called back and said that it was probably due to shallow breathing due to the anesthesia.  She was fine.

Before she was three they said that we were testing too often and that we could back down to every three months.  This was good news to me.  It meant that I would only have to stress out every three months instead of twice a month.  Once to go and get her test and then the three days after waiting for the results.

As she got older she become very curious about the blood test.  At one point she told everyone she wanted to be a doctor.  There was one time where she was so interested in what the Phlebotomist was doing that she didn't notice that she was getting poked.  That was the only time she didn't cry.  I think I felt worse.  I felt like had gotten so used to it.  I took her to go and get ice cream because I felt so bad.

We've always been very honest with her about what happened.  She was very curious at a young age to why she had to go to the doctors office and the lab so often.  We told her that she was born with a large tumor on her butt-butt and that she had surgery on the day she was born, and that the blood tests were to make sure that it wasn't coming back.  She seems okay with that explanation.

Last year her numbers were under 18 but would bounce around a bit.  The doctor didn't seemed to worried about it since they were still under 35.  She consulted an Oncologist who said that once again we were testing too often and to wait six months this time.  She also said that if her numbers were still down this next time around that we would be done with testing.  Fast forward to last week where they were down.

There was a big collective "Yaaaaaaaaaaay" and a chocolate chocolate cake with pretty pretty flowers.  I know that this is always going to be something that we have to check up on but it's nice to have it in the background and not having to constantly worry about it.  It's nice to worry about normal kid stuff like making sure the slice of cake she gets isn't TOO large!  Not that it really matters, she only eats the frosting anyways.                

Things I Admit To, That Make Me Sound Crazy

Yesterday, a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit almost made me cry.

Yes, now I sound like I'm loony.

Let me back up and explain.  We got breakfast on the go yesterday since we had some errands to run.  Mcdees for breakfast is a once in awhile treat.  I looked back and Clover had her breakfast sandwich and was holding it and eating it all by herself.  Yes, she's four and in my head I knew she could hold it but I was surprised to actually see her doing it.  This is the same kid that would throw her cheeseburger if it started to slide around in the slightest bit.  I had to start putting a tiny bit of mayo on her sandwiches to hold them together because if the bread slid off she would meltdown and chuck it across the table.  Breakfast sandwiches almost never stay together and she gets mad and then usually eats the pieces individually.  Yesterday, she was quite content with sitting in the back holding her breakfast and gnawing away at it.  No whining, no meltdowns, no chucking her breakfast across the back seat of Rojo Grande.

I got teary eyed.  Part of it sadness that my Clover is no longer a little baby.  My little baby is growing up.  Sometimes a little quicker than I want.  Part of it pride that she had figured things out on her own.  I  blinked a few times and forced my tears back.  If Hubby looked over and saw me crying he surely would have thought I lost it.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Flexing My Nerd Credits

Hubby was talking about something the other day.  I don't even remember how the conversation started.  I guess that part doesn't matter.  It was how it ended that may have gotten him in trouble.

Hubby:  That's a Star Trek:  The Next Generation reference just so you know.

Me:  *blink*blink* I can't believe you just said that to me!

Hubby:  (trying to defend himself)  Well I didn't know if you got it or not.

Me:  Really?!?  I've seen every episode of the Classic Star Trek and EVERY episode of TNG multiple times.  It was one of the nerdy things I did before I even met you! (you know cuz I may or may not have that crush on Wesley Crusher/Wil Wheaton) Not to mention I watched the full run of Enterprise with you.

Hubby:  *laughing at the situation and smiling because he just realized that his wife is indeed that Bad*ss!*

Or at least thats what I am telling myself that he was thinking.  He could have just been laughing at how ridiculous the conversation was.  That's the kind of things you fight about when you've been together since the fifties.  Okay maybe not that long but that's our running joke.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's Spring...Kinda?

We basically get two seasons around these parts...Winter and Summer.  Fall and Spring are usually two week intervals in-between.  Several factors have led me to believe that Spring had visited these parts.  One is the bees are buzzing.  The second is that the birds have begun to nest.  EVERYWHERE.

Guess we won't be using the ladder anytime soon.

We used to have ceiling fans on the back porch and I kid you not, every year one or two not so bright birds would try to nest in the fans...while they were moving.  I would just shake my head in disbelief.  We took those down this year so I thought we were out of Birdfest 2012.  I was wrong.  While cleaning up the back and the side of the house we looked over and saw that something was watching us back.  I really hope that the wild cats in the hood fail to notice that she's there.  I would hate to think that one of those cats could just climb up the ladder to his lunch.

Also making an appearance this Spring...

We observed this little guy for awhile in the front yard.  One of Clover's latest interests is the snails in the yard.  She calls them her friends.  She will touch the shell but if it starts to move she will scream and run away.  It was in the process of charging Granny and the whole neighborhood heard her scream that it was going to get her.  Maybe...if she didn't move...for like a month.  We also learned an important scientific fact while observing our snail pal.  Snails poop.  Everyone/thing does.  There was that book written about it.  I guess I missed the page about the snail.  He pooped in the yard.  Oh the joys of Spring!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Correction: Not Lost...Just Misdirected.

I often we do things backwards or is it everyone else?  Things are different when I step outside of my bubble.  That leaves me wondering if it's just me!  For example we traveled to the Bay Area only to find out that several of the buildings we ventured into were not equipped with any form of air conditioning.  Sorry that fan on the floor does not count!  It's 76 degrees out there but I am melting in here!  I was so relieved to get back in the car with nice cool air conditioned air hitting me.  Even if we were off getting lost, we were nice and cool!  We just had to avoid any buildings that had their doors propped open.

Okay so we weren't lost.  We knew where we were at all times.  We were in San Francisco.  We just were not on the right side!  We had the Magellan going along with some Google Maps action and still managed to take a very scenic route through San Francisco.  We saw the Financial District, Union Square and China Town!  The kinda funny part of this story is that we weren't trying to see any of that.  We were trying to get to the Walt Disney Family Museum.  Luckily even with the very lengthy scenic route we managed to keep our cool and keep laughing as we dodged pedestrians, parallel parkers, busses and oh my gosh more cyclist!    

Destination 104 Montgomery St.

What's funny is that there is no 104 Montgomery!  We parked and walked half a mile taking in all the lovely sights only to find out that the 100's block of Montgomery is all banks.  What the heck?  So after a few moments of staring at each other we couldn't figure it out.  We both had two separate devices and looked up the address from different websites and everything we looked at pointed us here.  Guess what? I guess that has happened A LOT.  Or at least that is according to man that brought out the map to show us how lost we were.  We dodged into one of the buildings that was very tall, very marbly and had a receptionist.  Although he was a guy.  A manceptionist?  Spell check said that isn't a word.  Concierge? I think thats what it is.  He was helpful but I can't say he was very friendly.  He was annoyed.  Like he gets people with mickey shirts harassing him a lot.  I was half heartily hoping that he was going to be all like "Just kidding it is upstairs" but he didn't.  He half snorted and said "Yeah, you're not even close!"  And then pulled out his half folded map and showed us where we really needed to go.  And guess what?  We were not even close.  So back to the garage to weasel the car out of the parking structure.  I have never been so thankful that our home town has flat parking!  By the way, Thanks Lissa for driving!

So after the Magellan/Google Maps fail we looked up the intersection instead of the address.

Tada!  Where we should have been!

It ended up being an hour and half detour.  Screw you Google Maps!  Presidio and San Francisco have the same streets but are different!

Not only have I learned to appreciate flat parking structures I also appreciate overall flatness after experiencing the very hilly San Francisco.  By the way...Thanks Lissa for driving! (It really does bare repeating).

Destination is on the right!

So when we got there I mentioned to the door opener that we got lost and she said "we hear that a lot" and I wanted to scream at her " THEN WHY DONT YOU FIX THAT!" but I bit my tongue because I'm not that confrontational.

The Museum was very nice.  The exhibits are cool and Clover loved all the ones with the phones.  I don't have any pictures of the inside because that's not allowed.  Which sucks because it was pretty cool.

On the way back home we dodged more cyclists...

Everywhere! Okay I was really just trying to get a picture of the water but I couldn't even get that without the cyclists in the way!  

And dodged some more cyclist after that.  We hit some minor traffic and headed back over some hills.  I think that both of us were so very glad when we saw everything flatten out.  Flat, sprawled out and oh my gosh there are sheep right next to that Target!  Be it ever so flat...there is no place like home!  

Not Your Normal Adventure

We just got back from whirl wind trip of the Bay area.  I didn't even drive (because of my screwed up head) but I am exhausted.  I sat in the passenger seat and pretended I was being useful by pointing out all the bicyclists.  And holy moly there where a LOT of them!  Everywhere!  I have met my "spandex" quota for life!

Friday we were stoked because we were off on our little girl's trip to see Jenny Lawson.  You know from The Bloggess!  To say that we were off for an adventure would be putting it lightly!  We were prepared though.  Not only did we have a GPS, along with Google Maps on two devices but we also had directions printed...on paper.  Getting there was no big deal.  Driving around in the Marin/Mill Valley/Larkspur/Corte Madera area was another story.  Back home we have these nice little road signs that tell us things.  Like the big yellow signs that say LANE ENDS, and because we are oh so smart here we have another yellow sign after that with a very simple picture of that said lane ending!  It's like someone was playing a really mean practical joke on us and stole all those signs in that area right before we got there!  It seemed like every lane we were in seemed to end.  Then there was that whole mountain like detour we took on the roads that were only wide enough for one car!  

We managed to find our way.

Because who doesn't travel with their own stuffed animals.  Okay these were at once alive but whatever.  The small one in the apron is Juanita just in case you were wondering.  

We still got there on time and manage to reserve a seat!  I felt a little guilty about bringing Clover to book signing with several adult themes but she was off in her own little world with her new book and her travel magna-doodle.  I know that she was in her own little world because there were several words that she is good at pointing out that we shouldn't say and she didn't manage to hear any of them.  She snapped out of it when we got in line to get our books signed and wanted her book signed too.  Her Olivia book!  Which Jenny signed because Clover asked her and she even drew a little kitty in it.  Clover was also very concerned that Hamlet Von Schnitzel was missing.  Jenny kindly told her that he broke his leg and then Clover's face got all scrunched up and she also added that he was okay and they were getting him tiny crutches and she felt a lot better.

My very first book signing!
Since we were all feeling great about the night we decided to hit up some of the activities back at the hotel and ended our evening at the fire pit with some yummy S'mores!

The next day turned out to be an adventure of it's own which is why it is reserved for its very own post.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Place You Thought Of As Home

I've been reading Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson.  If you aren't offended by anything on her blog then you will love this book.  I will admit that I did take the jacket cover off to read it in front of my mom.  I love it!  There are so many moments where I am caught in a guffaw.  My husband looks at me like I'm nuts and my mom kept asking me what was so funny.  All I can answer with is "uuuhhh".  Not that my mom isn't hip or with it...I just think that she might not find the stories involving cow vaginas all that funny.

I haven't found the time to make it all the way through the book but I am making as big of a dent as much as I can.  Although there are a ton of funny moments there are some moments where it gets a bit serious.  It balances out nicely.

I found myself connecting with a certain section of the book where Jenny talks about going home as an adult.  Going home only to find that place wasn't the same anymore.  Although she wanted it to change, when it did, it wasn't what she wanted.  Not only did I fully understand what she was talking about, I got it.  I found that part hitting a little close to home.

I lived a moment very similar to that.  Where I realized that a place I called home, was no longer what I remembered.

My parents wanted me to come out to my Grandparents property and help clean up some stuff.  Being about six month pregnant at the time I couldn't do very much except drive which was what they wanted anyways since I had an Element I had the biggest car.  I didn't want to go.  I knew I didn't want to go but for the sake of being a team player I went.  I spent a lot of the time sitting on my tailgate staring.

My Grandparents had a piece of property in one of those "blink and you'll miss it" kind of towns.  It had a school and a fruit stand and a restaurant that got reincarnated every time it caught on fire.

When I was little no matter where we lived it always seemed like there was five of us and one bathroom.  So if the offer was thrown down to go out in the country where there was space, I didn't hesitate.  My Grandparents house was one of my favorite places as a kid.

There was space.  It always seemed like there was plenty of time, but at the same time the weekend always went by way to fast.  This place that I remember in my head is where I am transported too when I smell Oak trees.  My parents were married under one of the towering Oaks.  I always felt connected to it even as a kid because in my mind had they not gotten married under that tree there would be no me.  It was that little kid reasoning that made sense at the time.  Along with time and space there was independence.  Left to our own devices there was a million things to do.

At the time I never realized that our family didn't have a lot of money.  We always felt spoiled when we went to my Grandmothers.  She made us home made french fries from real potatoes and always had those hot dogs that had the cheese in the middle.  She made home made pies and fresh apple butter.  We always thought we were helping when we would pit cherries but I think in the end we ate more than our fair share.  I find myself repeating to my daughter that if eats too much fruit she's going to get sick but I think that was Grandma's way of keeping us out of the pie fodder.

She always seemed to keep busy while we played and explored.  I have to wonder if she was amazed that we made it back in the house every night.  We pushed each other on bikes, rode scooters and played with bones of old go carts.  The monkey bars were used as dare devices to see who would jump off the top.  We played as a group with our cousins or broke off and explored on our own.  One day I decided that I was going to mash up all the acorns I could gather.  I spent time fashioning a home made mortar and pestle out of rocks and went to work.  I mashed up all the acorns I could find and took a bite.  It was gross.  I guess I skipped that part in American History where they discussed leaching the acorns.  In my kid mind I couldn't give up what had seemed like hours of work.  I decided that sugar was my only option.  So in the house I went and out I came with a cup full of sugar.  I added and mashed some more and then decided to ask for help.  Grandma helped fill in the blanks.  She was the smartest person I knew.

Looking back I'm amazed that we made it back in the house every night.  It wasn't just the property that seemed spacious it was the house too.  The house wasn't huge but it was way bigger than anything I had ever been in.  It had two bathrooms and a closet that was big enough to play hide and seek in.  Not to mention a huge bathtub.  For half of my childhood our one tiny bathroom only housed a shower.  I would try to plug the drain with a wash rag and pretend that the two inches of water was a tub.  When I was at Grandmas I didn't have to pretend I was in the tub.  I pretended it was a swimming pool.  And to the younger was.

When we would play hide and seek I would always hide under my Grandmother's quilting loom which was almost always out and displaying her latest work in progress.  She hand made everything from dolls to bed quilts.  It's where I get my love of crafting from.  I have one blanket that she made for me and it's in dire need of repair.  One day I hope to know enough about quilting to fix it.  For now it sits as one of the many reminders of how much she loved me.  It's one of the many reminders of how much I loved that place.  That place that only exists as a memory now.  I wish that when I was younger I would have taken more picture.  Not that I had access to a camera back then.  When you are young you never in a million years think that a place you love so much might cease to exist.

And there I was sitting on the back of my tail gate coming to terms with that fact.  Things had happened and the property was in disarray.  The house had been torn down with the excuse that eventually a new road was coming through.  I knew in my head that all this had happened.  I couldn't bring myself to see it.  Even when we drove on the main road I couldn't look down the side street.  I wasn't ready to let go.  So when I found myself there on that chilly afternoon all I could do was stare.  I had my hand on my stomach  while my baby girl kicked me from the inside and I was even more saddened by the fact that she would never know this place.  Even if I cherry picked the happy memories and let go of everything else.  She would never know the Oak tree.  At the time I excused it as pregnancy hormones.  I couldn't let myself accept what I was feeling.  My husband came by and held my hand.  There was no way I could describe to him what I was experiencing.  I think he understood.  He didn't say much.  He just held my hand and stared out the back with me.

So when Jenny described what it was like for her to lose that place, even if it was just a fictional place, it clicked.  I understood that I was in mourning.  Now that I get that, I can work on getting over the loss of the place I thought of as home.    

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Every. Single. Time!

It never fails.  It's almost predictable.  I have lost count of how many times it has happened.

The grill caught on fire...again.

The first time we freaked out and grabbed the baking soda.  This time I feel as if I am a pro.  Hubby didn't even bother to get out of his chair while Clover was yelling that the grill caught on fire again.  Whenever the Hubs grills burgers you can bet that the next time we fire it up it at some point, sport some flames.  And not the cool racer kind on the side either.  I thought I was safe this time and I bought the lowest fat content I could find but I was wrong.  I preheated the grill to grill up some chicken tonight since it was nice outside and five minutes later the grill was on fire.  I put it out like the pro I am and finished dinner.  Now I am just sitting here wondering if I will get the blame for catching it on fire yet again.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Too Quiet

It's quiet around here.  Not just decibel wise but chatter wise as well.  This has left my mind to wonder.  Sometimes I have those moments where my thoughts get all jumbled together and somehow they make sense.  Kind of like a connect the dots picture.  I'm not sure if this is one of those moments.  I guess we will see how it comes together in the end.

The only noise I hear right now besides the clicking of the keyboard is the clicking in the dryer.  It never fails that whatever I am drying seems to be noisy.  Today was laundry day and while I wish I could say I knocked the pile out that would be a lie.  I started with good intentions but I couldn't keep up the momentum to do any real damage.  I just switched over the load and I think I somehow managed to get fabric softener in my hair.  Ah the life of Wifus Domesticus or as Roseanne once put it "The Domestic Goddess".

So anyhow back to the randomness that is my mind.  I've been giving some thought to how people come in and out of my life.  I wonder if there is a pattern.  If I look back five years or even three some of the same people are no longer around.  From my perspective there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason.  But that doesn't say much.  I have learned through the years that everyone has their own realities and sometimes we aren't all on the same page.  Sometimes we aren't even reading the same books.

From time to time my insecurities start wearing on me and I do wonder if it was something I did or said.  I wonder if it's just easier to let the friendship fade away than confront me to say what it was I did.  My insecurities also like to point out that it's not only some of my friendships that have faded but also my Husbands.  Since we have been "together since the fifties" we have cycled through a few groups of friends and I wonder if it was something that his annoying girlfriend/fiance/wife said or did that put them off?

It's not something I lose sleep over because right now I have a rockin group of wonderful and supportive people that I am lucky enough to call my friends.  But it's something that I think about when things are quiet.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter Ya'll

This year we are joining some friends of ours for an Easter egg hunt.  This is going to be Clover's first hunt with other kids.  The last couple of years she has had the front yard all to herself.  Hopefully she shares and I don't see any WWE style moves on our friends yard.  Last night we colored eggs.

Daddy's were nice and vibrant.  Most of Clover's ended up brown.  She had a good time though.

Some of them were actual colors :)

And mine are Muppet theme!  

So I present Piggy, Kermit, Skeeter and Gonzo.  Or at least my egg renditions.  

I'm not talent enough to try designs with more than one color :)  Perhaps next year I can amp up my egg coloring skills.


We are making our way through our cute little cookbook.  The other day we tried the Pink Lemonade Cupcakes.  I actually got up to check the book to see if that was what they were called.  The recipe is really easy.  The pink lemonade concentrate is very yummy and adds a little kick to the frosting.  I think I might add this recipe to the Summer list.  It would be very tasty on a hot day.

Clover was very persistent about putting a straw in the cupcake.  It was indeed a pink lemonade cupcake.
It needed a straw.