Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Random Things I Feel Like Writing Down Today

It's swell when someone is crying at the dinner table.

Tomorrow I'm getting a massage from my dentist. He's not giving me the massage, but he and his staff bought me a certificate for a massage. They gave the certificate to me in November. Given that I have had a child home sick nearly every week this winter, this is my first opportunity to use the certificate. Unless someone's head is falling off tomorrow, I'm going for that massage. I also get to go in the vapor caves. What are the vapor caves? Am I going to have the vapors like Harriet Oleson?

I'm watching a Biography on Clive Owen. He's hot.

I got on the scale. I have gained 4 pounds. So much for my jeans being too tight because of some Jean Manufacturer Conspiracy.

I am going to Chicago two weeks from tomorrow.

I know all the words to Paradise by the Dashboard Lights.

I still dream of being a cowgirl.

I don't have any shorts that fit me.

I have travel fever.

Andy Williams was on the Today Show the other day. There is no sign from the Andy Williams camp that they are aware that I am his biggest fan.

Tara, Craig and Garvin are back in the U.S. and will be in CO on 5/15.

Did Brad really move out of the house and leave Angelina?

My Grandpa will be 96 in June.

I'm reading another creepy serial killer book. I've got to stop that.

Is Kathy Smith's body for real?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ghostly Encounters

On Saturday, we went to Aspen for a soccer game. I love going to Aspen, but this isn't exactly the most picturesque time to be in ski country. In fact, it's very aptly known as mud season.

Even though we're still getting spring storms (like the one that came through last night and brought about an inch here, much more up valley), there are patches of muddy earth showing themselves on the ski slopes and the snow that's left is brownish.

Even so, after the soccer game, we went out to lunch and decided to drive up to an area called Ashcroft above Aspen.

Ashcroft, while once a booming metropolis of 2,500 inhabitants in the 1800s, is now a ghost town. I don't remember too many details from the signs at the ghost town. Eamonn read them out to all of us, but I was too busy repeatedly falling through the snowpack up to my knees and thighs to take in all of the details.

In fact, here is my friend, Patricia, falling in. I had already gone thigh deep on a number of occasions trying to get to the sign. There was a lot of shrieking and hysterical laughter. We're thinking that next year we should leave our snowshoes in the car. Until July. See those people in the background? They watched us fall through. And they left. Wimps.

It was really overcast on this day and it was actually spitting a little bit of rain on the drive up.

Eamonn, Patrick and the kids try to forge ahead to the sign about Ashcroft.

The men make it.

Finn gets left behind by the older kids. . .and is not amused.

The gang up ahead, already in the "town." Patricia and I are still crashing through the snow behind everyone. We would occasionally find bare earth to walk on. Only to fall through again a few steps later. Quite a good workout.

I'm very disappointed that the saloon is closed. I'm thirsty after all that work.

The old hotel.

Later in the hike, we find some solid ground.

Some soccer pics from earlier in the day. Declan's team won. This is a competitive team where we travel and score is actually kept. As if kids didn't keep score before. . .

Declan is sometimes the goalie.

After a save.

And finally, a healthcare postscript. ..
My biopsy came back clear. They'll retest in 4 months, but for now, no worries. Thanks everyone, as always, for your support!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Colorado's Got Talent

The Talent Show. Can I hear a collective groan? I hate sitting through all things related to theater. I know that makes me sounds like backwater hick, but I'm just not that into plays and music (anything other than a good rock concert). Ask Karen about the time I fell asleep (and both of our husbands did, too) in the King and I off Broadway. I just don't have the "enjoy theater" gene. Even when my own kids are in it, I consider it just something I have to get through.

Back in Ohio, I used to feel really sorry for my neighbor whose daughter was in the school talent show every year. I mean, who would want to go and sit there and listen to all of THAT? It's one thing to listen to your own "talented" kid. It's another to listen to someone else's "talented" kid. That sounds so mean, I know.

So you can imagine my "excitement" when Declan announced he wanted to be in the school's spring talent show. I was also slightly surprised because I was unaware that Declan had a talent that could actually be performed on a stage. I himmed and hawed around and nothing more was said.

Two weeks passed. The talent show tryouts were the next day when BOTH boys suddenly informed me of their intent to be in the show. I wasn't in the mood. You want to be in the talent show? Really? What is your talent? Oh yes, I actually said that. I bet I scarred their little self esteems for years to come because I apparently don't believe they have talent. But they also apparently think that you can just jump up and do something, anything, on stage and that constitutes being part of a talent show.

On the morning of tryouts, I was at work. Eamonn called me to inform me that Declan wanted to try out for the show after school. Good grief, that kid wasn't going to be denied. Three of his friends had come up with dance moves to a song by Flo Rida (who Declan was calling Flouride--I'm just hip enough to know that wasn't quite right) and they had plans to teach Declan the moves at lunch and then try out after school.

I didn't see this ending well. I expected I would do a lot of cringing on his behalf.

I was wrong.

In fact, the four boys had actually come up with quite a good routine to good 'ol Flo Rida's Right Round and everyone in the tryout room was rocking along to the music. Including me.

So tomorrow night will find me enduring a show that is both theatrical and musical and maybe doing a little bit of cringing, but not dreading it too badly.

Nevermind that the Flo Rida song didn't make it past the school censors and the boys are now doing a routine to Weird Al Yankovic's White and Nerdy (a parody of Ridin' by Chamillionaire and Krayzie Bone--I don't know who either of these people/groups are, by the way).

Nevermind that we parents drove them to each other's houses three days a week and bought pizza and made snacks to make sure they had time to practice.

Nevermind that every time they got together they couldn't be bothered to practice and played instead.

Nevermind that they don't really know all of the lyrics because Weird Al raps crazy fast.

Nevermind that they plan to throw t-shirts to the crowd because they think they are actually real rappers.

Nevermind that I then was coerced into setting up and tearing down for the show.

I will be there in the audience, in my official "Rolling Heads" (band name) t-shirt sitting through a theatrical/musical show that I typically dread. In the end, it will be fun and they will be no more or less cringeworthy than any of the other acts on stage (except maybe for hula hoop girl--she was pretty impressive). And for the rest of their lives they will remember the third grade when they were in The Show and they felt famous for 2 minutes and 54 seconds.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I Littered on Earth Day

I try to do the right thing for Mother Earth as often as possible. I recycle. I try to buy things with minimal packaging (this is really hard to do, have you noticed?). I walk or ride my bike when it's realistic. I pick up trash when I see it on the ground (unless it's someone else's tissues and then Mother Earth is going to have to fend for herself because that's just gross).

My biggest downfall is probably my water consumption. I'm a sucker for a long hot shower or long hot bath in my giant bathtub. Occasionally I forget to turn off the water when I'm doing dishes, but I've been better about that.

Because today is Earth Day, there are tons of activities going on at the boys' school. The kids are going around all day with two grocery bags tied to them. They'll put their trash in the bags all day long (all trash cans have been removed from the school although I hope they don't carry around uneaten food tied to them all day)--one bag for things that can be recycled, one bag for things that are trash. At the end of the day the whole school will go out on the lawn and dump their trash and recycling bags into two separate piles to demonstrate how much waste they have produced in a day (and then hopefully they'll clean it all up again and I'm also grateful it's not a windy day).

Anyway, I'm a volunteer for this afternoon's activities. I had volunteered for the afternoon shift because I went to Denver yesterday (I surivived the fast, but didn't get to eat until about 2pm whereby I went crazy on sushi as promised) and at this time of year you never know when a spring snowstorm will roll through and strand you somewhere and since Denver had two feet of snow last weekend, I figured I'd better be prepared. So I volunteered for the afternoon to give myself extra time in case of a stranding. That's not necessarily important, I just felt like writing it.

As everyone arrived for school, the morning shift volunteers were passing out leaflets about ways to save the planet. I tucked my save the planet leaflet in my pocket and went on my merry way. I had to do an errand, which I did on foot because it is, of course, Earth Day, and we live in a small town where you can often do your errands on foot. But the end result was that I had to retrace my steps at one point and I saw some trash that I hurried over to pick up. What I discovered pretty quickly was that it was MY trash--my Earth Day leaflet that I had tucked into my pocket earlier--that was disgracing the sidewalk.

I wonder what the penalty is for littering on Earth Day?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Preparing for Hunger

Can you actually eat in advance so you're not hungry? I'm hoping so. I just downed two bowls of frosted mini wheats because I don't get to eat again until about 1pm tomorrow.

Skipping meals is not something I do well. In fact, I don't do it at all if I can help it. When people tell me they don't eat breakfast, I'm mystified. How do you even get rolling in the morning without something in your tummy?

I guess when I think about it I used to fast with Finn on days he had a spinal taps. Frankly, it sucked. We usually didn't get to eat anything until 1 or 2pm on those days. And there wasn't much drinking going on, either. By the end of it all, we were both usually pretty crabby and I always had a headache.

So tomorrow I have to go to Denver for a client meeting and I'm taking this opportunity to have some bloodwork done at a lab that does such things and then sends you the results without the info going into your health record. Because these are the kinds of steps you have to take when your health insurance is tenuous and you have an ongoing thyroid problem. Sigh. I know, I'm such a bundle of health and vitality lately, aren't I? Don't panic. I'm just trying to get a benchmark to see if some supplements I'm taking are helping my struggling thyroid.

Anyway, I have to fast for 10 - 12 hours before the blood test. Which would be no problem if I could hop out of bed at 8am and roll into the lab. But the lab is 2 1/2 hours away. And I have a meeting in the morning and can't leave very early. So my best guess is, with perfect weather and if Jupiter is aligned with Mars, I might make it to the lab by noon.

Several people have advised me to have some fruit with me so I can eat as soon as I'm finished.

Screw that. I'm going straight out for sushi.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I Hate to Say I Told You So

Just kidding. I totally love saying I told you so. Doesn't everyone?

And don't you hate it when parents gloat about how smart their kids are? I do. But I'm totally going to do it right here. Right now.

I think we all recall last fall's fiasco involving Finn and his kindgergarten debut. If you need a refresher, you can start HERE and work your way forward.

But in a nutshell, it wasn't a good start to the year and Finn was labeled as a behavior/discipline problem and spent much of his day facing the wall in "time out."

Since the teacher switch, things have gone well. Very, very well. In fact, at spring conferences Finn's teacher spoke to us about having Finn evaluated for the gifted program. Last week he was evaluated and he wasn't just a little bit in the range--he was way in the range.

So forgive me, while I feel very, very vindicated and smug. And happy for Finn, of course.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


OK, I've debated for a few days about posting what I'm about to post here because, well, it's personal and talks about female body parts. My family's mouths will drop open in perfect "Os" when they realize what I'm posting about because I've always been so overly modest that it makes them laugh and has been a family joke for years.

I used to panic in the fitting rooms at department stores if I thought my mother wasn't holding the door shut tight enough. Someone might see me in my skivvies, after all. Going into a store and buying tampons? Unthinkable. If I had to do it myself, I buried them under everything else in the cart and searched frantically for a female cashier (wait, I still do that). Into my 20s, my Mom and Tara would try to make my blush by spelling out S-E-X and then laughing at my discomfort.

Yes, I am modest. I will always be modest. But there are times when you throw modesty out the window. This is one of those times.

So here goes.

About 10 ½ years ago, before kids, I went in for that good old yearly “woman” exam. Don’t you just love those? No? Me either. But I’ve always gone regularly because, you know, that’s what you should do. And I’m pretty much a rule follower.

So at this particular exam, I had an abnormal pap smear. My first ever. They did another one. Abnormal. And yet another. Abnormal. And finally, a biopsy that revealed highly aggressive pre-cancerous cells—a precursor to cervical cancer. See? We’re talkin’ private parts here. I’m blushing.

Anyway, the cells were aggressive enough that my ob/gyn at the time said that if I had already had children, she would recommend an immediate hysterectomy. But good grief, I was 31 years old and we were just getting ready to start a family.

There were some different options, all with different risk factors. Eamonn and I discussed the fact that we might have to adopt. We were fine with that. We definitely went through all of the options before making a decision.

Ultimately, instead of a hysterectomy, I had something called a LEEP/CONE procedure where I had surgery to remove the “bad” cells from my cervix. The area affected was pretty big—big enough that my first pregnancy was treated as high risk, and I had to have an internal exam every single time I went to the ob/gyn during my pregnancy. Ugh. That’s a lot of checkin’ out of the parts. Plus, I had to go more often than a “typical” pregnancy. Instead of once a month, I went every three weeks. And, because I was this interesting specimen, the doctor was always asking if med students, residents and the guy who filled the snack machine in the waiting room could take a gander at my parts. No lie. A lot of people looked at my parts. You’d think I’d be slightly less modest after all of this gandering, but no. At least I didn’t know any of them who were taking a look up there. About the time some of my friends were delivering their babies, guys from our high school class were becoming doctors and, oh yes, happened to be on call the night my friends went into labor. I think I would have just shriveled up with embarrassment.

But I digress.

In the end, I carried Declan for 38 weeks before I had an emergency c-section because he was breach. Out he came--all 9 lbs. 10 ounces of him. Yes, I’m grateful for the c-section. None of the complications they worried about ever developed.

Then 2 ½ years later, along came Finn. Also a c-section.

Frankly, as time went on, I always went to my yearly exam, but I pretty much forgot about those abnormal pap smears and the surgery. We had other types of cancer to worry about anyway. When I would go for my annual exam, I never worried that the results would be abnormal. My biggest concern was whether or not I had shaved my legs or had remembered to hide my underwear under my clothes. Because how embarrassing to have the doctor see my underwear. Never mind that she is peering at my female innards. Where did I leave my underwear?????

And then suddenly, this winter, there was Jade Goody, all over the news with her cervical cancer. Not sure who Jade Goody is? Well, neither was I until about January or so. She was a reality TV star in the UK who was suddenly all over the international news because last summer she learned she had cervical cancer. She died in March. By my calculations, that’s about seven months.

Just a bit of a subtle reminder, don’t you think?

In March, I went in for my annual exam. And you guessed it—abnormal. Sigh.

On Monday, I had a biopsy. I’ll get the results next week and hear what my options are.

But my point here after this huge long story and a few random ramblings, isn’t to make you worry about me or make you feel sorry for me. No, I want to scare the crap out of you. Seriously. After I had my original surgery, I had several friends confess to me that they hadn’t had a pap smear in five years. One hadn’t been in 10 years. I don’t want to be mean or anything, but that’s frickin’ stupid. Don’t do it again.

It’s true that cervical cancer is a relatively slow growing cancer, but don't you dare use that as an excuse not to go get your pap smear. Because it wasn’t slow growing in Jade Goody’s case. Cervical cancer can be treated—-but it needs to be discovered early, and it can be with a pap smear.

I may be crazy, but 10 minutes of embarrassing discomfort once a year sounds infinitely better than chemo, radiation or, let’s face it, dying. Dying from something that has a lot of treatment options.

So there you have it. Yes, I’m embarrassed to write about my parts, but if it makes just one of you remember to schedule your exam, I’ll be happy. I’ll be the Lance Armstrong of cervical cancer. Only slightly less athletic.

PS: And while you’re at it, get a mammogram, too.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Pants

I know I've written about this before, but I continue to be mystified and intrigued by the phenomenon I am now calling the Incredible Shrinking Pants.

According to the scale, I'm not gaining weight. But something is definitely afoot because my pants just get smaller and smaller. Yes, I realize that if I didn't put my pants in the dryer this wouldn't happen, but here's my point: why aren't Eamonn's pants constantly shrinking? I wash his pants in the exact same load of laundry as my pants. His pants to not seem to be shrinking.

Perhaps it's the different fabrics--something woven into my pants that is slightly different causing shrinkage. But this doesn't explain why even when I wear men's jeans, they also shrink. And Eamonn's don't. My secret theory on this is that all pants, men's or women's, are sprayed with a substance that can sense estrogen. And when the substance connects with estrogen, the garment then shrinks in the wash. Clothing companies then achieve the dual goals of women having to continually shop for new pants and making us hate our bodies because obviously we're getting fatter and fatter all the time because our pants don't fit.

But they're not fooling me.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Murder & Mayhem

Ever since I was a little girl, I've always loved mystery stories, movies and TV shows. Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, the Bobbsey Twins. And then as I got older I liked all of those true-life murder stories like on 48 Hours and stuff. I got hooked on Mystery! and all sorts of other English murder mysteries. No one can murder better than the English. Their penchant for it is actually quite frightening.

But what might be more frightening is that I became hooked on Patricia Cornwell's books. Her main character, Kay Scarpetta, is a medical examiner who is always in danger because she tries to solve the murders of the people who come through her morgue. She's like a female Quincy (I loved that show, too). But these books are so grossly graphic in their murders that sometimes I read them with one eye closed, and yet I get sucked in and can't put the books down even when they get really disturbing.

I remember once when we still lived in Ohio, I stayed up really, really late reading one of the books. Eamonn had long since fallen asleep, but I was so freaked out by the book I woke him up at 2am. I don't know why. I probably made some excuse like,

Me: "Did you remember to put the cat out?"

Eamonn: "We don't have a cat."

(Name that movie)

I tend to have the occasional night terror anyway so why I read these books and terrorize myself more, I have no idea.

When I was in high school, one year around Halloween time, one of the local TV stations was showing a bunch of Anthony Perkins movies and I was telling one of my friend's parents how I was going home to watch it. So that night, right at the end of the movie, the phone rang. I picked it up and this voice said, "Natalie, this is Norman Bates and I'm coming to get you!" I slept with the light on for a week.

In later years I went with my cousins to see Silence of the Lambs. When I got home from that experience, I went in and woke my mother up. And then slept with the light on for a month. I had already graduated college and was working.

Anyway, I hadn't read a Scarpetta book for several years--probably since that last time I scared myself so badly--and I realized she had two books out that I hadn't read. I got one from the library and instantly regretted it. It was so hideously disturbing. And yet, I continued to read.

Last night I was about 100 pages from the end and I really wanted to finish it, but I was exhausted and missed my goal. Eamonn was already asleep when I turned off the light. I drifted off, but then kept having nightmares about Scarpetta and how she was in my room trying to perform an autopsy on me.

Why am I telling you this? Probably to explain the fact that I'm 41 years old and last night I had to get up and turn on a nightlight in order to get to sleep. And I intend to do the same tonight because I'm about to go and read the rest of the book.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Four Score and Seven Years Ago

Well, OK, maybe just five years ago, but I always wanted to write that. Anyway, five years ago at this time we were sitting at Columbus Children's after having just received Finn's leukemia diagnosis.

And now here I sit, five years later, grateful that tonight Finn talked so much that I had to tell him it was nighttime and it was time to stop talking. I might have felt a little guilty, too.

I look back at pictures of that time, and really, any pictures between Christmas '03 and April 7, 2004, just make me incredibly sad.

I'm glad I have stuff like this to look at now:

Friday, April 3, 2009

Waiting for the Onslaught

Tonight Declan has invited 8 friends for a birthday (late) sleepover. I thought maybe 5 would be able to come. So far 7 are coming. I don't know what the deal is with the other kid's parents who maybe didn't know what RSVP stood for? I'm just guessing. I wonder if he'll show up un-RSVP'd?

Anyway, I'm feeling a little nervous. I originally thought I'd take them to the park for awhile to run off some energy. Over the course of today we have received 6 inches of the wettest, heaviest snow ever. As a result, I feel uncompelled to have 10 (the party kids, Declan, Finn and a friend for Finn) kids go out into the wet, heavy snow and then return to the house. Since pitching a tent in the backyard and having them sleep out there isn't feasible in this weather, I think I'll just lock them in the basement until tomorrow morning.

I might have to blog over the course of the evening and let you know what happened. That's if I have the time to blog. I still have to decorate the birthday cake. And do some picking up around here.

As a parting shot, when I arrived in the employee parking lot at the base of the resort at 7:30 am this morning, there was a little bit of light snow falling. When I returned to my car at noon, I found this:

The snow was level with the bottom of the car. I had to shovel a path to drive the car out of the parking space. I'm glad Eamonn had the foresight to put a shovel in my car last week before all of our spring storms. I would have had issues today if not for the shovel.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Same Story, Different Year

March 31, 2008

April 1, 2009

I think this robin is in shock. It fell over dead right after I took this.

Just kidding.